You Cannot Govern Leadership

individualism

While small business owners are putting up their houses and their life savings to survive, to cash flow their business, to hire employees, President Obama was and still is, greasing the palms of his political donors in the name of greentech failures, spending billions of our taxpayer dollars.

The alarming failure of big government was never more evident than when President Obama publicly and carelessly joked about a trillion dollars (stimulus (taxpayer) money) wasted on “Shovel-Ready Was Not As Shovel-Ready As We Expected.”  Where was the red flag then?  Where is the red flag now?

The only hope I see for this country is individual responsibility, and leadership that creates prosperity, not big government. You cannot govern leadership.   Today individual responsibility, leadership, and American exceptionalism are too often political talking points and empty words. When individual leadership fails, or fails to materialize, it creates dependency.

Leonardo da Vinci said it 480 years ago and he said it in Italian. Here is the clearest translation:  “People of accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and happen to things.”

I don’t do what you’re passionate about, but be passionate about what you do.  Don’t follow your passion.  Let your passion follow you.  That’s leadership.

As a small business owner after 25 years it has been my experience, the most important life decisions you make, have to be made on your own.  I built my business and leadership is key.

Others will pontificate as to what a leader is, what a leader must do and how a leader must act.  I don’t have time for all that and neither do you.  The best way to find out if you are a leader is to deal with life’s biggest challenges when it comes to crunch time.

Decide on your own and act accordingly.  You’ll no doubt get plenty of advice, but no one is going to know better than you, what to do.  You are better qualified than anyone or anything to make the decisions that affect you personally and those who depend on you.

There’s a disturbing trend in our day-to-day lives towards dependency on others, big institutions, big labor and big government.  Sweat equity has been replaced by entitlement equity.  People measure success based on what they can get, not what they can give.  

A major new study by Harvard economist Raj Chetty, however, shows things haven’t changed all that much. “Children entering the labor market today have the same chances of moving up in the income distribution relative to their parents as children born in the 1970s,” it finds.  “That doesn’t mean politicians can’t improve people’s chances of rising. It’s just that the best way they can do so is by getting out of the way.”  The Foundry

The problem is the more you lean on the government, the more your life depends on government.  You are governed by more  laws, more regulations and more public policy today than ever before.  Who you become, what you do, and how you do it, is shaped by public opinion and the mainstream media.

In this new era influenced by mass media and public opinion, big government is their divined solution to all your problems.  American exceptionalism, entrepreneurship and the multitude of small business success stories that built a thriving post WWII economy, are too often ignored, discounted and discouraged with crippling regulation and  laws that are the new normal.

What if a typical family spent like government?

What if a typical family spent like government?

Individualism and leadership are sorely needed.  People, not big government, can make a difference.  You and I need to step up to the plate.  Our country’s in peril as is our next generation.  Take on the career politicians who have created roadblocks to personal responsibility and leadership.  Our country is on the line. Vote them out in 2014 and 2016.

Career politicians passing laws that control our lives severely curtail the entrepreneurial spirit and small business startups, the little engine that could, that should and does grow the economy.   Consider the cost of healthcare has virtually doubled for small businesses in the past 5 years.  

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of free enterprise. Their heart is beating for their next customer, for their fellow employees and their families.  Their soul is intact.  They epitomize what comprises the backbone of our country, small business.  In their shadows are the real leaders, the chief cooks and bottle washers; the real risk takers that stand behind their champions, small business owners.  Small business owners are essential to the future success of the US economy.

Entrepreneurs are not the only leaders.  Leaders are people I see when I come to work before dawn.  I see them after dusk, when darkness settles.  They are resourceful.  They don’t think twice.  If you say something to them about the long hours they keep, they will readily commiserate with you, complain if you will, but there is a sense of pride in their voice.  There is a smile on their face.  These hard working people who are the heart and soul of the US economy.

In an atmosphere where people lean more on government, blame others and institutions for their circumstance, we need more leaders. Whether you are a parent, employee, small business owner or CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation; people depend on you for guidance.  You are accountable for the success or failure of others.  You have to make decisions that affect other people for better or for worse. 

