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We are the 99%? Is occupy Wall Street good for small businesses?

Unless you’ve been spending the last year on the moon, I’m sure you have a personal opinion about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement (OWS). Some people think that OWS is brilliant and admire the people who are willing to dedicate their time and efforts and sleep in the streets to speak out for the 99%. Others think they are a group of unemployed, lazy and possibly homeless people who don’t really know what they are talking about. This duality also exists when discussing if Occupy Wall Street is good for small businesses or not. A survey conducted among 200 small business owners also proves it, as 49 % support Occupy Wall Street movement while 46.6% oppose it and 4.2% are not sure about what they think of it. This post is will focus on the different reasons small business owners support or oppose the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and I hope it will help each of you decide if it’s good for your business or not (disclaimer: I think its excellent).

Why should small businesses support OWS? First and for most, A big majority of small business owners are a part of the 99%, those who don’t control 42% of America’s wealth. As part of the 99%, their money was also put at danger by commercial and retail banks that used the public’s money to invest in risky investments. One small business owner I read about said he feels “Commercial and retail banks are not interested in making money the old-fashioned way, and are only looking to make a quick buck”. Going back to the distribution of wealth, In order to create job, small business owners need customers who has money; and for people to have money to spend, they need to have jobs. Since wealth distribution is not balanced (42% of it is held by 1% and another 48% is held by the following 19%) the majority of Americans has less money to spend, which in turn holds economy down. A sense of unfairness is also upsetting small business owners. They think Big Corporations are taking advantage of public owned resources for their own personal gain and that Business rules and ethics that apply to small businesses, does not apply to them.

You have to agree those are pretty good reasons to join the movement or at least passively support it; but let’s see if the opponents have some good justifications of their own.

Why should small businesses oppose OWS? Businesses around the demonstrations areas were seriously hurt by it with reports stating a 50% drop in sales. Police barricades, noise and trash and the protesters themselves, scared potential customers away and business owners were left with no one to sell to. Some businesses were even pushed to go out of business because of it. Even though in some locations the leaders of the protests tried to minimize the damage for the businesses around, choosing to settle in commercial areas was inconsiderate and harmful. There’s also a more fundamental controversy between OWS and Small businesses. OWS movement supports higher taxes to redistribute wealth and heavier regulation on the private sector. However, a lot of small business owners want to minimize regulation and keep taxes low to get the economy back on its feet. Some even say OWS protesters have anti-capitalist views while entrepreneurship is based on the idea of capitalism, free markets and minimal government involvement.

Last but definitely not least, heavier regulation on banks may cause them to be more conservative lenders and that will make it harder for small business owners to receive the credit they need to start or maintain the operations of their businesses.

All and all, both sides have a point. Supporter and opponents raise some interesting points and I think that personal values, beliefs and life situations affect which side people in general, and SMB owners in particular, are on. If you don’t have an opinion yet, I hope this post helped you decide yourself.

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