Tag Archives: government

Small entrepreneurs differ from Big Business

We should not confuse capitalism and corporatism with “free markets,” which I hope will always be with us, nor should we believe that mega-corporations are the same as “Mom and Pop” enterprises. The corporate “wolves” that are intent on centralizing power like to masquerade as entrepreneurial “sheep” so that they can dominate markets and eliminate competition. We must not be deceived by that, nor should we perpetuate that illusion. A recent poll shows that small business owners do not have the same attitudes toward regulation and taxation as big business executives. Here is a report from the Greenville News.–t.h.g.

Poll: Small business owners’ opinions differ from big business concerns

By Jenny Munro
Greenville News (SC), February 9, 2012

Columbia, SC—A national poll shows the opinions of small business owners differ dramatically from the advocacy of big businesses and multinational corporations.  The results of the national scientific poll were released over the past four weeks by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority.  The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners between December 8, 2011 and January 4, 2012.

”Many of the real opinions of small business owners are far different than what are portrayed by big business interests,” said Frank Knapp, Jr., Vice Chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and President/CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

“There are some real ‘man-bites-dog’ stories here that are particularly amazing since half of the respondents self-identified as either Republican or leaning Republican,” said Knapp.

“Small business owners do not hate regulations,” said Knapp.  “They support regulations ensuring clean air and water and those moving the country toward energy efficiency and clean energy.  And regulations are not stopping hiring as we’ve been hearing—lack of consumer demand is doing that.  In fact, small business owners view regulations as protecting them from big business.”

“Small business owners also don’t agree with the big business mantra on taxation,” said Knapp.  “They say that big businesses and multinational corporations use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes which harms small businesses.  A majority of these owners also support higher tax rates on individual income over $1 million, even $250,000.”

“These opinions fly in the face of the rhetoric about not raising taxes on the wealthiest because they are the ‘job creators’”, said Knapp.  “Small businesses are leading the job recovery in this country and they believe the wealthiest corporations and individuals are not paying their fair share of taxes.”

“On other issues small business owners share the public’s disgust with money in politics and disapprove of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision,” said Knapp. “Citizens United has unleashed massive amount of money from big corporations and millionaires and billionaires into political campaigns.  Small businesses believed they have been harmed because of this.”

Below are details of the poll results:

  • Small business owners see their top problem as weak customer demand, not regulations: 34 percent cited weak customer demand as the most important problem for their business, while only 14 percent named government regulations.
  • On the question of what would do the most to create jobs, cutting regulations came in low on the list: the top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas at 24 percent; reducing regulation was fifth at 10 percent.
  • Small business owners see an important role for standards and safeguards: 78 percent believe some standards are important to protect small businesses from unfair competition, and 76 percent believe regulations on the books should be enforced.
  • Small business owners see regulations as necessary for a modern economy: 93 percent agree their business can live with some regulation if it is fair, manageable and reasonable.
  • Small business owners express strong support for specific rules and standards: 78 percent support rules to prevent health insurance companies from increasing rates excessively, 84 percent support food safety standards, 80 percent support product safety standards and 80 percent support disclosure and regulation of toxic materials.
  • Small business owners support clean energy policies: 79 percent support ensuring clean air and water, and 61 percent support moving the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.
  • Small businesses believe in streamlining government processes: 73 percent of respondents believe we should allow for one-stop electronic filing of government paperwork.
  • Nine out of ten small business owners say big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay: 92 percent say big corporations’ use of such loopholes is a problem. Three-quarters of owners say their small business is harmed when loopholes allow big corporations to avoid taxes.
  • Nine out of ten small business owners say that U.S. multinational corporations’ use of accounting loopholes to shift their U.S. profits to their offshore subsidiaries to avoid taxes is a problem: 91 percent agree it is a problem, with 55 percent saying it’s a very serious problem. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners chose eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas.
  • Small business owners say big corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes: 67 percent believe big corporations pay less than their fair share. An even bigger majority, 73 percent, says multinational corporations pay less than their fair share.
  • Small business owners say millionaires pay less than their fair share in taxes: 58 percent say households whose annual income exceeds $1 million pay less than their fair share.
  • Small business owners support a higher tax rate for individuals earning more than $1 million: 57 percent agree that individuals earning more than $1 million a year should pay a higher tax rate on the income over $1 million.
  • Small business owners want to eliminate the “carried interest” loophole that gives hedge fund managers a big break on their taxes: 81 percent favor hedge fund managers paying taxes at the ordinary income tax rate, which currently tops out at 35 percent, rather than the 15 percent capital gains rate they pay now.
  • Small business owners support ending upper-income tax cuts: 51 percent say Congress should let tax cuts on taxable household income over $250,000 a year expire (only 40 percent believe they should be extended).
  • Respondents in this scientific national survey were politically diverse, with a majority Republican or independent-leaning Republican: 50 percent identified as Republican (27 percent) or independent-leaning Republican (23 percent); 32 percent as Democrat (14 percent) or independent-leaning Democratic (18 percent); and 15 percent as independent.
  • Small business owners say Citizens United decision hurts small businesses:  66 percent of small business owners view Citizens United v. FEC decision as bad for small businesses; 88 percent hold negative view of money in politics overall.

