Obama’s lesson on success…

Success Symposium

Success Symposium (Photo credit: BetterBizIdeas)

He makes too much money and doesn’t pay enough taxes.

He paid all the taxes he is obligated by law to pay. Just like you

He is a greedy businessman

He donates a significant amount to charity

Yes, but it mostly goes to his church. There might be others that need it more

Why shouldn’t a person get to donate to the charity they choose? So the charitable giving only counts when the money goes to the charities you want?

He doesn’t like women

He had more women on his cabinet and they did better financially than women have done under Obama.

He only cares about himself

He has worked for a charitable cause (his church), been a public servant (Governor) and helped a international cause (The Olympics). And in each case he did not take a salary, or donated the salary to charity

Yes, well he should have. Easy to do when you have money

So you make a protest, then it turns out he has done what any civil person would hope, and that isn’t good enough? What exactly do you want from him?

Do you know what the Mormon religion stands for?

Really? You are going to use that as an argument? No, I guess not. I know what they don’t stand for. They don’t want to kill people who don’t believe as they do. I haven’t seen them involved in any fiery highly divisive speeches like, say, Trinity United or Jeremiah Wright. Oops. Didn’t want to discuss that?

Well, what it comes down to …. He could fail once in a while. He is hardworking, successful, charitable and civil.

Why is this such an offense?

Well, it is awfully difficult to divide a population with fear, resentment and jealousy when you have a candidate the earned his success through hard work and determination.

Our son recently asked, “So being successful means people will hate you one way or another? It doesn’t really matter how you get there?” From the mouths of babes…

Thanks President Obama.  That is a heck of lesson and quite a legacy.

Equal Opportunity – Access or Outcomes

Say No More

Say No More (Photo credit: Feggy Art)

“This crap has got to stop.”

“Ok, Avi, fill me in. What has to stop?”

Avi slid in the opposite side of the picnic table, obstructing Bevin’s view of the band busy performing a decent rendition of Ventura Highway.

“I am tired of all the crap at work. I am underpaid, I work harder than everyone else and not only does it not get noticed; now they filled Billy’s position with a new woman. So I got passed over when everyone knows I should have gotten the job. Billy said I was next in line. And everyone knows the only reason this new lady got the job is she is Spanish.”

“Uh, I think you probably mean Hispanic,” Bevin replied.

“Whatever,” sighed Avi, waving a half empty mug.

“Look,” Bevin stated, “not to be a killjoy, because I love a good complaint as much as the next person, but why would you even say that? And what makes you say you are underpaid? I thought you said Billy gave you a little extra last review to bring you in line?”

“First of all, why else would they bring in someone from the outside unless they needed to fill a quota. You know that is how all the hiring at the clinic is now. And yes, Billy did give me more last year, but I still don’t make nearly enough to live on. And you know what? Now I am going to have to do double the work because my new boss is clueless. She not only doesn’t know how to do anything, including paperwork for cases, she doesn’t think it’s her job either.”

This would have been a good time to take a stroll around the festival and just let it drop. But Bevin didn’t. “Ok Avi. I am not going to touch the whole thing with whether your new boss is qualified or not. But please tell me we aren’t going back down the avenue of ‘social workers are all underpaid’ again? I thought we killed that horse already.”

“Easy for you to say,” retorted Avi, hackles rising. “You have a good paying job that you like. I work just as hard and for what? Do you know that coal miners can make $80,000 to $90,000 a year and they don’t even need a degree?! For crying out loud, I put in time to get the education that everyone talks about and tell me how that paid off?”

“Then go get a job as a coal miner,” Bevin shouted back! “Let me tell you they couldn’t pay me $180,000 to go down in a mine everyday. You like it so much, go get a job as a miner then!”
“That is not the point. The point,” Avi clarified, “ is that this is just the kind of wage inequality that we need to fix. We have to get the pay in this country evened out. And now people…”
“Wait a minute,” Bevin cut in, tone incredulous. “Wait. Are you telling me you want miners to make less money? Are you kidding me?”