In business or in your personal life, when the time comes, no one will make the important decisions for you.  Don’t get me wrong.  You will get plenty of advice.  “If I were you…” “You should…”  “You could…” “You might…” Later on, after the decision has been made, you will summarily receive the same words, only in a different context.  “If it were me…” “I would have…”  I could have…”  “I would have… Draw on your own experience.  Make your own decisions.

The most important decisions you can make, are made by you alone.  That’s leadership.  You can change the world, change you can believe in.

It’s Work, Avoiding Work

water board wall street

Get a job!

Below is an example of someone who “works” at avoiding work, see the Ad below and the email response.

The Mainstream Media (MSM) and the White House (WH) brand their own heroes, like the entire Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. No matter what type of movement OWS stands for, including bowel movements, they get a pass.

If you watch the MSM and believe their version of the story, you are being “programmed” for failure. If you are under-privileged, disadvantaged, abused, down on your luck, to the MSM, you can be a hero. You can be on the Front Page. If you do something the MSM programs as good, it erases everything else that’s bad.  Bad doesn’t matter.

MSM says… Out of work, good, successful, bad.  Pacifist good, warrior bad.

Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle

There are many everyday heroes, who go about their business, tirelessly, day in, day out, giving it all they’ve got, not giving in, or giving up, to make this world a better place.

If you are up at 4 AM, at work by 5, slinging hash by 6, you’re just another working stiff, chances are, exit Stage Left, no one is interested.

The MSM, they don’t get it. They’re not up at 4 AM. If they are, it’s not to share donuts and coffee with the local cops, or to understand who the real American are.

The real heroes are the everyday, every time, everywhere kind of people, who pay their taxes, to take care of those of you who are on unemployment, those of you on food stamps, those of you on welfare, and those of you with your Obama phones.

If you are, say over 50…? you’ve heard the jingle, “The best part of life, is Folgers in your cup!” It’s a jingle embedded in our lives. We may not live the jingle, but we won’t forget it. Great advertising!  What if the White House came up with a less than forgettable jingle of their own?

How about, “The best part of life, is people giving it all they have.” or “The best part of giving, is not giving up.”

Instead the WH advertises dependency (see a Craig’s List job’s ad response below).

Granted some of the “heroes”, are real life heroes, but only in a moment in time, and like most ordinary folks, they’re just giving it all they’ve got.

If you are on any government program and deservedly so, , you should be very concerned about the freeloaders who make it their job, to thwart the system. Case in point, a fellow small business looking for an office manager, placed an ad on Craig’s List.

Here’s an example of a freeloader “at work avoiding work”, the Ad and the email response (below):

Office Manager Ad

Response Office Manager Ad

Plain and simple.  If you are on Federal Unemployment, you are required to seek employment, right?  Is this is how you apply for a job?

Many Americans work very hard.  Many start early and work late into the night.  Many of us are tired of the lies, and of people taking the easy way out.

We’re tired of the MSM giving lazy, shiftless people a pass, especially Harry Reid and the US Senate.

We’re also tired hearing commercial snippets on NBC (owned by GE) where Brian Williams, tells us to “go green” and turn off the lights. when we leave a room.  No problem Brian. We’ll turn off NBC.  Exit Stage Right.

“Death to America!” Is this the “secret sauce” in the Middle East to get BILLIONS from the US Government Taxpayers?

Ahhh ” Protesters in Egypt

Occupy Wall Street (OWS), maybe you should be protesting at the Egyptian and Libyan Embassy here in the US?  A US Ambassador to Libya was sodomized, RAPED and dragged through the streets of Benghazi.

“Death to America!”  Is this the “secret sauce” in the Middle East to get BILLIONS from the US Government?  Attention OWS, Wall Street is amateur night compared to these  Islamic countries in taking money out of your pockets.

Ahh.. OWS, Benghazi is a  city in a foreign country, Libya where we’ve sacrificed lives and millions of dollars to FREE them from TYRANNY!

We give a BILLION dollars in aid a year to Egypt and their unemployment rate for young people is 25%. In return we get protesters attacking our embassy.  There are 20 countries like Egypt and Libya attacking the USA who are receiving US aid.

