Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wanted: Ohio Small Business Appreciation Week (...or month, or year...)

Ever notice when a large company lays off 300 people it makes headlines everywhere, but when 300 small businesses have to lay off one person each, it goes unreported? The net effect is the same…300 people without jobs. So why is the impact of small business often overlooked?

Small business is the lifeblood of a free-market capitalist economy. It makes up the overwhelming majority of firms, employs the most number of people, and is the principle source of job creation. Small businesses, because they are small, are more dynamic and flexible to respond to changes in the marketplace, to be innovative, and to stimulate economic progress. Today’s small businesses are tomorrow’s medium-sized and large businesses.

Here in Ohio, though, with our State government – run exclusively by the Republican Party for well over 20 years – we are ranked near the bottom in terms of our friendliness to small business ; one of the highest taxed states ; and one of the worst states for economic freedom . And what’s worse, we continue to drop year after year in each of these categories. Entrepreneurs and small business people need economic freedom like a fish needs water. Ohio – thanks to 20 years of GOP rule – is the proverbial small business desert.

So this week has been declared National Small Business Week. The importance and the contributions of small business will be hailed in this coming week. And rightfully, so.

If you ask me, what we need is an Ohio Small Business Week…or month…or YEAR. Aw, hell… we just need to get rid of the GOP entirely and replace it with a party that actually appreciates free-market capitalism and the entrepeneur. When politicians want to whine and complain about all sorts of red-herring issues, like “job outsourcing” or illegal immigration, we need to ask them, well, why are YOU, Mr. Politician making it so hard for small business people to do what needs to be done to keep America – and Ohio – prosperous and progressive? All these other issues wouldn’t be major problems if small businesses weren’t prevented from doing what needs to be done to fill in the holes!

(Now, I could go on a tirade about how delusional Republican party members are regarding their party’s supposed ideological superiority in matters of economics…given that they have had TWENTY years at the helm, and things have gone from bad to worse… but I think the above stats speak for themselves.)

What we need is a party who appreciates the small businessman. Republicans have proven they would rather cater to their cronies in the big corporations – ie. Bob Taft’s “Third Frontier” proposal which straddles Ohioans with massive debt, while giving some fat welfare subsidies to politically-connected corporations. Democrats, while showing some signs of life in this area, lack the credibility and flexibility to make a whole-scale ideological shift to doing what needs to be done. (They might be able to offer some hope, but they have a LOT of work if they want to exploit this opportunity).

Oh, wait! We DO have a party that supports small business. They’re called the Libertarian Party of Ohio. And the Ohio gubernatorial candidate, Bill Peirce, features an economic agenda specifically designed to free small business. (Even other mid-western states have libertarian parties that are prioritizing small business as their focus, such as Indiana, and are making a lot of headway.)

As Dr. Peirce noted, if every business hired one more employee – just one – we’d have the worst labor shortage since WWII. So why would it be hard to hire one more employee? Well, most of Ohio’s businesses are small businesses, and they are so shackled by taxes and regulations, that taking on one additional worker is a big risk. Big companies? No problem. They have enough capital to absorb one additional employee with only a minor risk to the overall company. But small business works much closer to the success/failure margin. If we lightened the load on small business people, they would find it easier to consider that additional employee. Do Republicans (and Democrats) consider this? Of course not!

So, this week – National Small Business Week – take the time to ask yourself, why don’t we have a healthier economy? Why are the prospects for growth so slim? Why do we have the myriad of economic problems that we do, from eminent domain abuse, to job outsourcing, to stagnating incomes, and a net-outflow of population?

Then consider the plight of small business in Ohio.

And be sure to thank a Republican for the mess we’re in.

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