Saturday, August 06, 2011

Small businesses benefit from tax breaks for the rich? "You're joking, right?"

Originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet

Many years ago I used to own a Volvo. First I had inherited it from my parents, and then my son drove it after that. It was blue -- and a really sweet ride. And whenever it needed mechanical surveillance, I always took it to the Model Garage on Shattuck Avenue near Ashby. But then I bought a 1990 Toyota and had to switch to Campus Auto on Shattuck and Delaware, the Toyota's best friend.

However, when the Model Garage began making plans to celebrate its 30th birthday, they sent me an invitation to the event anyway -- and I'm glad that I went. They had a band and lots of food and tons of happy Volvo owners there and everything. It was a great Berkeley party, celebrating a great occasion -- a solid Berkeley business that had survived for the last 30 years. And, especially in this current economic climate, that's particularly good news.

When I went to thank one of the owners of the Model Garage for throwing such a fabulous party, I also asked him a few questions. "After to the recent slump in the economy, is your business better or worse than it has been in past years?"

"At first, when we first started out," he replied, "things were naturally rather slow -- like what usually happens with every new start-up business. But then gradually we built up a strong customer base as our reputation for good service began to spread. But now things are slower than they were 15 years ago. But still we are not doing too bad, considering the current economic situation." No surprise there. Nice mechanics, excellent quality service, good location -- what's not to like.

"One last question," I asked him. "The Republicans are always going on and on about how their 'tax breaks for the rich' have had a very positive impact on small businesses. My question to you is this: Have any of the Bush-Obama tax-breaks-for-the-rich legislations helped your business at all?"

"You've got to be joking, right?" the owner replied. I took that as a no.

It was a wonderful experience to attend a party actually held in a working garage. The food, mostly catered by Roxie's delicatessen, was marvelous. And a good time was had by all -- especially me. Even though I no longer own a Volvo.

PS: Fortunately, the Bush-Obama recession doesn't seem to have effected the Bay Area all that badly so far. So far, we've been lucky. But if things continue to get worse and worse nationally, perhaps we who live here in the Bay Area might want to secede -- or at least form our own state. We could always call it "Greater Berkeley". Yay!


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