Yesterday we established that Democrats don't talk about the poor because they think it depresses people, and depressed people don't vote.
Meanwhile, Republicans pull another trick that we often fall for, for no good reason. They glorify small businesses. Why? So they don’t have to glorify big businesses, which fund all their campaigns, but which people don’t like.
But if you're quantifying the qualities of businesses in general—well then, small businesses in general are as bad or worse than big businesses in general.
You call the small firm plucky; I call it underinsured. You like the small company’s hustle; I’m a little afraid of being hustled. You like that you can deal with a human being; I often don’t like the human being I’m dealing with, because I can hear in her voice the thinly veiled self-pity. She wishes she were somewhere else. She wishes she worked for what she refers to in happy-hour gripe sessions as a “real” company.
Small businesses—I’m talking 20 or fewer—are often Satanic places to work: Boring, because unless the joint is on a massive growth binge, there’s no place to go. Limited, because there isn’t enough new blood to come up with new ideas, and not enough capital to spend on them anyway. (I remember a weekly meeting at one employer where I worked. It was called the “flowers meeting,” and people were supposed to bring nifty ideas for new products or promotions. But everyone sat there saying nothing while the CEO described his midnight hallucinations.)
The main problem with small businesses is that the boss has too much power. He or she constructs reality—a mythological history of the company, a fanciful description of the culture, an often paranoid view of the marketplace, a sense of urgency wholly adjustable to his or her own anxiety level—and employees have to live in this world as if it is the actual world.
And there’s nobody—as there is in larger organizations where various departments and divisions work cheek to jowl—to tell the boss his world is warped. There's no other frame of reference immediately available. Even when the boss suddenly changes the world—declares that the sky is falling, the competitor is eating our lunch, or my problem is that I’m too nice—it happens too fast for everyone to say, Hold on one motherfucking minute! That’s not what you said last week! That’s not what we signed on for! That’s not TRUE!
By the time everyone in a small business has their wits back about them, the whim is already being followed. But by now the whim has passed!
I’m sure there are great small businesses to work in and unbelievably wise and thoughtful small business owners to work for. But in general, a small business is too much power concentrated in the restless and distracted mind of someone driven and egotistical enough to reject all the world’s employers in order to become one.
Now, sometimes these entrepreneurs build bigger companies, and those companies become great places to work—until they go public, and financial analysts become new the erratic and irrational boss.
We want to do meaningful work for reasonable people with interesting colleagues and for good pay. It is a lot to ask. And it’s far too much to ask of most of these small businesses the Republicans are always praising.
Like Democrats, Republicans will bullshit us just as much as we let them.
Let's stop letting them.