Book Review: “The War on Small Business”

How government’s Covid-19 restrictions on small businesses propped up Wall Street’s consolidation of power and wealth

By Phil Calhoun


The premise of “The War on Small Business” by Carol Roth is that for years, government bureaucrats have been looking for ways to destroy small businesses. She outlines how they finally had their chance with the many actions taken around the coronavirus shutdowns.

“In 2020, the American economy suffered the biggest financial collapse in history,” author Carol Ross puts forth. “But while Main Street suffered like never before, the stock market continued to reach new highs. How could this be? The answer is that the government had slapped oppressive restrictions on small businesses while propping up Wall Street and engineering and historic consolidation of power and wealth.” 

This book is about the David’s vs. the Goliaths and the decentralization that can help the small, independent businesses and individuals participate in wealth creation. Roth is clearly an advocate for small businesses so in my mind she is looking out for my clients, businesses with 2 to 100 employees. 

Roth explains how this is not something new. During the last financial crisis, Washington bailed out large banks, saying they were “too big to fail.” When the federal government finally pushed out the CARES Act in 2020, it clearly favored the wealthy and well-connected, showing that small businesses were too small to matter. People across the political spectrum constantly complain about the tyranny of big business, and they are not wrong. However, too many think government is the solution. Government is the problem.

Health benefits professionals observed their small business clients struggle through the past two plus years. Many businesses, especially retailers and certainly those in the food service industry, were extremely hard hit. With forced closures and remote work, company revenues were negatively impacted for many. The result for these group clients was to reduce the number of employees, cut hours below 30 a week, or lay off some employees. Now as businesses ramp up staffing, they find fewer solid candidates looking for work, employees looking for more compensation, and many people are staying out of the workforce, all of which make it hard to staff a business. 

Health brokers are continually in the position to deliver solutions for struggling businesses. During the pandemic, survival moves included employers reducing their contribution, moving to a lower premium plan, and some even dropped coverage. Employees were forced to change doctors as the more affordable plans had limited networks. While the plans were premium friendly, many employees lost their doctor. Some had to buy a richer plan to maintain access to providers they desired. Of course, having a medical plan is better than being uninsured.  

Now, three years later medical premiums are on the rise and brokers again are faced with finding solutions for employers. For some employers there is little room left to save on premiums if the employer moved their contribution to a Bronze plan at 50% of the employee only premium. Many owners know they need to offer solid benefits to retain and attract qualified employees, so they are open to listening to their health insurance professional. Combined with recruiting difficulties with only average benefits, they know medical benefits that work for employees are highly valued. 

“The War on Small Business” reveals the many major abuses of power inflicted on small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small business owners were thrown in jail for trying to make a living. Individual rights were discarded. Big government did what it does best — intentionally protect the rich and powerful. Roth explains, “This is the most underreported story coming out of the pandemic. The government chose winners and losers; who would thrive and who would fight to survive, based not on data or science, but on influence and connections. This enabled the government, with the aid of the Federal Reserve, to oversee the largest wealth transfer in history from Main Street to Wall Street. The issues started long ago and continue today with a highly tilted playing field that favors those “in the club” to the detriment of the average Americans.”

The author’s position is centered on how Americans need to wake up and stop this government overreach. Although the second half of the book moves deeper into politics, the message offered seems to provide at least a warning to the reader that “if politicians continue to produce policies that intensify their war on small business and individuals, there is nothing that stands in the way of centralized power and control which will soon eliminate small business.” Even though the author moves in this direction, the reader can clearly see the facts outlined and the pattern of favoritism to some large businesses which often are connected to politics. 

Author bio: Carol Roth holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She calls herself a “recovering” investment banker. Roth is also a TV pundit and host, and New York Times bestselling author of “The Entrepreneur Equation.” She has worked in a variety of capacities across industries, including currently as an outsourced CCO, as a director on public and private company boards, and as a strategic advisor. She advocates for small business, small government, and big hair.

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PHIL CALHOUN is co-owner of Integrity Advisors and publisher of CalBroker Magazine.
Contact  714-664-0311