Franz Kafka

In my three or more decades of business experience and relationships I have only encountered a very small portion of the business owners. Yet it is striking how many I have encountered that had an encounter with the government that could best be described as Kafkaesque.

For those unfamiliar with the author, Franz Kafka, the term refers to his novels and generally means a situation having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality, often involving a bureaucracy. Most business owners I know are honest, moral and ethical .  Their success is marked by sacrifice, hard work, and responsibility.  They are very charitable and generous with their employees, colleagues and their church and community.

Yet they too often crossed a government bureaucrat or are held accountable to a regulation that the regulators themselves seem to have trouble understanding. Their experience is often very expensive and can be threatening to their enterprise.  Trying their best to do the right thing, these business owners are treated as criminals without the benefit of trial. They spend a fortune on lawyers trying to resolve a problem where they have no leverage and the problem is anything but clear.

This harsh reality is not limited to any single Federal agency; the story is the same with just about any of them.  In this world, laws can be applied retroactively, you can be held liable for parties you never met, and you are guilty until proven innocent.  Regulations that are impossible to comprehend are enforced by zealous bureaucrats with impunity.  When you hear these stories you wonder why the unemployment rate isn’t triple what it is.  Who would risk capital and a lifetime of work to the whims of a bureaucrat?

If you want laws to be respected you must make the laws respectable.