Breaking the backbone

People are always saying that small business is the backbone of the economy. This seems to consistently be among the top five mantras of economists and politicians alike.

As the fight over taxes rages, government agencies are becoming more and more desperate to find sources of funds. The city, the county, the state and the feds, all are supported by tax dollars. Costs are going up for them just they are for individuals. Combine that with the fanatical opposition to raising taxes at any level in any form and sum of the equation is an orders of magnitude increase in the level of desperation being felt by government agencies.

Where do they have to turn? Rates. Fines. Fees. The great majority of which are levied against small businesses.

We have seen astonishing rate increases from everything from water and sewer rates, permit fees, inspection fees, you name it. And parking! Here in our town, parking fines have increased from five bucks to $40 in a few years’ time. Our water bill rivals our electric bill and it seems like the things get more and more restrictive, resulting in more fines for those who don’t have time (who does?) to stay abreast of the ever changing regulations.

It seems like every time a big corporation moves in, municipalities bend over backwards to allow variances that make things more favorable for them. They have no problem improving streets, installing stoplights, whatever. And it’s understandable because the big guys can pay taxes and generate sales that beget more tax dollars. But it never seems to be enough and the pressure on the small businesses increases. At some point, someone is going to have to realize that bones can be broken.



  • Danny says:

    Hey David, How about responsible spending. What a novel thought. No, I for one don’t want to give this govt. one more cent in taxes. Not the way they spend our money. It’s absolutely disgraceful. So go ahead and call me fanatical! Hey David, just for an experiment, try running your home finances the way our govt. does. Let me know how it works for you.

  • The invasion of the corporate stores here in Fairbanks, Alaska has been very dramatic. There is now a part of town where traffic is horrible. A friend of mine who owned a very nice fishing store was told by his accountant that when sportsman mall moved to town they would offer low prices to run local business off. He sold his store and another small business is gone. But what happens when that store closes? I see that coming with the bad economy and now my friend and his great store are gone for good.

  • John Gresko says:

    I agree and also agree that sanity as in common sense is gone. Prognosis for this country is poor.

  • Doug Darter says:

    I recently received a notice from the city where my shop is located. It seems they have a new “Business Personal Property Tax” now. They have decided not only to tax my inventory but now to tax my pickup, machinery and furniture as well. You are spot on about taxes, licenses, fees, etc. being a huge burden for a legitimate small business. It makes it very difficult to compete with a “company” that works from their home garage and does not pay any of these because they fly under the radar.

  • Don Bullock says:

    The author makes some excellent points. Governments at all levels is certainly living above our ability to pay the bills. I have many friends who are seeing this overtaxation of businesses first hand. Some friends who are involved in legitimate charities are also feeling the crunch from government.

    The crunch they and businesses are feeling in addition to excessive taxes is over regulation. Our governments need to reevaluate any and all of their regulations for companies and charitable organizations.

    For example I’m amazed at the waste when I see a construction site. Literally miles of plastic fencing, tarps and plastic sand bags are required to surround construction sites to keep “pollution” out of the surrounding area, but did anyone ever think what happens to all that plastic. Much of it remains behind after the construction crew is gone and it causes more pollution than it prevents. In addition the cost of all that material is sometimes unreasonable when compared to what it does and added on that is the cost of disposal and the impact on landfills for that plastic to sit there for thousands of years. This is only one very small example of the over regulation of business in this country that must be reexamined.

    Abraham Lincoln once said that America will never be taken by force, but it may be taken over from within if we aren’t constantly vigilant. Well, his words are ringing true. We are no longer the leader in the world in business, manufacturing, and the quality of life that we once were. It won’t be long before we will be a struggling nation, just trying to survive.

  • Ed says:


    You understated the lengths local governments bodies go to attract large employers; Usually there is a tax holiday of say, 5-10 years in exchange for locating in the municipality and hiring X number of people. However, as history demonstrates time and time again, corporations rarely live up to their part of the bargain. Who bares the tax burden for this holiday? Well, you already know the answer to that.

