Library Index » Social Issues & Debate Topics

American Businesses - Legal Structures Of Businesses, Federal Regulation Of Business, The Role Of Small Business In A Complex Economy

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From small, independent companies to international corporations, American businesses play a vital role in the functioning of the economy. The United States is often said to have a "boot strap" society, meaning that the economic opportunities provided by the country's system of government allow people to "pull themselves up by their boot straps" to succeed financially. Although it isn't always possible—or even desirable—to build a small business into the next Fortune 500 powerhouse, the notion is generally accepted that anyone with a good idea, a certain amount of start-up money, and the energy to work hard won't be constrained by government regulations or an economic system that stifles entrepreneurship.

On the other hand, many well-known and highly successful entrepreneurs in the early twenty-first century are beginning to question the idea that successful business people are entirely "self-made." In the report "I Didn't Do It Alone: Society's Contribution to Individual Wealth and Success"—published in August 2004 by the independent nonprofit group United for a Fair Economy in conjunction with its Responsible Wealth project (—authors Chuck Collins, Mike Lapham, and Scott Klinger found that a new movement of American business people (including Warren Buffett, founder of the holding company Berkshire Hathaway and, as of early 2005, the second-wealthiest person in the world; Ben Cohen, cofounder of Ben and Jerry's ice cream; and Amy Domini, founder and president of Domini Social Equity Fund) attributed their financial success to a variety of social factors, such as the U.S. public school system, a talented labor force, and numerous pro-business government programs and regulatory agencies. Collins, Lapham, and Klinger also pointed out in their study that government investment in research and technology; publicly funded college grants and scholarships; a public infrastructure of roads, waterways, utilities, and communications; and laws that protect ownership of real estate, stock, and intellectual commodities all work together to support U.S. entrepreneurs and business people.

The American Consumer - The Rise Of The Consumer Culture, Contemporary Consumer Spending, Rising Debt, Decreasing Savings, And Stagnating Incomes [next] [back] America's Families - Households, Changing Family Structure, Same-sex Partners And Families, Multigenerational Families, Military Families In Wartime

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