In the name of organization and efficiency, some large bureaucracies avoid dealing with you directly. Cumbersome phone trees are one consequence of entities that grow very large and lose touch, perhaps by design. While this might be measurably efficient, the short-term gain is offset by decreased loyalty and diminished customer relations. On a deeper level this is symptomatic of a larger negative dynamic in the economy that is worth some examination.
These days economic wellbeing is on everyone’s mind. There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety, even some hopelessness, in our uncertain times. While the stock market has rebounded from the financial crisis and corporate profits have soared, many families face downward mobility, decreased opportunity, the feeling of disenfranchisement, and the inability to achieve financial security.
Part of the problem is our country’s damaged micro-enterprise sector—the entrepreneurial space where most jobs are created. According to certain measures, America is now losing more than 100,000 small business jobs a year among shops that employ one to five people.
Research has determined two main causes for the decline: regulations and health care. The complexity of entering the marketplace has depressed the ability of smaller entities to take risks and open opportunities. While reasonable regulations are necessary for safety and wellbeing, burdensome regulations force out small businesses by unfairly tilting the playing field to large bureaucracies and disrupt basic initiatives that reinforce the ideals of an economic community. Clearly larger entities are necessary for economies of scale that deliver certain types of goods, but when corporations are too big to fail, they are sometimes too big to succeed. The social dimension of the market suffers when companies are too large to care.
Fortunately, micro-economies and economies of scale are not mutually exclusive. Markets are enriched when larger businesses are embedded in communities and embrace local responsibility.
In Lincoln, an innovative startup that grew into a great success has retained its interpersonal and communal values. Now serving customer needs across the country, the company’s headquarters remains in the Haymarket, where it has triggered a small startup boom. By way of example, the company each day offers its young entrepreneurs the opportunity to eat lunch together. Instead of dispersing and possibly losing energy and focus, employees join one another for a shared meal.
Our country needs a new 21st century vision of economic success. Benign competition with a robust small business sector creates the conditions for sustainable dynamism. A humane economy that prioritizes personal relationships and community ties fosters stronger entrepreneurialism and forges better consumer products. Just as a healthy society and self-responsibility are preconditions for prosperity, properly ordered markets support social cohesion. Markets at their best are driven by startup innovation and sustained by widespread ownership. The return of small businesses within a new participatory economy can extend the dignity and just rewards of meaningful work to all, fight poverty, and help us rebuild the country.
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Congressman Fortenberry has become the most knowledgeable representative on Capitol Hill for nuclear security issues.