Truth And Lies About Business And Jobs

Let’s expose a few lies that Americans hold dear.

“Small businesses create most of the jobs.”

TRUTH:  Small businesses are what? SMALL. By definition, small businesses have few employees.

“Small businesses fuel economic growth.”

TRUTH:  Most small businesses FAIL within the first five years. Often within the first year. When they close their doors, they create unemployment.

Often, they leave only debt. Small businesses generate a lot of churn and froth, but few jobs. Whatever wealth they create is closely held.

“The wealthy are the productive ones. The poor contribute nothing to society.”

TRUTH: Most wealthy people inherited their wealth, or at least their education and  advantages.

Many of the rich are idle. If they contribute at all, they contribute by consuming goods and services. The poor and middle class, on the other hand, do the hard labor, the dirty work, the mind-numbing office work and back-breaking factory work. The poor and middle class are the producers.

“Entrepreneurs are job creators.”

TRUTH: Sometimes. But often, entrepreneurs are lone rangers.

“Small business is good for workers.”

TRUTH: Depends. But most small businesses can’t or won’t provide health insurance. Many small businesses pay minimum wages.

Corporations yearn to invest and create jobs, but government regulations thwart them at every turn.”

TRUTH: Business hates jobs. Corporations hate workers. Workers are the enemy. Employees are an expense!  The goal of corporations is to increase profits by slashing jobs, by hiring and exploiting cheap immigrant labor instead of American citizens, or by scouring the Earth for the cheapest of the cheap labor.

I think there was a time in America when most business was local. Business owners didn’t expect to become wealthy; they lived only a little better than their employees, whom they knew personally. But that was a different time.

If you’re an employee, please ask yourself: When was the last time you received a bonus? When was the last time you were rewarded?

Pause . . .

Well. I’ve exposed myself to easy criticism here. Notice that my statements are qualified. Nothing I’m saying is absolute. I’m stating subjective opinions, not proven facts.

I’m not opposed to business in general or small business in particular. Commerce is good and necessary. But we need to be honest. Corporations are not motivated by altruism. Small business owners are not known for generosity. Most small business owners pay as little as they can get away with.

Remember, corporations and small business alike are opposed to redistribution of wealth. The goal is to make as much as possible, keep as much as possible, and stash the excess in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland. The last thing most businesses want is to share the wealth with workers.

The case of the NFL owners vs. the union referees is instructive. The owners are wealthy beyond belief; the referees are few in number and powerless. The union’s objectives are the usual — a little more money, a degree of job security, a pension would be nice. The amount of money at stake is important to the individual referees and of little consequence to the NFL owners. The owners refuse to give an inch. You explain it.

Please, what are your observations about business and workers and wealth?

— John Hayden

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4 Comments

Filed under Economy, Life

4 responses to “Truth And Lies About Business And Jobs

  1. Agree on all counts. Having worked for small businesses my whole working (40+) years, I can attest to all your points. Yes, most fail, leaving unemployment in their wake. If they don’t fail, the likelihood of having great employee benefits (or any at all) rests solely on the ability of the company to pay for them and the generosity of the owner(s). Fun as they may be to work for, don’t work for a start-up or very small company unless you are truly passionate about the opportunity and can afford to end up jobless with no pension. And, despite the current soundbites about the power of small business to transform the economy, the truth is, and has been for years, that most innovation occurs in large companies who have the wherewithal and can attract the talent to create new inventions. Think IBM, who holds the largest number of patents in the U. S. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything, but let’s call a spade a spade and stop trying to burden the small business owner with the power to transform the economy. He or she’s just probably trying to make payroll next Friday.

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    • Great point about IBM and patents! Many, if not most, technical advances are made by organized, disciplined research programs funded by big business or big government. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t invent computers. Often, the inspiration for the killer app springs from a single genius, like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. But more often than not, two minds are better than one, and many minds collaborating and sharing information as a team are even better.

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  2. Well, I’m the smallest business of all — just me. Which means that I have no one to exploit but myself, and sometimes my boss is a bitch, but the work force has a keen awareness of the rewards and drawbacks of any business move and shares in both.

    I figured out years ago that putting myself at other people’s mercy was a mug’s game. The market may flatten out and my cash flow may drop, but no one can deprive me of my livelihood with a single decision to cease using my services.

    Everything you say about small business is valid but bigger business can amplify the drawbacks. Particularly in the white collar sector, employees’ role in some companies grows to have less and less to do with productivity and more and more to do with satisfying some asshole boss’s narcissistic ego. Small or large, every job but one of the wage/salary jobs I worked — ranging from professional associations to home care agencies to government contractors — was more about being paid to be bored and bullied than about producing a valuable commodity or service. In some placs, trying to solve a problem just brought retaliation.

    And of course if you are really mainly there to be beaten up and only secondarily to produce, letting you go at any time is a decision without any real repercussion for the employer.

    Maybe I have a skewed or sour perspective, but to me that’s one of the major drawbacks of “business” as it is usually understood.

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  3. Thank you. What you say is sad but true. My intention was not to attack small business. If I could choose to work for a small business or a large corporation, I’d choose the small business every time. Generally speaking, I like small business. My intention was only to point out some of the mythology about small business in America. Calling the myths “lies” is hyperbole on my part, but it gets attention.

    Sad to say, big business is usually more exploitive than small business. I think that’s been true from the first big trading firms at the dawn of imperialism through the Robber Barons. Today’s multinational corporations, often more powerful and independent than nation-states, are dangerous. A small-business person may have ethics and a conscience, but not a big corporation.

    Unions make working for a major corporation more bearable. But I know from experience that unions are far from perfect. In any event, the era of unionized labor is probably just about over.

    As always, Ms. Sled, thanks for your keen insights.

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