I am afraid that I am seeing the end of an era that has been the best of what the world has had to offer.
For more than 300 years, people in America have been able to establish their own enterprise and succeed to the best of their ability and energy. I feel that the current federal and state administration is anti-small business for reasons that are almost impossible for small business owners to understand.
I think I have found the historical source of our success and the cause of our current decline.
Cecilia Holland, a noted and respected historical novelist, wrote about English citizens at the time of the Battle of Hastings in 1066: “The first fierce boom of the north with its individualism, its legalistic mindset, its practical ingenuity was in many ways an equal opportunity employment, a rapidly expanding mosaic of free farms and independent earldoms and petty kingdoms, a few cities.”
The people whom the author describes were the intellectual and cultural founders of an economic system that enriched England for almost a thousand years, and that culture spread to America with British settlers.
For 250 years, the American dream was to be self-determining. The American dream today has somehow been corrupted to mean security and wealth without responsibility or effort.
The events in Washington the last six months have shown that the people who advocate for the abolishment of that old English culture are in power. My concern is that they will destroy the American dream as it was originally conceived by entrepreneurial, spirited people.
The current concept of economics is unsustainable. If you take from those who take risks and work hard to succeed to provide security for those who refuse to put forth an effort, over a period of time the system will collapse.
I am not a Harvard professor speaking from the ivory tower of academia. I graduated from the University of Detroit and have spent more than 40 years in the trenches. My opinion stems from working with people, not from books or a classroom.
Prof. Theodore Cook Jr., a professor of history at William Paterson University of New Jersey, describes the end of an era of growth and enrichment in China in 1368: “The first Emperors of the dynasty that would rule China for most of three centuries, 1368-1644, were activists, rough-hewn warriors and builders eager to establish a Chinese presence far beyond its borders, but increasingly the Ming rulers retreated into the Forbidden City, the imperial palace built by Zhu Di. In Beijing, some hardly ventured outside its high walls during their entire lifetime. The real power fell to a retinue of palace-bound civil administrators, many of them eunuchs, who did their utmost to restrict contact with the rest of the world.”
The Ming Dynasty could be the current state and federal administration. In China, bureaucrats took over and the spirit of discovery was crushed. North America and Europe were left to dominate commerce for the next 700 years. If you look at the events taking place today in Washington, you may see the same deterioration in reverse: It may be China that becomes the world’s leader.
At the very time that the economy is in need of small business to provide new jobs, government is heaping new layers of bureaucratic regulations and paperwork on these enterprises. If government agencies, at the behest of the current administration, continue to harass and burden small-business job growth with job-killing taxes and paperwork, the nation as a whole will have a very difficult time recovering from this recession.
What is slowly being recognized in the Obama health care bills are more burdensome regulations for small business. Form 1099 will be required for almost every transaction a small business has. Billions will be spent in enforcement and compliance. The taxes generated will apparently be in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion. The government will gain additional tax revenue. Small business will spend billions on compliance. As more and more of this administration’s job-killing taxes and regulations become evident, will the small-business community be able to refute their enforcement?
If you have an involvement with a small-business advocacy group, now is the time to become active.
History has shown that government can work against the interests of its own citizens. It happened in China; it is happening now in America.
Entrepreneurship is what made America great. The preservation of entrepreneurship will keep the country great. Nothing comes free. Fight for your children and your grandchildren to enjoy freedom to grow and be the best. The history books a thousand years from now will tell a story like England in 1066 or like China in 1368. It is up to us in small business today to determine what those history books will say 1,000 years from now.
They are killing the goose that laid the golden egg. There are hundreds of other old-fashioned sayings about what’s happening. Those sayings came from the reality of people’s lives that went before us.
Paul A. Hense, CPA, is president of Hense & Associates, a local accounting firm. He also is past chairman of the National Business Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan.