I stand with my fellow small business colleagues, the backbone of this nation, those who employ a few to a few dozen fine employees: Washington has terrified us with its profligate spending, reckless deficits and inability to make small adjustments to save our social promises. Only a return to reasonable spending (19 to 20 percent of GDP) will give us confidence to hire again.
It is hard to work all your life and attain some measure of success and then watch the tomatoes fly over your head and hit the business owner a little further up the line. Am I next?Times Union, please be careful with your rhetoric. You need the upper 20 percent. A lot.
Roarke sees himself on the border of small business and rich. That means he sees himself as the "backbone of this nation" and approximately part of the "upper 20 percent" that the newspaper, and by implication the rest of us proles, "need ... A lot." He trembles in terror of Washington spending, which he attributes elsewhere in his letter to "a mere distribution of income." Were Washington spending all that money on war or fighting terrorism, he claims, the rich "would be first in line to support new revenues." But he forgets that the nation has been "at war" for a decade -- unless he intends to dispute the legitimacy or necessity of the War on Terror -- and in that time there has been no such rush to contribute. Again, when there have been appeals for the rich to give more, they tend to come from people far richer than Roarke, those whom he writes to defend.
I won't dispute Roarke's feeling of terror, but I will say it makes me wonder how he ever came close to success in his trade, given his obvious risk-averse attitude. However, I will dispute his arrogant self-regard, his description of himself as "the backbone of the nation" when he reveals in the very next clause that the backbone itself has a backbone, its "fine employees" whom Roarke presumably "needs...a lot." If the rest of us must modify our policies due to our dependence on Roarke and his "small business colleagues," than how might their dependence on their fine employees oblige them to modify their demands upon society? People like Roarke seem never to consider this question, on the assumption that, so long as the jobs are theirs to give, dependence is a one-way street and gratitude a unilateral obligation. Today, they act as if their power to hire, and our presumed need for them to do so, entitles them to dictate the nation's economic and social policies. Perhaps he believes that society's dependence on small businesses and their wealthy clients is part of the natural order of things -- but when many depend on a few to give them the tools to earn their livings, and the few presume to dictate the terms of the many's living, that sounds like a job for politics if politics has any meaning. Roarke may think he has an unbeatable argument against excessive government, but he may also have made a case against entrusting the nation's recovery to people like him.