Thursday, August 30, 2012

Small Business Baloney

Throughout their convention, Republicans have been heaping adulation on small business owners. They have gotten teary-eyed talking about people who work seven days a week and late into the night, every night, to build restaurants, retail stores, and security firms. They have been telling us that small businesses need tax breaks so that they can create new jobs and that owning a small business is the American dream.

I am a small business owner. I own a corporation that employs exactly one person, me. That's not unusual these days. A lot of people who lost their jobs when people like Mitt Romney bought and destroyed their companies and derailed the entire U.S. economy have gone into business themselves, because they had no choice. Some people went into business for themselves because their employers were pushed out of existence when Costco (where Romney wants us to believe he shops) or Staples (which Romney boasts of having created) moved into their towns and crowded out smaller stores. Some lost their jobs because Romney sent the jobs overseas.

It's odd to hear the Republicans, whose convention is financed by the largest of the large corporations, tell us how important small businesses are. If small businesses are so important to Republicans, why do all of their economic policies so directly benefit companies that build nuclear power plants, warplanes, and oil pipelines? The small business people I know are free-lance editors, designers, and writers; solo practitioner lawyers, architects, and doctors; artists, tutors, shop owners, musicians, landscapers, and just about anything else a person could be if they have to support themselves. I have never met a small business owner who builds power plants.

I can't believe that the Republicans haven't noticed that far fewer independent retail stores even exist these days, unless you count franchises. But the Republicans' policies aren't designed to help the guy who runs a donut shop. They are designed to help people like Romney, whose company made a fortune on the Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins corporations. Republicans help corporate raiders like Bain Capital, which bought Domino's Pizza, Toys R Us, Burger King, and Burlington Coat Factory, not the thousands of little mom and pop shops that used to sell the same goods and services that the big corporations now do.

The reality is that Republican politicians, just like a lot of Democratic politicians, cater to the people and companies with the most money. That isn't the “small business owner,” who, perhaps with the help of a handful of documented or undocumented workers, cuts grass. It's the real estate development company which owns corporate office complexes in several states and contracts with the biggest corporate landscapers they can find.

For all the talk about who “built that,” there hasn't been much talk about the fact that Romney and his buddies built hardly any of the companies that brought him his fortune. He bought them after someone else built them. So if the Republicans think that I and my fellow small business owners are going to feel insulted by Obama pointing out that whatever success we have is due in part to having reliable electricity, clean water, good roads, public libraries, reliable fire protection, and a whole host of things that government provides, he is wrong. We know darned well that we are dependent upon not just our government, but upon our customers, suppliers, and if we have employees, the people who work for us. We know that luck has a lot to do with whether we succeed. Sure, we take pride in what we do, but we are not so arrogant as to think that we do it all ourselves.

In all of his years of buying, plundering, and bankrupting businesses, there isn't any indication that Mr. Romney had any interest in small businesses. I guess I should be grateful for that. It's hard enough running a business without having to worry that some jerk will come along and destroy everything you have done, just to fill his own pockets.

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