In the 1930s, Ruth Briscoe, a young woman from a poor minister’s family, was trying desperately to become a teacher. Struggling like everyone else, simply buying food was a hardship. In the midst of the Great Depression, Ruth could not find anyone to hire her. But instead of relying on the government, Ruth relied on her creativity and sheer determination to earn money. She created her own job by going door to door, selling fruit and candy she made in her humble kitchen. Ruth’s home venture was so successful that the profits she made were enough to help her through that dark period in America’s history.
Recently, President Obama appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss our nation’s current and extraordinarily deep recession with unemployment rates at nine percent and, really, 17 percent when counting all the people who are no longer looking for jobs or working part-time, and he used the opportunity to blame Republicans in Congress for blocking his policy efforts and stifling job growth.
One wonders why more people don’t take a cue from Ruth Briscoe’s entrepreneurial spirit and start their own business, thus, creating their own job? Clearly, the growth of small businesses is the key to getting out of this fiscal mess. But things are different now.
In reality, small business creation is now plagued by government regulation costs and increased taxes at every level of government, lending truth to the popular maxim, “It takes money to make money.” Yet, for many Americans on a shoe-string budget, overbearing government interference limits their economic freedom to innovate and develop jobs.
Today, if Ruth wanted to start up her small business in my town, she would be responsible for 43 forms each year at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Some of those forms have extremely expensive penalties attached if you are late. Some areas of the country are even more burdensome. And this doesn’t take into consideration all the other regulations she would incur. God forbid if she doesn’t have a commercial kitchen in which to make that candy.
Thanks to overregulation by state health departments, it’s virtually impossible to start up home businesses that revolve around homemade goods. Now, I get that there are a lot of people out there who don’t share my sanitary cooking practices and the protection of public health is appropriate, but the amount of nightmarish regulations the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have created are overwhelming.
To legally run her home-based business today, Ruth would need to install a brand new kitchen in her home, complete with separate stainless steel sinks, counters, and expensive oven exhaust hoods. Then Ruth would need to be sure her neighborhood is within local commercial zoning limits before she could even think about selling her goods.
The total cost of government regulations is reportedly $1.75 trillion each year with new rules and costs appearing every day. It’s little wonder so many Americans who are trying to keep their small businesses afloat hire illegal immigrants in order to sidestep all the regulatory red tape.
Americans realize there must be an overhaul in government regulation, tax, and spending reform before citizens have the ability to create their own jobs and success like Ruth Briscoe did. A new poll by the Polling Company, on behalf of Concerned Women for America (CWA), was conducted of Republican caucus voters. It reveals that 94 percent of Iowa voters, 89 percent of New Hampshire voters, and 87 percent of voters in South Carolina agree that our burdensome government is stifling economic opportunities and employment solutions for Americans.
The government needs to butt out of private business. In the end, it will not be heightened government rules that recover the nation; it will be the ingenuity, drive, and freedom of everyday men and women to take risks that will ultimately end this dim economic period and continue the legacy of American prosperity and success for future generations.
Ruth Briscoe lived to be a wonderful teacher, wife, and mother to three children, including my husband’s mother. Thank God she had that American “can do” spirit that she passed on to her children and grandchildren.