...The Index ranks the states according to their public policy climates for entrepreneurship.
This fourteenth annual “Small Business Survival Index” ties together 36 major government-imposed or government-related costs impacting small businesses and entrepreneurs across a broad spectrum of industries and types of businesses..." [Raymond J. Keating, "Small Business Survival Index 2009: Ranking the Policy Environment for Entrepreneurship Across the Nation," Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, December 2009].
In other words, Keating starts with a Grover Norquist wishlist of anti-government positions and doles out top rankings to states that most resemble 1990s-style Russian anarcho-capitalism.
In Keating's scoring scheme, taxes are, of course, an unalloyed evil. The ideal score would go to a state with no taxes and thus no method of funding roads, police, schools, or parks (would such a utopia really be the best place to start a business?). Even taxing Internet sales, an idea Governor Rounds has floated for years, lowers your state's standing the SBEC's eyes. States also lose points for imposing any mandates on health insurers, including requiring them to cover the self-employed. Keating further brands pro-family states bad for business when they mandate paid family leave.
Evidently when Keating says a state is good for "entrepreneurs," he means for Henry F. Potter, not George Bailey.
Not one of Keating's 36 metrics measures actual economic performance. Not one gauges whether you'll find a welcoming business environment or whether small-town politics will block you at every turn from competing with the existing business powers of the community.
And not one of the local news stories trumpeting the SBEC report tells you that the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, neé the Small Business Survival Committee, is an industry-funded lobbying group associated with Grover Norquist's drown-government-in-the-bathtub Americans for Tax Reform. The local news ignores that SBEC chief economist Raymond J. Keating (MA, not Ph.D) attacks open-source software (a critical component in making the Internet work) and likens it to the Borg (subtext: open source is bad because it cuts into his corporate backers' profit margins). Our paid journalists ignore that SBEC president and CEO Karen Kerrigan is "a seasoned player in the conservative movement."
The SBEC's propaganda (and the paid press's parroting thereof) reminds me of the reporting on the "freedom index" last March. Some political advocates cook some formulas to suit their agenda, and local reporters chirp, "Oh, look! Pretty numbers!"
I'll have some real numbers coming up to show the flimsy case Keating and the SBEC make. But for now, remember to always look for the people and the agenda behind the conservative curtain.