Big Government and Affirmative Action: The Scandalous History of the Small Business Administration

Big Government and Affirmative Action: The Scandalous History of the Small Business Administration

by Jonathan J. Bean
     
 

David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director, proclaimed the Small Business Administration a "billion-dollar waste — a rathole," and set out to abolish the agency. His scathing critique was but the latest attack on an agency better known as the "Small Scandal Administration." Loans to criminals, government contracts for minority "fronts," the classification

Overview

David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's budget director, proclaimed the Small Business Administration a "billion-dollar waste — a rathole," and set out to abolish the agency. His scathing critique was but the latest attack on an agency better known as the "Small Scandal Administration." Loans to criminals, government contracts for minority "fronts," the classification of American Motors as a small business, Whitewater, and other scandals — the Small Business Administration has lurched from one embarrassment to another.

Despite the scandals and the policy failures, the SBA thrives and small business remains a sacred cow in American politics. Part of this sacredness comes from the agency's longstanding record of pioneering affirmative action. Jonathan Bean reveals that even before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the SBA promoted African American businesses, encouraged the hiring of minorities, and monitored the employment practices of loan recipients. Under Nixon, the agency expanded racial preferences. During the Reagan administration, politicians wrapped themselves in the mantle of minority enterprise even as they denounced quotas elsewhere.

Created by Congress in 1953, the SBA does not conform to traditional interpretations of interest-group democracy. Even though the public — and Congress — favors small enterprise, there has never been a unified group of small business owners requesting the government's help. Indeed, the SBA often has failed to address the real problems of "Mom and Pop" shop owners, fueling the ongoing debate about the agency's viability.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bean is a master of administrative history, not just of the SBA but of the tremendous expansion of American government, especially beginning with and then flowing from the New Deal." — American Historical Review

"[Bean] has a love/hate relationship with the SBA, and this tension is visible throughout his meticulously researched monograph." — Business History

"Claims that the SBA did not help truly disadvantaged businesses but its affirmative action programmes benefited politicians in both parties who used it for their own gains." — International Review of Administrative Sciences

"His careful analysis, his all-encompassing bibliography, and his inclusive endnotes make this the definitive monograph." — Journal of American History

"The first full-length academic assessment of the agency. At once a powerful argument for killing off the agency and a shrewd analysis for the political impulses that make its termination nearly impossible." — Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
At once a powerful argument for killing off the agency and a shrewd analysis of the political impulses that make its termination nearly impossible.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813121871
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
08/28/2001
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Wyatt Wells
Jonathan Bean has produced a well-written, well-researched study that touches on important issues such as the workings of affirmative action and the durability of government spending programs.
Thomas K. McCraw
A controversial interpretation of the history of the Small Business Administration and particularly of affirmative action. While some may disagree with Jonathan Bean’s conclusions, none can ignore the deep research and forthright argument that he presents.

Meet the Author

Jonathan Bean, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and professor of history at Southern Illinois University, is the author of Big Government and Affirmative Action: The Scandalous History of the Small Business Administration and Beyond the Broker State: Federal Policies toward Small Business, 1936—1961.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >