BY DAVID SAYRE AND TADEUSZ RAVEN
Attack Research LLC
As small business owners, we support the current Democratic platform over the Republican platform for the reasons discussed below
The current healthcare system favors big business over small or single owner business. Big business gets extremely favorable group pricing, custom group plans, and have dedicated healthcare representatives. One in six people are staying in jobs solely on the fear of losing and being unable to obtain healthcare coverage. When the founding partners started out, we had difficulty obtaining healthcare coverage. Instead of leaving LANL and putting our full energy into our company, we chose to complete conflict of interest agreements, and work nights and weekends to stay on the Lab’s insurance. The difficulty of obtaining healthcare coverage was known and brought up to us by one of the line managers that approved the conflict-of-interest paperwork. They bluntly stated that it was difficult to obtain healthcare, this was pre-ACA, and we would burn out and come back in six months or be uninsured. In one way he was correct, most of the company was unable to get insured for eighteen months. One of us was lucky enough to be covered under their wife’s health plan. The ACA improved the situation some, especially for those with pre-existing conditions. One way to help small businesses thrive is to standardize the healthcare market, the most efficient way to do so is single payer universal healthcare. With universal healthcare the big companies would not have the cudgel to keep employees for fear of losing coverage and it would also remove the unfair business advantage of paying less to attract the same employee with cheaper business costs for healthcare. On the state level this is true as well. For one of the partners (without going into medical issues) if our company was based in a state like California, many of their medical expenses would have to be covered by the company’s medical plan, but since New Mexico doesn’t require it, we can’t even get access to those plans because the healthcare companies want to cover the bare minimum they can get away with. Current Democratic platform supports universal health care, Republican Platform supports getting rid of Medicare making it even more uneven.
We are lacking affordable housing. Early career people, teachers, dental assistants, and county government employees are some examples of workers that cannot afford housing in Los Alamos County. With the rise in housing costs and interest rates only the most affluent households can afford a home. Without the complete worker spectrum small businesses do not even have a pool of candidates to recruit from, limiting growth and success. All the candidates will say there is a housing problem, but on one hand you have people like Ryti that give a clear concise breakdown of the pros and cons, and on the Republican side, the most outspoken candidate has been Stradling. Stradling’s plan for housing is centered almost completely on getting DOE land transfers to build more single-family housing. During a one-on-one interaction with Stradling he was not able to articulate any plan of long-term success with this plan. Especially when he was asked how we would avoid a repeat of the A19 land transfer, which was sold as a medium density housing development then switched to a low-density housing development, limiting the total housing units and not helping the cost entry point for housing. The county government and most county residents know housing is a limiter to the economic growth of the county. It has been a known issue since at least the 1990’s and will most likely require multiple paths to address this issue. These could include more land to develop, more density, rezoning of both commercial and residential areas, as well as possibly government development funds. The current set of Democratic County councilors, both serving and running, have at least signaled their willingness to carefully move forward with multiple paths. The Republican set has not. The lack of housing is a detriment to small business startups and growth.
Retirement is an important aspect of worker employment benefits. Social Security is currently one of the few places where big and small businesses are on equal footing. Defined benefit plans (also known as pensions) are rare outside of government employment and are both resource intensive and complicated to set up, almost no small business has a defined benefit plan. 401k plans were initially designed to be in addition to savings and pensions, now they are the primary saving method of American workers. Setting up a 401k for a small business is difficult and has significant overheard. Most small businesses and self-employed workers will rely on Social Security and personal savings. The current Republican talking point questioning if we can pay for Social Security is both a bad faith argument and another attempt to further tilt the balance in favor of large corporations. To provide additional context, from 1982 through 2020 the Social Security trust fund collected more revenue than it paid in benefits, the current fund has almost 3 trillion dollars in it. When President Nixon took office in 1969, he adopted the unified budget approach of counting the trust fund revenues and outlays as part of the total budget allowing the deficit spending for the Vietnam war to look less costly. In 1990 the law was changed to not include the Social Security numbers in the budget, politicians continue to do so, usually to try and paint it as discretionary deficient spending, which it is not, these are accrued benefits paid to workers. Even if no changes are made to the program, it is projected that Social Security receipts will be able to pay at least 75% of accrued benefits through 2096. Changes or removal of Social Security will adversely impact almost all American workers and further create another barrier for small business owners to consider. The republicans will float various proposals to change social security ranging from removing it, to privatizing it, while the democrats have consistently pushed to expand social security.
Well-regulated capital markets are almost always the most productive and dynamic. Well regulated means that monopolies are broken up, anti-competitive practices are punished, and consumers have a third party to enforce them. The government has the responsibility to ensure citizens are protected from the ills of unregulated capital, worker exploitation, wage theft, monopolies, and collusion. Minimum wage is one tool of the government to help maintain a well-regulated capital market system, other tools include standard work week, overtime pay, sick leave, right for labor to organize and bargain. If you are working a standard work week at minimum wage and still cannot afford food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare requiring the government to subsidize workers with housing, food and healthcare then this is the failing of market capitalism. These subsidies are a handout to corporations and a burden to all taxpayers. One tool to help defeat this is to raise the minimum wage to a level where a person working full time does not require government benefits to survive. The republicans do not want minimum wage increases mush less minimum wage that keeps up with inflation, while the democrats fight for higher minimum wage to meet the needs of the workers and reducing the amount of federal assistance needed for low wage workers.
