3. Do Too Many Government Rules Harm People?

Some rules help to keep us safe. But sometimes, people in powerful get carried away and make too many rules, restricting our behavior and prohibiting us from doing simple things like opening a neighborhood lemonade stand or even limiting which businesses are allowed to operate.

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Key Terms 

  • Civil Disobedience: refusal to comply with certain laws that are believed to be unjust 
  • Occupational License: a government permission slip that allows a person to do the job they went to school or were trained to do

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Connor: Hey Brittany. Hey

Brittany: Connor, how are you?

Connor: I am good, but you know what? I am wondering as a dad, like we have so many rules. My kids have a lot of rules, actually. Not too many. I probably had more rules when I was growing up, but man, there’s so many rules in life. So I wanna talk about rules today. Do you ever wonder why there’s so many rules about what we can and can’t do?

Brittany: I just figured it was to keep us safe or to keep us from getting into trouble.

Connor: You’re good at playing the devil’s advocate there, Brittany, I wonder, you know, though, is there such thing as too many rules?

Brittany: What do you mean exactly? Go into that a little more.

Connor: So, you know, some rules help keep us safe, but there are other rules that don’t seem to make much sense. I think, I mean, like not all rules are created equal some or you’re like, no, that’s common sense. I, totally get it. I’m willing to do that cuz you know, it’s what I would do anyways or it seems appropriate. But then it seems like there’s a lot of other rules that you’re just like, who who’s bossing me around. Like why do I have to do this? It seems like there’s different kinds of rules like that.

Brittany: There are definitely different kinds of rules, but, but can you gimme some examples of some that maybe you think are a little silly or maybe take things a little too far?

Connor: So I’m gonna talk maybe about one that you wrote an article about Brittany, about something that we didat Roberta’s Institute and it deals with, you know, something we all see like during the summer throughout America and that is the lemonade stand. Did you do a lemonade stand when you were a kid? Brittany?

Brittany: I didn’t but I always wanted to and I was jealous of kids that were doing lemonade stands.

Connor: You know, there’s someone down the road for me now where they got a cotton candy machine and now they do cotton candy outta their garage. I’m like that.

Brittany: That’s fun.

Connor: Yeah. That that’s, that’s like a next level thing above lemonade. Now there’s kids out there like, Ooh, that sounds like a good day. They do like a shaved ice thing too. They got the little machine and the ice block.

Brittany: You can do popcorn too. They have those popcorn I’m of all these ideas now.

Connor: Yeah. So the neighborhood kids are always going over there. Like here’s my dollar and, turns into a good thing. But you know, lemonade stands, I think are the more kind of popular or general thing that a lot of kids do. But you know, what’s crazy. Brittany is, there’s so many places in our country. In fact, most places in our country where you have to get a permission slip in order to set up a lemonade stand. So Brittany, imagine you’re eight years old and you have may need stand and I’m a police officer and I come up and I’m like, “Hey, do you have your permission slip to sell lemonade?” What do you think your reaction is going to be?

Brittany: I think the first thing I’d say is I ask my parents and they said, yes. Right. Because that’s, you know, when you’re a kid that’s who you need to ask permission from.

Connor: Right.

Brittany: I think I’d be pretty scared that police officers were showing up.

Connor: Right? Yeah. Your parents are at the boxes. Right. And so they said, yes, why do I need to ask anyone else that doesn’t make any sense? And yet there’s so many stories around the country where a four year old, six year old, a 10 year old are they’re selling lemonade. And then someone shows up, sometimes it’s a police officer. Sometimes it’s someone just in the government, like in the health department where they’re like, oh, in our county, you’re in our city, you need a food handlers permit. You have to pay $50 and take two hours of classes in order to be able to know.

Brittany: So not only do we have to get a permission slip, you have to pay for the permission slip and take and take a class? And pay for it. Isn’t that nuts. I mean, that’s just silly. Right? And so That seems nuts!

