Big Business Goes to War Against Small-Scale Entrepreneurship
Instead of relying on a free market, large corporations are actively lobbying to make small business artificially difficult and discouraging. People have a right to try to earn money, but this right is being compromised and narrowed to the point of vanishing. Here, a leading think tank in the United Kingdom points out the plain truth.
(This guest editorial comes from the New Economics Foundation.)
Step by Step Toward Total Dependence
Proposals by trading standards officials to outlaw door-to-door selling are the latest in a campaign waged at all levels against ordinary people using their own initiative to support themselves.
Often these are done for apparently impeccable motives. It is true that a small minority of door-to-door tradespeople attempt to cheat the elderly, or are actually something far more suspicious.
When the European Union -- aided and abetted by the 40,000 corporate lobbyists currently based in Brussels -- applied NASA's food regulations to small farmers and producers across the continent, they said they were merely hoping to clamp down on food poisoning.
But the combined result of these burgeoning regulations, by officials who are unable to balance one risk against another, is something far more frightening. Small cheese producers, small milk producers and small farmers have been driven out of business all over Europe. So have family food firms, providing outlets for local farms.The Progress Report recalls -- during the Great Depression, people could get a box of apples and sell them on the street or door-to-door. It wasn't always enough, but it was something. Now you need over $200,000 for a license to even attempt the same thing.It isn't that small food production is being made entirely illegal, but it is being made considerably more difficult -- just as the demand for fresh local produce is on the rise. The beneficiaries are the monopolistic mega-food producers, who are the only ones that can afford that kind of stringent regulation.
Ironically enough, big centralised food production has its own risks -- but the technocrats don't consider these. Small producers have attention to detail and a personal pride in their work; big producers have massive workforces governed by procedures that have devastating health consequences if they go wrong.
The truth is that the corporate establishment is deeply suspicious of small enterprise, despite all the rhetoric. They prefer people to be dependent on large organisations. They are suspicious of small farms in India or Africa which have such a diversity of crops that even the gardens can keep a family in food. For generations, this self-sufficiency has been discouraged wherever possible, most recently by selling them GM seeds which have to be paid for year after year. (If you save your seeds for replanting, you are guilty of violating patent laws fixed by corporate lobbyists.)
Turning door-to-door salespeople into criminals is the same thing again. They may be irritating, they may have nothing we might want, but the right to knock on someone's door underpins the lives of some of the poorest.
A large and growing percent of the business in the world is now carried out by multinational corporations -- cheered on by the business elite. But they employ only 0.25 per cent of the world's workforce. The implications of this dependence long-term are obvious.
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