“Noooo,” Avi replied condescendingly. “I don’t want miners to make less; I think everyone should be able to make more. Some pay is too high for sure, but they could take some of that and spread it around so that everyone gets to make a little more and people aren’t pigeonholed by their occupation and underpaid for doing just as much work as someone else. That is what equal opportunity is all about.”
“That is definitely not what equal opportunity is all about. Ari, what you are talking about is equal results!  That is completely different.  Equal opportunity is all about ensuring that everyone has the same chance, the same access to the opportunities. Not that we all get the same compensation in the end.”

“Well we all know that the access isn’t equal.  If you have the money you get into the right schools, and coming from certain schools gives you a better chance for the kind of job like what you have,” Avi concluded. “And now I am stuck with the degree I have, so I am stuck with the job I have.”

“What?  First of all, I paid my way through school.  I took out loans and worked the whole time I went to school, and yes my parents sent me a couple bucks when they could help, but you know my parents didn’t have two pennies to rub together.  And you could have chosen this same path, but you have never been even a little bit interested in business and you hate numbers.  You have said before that you would hate my job,” Bevin exclaimed in frustration. “And you could go back to school, or switch careers.  Just because you have a Psych degree, doesn’t mean you have to be a social worker.  That was your choice.  Heck, I had a CFO that had an education degree at one point!”

“This isn’t about you Bevin.  It doesn’t always have to be about you.  Yes, you did it ‘right’ and all.  But you keep avoiding the point.  Yes, you might have been able to make the system work for you, but it doesn’t work for everyone and that is what is important.  That is what we have to change to give everyone an equal starting point; an equal shot.”

“That is hogwash, Avi, and you know it!  This is the only country in the world where it doesn’t matter what race you are, what your last name is, where you are from – we all have a chance to make it.  Yes, there are advantages in coming from a wealthy family or attending different schools, but look at the people every year who come from different places around the world for their shot, their opportunity and that make it …”

“Oh come on and cut the crap”, retorted Avi! “You are starting to sound like one of ‘them’.  You know the system is broken and we are finally in a position to do something about it.  We have a President who wants to make it better and all he is asking that everyone have a fair shot and those of you that have more and can afford it, share a little more.  And you bet your sweet bottom, I am going to do something about it, too.”

“That’s really enough. You had the same chances I did.  If you want a job making $90,000 a year, then find out what it takes to get one and go do it, but don’t complain to me.  And if you think you are being treated unfairly at work then you have some choices to make – you can suck it up and deal with it, you can work to try to change it, or you can go somewhere else – this is a free country.  No one is stopping you. You have equal access to the opportunity. But don’t demand equal results – you have to do your part.”

I could continue as the conversation falls apart, but I think we all have a good idea how the conversation ends. Is Avi right or is Bevin right?  Should it be equal access to opportunity?  Or should it be equal outcomes for all?

So we have a good idea how the conversation ends, but not the story.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent here and the profanity removed from the conversation to enhance the civility. Click on “comment” and let me know your thoughts and let us know at the beginning of your comment – Equal Access or Equal Outcomes.

I See You – Observations in Change

“What you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Behind The Mask, 2011, 9

Behind The Mask, 2011, 9 (Photo credit: iosue.williams)

The negativity, intolerance and divisiveness; the attacks on self worth and success – all this has to stop. We currently have a President who has never had a “real job” and who has never passed a piece of legislation without a supermajority running against a candidate, Mitt Romney, who has succeeded with collaboration in government and business.

Friday night there were 30,000 people at a Mitt Romney rally in Ohio. Hopefully enough honest people want to make a difference and believe in America that they will show up at the polls to overcome the democrats bussing in and bribing voters, or democrats like Jim Turner who vote multiple times. Could this be prevented? Yes. The only reason you would want to avoid or prevent voter registration is because you are doing something wrong. Like Democrat Jim Murphy. Is the type of ethics you want for our country?

Or perhaps you endorse this representation of free speech? Here is what you can look forward to in our education system. Click on this link:

Teen Ridiculed By Teacher

Obama says voting is the best revenge, again choosing words of conflict instead of collaboration. Mitt Romney wants you to vote for love of country.

Just as with the debate, a pretty clear difference – divide and conflict, or reconcile and find common ground.

