Forbes recently published an interview with two congressmen (one from my home state…which currently ranks a whopping 38th on the small biz love list) regarding small business issues. Neither of their responses really hit the mark for me. So, here are three things I would push for were I a member of the upcoming 110th Congress:
Open the doors to individually-managed health care.
Why is one’s health plan tied to one’s employer? What if I’m unemployed? Self-employed? Part-time? Employer-sponsored health care came about during and after WWII as soldiers returned from war to fuel a kick-started economy. Because inflation depressed wages, employers offered perks such as health care (usually 100% company-paid) to attract employees. It’s an approach tailored to an Industrial Age that hasn’t matured into the Information Age.
Business has nothing to do with health care. Business is about producing goods and services (and profits). Business doesn’t care (well, certainly not to the extent that I do) about my health…so long as I make it in every day and can complete my job. So, let’s put individuals back in charge of their health care.
Individuals should be empowered to create and manage their own pre-tax health savings accounts as well as the ability to join health care insurance associations (essentially individuals banding together to earn group discounts). Individuals possess far stronger motivation to keep costs down and find good quality care for themselves and their families. Further, this will free up business to do what it’s best at: creating value for its customers, employees, and owners. Finally, this competition created by a individually-managed health care should create improved insurance options and reduced costs.
There is a massive influx of foreigners who want to enter (or who already have) the United States and earn a fair wage for a day’s work. Fantastic! Lots of small businesses have labor shortages. This looks like a match made in heaven. Rather than putting up a fence and pointing guns at our neighbors, let’s figure out how to get these folks accounted for and legally registered to work.
Look around. Most of your construction is immigrant labor. I’d estimate half of Chicago was built by these hard-working folks. Many of your every-day services come from first generation immigrant labor. They’re not stealing jobs and they’re not terrorists–they’re creating value. Without a lot of bureaucracy, let’s get these folks legal and enlist them in the "battle" for capitalism.
Update 1/6/2006: To expand on the immigration issue, On Startups offers an examination of why immigrant entrepreneurs are more likely to start a business.
Simplify taxes and torts.
"Small business and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of this country!" How many times have we heard this? And yet, the laws in this country continue to stifle the small folk. Let’s enable entrepreneurs to create and innovate. We should get administration and non-value/revenue-generating tasks out of their way.
Radical but we need to throw out the tax code. It’s too complex. I’m sure no one finds joy in paying taxes but as patriotic citizens of this great republic, we know it’s a small price to pay for the freedom to actually "do business". However, with the multitude of rules, laws, taxes, governance, etc. this spend is wildly inefficient.
To replace the existing, bloated code, consider the FairTax. It’s a consumption tax which eliminates the IRS, FICA, deductions…well, most everything associated with the current tax code. The FairTax is a bit big to get into within this post but check out Neal Boortz’s book The Fair Tax Book for a clear and easy read.
Individually-managed health care, embracing immigration, and a simplified tax code. That’s what I would support were I entering the 110th Congress. It’s time for folks to realize entrepreneurs and small businesses don’t need "saving". We’re the resourceful, creative, innovative, and agile ones, remember? But just don’t bury entrepreneurs in red tape. Make things simple and easy. We’ll reward the country in the long run with lots of value for our citizens, consumers, families, business owners, and employees.
Update 4/4/2007: A few related articles caught my eye:
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