August 12, 2011

Small businesses benefit from tax breaks for the rich? “You’re joking, right?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 1:06 pm

(Originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet

Many years ago I used to own a Volvo. First I had inherited it from my parents, and then my son drove it after that. It was blue — and a really sweet ride. And whenever it needed mechanical surveillance, I always took it to the Model Garage on Shattuck Avenue near Ashby. But then I bought a 1990 Toyota and had to switch to Campus Auto on Shattuck and Delaware, the Toyota’s best friend.

However, when the Model Garage began making plans to celebrate its 30th birthday, they sent me an invitation to the event anyway — and I’m glad that I went. They had a band and lots of food and tons of happy Volvo owners there and everything. It was a great Berkeley party, celebrating a great occasion — a solid Berkeley business that had survived for the last 30 years. And, especially in this current economic climate, that’s particularly good news.

When I went to thank one of the owners of the Model Garage for throwing such a fabulous party, I also asked him a few questions. “After to the recent slump in the economy, is your business better or worse than it has been in past years?”

“At first, when we first started out,” he replied, “things were naturally rather slow — like what usually happens with every new start-up business. But then gradually we built up a strong customer base as our reputation for good service began to spread. But now things are slower than they were 15 years ago. But still we are not doing too bad, considering the current economic situation.” No surprise there. Nice mechanics, excellent quality service, good location — what’s not to like.

“One last question,” I asked him. “The Republicans are always going on and on about how their ‘tax breaks for the rich’ have had a very positive impact on small businesses. My question to you is this: Have any of the Bush-Obama tax-breaks-for-the-rich legislations helped your business at all?”

“You’ve got to be joking, right?” the owner replied. I took that as a no.

It was a wonderful experience to attend a party actually held in a working garage. The food, mostly catered by Roxie’s delicatessen, was marvelous. And a good time was had by all — especially me. Even though I no longer own a Volvo.

PS: Fortunately, the Bush-Obama recession doesn’t seem to have effected the Bay Area all that badly so far. So far, we’ve been lucky. But if things continue to get worse and worse nationally, perhaps we who live here in the Bay Area might want to secede — or at least form our own state. We could always call it “Greater Berkeley”. Yay!


July 22, 2008

The Tattlesnake — GOP Claims You Can’t Believe In Edition

Filed under: Commentary,Opinion — Tags: , , , , , , , , — RS Janes @ 6:07 pm

Tales From the Economic Frontlines Show the GOP is in Trouble Deep

Let’s call her Becky. She’s white, middle-class, ’50-ish’ and owns her own small physical therapy business employing a couple of full-time and several part-time workers. In the past she voted for George W. Bush and other Republicans, mainly because she believed the Republicans are good for business, she thought she’d enjoy lower taxes, and, as a woman who has worked hard for what she has, it irked her to provide welfare for those she didn’t feel deserved it.

That was then, this is now: First off, the GOP has done nothing for Becky’s small business in the last eight years – in fact, her costs and taxes have steadily gone up. Every time she hears some Republican gassing about helping small business she grits her teeth and laughs bitterly. It’s become a sour joke to her these days.

Then there’s our privatized health care system – although she’s had problems with Medicare/Medicaid paying its bills slowly, she eventually gets her money. Not so with private HMO’s – not only are they slow payers, but she’s currently going to court suing an insurance company for promising to pay a $900.00 claim and then arbitrarily reducing the amount to $180.00, not even providing her with a reason beyond that this is their ‘new policy.’ Universal health care, something that was anathema to Becky just a few years ago, now seems like a pretty good idea in contrast to the arrogant corporate types she must deal with in the for-profit insurance companies.

What does she think of John McCain? “That old man is just going to get us in wars forever and waste our tax money. No way!” While she hasn’t come out and said she’ll be voting for Obama, she’s lost to the Republican Party. She is also one of the half-dozen small business owners I have talked to who feel approximately the same way. The GOP has made much of babbling about helping small business owners and entrepreneurs but, as another SBO put it, “They only give the tax breaks to the big guys. We don’t even get the trickle down.”

If these are the kinds of voters McCain is counting on to put him into the presidency, I have two words for him: ‘President Obama.’

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