February 22nd, 2012
By: James Hall
The prospects for conducting commerce are never an easy task. The hurdles to start a business much less stay competitive demands the greatest skill and fortitude. Innovation and inspiration often is the best course for those bold enough to become an employer. The idea that a level playing field exists for all comers is preposterous. The entire macrocosm for business rests upon separating your enterprise from that of your rivalries. Such is a basic lesson for those brave or foolish enough to enter the arena.
Courtney Rubin cites the following in Inc. Magazine,
“Businesses with 20 employees or fewer pay 36 percent more than their larger counterparts (defined as those with 500 or more employees), says the report – called “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms” — from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy. This is because a lot of costs are fixed — the same whether you have two employees or 2,000. Total annual cost of following the rules for a small business: $10,585 per employee, or about $2,830 more than big business. Businesses with 20 to 499 employees paid about $7,454 per employee, or about $300 less than the largest companies.
The report estimates that 89 percent of all firms in the U.S. employ fewer than 20 workers. By comparison, large firms account for only 0.3 percent of all U.S. firms.
Says the report: “If federal regulations place a differentially large cost on small business, this potentially causes inefficiencies in the structure of American enterprises, and the relocation of production facilities to less regulated countries, and adversely affects the international competitiveness of domestically produced American products and services.”
The screams for jobs, jobs and jobs would give the hint that federal, state and local business policy would favor the productive engine of employment. However, in the real world of political influence and favoritism only the well connected get the advantages.
Government regulations are meant to stifle competition. The legislative process graces those who are well connected, financially heeled and schooled in the art of writing the regulations. Few small businesses have a legal department or experienced lobbyists.
In Big Business and Big Government, Timothy P. Carney writes,“As the federal government has progressively become larger over the decades, every significant introduction of government regulation, taxation, and spending has been to the benefit of some big business.”
Mr. Carney presents compelling evidence on the history of this axiom, in his article. The net result from this covert partnership of interest and rewards is the never ending campaign contribution cycle that finances every election. The small businessman seldom has the resources or crony relationships to wage off the grand strategies of the giant corporate model.
Their advantage stems not from mastering sound and creative business practices. On the contrary, the major corporations use their brute force to buy or stamp out any contender that dares compete for market share.
Access to capital or the lack thereof, dooms most small businesses. The burden of regulations only compounds the severity of the survival rate and burns up reserved funds which often cannot be replenished. How can small business compete? – offers this insight.
“Small business can’t control mass-market designs or brands, but we are well-placed to do what big business can’t: Get inside the hearts and minds of our customers.”
As true as that advice resonates, the regulation landmines prevent small businesses from operating on a scale that can challenge all the advantages of the state sponsored conglomerates. The hard truth is that free enterprise is dead and in its place is an administered economy designed to suppress individually owned and managed businesses.
The prospects of reestablishing a political atmosphere that favors small business as the primary mechanism of job creation is remote as long as the transnational global and corporatist culture exists. Bigger is not better in most cases. Bigger usually means there are fewer companies in the same industry, accompanied with shrinkage in good paying jobs.
Theodore F. di Stefano suggests four steps that small businesses need to focus upon,
1. Creating a Niche
A niche is a special quality or group of qualities that sets the small business apart from its larger competitors. It has also been described as a small, specialized business market.
2. Employee Training
If a small business is going to act as though the customer is truly special, its employees must be trained accordingly. Also, they must work for managers whom they respect and who respect them. They must not be put on the “floor” to meet customers until they are thoroughly familiar with their product, be it food, auto services or any other product.
3. Management Philosophy
The owners of a small business must know the goals (mission) of their business and how they intend to achieve these goals. They should be clear about what segment of the market is their target and how they intend to appeal to that segment.
4. Good In-House Financial Management
You must be particularly aware of your current and projected cash position. And, you should certainly create a realistic annual budget for your company that serves as a financial road map for the future.
Now these common sense suggestions may assist in certain instances, but in a service economy, living wage jobs are rare at best. The regulations that drive business offshore also destroy a viable income scale. Reinstituting an American industrial and manufacturing base is a necessary step to climb out of this deep hole.
The regulatory climate must reflect policies that will benefit American workers. Open borders, that encourage illegal immigration, are a conscious regulatory policy that displaces domestic employees.
