Friday, January 25, 2013


Businesses and business owners have been getting the Rodney Dangerfield rap in recent years --- they get no respect.

It has become fashionable to attack capitalistic endeavors. The imagery of the  “evil corporation” is used anywhere and everywhere. The media besieges us with news reports of corporate bonuses, overseas tax havens, dirty bankers and disrespected employees. Hollywood floods televisions and theatres with tales highlighting the dark side of economics. Politicians, like President Obama, use their bully pulpits and misuse their powers to attack the whole of the business world with the same pithy vigor that was directed at them in the 1800’s.     

Much like those who stereotype based upon race, ethnicity, or culture, these individuals –and, oddly enough, businesses -- railing against businesses are suffering from a form of prejudice. They lump together all corporations – small and large, good and bad - assuming they all have the mindset possessed by the well-known, yet very small number of large, corrupted companies that have soured peoples’ opinions.

This is the ultimate slap in the face to the American economy, because reality is nothing like this. The economic landscape is in stark contrast to the “Evil Corporation” stereotype. Instead, it is one crafted of well-founded character, respect for others, and the promotion of the tenets of American principles. This is because, as a whole, it is the Common Man, people like you and me, who keep the economy going, who own or run businesses. The list of corporations is endless; it’s not just the AIGs or GEs of the world – it could be the small machine shop down the street, your doctor, the local farmer, your plumber, even the neighbor who plows your driveway.

Small businesses - those employing 500 or fewer people – are the most important facet of our economy. There are over 27.5 million small businesses in the USA, which represent an astounding 99.7% of all employers. They employ over 50% of the private sector workforce and account for 44% of private payrolls. They are innovative and cutting edge, producing 13 times more patents per employee than large firms. The reach of their neighborhood roots extends around the world as small businesses make up 97% of all US exporters. Most significantly, small businesses control the forward progress of the US economy, accounting for 64% of net new jobs. The ability and desire of entrepreneurs to prosper represent the tonic for what ails our economy. 

That being said, businesses will not destroy America…they are symbols of the very best of the American Way. To know that an individual can control his or her destiny by starting-up a company and participating in economic affairs is a comforting reflection of what this great land of ours allows us to do and what can become of it. America was founded upon this ingenuity and is continuously strengthened by the blood, sweat, and tears of small businesses, their owners, and their coworkers. Because of economic freedom and its rewards, America is the greatest society that the world has even known. Free markets equal a free people, which yield a better people and a better world.    

Despite the truth of the matter, lies reign supreme when discussing the participants and principles of the American economy. The media, the entertainment industry, politicians and many, many people seem to delight in bashing the wonders of capitalism and spreading the misguided belief that “Corporate America” will be the end of us. They are using the sensationalism of a few instances of corruption – much of it, interestingly enough, enabled and encouraged by crony capitalism and corporatism at the hands of government -- to paint an ugly picture of American business, a stigma which unfortunately draws far more innocent people into it.

It is important that you ignore the media and political mythology and realize that all businesses are not created equal. Big businesses are not the heart and soul of the economy; they don’t represent or define it. In America, it’s really the small businesses that rule the marketplace, drive our economy, and make ours the great nation that she is.

So, give them the respect they deserve. Recognize and reward their efforts and value -- shop local and buy American.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer

This column originally appeared in the 28 January 2013 Greater Niagara Newspapers

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