Call it a fish story from a turkey farmer.

The farmer, Bob Neal of New Sharon, told legislators during a recent forum to solicit stories about government’s over-regulation of business that the state health department was so strict, an inspector cited one of his bald employees for preparing food without a hairnet.

It made a great anecdote. Too bad it didn’t happen that way.

It turns out the “bald” employee Neal said was cited for a violation wasn’t bald.

The employee, a police officer who was working part time at the turkey farm’s food tent, sported a popular military hairstyle called “high-and-tight” — shaved on the sides and crewcut length on top.

Neal’s recollection of the incident was apparently as fuzzy as the employee’s haircut, and understandably so: This alleged citation occurred between 10 and 16 years ago.

Neal still has his turkey farm, despite repeated violations of the hairnet protocol as documented by state records, which suggests that his business is not suffering unduly from the cruel burden of government over-regulation.

Looks more like he has an ax to grind against the rules on hairnets.

Government and business have a natural push-pull relationship, which is inherently inharmonious. The system is meant to have checks and balances to ensure that a variety of sometimes-conflicting interests are protected.

This isn’t to say that the system cannot become unbalanced — and there are real examples, not exaggerations fueled by faulty memories, that regulators sometimes hinder economic progress.

In today’s fragile economic climate, it’s wise to review the demands by government that place unreasonable restrictions on job creators in the public sector.

People, after all, need jobs.

But this review cannot occur if business owners only offer gripes, not solutions. Telling legislators tall tales about stereotypical idiot bureaucrats and their citation booklets will not help state officials make important decisions about the growth of Maine’s economy.

Nor will catchy sound bites, for that matter.

When restaurateur Steve DiMillo said during another recent forum on business and government red tape, “Resist all efforts to create first-in the-nation anything,” he received rousing applause.

Yet the sentiment is shortsighted. States can be effective laboratories for innovative policy, but not if they refuse to innovate. The mere action of government will not necessarily hinder economic development; the unwillingness or inability of government and business to work together always will.

It could be argued that the state’s inability to formulate a cohesive economic development and energy policy has been a greater hindrance to business than any single regulation.

It’s often not what government does that’s the problem. It’s what government doesn’t do.

All of this puts Gov.-elect Paul LePage in a precarious position. soliciting the input of businesses on their regulatory hassles, he is working toward fulfilling a campaign pledge to make sure that Maine is “open for business.”

But he and his policy advisers must realize there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this issue, as every business can produce its own particular tale of woe when it comes to dealing with government overseers.

LePage must decide which rules should be fixed, which are outdated and should be scrapped, and — perhaps most important — which ones serve a useful or even vital purpose and should remain.

He can’t and won’t make every business person happy in this process.

Gov. LePage should do his best to make good on candidate LePage’s promise to help create jobs for the people of Maine.

But he would be well-advised to let fish stories like Neal’s slip through the (hair)net.In today’s fragile economic climate, it’s wise to review the demands by government that place unreasonable restrictions on job creators in the public sector. People, after all, need jobs. But this review cannot occur if business owners only offer gripes, not solutions. Telling legislators tall tales about stereotypical idiot bureaucrats and their citation booklets will not help state officials make important decisions about the growth of Maine’s economy.