President Calvin Coolidge said, “The chief business of the American people is business.” I’d edit this statement to say the business of America is small business, and increasingly minority small business.
The United States is home to thirty-two million small businesses, including six million with employees. Small businesses drive employment, innovation, and economic growth. Two-thirds of new jobs are created by small businesses.
Small businesses are modern-day alchemists: They create value where it didn’t exist before. They turn water into wine. Their economic impact reverberates throughout their communities and supplier networks.
Americans’ living standards and well-being are directly correlated to the health of small businesses. Small businesses that survived the challenges of Covid-19 now face numerous economic headwinds, including historic inflation, stagflation, recession, and the constant threat of new regulations and taxes. There’s never been a more critical time to fight for small businesses.
Fighting for small businesses means fighting for racial minorities. Over my career as a businessman and advocate, I’ve seen firsthand how minorities are capitalizing on entrepreneurship opportunities to ascend from difficult starting circumstances and enter the middle class. Entrepreneurship can therefore also improve racial income equality.
Minorities are disproportionately entrepreneurial, starting businesses far more often than their white counterparts. Though you won’t read it in the mainstream media or hear about it from progressive politicians who practice identity politics, minority entrepreneurs tend to have average incomes and wealth that exceed those of white Americans.
Ironically, big government policy proposals, often made in the name of helping disadvantaged minorities, threaten to block this pathway to racial income equality. Progressives routinely claim that our economic system, which has generated the most vibrant minority middle class in history, is systemically racist and in need of structural reform. In reality, it’s their own policies that make it harder for minorities to succeed.
Consider which business has a more difficult time contending with a $15 minimum wage: the neighborhood dry cleaner, or the downtown law firm? Who is more impacted by inflation caused by deficit spending and easy monetary policy: the owner of a local barbecue joint, or the CEO of a financial services company? Which entrepreneur is more affected by runaway gas prices caused by progressives’ opposition to traditional energy: the landscaping business that operates out of a 2005 Toyota Tacoma, or an internet entrepreneur who works from his home laptop? And so on—you get the idea.
Progressives claim the moral high ground on racial issues, assuming their policies help overcome racial divides, but the free-market small business economy is actually helping minorities reduce racial income equality through their own volition.
In fact, the best antidote to the remaining vestiges of racism is the free-market system that rewards entrepreneurs of all backgrounds based on merit, not identity. Small businesses and their defenders are the ones who genuinely deserve moral authority on race issues.
This column was adapted by the author from his new book, “The Real Race Revolutionaries: How Minority Entrepreneurship Can Overcome America’s Racial and Economic Divides.”
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