Project 21 New Visions

 

Kevin Martin

Regulations Rob Black Americans


by Stella Dulanya (bio)

Americans are increasingly finding their liberty at risk.  The staggering degree to which government regulations pushed by politicians and unelected bureaucrats now harm the average citizen is not only egregious, but also very disruptive.

In Shattered Dreams, a new book from The National Center for Public Policy Research, readers find 100 examples of this regulatory abuse and government malfeasance.  It demonstrates how mild-mannered people trying to live their lives and help others too often find themselves running afoul of egregious government rules.

These regulations can be particularly onerous to minorities striving for a leg-up in the small business community.

Shamille Peters is an African-American woman who wants to open a flower shop in New Orleans.  To do so, she must pass a two-part state licensing exam, one part of which is a floral arrangement subjectively judged by a panel of already-licensed florists who may someday be her competitors.  One might suspect Louisiana rules provide practicing florists with the perfect opportunity to keep out fresh talent such as Peters.  The allegation gains credibility considering that the passing rate for the florist exam is a mere 46 percent.

Peters has been unsuccessful in the exam and in court thus far in her quest to open a store and let customers decide about her talent.

Essence Farmer, another regulatory victim, is a hair stylist specializing in African-style braiding.  After developing a trusting list of clients while in school in Maryland, she moved to Arizona and sought to open her own braiding business.  The Arizona Board of Cosmetology, however, wanted her to enroll in an additional 1,600 hours of additional study costing over $10,000 to qualify for a business license.  The irony was that not a single hour was dedicated to the African-style braiding Farmer wanted to do.   Fortunately for Farmer, publicity about hair braiding cases led to a new Arizona law exempting natural hairstyles from the cosmetology requirements.

Nathaniel Craigmiles' attempt to help others got him into trouble.  The Tennessee pastor decided to become a casket salesman after he saw the casket that cost him $3,200 in Tennessee selling for $800 in New York.   Hoping to alleviate the high price of funerals for his inner-city parishioners, he opened a casket store that had prices at 30 to 50 percent below other local casket dealers. 

Shortly after Craigmiles opened his new business, the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors ordered him to stop selling caskets because it was against state law for anyone but a licensed funeral director to sell caskets.  That would require him to go through two years of training - including the embalming of 25 bodies.  Arguing that Tennessee's regulation violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, Craigmiles sued the government and won.

As rock n' roll guitarist Ted Nugent said in the book's foreward, "Individual and property rights are at the heart of the American dream.  Every time the government grows, a little piece of that dream dies."  Indeed, with regulations governing virtually every move that people make, even our most inherent freedoms as guaranteed and supposedly protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could become government-approved privileges.

It is disheartening to know that when big government comes knocking at your door, your first instinct might be to run the opposite direction.

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Stella Dulanya is a research assistant for the national advisory council of the black leadership network Project 21.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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