If the Canadian Federation of Independent Business's lobbying efforts were fully successful, far more of us would live precarious lives that dictate more tightly constrained economic choices.
By Sean Hurley
Published March 10, 2014
I go out of my way to support local, independent business. It isn't because I want to save money. If my only interest within my community was to save money, I would shop at chains, eat processed food and clip coupons. I do none of those things.
I pay the premium to park my car, walk into a business, and pay for a product or service such as a fair trade, organic coffee that may even be roasted locally. I do it as a very deliberate political and economic choice to support my neighbours with my income.
I support a lot of my neighbours. I am able and happy to do so because I am paid fairly, at a union rate, employed by a publicly supported institution. It is because I'm paid fairly I can make choices in the economy to support my neighbours who are in business for themselves.
I appreciate not everyone can do that. Too many of my neighbours are living in more dire economic circumstances. All of their economic choices are informed by necessity and price. They can seldom afford to be good neighbours in their economic choices.
So why doesn't small businesses support me?
When I see a small, local business sporting the sticker for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), I see a business actively engaged in lobbying against my economic best interests.
The CFIB lobbies:
For right-to-work legislation
Against funding public transit
For lower business taxes
Against increased contributions to Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
For privatized pension plans
Against increasing the minimum wage
Traditionally, the CFIB has lobbied against welfare benefits, employment insurance, public heatlh care, and other aspects of the social safety net.
If the CFIB's lobbying efforts were fully successful, far more of us would live precarious lives that dictate more tightly constrained economic choices.
To be clear, the lobbying efforts of the CFIB are geared at reducing the marginal costs of maintaining viable social and physical infrastructure at the expense of the prosperous market economy that directly benefits the independent small business community. By working against my interests, many small businesses work against their own economic best interests.
To me, my street, my neighbours, my block, my neighbourhood, my city, are extensions of my home. I want to care about them. I want to walk safely and securely through them. I want there to be parks, fountains, pools, libraries, schools, and community centres. I want there to be public transit, good roads, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and the supporting infrastructure.
I want my hungry neighbours to be fed. I want the homeless to be warm, comfortable, and safe. I want the jobless to find meaningful work that can provide them with something more dignified than subsistence or less. I want my neighbours who take risks by investing in my city to succeed.
Not only am I prepared to pay for those things, I do pay for those things through both my taxes and my personal purchasing decisions.
It is perplexing and disappointing to me that so many small businesses prefer to lobby against those values and in favour of some cold and cruel spartan society where every choice is the lowest investment for the lowest return.
It occurs to me that if small businesses won't support me, I can't and won't support them. I am looking for the CFIB sticker so I can walk on past.
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