Connor: It’s especially nuts. When there was one story where this girl was four years old, her parents were helping her. Of course, cuz she was younger, but she was selling lemonade for literally 50 cents a cup. And then the government showed up and said, you’re not allowed to do this. And you have to pay us. I think in her case it was like 80 or a hundred dollars to get a permit, a permission slip from the government in order to sell lemonade, do the math. Right?

Brittany: That’s a lot of allowance. That’s a lot of lemonade!

Connor: How many 50 cent Cubs do you have to sell? Just to pay the and for what? Like how is it dangerous? People have been selling lemonade forever. So Brittany put yourself in you’re playing the devil’s advocate here. Put devil’s advocate here, put on your kind of government bureaucrat hat. What is your argument for why little kids and, and even adults need these permission slips?

Brittany: Well, I didn’t see how they made the lemonade. I didn’t see if they washed their hands. I didn’t see if they were wearing a hair net to make sure that you know, their hair didn’t get in the lemonade. I didn’t make sure that they were using quality ingredients that I felt warranted the cost of the lemonade. Mm-Mm 50 cents could be a lot of money for me. Maybe I think that I’m being overcharged, for subpar, not so good lemonade. You know, I can think of some reasons maybe neighbors are mad that you’re running a business on the sidewalk, the neighbors called and they said, this isn’t very fair. I don’t want this not in my front yard or backyard as some people say. Yeah, so I could see some people thinking that maybe

Connor: That that’s those are I think all excellent. Well, I think they’re very bad arguments, but, it’s an excellent summary of what the bad arguments are that these people make. But that’s exactly right. Is they’ll say, you know, we need to be certain, we need to be sure that everything here is safe, that everything is complying with things the way we want to. And I just scratch my head and I think, can you point to the last time there was like this massive food poisoning outbreak from a little kid’s lemonade stand? Like what is the reason why we have to do this? But Brittany, I think it’s part of a bigger problem. And that is, I think we live in a permission slip society. And what I mean by that is there are so many areas of our lives where we’re not allowed to do things unless we get permission, first. We have to, you know, there, there’s the saying that you and I have heard before Brittany it’s been going around on social media for the past, you know, year or two where it’s, you know, if it pleases the crown, then you know, may I do this? And, and what that means is the crown is the English crown, the king of England and right. Well, when

Brittany: We fought a revolution

Connor: Again, exactly, we got away from that dictator that, that tyrant but now it’s kind of like, oh, well, if the government will let me, if, if king George of England would allow me to exercise my rights then, and it’s like, no, the founding fathers didn’t do all of that whole revolution just so we could have all these mission slips again. And yet here’s where we are, where we do have that. So what are some examples let’s try and try and think of an example or two, the one that comes to mind for me is, you know, we shared the lemonade stand, but if you want to even protest the government, if you think like you’re raising my taxes or you’re doing something wrong, I have to, in most, every case go get a permission slip in order to protest, like let’s say at the city park, right?

Or at a certain city building, I have to go fill out a slip and say, you know, I’d like to do it on this date and I’m going to have a toilet there, like a little porta potty and, you know, blah, blah. And you have to get a permission slip in order to even do like a public event or a protest like that, which is kind of silly that like, may I have my free speech if the government allows me to do so. I think that’s a kind of a silly, annoying example that one’s silly what’s one that you thought of?

Brittany: And this is, you didn’t need a permit cuz there wasn’t the permit. It didn’t even exist. But there was a beach in Florida that you could not build a sand castle. It was forbidden for you to build a sand castle. And I wrote about this many years ago. So I apologize. I don’t remember all the details, what you can look it up because I remember we made a meme for the internet that said, if it pleases the crown, may I build a sand castle and there was some silly law that was, you couldn’t bring like your own tools or something to a beach. And a child got fined for building a sand castle, which is like my favorite thing to do with the beach.