The regulations that slant and foster corporatist preference is the new feudalism. Is it not time to put Americans back to work? Without a political will to champion free enterprise and replace the corporate-state, only more suffering will thrive. It is up to the public to make this challenge the centerpiece for the 2012 elections.
January 30, 2012
By Lee Drutman
“It’s always about the money and the Political One Perfect has most of it.” –KTRN
If you think wealth is concentrated in the United States, just wait till you look at the data on campaign spending.
In the 2010 election cycle, 26,783 individuals (or slightly less than one in ten thousand Americans) each contributed more than $10,000 to federal political campaigns. Combined, these donors spent $774 million. That’s 24.3% of the total from individuals to politicians, parties, PACs, and independent expenditure groups. Together, they would fill only two-thirds of the 41,222 seats at Nationals Park the baseball field two miles from the U.S. Capitol. When it comes to politics, they are The One Percent of the One Percent.
A Sunlight Foundation examination of data from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics reveals a growing dependence of candidates and political parties on the One Percent of the One Percent, resulting in a political system that could be disproportionately influenced by donors in a handful of wealthy enclaves. Our examination also shows that some of the heaviest hitters in the 2010 cycle were ideological givers, suggesting that the influence of the One Percent of the One Percent on federal elections may be one of the obstacles to compromise in Washington.
The One Percent of the One Percent are not average Americans. Overwhelmingly, they are corporate executives, investors, lobbyists, and lawyers. A good number appear to be highly ideological. They give to multiple candidates and to parties and independent issue groups. They tend to cluster in a limited number of metropolitan zip codes, especially in New York, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
In the 2010 election cycle, the average One Percent of One Percenter spent $28,913, more than the median individual income of $26,364
At the top of this elite group are individuals such as Bob Perry, CEO of Perry Homes, who gave $7.3 million to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads in 2010 and $4.4 million to Swift Vets and POWs for Truth in 2004, and Wayne Hughes, owner and chairman of Public Storage Inc., who gave $3.25 million to American Crossroads in 2010, and Fred Eshelman, CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development who spent $3 million in 2010 on his own group, RightChange. Sunlight’s Ryan Sibley writes more about the top donors here.
Unlike the other 99.99% of Americans who do not make these contributions, these elite donors have unique access. In a world of increasingly expensive campaigns, The One Percent of the One Percent effectively play the role of political gatekeepers. Prospective candidates need to be able to tap into these networks if they want to be taken seriously. And party leaders on both sides are keenly aware that more than 80% of party committee money now comes from these elite donors.
Political scientists Wendy K. Tam Cho and James G. Gimpel have called these elite donor networks “campaign gold” after discovering just how much big contributors tend to flock together, making it easy for candidates to raise substantial sums of money at a single event.
August 4th, 2011
By: Stephanie Condon
Now that Congress has passed a bill to raise the debt limit and address the deficit, leaders have two weeks to choose delegates to a new “super committee” that will recommend further deficit and debt reduction ideas.
At least one lawmaker has taken himself out of the running for the 12-member committee, while other congressmen mull over who’d be a good fit for the “super” group.
Congressional leaders will choose three House Democrats, three Senate Democrats, three House Republicans and three Senate Republicans. They’ll have to consider which members could survive the political liability that comes with making hard decisions ahead of the 2012 elections. They’ll also have to decide whether to choose members that are typically loyal to party ideology or are more interested in compromise.
Once the group is selected, they have until Thanksgiving to draft a plan to create $1.2 trillion in savings. Seven of the 12 members would have to approve the plan to send it to Congress. The full Congress can then either approve the plan or allow across-the-board cuts to security and entitlement programs to kick in.
Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., one of the senators who voted against the debt limit package Tuesday, said this morning he wouldn’t serve on the super committee if asked, the Hill reports.
“They’re not going to [ask], and if I voted for it and they asked me to, I still wouldn’t serve on it,” Nelson said on the Nebraska radio show KLIN News Talk.
The senator predicted the committee will get hung up in partisan gridlock and suggested that creating such a committee was the wrong approach to policy making.
“I don’t think we can take politics out of every difficult decision,” he said. “I don’t like to cede away or give away my responsibility, and certainly I don’t like to authorize a group of my colleagues to do what I was sent to Washington to do.”
Two other senators, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, expressed their skepticism about the new super committee on Tuesday to CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for this select committee to come up with any resolution, any meaningful resolution,” Chambliss said. Added Warner, “I’m not sure the committee is going to get the job done.” (embed the video of the interview)
Both Chambliss and Warner were part of a group of six bipartisan senators who earlier this year put forward their own ideas for deficit reduction.