Who would you rather count on to move this country into a more positive position? We already have 4 years of history that Obama really doesn’t want us to talk about. During his Presidential Campaign, he blamed Bush for the economy. In his first two years in office, with a Democrat majority in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate, the economy only got worse. And is still worse by all measures than when he was elected in 2008. He still has not passed a piece of legislation without the support of a supermajority.

I see you.

 

The Gospel of Envy – will we make a different choice?

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery”
– Winston Churchill

I have written previously about friends and colleagues who have immigrated from elsewhere to live and work here in the United States, and who also have expressed concerns regarding the frightening direction the current administration is taking our country.

You don’t have to take my word for it anymore. Thomas Peterffy makes the statement in his own words. He came from Hungary, behind the iron curtain, in 1956 and started from scratch to make his own successful career.

Here is a person who has experienced life in a socialist society, had the opportunity to live his adult life in a free market democracy – the United States of America – and is now very concerned that we are heading back to the philosophy of failure and misery that marks socialism. Take the time to watch this and consider his words.

“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
– Ronald Reagan

Embarrassed of Success?

Dollars Roll

Dollars Roll (Photo credit: Images_of_Money)

“My brother is killing me,” the conversation began.

Cheryl has worked hard over the years to build a successful business career. “Don’t get me wrong, I love him, but he feels a constant need to run me down, especially at family gatherings, and attack my success in life.” Hey, I bet many of us have heard this story before right? Just to get you started in the right frame of mind, let me get a little background on the table.
• Cheryl went to college and worked part time jobs to help pay her bills and cobble together money for a graduate degree.
• “Bob” went to college as well. While he didn’t go for that whole “uptight business” thing, he did secure a job.
• Based on her grades and recommendation, Cheryl got into a great MBA program and earned a dual degree while still working part time to pay bills.
• Since that time, Bob has moved between a couple places on both coasts living what he would describe as “Bohemian” lifestyle. Bob explained he didn’t want to be tied down and that there is too much to see out there. He has some great stories and photos of parties and travel. Eventually, he landed a public sector job. Not the highest paying in the world, but with good benefits, and in general, enjoyed life.
Cheryl worked long hours, and moved to several different cities across the country. She has turned around departments and divisions more than once. She has sacrificed family time to build her career, and while she took a bit of a beating in one of the housing downturns when she had to move for her job, by all accounts, she has done very well financially.
The issues come in, as Cheryl explains, when her brother starts with the discussions regarding taxes, tax loopholes and income disparity. Not sure what card he could possibly play with his sister on income disparity, I had to ask for further explanation. “With Bob it isn’t about gender or race when it comes to income disparity, at least not when I am around,” Cheryl explained, “it is all about how those that are already wealthy aren’t doing their share.” So what exactly is the issue, I wondered aloud?
Cheryl explains it like this – while Bob was out at late night parties and living this mobile lifestyle, sometimes even just leaving a job or an area without notice and never coming back, Cheryl was buckling down and doing what she thought she needed to do to make her dreams come to fruition. A family, maybe a nice house and car, money to put kids through school, money to go on nice vacations or even better, what if one day she could be one of those folks with a ‘vacation home’ somewhere. That was what success looked like to her. And she asked everyone who would stop and give her a minute of their time what she would have to do to make something like that come true. “You know, honestly there were times I was a little bit jealous of Bob. Times when it was stressful or tough; when I thought that it would be nice to just go a blow off some steam and party in the Keys, Cancun, or go to Tahiti and the consequences be damned,” she exclaimed.
So here’s the thing, Cheryl explains to me. Bob made choices in life, and he chose the life he wanted to lead. He finally bought a house, but it is in a depressed neighborhood and his car is barely operable. Not one of Bob’s life choices would be one that would point you to a higher income or financially independent lifestyle. But he begrudges everyone else that did. Those are decisions we made – I don’t begrudge him the late night parties and living in what I would consider vacation locales. That was what he wanted. But I don’t think it is fair that after I took the risks and I did things differently to ask that I gave some to him because he made another decision. Frankly, it sounds a little like the parable of the grasshopper and the ants.
“Bob’s actions make me feel like I should in some way be embarrassed that I have been able to achieve many of my dreams, and yes, I have a nice house and a nice car – and I can assure you no one handed them to me. I worked for them. And I shouldn’t have to feel that way – no one should have to feel that they should apologize for their success, and as an American I can’t imagine for the life of me why we would want a President or a Presidential Candidate to apologize for a successful private sector career, or building a successful business. In fact, I would think they would have to explain or apologize a little if they did not!”
Have you ever had this conversation around the Thanksgiving table or the picnic table? What do you think and how did it “resolve” itself?

