My family ran a successful business for 100 years. My great grandfather Napoleon Bail, an immigrant from Quebec, arrived in the United States in 1872 at the age of six, and by his twenties, had started what would become Napoleon Bail Shoe Store and Repair Factory. It became of mainstay of downtown Holyoke. Until the Great Depression, the business made much of its money selling shoes. When the Depression hit, the repair factory kept the store afloat. People couldn’t afford to buy shoes and instead spent more money fixing what they had. Repairs might not have been enough to support the family and its workers either, but my grandfather sought out and obtained a contract with the Civilian Conservation Corps to repair their shoes. Those contracts carried our family business through dark times. It would never have occurred to any of my family (which weren’t all Democrats) to claim they had done it on their own.
By the 1980s, the shoe business had changed. Shoes were no longer built to last. Everyone was wearing sneakers that were made cheaply in foreign countries. When they wore out, people threw them out. Malls were replacing down towns, and big chain stores were selling shoes. Independent business were dying. They continue to die. There are a lot of reasons for their deaths, but they have little to do with Scott Brown’s
This anti-free enterprise attitude, epitomized by Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Harvard professor who has made it the calling card of her Senate campaign against me, is that every achievement in life is a collective effort….
These entrepreneurs understand — better than any politician — where small businesses fit in the community, and how, in a free society, we all depend on one another….
Only the most rigid ideologue would come along and insist that these men and women — the ones who do most of the hiring in America — have failed in some duty to their communities or to their country.
America’s entrepreneurs have built great things on their own. If only leftists like Warren and all Occupy protesters weren’t so wrapped up in taxing and regulating them without end or in denigrating their achievements, these men and women would do even greater things and hire even more workers.
Here you have it. The problem with unemployment is big government and “leftists” (like Brown would recognize a leftist is he met one). Only an idiot actually believes this, and although I have serious reservations about our junior senator’s mental acuity, I don’t think he or Eric Geppetto Ferhnstrom think that big government and taxes are the problem. They are selling what Greg Sargent calls a “bill of goods.” It doesn’t matter what the economic question is, the Republican answer is always lower taxes and less regulation. As David Atkins points out about Brown’s statement,
There is nothing in this statement that isn’t a lie. Taxes? They’re at their lowest point in 60 years, especially on the wealthy. Income inequality? At or near record highs. The stock market? Still doing much better than the real economy, with the Dow Jones up near a nosebleed-worthy 13,000–nearly 4,000 points ahead of where it was when President Obama took office. Oh, and the reason we’re in this economic slump in the first place? Deregulation was the primary cause. So where are all the jobs?
The entrepreneurial myth is what’s new, and although it may appeal to small business (an extremely broad term that includes everyone from who sells Avon to corporate startups) owners, it’s crap.
Scott Brown is peddling full-bore Ayn Rand Objectivism: the business owner as epic hero, struggling to succeed to provide jobs to the ungrateful and parasitic masses. In reality, of course, corporations aren’t in the business of creating jobs: they’re in the business of making profits for shareholders and investors. If they can do so by hiring fewer workers and paying them less, they’ll do it in a heartbeat. The success of small business depends on the infrastructure our taxes pay for, and a healthy consumer base willing and able to purchase products. The biggest threat to small businesses is the predation of big business forcing them out of the market. The biggest destabilizing threats to general prosperity going forward are the financialized casino economy in the short term, and the effects of climate change in the long term.
The biggest threat to small business these days is not government, it’s big business, which is doing all right, especially given the economy. The mom and pop convenience store down the street and the 60 year-old pharmacy in my town are both threatened by a new CVS and the currently expanding Cumberland Farms store. Small business owners may support Scott Brown, but it’s not not big government they have to worry about, it’s corporate America and the Randian rhetoric that appeals to their egos as it threatens their livelihoods.