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Vinnie Shrugs

By Alexander R. Cohen

Sep 21, 2012
Categories: Politics

“I feel like I’ve become a government employee without the benefits,” said Vinnie Mazzone, who’s been selling food in Brooklyn for decades. “And instead of a CEO or CFO, I’m a CCO, which is a chief compliance officer.”

That’s why he’s quitting.

VinnieVinnie Mazzone bought the business he turned into Vinnie’s Chicken Masters—motto: “Eat My Chicken”—in 1997. It was his fourth business in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

But now the New York city and state governments' harassment of business has gotten too much. The city Health Department (of soda ban infamy) makes restaurants post window displays Mazzone compares to scarlet letters. State tax authorities have audited Mazzone’s sales taxes twice recently: he blames bias against businesses that keep old-fashioned paper records instead of using computers. And those aren’t the only government agencies looking for ways to extract money from small businesses like his, Mazzone says: “They learned how the wiseguys work, and now on the legal side they use it.” (I am reminded of a certain New York Godsenator.)

Mazzone isn’t giving up on business altogether: He’s planning a trip across the country, to shop for a better place to do business.

Mazzone’s choice is a good reminder: You don’t have to spend your life complying with other people’s demands, not even a government’s. You don’t belong to anyone else.

It’s a good reminder, too, for officials: If you regulate businessmen on the premise that they will keep producing value (and employment opportunities) no matter what you do to them, you may discover that the premise is mistaken—not only because you’ll crush some businesses, but because some people, much like the heroes of Atlas Shrugged, will shrug off the burdens you put on them.

Here’s the story from Sheepshead Bites.

And here's the story of a banker who escaped the FDIC.

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