Some other questions maybe we should be asking…

Where was the intelligence data?  Where were the Marines who should have been protecting our embassy?

Let me preface this next question by emphasizing, not one small business owners is asking for a handout.  Just imagine…

Imagine the power of a MILLION small business owners given a MILLION dollars each to improve the economy right here in the USA?

I think we are talking JOBS.  Lots of jobs!  TEN MILLION jobs?  More? Likely.  Pay close attention OWS…   We’re talking jobs!

I think Obama supporters are good people, trying to do good.  This election comes down to whether you believe enabling people who take advantage and want big government is better for Americans.  Sadly, the enablers, have lost sight of or do not believe in free market capitalism, including the  protesters who comprise a portion of the  25% of the Egyptian population out of work.

What do you propose we do next?  Over 1 TRILLION in stimulus has failed.  How about we encourage what my Mom calls good old fashioned “elbow grease.”

The Endangered Species, Entrepreneurs, a.k.a. Small Business Owners

President Obama is disingenuous when he says he is championing small business and the middle class.  Most small business owners are Sole Proprietors, Limited Liability Corps (LLCs) or Sub S Corps.  I own a Sub S Corp.  President Obama knows the challenges I face.  He is counting on you, the voter, to lump small business owners like me into his campaign to denigrate the high income earners in this country.

What he doesn’t want you to know is small business people, like me, often take a lesser salary, but often earn more than his definition of   “rich” because I have to pay taxes on the combined total of my salary and my business earnings.   Both are considered ordinary income.  By ordinary income, I mean income you and I pay taxes on after pre-tax expenses and deductions, like anyone else earning 1099 or W-2 income.

Keep in mind the risk to a small business owner.  If my business loses money, my salary and my business is in jeopardy.  It is a constant challenge to a small business to earn enough money to employ people, to grow and still earn a salary, in that order.  Contrast that with government subsidized businesses like GE and Solyndra.  Imagine if President Obama had the vision to subsidize small businesses to the tune of Solyndra or GE.  Take Solyndra’s $500 million in taxpayer dollars and give it to 500 small businesses, each with 20 employees or the equivalent of 1,000 employees.  Take my company’s track record over the past 2 years and small businesses would have increased employment by 40%.  I have a neighbor down the street who owns a small business, who increased his small business employment by 3-400 percent, without a government subsidy.

I run a small business, going on 25 years.  I pay taxes on my salary as an employee of my business and on the income my small business earns, both as ordinary income.  For many years, my business didn’t earn income.  For many years, my salary was well below the poverty line.  There were many years I was eligible for government assistance and I refused to take it.

How do you put a price on all the sacrifices a small business owner makes?  How do you quantify the years of no or little income you live with while supporting your business and fellow employees.  You pay their salary, you pay suppliers, you continue to pay them while you wait to get paid by your customers.  How do you quantify the debt you assume, including 2nd mortgages, credit cards, personal and bank loans.  How do you quantify the risks you take only to emerge from that debt as a job creator.  Only to be told, “You didn’t build that…,” the government built that.”  You’re branded greedy, uncaring if you are a Christian who believes in the sanctity of life and racist?  Like Mitt Romney I believe a women should have a choice to abort a pregnancy in the case of rape or incest, yet I’m extreme!?

My business is classified as an S Corp.  Today my income tax rate on ordinary income due to the income my small business earns, in an Obama administration, in the next four years, if he is reelected, will be much higher, 35 – 44.5%.   Today it’s 28%.  From that point forward you can make the argument there are tax breaks, subsidies, deductions for both personal and business income.

Argue the advantages and disadvantages until the cows come home.  The bottom line is the effective tax rate.  The effective tax rate for most small businesses will increase from 28% to at least 35% .  That’s huge.  Even more significant, more important and what President Obama doesn’t want you to know is most small businesses reinvest the income they earn from their business back into their business on sales and marketing programs and personnel and consequently accounts receivable to grow.  This practice creates jobs in all segments of the business.  In my case, I reinvested one-half (1/2) my ordinary income in jobs and other current and performing assets, increasing employment (salaries by over 40 percent) in 2012 YTD alone.

