Lay off Small Business





The title of this post is the same as the title for an excellent, thought-provoking  op-ed a Moore County small business owner penned in a recent edition of our local paper:

We shouldn’t tax people differently because they have more or less. It doesn’t matter if they -inherited their money, got rich on the stock market, made a dumb stock -purchase and went broke, were just lazy or worked hard for it. It really doesn’t matter. The system just needs to be fair.

My partner, Mo McKenzie, and I are small business owners with no -employees. We have what we would call a -“cottage industry,” a pottery business for which we buy raw materials, -produce and sell to the public. If history is correct, this is how America slowly grew to the world’s biggest economy.

Today, our problem is: The -government puts our shop in the same category as a business that has up to 499 employees – and we are taxed as if we were that big. It’s almost impossible to have a chance at making enough money to have “savings.”

We took a marketing class from the Small Business Administration a few years ago, and the instructor said, “Every business plan must have an ‘exit’ plan.” We looked at each other and simultaneously smiled as we said, “Die?” We laughed because we knew it was our only choice if we did not want to give up a dream.

We understand the government wants more employees to have better paychecks and pay more taxes, that businesses should grow and sell more and contribute to international trade. We want that too. But our business model is: Keep it simple, work hard at something we are blessed to be able to do, and sell to the public.

Even though life in America grew on the backs of “cottage industries,” -somehow they opted to let big business have their way (even though it probably wasn’t so obvious at the time) and require every business to be equal. A great idea, if the government wanted to pick up the tab for our lawyers, accountants, ad agencies, insurance policies, etc. But they don’t – and we don’t want them to.

We think there’s room for another business category. Taxes are important to run the country, but profits are important to run our lives! Let us pay for our own expenses, try to save a little, and stop being penalized for trying to do it all for ourselves.

The idea of taxing the rich is punishing people for being successful. Please don’t do that. Just make it fair for the rest of us to have a fighting chance. We little guys with more disposable income would see that Walmart, Lowe’s, the gas company and our favorite restaurant would contribute our share of all government needs, from local to federal.

This country was founded on the mom-and-pop type of shops in neighborhoods in cities and towns, from metro New York to the village of Pinehurst. My hometown had the butcher shop, the cheese shop, the poultry shop, even the little German couple selling wooden carvings, and the shoe store that carefully measured your feet for your new pair of dress shoes for church. These were owned by individuals trying to live the American dream.

There are almost 100 -pottery shops in our area, not to mention the garage tinkerers, the desktop entrepreneurs, the olive oil store magnates, the -boutiques and many, many more who have good ideas and hope to make a passable living working at it.

The problem is: The minute they take that step into becoming a business, they are inundated with tax laws, from silly county regulations to the mighty hand of Washington. Success is almost impossible. You end up feeling like you’ve jumped into a tub of piranhas.

Thanks to the brilliance of our past politicians, all the factories and mills are gone now, but we are Americans. We are creative and innovative people. We can find a way to make our own place again in this world.

We should have a chance to support ourselves without being treated like worker ants for the government. We need another category in our tax laws to allow for the small business owners and cottage industries to grow again.

We’ve sat by for more than 200 years and watched “big” business and government drive this country into a dismal place. Let’s give some serious thought to reversing the trend and letting Americans have America back.

Tax policy is written by politicos in Raleigh and Washington with one hand on the pen and the other hand out for campaign contributions from lobbyists.  If you are big enough, you can afford the payoffs, the lawyers, and the accountants necessary to help you stay afloat and actually turn a profit.  Small startups and mom-and-pop establishments don’t have those kind of resources at their disposal.  Instead of the soak-the-rich, bureaucratic tangled mess we have now, the system needs to be redesigned to encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship. These big businesses with all of the lawyers and lobbyists all had to start somewhere — someone’s garage or kitchen table, perhaps.