It's all too easy to demonise.
In the cultural narrative, the diverse business world has found itself lumped together. Family entities, micro-industries, medium-sized retailers and sole-traders woke up locked in the cells alongside big-corporate and foreign Goliaths. The union movement draped the sins of history across them and used this fantasy to wage an identity war against business owners to justify union interference in the private workforce.
Over the years, this has been achieved subtly by the expansion of the human resources machine, operating on the assumption that business is evil, and workers are slaves. Their invasion was cemented by political commentators with an ideological axe to grind against capitalism. The net result became a national dialogue of business as a necessary but unwanted tier of Australia
to which freshly minted adults spawning out of universities both sought out and despised.
Of course, if you sit these kids down for interrogation, their hatred is largely constructed around the fear of factory life at the end of the eighteenth century (which makes about as much sense as fearing the suspension on an extinct steam-powered car) and jealousy over the unfathomable salaries of our largest CEOs.
Not even a major marketing investment in ‘wokeness’ could stop envy settling on Qantas CEO Alan Joyce as he walked away with nearly $24 million last year. Businesses who take home more money in a day than most workers see in their life spurs on the old socialist rhetoric that private business is an abuser and that they should be forcibly acquired by the friendly state. (For arguments against socialism, please see the last hundred years of human history).
"Small business owners are the schools of tiny fish, darting around Australia’s corporate, receiving none of the perks of wealth but all the suspicion."
Big corporate is its own entity. Certainly, its leaders earn a fortune, but they also pay out a fortune to thousands of Australians who’d otherwise be unemployed. To be fair, some of their bad press is self-generated by bewildering decisions, but I am not here to make the case for the sharks in the ocean.
Until the economic catastrophe of the coronavirus, small business accounted for 98 per cent of all registered businesses in Australia. They are the overwhelming drive behind our country, turning the cogs over. Together, they employ 44 per cent of us while more than half of their owners make less than the minimum wage. Despite being the market’s innovators, they are also the least likely to be paid on time.
How many of us found our first job at the generosity of a small trader, prepared to spend time training those who have stumbled out of expensive institutions with a degree in everything except common sense?
It makes running a business seem like a huge risk and incomprehensible folly, and perhaps it is. Small business owners are the schools of tiny fish, darting around Australia’s corporate, receiving none of the perks of wealth but all the suspicion. This undercurrent of aggression has been demoralising over the decades, producing the malignant human resources departments in coalition with external pressure to address political topics like climate change, even if the industry has no natural connection. All of it costs money that owners taking home less than your average waitress can’t afford.
In past months, the illusion of business as Australia’s predator has turned nasty, manifesting cultural whispers into very real legislation. The forced shut down of the economy threatened to collapse the majority of those who were already against the wall. While they desperately search for assistance, a disappointing chorus of press shout at them for staff lay-offs, when the truth is those owners had no choice. The unemployed can find a safety net with the government, but small business owners have no lifeline. While a few scraps are on offer, these are tied up in red tape and written by politicians who assume that businesses will be trying to take advantage of the salvage operation
Do not act surprised when Australia turns around to find nothing but sharks.
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