After my summer affair with a minimum wage job at a thrift store came to an end, I decided on a new sort of career. I wanted to be a bus driver. I like driving, particularly if I get paid to do it. I also like talking to kids, teaching them things. It may even be that- as a vain, wild hope- I might influence the life of some school student who might otherwise never be inspired with the confidence to live free in a school system that is not only anti-individual, but dead set upon making children used to the idea of submitting to authority.

In this article, I will attempt to describe as best I can the extraordinarily harmful effects that government regulation has upon business. Mainly, this involves forcing businesses to pay more money out of its profits in order to stay in compliance with federal and state laws. However, there are other, less obvious effects which are nonetheless just as bad.

To begin with, the government- either federal or local- presumes that a company, whose job it is to maintain and operate school buses and vans for the purpose of conveying students from their stops to various schools around America, is not competent enough to be trusted with the care and management of children and the buses and vans they ride around in. A regulation directing individual behavior, or a business practice, operates upon the presumption that neither the individual nor the business would perform such behaviors or do such practices as would be required to conduct safe, profitable operations.

For example, in spite of Pennsylvania Governor Corbett’s statement that he is going to allow medical marijuana, regulations for bus drivers have not caught up yet. There is essentially a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use. A bus driver found with a .02 blood alcohol level- even driving their own vehicle- can have their federal CDL license revoked. The regulations prohibiting drug and alcohol use presume that drivers are not responsible enough to moderate their usage in order to avoid negatively affecting the performance of their duties.

In other words, prohibitions against the use of drugs and alcohol automatically assume that every person will either drink, smoke or inject something if given the chance- irresponsibly so. This regulation presumes that grown adults are essentially gullible children who need to be led by the hand. Personal responsibility does not come into it.

Thus, I had to take a urinalysis test. I should mention that today’s sample of urine was the second one I had to provide at the company’s expense in order to satisfy government law. The first test was one for sugar, testing for diabetes. The second one was for drugs and alcohol. There are two different sets of rules for each: the drug and alcohol test is a lot more stringent. It seems that no one really cares if you cheat on the sugar test- which would essentially be the same as defrauding an employer by skewing the results. The mania against drugs and alcohol, in the doctor’s office, manifests itself in the form of deep mistrust. Urine donors have to empty out their pockets. They are not allowed to wash their hands or flush the toilet. Because some people cheat, it is assumed that everyone will.

No one in any part of the process has considered that more laws creates two classes of people: lawbreakers and law-abiders. A urine test trying to detect drugs is not about the drug use itself: it is about whether the employee is obeying the law or not. No employer, so far as I have been able to observe, has come up with the idea that he or she can create rules governing the conduct of his or her employees better than the government can. The government is a disinterested observer, one who is not familiar with the day to day operations of the business, one who most likely does not know what the company’s profit and loss margins are, and certainly one who does not have to answer to a person in authority within the company.

This leads government officials- elected or not- to make laws that don’t make sense for businesses.

Take for example a CDL license. On the surface of it, a CDL license appears to be a good thing. It is a license which allows drivers to drive tractor trailers and buses, among other vehicles. However, just like a normal driver’s license, the CDL license does not guarantee that any driver will perform consistently well after obtaining it. The license merely states that the driver passed a knowledge test and passed a training course. It does not guarantee that a driver will perform well in any number of conditions, such as snow, ice, rain, strong winds, and so on. A CDL license exam does not force participants into every possible driving scenario they may face.

The CDL exam is another method the government uses upon the presumption that businesses won’t train their employees correctly, or that employees won’t be able to train themselves in whatever manner they choose. It is the same as requiring twenty hours of practice and an exam in order to operate a lawnmower. The only basis upon which such a test can exist is if the legislators who put it into existence distrusted some individuals so much that they felt the need to shield the public from their mistakes.

Shielding the public from the mistakes of individuals is perhaps the worst decision a lawmaker can make. Accidents and disasters are informative incidents which compel individuals and businesses to act differently than they would otherwise. Without regulation, a school bus driver has only the instruction of his superiors at work and his own conscience to tell him what to do. He will then decide upon the best course of action to take based on what he himself knows. With regulation, the school bus driver’s primary concern is avoiding punishment from violating the rules. This is not the same as acting in favor of something- driving safely, for example. It is merely acting to avoid something- punishment for not driving safely.

