July 25, 2012 - If you're looking for an example of how government regulation stifles entrepreneurship and the spirit of innovation, I submit the case of Kerri (Linto) Smith and her Belly Rest.
The story's on Page 3. Basically, in order to sell her invention over the internet, this special pillow for pregnant women must contain a registered label listing all the materials used to make it.
Fifteen states, plus the City of Detroit, require this tag be on the pillow in order for their residents to purchase it.
But of course, they don't just require it, they also charge the maker a registration fee. Government loves fees almost as much as it does taxes.
In order to sell her pillow on-line, the 1995 Oxford High School graduate must pay these governments a total of $3,660 up-front.
On some level, I can understand the requirement for this tag so consumers know exactly what the product is made of and if it contains anything they're allergic to.
On the other hand, how important can this tag really be in the grand scheme of things if only 15 states, plus Detroit, require it?
Are people in the other 35 states suffering sleepless nights because their pillows are causing sneezing fits, itchy rashes and watery eyes? Are their pillows stuffed with dog hair, saw dust and medical waste because there's no tag?
Somehow I doubt it. If 35 states feel pillow tags are unnecessary, I'd be inclined to agree.
What I really don't understand is how there can be such a discrepancy between the registration fees each state charges.
For example, Oklahoma only charges $5 for one year. That's more than reasonable. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Delaware charge $50, which isn't too bad. (Although that doesn't change my opinion of Ohio, which shouldn't even be allowed to be a state.)
On the other end of the spectrum, there's North Carolina, which charges $720 for a year; California with its $650 charge for two years; and Rhode Island, which mandates a fee of $630 for three years.
And let's not overlook Massachusetts and Montana with their $300 and $400 fees, respectively, for one year.
Obviously, for some states, this regulation is more about unadulterated greed than allegedly protecting the consumer.
It's about funding bloated bureaucracies and ensuring state employees continue to get paid way too much and receive lavish benefits.
Why else would one state charge $5 and another charge $720 for the same 12-month registration period?
That's just plain wrong.
What really upset me was the fact that Michigan does not require this tag, so there's no registration fee, yet Detroit does. The city charges $80 per year. Really?
It would seem to me that Detroit has a lot bigger things to worry about than whether or not a pillow has a tag on it.
How about balancing the city budget and eliminating that mountain of debt instead of continually looking to the state for handouts?
How about protecting innocent citizens and business owners from the criminal element that's been allowed to rule the city's neighborhoods since the 1970s?
I imagine the only time the quality of a pillow becomes an issue in Detroit is when a criminal is using it to muffle the sound of a gunshot or smother a victim to death.
On top of these mandatory fees, Smith is planning to spend an additional $1,000 to hire a company that will keep track of when she must renew the registration in each of the 15 states – and Detroit.
More unnecessary overhead thanks to government's inane rules. More extra cost that will be passed on to the consumer.
I wish Smith the best of luck in her quest to overcome the greed, stupidity and insanity that is government.
I urge folks reading this column and the feature story on Page 3 to visit www.indiegogo.com/bellyrest and contribute a few bucks, so she can pay off these government extortionists and start selling her product on-line.
Remember, it's entrepreneurs like Smith that help create prosperity and jobs, not government bureaucrats.
It's innovators like Smith that contribute things of value to society, not government bureaucrats, who only know how to take.
Let's help her win this battle against regulation run amok and become successful in spite of government.
NOTE: Kudos to Smith for choosing to have her product manufactured in the United States versus China or some other country.
It's nice to know there are Americans who still understand the value of keeping jobs here as opposed to exporting our future to save a few bucks.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.