If you are the CEO of GE and Obama’s schmoozer-in-chief, your salary, bonuses and investment income is taxed as personal income.  There’s a good bet the CEO of GE paid little or no taxes on millions of dollars in income, certainly not at the same rate myself or other small business people paid.  His company, GE paid no taxes in 2011.  GE’s income was offset by losses, subsidies, tax breaks and expenses, claims I would wager could easily be overturned and taxes, interest and penalties would be significant.  The problem is GE has always had their hand in the government’s pocket.  There’s no secret there’s a love fest going on today between the Obama administration and GE.

What the Obama administration doesn’t want you to know about small business tax rates, is we pay taxes on ordinary income both on our salaries and on the money our business makes.  As a rule of thumb, a small business owner will take one-half (1/2) of their income as salary and they will reinvest the other one-half (½) of their small business income back into their business.  The small business investment I’m talking about isn’t about capital investments in equipment, furniture and other fixed assets.  The investment I’m talking about is in operating income, including people, sales and marketing, accounts receivable which is the fuel the economy needs to grow.  Operating income comes from small business revenues taxed as ordinary income.

In fact, even large corporations in America pay much higher corporate tax rates than most other countries.  Our higher corporate tax rates are supported by the Obama Administration.   A Romney administration would propose to lower corporate tax rates to be more competitive with other countries we compete with for business.  The irony is Obama touts green energy and competing for high tech business but he will do nothing to lower the unfair advantage international competition has because their tax rates are much lower.

Here are the facts…

On taxes, President Barack Obama wants to raise “the top rate to 44.8 percent.”

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/may/18/paul-ryan/paul-ryan-says-barack-obama-wants-top-tax-rate-448/

Here’s a potential solution – Fairtax

FairTax - FairTax.org

“If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche

I made a point to take my two young daughters to NYC shortly after 9-11 even though they missed the ascent to the top of the Statue of Liberty for security reasons, they were able to ascend to the top of the Empire State Building. 

“Today the World Trade Center is again the tallest building in New York one year after the killing of Osama bin Laden and more than 10 years after the attacks that brought them down.  It is still a work in progress: The hulking steel structure known as the Freedom Tower is still 500 feet shorter than it will be when complete.  But it is already a tribute to American resilience, a reminder that whatever devastation we face, we can still come back bigger and better than before.”  Aaron Vaughan

Tallahassee Fire Dept Extrication Team. Liberty Street across from Ground Zero

I can understand where the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is coming from.  I was young once upon a time.  I took sociology in college and a course called American Ghetto Environment, if you can imagine how “not PC” that course name would be today.  I wanted to help people who had a hard time helping themselves.  A Nelson DeMille character in the General’s Daughter reflected, while “Life’s Grown Soft, I’ve Grown Hard,” reflecting on growing up in a post WWII era.  Life was hard.  Today life is soft by comparison.  There are plenty of folks out there that deserve help.  I say “help” because I detest the word “entitled.”  To me the word entitlement defines a benefit given someone in need, not in want.  Our so called entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, other mandatory spending programs were programs designed for hard working people who need and whenever possible contributed to their own welfare. 

A lifetime of work experience allows me to say there are people who believe everyone regardless of work ethic and moral fiber are entitled to the American Dream and those who believe the American Dream is earned through a good work ethic and morals.  I am from a middle class family.  I was the second child of six.  I was always wanting but never needing.  If I wanted something I would find a way to get it.  Ok, I could pout with the best of ‘em for a nickel package of bubble gum and baseball cards.  Mostly I learned to earn what I wanted.  Since the age of 11-12, I always had an after school job, be it paper route, bagger or stock boy at a local grocer.  In high school I washed pots and pans in the cafeteria on my lunch hour.  Later, I was promoted to making and serving milk shakes and sandwiches to my fellow students.   If you have ever worked in a school cafeteria at age 16, worn a hair net, while serving sandwiches to your fellow students, in particular, the girl you had a huge crush on, you would understand the price you pay to earn a few extra dollars.

