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January 4, 2013

idea capitalist LARGEPlease visit ideacapitalists.com for all future posts from the Real McCoy Small Business a.k.a. the Idea Capitalist.

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2012 – You’re Dead To Me… Part Two – Reflections

January 1, 2013

June 2012

Cody and Tug - Lazy dayzEyes wide open… Reflections In the darkest hours of the night, when sleep should prevail, without prejudice, without mercy, questions pour into my head.  I lie awake and I wonder…

Tallahassee Fire Dept Extrication Team 911

Tallahassee Fire Dept Extrication Team 911

May 2012

“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 911 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.

April 2012

400px-Rick_Scott_official_portrait

Governor Rick Scott

The Tampa Bay Times “Scott Bashing” on the Wrong Track… The Tampa Bay Times in the editorial section of the 04/10/2012 edition AGAIN trashes Governor Rick Scott on the issue of rail.

r-CUSTODIAN-large570Have You Hugged Your Building Custodian Today?  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. 

2012 – You’re Now Dead To Me – Part One – Forewarned is Not Forearmed

December 28, 2012

2012 – You’re Now Dead To Me… is about my early 2012 blogs – a time when I imagined sanity still ruled the earth.  I blogged a lot about stuff hoping reason would or could prevail.  Nope!

middle seat fullJanuary 2012

The Real Middle Class?  Invisible. The mainstream media and the politicians can’t see us from where they’re sitting.

Getting Religion – People only know you’re a Christian by your Facebook.”

What does “shovel ready” really mean to a small business owner?  It means building a business from the ground up!

What were you thinking?!

What were you thinking?!

Lick of Sense! 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.

February 2012

Paul Ryan for President – “America Deserves a Choice”

0_21_101508_Wallenda01Who isn’t afraid of failing?!  The Wallenda factor is just a normal fear of falling!  Who isn’t afraid of falling?!

March 2012

Added Regulatory Burden is a Tax on Community Banks, Credit Unions and Small Business

Lead with Words. Live Free, Not Die! John McCain said we should arm the freedom fighters in Syria.  John needs to spend more time on his iPad.

Alien_movie_poster

Alien Nation a.k.a., The Obamacare Nation, Alien, the movie was all about spreading spores and breeding aliens to prey on mankind, should the spores reach our planet.  Obamacare and its spores are already here.

Don’t hold your breath, but call me maybe, I have more rants in 2012.  I plan on summarizing them just for you, but I’m busy right now, sleeping.

Mud Slinging Media (MSM) Challenge on Gun Control

December 26, 2012
registered gun owner locations

Source: CNN video and story

Here’s a challenge for the Mud Slinging Media (MSM) on Gun Control.

Shouldn’t the MSM publish a story on the location of every felon?  Instead, they publish a story on the location of every gun and every gun owner!

Outrageous!

What have we accomplished here besides making every would be gun owner think twice before registering their firearm?

Why doesn’t the MSM do some public good and let us know where the likely high crime areas would be i.e., where registered felons live, as opposed to low crime areas, where registered gun owners live.

Let’s connect the dots and see where the registered felons live as opposed to the registered gun owners.  The only concern I would have is registered felons would likely post one address (living with Mom) but live at another.

Is there one decent reporter out there that is curious to learn whether it’s possible owning a gun may, in fact, deter crime?

On the other hand, maybe the paper’s publisher, Janet Hasson, president of the Journal News Media Group, should do a follow-up story on registered felons to redeem herself in the eyes of these gun owners.

Think about it?

The "Physical" Cliff, Writing Checks My Ass Can't Cash

December 10, 2012
fiscal-cliff

The “Physical Cliff”

I kid around about reaching the “physical cliff”, where my body reaches the point whereby I can no longer sustain my anatomy.   If I don’t start getting back on the bike it could be I’m heading for a period of hyper-inflation (around my middle) and resulting in my declaring my own “ass warfare.”

Getting serious about the next time I get a “physical” what is it going to cost me and other taxpayers?  While everyone is paying close attention to the “Fiscal Cliff” what is happening to taxpayers right now and has been happening to us since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed?

What we had shoved down our throats, we’re now going to being paying for with taxpayer money.  Money our proverbial asses can’t cash.

