Washington, DC vs. Entrepreneurs

The District of Columbia is not only our nation’s capital; it is a city of great history, one which people from all across the world have made their home. But, perhaps because Washington, D.C. is the center of federal power, it has for too long clung to the idea that there is no problem that government cannot fix. As a result, the District government has enacted one rule after another, over time creating a thicket of regulations that stifle the ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive of countless Washingtonians.

The lack of entrepreneurship in the District can be laid directly at the feet of its government. Twenty years ago, the Washington Monthly magazine called the D.C. government “[t]he worst city government in America.” Although it noted that corruption was dramatic, the article also explained how the everyday incompetence of city officials hurt the District’s residents, particularly its poor.

Little has changed since then. Year in and year out, Washington, D.C. is at the very bottom of the Small Business & Enterprise Council’s Small Business Survival Index. If anything, the District’s last-place ranking understates how bad it is in the city: The Council each year notes “that the District of Columbia was not included in the studies on the states’ liability systems, eminent domain legislation and highway cost efficiency, so D.C.’s last place score actually should be even worse.”

Entrepreneurship is the foundation of economic growth in this nation and the root of the American Dream. Arbitrary and excessive government regulations, however, create roadblocks to economic self-sufficiency. For those who are trying to take their first step up the economic ladder, these barriers can be insurmountable. Rather than pursuing their dreams, too many District residents move to more hospitable jurisdictions, take their businesses underground or simply give up.

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