I got a call today from the National Conference of Mayors. They wanted to send somebody by to talk to me about just how committed these great folks were to small business success.
The call began poorly, as their representative tried to use a tactic I mostly only get from penny-stock boiler rooms - pretending that she and I had talked some time in the past and that I had committed to meeting with her. I suppose this tactic might have worked with a frazzled exec, but it is one sure fire way to immediately get me pissed off in a phone call. After telling her that she and I had no such call and that I did not appreciate the cheap telemarketing tactic, I said that I had absolutely no desire to help the mayors put some fake pro-business patina on their activities that are generally hostile to commerce and free markets. I told them that I did not want a subsidy, handout, any special access, training programs, etc., I just wanted to be left alone. I was not going to participate in some program where I get my picture taken shaking some politicians right hand while he is whacking me with a stick with his left. The representative, to her credit before she hung up, admitted she gets this reaction a lot.
One only has to look at their "plan" (pdf) to see what their vision entails for "helping" small business. Here is a summary of the planks:
- More Federal spending on local infrastructure
- More Federal unemployment spending and lower Federal payroll taxes
- Create new Federal subsidy and loan programs and job training programs for businesses in favored, sexy-sounding industries (e.g. "manufacturing" or "high-tech"). I presume someone starting a restaurant or hair salon or without any political clout need not apply. To their credit they also advocate free trade agreements and visa reform, though they then lose that credit by also advocating failed ideas like "trade adjustment assistance" and "metropolitan export plans"
- More Federal spending in urban areas (police, job training, affordable housing, community development).
As will not be surprising, absolutely nothing in the Mayor's plans dealt with actual issues under their control, such as business, occupational, and occupancy licencing reform. Also not surprisingly, the mayors call for hundreds of billions of dollars in new Federal spending narrowly aimed at urban areas without once explaining why these can't or shouldn't be funded locally. If Los Angeles wants more money for its police, or trains, or schools, and if that spending has real demonstrable value to the city, then why can't they sell the new taxes and spending to their own citizens? Why do they need the money from the Feds (ie from the rest of us)?
But you can just see the corporate state a work. A few companies will cynically climb on board, knowing this is all BS, but also knowing that they will get a nice subsidy or sweetheart project in exchange for letting the majors check their "pro-business" box (pro-business used here as distinct from pro-market).