The American Small Businessman

The American Small Businessman

The American Small Businessman

The American Small Businessman

Excerpt

A number of years ago I received a letter from a responsible official of the United Auto Workers (AFL-CIO) in which he expressed an interest in my study of the American small businessman and went on to say: "But I challenge your thesis that he cannot be counted upon to support liberal groupings such as organized labor. If you can show that the small businessman is not a friend of ours I will be willing to revise my thinking."

This feeling, I soon discovered, was shared in one form or another by a variety of people who looked upon the small businessman as a kind of modern-day American underdog. For one thing, his present economic situation was known to be tight and often desperate, and it is very much in keeping with our own traditions to react with sympathy or outrage, as the case may be, when it is felt the "little guy" is being pushed around. More important, however, is the fact that the small businessman has always been identified with all of the homely virtues of Main Street America and thus is in something of a charmed if not sacred category along with Motherhood and the American Flag.

I would be less than honest if I did not admit that this almost universal admiration prompted in me a sense of deep skepticism. I also became quickly aware that very little was actually known about the small businessman, and it was this finding more than any other which led me to take a closer look at the man as well as the legend.

When a writer has finished a book he recognizes, perhaps . . .

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