Why Corporations Are Real People

To the Editor:
As a small business owner, I find the left’s cries of “corporations are NOT people” very disturbing.

It’s real people, like me and my business partners, who took the risks to start a company. We’re real people who lay awake at night worrying about making payroll in the early days, and real people who were required to have a lien on our family homes in order to establish a line of credit for our business.

We employ very real people with families and homes, and we worry about every single one of them when times are tough, as they are now. The left likes to demonize businesses and business owners, but the overwhelming majority of business owners are regular people, like me and my business partners, who believed in the American dream and took the risks to realize it.

We provide good-paying jobs for regular people who raise families, who struggle to pay for college, and who pay taxes. Yet it seems we are not entitled to any rewards from the risks that we have taken, for the sleepless nights we have endured, and for the very real concern that we have for our employees and their families.

When those on the left rail against business and clamor to raise taxes on small businesses, they show a fundamental lack of understanding of how our economy works. To quote one of my business partners, “businesses don’t pay taxes.”

When government raises taxes on businesses they don’t just absorb those tax increases. They either hire fewer people, cut pay and benefits, or pass those costs along to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.

The left goes on about how much they care about the poor and the middle classes, but who do they think gets hurt the most when the prices of things go up? It doesn’t hurt the wealthy, it hurts the very people they claim to care so much about.

In the case of my business, most of our work consists of federal contracts that are negotiated years in advance, so raising prices isn’t an option in most instances. That means we’re forced to hire people at lower salaries, give lower salary increases (or none at all), and pass more of the cost of benefits on to our employees.

Again, these are very real people who get hurt, and the impact of these things is also felt in the broader economy.

All of the gimmicks, such as a payroll tax holiday or a tax credit for hiring veterans, do nothing to boost the economy, and the constant battle over extending the Bush tax cuts don’t help either.

The key word for business owners is “certainty”. Business owners need certainty about taxes and they need less onerous and costly regulation before they invest in growth and hire more people.

We’re not going to hire a person because of a few thousand dollars in tax credits, or because we’re temporarily saving a few thousand dollars on payroll taxes. We can’t operate effectively in a constantly shifting landscape of taxes and regulation, because the decisions made have profound consequences for our business and for our employees.

We want to know when we hire someone that we’re going to be able to keep that employee long term. Because, unlike the image portrayed in the media, we’re not villains making money off the backs of others. We truly care about the well-being of our employees and their families.

The other thing the left demonstrates through their class warfare rhetoric is a fundamental lack of understanding of what the American dream is truly all about. As Paul Ryan said recently, “we promise equal opportunity, not equal results.”

That’s always what America has been about. Government should be focused on providing equal opportunity for everyone, rather than on the distorted notion of “fairness” that prevails today.

Fairness doesn’t mean we all should be financially well off, regardless of the effort we exert. Fairness isn’t achieved by taking from some and giving to others.

Is it fair for a corrupt and wasteful government to take nearly half of what a person makes and then give large portions of those funds to others who have chosen not to take full advantage of the opportunities given to them by a free society?

Rarely should people be victims of the circumstances of their birth in America. There are too many stories, including my own, of people who have started life in very poor and humble circumstances, but have risen to be tremendously successful.

It’s by the power of God and through our own talents, abilities, and drive that we succeed in life. Relying on the government to provide for us, off of the hard work of others, is immoral and a guarantee of a life that does not live up to our God given potential, or to the potential envisioned by our founding fathers.

N. Walters
Severn, MD

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