How Small Business Is Getting Stifled and Extorted

|June 29, 2024
Close-up of person stamping documents to approve agreements.

Two recent incidents make me realize how new thinking reaches into business with profound ramifications.

Most of us who dare to be entrepreneurs, taking personal responsibility and risk, like to think we can continue on our trajectory like we have for decades.

But times, they are a-changin’.

Here’s how I know…


I’ve been called as an expert witness in litigation involving a Pennsylvania mining company unable to get the state oversight agency to release its land reclamation bond.

When the mining company excavated, fertilized and seeded down the reclaimed land, one of the landowners immediately turned out a bunch of horses on the fragile ground.

The horses ate and pawed the land, eating the tender fledgling grass into the ground. They created erosion. The Pennsylvania regulatory agency says the reclaimed land does not meet vegetative standards and therefore the bond assuring compliance can’t be released.

That’s the first incident.

The second one involves a regional abattoir that my wife and I co-own. We purchased about a half-interest in it 14 years ago and have operated generally without crises.

In the last year, however, we’ve received threatening letters from the Food Safety Inspection Service about noncompliance issues that may result in closure.

A smaller plant 50 miles away actually was closed on similar infractions just a few months ago. When you operate without anything like this for nearly 15 years and suddenly face such aggressive threats and hostility, it makes you wonder. Our team assembled a Zoom call last week with several small abattoirs in the state, along with our congressman and inspection administrators.

Now to the nub on both of these issues.

Destructive Behavior

The Pennsylvania mine owner, who has been in the business for 50 years, told me that this relatively minor reclamation bond problem developed because the persona and demeanor of the regulators have changed.

He said up until a decade ago, when a situation like this occurred, all parties would come to the table to work it out.

But today’s young regulators are different. They’re coming into their careers steeped in anti-mining, anti-business, global warming worldviews that fundamentally change the spirit of discussions.

Likewise, in our abattoir discussions, the problem appears to be young regulators coming into the plant steeped in anti-business, anti-cow, global warming from burps and farts – you get it.

It’s not friendly. It’s not even professional. It’s just destructive.

These two incidents made me realize the practical and real-world ramifications of modern narratives. We’d like to think we can isolate ourselves from radical fad agendas… but with the pervasive interventionist reality of government regulatory bureaucracy, we can’t.

These young, incoming regulators listen to the shrill cries of paranoia.

Throughout history, “the sky is falling” always outsells “it’s a beautiful day.”

Humans are hardwired toward the negative. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People points out that one criticism can unbalance several praises.

As victimhood and entitlement dominate, demands that government agencies protect and babysit us push regulators to count their beans more carefully. To be more hardnosed, less reasonable.

As a result, small business finds itself stifled and extorted at every turn. I hear a lot of discussion about inflation and rising prices. I’m far more concerned about growing regulatory overreach.

The two issues should be considered similarly detrimental. But almost nobody, and certainly nobody in the mainstream media, talks about the ever-mounting regulatory tyranny strangling entrepreneurship.


Our society by and large has accepted the notion that requiring a license to pee is not only an acceptable role for government, but a necessary oversight for functional society.

Such oversight inevitably grows like a cancer. More rules… more bureaucrats… more costs… more extortion.

The problem with the regulatory agency is that it creates the rules, polices the rules and adjudicates the rules. No separation of power exists.

When the rulemaker is both enforcer and judge, the poor allegedly noncompliant peasant has virtually no recourse.

To whom do you appeal?

Poking the Bear

If you appeal, you poke the bureaucratic bear, and with a mountain of subjective rules to whimsically or retributively enforce, the regulator can find additional infractions.

The most common way through this tyranny is Fascism, also known as “public-private” initiatives, whereby business and government join hands and collude.

That’s not an option for small business… it’s an option only for big business.

That’s why you can’t have big government and small business. Big government inherently and inevitably creates big business.

The other option is to figure out a completely nonregulated business model that circumvents everything.

Of course, while these platforms exist, they are like painting a target on your back. You’d better be ready to defend them in court. And courts are not often friendly to people who defy regulators because the populace expects judges to keep them from being victims and guarantee them entitlements.

I don’t have answers… all I have are incidents. And they are not encouraging.

As a small business owner, these incidents do not bode well for a flourishing future.

This is why we all must devote ourselves to promoting anything that denies the government more power and trims its payroll… by like 90%.

May it be.

Joel Salatin
Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin calls himself a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. Others who like him call him the most famous farmer in the world, the high priest of the pasture, and the most eclectic thinker from Virginia since Thomas Jefferson. Those who don’t like him call him a bioterrorist, Typhoid Mary, a charlatan, and a starvation advocate. With a room full of debate trophies from high school and college days, 12 published books, and a thriving multigenerational family farm, he draws on a lifetime of food, farming and fantasy to entertain and inspire audiences around the world.