Friday, August 5, 2011

Business now suffers in silence

I had a bit of a revelation during last night's show. 

When I covered local city governments as a reporter in Florida in the 1980s, the audience at most city council meetings always had a large contingent of the city's local business leaders. Even if there wasn't something specific on the agenda they were tracking, many of the towns "movers and shakers" faithfully attended sessions, spoke out offering advice both solicited and unsolicited. 

Today? Based on media reports and accounts of friends active in local politics, I suspect audiences in most local government are more likely to be comprised of self-professed activists, watchdogs and community organizers. The political power-base in the country has shifted from the productive segments to the entitlement-seeking segments. Even on the most local scale. 

It recently dawned on me that no media accounts spoke of business people attending recent public hearings over a local property tax hike. While their businesses may be hurt by a large spike in the tax rate, speaking publicly now carries too much risk of being labeled "greedy rich" if business airs its concerns in a public forum. Too many community organizers are too eager to pick targets to vilify, to protest, to boycott. So, even on the local levels, most business today remain mum on public issues, and attempts to carry on in silence. 

Silence only works for so long. Eventually, rising tax rates and policies skewed against business take their toll. And business either moves elsewhere or closes its doors altogether.

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