So far, congressional leaders have indicated there may be at least some partisan politics at play when it comes to picking the super committee. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that the House Democratic representation in the super committee will protect entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
“I know that whoever’s at that table will be someone who will fight to protect those benefits,” she said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, reassured conservatives on Tuesday that there’d be no litmus test for appointees to the committee. McConnell clarified that after the conservative magazine the Weekly Standard reported that McConnell would not appoint members who voted against the debt deal on Tuesday.
“There is no vote position requirement to serve on the committee,” a McConnell spokesman responded, adding that the Republican leader “will have serious discussions with all those who are interested in serving prior to making any appointments.”
For what it’s worth, politicians and pundits without any say in the final decision are suggesting candidates for the super committee. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on Fox News Tuesday that Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio would be a good candidate. Additionally, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus says that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who is recovering from being shot in the head, would make a good honorary chair of the group, to remind lawmakers the importance of transcending partisan bickering.
In spite of the skepticism of some members, both McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have expressed optimism that the super committee will succeed.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner also expressed optimism in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday morning.
The threat of across-the-board cuts should Congress fail to pass the committee’s plan “creates a strong incentive to compromise,” Geithner wrote. He added, “Beneath all the bluster, the prospects for compromise on broader and deeper reforms are better than they have been in years.”
Regardless of who sits on the committee, they are sure to feel intense pressure from lobbyists, Politico reports. Several lobbyists told Politico they expect to see a full-court press of Congress as it weighs spending cuts and revenue increases.
Update: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said there’s been quite a bit of interest in the committee. “The speaker is the one who makes the selection, and I have gotten a lot of calls and emails from members who want to serve and want to participate in solving the problem,” he said.
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March 15th, 2011
By: Mike Zapler
Sen. Al Franken claimed Monday that big corporations are “hoping to destroy” the Internet and issued a call to arms to several hundred tech-savvy South by Southwest attendees to preserve net neutrality.
“I came here to warn you, the party may be over,” Franken said. “They’re coming after the Internet hoping to destroy the very thing that makes it such an important [medium] for independent artists and entrepreneurs: its openness and freedom.”
Net neutrality, he added, is “the First Amendment issue of our time.”
Receiving a hero’s welcome from the liberal crowd, Franken took repeated shots at big telecoms, singling out Comcast.
He said Comcast is looking to change the basic architecture of the Web by implementing a pricing scheme that allows moneyed interests to pay for faster speeds, leaving everyone else behind. That would be a particularly bad development for the independent musicians and artists gathered here, he said.
“The real end for Comcast is to put Netflix out of business entirely,” Franken said, because of the threat that Netflix’s streaming video business could pose to Comcast’s cable franchise. “In the end, the American people will end up paying a lot more for worse service.”
Comcast is now embroiled in a dispute with Level 3, a networking company that carries online video feeds for Netflix, over fees Comcast wants to charge to carry the high-bandwidth content.
In response to Franken’s comments, a Comcast spokeswoman said Monday that the dispute with Level 3 isn’t about net neutrality but is “a peering issue.” “Under the FCC order for the Comcast NBCU transaction, Comcast is required to comply with the FCC’s recent open Internet rules even if they are overturned in court. Our customers can access all Netflix content,” said Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s vice president of government communications.
Franken, who was an aggressive opponent of the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal, implored SXSW attendees to fight the political influence of the big telecom firms.
“Unfortunately one thing these big corporations have that we don’t is the ability to purchase favorable political outcomes,” he said. “Big telecoms have lots of [lobbyists], and good ones, too. … The end of net neutrality would benefit no one but these corporate giants.”
Franken said talk of a “government takeover” of the Internet by net neutrality critics has as much credibility as claims of “death panels” in the health care legislation and claims that “Obama’s a Muslim,” calling them a “pantheon of lies.”
Franken finished up his half-hour speech by imploring the crowd to preserve net neutrality to avoid a future in which they’re “stuck listening to the Black Eyed Peas and reminiscing about the days before you had to sell out to make it.”
“Let’s not let the government sell us out,” he said. “Let’s fight for net neutrality. Let’s keep Austin weird. Let’s keep the Internet weird. Let’s keep the Internet free.”