Talk about subsidizing “Big Oil”, what about “Big Medicine?”  Now my Doctor’s fingers spend more time on the keyboard than they do with an exam.  My prostrate is getting jealous!

CMS – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in case you haven’t heard, has bragging rights to all of 8 Billion and more, so far, and rising rapidly, they are giving to hospitals and professional service providers for EHR – Electronic Health Records expenditures.

Supposedly the Obama Administration’s theory is that Hospitals and Professional Service Providers are too stupid to invest in technology, so they decided to give them a push.  Right over the Fiscal Cliff with the rest of us.  Well apparently Big Medicine isn’t as stupid as they think, because CMS is writing big checks and proud of it!

You can’t make this stuff up (Source :CMS).

  • More than $4.4 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments have been made between May 2011 and October 31, 2012.
  • More than $3.7 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments have been made between January 2011 (when the first set of states launched their programs) and October 31, 2012.
  • More than 326,000 eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals are actively registered in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs

Here’s your road map: (Source: HealthIT.gov)

Map of payments to providers by state.

Let’s not for get the EHR Vendors.  The government again’s picking winners and losers.

Unfortunately, the legislation was funded in a way that benefits large companies instead of promoting competition to improve software quality and lower overall cost.

Once the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) were signed into law, the “gold rush” was on (as described by one of our competitors²), or as The Onion News reported it: Recession Plagued Nation Demands New Bubble to Invest In.

Whether or not you are in favor of giving taxpayer money to executives to fly around the country in private jets, the stimulus money is starting to flow – and many providers are eligible (and a lot more deserving).

Source: AmazingCharts

²“I literally rent [an] airplane every Tuesday morning, and I hit five cities by Thursday night, every week. I’m cold calling . . . that’s my life now. It’s like any government fiscal stimulus thing — it’s a gold rush.’’

Jonathan Bush, CEO, Athenahealth Inc. (from Boston Globe 8/5/2010)

Maybe we need the Mainstream Media (MSM) to pick up on this story.  They could report on on all the hospitals and doctors that needed to upgrade their IT infrastructure or close their doors.  Heaven forbid, we would have to outsource our patient care to foreign soil.

How Do You Spend a Trillion Dollars a Year and Not Cure Cancer?

November 28, 2012

How do you spend a trillion dollars a year, over 4 trillion dollars in less than 4 years, and not cure cancer?  For that matter, the common cold.  Why are we not a nation disease free?  Where are our priorities?  What were we thinking?

This is getting personal.  I have three sisters.  My youngest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is a breast cancer survivor   Now my oldest sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer.  It’s no longer about Obama simply reaching into my wallet. It’s not so much about the money anymore.   It’s about the waste.  It’s about wasted time, wasted money and wasted resources.  Tic-toc, cancer is rampant and destroying more and more lives.  Government waste is a cancer, too.  Here is a case in point: Millions Spent on Storytelling Science.

Do you want to see real gains in life saving procedures and reduced medical expenses?  News flash!!!  Put your money and energy behind curing  the disease.  One of the most appealing aspects of Obamacare is providing for coverage to people who have  preëxisting conditions.  I’m all for that.  Make the insurance companies toe the line.  My contention is, what if preëxisting conditions didn’t exist? Cure cancer. There would be a lot fewer preëxisting conditions if we attacked the real problem, cancer.

What if Obama had the cojones to take back the $16 Billion he gave to his mega-rich campaign donors, including blowhards like Ted Turner, recipient of around 1 billion in green energy money from Obama, for failed green energy initiatives  and put that money it towards cancer research?  No.  Now that he’s been reelected at all cost, we’re $16 Trillion in debt.  Now it’s everybody’s  problem that our healthcare is going to be too expensive for many small businesses because we are going to be taxed.  If you want to blame Bush or the Republicans, argue your case with John Roberts, Chief Justice, Supreme Court.