During college, I worked for a janitorial service from 4 – 7 AM daily at a local hotel to help supplement my $15 per week expense allowance.  Summers I worked on a crew with 3 occupational day laborers, landscaping and mowing lawns.  My boss was a machine operator and had a landscaping business on the side. 

He made me, the 18 year old college kid the crew chief.   I made less than my crew, but I wanted a job.  My crew was ages 18, 30-something and 40-something.  18 had a wife and a new baby.  He showed up for work every day.  If he didn’t want to work, he’d sit in the shade and smoke.  He outweighed me times-two and that was just his arms.  If I pressed him to pick up his shovel, he wanted to arm wrestle or place a lit cigarette between our forceps to see who would pull away first.

30 and 40-something worked 4 days a week.  My boss paid them on Friday.  They got drunk on weekends, nursed a hangover on Monday’s,  then dragged their sorry asses back to work on Tuesday. 

The summer break next year, I went to work for the local school district doing the same thing.  At the school district, I worked with 3  guys also.  One was a friend and fellow college student.  We worked our butts off.  The other two guys complained and cajoled us to slow down and slack off.  The experience wasn’t much different than the summer before.   To me acting busy was harder than being busy, but in the end there are no great gigs in the lawn care and landscaping business.  Did I mention the mosquitos were nasty?

Life is so much softer now, but we all have a responsibility to pull our own weight.  We have a/c, cell phones, flat screen TVs and cold beer on every street corner.  So what’s the big deal?  Go to work.  Get a job.  If you can’t get the job of your dreams you can still go out and earn a living.  If you want something more, go out and earn it.  I know some retired guys who worked hard all their lives.  Now that they are no longer working, they are willing to live (want) with less.  It’s habit forming, but we can’t all be retired.  So if you need something, go to work.  Work can be habit forming, too.  My experience wearing a hairnet left me wanting more. 

Coming into this election, there’s an underlying current of ill will.  Call it hate, dividing Americans. I have never before experienced such divisiveness before between conservatives and liberals, in my youthful 60 years of age.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”  

This quote should serve as a warning to all of us, especially this President, Congress and influential leaders.  We are at risk of a great divorce, with all the ingredients including hate, resentment and financial ruin.  Worst is how it will affect the children, many who call themselves Occupy Wall Street (OWS) the citizens of this great nation.  It’s always the children who get hurt the most.

Note from author on 11-27-2012:  Now that the election is over I feel more strongly than ever this message should resonate with anyone who is concerned about the future of this country.

Have You Hugged Your Building Custodian Today?

You cannot lead from behind!

Leadership begins with mutual respect.  The leaders I respect the most lead by example.  Politicians, pundits and the media can go around trying to divide people into haves and have-nots, but there’s really no divide between most of us. 

Small business owners don’t have a problem hugging their building custodian.  How about the lawn care person, the handy person, the painter, the delivery person; most of all the bug person, who you may feel at risk… to hug?  Hug, hug, hug them, anyway.   Many of the aforementioned live enriched, fulfilling lives with or without millions; and need not be classified otherwise.  Many of these folks are small business owners, too!  Like me.

I’m sure there’s a more PC way to describe some of your favorite “small business owners,” but here’s mine.  They probably fall off ladders.  They are probably mechanically deficient and they’re probably a danger to themselves and others, with a hammer.  OK, that’s just me… but most small business owners have a great deal of respect for those who wield a mop or a nail gun.

You’ll find small business owners in and amongst your family, and amongst your friends.  People you know and respect.  I’ve also come to learn, most small business owners, including me, are generally opposed to big government.  To them, big government prescribes life to be easy, convenient, comfortable and mindless.  To me government is the voice saying, “Eat your vegetables, go to school, do your homework, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, play golf, get cancer and die.”  I already have parents, thank you.  Small business owners know, even if you were to try to live such a mundane existence, government can’t save you.  They know there’s no such thing as a mundane existence.  There’s always going to be something that requires you to be extraordinary

Government isn’t extraordinary and it doesn’t make money, you do.  Government spends your money.  Frankly government spends money you don’t have and you are personally on the hook to pay back that debt.  You and your family, as citizens of the United States of America, now stand to own a piece of over $5 trillion dollars in debt in just the past 3-4 years alone.  This is the new normal.  Are you willing to double down on that much debt?

