Small businesses are the backbone of America. That’s an incontrovertible fact.
Yet, they are disappearing before our very eyes. Why? Unreasonable policies brought about by the pandemic—especially those devoid of science—have resulted in their untimely demise.
This, my friends, is a travesty.
Yes, the coronavirus is serious and must be defeated. Neglecting small business needs, however, is impractical and won’t stop the spread.
The Backbone of America
What is and isn’t an “essential” business? And why are some businesses viewed as more “essential” over others?
According to the Small Business Administration’s latest findings, there are 37.1 million small businesses in the U.S. employing 60.6 million people. That’s 47.1 percent of the total private sector workforce. Incredible.
Shouldn’t this fact alone warrant an “essential” designation? How come government elitists, especially those who’ve never operated businesses, are empowered to determine who is “essential” or “non-essential”?
Since March, independent stores nationwide have employed careful practices ensuring sanitary conditions and safe operation. Small businesses, particularly restaurants, have made great sacrifices to ensure CDC guidelines are followed. Why are many being punished with new restrictions? It makes no sense.
Let Small Businesses Open and Operate Safely
Although Congress agreed to a new $900 billion coronavirus relief package last night, many believe it’s a little too late. This may be viewed as a performative, feel-good gesture by those unaffected by obtuse, draconian coronavirus restrictions.
Will another government check prevent a Mom-and-Pop shop from closing tomorrow? In a few circumstances, it may. But many believe another round of stimulus checks or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans won’t save small businesses on the brink of closing.
Gene Marks, business writer and founder of The Marks Group, aptly noted:
We don’t need the government to give us “stimulus” or “relief” payments. We need the government to get out of the way so that customers can be the ones that pay us.
Sure, even though we’ll do our best to operate safely, we understand that some customers won't come to our brick and mortar locations for fear of getting sick. When that happens, there will be fewer sales and businesses will need fewer employees, and that's where unemployment help is needed. Sure, if you open things up, you'll increase the chances of putting more pressure on our over-stretched health care system. Fine, then divert that $300 billion to more health care aid and resources to address that issue for the next few months until vaccines become widespread. This is not about how much to spend. It's about where to best spend it.
Meet Some Unsung Heroes Stepping Up
Several prominent business voices are coming to bat for independent shops.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy blasted politicians for stealing what he called “the right to earn a living.”
“I can’t believe in this country that what I consider the most basic right of them all, the right to earn a living, the right to earn a livelihood, is now being stolen,” Portnoy said on Instagram. “And they’re saying that they protect us. Let us protect ourselves. You’re not protecting a family that you just destroyed.”
This prompted him to create The Barstool Fund in conjunction with the 30-Day Fund, a project of Virginia businessman Pete Snyder and his wife, Burson. He directly contributed the initial $500,000 to the fund. As of this writing, it’s collected more than $1.5 million in contributions.
Another individual helping his fellow restaurateurs is celebrity chef Andrew Gruel.
The Slapfish owner and operator recently garnered attention for expressing frustration with Governor Gavin Newsom’s edicts targeting restaurants like his.
During a recent appearance on Fox & Friends, Gruel declared, “This is what we've always been taught. Never trust the government with your money and this is exactly why. They're going to lose it all."
He also lambasted California for mismanaging eight billion dollars in unemployment benefits—money, Gruel argues, that could have gone to and supported struggling businesses in the Golden State.
"The ineptitude and the gross mismanagement of the funds, of the entire response to the coronavirus crisis over the past 10 months, have really been unbelievable," Gruel added.
This holiday season, let’s encourage our fellow Americans to spread some Christmas cheer and voluntarily support struggling small businesses.
They are quintessentially American. If they disappear not only will it be devastating for the economy, it will be devastating for this nation—one that openly prides itself in entrepreneurship.
It bears repeating: Small businesses are essential and are worth fighting for. Let’s not forget that.