Small Business Is America

Small business is the epitome of the American Dream. It’s the reason why America became the richest nation in the world. After all, every successful big business started out as a small one. So in a post-Covid world, how do we encourage and protect this most valuable asset? Carol Roth has the answer.

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“One day I want to own my own business; be my own boss.”

Probably nothing embodies the essence of the American Dream more than that thought. 

And what American hasn’t had it?

Henry Ford had it. Oprah Winfrey had it. Steve Jobs had it. 

So did the owner of your favorite food truck.

So have countless others. 

Many of those people came to the US because they believed their best chance to achieve it was here, in America. 

Many have been rewarded for their boldness.

Many have not. 

Starting a business, as everyone knows, is fraught with obstacles. 

But still countless Americans risk it—risking everything to make it happen. 

Why?

Of course, we already know the answer. 

Because owning your own business represents freedom. 

You may miss some your kids' soccer games, need to take out a second mortgage and work hundred-hour weeks, but ultimately you are in charge of your own destiny.  

You are independent.

You are free. 

And that’s exactly the reason Big Government despises small business. 

Big Government is all about control. 

And small business is very hard to control. 

Big Business is much easier to manage. Why? Because there aren’t that many of them.  

But there are a lot of small businesses. 

Nail salons. Car repair shops. Local gyms. Restaurants. 

In fact, there are more than 30 million small businesses in America. These businesses employ approximately half the workforce, and account for around half of the entire US GDP.

Their endless variety from pest control to dry cleaners to family farms is the very fabric of American commerce. Any product or service you can think is covered by a small business somewhere. 

Small businesses are why America became the richest nation in the world. Let’s not forget that every successful big business started out as a small business. 

There’s no magic to it, really. Give individuals the chance to be free and creative and they will be. 

Then came March 2020. 

And this engine of economic growth came to a sudden and shocking halt. 

It was the single greatest disaster in the history of American small business. 

For the first time ever, the government shut down the economy. Well, they shut down a part of it—primarily the small business part 

The big business part—Amazon, the chain groceries, the big box stores and drug stores—were allowed to remain open. 

Money that would normally have gone to small business went instead to big business. 

Had this been limited to a couple of weeks as first promised, it might have been okay. But it went on for months and months. 

Yes, government loans helped some small businesses to stay open, but it was the government that closed them down to begin with! And those small relief funds weren’t nearly enough for many. To cite one dismal statistic, one in six restaurants nationwide closed forever—that’s more than one hundred thousand across the country! 

And when things did return to something approaching normal, the small businesses that did survive had trouble finding people willing to work. It made more sense for many workers to stay home and collect money from the government. It also made sense for parents not rush back to work for fear the government would lock down schools again. 

And when workers did return to work, struggling small businesses had to compete with the thriving Big Businesses on wages and benefits, a competition they were sure to lose.  

The rich got richer. 

The government got more power. 

And small business got screwed. 

This is bad for America. 

It’s bad because, more than any single entity, small business is America. 

Having the ability to choose how you want to make a living is an important part of a free market and a free society—and small businesses embody that freedom. 

America will not look or feel like the America we have known without a robust small business sector. It will be a far duller, more homogenous, less friendly, and less dynamic place. 

The desire that “One day I want to own my own business; be my own boss” still burns in the hearts of many Americans. 

Let’s not let Big Government douse that flame.  

Much better to make government smaller and let the individual succeed.

That’s the pathway to a more innovative, more prosperous, more American future. 

The only pathway. 

I’m Carol Roth, author of The War on Small Business, for Prager University.

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