Thank you, government, for letting people earn a living

It might come as a shock to many of you, but, abroad, the common image of the United States is of an unregulated, capitalistic, free market utopia where taxes are minimal and regulations are non-existent. It is true that on some — and only some — measures the United States does compare favorably (or unfavorably, depending on your opinion) with other developed nations on some measures of ‘government,’ but really, we aren’t so much of an outlier as many here and abroad think.

If you want an example, consider Minnesota’s ‘cottage food‘ laws. Previously, these laws set an annual gross salary cap of $18,000 including expenses for ‘cottage food producers’. As a result of recent changes, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture now allows an annual gross salary cap of $78,000 for cottage food producers and permits them to operate as LLCs and produce treats for cats and dogs.

WCCO reports:

Jessica Mayer, the owner of Bake You Happy, started her cottage food business last year when the pandemic hit. Like Mayer, nearly 2,000 other Minnesotans registered for a cottage food license since the pandemic.

Mayer has been selling baked goods primarily online. However, with the $18,000 limit, she wasn’t able to do it as a full-time job. With the new law in place, Mayer said she doesn’t have to wait to get a brick-and-mortar store anymore.

“It works a little better than it would at a brick-and-mortar store because you have less overhead cost, but at the same time, you can only charge so much for a dozen of cookies before someone says ‘whoa, that’s a lot for cookies’,” Mayer said.

Congratulations are due to the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Association.

But why do these laws exist in the first place? The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s FAQs on the subject answer a number of questions, but not that one. Answers on a postcard. Whatever the reason — and I have little doubt that ‘safety’ would be invoked somehow, somewhere along the way — with laws such as these hampering small businesses for no obvious reason, the popular image of a free market paradise is pretty far from reality.