BRADLEY L. GERSTMAN | Friday, June 20, 2008 | Uniondale, NY
Elections at every level of government have a big influence on the business climate.
The ability of businesses to innovate, expand, operate in a reasonable regulatory environment and keep more profits are all impacted at the ballot box.
But how do small businesses ensure that candidates for public office support their needs? Many people mistakenly think all businesses use campaign contributions, PACS, lobbying and even the “old boy” network to achieve their agendas. While this may be more true among larger businesses, small- and medium-size businesses have surprisingly little influence.
A Harris poll taken last February found that a large majority of Americans think big companies have too much influence in Washington. But the same poll also revealed that most people also think small businesses, which represent the bulk of employers in the United States and Long Island, have too little influence.
Remember, the majority of jobs, especially here on Long Island, are generated by medium and small businesses. For the past 15 years, more than nine in 10 U.S. jobs were created by small businesses. Yet, many people take for granted that you can maintain a high rate of employment with quality jobs while at the same time place or permit burdens that inhibit job creation on businesses.
The vast majority of tax revenues, whether they are for payroll, sales, business or real estate, originate from a paycheck. High employment with quality jobs improves overall quality of life, and provides government with the resources to spend on much-needed programs for the general welfare.
Business must be treated less as a special interest group and more as a vital component in maintaining the quality of life in our communities. Too many elected officials are quick to side with voters against the interests of business, even if their actions actually hurt their constituents. Their political instincts tell them to side with “the voters,” rather than businesses, which they view as less influential come election day.
However, the facts are that one-third of the voting population works at, or owns, a small business. Imagine what might happen if small businesses truly spoke with a unified voice, and with their numbers, influenced candidates to adopt a more pro-business agenda?
I guarantee that the debate on issues such as health care, taxes, labor, energy and regulations would look a lot different.