Connor: Wow.

Brittany: Yeah.

Connor: That’s crazy. And you

Brittany: Gotta ask, you know, what did, why, is this rule exist?

Connor: There was the, the guy I heard of you may remember this story, Brittany, but it happened a couple years ago and a man built a stair some steps out of wood because there was this terrain that was uneven. And so he was trying to be helpful. And so he just went and built this and on his own and the government tore it down because he didn’t have a permit to do it. He didn’t have a license, they had not properly ensured them, assured themselves that it was following all these standards of safety that they had set up and everything. And so, they made the, they, tore the staircase stand if I’m remembering, right. I think they even fined the guy for doing it wrong. But I think that’s just crazy. Like here’s the guy that’s trying to help and he is being, you know, punished for it. I thought that was crazy.

Brittany: You, it actually reminds me of another one and this one is, is more similar to the lemonade stand, but there’s potlucks. I’m sure you’ve been to a potluck. I know in Utah you have lots of potlucks where you bring, you know, everybody brings a dish. Well, there was a neighborhood church group and I can’t remember what state it was in. And they got fined because they brought food that they didn’t have food handlers permits to make.

Connor: Oh, wow.

Brittany: Because this was just a bunch of families, you know, making food and bringing them over to each other’s houses, things that we all do all the time. But because this one was at a church a police officer came and people were fined and told that they could no longer bring potlucks or bring food to potluck.

Connor: That reminds me story that I actually have in my office. I have a wall of photos of people that I consider heroes that are, I kinda look at them and they’re inspiring to me.

Brittany: Am I on that wall, Connor?

Connor:  Not yet soon enough, you have a few more gold stars to earn long way so there’s this gentleman there. And he made international news a few years ago because for decades he and his wife were providing food to the homeless. This was in Florida and his wife died some years ago. He, carried on, he’s an older gentleman and in her honor, he wanted to continue this work that they did together. And so he raised money. He had a nonprofit organization through which he did this work and he would feed the homeless. Well, the city council, the government in that city decided they didn’t want that happening anymore. They felt that it was attracting homeless people. They, they felt that it wasn’t, you know, letting them kind of push these homeless people away and let’s get rid of them. So they passed these laws saying that, you know, you can’t feed people outside. And if you do, you have to get a permit. And then in order to get a permit, you have to, you know, provide them with restrooms and you know, all these kind of things that you can’t do when he’s just showing up to the park with some food he made to it’s like say a..

Brittany: Pop-up kind of a pop-up thing. Right.

Connor:

That’s exactly right. And so they wrote the law in a way specifically to get him to stop. Well, he didn’t stop. He decided to continue, which I’m like, Hey, you know, here’s my kind of guy, right. He’s doing what’s right. Even if someone else has claimed that it’s wrong. And so he got arrested and

Brittany:

It’s a very old man. Right.

Connor: Very old man. I think he’s in his late seventies, if not eighties. And so here come the police officers to like, you know, shut him down. And, and so, you know, got arrested. He got fined or whatever, what did he do? He didn’t say, oh, I’ve lost my freedom. I’m not allowed to do this anymore. He kept doing it. He started doing it again. He just kept at it by this point.

Brittany: There’s, there’s a word for that. Right? When you do something, I think it’s civil disobedience,

Connor: Civil disobedience. Yeah. Which, which let’s be careful. We don’t wanna teach children about civil disobedience. The parents are like, whoa, hang on. We don’t wanna talk about this.

Brittany: The D word

Connor: But the point here Brittany, that we should make is that what he’s was doing was not wrong. The government was trying to make him stop. But he felt, and, and I agreed that he was doing a very helpful thing and trying to help those who couldn’t help themselves. And so he got arrested again and I have the photo on my wall where the reporters were there and it’s this photo where he’s carrying this tray of food and there’s two police officers standing right next to him. And people often think that the government is always there to help us. And, and so here’s this interesting picture where here’s the guy actually trying to help people. And it’s not the government trying to help the people. It’s the government standing in the way of this guy using the free market, using private charity, where he just wants to directly help people in order to give them the support they need.