September 21, 2010
By: Amy Gardner
Fresh off big primary wins in Delaware and Alaska, national “tea party” groups are redirecting the energy of the movement toward the November midterm elections, raising millions of dollars, expanding their advocacy into dozens of congressional races and building voter turnout operations nationwide.
Leaders of the Atlanta-based Tea Party Patriots announced a $1 million donation Tuesday, from an anonymous single contributor, that the organization will pour into local tea party groups and get-out-the-vote efforts in some of the most competitive congressional races.
FreedomWorks, which is headquartered in Washington and endorsed 25 House and Senate candidates during the primary season, said it will expand that list to more than 80. The Tea Party Express, based in Sacramento, is planning its largest national bus tour at the end of October to get conservatives to the polls.
The goal is to keep alive the momentum the movement has generated and to use it to target vulnerable Democratic candidates.
“People are starting to realize that the tea party represents a powerful get-out-the-vote machine,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks. “We’ve got the most energized voting constituency in the country. This movement has been organizing since before April 2009, and all of that community is energizing and driving public opinion. The establishment is taking us more seriously. There’s nothing like turning out votes in an election that matters.”
The new push illustratesthe movement’s transformation since the primaries from a disorganized coalition of fiscally conservative activists to a measurable political force. But the tea party’s rapid growth – along with the influx of cash and political professionals – has led some followers to worry that it risks losing its rebel spirit.
“Many of the grass-roots activists who started this movement 18 months ago, myself included, may look and ask the question ‘Dude, where’s my movement?’ ” said Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, which held the movement’s first large-scale convention this spring. (Another scheduled to be held in Nevada next month has been cancelled.) “There is no question the movement has changed. The evolution of ‘Big Tea’ is the logical result of where this movement must go.”
Equally uncertain is whether the movement’s success with activist primary voters will play as well with the broader general electorate in November. Most polls show that at least as many registered voters view the tea party unfavorably as favorably.
Perhaps no group is more aware of the divisions within the movement than FreedomWorks, a tea party organizer headed by Richard K. Armey, a former corporate lobbyist and congressman from Texas who was once House majority leader. FreedomWorks has taken a politically pragmatic approach in deciding which candidates to endorse. In last week’s Senate primary in Delaware, Tea Party Express spent more than $200,000 on behalf of Christine O’Donnell, who was challenging Rep. Michael N. Castle, the establishment GOP choice. But FreedomWorks’ leaders declined to back O’Donnell because they didn’t think she could win the general election in November.
Yet FreedomWorks, which focuses primarily on training volunteers and helping them organize phone banks, door-knocking campaigns and other voting-related efforts, is eager to take advantage of the momentum from O’Donnell’s victory – and also from that of Joe Miller, who beat incumbent Lisa Murkowksi in Alaska’s Republican Senate primary last month. FreedomWorks endorsed O’Donnell the day after her win, and, this week, the group plans to announce that it will back the Senate campaigns of Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Carly Fiorina in California and John Raese in West Virginia.
FreedomWorks and other tea party groups are expanding their lists of approved candidates to include more establishment-backed Republicans. The intention is to rally tea party activists behind all Republicans this fall and not just those who identify with the movement.
“We’ve gone through the primary process,” Kibbe said. “I think the tea party has had a tremendous impact on the quality of the candidates coming out of the primaries. But here we are in the race to November 2, and November 2 is all about holding Democrats accountable.”
Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, distanced her organization from that general-election strategy, noting that the group identified its “heroes” and “targets” on April 15 – and that it is not wavering from the list.
“There may be some groups that need to reevaluate where they are, but we’re not doing that,” she said. “We’ve helped Joe Miller in Alaska and Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware come across the victory lines, and we’re behind them 100 percent going into November.”
Both national political parties are struggling to adjust to the tea party’s continued prominence. Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the party welcomes the nomination of tea-party-backed candidates in Senate races nationwide. He noted that in most of the states holding those elections, notably Kentucky, Nevada and Delaware, those candidates have helped Democrats remain competitive in races in which they were expected to struggle.
“We are more competitive in these races because they nominated candidates who are extremists,” Schultz said.
Still, Democrats must contend with perhaps the biggest strength of the tea party movement, which is its ability to get conservatives to vote. GOP leaders have bristled at the tea party’s willingness to overthrow establishment candidates, but no one doubts the boost that the movement will give Republicans in November.
