By Peter Rose
Small Business Rising – That’s the name of the new initiative begun by The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR).
The initiative is designed to allow the group to apply its formidable investigative skills to keep Congress aware of injustice and to bring an end to the thinking that has led us to the here and now.
Small business owners like me are being asked to contribute time, energy and the power of our passion to protect and advocate for small and locally-owned. Whatever they need from me, I am in and eager to help them make changes that will set the USA back on a course of broader-based winning.
ILSR is tackling the topic of Antitrust law in the United States. Focusing also on the abdication of responsibility and collusion with those that do their best to get what they want through campaign contributions, donations to both parties, and promises of highly lucrative job offers after our government leaders leave office.
Since the early 1980s, both parties have stupidly tilted the playing field away from small businesses, directing the transfer of wealth and market share to big business.
This propensity to enable and enrich Big in the world of retail of all sorts is precisely the problem that needs to be addressed and fixed – permanently.
One of the ways to make these course corrections is putting teeth back into the enforcement of laws pertaining to the control of monopolies and price fixing between such entities.
Their focus is currently Big Tech, but there is far more work to do than that.
One good example of price fixing is the pact between FedEx and UPS to make sure that their shipping rates are identical to the penny for every weight and size box that they ship.
It’s not coincidence; it’s carefully planned and executed with zero fear of being fined and sanctioned for such a modus operandi.
It’s illegal, and nobody cares.
Why is that?
Government enacts laws that are designed to keep Big growing at the expense of Small, and has ignored the very thing they are supposedly regulating.
Small is damaged, often to the point of failure.
I sound so paranoid, I know. But backing away from being so pointed and direct is exactly the wrong thing to do. I have to get louder, not come to terms with things just being the way they are.
I have written many times in these columns about the exhilaration of finding independent retail stores with quirky, insane energy in towns all around.
Some of them are right here in Wyandotte. They provide character and definitions of the towns they serve. The town bustles, people enjoy it, money flows in and out of these local stores, benefitting the communities repeatedly.
Busy towns mean prosperous towns, and that helps everyone that does business there and everyone that lives there.
Monopolies (or, in the case of Amazon, PANopolies) weaken independent operators and the towns they populate. Devastated towns cannot possibly be the intent of the government that enables monopolies to do exactly that, but what else are we to think if they never change, never wake up and say, “what have we done?”
I’m starting to realize that serious, organized energy is coalescing and growing that will tackle this topic head on. The House and Senate are seemingly more aware.
The problem is becoming more of a thing that more people are noticing and that gives me energy. I become more urgent, more confident about my own obsessive compulsion to push back as hard as I can against the collusion between developers and national retail chains and local, regional, state and federal governments.
After writing for this many years – and advocating so much before that – I am feeling relief and warmth that people are telling me what I keep talking about.
The concept of localism is being touted by dozens of marketers and businesses, working independently to regain the connectivity of community.
The topic of retail is my only real realm of authority.
Nearly 50 years in the game and I’ve experienced the vastly different world of multiple stores (23 at our peak between Willow Tree and Chelsea) and single locations.
The world of farming has changed due to big agra.
Indie farmers are still making a living, but there are far fewer.
Fishing is different, same thing.
Independent bankers are so far fewer it’s astounding. There once were three in Wyandotte alone, now none.
Capitalism has a natural path toward big, and then far bigger.
Doesn’t matter what field, it simply has to grow. Government has to understand that, and control it all. But it doesn’t.
So while I am immensely encouraged that there is real action towards reigning it all in a bit (if not a lot), habits of a nation are not easy to change. Still, it has to start somewhere, and it has begun. Finally.