Sunday, October 21, 2012

A must read

George McGovern, who died this weekend had a must read piece in Inc Magazine almost 10 years ago.

I am a former history professor, not a lawyer. But it does seem to me that not every accident or fall or misfortune is the fault of the business at which it occurs. Yet lawsuits prompted by such events have spawned a multibillion-dollar industry -- one that drives up the costs of doing business and rendering medical care. Not to mention how it wars against a congenial and humane way of life. We begin to see one another not as compatriots, neighbors, and fellow citizens but as potential plaintiffs and defendants. If we don't stop suing one another for every possible misfortune or alleged negligence, we are going to undermine both the health of our economy and the quality of our society.

The second lesson I learned by owning the Stratford Inn is that legislators and government regulators must more carefully consider the economic and management burdens we have been imposing on U.S. business. As an innkeeper, I wanted excellent safeguards against a fire. But I was startled to be told that our two-story structure, which had large sliding doors opening from every guest room to all-concrete decks, required us to meet fire regulations more appropriate to the Waldorf-Astoria. A costly automatic sprinkler system and new exit doors were items that helped sink the Stratford Inn -- items I was convinced added little to the safety of our guests and employees. And a critical promotional campaign never got off the ground, partly because my manager was forced to concentrate for days at a time on needlessly complicated tax forms for both the IRS and the state of Connecticut.

I'm for protecting the health and well-being of both workers and consumers. I'm for a clean environment and economic justice. But I'm convinced we can pursue those worthy goals and still cut down vastly on the incredible paperwork, the complicated tax forms, the number of minute regulations, and the seemingly endless reporting requirements that afflict American business. Many businesses, especially small independents such as the Stratford Inn, simply can't pass such costs on to their customers and remain competitive or profitable.
Read the whole thing.

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