by Marry Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— According to 2007 U.S. census bureau figures, the 10 poorest cities in America, living below the poverty level, according to the highest population, are Detroit, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, St. Louis, El Paso, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Newark. What these cities all share in common is many decades of Democratic leadership.
Not to say Republicans could do better, but do you ever wonder why the economy in these areas doesn’t ever seem to improve? Could it be that poverty is now big business in America with tens and thousands of government jobs dependent on attending to it?
It’s an awful thought… that the state might actually evolve into an entity that grows and thrives on poverty, but one can’t help but ask why constant wars on poverty that taxpayers have funded over and over again never seem to be won?
Another commonality these cities share is high taxes and regulations on business. These cities have created zones deemed unfriendly to entrepreneurs, risk-takers in our society that start new businesses and create jobs. Entrepreneurs have long left such cities to settle in areas friendlier to business.
So who is this gifted entrepreneur we hear so much today? He is that exceptional person with a new idea that starts new business and creates jobs for the rest of us. These rare souls do not have an easy time of it. Case in point: Have you ever had a new idea and tried to sell it to others?!
For the purpose of this column let’s say there are basically two kinds of people—entrepreneurs and the rest of us. When local government is not friendly to the entrepreneur he gives up, stops doing his or her thing (starting businesses, hiring people, and paying big taxes) the economy in that area quickly comes to a grinding halt. The entrepreneurs leave and what is left is only the rest of us.
In reality most of us are the rest of us and we work for those who start businesses and hire us, or we provide services to and for such enterprises. We appreciate the entrepreneurs who pay our salaries and benefits and provide work for us because we need them, but some resent them. Some have created an anti-business environment to such extent that most entrepreneurs are driven off to operate their businesses elsewhere.
How I admire entrepreneurs. Remember back in high school how we once considered certain intellectual types to be “nerds”? We now recognize these usually extremely bright and single-minded “brains” are most important to society because they are the source of new ideas.
These innovative thinkers can appear a bit strange to the rest of us, they may be rather reclusive, moody, impatient, and even may lack the basic social skills they need to sell their ideas to the rest of us, but they know how to put a new idea to work. Without their single-minded genius and drive to make their new idea happen and create jobs and opportunities for the rest of us, we would never see any wealth or new jobs created.
It takes tremendous personal sacrifice to launch a new idea but the entrepreneurs are the key specie in the human jungle which, without them, the rest of us would flounder. Think about it… no steam engine, no electricity, no assembly line, no automobiles, no medicines, no computers, no rockets, no IPods, cell phones or rockets that go up to the moon and back.
But what happens in the poorest cities of America? The absent entrepreneurs have been replaced by professional politicians who use poverty to gain and keep power. But instead of creating wealth by attracting new business and jobs, they become expert at obtaining government largess. They promise more benefits for votes, cast blame on “the rich” for the plight of their constituency, but seldom confront the fact they have created the problems themselves by promoting high taxes and regulations that throttled business.
It’s not just cities that suffer from lack of business and jobs. Rural areas also can fall into the same trap. Is Middlesex friendly to business or does it also discourage entrepreneurs from creating new businesses here along with jobs for which our children and grandchildren are so desperate?
Our county levies a Business and Professional Tax annually based on gross receipts of all businesses (rather than on profits earned), which may be excessively burdensome to area small businesses. Could this tax be an impediment to our own economic growth?
I don’t know what the perfect balance is between tax revenues needed to operate government and levying taxes and regulation on business that provides jobs for most of the people, but I do know taxation and regulation can kill business and jobs and politicians who go overboard in either direction aren’t doing us any favors.