“That’s not a bad trade-off, considering that we have this tremendous energy and enthusiasm moving into the fall,” said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “I would take any one of our candidates over a candidate on the Democratic side who voted for the stimulus bill, who voted for the health-care bill, and whose message is ‘If you vote for me, I’m going to vote for the status quo in Washington.’ ”
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12 States File Lawsuits Against Mandatory Insurance
Vaccines Killing Chinese Children
30 Million Kids Get Vaccine Tainted with Pig Virus
iPhone Chemical Tied to Chinese Factory Illnesses
How to Create a Perpetual Moneymaking Machine – Part 2
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By Jim Acosta
The amount of money lobbyists are spending on health care reform could break records, and now that the five bills before Congress have cleared committee, that spending is expected to go into overdrive.
“It is sort of a Super Bowl of lobbying for health care reform. The lobbyists are winning so far. But the game’s not over yet,” said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee.
As lawmakers work to come up with a plan that can make it to President Obama’s desk, industries and interests close to the issue are digging deeper into their pockets to sway public opinion and those in office.
The insurance industry launched its first air attack with an ad aimed at seniors.
“Most people agree we need to reform health care, but is it right to ask 10 million seniors on Medicare Advantage for more than their fair share? Congress is proposing more than $100 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage,” the ad says, referring to the private insurance plan Medicare offers to some recipients.
The industry’s trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans put out the ad. Video Watch more on the big bucks spent on health care lobbying
In addition to the battle with the insurance industry, liberal reform supporters and armies of special interest groups are entering the fray.
And there’s also a ground offensive: Lobbyists hitting the Capitol to schmooze lawmakers. Members of Congress feel they’re getting slimmed.
“I rise just days before Halloween to unmask the insurance industry,” said Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Maryland. “Now, we see the industry and their lobbyists for what they are, a little shop of horrors.”
The health care sector has spent $263 million this year lobbying Congress for changes to reform plans, a government watchdog group estimates.
“This is one of the biggest lobbying pushes that we’ve seen on a single issue in U.S. history,” said Dave Levinthal, communications director for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
There are more than 3,000 people registered to lobby about health care, almost six lobbyists for every member of Congress.
September 19, 2009
By Nicholas Johnston
President Barack Obama said tougher financial regulations are needed worldwide to protect consumers, provide economic stability and prevent future crises.
With the leaders from the Group of 20 nations set to meet next week in Pittsburgh, Obama said in his weekly address on the radio and Internet that international cooperation has “stopped our economic freefall.”
“We know we still have a lot to do, in conjunction with nations around the world, to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that we never again find ourselves in the precarious situation we found ourselves in just one year ago,” Obama said.
The administration has proposed an overhaul of U.S. financial regulations including oversight of the systemic risk large financial institutions pose to the economy, new ways for the government to dismantle failed companies and a regulator to oversee financial products for consumers.
Obama reiterated his calls for Congress to act on his regulatory proposals, which he also made in a speech on Wall Street Sept. 13.
“As I told leaders of our financial community in New York City earlier this week, a return to normalcy can’t breed complacency,” Obama said in today’s address. “Our government needs to fundamentally reform the rules governing financial firms and markets to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
Oversight for Consumers
Obama said a central element to this regulatory overhaul is a new agency to oversee consumer products, including mortgages and credit cards.
“We need clear rules, clearly enforced. And that’s what this agency will do,” Obama said.
Obama said lobbyists for financial institutions are already fighting against new regulations.
“We cannot let the narrow interests of a few come before the interests of all of us,” Obama said. “We cannot forget how close we came to the brink, and perpetuate the broken system and breakdown of responsibility that made it possible.”
In the Republican address, North Carolina Representative Sue Myrick focused on Obama’s health-care proposals, which are being debated in Congress. She said the plan being offered by Obama and congressional Democrats would lead to government-run insurance and that would mean delays in care.
Access to Care
“Every family that confronts a serious illness should have access to the highest-quality care at the lowest possible cost, with no delays,” Myrick said.
Obama has said he favors a government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers. While he has suggested he wouldn’t make it a requirement as part of final legislation, other Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California have said it must be part of any bill.
“Replacing your current health care with a government-run system is not the answer,” Myrick said.
Myrick also said the health-care proposals would lead to tax increases on small businesses that would lead to the elimination of more than 1.6 million jobs.
“This is the worst possible time to be imposing new, job- killing taxes,” Myrick said.