For months now, we’ve been hearing about the ‘fiscal cliff’ (by the way, can we retire this phrase, once and for all?), and the various dire consequences that would ensue—for consumers, families, big corporations, small businesses and the economy as a whole—were we to dive over it.
In anticipation, CEOs, small business owners and others joined the incessant media speculation and claimed they would likely be forced to take some negative action that ranged from not hiring or laying off workers to foregoing expansion to cutting budgets to drastically pulling back on charitable contributions.
Most of all, the argument has gone, it’s the ‘uncertainty’ of Washington and the economy that is stopping companies and business owners in their tracks and causing them to consider taking negative action.
And then, after a long period of cliff-hanging, the country stopped just short of actually going over the cliff. Still, no one seems happy with the deals that were made, and more haggling is expected over the coming months. The constant? U-n-c-e-r-t-a-i-n-t-y.
To be clear, we’re not dismissing or minimizing the potential effects of higher taxes, rising costs or draconian cuts to important programs to anyone, especially small businesses and their customers. But does anyone know for sure yet what’s going to happen? Haven’t we always lived and operated in uncertainty?
We’ve wondered all along if it could be possible that things might not be as bad as all that. Or, at a minimum, that we just plain don’t know? And that the negative hype and reality just might not be adding up?
That’s why, in the midst of all the press about small business owners’ pessimistic outlook for 2013, including end-of-year surveys that purportedly ‘proved’ that small business owners were expecting and facing a worst-case tsunami, we were excited to come across WSJ columnist David Weidner’s “The ‘Uncertainty’ Con” earlier in the week. In it, Mr. Weidner points out the myth of the ‘gloom-and-doom’ scenario we’ve let ourselves get caught up in. And most of all, the disconnect between the hyperbolic rhetoric we’ve become so accustomed to (and too often take at face value)—and what’s actually happening!
If you haven’t read this column, by all means, read it now! End this first Friday of the New Year on an optimistic note. Granted, we’ve been through (and are still working our way out of) a tough time. Don’t be a Pollyanna; always do your due diligence in terms of planning and staying aware of an ever-changing marketplace. But at the same time, beware of the hype that’s bound to continue.