There is an election tomorrow. I’ll be voting in it and I hope you will be, too. It’s in our best interest as small business owners.
Whether you class yourself as a freelancer, a consultant, an entrepreneur or something entirely different, the government classes you as a business owner the moment you get your first payment from someone other than an employer. If you get royalties for book sales or payments for invoices you’ve sent to clients, the government expects a chunk and makes laws accordingly. The only way we can have any impact on what those laws look like is by voting — not just in presidential elections, but in every election down to the county boards. After all, if you don’t want a surprise notice that your city requires licenses for small business owners (something that has happened time and again to freelance writers I know), you have to make sure that the folks in local office aren’t going to start requiring such licenses.
Who Should You Vote For? How the Heck Should I Know?
I would love if there was a central resource somewhere that listed what state and municipal candidates’ policies are regarding small businesses, freelancers and the like. I would donate money to such a resource regularly (and, before you ask, yes, I’ve considered setting up such a website and no, I don’t have the time). But the only way to really figure out who you should vote for is to sit down with the sample ballot for your city or county and take a look at the websites of the candidates in question. If someone isn’t clear about their policies, contact them. You have that right, as well as the ability: all candidates have an email address or contact form somewhere on their websites these days and a surprising number are on Twitter.
The only candidates I’m really familiar with right now are those running on the state level in Maryland and on the county level in Howard County — in my back yard, in other words. And I’m not even going to tell you who I’m voting for here. I hold some pretty strong beliefs as far as how government should handle small business and I know that they aren’t universal. So let’s not get into a knock-down, drag-out fight about my politics here. Rather, I suggest that you take a look at the small business policies of your local candidates. If you have the time and your candidates have been in office before, back that up with a check of their voting record.
But most importantly, go vote on Tuesday!
Yes, I’m Serious About This!
Some of you are rolling your eyes about now. (Some of you are not U.S. citizens and can safely ignore me.) You’re thinking, one vote won’t matter that much or something similar. But the fact of the matter is that many local elections are decided by a handful of people. In the last U.S. presidential election, one vote didn’t matter worth diddly, but in your county election, you can make a huge change.
Furthermore, voting is not a right. It’s a duty. You want the privileges of living in a country where you can get access to healthcare without working for a big corporation or where you don’t have to pay the same level of taxes as big corporations (or at least the level they would pay if they didn’t have fantastic accountants) or of being protected when you report on sensitive subjects? Then you have the duty of informing your politicians of what they need to do next.
So, for the love of writing, go vote!
P.S. If someone out there is interested in actually building the sort of resource site I mentioned above and has time to devote to the project, get in touch with me. I would be happy to help support such a project.
Image by Flickr user Dean Terry