Commentary, Local Commentary

The Generosity of Micro Grants

Did you ever think there were so many small businesses in the little City of Falls Church? The 84 who were selected this week by the City’s Economic Development Authority to receive $2,000 micro grants to help them pull through the current unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic crisis are listed in the story on the front page of this edition, and all are viable, functioning small businesses offering a wide array of vital services to this community.

It may seem like a small gesture to award grants of a modest size in this day and age, but there is a lot more attached to the dollar amount that comes in the form of community goodwill and encouragement.

This said, don’t underestimate how important the cash is, too, for businesses of their size to be able to hang in there against all the pressures of the times.

Those who’ve applied for federal help, such as the infamous Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) grants, for example, have suffered the often acute frustrations of the combination of federal and big bank ineptitude and favoritism. It was a good idea to try to alleviate pressures on the nation’s small businesses and their workforces in this way, but was a big mistake for the feds to funnel the emergency relief through private banks who, as we’ve seen, gummed up the works to a very considerable degree by reverting to favoritism for their big customers and leaving an overwhelming number of small businesses in the cold.

With the second tranche of federal money, more smaller businesses began to get help, but not without great anxiety and delays that tended to defeat the purpose and, to the point of the purported purpose of the program, unemployment has continued to soar to record Great Depression levels, nonetheless. It’s as our excellent congressman in the 8th District of Virginia, who once served as the president of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, the Hon. Donald S. Beyer Jr., said at the virtual district convention of the Democratic Party of Virginia last weekend.

The structural income inequality that has increasingly inflicted our culture is due to “the pernicious primacy of shareholder value” that has skewed our capitalist system, contrasted to the goal of most “to make this world, and this country, better.” Beyer stated, “We live to respond to the extraordinary suffering of our fellow women and men, who are sick, or unemployed, or hungry or homeless, trying to save their business, educate their kids, and not just here, but around the world, from refugee camps to those who live in the most awful authoritarian regimes to those whose human rights are violated with impunity.”

Yes, most of us live to make this world better, to respond to suffering. The Falls Church micro grant program is exemplary of such a response, and we should be grateful to live in a generous community such as this.