Reading the left-wing press can sometimes make it sound as if the Trump administration and the Republican Congress have already succeeded in rolling back all the burdensome regulations that afflict small businesses. Alas, just this week I spent hours on behalf of FutureOfCapitalism, LLC responding to the Department of Commerce's "2017 Economic Census" and the "2017 Annual Business Survey."
You sometimes see reporters on Twitter making comments like "I don't get why Republicans hate the census." The reporters work for companies that are large enough that the reporters don't have to fill out those census forms by themselves. But for a small business, it is a hassle.
It just so happens that the same week as the two census forms — which came with letters signed "chief, economic reimbursable surveys division" and "chief, economy-wide statistics division" and "acting division director, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation" — the small company that operates this website was also hit with a "know your customer" compliance request from its bank. That, too, required opening secure emails with secure attachments and providing information to help the bank and its army of compliance employees comply with federal rules.
I can understand the need for the government to collect economic data — how else would we all know the good growth news? And I can understand the need to combat money laundering or terrorists using the American financial system. But even in a deregulatory overall environment with Congress and the executive branch under the control of the supposedly business-friendly Republicans, the pain-in-the-neck aspect of this sort of thing is enough to be exasperating. It's one thing to be answering the census once every ten years as a household to help the government decide how to allocate congressional districts to the states. It's another thing to have one's time confiscated, on an uncompensated basis, to help the government collect economic statistics that plenty of private firms and for that matter other government agencies (the IRS) already collect.