The tax law in the US is purposely complex, allowing people of high wealth to pay a very small percentage every year in taxes. As a small business, we are paying a much higher rate in taxes both compared to net revenue and gross profit. The money and fees to set up and use tax advantageous instruments ensures that they are not used by small businesses. All attempts to restore tax rates that allowed small business to thrive in the 1950-1980’s are forcefully and bitterly opposed by the entire Republican establishment and even some Democratic politicians. The current tax structure will continue to contribute to the decline of the American middle class. Since the 1970’s four of the five lower quintiles of wealth have declined. Without changes to the tax code the erosion of the middle class is predicted to continue and accelerate.
Internet as a utility
Americans are more reliant on data connectivity than ever before. Every year that goes by further increases reliance on the internet for both businesses and consumers. Shopping, banking, governance, and community are all becoming completely reliant on internet data connectivity. At the beginning of the automotive technology disruption, paved roads were mostly private ventures and thus were toll roads. Eventually it was recognized that to fully take advantage of the technology, private capital needed to be augmented with government capital to reach places that were not profitable.This resulted in roads becoming a primarily publicly funded infrastructure instead of privately paid. It is time to start the same process with the internet. To fully realize the economic return on this technology it is time to start looking at the internet the same way we look at roads. As an investment to enable more economic productivity. For-profit corporations that have a de facto monopoly in small communities will not make this investment. It is up to us citizens to recognize the potential return and make the required investment in infrastructure or technology. Many of the current Republican politicians are against public internet options, this is a very short sighted and economically limiting position. As more and more businesses require quality, synchronous, high-speed internet they will bypass Los Alamos in favor of locations with higher quality infrastructure.
Safe and secure elections are the bedrock of democracy. Whether a direct democracy or a representational democracy, having faith in the voting system is a must. Ironically, as computer security experts we had a lot of doubts about the security in several elections from 2004 through 2016. To Trumps credit, he hired Christopher Krebs who went through and addressed a lot of the questionable practices, such as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems that lacked Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), which could be counted and audited. Several states still have DRE’s without VVPAT, they include Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. This led to one of the most verifiable elections in history, dozens of suits were brought to court none of which had any substantiated evidence of election fraud. In response to correctly counting votes, and not receiving the desired outcome, many states have responded by making voting more complicated. Georgia, for example, selectively removed polling places in certain districts resulting in multi-hour lines, making it illegal for individuals to give others in line water or food as well as making it complex to obtain and submit an absentee ballot. While these measures don’t directly stop people from voting, it makes it much more difficult for select districts and population segments to vote. If these types of targeted policies came into effect here, it would make it very hard or impossible for people like us, who have lots of last-minute travel and need that flexibility, to vote. Independent of your situation, having several flexible and easy options for voting is essential. These measures, being pushed largely by Republican candidates to limit an individuals’ ability to vote are not how we believe a representative democracy should work.
Big tent party
The US economy has been the largest and most dynamic economic growth engine for the past 130 years. One reason for our becoming and staying the largest was the countries respect for all those that may have different languages, religions, and physical attributes. The idea was that if you worked hard and contributed to society both you as an individual and as a group would get ahead. Having an open society has encouraged ambitious, hardworking, educated, and intelligent people across the globe to legally immigrate to the US. This infusion of human capital has augmented our relatively small, compared to the rest of the world, population to produce at a higher rate and proficiency. To achieve this open society requires tolerance of others who may not look, think, or act like you. With the understanding that so long as they respect your right to existence and freedom in society, they should be tolerated. The current Republican platform to criminalize everything they don’t like is an anathema to an open and free society. The secondary but planned effect of criminalization of things they don’t like means they can strip the voting rights of those people. If a woman gets an abortion and it is a criminal act, they lose their right to vote. If an individual smokes marijuana, they lose their right to vote. If a teacher uses inclusive gender language, they lose their teaching license and their right to vote. They also have criminal records which further decreases their earning potential and is more lost human capital.
Younger workers tend to want to live and work in states that have more open and inclusive laws. As small business owners and a native New Mexicans, we want to see the state grow economically, we want our young people, our human capital, to stay and thrive. Society changes, in the 1960’s it was illegal for mixed race couples to be married, we had segregated facilities, women could not open credit in their own name. We look back on those restrictions and they seem out of step with an open society. If people wish to learn about or be atheists, LGBTQ+, Catholic priests, or Muslim Imams, they should be allowed to do so in open societies. When elements start claiming that others, who do not represent a physical risk, should not exist, that is a threat to open society. We recognize that forcing woman to wear a hijab in Iran is an outward sign of society which is not open. Standing against people that call for prejudice and intolerance has been historically the role of the middle class as they are not beholden to big business or government intervention. Representing that group, which we are a part of, is another reason that we support policies that help small businesses that help preserve and strengthen the middle class. Almost no current Republican politician supports polices that enable the strengthening of the middle class.
We don’t agree with everything on the Democratic platform. We are both very pro Second Amendment, possessing both personally, and as a business, several weapons including AR-15’s and class three items. Many Democrats are pro-gun, but most Democratic voters are in favor of gun control. Having disagreement within the party is a good thing as it allows the open and free exchange of ideas. Through this discourse we can work to forge an open and free society that encourages and enables people to live free of government or corporation control. As part of this process small businesses must be allowed to exist to keep corporations and government in balance.
It is for these reasons that we, as small business owners and members of the middle class, support the Democratic candidates going into the 2022 electoral cycle.