All politicians have it wrong when it comes to priorities on health issues, but the Mainstream media and Hollywood have placed the focus on our savior and savant, Barack Obama.  All this President was about was keeping his job by dividing America, the have’s and the have-nots’.  He succeeded.  All President Obama has done is grow a new cancer.  A cancer that is equally daunting and will grow as our economy shrinks under his leadership.  Get to the source of the problem.  Why waste time and money on Obamacare?  Why not cure cancer?  That’s what a real leader would be all about.

Murder by guns vs. cancer, a look at our current death toll in this country (based on trends – not actual numbers).   —> 2012 Mortality statistics for USA

Small Businesses – Over Regulated? Thousands of Community Banks a.k.a Small Businesses May Disappear!

November 10, 2012

In 2012, 6,037 new regulations posted in the last 90 days

Our small business, with under 50 employees, does business with community financial institutions (FIs).  We are subjected to many of the regulations FIs are subjected to including:

Sarbanes–Oxley Act

Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act

Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

Credit CARD Act of 2009

…to name a few.  This equates to many thousands of dollars in added security measures and personnel costs.

We now face another huge challenge, none more onerous than the PPACA (a.k.a. Obamacare) as it ramps up.

Many community banks and credit unions are small businesses too and are subject to the same laws and regulations facing big banks.  The Feds have closed down 10 of our FI customers, costing them their jobs and costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.  Speaking to many of our contacts at these FIs, most closing could have been avoided.

According to several of these sources, the Feds come in at the end of business day, Friday and take over the bank.  One source, described it similar to be treated as a criminal as she was forced to stand outside her cubicle while they accessed her PC.  She was kept there until after midnight.

Recently, an expert on financial services stated “there will be no de novo (startups) financial institutions due to the steep financial requirement and regulations.”

A quote recent article from CNN Money’s Fortune Magazine, Thousands of banks may disappear, “Now that President Obama has been re-elected, analysts, consultants and deal makers have turned from whether Dodd-Frank will be repealed to what it means for banks now that it’s likely here to stay. The overwhelming conclusion: Thousands of small banks will soon disappear.”

As the number of community banks and credit unions shrink we are forced to seek new markets.  An added burden to  already burdensome economic conditions.  While the Obama administration panders  to big business, big union and advocates big government, small businesses continue to bear the brunt of over regulation.

This is the official government “fair warning” website regulations.gov.  Be afraid!  Be very afraid!

"We'll Post our Photo OP on BENGHAZI from the Situation Room After the Election, NOT!"

October 30, 2012

Sandy Storm Situation Room Photo OP

Mainstream Media (MSM), you have the Sandystorm PhotoOp. Now where is the PhotoOp from the Situation Room during the 7 hour Sh!tstorm called Benghazi? Four brave Americans died!!! on 9/11!!!

Case in point…Brian Williams. As Obama goes so does Brian. Why? It’s hard to imagine Romney and Williams as best buds. Leno’s already taken a 50% pay cut to stay on the air. Williams makes $13M a year. What’s at stake? Romney already sees Williams in a Big bird suit. So he talks about anything but Benghazi…

The Headstone on the Benghazi Terror Attack Will Read – R.I.P. 9/11/2012 – 11/06/2012

October 28, 2012

The Benghazi fait accompli – It’s been 82 Days!

Like you need another  blogger venting about the lack of reporting on the Benghazi terror attack!  Sorry!  If the mainstream media (MSM) has their way, I can envision the tombstone on the Benghazi terror attack will read R.I.P.   9/11/2012 – 11/06/2012.

Let’s not let this act of terror get buried, because the Benghazi terror attack is very much alive!

It’s 10/28/2012, 48 days after the attacks on the US embassy’s in the Middle East and the Benghazi debacle resulting in the murder of our US Ambassador Chris Stevens and leaving four Americans dead remains a mystery.  We have no idea who the perpetrators are, and what we plan to do to bring them to justice.  I fear we never will, if the Obama administration and the mainstream media have their way.

“On September 13 — two days after the attack — a senior U.S. official told CNN that the violence in Libya was not the work of “an innocent mob.”  “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective, but this was a clearly planned military-type attack,” the official said.”

