My Sympathy Is, Shall We Say, Tempered

Matt Yglesias, a deeply logic-challenged person with a grievously warped sense of moral order, is nothing if not a reliable toady of the Obama Administration, or for that matter any other Democrat for whom he shills.

And so it’s truly crocodile tears I cry for him as he relates the difficulties involved in starting a small business in the City That Big Progressive Bureaucracy built, Washington DC:

My wife and I bought a new place, and instead of selling our old condo, we’re going to rent it out. And thus I became a small-business man.

Or, rather, I’m becoming one. Entrepreneurship—even on the smallest and most banal scale—turns out to be a time-consuming pain in the you-know-what. My personal inconveniences aren’t a big deal, but in the aggregate, the difficulty of launching a business is a problem and it may be a more important one as time goes on.

Why yes, Matt. It just may be.

He relates in painstaking detail the rigamarole it takes to set up a “business” whose only product is an overpriced condo:

In the District of Columbia, I need to get a simple Basic Business License to rent out a single dwelling. After puzzling over the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs website for a bit, it became clear that step No. 1 was actually to file form FR-500 with the Office of Tax and Revenue, which you can do online. Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.) to file the paperwork. Once there, I learned that filing the FR-500 online wasn’t good enough—I needed a hard copy. Fortunately, the Office and Tax and Revenue was right across the street, so I went there and refiled. Then it was back to the DCRA to stand in line to get a number, wait for the number to be called…

It goes on from there.

Yglesias does make one good observation…:

Not that I expect your pity. I don’t even pity myself. Going through the process, I mostly felt lucky to be a fluent-English-speaking college graduate with a flexible work schedule. But the presence of a stray pamphlet offering translation into Spanish, Chinese, or Amharic seemed like it would be only marginally useful to an immigrant entrepreneur. A person who needs to be at her day job from 9 to 5 would have a huge problem even getting to these offices while they’re open.

Yep.  Very, very true.

Yglesias asked for this kid of government – and I don’t mean in the figurative, “you voted for Barack Rex, take your medicine, Ivy-League hamster!” sense of the term.  I mean literally; one of his articles was  entitled “Regulation Breeds Innovation“.

It does indeed.  Black markets and off-the-books sublets are, in fact, a form of innovation.

Side note:  He didn’t build that.

12 thoughts on “My Sympathy Is, Shall We Say, Tempered

  1. Hey, Matt. Sign up to accept Section 8 tenants (or whatever they call it nowadays). See what REAL bureaucracy is like.

  2. Did he give instructions on how I file a complaint regarding his callous disregard of handicap accessibility?

    $10 says it can be conveniently done from an Obamaphone.

  3. Going through the process, I mostly felt lucky to be a fluent-English-speaking college graduate with a flexible work schedule.
    Yglesias’ luck began with his being born to wealthy parents.

  4. Pingback: Live by Big Government, die by Big Government » Cold Fury

  5. Two things come to mind…
    “Everybody got a plan, ’til they get hit.” – often attributed to Iron Mike Tyson.
    Wait until he has to evict his renter. Should be able to get five columns out of it.

  6. “Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.)…..”

    Welcome to dealing with the gov’t.

    And wait until gov’t bureaucrats run your healthcare.

  7. “Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.)…… ………A person who needs to be at her day job from 9 to 5 would have a huge problem even getting to these offices while they’re open.”

    Now, I like the USPS and have mostly good experiences with them. But why close the busy Eagan branch at 5 PM? The busiest time of day for a 2nd ring suburb? Don’t they have financial analyists who monitor when they would take in the most revenue?

  8. That whole article had me laughing in tears just due to its sheer obliviousness. We had to jump through more hoops than an acrobat just to set up an LLC for our store, and now we’re coming up on our first tax season since opening last year and we’re like a deer in the headlights.

    I wrote a lighthearted book about some of the trials we encountered, and caused, during our first year: http://tinyurl.com/akxq9gq

    I’m thinking $3.99 may be a bit high, however.

  9. “Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.)…..”

    As a former Mpls morning talk host liked to say, “When I become President/Governor/Mayor/Dogcatcher…” I would immediately issue an executive order forcing all government services offices to change their hours to 12-8pm so the producer class doesn’t have to sacrifice their time spent producing and earning in order to deal with the consuming government bureaucracy.

  10. “Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.)…..”
    When I was a kid growing up (I’m Mitch’s age), if Mom and or Dad didn’t make it to the bank by 2:00 on Friday, they were out of luck until Monday. “Bankers Hours” was a regular joke applied to people who had a short work day.
    Today, I can go to the local branch of my bank and take out a car loan on a Saturday morning or drive up to an ATM on Sunday afternoon and get cash. Yglesias would be one of the first to rip capitalists or the market or entrepreneurs who innovate with their products and services to attract more customers and yes, profits.
    Yet finds unchangeable, hard to deal with government as better in determining how to allocate and govern the use of resources and capital. Lefties complain that the Right wants to live in an Ozzie & Harriet world of the fifties. Interesting that they don’t see that the only thing that hasn’t innovated in 50 years is the government. School year based on an agrarian economy, check. Bureaus and government offices only open on week days from 8-4:30, check. Forms and procedures most find incomprehensible, check.
    Let’s hope this contact with government offers our young writer some perspective on why many don’t want government anymore involved in our lives than it already is.

  11. I knew a fellow here in Hawaii who used to own a restaurant.
    The state decided to audit him to make sure he was paying his share of taxes.
    The auditor showed up. My friend gave him the cd with his excel files on it. The auditor told him, no, he needed to provide printed copies. So my friend spent and evening printing out the excel files in an acceptable format.
    The auditor showed up the next morning and spent the day hand copying the info on the the printed spreadsheets into an old-fashioned ledger book. Then he took the ledger back to the office to complete the audit.

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