Thursday, August 01, 2002

Welcome to Washington, D.C. -- A Work-Free Drug Zone

In a valiant effort to stamp out the last remaining embers of profitable enterprise in the District of Columbia, starting August 31st, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs will levy a fee on virtually every possible form of self-employment in the city.

All self-employed individuals are required to ask permission from the city government to do business and apply for a business license. This includes not only lawyers, doctors and consultants, but babysitters, music teachers and freelance writers . . . anyone who earns more than $2,000 per year in the District, even if you live in the suburbs. The city made a grudging exception for little kids who mow lawns.

The new policy has been executed in typical D.C. fashion. No public announcement has been made and the penalties for non-compliance are revenue-generating fines of $500 per day. Of the 60,000 "businesses" expected to be covered by the new regulation, only about 1,000 have registered so far, according to The Washington Post.

Aside from the obvious First Amendment issues involved with requiring independent journalists (and bloggers) to register with the local authorities, why does the District government feel it's necessary for entrepreneurs to prove themselves to a bunch of bureaucrats? Exactly, how many injuries in DC are the result of underground hairstylists, or black market lemonade stands? Why has their been no outcry over this silent scourge?

The whole thing betrays not only the D.C. government's monumental ineptitude but its otherworldly fear of private enterprise. The inevitable result: an impoverished, violent, futureless bone yard where one person in five is on the city payroll.

Statehood for D.C.? That's a laugh. Zimbabwe has a better government.

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