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Citations Needed

Jun 17, 2020

“Obama lauds small business owners in his State of the Union,” announced The Washington Post. “I have always said that there is nothing more optimistic – perhaps maybe getting married – than starting a small business,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells us. “John Kerry would raise taxes on 900,000 small businesses,” insisted a reelection ad for George W. Bush.

Everywhere we turn we are centering the needs of and reminded of the glowing status of the “small business.” They are the bipartisan holiest of holies in our economy – the scrappy little guy that also props up the moral pillars of capitalism – evidence that with a little elbow grease and knowhow anyone can build a business in their image. Small businesses are one of two major vehicles for COVID-19 relief – a wholly uncontroversial good that both parties, all ideologies, everyone!, can agree are worth protecting and prioritizing.

But what do pundits and politicians mean exactly when they say “small business”? How does our romantic vision of “small business” match up with reality, and how is their plight used as a messaging vanguard to strip away environmental and labor regulations, tort protections, taxes and a host of safeguards against corporate greed?

The rhetoric forces the evocation of a wholesome image of a Mom-and-Pop candy store in Appleton, Wisconsin, in order to push for laws that will ultimately benefit hedge funds, Dupont and Koch Industries, and a murderers row of polluters and worker abusers.

Our guests are Public Citizen's Lisa Gilbert and Street Fight Radio's Bryan Quinby.