Thursday, July 26, 2012

Small Businesses: You Didn't Build That!


President Obama recently got himself in hot water with a lot of hard-working business owners when he said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”

Conservatives pounced on this statement as being arrogant and patronizing toward the risk-takers that actually employ others and create jobs.

Liberals claim the quote is out of context, and point out that we are all mutually helped by teachers, roads, infrastructure, firefighters and the invention of the Internet.
As a small business man myself, I have heard a lot of about jobs and small businesses in this long election cycle we have all had to endure. Here are some things that you might surprise you about small businesses. They may not be so small. A business under 500 employees usually qualifies.

A staggering 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small, paying 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll, and employing half of all private sector employees! Half! That is about 60 million jobs.

Maybe even more significantly, they generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years, from 1993-2009. That is 9.8 million new jobs.

Small businesses are the ones that take risks.  Just look at the rate of failure. Only a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.  And, the majority of small businesses are started with owner’s own cash, bank loans and credit cards.

So, yes, we all drive on roads contracted for by the government. However, they were paid for tax dollars from people like me, and you. Further, they were built by private businesses simply under contract from the government.  The Internet was invented by the military, which is funded by our tax dollars. Firefighters, who are true heroes along with our soldiers and police, are paid with tax dollars.
Remember, the government cannot give you anything it does not first take from someone else.

The current administration wants to raise taxes on business owners with incomes over $250,000.00.  However, we should all recognize that precious few folks with incomes under that number could provide many jobs. 

Job creators are certainly struggling and lack confidence to hire you and your neighbors.  We are in crisis of confidence and both sides blame each other. 
We cannot tax out way to prosperity, we must grow there. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012



With jobs as hard to come by as they are, getting fired is a serious blow. I represent injured workers and car accident victims, and losing their job is something they all fear. But, people are only fired for really good reasons, right?

Consider these reported cases:

On July 2, 2012, near Miami Beach, a young lifeguard was assigned a portion of the city beach. He heard a commotion, and saw a man in trouble. He ran to help, and radioed his boss to cover his section.  The lifeguard saved the drowning man.

Then he was fired. 

Fired because he left his assigned beach zone to save a life!
Two other lifeguards protested, claiming they would have done the same thing.

Then they were fired.

Three of the remaining lifeguards resigned in protest. A total of six jobs lost.

The public outcry was so huge, that the young hero, Mr. Lopez, was actually presented a key to the city. The management company also offered him his job back, which he politely declined.
Surely, getting fired for doing the right thing is rare. Maybe it is not.

Consider the Detroit worker who found a dangerous loaded handgun in weeds while on the job.  He kept it safe, figuring a policeman would soon drive by, and he could turn it in. After work, having seen no cops, he drove it to the police department himself. He wanted to get it off the streets. The police discovered the gun had been stolen years earlier, and praised his efforts.

Then he was fired. 

Fired only two years from retirement after 23 years on the same job! He had broken a policy by having a gun at work.  Really?

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a shoplifter was running out of the Whole Foods store, when a former US Marine employee caught up to him in the parking lot. The employee eventually caught him and, attempting a citizens’ arrest, held the suspect for police as they were on the way.  What loyalty! But then his boss, the manager, came and ordered that the thug must be released. The thief ran off into the night.

Then he was fired.

Fired on Christmas Eve, no less.  You see, Whole Foods has a policy against “touching” a customer.
Was a man who was stealing really a “customer?” I thought customers actually paid for the items they take out.

In the Whole Foods case, one could argue that no one was in danger when the employee chased him down. Surely, if customers were in danger, it would be a different result, right? Wrong!

A Wal-Mart shoplifter had one employee up against a break room wall, with a gun at his back. The gunman reportedly threatened the other three employees in the small room, but they were having none of it. They sprang into action, and wrestled the gun away from the crazed bandit, and held him for police.

Police officers told them they had done everything right.

Then they were fired.

All four of them were fired.

Wal-Mart claimed they broke a company policy by putting their fellow workers and customers at risk. Wal-Mart seemed unable to grasp that letting a desperate criminal armed with a gun lose in their store might put a person or two at risk. And what about the man with the gun at his back? Seems like he was at risk!

As it turns out, the thug was a convicted felon, who cannot legally own a firearm and would certainly not want to be caught with one. He also had many warrants out for his arrest, so he was probably very desperate. The gun, in fact, was loaded, and had a live round chambered to shoot.

Company policies were created to teach people what is right, and to protect the customers and the company.  I can understand why employees are not encouraged to chase down thieves outside the store, but some of these are indefensible among those with any common sense.

Maybe common sense itself was fired?
It sure is rare these days.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Freedom and Independence

Independence day in America is July 4. It is a day of fireworks, picnics and grilling out. Having recently visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia I was struck anew just how brave these few flawed founding fathers were. Standing up to the largest empire that existed. Troops were on the ground, and more were on the way. The battles would have to be fought here. If you host a battle, home field advantage is often overshadowed by the awful inevitable destruction. I just visited Arlington national cemetery. There are rows of white tombstones are far as you can see. Did you know that belonged to Robert E Lee originally? Anyway, those soldiers died for you and for me. For freedom. It occurred to me as I visit our national Capitol that few if any Americans would actually read the Declaration of Independence on this day. Doesn't sound like fun? How bout this? Have amazing stars explain and than read you -- or really perform-- this great document that we hardly have lived up to yet. Interested? Is it worth it to you? If so, gather round and watch 15 minutes. (That is 1/4 of an American Idol episode) Enjoy. Happy fourth of July