As I write this editorial, the United States is less than 90 days from Election Day on Nov. 6. The date is pivotal for the future of small business and, quite frankly, the future of business in this country.
The equipment rental industry is fortunate to be outperforming the growth rate of the gross domestic product (GDP) four times over, with a continued favorable economic outlook for 2012. That said, American Rental Association (ARA) members were recently asked for their greatest business concern in the July 2012 ARA Member Economic Survey. Responses centered on the word “uncertainty” — relating to the economy, government policy, credit, health care, taxes, regulations, energy and lack of consumer confidence — the full gamut of issues affecting business today.
The topics raised will be decided or not in the future by elected officials or those they appoint to positions. The reality is that elections do matter and elections have consequences. We are living today with the consequences of policies that resulted from past elections.
In my lifetime, I have never experienced the political polarization that I see today between the current administration and Congress. Listening to the rhetoric and media, I find it bewildering to think that the American spirit of free enterprise, personal ambition and entrepreneurship created by our ancestors is not being valued, but rather targeted to be contained or impeded.
It is hard to understand why growth in business, creating jobs and building a tax base to benefit local communities through individual ambition and hard work is not being valued. The America I know remains quite capable of making good business decisions without undue government intrusion. Certainly, government does have a role, but a limited one, that keeps our country safe and secure, and ensures that there is a level playing field for everyone who wants to pursue the American Dream.
This country needs roads, bridges and infrastructure. We need jobs. We need a health care system that delivers quality care with reforms that make the system work better rather than increasing regulation and taxation. We need credit availability to finance our businesses. We need an energy policy that accesses the energy resources of this country without unnecessary regulation. Business owners need the freedom to employ qualified capable employees within their businesses. We need taxes that are fair and equitable. We need regulations that make sense and allow businesses to grow and prosper.
We need certainty in policy decisions to be able to plan for the future and build America, so you can build your business.
Whether you agree with my thoughts on what I feel is important for doing business in America or not — and I fully respect your right to disagree — it takes effort from all of us to make the America we want. To have influence over the outcome requires participating in our democracy by casting your vote in the Nov. 6 election.
Policies of candidates really do matter, personalities less so. What is the candidate’s position on the issues of importance to you? Ask them before you vote. Where do they stand on taxes, health care, regulation, labor law, energy, fiscal policy and the issues you passionately care about? Yes, they must be able to effectively carry your message once elected, but principal is the message.
It pays to do your homework because surprises can be costly and elections are won or lost by voter interest and turnout. Democracy and the political process are only as strong as the individuals who comprise it. The direction of a country turns on election outcomes and every vote counts. I hope the policies of our country matter enough to each of you to cast a well-informed vote on Nov. 6. I’ll see you at the polls.
Christine Wehrman is executive vice president and CEO of the American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL 61265. She can be reached at 800-334-2177 or 309-764-2475, ext. 280; fax 309-764-1533; or firstname.lastname@example.org.