Commentary

John Kabateck

John Kabatek is executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, California

Guest Commentary

It’s rare these days that any good news comes out of Sacramento. With elected officials who have never run their own business or aren’t listening nearly enough to their district's Main Street concerns, many of the proposals put forth are harmful to millions of our leading job creators.

When it comes to California businesses, most people think of Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, eBay and Facebook. Yet for every multibillion-dollar corporation in our state there are countless small businesses, from restaurants and clothing stores to hair salons and furniture dealers. In fact, they make up 99.2 percent of all businesses in California.

It's conventional wisdom these days: Many people are frustrated, even angry, with government and other major sectors of society.

We have looked at the state of small business in California and our union, and it is not good.

Our elected leaders have been back in session for just over two weeks and once again it is clear that the majority of their time will be -- must be -- dominated by the budget. Our recession still runs deep, scores of Californians are still waiting in the unemployment line, and businesses -- mostly small businesses -- from Del Norte to Del Mar are still shutting their doors at a clip. As we face another crushing multibillion dollar state deficit, who can blame them?

In 1912, aiming for speed and ignoring iceberg warnings was a poor strategy for the Titanic. In 2009, aiming for universal health insurance and ignoring cost warnings is equally dangerous. The Congressional Budget Office has frigid warnings on some reform efforts: estimates of as much as $1.6 trillion in new costs over 10 years, perhaps without even covering everyone.

Whether you own a business, rely on the offerings of another business for your livelihood or frequent a business that has become a part of your daily routine, this month you have an opportunity to gain important insights into the tenuous nature of small businesses throughout California and what you can do to help stop the backslide of our state's economic foundation.

Two years ago, the city of San Diego used its power of eminent domain to demolish a popular cigar lounge. Sadly, the project was abandoned sometime later by the developer, and the former cigar lounge is today surrounded by a chain link fence that serves as a parking lot, at least until a new developer can be found.

While Sacramento special interests spend millions of dollars influencing legislation that will create a mandated healthcare tax, it is the voices of small businesses and their employees that go unheard and who will once again pay the ultimate price for Sacramento's meddling.

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