Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Regulatory Ripoff
   Years back, my cousin ran a successful concession on the Queen Mary, the grand old ocean liner that ended up as a tourist attraction at Long Beach harbor in California.
    It was a wedding chapel. For a fee, you could be married by someone dressed as a ship’s captain against a background of nautical luxury. When the owners of the Queen Mary saw how well my cousin was doing they raised his rent until they forced him out of business and then started running the chapel themselves.
   We are told, daily if not hourly, that taxes and regulation are strangling business. Get rid of them, says our new president among others, and a rebirth of prosperity will give us all a ticket on the gravy train.
    That doesn’t quite line up with the facts happily recorded in the financial media that if business is suffering, it's from gluttony rather than government. The equity markets are hitting all-time highs while companies are sitting on trillions (yes, with a T) in profits that they don’t know what to do with.
    This raises the question of just how many more trillions in profit business requires to recover from its supposedly strangulated state? Of course, there’s no real answer to that. What business wants, as ever, is every dime and dollar on Earth.
    At this point, an apologist for the plutocracy would ask what about small businesses?  Aren’t they getting slammed down by Washington’s heavy hand? No, they're getting devoured as usual by big business.
    That  brings me back to my cousin. What happened to him goes on daily in this country. Just about anyone who’s been in small business knows that the real number-one scary-as-hell predators are not the tax collectors and regulators of various stripe but the big boys who gobble up small businesses like whales munch on sardines. Who’s murdered more neighborhood businesses than Walmart and Home Depot? 

     Conservatives never seem to notice that phenomenon. To them, big business can do no wrong.Their concern for the little guy is no more real than a diploma from Trump U.