What Small Businesses Need

small businessmanThis year, there were about 25 bills introduced in the California legislature taking aim at the regulatory process. Listening to those pushing bills that would eviscerate core worker and environmental protections, regulations are to blame for our battered economy. They say regulations have created a bad business climate and that’s why small businesses can’t keep their doors open.

Hmmm. Sure makes for nice soundbites. But is it true?

Not so much.

In actuality, deregulation is a far greater threat to our economy. Those pushing so-called “regulatory reform” seem to conveniently forget that it was deregulation of Wall Street and Big Banks that caused our economic collapse. And there are important worker safety regulations, like heat stress protections, that took decades to get enacted. Other regulations, like nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, protect public health and have literally saved lives.

But the bogus claim by the right wing and big corporations that regulations pose the greatest threat to the economy has been repeated so many times, some accept it as truth. The problem with that is, when you actually talk to the small businesses that everyone keeps claiming to be speaking for, it’s not regulations that percolates to the top of their list of concerns.

Last week, McClatchy Newspapers actually asked small business about regulation… and it turns out, regulations are NOT their major concern.

If it’s not regulations, it must be taxes, right? Aren’t California businesses withering away because of taxes? Nope. Again, a reporter just tried actually asking small businesses if taxes are the source of their problems. The businesses they talked to said it’s not about taxes, it’s about customers.

As one shop owner told the San Francisco Chronicle:

People are not shopping because they are afraid. Either they don’t have a job, or if they do have money, they’re afraid to spend it because they don’t know how long they’ll have a job.

Wow, so after all this talk about regulations and taxes killing small business, here’s the truth. What small business needs is a jobs program. An agenda that builds rebuilds a middle class economy with good jobs that puts money in people’s pockets. Until we get people back to work, there will be no customers and there will be no economic revitalization. And the last thing small businesses need is more budget cuts that take money out of circulation so that the wealthiest among us can horde cash in off-shore accounts.

caitlin vegaThat’s the essential problem with the “race to the bottom” mentality. We could cut corporate taxes. We could undo worker safety regulations. We could give more tax breaks to the rich. And those small businesses would still be empty.

It’s time to stop using this economic downturn to take away workers’ rights, eviscerate environmental protections or slash our safety net. Let’s get real about what we need to move California forward. It’s all about the jobs. Good jobs bring family stability, secure communities, and economic recovery. And as small business owners know better than anyone, jobs mean customers.

Caitlin Vega
Labor’s Edge


  1. Homer V. Post says

    The Free Enterprise System and Job Creation Programs have been around for quite sometime, however, Caitlin Vega is so on point in her game changing analysis of what small businesses needs today…Livable wage jobs, customers and sustainable middle class.

  2. says

    Vega and Bishop are both only too correct. Related to their points is another germane one that they don’t mention. Namely, the entrepreneurs that are busy opening and running the really small Ma-Pa-type businesses, the ones that in effect multiply jobs the most when they succeed, are under another stress: they don’t have the extra time and energy to enter political frays and rebut the lies and irrelevancies of big biz and big burocracy and C of C lobbyists and the like. They’re too busy just minding the store and nurturing the business.

  3. Ray Bishop says

    Caillin Vega makes some very good points. The fact is that the Republicans continue to push this idea of a business agenda as a part of the American Way and Freedom. They continue to use the terms Small Business when in reality the Republican Agenda works against the opportunities for Small Business. Small Business to me is not the giant conglomerates that Republicans have worked to classify as Small Business, but it is the Small Start Up Company who wish to seize on that American Hope of Freedom and Opportunity by making it on their own. The Small Businesses in America are the ones who create more jobs than any other group. The fact is that Regulations Protect Small Business and the Large Companies do not want that oversight. The banks and the wealthy who hold our Cash do not make it available to the Small Start Up Companies who create the jobs and live the American Dream for Freedom and Prosperity. Small Business is suffering in America. With limited capital they struggle to compete. With the high cost of litigation and length of time to access justice they are at the mercy of those who have the funds to afford to pay for lengthy remedies in court that is denied to the Small Business Owner by the Cost. The Small Business Owner suffers from the foreclosure crisis, from the high cost of health care, and to survive in a slow business climate. Regulations funded by Taxes on those making over $250,000 per year help protect the Small Business Owner who generally after expenses is making less than $250,000. The tax credits and tax incentives for the wealthy do not create the jobs – those incentives belong to the real Americans who live the Dream to Opportunity and Freedom. They are the ones who have built our Nation, they Create the Jobs and they are the Ones that we should protect. Republican Policies kill Small Business don’t believe any different.
    Ray Bishop
    Commissioner, Los Angeles County Office of Small Business
    CDP Delegate
    LACDP Member

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