Geometrically Proliferating License Requirements Are Driving Me Nuts

I frequently write here that almost never does a month go by, even in a state where I have operated for over 10 years, that I don't discover yet another tax I owe or license I must obtain.

Today, I got a note from the state of Arizona that we must license our two septic pumping trucks with the state.  Already, these are licensed each year with the County in which they operate, a process that includes a fee (of course) and an inspection by the County.  Now I have to fill out a bunch of forms to send the exact same information to the state, with yet another fee (of course) and the need for another inspection each year by the County.  I asked if my current County license would suffice to cover the inspection, and I was told no.  So, to operate this truck in Arizona I must

  • Fill out forms and send fee to County
  • Get inspected by County
  • Fill out forms with the same information as already sent to County and send fee to State
  • Get inspected yet again by County, but this time on the state form
  • Repeat every year

It is interesting to note that the state does nothing except file my form and bank the fee.  This is just another money and power grab -- more cash for the bureaucracy and yet another useless task (filing these forms and sending out compliance letters, etc) to justify their headcount.  Then the next time someone suggests "brutal cuts" to state budgets, everyone can scream that the rivers will run brown with sewage because the state won't have the people to collect all the paperwork that duplicates what the County already collects.

Just after wasting an hour or two of my time with this (and sending it to my managers to waste days of their time), I got a happy note from the US Census Bureau that I had been selected to file quarterly reports about my business (they have a special survey of the lodging business -- I presume they do this for other industries as well).  I wrote back:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am not sure what we have done wrong to be punished with this extra workload, but unless I hear back from you that this report is required of us by law under threat of some sort of dire consequence, we will not be filling it out.

We are a small company and only I, the President, am equipped to fill out this form.  We already fill out your annual survey and it is incredibly time-consuming for us, for it asks for data in ways we do not normally track it.  Further, it asks for our P&L in a form that does not match GAAP accounting, which causes all sorts of difficulties in completing it.  And we don’t normally compile results on a quarterly basis, only annual, so this report would be particularly onerous.  We actually have to run a business here.

Finally, I might add, I am loathe to send the government yet more data since this data will likely just be used as a justification to raise my taxes or increase our regulatory burden.

So no thanks.

PS- let's just assume the "you have a crappy job" jokes have already been made and move forward from there in the comments.


  1. Bill K.:

    This is not in the crappy joke category but deadly serious: "no temptation has befallen you but what is common to man..."
    And I got out of the practice of medicine partly for the same reasons.
    Seasteading anyone?

  2. Matthew Slyfield:

    I would say the crappy job belongs to the county inspector. It can't be much fun inspecting sewage trucks and now he has to inspect every single one of them twice.
    By the way, a lot of county governments are heavily burdened with state mandates. If you don't need the county license info itself to fill out the state form, do the state form first and ask the county if they will accept the state inspection for the county license. Since they are the ones stuck doing the state inspection anyway, they might be more inclined to say yes.

  3. Vitaeus:

    second the earlier comment fill them both out and see if the County Inspector will either accept them after a single inspection or just sign them both the same day. I still think you have a better job than most folks, you must love the smiles on the people you provide the parks for or you are just insane, either way you have a job that provides an actual service and I salute you for your perseverance.

  4. Don:

    This kind of crap DOES make one want to go looking for a small, hidden valley somewhere in Colorado, yes?

    The interesting thing that gets me is the way that government types, who have invented their own method of "accounting" (which, by design has NOTHING to do with being accountable for anything) then expect business people to use their cock-eyed accounting systems. I ran into that in the ISP business and again in the WISP business.


  5. LarryG:

    I feel you pain - I just had to go get TWO permits for one install but I want to point out that this kind of
    thing has been going on long before and completely separate from the "job killing regulations" that we keep hearing about at the Fed level much less at the Obama level.

    It's ALWAYS been a significant burden at the local and state level for most small businesses.


  6. mahtso:

    I don't know if this new fee is a result of the budget cuts, but the budget cuts did lead to a number of agencies (include Az Dept Envtl Quality) being funded by fees rather than taxes. Good or bad I can't say, but I will say when expenses exceed revenues, action must be taken.

  7. Maximum Liberty:

    There is a decent argument that over-regulation led to the fall of the Roman empire.

  8. Bob Smith:

    Why do you bother to fill out the annual Census Bureau form?

  9. Artemis Fowl:

    You have very well illustrated why I am exiting the "business for myself" arena. The government appears to loathe nothing so much as someone who does not answer to a union, corporation, or someone else they can corral and count on.

  10. Bret Banfield:

    First, the second part of Warren's post mentions an onerous quarterly survey by the US Census Bureau. The USCB is part of the Department of Commerce which is a cabinet department. It is, by definition, the "Obama level".

    Second, federal level and local level regulatory burdens are NOT completely separate. In many cases the states or counties are charged with enforcing or complying with federal level mandates (i.e. just because its the county that sent you the form doesn't mean the driving regulation is at the county level).

    Third, a responsible and alert president would understand that "It's ALWAYS been a significant burden at the local and state level for most small businesses" and do everything he/she could to reduce the federal burden that gets piled right on top of it, especially if he/she was interested in supporting a thriving economy (not to mention supporting individual liberty).

  11. perlhaqr:

    Yeah, every time I think about starting a business, I end up reading something like this and go "nah, not worth it."

    And then the government has the gall to wonder why the economy sucks.

  12. Ted Rado:

    My girlfriend retired from running a small retail business. I used to be amazed how much paperwork and BS she had to put up with. If the object of the government is to make running a business so onerous that no one will do it, they are on the right track.
    It is a good thing that I never tried to run a business of my own. I would have told the government folks to go f... themselves and wound up in jail.
    Warren, you and other small business people should get the Congressional Medal of Honor. I think I would rather face enemy bullets!

  13. Ted Rado:

    I don't understand the behavior of government vis a vis business. Government should grease the skids to make doing business as easy and inexpensive as possible rather than throwing tacks in the road and obstructing business.

  14. perlhaqr:

    This is my thought too. I mean, even the ones who want to suck lots of tax money out of people--wouldn't it be easier if people were earning money to pay the taxes with?

  15. John:

    You loathe filling out government forms but you are loath to send them more data. Loath is an adjective meaning "unwilling." It ends with a hard th and rhymes with growth or both. Loathe is a verb meaning "to hate intensely." It ends with a soft th like the sound in smooth or breathe.

  16. nehemiah:

    I loathe you for this comment.