To me, it was just mind blowing that the government would do this and get in the way but why it’s because he didn’t have a permission slip? Did you know Britney that even to get married, that we have to get permission slips? I mean, do you remember, like, this is just crazy that you have to go to the government and say, Hey, I’m gonna get married and here’s my name? And I’m gonna sign this document. Well, I don’t know if you knew this, but to get that marriage license, that’s not been around since like the beginning of America. When like really for the kids listening, you ask your mom and your dad, you know, they had to get a marriage license. Well, the, the reason why marriage licenses started, this is kind of a crazy story. It started because decades ago, when there was still a lot of bad feelings toward black people, when there was a lot of racism, there were a lot of governments that started saying we don’t want white people marrying black people.

And so what we’re gonna do is pass a law that says from now on to get married, you need a government permission, slip a license.

Brittany: Wow.

Connor: A marriage license. And we’re not gonna give anyone a license who isan interracial couple. In other words, multiple races, a black person and a white person. So they used this government power. They said, you can’t do this anymore without permission. Oh. And by the way, we’re not gonna give permission to these types of people. Cuz we in charge, we don’t want this to isn’t that crazy.

Brittany: It’s not only crazy, but it seems weird to me because I think a lot of people think the government is here to help us. But when we’ve gone over these instances where they’ve told us no, or we need permits, it seems like they’re standing in the way of us helping people. So that old man, for example, he wanted to defeat people, right? And he was doing it without using any money from the government. So you’d think they would be happy about it. And same with the last one where people should get married, we should be celebrating that it doesn’t matter what color your skin is. But it seems like the government was standing in the way and kind of making things worse by making all these rules.

Connor: And I think that gets to what we said at the beginning, Brittany, where there’s some rules that make sense, right? If it’s like, Hey, let’s all, you know, those of us who are driving in this direction, let’s all drive over on this side of the road. And if you’re going in the opposite direction, let’s keep you all on the other side of the road. Those rules make sense. We don’t want to crash into one another. We want to be able to quickly move places and not cautiously, you know, interweave our cars and not know if someone that’s a rule. That just makes sense, right? But then on the other hand, like, wait a minute, you’re telling me to give someone food. I have to pay the government money. Like what is, what do they have to do with it?

Brittany: Like exactly.

Connor: There’s no, there’s no problems.

Let’s before we wrap up this episode, Brittany, I would think it’s a problem. If we didn’t talk about some of the biggest rules that people have to deal with. And it’s a, a big word it’s called occupational licensure. So occupational, that’s your occupation, your job. That’s your job, right? Your work. Yep. It’s what you do for work. And then license is just another name for this permission slip. So there are the government in every state here in America has all these different jobs that if you wanna work in that job, you have to get a permission slip. So talk to me a little bit about that, Brittany, what is occupational licensure? What is, what are these rules like? And why are they such a problem?

Brittany: Well, here’s the silliest part of this to me. Why do we have jobs? We have jobs so we can have money so we can pay for things. Right?

Connor: Right.

Brittany: So imagine if we didn’t have a job, we’re trying to get a job. We have spent all the money we did have on some sort of training. Maybe it was college. Maybe it was a trade school. Maybe it was just a few courses to be, you know,

Connor: Mm-Hmm

Brittany: A nail technician to paint, nail, something like that. So now we need a job. So we go and we apply and maybe we get hired and they love us. And then the government says, wait a second. We want you to make money. We do. But you can’t earn money until you give us money. And the silliest part about that is you don’t have the money. So how are you going to pay for it? And a lot of these professions that require occupational licensing, they’re the career that don’t make as much money as let’s say a doctor or lawyer though. Both of those need licenses too. But there are things like, a nail technician or get this. How many times a week do you wash your hair? You wash it probably a lot. Right?