Sell Not Liberty – Finding the debt

Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues (Photo credit: Austin Moody)

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.  Sell not liberty to purchase power.

–          Benjamin Franklin

Today, there is a $1 trillion gulf between spending on major entitlement programs and the money we devote to public investments.

To be clear, this means we spend more on entitlements than public investments.  Does that concern you?
Democrats Must Cut Entitlements

Indeed, federal welfare spending actually totals more than $14,848 for every poor man, woman and child in this country. For a typical poor family of three, that amounts to more than $44,500. Combined with state and local spending, government spends $20,610 for every poor person in America — or $61,830 per poor family of three.

By that measure we should have already eliminated poverty, yet…

Obama encouraging Americans to get on Welfare

More than 10.5 million people — about 5.3 percent of the population aged 25 and 64 — received disability checks in January from the federal government, the Post wrote, an 18 percent jump from before the recession.

…and the government is considering changing the definitions of disability so that even more people can file…

Millions file for disability when unemployment benefits run out

Additionally, the USDA reported this past summer Food Stamps usage hit a record high, and is up ~51% since 2008 – an expense of over $71 Billion dollars.

Total number of U.S. States where welfare pays more than an $8/hour job – 40.  Want to see some more startling statistics on the Welfare state?  Click here

Where does the money come from?  If you are wondering about the much ballyhooed 47%, take a look at the percentage of each income group that does NOT pay taxes.

US Households that Don’t Pay Income Tax

If Benjamin Franklin’s quote wasn’t enough for you, I will close with a quote from a famous Democrat.

 “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”

–          President John F. Kennedy

Here’s Really the Biggest Problem in the American Economy – What nobody wants to say Part #2

A continuation of our earlier discussion in response to yet another attack on a free market economy.  In the first discussion, Here’s Really The Biggest Problem in the American Economy – What Nobody Wants to Say Part #1 we tackled the notion of redistribution.  In today’s post we will continue by discussing the impacts of globalization.

“One reason corporations are so profitable is that they don’t employ as many Americans as they used to”
-Henry Blodget, Business Insider

global map test

global map test (Photo credit: aleutia)

Demographics are changing.

I would estimate close to 25% of the people on my floor at work are “immigrants” representing almost every continent in the world.  Some might be first generation; many are work visa or green card holders.  A decade ago, there was a growing concern that all the science and engineering jobs were going to recent graduates from other countries who were getting degrees in sciences and math.  Well, here is a wakeup call – it is not just the science and engineering jobs anymore.  Or medical jobs.  My colleagues are all in “business administration” – marketing, accounting, finance, procurement, supply chain, and sales. Most of these positions are entry level; new hires.

I applaud these colleagues; it is inspiring actually and makes for a more robust, interesting workplace.  However, let me point out that all these are jobs that did not go overseas.  And they aren’t getting “underpaid” either.  These are all jobs that could be had here by any of us.  The inconvenient truth behind this is that the demographics of employment are changing.  High wages or job growth for unskilled labor is a thing of the past.  The global workplace is also a knowledge based workplace.  We need to stop blaming the laborer snapping a widget together in some overseas sweatshop for unemployment here.  Let’s stop spending time railing against the terrible white collar employees and managers, or college kids that earn technical, science, math or other challenging degrees and encourage children to choose a path of knowledge.  Stop the demonization of professional positions.  Slamming on “college kids” and education comes across as sour grapes – and the impact is more than just you.  The children are listening.

“Globalization” has opened up a vast pool of billions of workers who work for much less than Americans.  This, in turn, has resulted in companies shifting formerly middle-wage-paying jobs overseas.

