An oppressed minority
There is a minority group of American citizens who, more than most, are feeling more and more oppressed. It’s not because of their race, their religion, or their sexual orientation. This group is made up of small business owners and the oppressor is the government of the United States.
Most small business owners that I have spoken with recently are genuinely, seriously worried. One lady shared with me that she didn’t know how they were going to manage in a tight economy with a dwindling client base when, in a few months, the taxes on her family’s business are slated to increase by 10 percent. “Income is down, taxes are up. It doesn’t look good.”
One man, who employs less than 20 people, faced a hard choice recently. Who would he lay off? With business down, he didn’t see how he could keep on everyone. Yet, each employee represented a family that needed the income. Should he lay off the veteran employee who had been with him over 20 years or the young mother trying to make ends meet who has been with the company only a short time?
In the end, he decided to forego his own salary and live for months off of a mortgage equity line of credit and try to keep all his employees working. He saw his workers as members of his family.
A large corporation doesn’t usually see it like that. If the numbers don’t add up, it’s an easy matter to put the layoffs into effect. The CEOs and board members continue to draw their salaries while the employees on the line are given the pink slip.
Yet, in the recent “bailouts” of billions and billions of dollars, most funds went to gi-normous corporations and small business owners were, for the most part, ignored.
Most of us have seen many small businesses go under in the last few years. When a small business closes, it is not simply the loss of a single business.
True enough, if a restaurant closes, there are other restaurants in town. But when the restaurant closes, cooks, hostesses, servers, cleaning personnel, and others who have families to feed and clothe, pay mortgages or rent, have car payments, and other bills, are suddenly faced with a grim future.
In Newnan, Ga., a few miles from where I live, the unemployment rate is 13 percent. Most of these people worked in small businesses and were laid off when the profits were minimal or lost their jobs when the businesses closed. Most of them, if they can find jobs, will have to find another small business that will hire them — there just aren’t that many big corporations in Newnan ... or in most towns in America.
Small business owners are a minority because the majority of people do not own businesses. They work for someone other than themselves. I hold that the oppressor is the government because when these business owners tell me their woes, the topics of regulations, fees, ever-increasing taxes, and government requirements that costs the business owner money always seem to come up.
In fact, many of these business owners feel that the governments (including the local and state) work against them. It wasn’t always so.
For most of the country’s history, a great many people were engaged in some type of small business. If one had a skill or a service, one could make a good living, free from most interference. Farmers, merchants, professional people, and craftsmen were respected and became the foundation of a free republic. Today, they are being regulated and taxed to death. Don’t believe it? Just ask them.
If the government is really interested in job creation, they need to discover how to unburden the small business owners so that, first of all, they can survive, and, secondly, earn and keep enough profit to grow and to retain and hire more people.
The government often sees itself as the liberating solution. For many, it is the oppressing problem.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec,org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at email@example.com.]