On top of doing little good, endless rules kill the freedom that made America the land of opportunity. We preach entrepreneurship, and try to teach children the value, satisfaction and excitement of starting their own businesses. Then we let entrepreneurial opportunity be crushed under the weight of the regulatory state. The byzantine rules send this message to Americans: Don't try. Don't build anything. Don't innovate. Don't create anything new.
Let's not overlook the fact that big businesses often have no problem with this. They frequently benefit from complex regulation because it increases the chance that potential competition won't even get off the ground. Big business's hand has been behind the regulatory state at least back to the Progressive Era.
I could give you endless examples of small businesses crushed by big government. Here are two:
Shelly Goodman paid millions to buy a 13,000-square-foot mansion on 10 acres in Arizona in order to create a wedding reception center and bed-and-breakfast. Local bureaucrats forced her to spend thousands of dollars on studies to show that her business would not create burdensome traffic or noise. She did. The studies said it wouldn't. Yet the big house sits empty because her local government refuses to let her operate a business, even on her own property.
In Virginia, Greg Garrett started farming oysters. His neighborhood is zoned for livestock. He could raise buffalo, but local bureaucrats decreed that he could not sell oysters. Why not? My staff talked to the zoning official, and we still have no clue. That's the case with a lot of American law. It's arbitrary power. Regulations are so numerous and complex that no one really understands them. This diminishes our ability to flourish.
Big government makes us all small.