    Elections are coming once again. If people don’t take their collective heads out of the sand and take responsibility for whom they elect, we all suffer the consequences. The time to act is now.

  • Dennis says:

    I agree with most everything you say except the “fanatical” part. We should have been more “fanatical” years ago and said no to every “good idea” that turned into a new agency, department or some kind of government entity. I used to think all these “good ideas made sense, I now realize that almost no government agency gives a “Tinkers Dam” about tax payers money or rights. The vast majority think only of furthering their power and wealth through their jobs. In private life most power is kept in check by the public’s decision to buy or not buy a product. In government it’s who’s back gets scratched or pocket gets filled. It’s just too easy to corrupt “Government”. The less the better. It solves the problem of both public employees and large corporations taking advantage of the general public.
    Just my opinion, however little it’s worth.

  • I see the problem as one of expenses, not of income. Every government agency can and does find perfectly good reasons why they need more money to pour into good causes: the poor, the lame, the halt, the sick, the hungry, the illiterate, the illegal, the list is endless and grows longer daily. There was a time, within my lifetime, when government did not feel the need to fix these problems. I don’t think government can actually fix them now, they can only apply Band-Aids, and the Band-Aids are quite expensive. Somewhere, sometime, we will have to draw a line in the sand. Otherwise we will all go belly up.

  • Ron O'Dett says:

    Just a thought, but how long before the American populace remembers that not so very long ago we where faced with a Gov. [Great Briton] that was acting the same way towards us “subjects” and we quit talking and rose up against the Previlaged chosen few .If that sounds far fetched today,so too did it then. Nothing will change untill we ALL stop feeling so comfortable in our own little piece of America and realise that we are a Nation of Americans,not indiviuals living in America.Don’t kid yourself by thinking it can’t happen now. King George did!

  • Mark Slafkes says:

    I find myself disagreeing with almost every comment here. Without going into a long discourse, we have to decide if we want our society and culture to flourish or if we want to hide behind walls, accumulate guns and guard dogs, and watch it all crumble around us.
    Just like in business, and I’ve been a small businessman for thirty years, you gotta spend money to maintain your business and you gotta spend money to take care of your customers. I won’t disagree with the statement that government, like business, wastes a certain amount of money. How many of you who own your own business can say that every dollar you have ever spent has been perfectly spent and not a dime wasted?
    How many of you can say that by tightening the purse strings, you’ve made your company flourish?
    The truth is that if we returned to our income tax rates before Ronald Reagan, or even before the last Pres. Bush, we would be in an entirely different place right now. If we had prevented mortgage companies from encouraging people to lie on their loan applications, what would our economic situation be right now?
    As for the people who are needing help, when will we have the resources to reduce the number of people needing help rather than spending the money to shove them in prison. And, finally, when will we finally stop sticking our noses into other countries’ business and save the trillions we spend each year on war and taking care of the people maimed by war and finally spend it on making our society a better place for every single one of us?
    Just take a little time, go to your local community college, and take an introductory course in economics to get a fresh perspective on the positive impact of government spending on our economy and stop parroting the crap that the ultra-right keeps shoving down your throats. Don’t for a minute think that the people teaching economics are left-wing in this country. They aren’t by a long, long way.

  • Chuck says:

    It may already be too late – it might just be that there are alrady more people who are on the ‘take’ then there are of us who are the providers…

  • Rob says:

    This country don’t have an under taxed problem, it has a spending problem. It also has a problem understanding the role of gooberment. When we learn that the answer to our every whim is not more government then we will be on the road to recovery.

  • I’m over eighty years old and lived through all the Republican administraions that purposely created recessions that would cause labor to lose power. It worked and is still going on today. This country has prospered over the years and became the most powerful and prosperous country in the world by endeavoring to have each generation have a higher standard of living. Taxes have risen accordingly to support a government that could supply us with a great highway system and a level of security which we lost om 9/11. Lowering and cutting taxes has only resulted in the rich getting richer and the middle class becoming poorer and poorer. If intelligent people keep listening to the corporate BS it will be the end of our prosperity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Terms of Use.