I have received some emails regarding the “Showdown in Chicago” project, and some of the items on the agenda of its organizers. I have some comments about that.
First, I did some Internet searches, and some are for, while others are critical of this organization. Personally, I am not in favor of everything that this organization’s leadership or members may believe in. But, I don’t have the time to analyze or become embroiled in discourse about topics like immigration, who is, or should be the president, political parties, the left, right, or middle.
None of these things mentioned above are on my agenda, relative to the ChangeInTerms.com site. Do I care about these issues? Yes. Do I have time to write posts and conduct research on all of these subjects (and their nuances) mentioned above? No.
Relative to my employment, I also don’t feel inclined to speak out on all of these issues. On the other hand, I have the right, the responsibility, and the passion for entrepreneurs to address matters that are affecting small businesses. When credit is tight or unavailable, this impacts small businesses; when consumers are unemployed and spending is constrained, this impacts small businesses.
Not only do I feel passionate about entrepreneurs, I have been one, more than once. This is why, along with a graduate education which I pursued in order to become academically qualified to teach, I am now an entrepreneurship professor.
Most small businesses, no matter how you slice it, are indeed very small: 0-1 employees. They are often entrepreneurial bootstrappers. Bootstrappers start businesses on kitchen tables and in basements and garages; about half of them by my estimates through formal academic research use personal credit cards as a source of capital. This amounts to over 10 million businesses.
Oh, and that “0-1″ employees group, that number is around 21.7 million. There are around 29.6 million businesses in the U.S. So, you could say that over two thirds of all U.S. businesses are actually very small (perhaps a better choice of words would be “tiny”). Yet, these are the everyday “Jills” and “Joes” who are vital to our economic recovery.
I want to help other people: students, current entrepreneurs, and would-be entrepreneurs. It also happens that one of my official duties is to be “engaged” with the entrepreneurial community. This includes conducting research (publishing), and trying to champion small businesses in every way that I can.
It’s my job. I love it, but from a practical point of view in terms of expectations of my employer, I am supposed to teach, conduct research, serve, and be “engaged.” If my discipline was political science, maybe I would be blogging on our system of government as a focus; but, my focus here is ending the abuses of credit card companies against small businesses and consumers. Consumer spending does impact small businesses, employment, and the economy as a whole, as we have seen.
Relative to the Showdown or its organizers, this is the bottom line: I am against the undue influence that the banking and financial services industry tends to exercise over our Congress through its very powerful lobbyists. Under the present system, we are where we are, today. Small businesses are in jeopardy, the economy is a mess, people are hurting: “my people” (entrepreneurs) are hurting.
Banks are pushing people into defaults. The ABA, American Banker’s Association, which obviously represents the interests of banks, is against the industry changing its ways, and I am for the industry changing its ways. Banks are not working with consumers and small businesses to the extent that they could or should.
I am hurting, personally, because I am separated from my family by virtue of a “crashed” real estate market. This occurred, essentially, because of a lending industry run amok and bankers’ irresponsibility and greed, with regulators asleep at the switch. The “bail out” was misdirected, in my opinion. We should have created loan programs (which would have broken even, instead of adding trillions to our national debt), targeting a recovery in the housing market and the restoration of consumer confidence, before things ever got so bad.
In my early years, I used to write lyrical poetry. Lately, I’ve been playing a little tune in my head that goes something like this:
“I want to take my boy fishin’
But I find I’m just wishin’
He and I would bait the hooks
And cast our lines in babbling brooks
We’d really reel ‘em in”
We’d catch rainbow trout
Maybe bream, or
Perhaps a leafy branch or two
It wouldn’t matter, son
As long as I’m with you
Here in Western North Carolina, I find myself surrounded by some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet, including places where I could “take my boy fishing.” But I can’t. I’m lucky to do my job and get back home each week to take care of chores, pay bills, visit my family briefly, and return.
When I play that song in my head, it makes me want to cry. If credit card issuers and the banks with which they are associated want to know why I’m going to keep coming, and coming, and coming, all they have to do is recognize that I am deeply motivated by that little tune.
I will continue to fight the greedy, unethical, and misguided policies that have been implemented by these institutions, because “I find I’m just wishing” that I could be with my family, and that we could live in peace. (Chase just sent another change in terms on one of my wife’s accounts; that was a very bad idea, Chase: I told you to leave me, my wife, and my family the hell alone. READ MY TERMS.)
And, as I have outlined, I continue to fight because it’s also my job.
If you think things are just “hunky-dory” for small businesses and consumers, and the economy at large, well, I am happy for you. You may be isolated from the pain that others are experiencing.
You can choose to support, or not, the “Showdown in Chicago” protest. I support that protest, even if I do not agree with everything that others may have in mind in terms of a larger agenda (politics, health care, immigration, et cetera).
If you do support the protest, but are not in the Chicago area, the Americans for Fairness in Lending site has also provided a link for contacting elected officials in the post which states “AFFIL has endorsed the upcoming events in Chicago, and now we’re asking for you to support it too.”