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December 2011

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How SMBs Can Profit from the Occupy Wall Street Movement

by Glen Emerson Morris
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As the Chinese say, change usually means opportunity. The Occupy Wall Street movement may not result in jobs, but it could result in change if it keeps gaining momentum, and it just might. In their cry for an end to corporate dominance of the American legal, political and economic systems through campaign contributions the OW movement has hit a national nerve. Even the Tea Party supports the concept. If successful, any major campaign financing reform would likely benefit SMBs at the expense of large corporations. It's about time.

SMBs have always been the blue-collar employees of the Fortune 500/Wall Street world, and if SMBs got little respect from Wall Street they got even less from Washington. While SMBs created most of the jobs in the country, they were rewarded with the highest taxes. While megacorporations paid lobbyists and politicians for the privilege of writing the very laws and regulations they would be governed by, SMBs drowned in regulations often incomprehensible, sometimes seemingly designed to make profitably impossible.

One has to wonder what things would have been like if our national priorities had been different over the last 30 years. If SMBs had low taxes and low regulation, and the megacorporations paid the same tax rate as the average “individuals” they claim to be and didn't write their own laws and regulations, we might have a much higher employment rate and a far sounder economy.

Well, now that we know what doesn't work, it's time to try the obvious. If SMBs create most of the jobs in America and the goal is to increase jobs, then the obvious thing to do is to encourage SMB growth, not Fortune 500 growth. To encourage SMB growth, you cut SMB taxes and regulations. The trick is, you don't let them skip taxes altogether, and you don't let them dictate the regulations they will be governed by. Under the usual conditions, getting politicians to pass legislation like this for SMBs would be impossible, but things have changed. The country has hit a tipping point. It's beyond politics now.

The current campaign financing system is now seen as corrupt by the general public, left, right and center. For the first time in generations, a significant number of Americans are seriously questioning the very legitimacy of their government, and the usual damage control just isn't working. To the public, the fact that the current campaign financing system has been declared legal by the political and judicial systems only means that they too are part of the corruption. The public has seen too much evidence to the contrary to believe otherwise.

The successive disasters of Enron, the telecoms, the Madoff ponzi scheme, Pfizer's racketeering conviction, the Gulf spill, Lehman Brothers collapse, and more, have documented a complete and systemic failure of the government to enact adequate regulation, or even enforce existing law.

In addition, any direct relationship between helping megacorporations and creating jobs was disproven. In case after case, corporations that had record profits chose to invest the money or stash it in the bank, rather than hire more workers. And after the banks were bailed out with taxpayer dollars, the last people to get loans from those banks were taxpayers. It's not surprising the general public no longer believes that what's good for General Motors is good for the USA.

It has long been obvious; at least to everyone except those on corporate payrolls, that large corporations and societies do not have the same needs. A legal environment that may be very good for one may be a very bad for the other. The history of the tobacco industry is a classic example. For decades federal, state and local governments effectively protected the tobacco industry, and the better they did their job, the more people died.

The government's priority of tobacco industry profits over life is a matter of record. A few years before the tobacco settlement was reached, the Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned a state law requiring that the ingredients of cigarettes be listed on the package on the grounds that the tobacco companies' right to privacy outweighed the public's need to know.

In contrast, the needs of the average SMB are far more aligned with the needs of the local citizens and the local community than corporate interests ever are. SMBs hire local people, follow local laws, and they spend money locally rather than send profits to out of state, or out of country, owners. SMBs also do not have a fundamental problem common to all corporations. As Mark Twain succinctly put it, the problem with corporations is that they don't have a brain to think with or an ass to kick when they don't. SMBs always have both. Why we're willing to entrust large sections of the American economy to corporations and not to SMBs remains one of the mysteries of American politics. Its not like we don't know what's going on.

Years ago, Walter Cronkite did an hour long special on cable that ended with him saying that for decades America had given its large corporations everything they wanted while we neglected our children's education, health and welfare. If this keeps up, he said, we won't have a future, and won't deserve to have one. He made no attempt to conceal his outrage.

The sad truth is that America has neglected its SMB community as much as it's neglected its children. And it's as hard to have a future without SMBs as it is to have a future without children.

Fortunately, the same conditions that caused the current crisis also created a perfect opportunity for SMBs to finally get the recognition and support they need as the primary driving force behind our economy. There's no doubt that the SMB community can give the American public the four things it needs the most, the four things Corporate America cannot provide; jobs, competent business management, honest business practices and a genuine long term positive effect on the public welfare. We have to make sure the SMB community is given the chance to deliver.

If the last 10 years have proven anything it's that a country that coddles corrupt corporations while neglecting, even stifling, its SMB community isn't just asking for an economic disaster, it's building one. America has one of the most competent, ethical and productive SMB communities in the world. The same cannot be said for America's corporate community. It's clear which group politicians, and the public, should be supporting, and it's time to let them know.

Glen Emerson Morris was a senior QA Consultant for SAP working on a new product to help automate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley law, an attempt to make large corporations at least somewhat accountable to stockholders and the law. He has worked as a technology consultant for Yahoo!, Ariba, WebMD, Inktomi, Adobe, Apple and Radius.

Copyright 1994 - 2011 by Glen Emerson Morris All Rights Reserved ' keywords: Internet advertising, Internet marketing, business, advertising, Internet, marketing. For more advertising and marketing help, news, resources and information visit our Home Page.

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