News flash!  For many small business owners like me, life isn’t easy.  Like most Americans who are willing, I have to earn every dime.  Still no one can speak for those of you who were dealt from a rigged deck, who live a life of marked cards.  Your life may include poverty, possibly abuse, neglect or worse.  To escape this life you may need or have needed to be extraordinary. To escape you may need or have needed extraordinary luck.  To escape you may need or have needed extraordinary help from other people, places including the institution of government and beyond.  You may need private investment, support from charities and organizations supported by those who have been more fortunate.  In this fashion, there are plenty of small business people, again like me, who support those in need.  What small business owners don’t need is more big government, big union and big business getting in the way.

Without free market capitalism, small businesses can’t thrive or even survive.  Many people disagree.  They think more government is the answer.  Where will the jobs come from?  Government?  Where will the tax revenues come from?  Rich people?  Hardly!   All the institutions that are getting a pass include big government, big union and big business.  So where do you turn?  Most small business people know how hard it is to make money and to pay off debt.  That’s what most small business people do.  That’s leadership.

So why are politicians, pundits and the media so hell-bent on dividing this country into haves and have-nots?  I say, it’s time to go dish out some hugs!  Start with the folks that keep me off ladders and off my roof.  Start with people who take away my hedge trimmer and my chain saw, too.  That’s just a scary movie to me.  You can start with a hug for me.  If I am still in one piece, I’ll hug back.

Recently I ran across this open letter to Romney called The First Four Years Are The Hardest… that echoes much of the sentiment conveyed here… a great read…sorry you had to come this far to get to this

Lick of sense?!

Hugh, what were you thinking?!

I wish we could all afford to be like Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich is obviously someone who is used to getting what he wants.  If he doesn’t get it, he throws a childlike tirade.

He threw a fit when Romney ran an attack Ad that derailed his bid for the Iowa primary win.  If you are from Iowa and you haven’t seen it, you’re a Democrat and you don’t watch TV.  Suffice it to say, it was a pointed attack on Gingrich, labeling him as a corrupt politician, using his influence for personal enrichment and it is accurate.

He subsequently launched Obama’s campaign for re-election by producing and running an Ad against Romney, his years at Bain, a private equity firm and Romney’s involvement in some of Bain’s less successful ventures, costing people jobs.  NEWT, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?  First, you, as a business owner, know full well there are good reasons and bad, to get into bed with a private equity firm.  The good is personal enrichment and potential for tremendous growth and success for your business.  The bad is accountability.  Once you make a deal and accept their money, it’s produce results or die.

Everyone with a “lick of sense” as my granddad used to say, knows that. So here’s the bottom line in a capitalist society in capitalist term, “like it or leave it.”  Go live in Greece.

The Gingrich’s wife No.2 goes on TV and says he wanted an “open marriage.”  OK guys?   If you are a regular guy,  you may look twice, conjure up the thought and move on.  Not Newt.  Newt thinks so highly of himself, he thinks he’s “entitled” to an open marriage.

Now Newt claims he’s found religion.  He’s sorry for his past indiscretions.  I think Newt knows Newt in current form wouldn’t find a woman willing to enter into an open marriage unless he paid for it.  So when the mainstream media calls him out for his delusional behavior he throws a fit on national TV and gets an ovation!  I don’t agree with ABC for airing his former wife’s claims against him, but once said, who is going to blame the media or for that matter the voters to question his judgment.

We can criticize a man, Romney, who has been married to one woman, a Mormon, for over 35 years and makes lots of money and we consider that shameful, but a man who takes money for political favor, an influence peddler and pays alimony is suddenly the new messiah for the Republican party?

I can’t help but think about the famous interview Jay Leno did with Hugh Grant when he cheated on his beautiful wife, actress Elizabeth Hurley.  Jay Leno simply said, “What were you thinking!?”

It’s been a long 3 years!  We need some R&R.  Romney and Rubio for President/VP!

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