Matt Yglesias gets mugged by the DC small-business bureaucracy.

The temptation to snark, here, could be overwhelming.  The temptation to snark here, in fact, is almost overwhelming.  Matt Yglesias, on the personal roadblocks placed on him starting a new business in (Democratic party-dominated) DC:

In the District of Columbia, I need to get a simple Basic Business License to rent out a single dwelling. After puzzling over the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs website for a bit, it became clear that step No. 1 was actually to file form FR-500 with the Office of Tax and Revenue, which you can do online. Then it was time to hustle down to the DCRA (which closes at 4:30 p.m.) to file the paperwork. Once there, I learned that filing the FR-500 online wasn’t good enough—I needed a hard copy. Fortunately, the Office and Tax and Revenue was right across the street, so I went there and refiled. Then it was back to the DCRA to stand in line to get a number, wait for the number to be called, do some more paperwork, wait in another line for the cashier, fork over $100 in fees, then get a slip from the cashier to finalize the paperwork.

But then it turned out I needed to go to a third office, the Rental Accommodations Division of the Department of Housing and Community Development. It closes at 3:30 in the afternoon and required a 15-minute walk through a sketchy neighborhood. So the next morning I went down to that Rental Accommodations office to file a paper claiming exemption from D.C.’s rent control law.

The striking thing about all this isn’t so much that it was annoying—which it was—but that it had basically nothing to do with what the main purpose of landlord regulation should be—making sure I’m not luring tenants into some kind of unsafe situation.

…But I won’t.  Instead, I will gently note that the main purpose of landlord regulation is ACTUALLY to make sure that the people whose job it is to oversee landlord regulation continue to have enough work to justify their salaries.  I will also, again gently, observe that this entire article is an excellent example of that curious phenomenon that happens to liberals when they get hit with bureaucratic nonsense that personally affects them: to wit, they suddenly start sounding like conservatives.

Lastly: while I am being gentle, I am not going to be ridiculously gentle about things.  Matt Yglesisas wrote in the same article “[n]ot that I expect your pity.”  I assure the man: my pity will only be if Yglesisas does not learn the right lesson from all of this, which is: we need to take an axe to the bureaucracy.  An axe wielded by the Right, precisely because they’re not friends with the bureaucrats.  I kind of hope that I won’t need to feel that pity*.

Moe Lane

*They may not get better if you are patient with them and give them an opportunity to abjure their foolishness; but they will never get better if you are impatient and give them no hope for forgiveness.

Come on, in your heart you know that I’m right.


  • Cameron says:

    but they will never get better if you are impatient and give them no hope for forgiveness.
    I think actual change would come from two simple steps.
    1. A brutal, bloody purging of the more worthless types out there along with a scorched earth approach to a lot of the regulations followed with…
    2. The sweet, reasonable approach to the survivors where they learn that the will keep their job if they actually become helpful.
    As for Matt? I agree on when pity should be shown to him on this. :-)

  • Herp McDerp says:

    Moe, “pregressives” seem to learn only when the world rubs their noses in the messes they create and whacks them with a rolled-up newspaper; I’ve seen very few examples of them learning from the experiences of others. Case in point: hasn’t Yglesias ever heard of a gentleman by the name of George McGovern?

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