Stimulate Me

By Mark David Blum, Esq.

The United States House of Representatives passed the Obama stimulus package. The Bill claims it will pump almost a trillion dollars into the economy. The money is tax money coming from yours and my pockets which will be given to large institutions, States, and many large employers. If the U.S. Senate passes the legislation and it is signed into law, hundreds of billions of dollars will be up for grabs.

First came the banks and Wall Street. Then came the automakers. Larry Flynt and the porn industry also came calling for money. Rumor has it that several newspapers are in line with outstretched hands. Everybody who is anybody is seeking a piece of the pie.

The goal behind the stimulus package is to create jobs, keep people in their over mortgaged homes, and to encourage spending. Right now, fear and panic have gripped our nationís economy and nobody is spending. Stocks have fallen to record lows and layoffs by the tens of thousands are happening every day.

I will not venture to say that the lucky ones are the ones who lost their jobs. But for most, there is a social safety net in place to catch them. We have job training and unemployment benefits that give free money to the jobless. I have no doubt that trying to survive on an unemployment check is miserable and a terrible crash from a once thriving career. The Obama stimulus package is designed to get them back to work by creating jobs.

But there remains a class of people in the nation that is being entirely overlooked. We are the self employed, the small business owner, the real backbone to our nationís economy. Unlike our employed brothers and sisters, if we lose our business or suffer serious financial setbacks, we do not get a piece of the stimulus pie. As a self employed person, if I go broke, I cannot just quit and collect unemployment. I am not eligible. If my retirement savings has been depleted, I have to wait until I am 62 and hope I can survive on social security. The rule in place requires me to work until I drop or end up homeless and on welfare.

Every day for the past several months I have listened to and witnessed dozens of super rich corporate leaders get handed billions of our tax dollars. Every day I hear of tales of how these tax dollars are wasted on corporate jets, two thousand dollar trashcans, and unbelievable severance packages.

The self employment tax scheme is a killer to small business. We are the ones paying the highest tax rates around; in amounts greater than any State of Federal withholding of a paycheck. At the same time, nobody is around to throw a few million dollars in our direction to keep us stable. My President and my government have turned their back on me. In doing so, the wealth of the nation has dropped considerably. It is the small business owner who provides the bulk of the jobs and the bulk of the tax base. We are the ones who keep the community thriving and contribute to everything from local arts and culture to the development of new technologies and systems. But come April 15, the hand of government reaches into our pockets and takes away a huge portion of our earnings. Those are the dollars that flow into the new Presidentís evening cocktail parties (to which I have yet to be invited).

It is a horrifying prospect to be self employed these days. Nobody has any money and spending nationwide is at an all time low. Competition for the few available dollars is fierce. But I have nowhere to turn for help. Do I have any faith that my Senators would issue me a stimulus check to get my business back into the black? Not an iota. Will my congressperson draft a Bill that provides shelter or a safety net for me? Only if I can contribute to their re-election campaign. New York State certainly wonít step in because they are already a billion dollars short in their expected tax revenues. The outlook is bleak.

For nearly twenty years I have worked without a safety net. I have had to rely solely on my own abilities to create revenue streams. Nobody and no entity is going to be there to save me if I fail. I have no union protection, no medical insurance, no unemployment insurance, and no place to turn if I should go under. Either I succeed or I am on welfare. If I succeed I am taxed and if I fail the system is taxed.

The small business owner should have the chance at being stimulated the same way the big companies do. We should be given a pot of money from which we can expand and grow our businesses. If the government is giving away hundreds of billions of dollars, perhaps a few hundred thousand thrown my way is not such a bad idea. Pump money into small businesses and there will be a huge benefit to local economies. At a minimum, the small business owner, the person who takes the greatest risk of all in society, should have in place a safety net should we fail.

If I have learned anything these past twenty years, that is failure is not an option. It is an option for large corporations, banks, manufacturers, and government employees. There is no risk to them for failure as legislative largesse will just refill the company bank accounts with tax dollars. We small business owners also need this largesse. We deserve expensive trash cans and corporate jets. We deserve to sip bubbly with the President. It is us who should be at the forefront of legislative thought. The failure of small business in America is a blight and a shame upon our collective conscience. We need our own stimulus package and we need it as desperately as do the myriad of others who have come calling.

Lacking the resources for lobbyists and having no access to government has silenced the cries for help from flailing small businesses. We thrive or die by our own abilities. We exist in the dark and outside the attention of news media. Under the current scheme, apparently the idea is once again Ronald Reaganís trickle down economic theory: pump up the big boys and hope the employees spend enough on small business services and goods to keep small business alive. This is how they envision the stock market regrouping. By getting people back to work and creating confidence in the consumer so as to encourage spending again, government is hoping that people will begin investing again. It is a vicious cycle of spend and tax and spend and tax. What I want to know is how with all this spending going on, there is going to be a reduction of our massive national debt. Presently our nation is more than ten trillion dollars in debt and forty percent of our tax income is spent just on paying the interest on the debt.

What is really wrong is that the huge spending programs and subsequent recoupment of tax revenues is going to come from folks like me; the small business owner. Being the only ones without shelter from the economic storm, we are the ones up front weathering the harshest brunt of the cold callous approach taken by Washington.

Small businesses need to be stimulated as much as the big boys. Unless government changes its approach, the real failure will be found in the faces of hundreds and thousands of people who risked everything and lost. While Wall Street and Detroit may thrive from a bazillion tax dollar life support system, we small business owners have to just suffer in silence. Apparently we are just not that important.

If you think for a moment the nation can do with or without the small business owner, take a look around you. Check out your community and see who is doing the employing. Ask yourself how many of your civic and community cultural projects rest on our backs. Charities that so much depend on us will be feeding us. Without the small business owner being healthy, the community itself can fall ill. Washington is so far away from Main Street and is making decisions for the benefit of Wall Street.

Stimulate small business. Make gifts and grants and other packages available to us as well. After all, what is a little stimulation among friends? We deserve no less.

Back to the MarkBlum Report

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