Winning the regulations game

As anybody involved in the trucking industry knows, regulations keep changing. And that’s just as true for American business as whole.

Well, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came up with a unique way to tell legislators just how American businesses feel these days. The Chamber sent each member of Congress an “instructive board game highlighting the regulatory hurdles facing American business owners every day.”

game.jpg“The purpose of this game is to highlight the dramatic increase in burdensome regulations that are preventing America’s job creators from planning for or investing in the future,” Bruce Josten, executive vice president of Government Affairs for the U.S. Chamber, said. “The path to recovery lies in bringing certainty to the regulatory environment and putting in place smart policies that allow American businesses to grow, creating the jobs we desperately.”

The game, “This Way to Jobs,” also includes an online version you can find here: www.thiswaytojobs.com.

The game is pretty simple. After choosing your game piece (either owner, innovator, CEO, director, entrepreneur or founder), you then “spin” to determine how many spaces you move forward. After your piece moves along the path toward Prosperity Park, you encounter government interference in your business. This could be a proposed regulation that will cost your business money or time.

Examples of the cards you may see include:

• This year, your business of 20 employees opts to take the small business tax credit for health insurance. In 2011, you hire six additional employees for a total of 26. Your business is no longer eligible for the tax credit as the credit is now phased out. Move back 1 space.

• An environmental group sues your proposed 3,200-cow dairy farm under state National Environmental Policy Act regulation citing the cows’ methane emissions for their contribution to climate change. Go back 2 spaces.

• The National Labor Relations Board prosecutes you for violating labor laws, but the court rules in your favor, finding the union charges that led to the prosecution were false. You still owe $100,000 or more in attorneys’ fees. Lose your next turn.

The obstacles you face along the way make getting from the starting point through Health Care Hill, over Labor Lagoon, and past Energy Edge, to the finish quite challenging. Sounds just like owning a business.

After spinning 10 times, if you haven’t reached Prosperity Park, you’ll get this message:

“You have taken 10 turns and you still haven’t reached Prosperity Park. Frustrated? That’s how many American business owners and entrepreneurs feel every day.” You’re asked if you wish to keep playing or give up?”

Welcome to American business in the 21st century.

The website includes information on regulations and other issues facing American businesses. According to the Chamber, which cited the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, federal regulations are estimated to cost businesses $1.75 trillion overall, with small businesses facing 36% higher costs to comply than larger businesses.

The book of regulations, the Code of Federal Regulations, covers 150,000 pages over 50 volumes, the Chamber said, with more than 40,000 new regulations being passed in the past decade. That would cover both Democratic and Republican administrations.

The good news? With a Democrat in the White House, Republican control of the House, and Democratic control of the Senate, the flow of regulations in the next two years should slow.

Maybe we can all make it to Prosperity Park yet.

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