A friend of mine, who is a running enthusiast and lives in a red state, has for the past few years been putting on an annual foot race in a county park. A few hundred people participate. Everyone has fun and it is a successful event that gains participants with each successive year. I don’t think my friend makes any money from his efforts. He is doing it because he himself has participated in many races over the years and gets satisfaction out of giving back, as he put it. It takes a lot of work to organize even a small event of this type.
My friend told me that he is not planning to put on the race after this year. Why? He used to go to the park manager to arrange the necessary permits and so forth, but the County now requires him to arrange everything through a county office that makes event arrangements for the entire system. This leads to a great deal of additional hassle for my friend. Where the park manager was helpful in dealing with issues that are important in organizing a small race, his counterpart in the county office is clueless. The county office has a one-size-fits-all written agreement that is designed for big events and they are unwilling to negotiate on anything. For example, the contract stipulates that my friend must show proof that he carries workman’s comp, even though he has no employees, and that he must obtain from each service provider (portable toilets, race timing services, etc.) a signed statement that they do not do business with the governments of Iran or Sudan. This is crazy and my friend doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble.
My friend doesn’t put on foot races for a living and can simply walk away, but small businesspeople increasingly have to deal with similar issues. The net aggregate cost must be enormous.