Connor: Am I admitting? No, I’m just kidding. Yes. I wash it several times a week.

Brittany: So you’re pretty good at washing hair.

Connor: You’d say I can do it very safely.

Brittany: Alright, so if you want to go wash hair in many states, you have to ask the government for permission. This is not cutting hair. This is not, you know, shaving ahead. Anything just shampooing someone’s hair.

Connor: Wow.

Brittany: You have to get a license from the government that can cost hundreds. If not thousands of dollars, when you incorporate all the fees and the classes you’ve gotta take.

Connor: It reminds me of a story that happened in my state, where there was a lady who was from an African country and here in Utah, there’s not a lot of African folks so that a lot of white people, but there’s a lot of these families who will adopt African children into their families. And so this woman said, you know what? There’s all these African kids out there. And these white mamas who do not know how to braid black hair, right? So she started offering these hair braiding services where she’s like, I’ll ill help. I know how to do this. And the moms were like, this is amazing. And let’s do it. So this woman start a little business. The government came and shut her down because she did not have a license for what’s called cosmetology, which is just like all the hair

Brittany: And makeup and hair. Yeah!

Connor: In so to get that license, she would’ve had to go to school for 2000 hours, pay tens of thousands of dollars. And here’s the kick. How,

Brittany: How long is 2000 hours?

Connor: That is that, that’s? I don’t know

Brittany: I was hoping you did the math. It’s a long

Connor: Time. 40. Is that 50, 50 weeks at 40 hours a week? Did I do that right? Or is that 200? That’s just 200. No, is that right? I don’t know. My, my brain hurts already. No, that’s right. That’s it’s, it’s basically a year full of school if you’re doing it full time, but here’s the weird thing. They’re like, you have to go to school and get this to get the license. But the schools did not even teach African hair braiding. What? Like that’s, that’s all she is. She didn’t use shampoo. She didn’t cut. She was just braiding. And they were telling her, you’re not allowed to do this unless you go to a school that doesn’t even teach what it is you’re doing. And, and meanwhile, here’s this lady who has been doing it safely for 25 years, just decided to start up this little business. And because the government said, you’re not allowed to do this without our permission. And oh, by the way, we’re not giving you permission. Now she couldn’t do it. It’s just crazy. It’s

Brittany: Crazy. And it seems like we’re kind of keeping people trapped in poverty in a lot of way. We’re keeping them poor because we’re not letting them work. And that concerns me a lot.

Connor: I think that’s exactly right. I, think we can all agree that there are a lot of rules that make sense. Mom and dads certainly have the right as parents to set rules in their house, for example. But when it comes to the government, when we have, you know, a right to do something, for example the government needs to be very careful about all these rules that are being set up. And as the kids listening, as we become adults, as we go out and get jobs and realize what rules are out there, that’s why there are organizations like the one I lead Libertas Institute, trying to prevent a lot of these rules, what you just said. Brittany, preventing people from working, preventing them from getting jobs from gaining more wealth to pull them outta poverty, help them pay their bills, provide for their families. So I think this is something that very important Brittany, I’m just glad that there’s not a lot of rules about who can do podcasts. Otherwise we’ve probably been in a lot of trouble

Brittany: Actually Connor, before we wrap up that there are laws about who can do YouTubes and some states actually require a permit.

Connor: So are you serious? Oh my gosh.

Brittany: Yes.

Connor: I legitimately just learned something new and terrifying. Well we gotta change those laws too, cuz that’s crazy. Well the guys, thanks for listening to this episode, we’re very excited to be doing this project. Make sure you are subscribed. Go to TuttleTwins.com/podcast to check out these episodes. Make sure that you’re sharing this with other people. We’ve got a fun list of topics coming up. So until next time, Brittany, it’s been great chatting with you.

Brittany: You too. See you next time.

 

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