Read the full poll reports at these links:

http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_regulations.html

http://www.asbcouncil.org/uploads/Taxes_Poll_Report_FINAL.pdf

http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_money_in_politics.html

http://www.asbcouncil.org/poll_access_to_credit.html

Copyright 2012 Greenville News and Poll Reports

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America’s shrinking democracy

Prof. Peter Dale Scott is an astute observer of social and political phenomena. In his recent article, The Doomsday Project, Deep Events, and the Shrinking of American Democracy, he provides what I think is a very useful analysis of the present crisis in American government, which has serious implications for money, banking, and the shift toward a sustainable economy.

Here is an excerpt:

I would like in this essay to go further and propose a framework to analyze the on-going forces underlying all of the most important deep events, and how they have contributed to the political ascendance of what used to be called the military-industrial complex.  I hope to describe certain impersonal governing laws that determine the socio-dynamics of all large-scale societies (often called empires) that deploy their surplus of power to expand beyond their own borders and force their will on other peoples. This process of expansion generates predictable trends of behavior in the institutions of all such societies, and also in the individuals competing for advancement in those institutions. In America it has converted the military-industrial complex from a threat at the margins of the established civil order, to a pervasive force dominating that order.

With this framework I hope to persuade readers that in some respects our recent history is simpler than it appears on the surface and in the media. Our society, by its very economic successes and consequent expansion, has been breeding impersonal forces both outside and within itself that are changing it from a bottom-up elective democracy into a top-down empire. And among these forces are those that produce deep events.

I am far from alone in seeing this degradation of America’s policies and political processes. A similar pattern, reflecting the degradation of earlier empires, was described at length by the late Chalmers Johnson:

The evidence is building up that in the decade following the end of the Cold War, the United States largely abandoned a reliance on diplomacy, economic aid, international law, and multilateral institutions in carrying out its foreign policies and resorted much of the time to bluster, military force, and financial manipulation.

But my analysis goes beyond that of Johnson, Kevin Phillips, Andrew Bacevich, and other analysts, in proposing that three major deep events – Dallas, Watergate, and 9/11 – were not just part of this degradation of American democracy, but played a significant role in shaping it.

As author Michael Lind has observed, there have for a long time been two prevailing and different political cultures in America, underlying political differences in the American public, and even dividing different sectors of the American government.  One culture is predominantly egalitarian and democratic, working for the legal consolidation of human rights both at home and abroad. The other, less recognized but with deep historical roots, prioritizes and teaches the use of repressive violence against both domestic and Third World populations to maintain “order.”

To some extent these two mindsets are found in all societies. They correspond to two opposing modes of power and governance that were defined by Hannah Arendt as “persuasion through arguments” versus “coercion by force.” Arendt, following Thucydides, traced these to the common Greek way of handling domestic affairs, which was persuasion (πείθειν) as well as the common way of handling foreign affairs, which was force and violence (βία).”

Writing amid the protests and riots of the 1960s, Arendt feared that traditional authority was at risk, threatened (in her eyes) by the contemporary “loss of tradition and of religion.” A half century later, I would argue that a far greater danger to social equilibrium comes now from those on the right who invoke authority in the name of tradition and religion. With America’s huge expansion into the enterprise of covertly dominating and exploiting the rest of the world, the open processes of persuasion, which have been America’s traditional ideal for handling domestic affairs, have increasingly tilted towards top-down violence.

This tilt towards violent or repressive power is defended rhetorically as a means to preserve social stability, but in fact it threatens it. As Kevin Phillips and others have demonstrated, empires built on violent or repressive power tend to rise and then fall, often with surprising rapidity.  Underlying the discussion in this essay is the thesis that repressive power is unstable, creating dialectical forces both within and outside its system. Externally, repressive power helps create its own enemies, as happened with Britain (in India), France (in Indochina) and the Netherlands (in Indonesia).

Read the full essay here.