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Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006 12:59 am

"Small" is beautiful

Why is the SBA helping affiliates of major corporations?

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You might assume that the Small Business Administration exists to help, you know, small business — but that would ignore the conniving nature of big business and the weaselly nature of the SBA.

Of course, the Bush administration constantly poses as the champion of America’s small enterprises. The head of SBA recently bragged that the agency had awarded more than a fourth of its contracts to small businesses, offering this as proof that “the president and his administration are committed to helping small businesses get their fair share of government contracts.”

Not so fast, Slick. Let’s do some simple math: Of the 26 million business firms in America, 99.9 percent are officially considered small, so bestowing only 25 percent of contracts on them falls way short of being fair. Besides, shouldn’t all of the SBA’s contracts go to small businesses?

It turns out that even the SBA’s one-fourth number is a lie, for it includes contracts awarded to huge corporations that use legal loopholes to grab money set aside for small firms. For example, Boeing has 37 of the SBA’s “small business” contracts, General Dynamics has 47, and Northrop Grumman has 121. The trick is that these giants either set up or buy small subsidiaries that get SBA cash. As a Boeing spokesman so cleverly rationalizes this ruse, “These companies shouldn’t be penalized because they are associated with a large company.”

Hello, are you stupid, or do you just hope we are? Your corporate subsidiaries are not “associated with” Boeing — they’re wholly owned by it, integral cogs in the Boeing machine.

Every dollar siphoned out of the SBA by these connivers is a dollar denied to legitimate and deserving small businesses. To help put the “small” back in the SBA, call the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies at 415-255-1108.

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