Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson Takes on Excessive Regulations

January 10th, 2013

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Life has been good for heavy metal pioneers Iron Maiden. After decades of touring, the band has transformed itself into a highly lucrative brand, selling untold quantities of merchandise to legions of fans. Since that time, singer Bruce Dickinson has become a wealthy entrepreneur of sorts.

Recently, Dickinson announced plans to launch a new aircraft maintenance company in Cardiff in an effort to give back to the community and create 1000 jobs. However, after buying over five million dollars worth of equipment, he found himself stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for regulators. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on his struggles with red tape, Bruce Dickinson was quoted as saying, “civil servants, on some level, are almost institutionally prejudiced against entrepreneurial activity and risk.” Check out Iron Maiden’s music video for “The Trooper” below, and let’s talk taxes and regulations after the jump.

Executive Branch Regulations Versus Market Regulations

Entrepreneurs often find themselves stuck, already exposed to potential losses, while waiting for regulators to show up and verify that they are following the rules. Meanwhile, few regulations are seriously designed with product safety in mind, as most are originally written by lobbyists for the biggest companies in each industry. As such, investors are often angered when they find out that they have to spend huge sums of money complying with a regulation that doesn’t make sense upon explanation.

This largely happens because most regulatory decisions are made purely in the executive branch of government. In America’s constitutional system, for example, such rules should be passed by the Congress. However, the Congress has largely handed over this authority to the executive branch through the creation of departments filled with un-elected bureaucrats, who are granted the power to write laws on a certain subject. In America, thousands of new regulations are created each year, and complying with them is a massive, expensive industry involving the hire of regulatory compliance firms.

In fact, Bruce Dickinson finds America’s tax level and regulatory environment so oppressive that he wouldn’t be able to open a business here. In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said, “The U.S. is—it’s a minefield. Open a business in California? You must be joking. The lawyers, the taxes—people talk about high taxes here. Well, yes they are high, but in America, in the places you might really want to open a business—New York, L.A.—you’ve got state taxes, city taxes, state income taxes, city income taxes—you add that lot up, you’re paying more over there than here.”

Market regulations on the other hand take place primarily in court rooms. When businesses fail to deliver on their claims, consumers can sue. Workers often benefit from huge class action lawsuits that create precedent and prevent future firms from committing abuses. Everyone wants to see high standards of product and workplace safety, but granting individuals in the executive branch the ability to create their own laws slows down business activity, benefits huge corporations that spend lots of money lobbying government, and doesn’t result in product or workplace safety. In fact, regulatory departments often grant liability caps to huge corporations, thus encouraging them to play fast and loose with safety standards.

Bruce Dickinson: Taxed Enough Already

UK citizen Bruce Dickinson pays around half his income in taxes. In his talk with the Wall Street Journal, he mentioned that a 20% VAT tax puts extra stress on his new business ventures. Ultimately, European-style taxation is too high for Iron Maiden’s frontman, who is primarily motivated by job creation.

It’s interesting that he feels taxes in the US are in some ways worse than in the UK. In places like New York City or Los Angeles, taxpayers are hit hard in the wallet from multiple levels of government, resulting in what he describes as a more costly tax bill than Dickinson pays in his home country.

While no one wants to see people dying in the streets due to poor product and workplace safety, it’s important to realize that not all regulations are reasonable. Unreasonable regulations cause serious hardships. When regulations are determined in the marketplace and in the court room under the supervision of a judge, the people are given the opportunity to participate in the process. When bureaucrats appointed by politicians are allowed to write these rules, the companies they worked for prior to being appointed tend to get special favors, and competition is prevented through the writing of strict, arbitrary, and harmful rules that only apply to small businesses.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.