Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You don't need no stinkin' license

In the last couple weeks, I've been told by two separate people that they needed a business license.

I think this is sort of funny, but it also pisses me off.

This is America. You don't need no stinking license to go into business.

If you have something to sell and someone is buying, congrats Bud! You're in business.

If you have something you can do and someone wants to pay you to do it, congrats Bud! You're in business.

The minute you have to buy a license to do business, that's the minute this isn't America.

About three years ago, the local RCA (Thompson Electronics) plant went out of business and lots of local people got a chunk of money. Some of them went into business. Some went into bad businesses. One of them was some fellow who put up a shed on the highway with a sign that said 'Beverage Barn.' Mark and I drove past it every week and with a dollop of schadenfreud exclaimed how that was one of the more obvious bad Thompson retirement fund investments. And it was. Oh God, they must have lost their shirt.

Or, what about the time a woman told me she was going to open a guitar string store in a town with a population of 9,000. I asked her what would happen if everyone who needed a guitar string showed up at her door in one day. Could she, on that day, pay her rent? She wasn't so foolish as to try that business.

I also know of a fellow who wanted to be in the hardware distribution business. I asked him what in the world he was going to do when the mom and pop stores went out of business since Lowes and Home Depot were taking over the market segment. He told me he would keep distributing hardware. I was really skeptical. And, 20 years later, I believe he just built a $20 million building. But it could be $30 million I'm not sure. But anyway, he's way rich.

So, you know, I don't know what government would license but I do know that if you try to tell people their business will work or won't work, some will listen, some won't. But at least part of the time, the person who is trying to say 'don't' will be wrong.

Government can't negotiate risk. Bureaucracies don't take risks. Only individuals do.

You want to know what would be worth burning down Washington over? A business license. Just say no.

7 Comments:

Blogger Pamela said...

you could get a business license to give advice.
You could call it Ask Walker.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

"The minute you have to buy a license to do business, that's the minute this isn't America."

Unfortunately every incorporated town and city in the US requires business licenses. It's "protection money" - er, tax.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

Sorry. I've had at least four different sorts of businesses in three major cities, in three different states. You don't have to get a business license. In fact, anyone who goes down to the courthouse and gets a business license is a liberal who thinks they need permission to make a liviing.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Kevin S. Willis said...

In mutliple studies, it has been proven time and again that the size of the national economy (in proportion to size of population) of any nation is directly proportional to how easy or hard it is to start a legitimate business. For the longest time, Hong Kong had the highest per capita GDP in the world because it took literally nothing to start a business--you just set up shop, and you were a business. In America, it's very similar, though there is more red tape, and certainly more and more in terms of taxes and legal obligations are being tossed onto employers every day. Still, it's relatively easy to start a business here, and we have the highest standard of living in the world. In most 3rd world nations, you see a similar pattern emerging: it is impossible for the average Joe in Egypt or Ethopia to start a legitimate business. That average time from starting the red tape to having a real, legitimate, government approved privately held business in Egypt was something like 15 years, as I recall. How can you have a robust economy if it takes fifteen years to start a legal business in a country?

Poverty world wide can be measured by two things: how easy is it to start a business, and how easy is it to accumulate capital. Where there are no laws to protect private property, there is no way to build equity or leverage personal property or real estate to start a business. Where starting a business takes years, or can't be done unless you're a member of a select class, the economies are in the toilet. In quasisocialist states like Europe, where it was once fairly easy to start a business, but businesses are now saddled with burdensome regulations, the economies are faltering, and the only thing that prevents much of Europe from going 3rd world is the same thing that prevents New York City from become Detroit--the sheer mass of wealth accumulated and number of businesses created before government regulation and paristical taxes turned growth into slow, but steady, decline.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Junebug said...

I need to start studying these blogwriters. Very interesting. I'm not very well informed.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Walker, perhaps you got away with not getting a license because you did not have to pay payroll taxes or deal with the local health dept.

Here in the socialist states on the West Coast you have to have a payroll tax ID number and businesses in the "hospitality" industry (such as mine - restaurant and RV park) also have to pass health inspections before being able to operate.

And you can't get a tax ID# or a health license until you have a business license.

I don't mind paying taxes or getting a health license but the "business license" is a protection racket.

In Oregon we also have to pay a "hospitality" tax supposedly for tourism. Ugh!

10:24 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

Patrick, Well I do have a payroll and I do have a tax id#. But my business is a corporation, so I suppose that is a voluntary license.

But in point of fact, you don't need a tax id# to be a self-employed business person. You can just use your ss#.

In any case, you *don't need* a business license to make a living. You can have a business in your living room without a business license. You open a restaurant, I suppose other things apply. Nonetheless... you don't need a license to be in business or start a business.

In fact, in the single case that a customer asked me for a license, I refused to offer one (and, of course, I don't have one). I just said: You don't need a license to make a living in America.

That's that.

10:32 AM  

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