The difference between these two patterns of behavior manifests itself in school bus drivers who break the regulations that they find least likely to land them in trouble. A driver may enter a parking lot by entering where there is a do not enter sign if they feel it will not get them in trouble. A driver who is actuated by the desire to do right will act out of consideration to the reason the do not enter sign was put there and follow it.

In other words, rather than preventing bad behavior in bus drivers (and the population in general), government regulation increases it. Thus, the legislator will enact even more regulations to keep people in line which will, of course, have the opposite effect. Someone once said, and I cannot recall who, that a good person does not need laws to tell him what to do while a bad person will not follow the laws as they exist. By conflating laws and morality, legislators produce a disrespect for laws and a lack of morality.

For the business owner, this is extraordinarily bad news. A group of employees who are burdened with regulations have one of two choices: either disregard the regulations as morally binding and risk putting the business in an embarrassing position or try to follow every regulation every time in the hopes that they will not catch backlash from someone somewhere. A employee who follows the latter strategy may end up placing government regulation above his employer’s rules. This essentially makes the employer nothing more than a treasurer who manages money while the legislator is really the person who decides how the business will be run.

It is also worth mentioning that, rather than employers being able to take employees at their word when they say they are not doing drugs or alcohol- or allowing such people to to do so in the course of their duties- regulations prohibit this. In particular, a convicted felon is completely ineligible to become a bus driver. Some of the US felonies include: drunkeness, disorderly conduct, drug abuse violations, weapons violations (carrying a weapon or possession of a weapon).

With America’s police force dedicated to swelling the various court systems of the country at present, it transpires that a wrongful conviction- or even a correct one in which an individual reformed his behavior- serves as a barrier to employment. It may be no surprise, then, to find that many bus companies are lacking in drivers. If the bus company is overburdened with the costs of training and medical tests for new hires to the point that they have to keep wages low, they should be able to give people a second chance, particularly if the felony committed was a non-violent one. It should be up to each school district what kind of person they want driving school buses.

Because the government puts an enormous stigma upon lawbreakers, parents naturally conclude “once a criminal, always a criminal.” No allowance is made for a person who made a mistake. No allowance is made for a police officer who went outside his prescribed duty by persecuting individuals he didn’t like, individuals who pled guilty or no contest at court even when they knew they were innocent. Adults who attend PTA meetings do not quite seem to understand that when the government accuses a person of something, that person has to pay the government in bail in order to defend himself from that same government. The district attorney, the judge, the bailiff, the stenographer, all are paid for by the state. Thus, in most cases (though not all), none of these individuals have an incentive to see innocent people walk free, much less keep them away from felonies.

What does this mean for the individual? Simply that unemployment is more likely for convicted felons who found themselves on the wrong side of the system. People who got sucked in, chewed up and spit back out now have several career opportunities denied to them. With less opportunity to earn a living wage, the likelihood of recidivism increases. This is to say nothing about the employer’s lack of understanding about how detrimental the prison system of the US is upon an individual’s mental and physical health.

That employers should side with the government is something of a mysterious result that can only be explained by their preference for statism over critical thinking. Any employer who would take a good hard look at the effects all the regulations had upon his business would soon see that such regulations cause him to make less money, have access to fewer employees and have less autonomy than they would otherwise have.

It is, in essence, the next best thing to nationalizing a business concern completely. With nationalization, profits don’t matter- only obedience to rules. If people today believe that corporations run the government, it may in part be due to the effect government regulation has had upon businesses- both government and businesses operate so similarly that it is difficult to tell one from the other. The individual has little say in either organization. In both, the individual’s place is simply to be a biological wealth-generating machine.

In order for employees to be treated as decent, responsible individuals, employers must be trusted to know what they are doing. Nowhere can it be presumed that when parents become so emotionally involved with their children that, when given the choice of which company to hire to drive their kids to school, they will choose a company with bad drivers and a bad safety record. As with all other free market services, the best and most capable people will rise to the top- rather than those who have simply learned the skill of following the rules.