-Henry Blodget, Business Insider

While more products are being made overseas and certainly there are jobs that have gone overseas as well, let be fair – globalization has brought much production and jobs here to the US as well.  Companies like Toyota, BASF, Nestle, BAE, Bayer and many others all have operations here in the US employing our citizens.  Let’s not try to blame globalization for the loss of “good” paying jobs.   And if we continue to vote for the candidate who simply tells us what we want to hear, we will still be sitting on our collective sofas lamenting the “loss” of employment and opportunities while the good jobs both here and overseas are populated by…well, everyone else.  Some of our politicians are trying to create an economy of a select few political overlords who know what is best for 300+ million dependent serfs with a victim mentality.

In the coming days I will continue to discuss:

  • Globalization
  • Technology
  • Stagnant wages
  • Business Profits

Let me know your thoughts.

The original post from Henry Blodgett of the Business Insider can be found by clicking here

Do Small Business Owners Make Too Much?

Out Of Debt

Out Of Debt (Photo credit: Garrettc)

 

Chris is a small business owner with a question – Should I be able to take home $400,000?  If I have a $400k profit reported as income, is that unfair?

A short history of Chris’ business over the last 4 years

  • 2008 – Lost 3 of my top 5 largest customers.  Reported major losses in earnings
  • 2009 – I had to do layoffs for the first time ever as the losses continued to pile up.  I took no paycheck, no income.
  • 2010 – We pretty much finished at break even.  Even so, I took no paycheck and had to dip into 401K to cover expenses because we exhausted our line of credit and banks wouldn’t lend.  The bank’s position was that despite over 10 years of operations, we had depleted all our assets, meaning our cash, and had shown losses for 2 years.  Even though orders were coming in, we weren’t a “safe bet” in their minds
  • 2011 – We are making money again, and will make a nice profit, but are in such a hole from a cash flow standpoint that we were starving for cash due to some of the large orders. I depleted the rest of my 401K to keep afloat and purchase materials.

If Chris’ company shows $400,000 in earning 2011 does that make Chris one of those greedy owners who should “share a little more”?

Given that Chris went 2 years without a paycheck, and depleted his retirement savings, I can’t imagine anyone would have an issue with him taking those earnings, right?

Ok then, what if in 2012 the opportunity arises to make $400,000 again?

Chris’ argument is that there needs to be enough “working capital”, especially with business coming back and growing, to cover operating expenses.  The explanation is that the company lays out money for the materials and the costs of wages to make the goods 2 or 3 months before payment is actually received for the products.  And, especially after the lessons of 2008-2010, companies should make sure they keep a solid “rainy day fund” to cover things like economic slowdowns, plus there is equipment that needs replaced or upgraded.

President Obama and his administration and followers feel that companies like Chris’ should have to “share a little more”.  How much more?  Well, some have gone so far as to say profits should be banned!  In that case, I suppose, owners like Chris should just get a paycheck like any other employee of the business, even though they will be expected to front the money for startups, put in the hours and oversee the business as it grows.   But the current administration doesn’t see any issue with that.

“From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.”

Click on “Leave a comment” and let us all know your thoughts.

Here’s Really the Biggest Problem in the American Economy – What nobody wants to say Part #1

Redistribution of Wealth

Redistribution of Wealth (Photo credit: nodigio)

Here’s The Biggest Problem In The American Economy

•Globalization
• Technology
• Stagnant wages
• Business Profits
• Tax laws

“These and other factors have contributed to the most radical redistribution of wealth that the United States has ever seen. Since the late 1970s, the country’s assets and income have moved steadily from “average” Americans to the richest Americans”

-Henry Blodget, Business Insider

Wow. That is a heck of a claim. Redistribution. Let’s take a look at what redistribution actually is. The term literally means distributing again – so in effect, taking something that has already been distributed, and distributing it differently a second time. Or more clearly stated, taking something from one group or individual and giving it to another group of individuals. I can’t fathom that anyone really wants to claim the wealthy have raided the accrued earnings and personal assets of the “average” Americans and given it to owners and senior management. It is one thing to say that the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the average, median, or mean income of working Americans has increased since the 1970’s. That would be a claim that could possibly be substantiated or refuted through data. But that is not at all what he alleges. His claim is much more sinister – one group of individuals is intentional taking from another, without justification, and arbitrarily giving to another. A claim that is purely argumentative.

