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10 Sure Ways to Pull Our Fat Out of the Fire

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I didn’t want this post to be another rant. I was going to concentrate on the printing or publishing business and leave my tirades behind. That’s what I intended to do, but I can’t let it go just yet. You see, my last post More Dangerous to us than Terrorists generated a lot of comments, more than my usual posts. That’s good! What’s bad is the sense I’m getting that we are giving up. Are we really all that fatalistic? Do we carry the thought that there is nothing we can do about it so why try?  I’m concerned that we don’t have a clear enemy, that we think it is beyond our control anyway, and somehow small businesses and the general public are at fault.

One commenter named Vic wrote, “Wait a minute! Casting corporate honchos as villains sure feels good, and has a degree of merit, but we all share responsibility in making this mess. We were the ones who took out mortgage after mortgage, partying with the accrued equity of our homes. We were the ones who never [gave] a thought to the non-logic of an endlessly expanding economy. We were, and are, the shareholders in the huge corporations you criticize. I agree with much of what you say, but we were not helpless bystanders victimized by ruthless tycoons.”

To be fair Vic suggested some things we can do, like attending stockholders meetings, boycotting products, and living a lifestyle that supports our values. Okay Vic that is well and good, but isn’t blaming the little guy like blaming a baby who is given a loaded gun to play with? And before you get too offended with the baby analogy seriously think about the financial complexity of getting a loan, and how many people really know what they are getting themselves into? If they understood ARM’s they would be a minuscule mortgage devise instead of a popular way to qualify buyers for more than they can afford–maybe buying a house that they got talked into by a slick Realtor. Think about it.

Another reader, Karl wrote, “A business that has not got the resources to weather a downturn like we are experiencing is probably not that healthy a business. Did the owners put sufficient funding aside, focus on paying of debt and providing a buffer during good times?…The priority of the business owner is the health of their business in good and bad times. Focus first on the business, and when it has plenty of reserves so it can keep marketing in difficult times, and is debt free, then the owner can ease off and get a few perks.

Yes, the large corporates are really, really bad, but are the smaller businesses any different? I say not. It’s just on a smaller scale.”

I think of the Billy Joel song that goes, “We didn’t start the fire.” I believe that we all play by the rules the best we can. Small business owners are just people trying their best to get by. They care about their companies and they care about its employees.  Just ask an owner what the most difficult job is and they will tell you, “Firing someone.” The small business person is up close and personal with their employees. They don’t devastate thousands of families with just a computer stroke, that’s the exclusive area of the tycoons.

In the movie Seabiscuit promoted the premise that this horse with heart helped shake the country out of the depression by providing a symbol. They could see this champion win race after race against impossible odds.

I am hoping that our symbol rises soon, but in the event that it doesn’t, I pray that the people will get some backbone and change things, like:

  • Demand public accountability of public corporations.
  • Replace the entire congress and executive branch if they don’t permanently ban lobbyists.
  • Rebuild the business infrastructure by encouraging American manufacturing.
  • Severely tax companies who send jobs out of the country. Make certain the tax costs are equal to the money saved by hiring cheap foreign workers.
  • If a shot in the arm is needed to jump start the economy, make sure it gets into the hands of the people and it encourages them to buy American made products.
  • Make sure that if any taxpayer money is used to bailout any company, in any way, that bonus and salary reviews become mandatory for all executives. No exceptions and no bonus money will ever be paid unless tied to productivity and the profitability of the company.
  • Punish and maybe jail politicians and bureaucrats found accepting any money, favors, or gifts from anyone seeking to influence them
  • Require single-payer health care. Any proposed solution to our health care woes that either force the small businesses to pay for it, or allow insurance companies to administer it will fail. We have to stop rewarding executives for denying claims. It is a sick system that turns away people in pain because they don’t have a magic card to gain entrance into the halls of  healing. We can’t afford the failure.
  • Pull back the military. Make it against the law to invade a sovereign country without providing evidence of a direct American threat. Why should we be the guardians of the word and spend taxpayer means to do it? Other countries don’t feel the need to do that–why should we?
  • Pay down the national debt. The thought that China and the Mid-East hold a sword to our necks is very disturbing.

I’m sure that these ten items will never come to fruition. See, I’m being fatalistic too, but it is something to think about. I love this country and am deeply concerned that if we don’t act in harmony and take the power away from those who abuse it, it will be taken from us.

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