While small businesses have certainly taken a hit following the Bush Great Recession, the evidence shows that American entrepreneurs have been getting pummeled for more than thirty years. According to a new study released today by the New American Foundation, the number of entrepreneurs per capita has dropped by 53% since 1977. And since 1991, the number of Americans who are self-employed has dropped by more than 20%. In other words, Americans who used to be able to start their own businesses are increasingly being forced to join the ranks of the working poor.
That’s because our nation has forgotten how to foster an entrepreneurial class over the last thirty years. With massive tax cuts for the wealthy and for transnational corporations – the rich are getting richer and the big corporations are getting bigger. It doesn’t help that we no longer enforce the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and have jumped head-first into so-called Free Trade either, which has given way to giant transnational corporations that small business upstarts simply can’t compete with. Not only that, we’ve destroyed the social safety net in the country, which used to give Americans a chance to take risks and try new jobs because they had a net of security to fall in if they failed.
Today if they fail, they’re condemned to indefinite poverty – so no one can afford to take risks to start small businesses. This is the consequence of thirty years of Reaganomics – and it’s what Republicans today are doubling-down on.