I usually keep politics out of this blog, but I’m writing this piece not to change your political views as much as challenge how you think about the relationship between business and politics. Many years ago I was a member of a small business lobby group called NFIB. They poll their members on every position they should take. I couldn’t believe how short sighted the majority was and how ultimately harmful to business their positions were. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, If there weren’t a lot of short-sighted business owners there wouldn’t be much need for my coaching services. I didn’t renew my membership in NFIB.
So here are some typically pro-business political positions and my questions about how they miss the point.
Taxes are Bad for Business
Would zero taxes be better? Can you imagine doing business in a country where there were not enough taxes to pay for a working court system? To keep roads and bridges safe? Where most of the population were not educated? Is inflation good for business? Is it possible that a slight tax increase on certain people might eliminate inflation and improve your business prospects? Didn’t the economy do better 10 years ago when taxes were just a tad higher? Maybe it’s about who gets taxed and what the taxes get spent on rather than whether taxes go up or down. Where do you draw the line?
Government Regulation is bad for business
What about regulations that keep your competitors from cheating? What if stronger regulations were placed on cheap imports so that goods sold in your country could compete on a level playing field – one where safety costs and such were the same no matter where something was made? What if you could compete only on quality and execution not on which country lets people pollute more?
Minimum Wage Raises are Bad for Business
If people can’t afford what you sell, isn’t that bad for business? Henry Ford once famously doubled the wages at his factories. As a result, more people could afford his cars. Is the market for what you sell better in third world countries with no minimum wage?
Universal Health Care is bad for Business
What does your business pay in health care costs? Do you compete with companies that pay zero because they are in countries that provide universal health care? How many good employees might work for you but can’t leave their jobs because they have a pre-existing condition? How many customers can’t afford your products because they spend too much on medicine?
Smaller Government is Better
Do you get any government contracts? Do any of your customers work for the government? Did the US government spending to put people on the moon have any spinoffs that benefited American business?
Democrats = Tax and Spend. Republicans = fiscal conservatives
Then why does inflation and unemployment do better under Democrats? Why has something like 2/3 of the entire US national debt been rung up under the last 3 Republican presidents?
Environmental Protection is Bad for Business
Did the Prius hurt Toyota’s prospects of becoming bigger than GM? Haven’t a lot of companies found unexpected profits or cost savings when they cleaned up their acts? If you could get your power from the sun would that be bad for business? If the taxes spent on supsidising the oil companies had gone toward making solar and wind power affordable and plentiful would that be bad for business?
[tags] politics and business, tax increases, environmental protection, small business, health care [/tags]