Time for a small business bill of rights

Shortly before the last election, President Obama reached out to the small business community, praising our role in the economy and saying we deserved a better shake from the federal government. I agree, and I’d extend that a bit to say we deserve to be treated better by all levels of government.

We are, after all, one of the most important drivers in the American economy.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, each year over the last decade small businesses created between 60 and 80 percent of all new jobs and accounted for nearly half of the country’s private payroll. Yet despite the significant role we play, we’re all too often seen as more an annoyance to tax and regulate than a resource to nurture.

I think it’s time government changes that by adopting a Small Business Bill of Rights. Here are my suggestions for the first six Articles:

Article 1 – The Right to Reasonable Support. Acknowledging that a citizen’s quality of life starts with a job that pays livable wages, government shall use policies, incentives and all other reasonable means to encourage small businesses in their efforts to start or expand.

Article 2 – The Right to Equal Treatment. Government shall enact no fees, taxes or levies that are not shared equally by small businesses and private citizens. Nor shall government place upon small businesses any rules or regulations that are not equally applied to private citizens.

Article 3 – The Right to Fair Taxation. Acknowledging that business growth and job creation are essential to economic prosperity, government shall consider the financial impact of its actions before enacting or renewing any taxes or regulations that affect a business’ ability to create or maintain jobs.

Article 4 – The Right to Speedy Review. Acknowledging that slow oversight discourages even reasonable development and growth, government shall expedite its reviews and eliminate duplicative processes.

Article 5 – The Right to Freedom of Movement. An adequate and well-maintained infrastructure being essential to commerce, government shall make the construction and renewal of roads for commuting and commercial traffic a top priority, placing it before construction of bicycle paths and bus lanes.

Article 6 – The Right to Preferred Consideration. Acknowledging that money spent in the community contributes to local prosperity, when awarding contracts government shall give preferred consideration to companies which are based in and whose principle officers live and work in the local community.

Why do we need rights like these?

Because local businesses are the best bet to get us out of the current recession. And quite frankly, they may be our only option. Columnist John Spence recently attended the prestigious Renaissance Weekend, which each year attracts the top leaders in the nation. This year, he said there were dozens of past and present members of Congress, founders of top Internet companies and others who have their hands on the pulse of the economy. According to John, in the collected wisdom of this group, the U.S. is facing another five to seven years of economic difficulty!

If that proves true, government isn’t going to have the cash to help us spur growth, so we have to do it ourselves.

We small business owners are willing to lead the community toward better times. We just want government to get out of the way and let us do what we do best.

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