Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yes, Government Does Get in the Way

Issue 30 of The Voluntaryist was published in February, 1988, and in it Carl reports on a new federal immigration law requiring employers to have a new government form on file for each employee. The form is titled “Employment Eligibility Verification Form” and is known as the I-9.

Oh, the I-9. In my family, this form is known as the infamous I-9.

It’s infamous because it’s a symbol of the government regulation that slowly sucked away my husband’s desire to continue growing his computer company. It just wasn’t worth the continued frustration.

You have probably read my story about life experiences that caused me to become a voluntaryist. Well, my husband, John, has his own experiences, which were running parallel to mine.

See, at the time I began homeschooling our kids, he decided to start his own business. So there we were as a family, basically starting a new life, doing our own thing in every way.

My story shows the wall I hit in dealings with the government immediately, but John’s experience was more like the frog in the boiling water - except that he knew the water was getting hotter and he was slowly being cooked.

As he became more successful, he moved from being home-based, found a site to lease and began hiring employees. He took more risks, had more success and hired more employees.

He worked long hours. I would call him sometimes at 9 p.m. and ask him when he was coming home and he would say the last time he looked at the clock was 6 p.m. He enjoyed his work and was having a great time.

But gradually the government regulations started piling on. Forms to fill out, taxes to pay, and oh, here’s another change in the law that will affect payroll, etc. Eventually the company reached a size where many more regulations kicked in and he was advised to send someone to a special class to make sure all the government regulations were being followed.

This is when he learned he was supposed to file the I-9 forms.

What really teed him off was that he could get fined for not having them on file. Not fined for actually hiring an “illegal,” which is bs in itself, but just for not having the proper form on file.

I clearly remember him coming home and talking about this form. He was so frustrated. He could literally see his productivity go down. He had to work even more hours to keep up with the requirements piling up on him.

Yet he kept pushing on. For a time he still felt like it was worth it. But eventually he just wore out and when he had an offer to sell, he took it. He worked for that company for a while and after a couple more stints in corporate world, he took a break and thought about what he wanted to do and is now back to running his own business again.

But this time it’s much different. He plans to keep this company a one-person business. He periodically turns down work. He does not want to get caught up in the government mess again that comes with hiring employees.

Issue 30 also contains “A Vignette from History: Rose Wilder Lane,” which describes how she changed her life in order to avoid supporting the New Deal. I shared that with a friend who said, “Oh, she ‘went 'Galt,’” When I heard that, I started to realize that my husband has essentially done his own version of “going Galt.”

How many other people are out there like him? How many other people are in a position where they could create jobs but simply won’t do so because the government gets in the way far too much?

I’m not sure I really want to know.


Kent McManigal said...

I guess I have also "gone Galt". I have so many ideas I will never pursue simply because the government has put enough barriers in place that it just isn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

Yep! The one thing I will NOT do is hire anyone as an employee. Just being a one man shop comes with enough useless paperwork.

And I'm sure I must be afoul of at least several regulations I never heard of just by taking money for my work.

Fly low - and keep under the radar!

Anonymous said...

About 15 years ago I ran a one man VCR repair shop. When I started I vowed that if I ever got so much work that I would have to hire someone I would in stead raise my prices enough to drive some customers away. I never had to do this since technology moved on and I folded up the business but that was my plan from the start.