Regulation: You Can’t Have Jobs and Eat Them, Too

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As the debate swirls around regulations and jobs, it is refreshing to hear a businessman weigh in on the issue. This week, the CEO of Darden Restaurants, Clarence Otis, Jr., wrote that the excessive burden of new regulation makes it “increasingly difficult for businesses to see why and where creating new jobs makes sense.”

Otis heads the parent company of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse, so his experience creating jobs in the private sector is extensive. Unfortunately for Darden Restaurants and other businesses around the country, Otis notes that mounting regulations at the federal, state, and local levels are a serious impediment to business growth and investment. To make matters worse, industries where “low profit margins are a fact of life,” like the restaurant industry, have much greater difficulty adapting to a “plate piled high” with regulations.

Otis strikes an equally relevant chord when he highlights the dim prospect for job creation in today’s regulatory environment:

…we need policymakers to understand the snowball effect of too many regulations. Their collective effect is to threaten job creation and prevent us in the restaurant industry from doing our part to put our economy back on its feet.

As Heritage experts James Gattuso and James Sherk point out, “unemployment… has remained high, because job creation has been extremely low.” While certain lawmakers on Capitol Hill claim that regulations have no negative impact on jobs, the facts—and employers—say otherwise:

When employers are asked about their concerns, they increasingly cite regulation. In a survey of small businessmen conducted last month by Gallup, for example, government regulation topped their list of concerns, cited by 22 percent of respondents. Consumer confidence was a distant second at 15 percent, followed by “lack of consumer demand” at 12 percent.

To strengthen the economy and reduce unemployment, businessmen like Clarence Otis, Jr. need to be freed from Washington’s regulatory overreach. The task of creating jobs is best left to businesses and entrepreneurs, not the government.

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Johnny Russell is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit:

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