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Business People Differ on Whether the Economy Needs More or Less Regulation

By Erin Lale

Political debates tend to oversimplify some issues, and the question of how to help businesses improve the economy and create jobs is one of them. The devil is in the detail, as the old saying goes. Whether business people feel the need for more or less regulation depends on what type of business it is and what is the specific regulation.

Randy D. Jarvis, President of Union National Bank in Sparta, Wisconsin says, “There are two areas we can consider. As a locally-owned community bank, we were not involved in any of the risky lending schemes of the larger banks. Nor have we been abusive to our customers in our lending practices. However, as a result of their actions, regulators have created more regulations that we must follow. Since we are not large enough to devote an entire department or legal team toward compliance with these regulations we are now disadvantaged to our competing larger banks that got us in this mess in the first place.

“The second point I wanted to make was the unfair laws surrounding our competing credit unions and how they evolved to allow credit unions to unfairly compete with us community banks. Credit unions were originally designed to serve a limited group such as firemen, servicemen overseas, etc.Now the laws have changed to allow basically anyone to become a “member.” The problem with this is that credit unions do not pay ANY income tax on the revenue they take from their members. This allows them to unfairly compete with us on both loan and deposit rates. Currently, there is legislation proposed to even expand commercial lending for credit unions. In a time when state and local municipalities are facing huge budget shortfalls it is beyond me why we continue to subsidize credit unions including the commercial loans that they make. Tax them like us and consumers, including their members, can feel tax relief in their communities by shoring up their governmental budget shortfalls without them paying the difference.”

David Stumph is President of Resourcenter, an association and professional society management company operating from resourcenter.com. He says, “I would say that it is just the opposite in our case. The lack of regulation has impacted us in large measure. Particularly with regard to healthcare insurance programs. Insurance companies have gone completely unchecked to the point that premiums raise each year at rates that make it have for our company to continue to offer insurance. They seem to have a monopoly. Yes, there are a number of companies offering insurance programs but they seem to be in collusion with each other when it comes to the rising cost of premiums. A public option is critically needs to guarantee that there is a competitive marketplace to keep them in check.

“My company faces this question each year – do we continue to offer healthcare insurance to our employees or face the possibility of closing our doors as a result of the escalating costs. We are a small company with only 17 employees. While we always want to grow, the thought of adding more people to our insurance program is a rather frightening reality. So, in my mind, regulation is in fact the issue. There is not enough.”

When we as a society decide on regulations of any kind, especially those that effect large, complicated, and important systems like the economy. It’s worth considering the specific effects on specific businesses and people instead of applying a one size fits all solution of either less or more. After all, the economy is made up of individuals, and every issue has its particular effects on individual businesses and people.