He then comes right out with it. In the next paragraph, carefully avoiding using terms like “redistribution”, he proposes spending our way to a more vibrant economy. If only the businesses of America would give up some of the wealth, everything would be fine. Unfortunately, these businesses are shortsighted by not just distributing this money to other people, like Henry Blodget no doubt, who would better know how to spend it. Spend, don’t cut costs, he opines. Ironically, much later in his post, he makes a recommendation (which I agree with, by the way) that American consumers need to save more and spend less! He never reconciles these two conflicting view points.

“The benefits of our free-market capitalist system … are accruing disproportionately to owners, managers and customers, at the expense of everyone else.”

Disproportionate according to what? Are we back to the “I just think you should share more” argument? And who will decide how much to share and who should get it? I suppose the government, unless Mr. Blodgett will be so bold as to offer up his services to fairly split that pie up. Notice also customers are also lumped into that mix of individuals that are taking advantage.

“It’s everyone else who is getting hosed”

So, the “average” American is not also a customer? Who then, are these “customers”, and how will we make sure they aren’t getting unfair benefits from the free market capitalist system? Will we perhaps charge them more, maybe in the form of a tax, because remember, we don’t want the owners to make too much profit. Then we could take the tax and give it to the consumers so they can buy more stuff, which is critical to the robust economy as Mr. Blodgett envisions. But then, if prices were higher, wouldn’t the “average” American need even more money to be able to afford to make purchases? And again, who will make this decision?
Do you agree with the notion that somehow companies and owners are unfairly taking income and assets away from the “average” American? Or is it an unfortunate, pandering, political claim that demonizes those that are successful and reinforces a victim mentality on the “average” American?
In the coming days I hope to cover:
• Globalization
• Technology
• Stagnant wages
• Business Profits
Let me know your thoughts.

Would you pay more?

Tax

Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

What is the fixation on Romney’s Taxes? After all the demands to release Mitt Romney’s tax returns, the Romney campaign finally did. And……..?

I guess the Obama camp thought that this would prove once and for all that Romney made a lot of money? But we all already knew that. So why the fuss?

Perhaps the democrats thought this would be an excellent opportunity to show how greedy a business person like Mitt Romney was? Lo and behold, it turns out that in addition to the taxes Mitt Romney paid, he donated an additional almost $4 million to charities, more than 19% of his 2011 income. Hard to label that as greedy. The best one could do is complain that the money didn’t go to the charities where you wanted the money to go, but I don’t see any takers emerging on that front. Not even Harry Reid.

Perhaps they thought they would find that he didn’t pay all the taxes he owed? I can’t imagine someone running for president would be so ill prepared as to leave themselves exposed like that. Although, I guess we have had presidential candidates withdraw for plagiarism and all sorts of scandalous activity. But no, it appears that all the taxes are in order and there is some general confusion regarding how to use this information by the Obama campaign. Charges that he doesn’t pay enough taxes were quick to emerge. Hmm. What is “enough” exactly? And who decides? I thought that was decided by the tax codes? So Mitt Romney paid over $3 million in taxes in 2011…all the taxes he is legally obliged to…and someone thinks he should pay more? So is the argument we are hearing that he paid his taxes and in addition donated 19% of his income to charity , but he should have paid more tax?

So let me ask, how many of you are paying more? Who has signed up and said, “well, I owe 25%, but I think I will pay an extra 5% this year? If you use an accountant, have you told him or her lately, “don’t worry about all those deductions, I would like to pay a little more this year?” I am pretty certain you haven’t.

So if we add this latest bit of information to the supposed reasons Mitt Romney should not be President, the list is kind of shaping up like this:

1. He was successful in the business world
2. He was successful in the political world, and operated in a non-partisan way
3. He was successful in making the Salt Lake City Olympics come together
4. He is a very generous man
5. He abides by the law and pays his taxes

I don’t know about you, but that list sounds a lot like 5 really positive attributes I would like to see in a President!

How about you? I would like to hear your thoughts, and in your comment, be sure you open up with whether or not you have volunteered to pay extra taxes! Just click on “Leave a comment” below this post. And don’t forget, text highlighted in green is a link to additional information – click them and see!