I Googled “benghazi and the mainstream media” and there’s nada!  Thanks to Al Gore invention of the internet, Benghazi’s very much alive in the Twitter-sphere.   So much so, Obama and his Chicago thugs have had to keep changing their stories.  The liberals on Twitter are uncharacteristically quiet on the topic of Benghazi.   Chris Matthews  titter feed @hardball_chris on Benghazi, nada!   I checked Rachel Maddow’s twitter feed @maddow on Benghazi, again, nada!

While NBC Meet the Press with David Gregory aired on 10-28-2012, he totally passed the buck, saying he would get to Benghazi later, he didn’t.  Fox News Sunday and Bob Schieffer on CBS Face the Nation had John McCain on, who slammed Obama and his Administration.  Thanks to a Fox News Special Report on Fox News, Brett Baier, airing on multiple days, in multiple time slots, this stories not going away.  There’s no denying this is a major cover-up or a major f$!k-up, most likely both.  Stay tuned.

“The full story of what happened in Libya, down to the last detail, may never be known. But, as someone once said, you don’t need to eat a whole egg to know that it is rotten. And you don’t need to know every detail of the events before, during and after the attacks to know that the story put out by the Obama administration was a fraud.”  Thomas Sowell — Libya and Lies

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.

“There’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here,” Panetta said Thursday. “But the basic principle here … is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on.” Leon Panetta

“Oh, well I guess that the answer then Leon. If you don’t know what’s going on then you don’t do anything. There were a lot of heroes who died on 9/11—the first 9/11—who didn’t know what was going on, but they rushed into the World Trade Center. They rushed in because that was their job. They weren’t soldiers and they never expected to die. Not like that. But still I give them credit where credit is due. Rushing into a burning building takes bigger balls than I’ve got. You know what though? Can you imagine if instead of watching what we did, we had instead watched two towers on fire while a bunch of firemen and fire-engines sat at their stations?”  Vantage Point of the One-Eyed Jack

Now we have the Hurricane “Sandy Storm”  to bury the Benghazi “Sh!t Storm”  which is Benghazi.  When will the MSM rise from the dead?  For the sake of the memories of those four brave men murdered, their families and the American people, let’s not rest until we bring these terrorists to justice and we know the truth about what the Obama administration knew and learn from our mistakes.

REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007…? THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!”

September 26, 2012

The disastrous results to the economy, lost  jobs and the $16 Billion deficit as we near the end of the Obama Administration’s first term are the fault of the Democrats takeover of both Houses of Congress in 2007 and President Obama, NOT President George W. Bush!

What follows is a compilation of “talking points” from various sources cited below.  Republicans need to fight back against Obama’s lame excuse, “It’s Bush’s fault.”

The Democrats took the majority in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate at the very beginning of Bush’s second term, January 3rd 2007, 2 years before Obama took office.

The Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 & 2009, as well as 2010 & 2011.

There’s a great article from the American Thinker called “It’s Not Bush’s Fault” by Ben Voth.  I have paraphrased a bit but these points were pulled from this lengthy article almost verbatim.

A couple of the talking points are from other sources, including from the book, Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweizer.  If you just read Chapter 5 of Schweizer’s book and it will turn your stomach.   You will “throw them all out” including our illustrious president.

Talking points…

In the fall of 2006, the media and associated public culture celebrated the landslide win of Democrats in congressional elections that brought strong majorities in both the House and the Senate.

The U.S. Congress holds the exclusive constitutional power over spending.

Congress is charged with oversight roles regarding government economic activities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee.

As key leaders Chris Dodd in the Senate and Barney Frank in the House received huge campaign support from these GSEs that held the majority of American mortgage finances.

Senator Obama was himself a tremendous recipient of campaign funding from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that controlled trillions of dollars in American mortgage equity. The government was not supervising its own interference in the free market.

The housing market in the U.S. devolved into a dangerous leveraged global gambling operation that financed a vulnerable house of cards over European banks.

The housing market in the U.S. devolved into a dangerous leveraged global gambling operation that financed a vulnerable house of cards over European banks.

The leadership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac knew that the election of Democrats in the House and Senate would prevent any further calls by the Bush administration to tighten the regulations on these dangerous GSEs.

Just five years ago, here is a snapshot of the American economic scene when Democrats took control in January of 2007:

U.S. 2007 unemployment rate: 4.7 percent

U.S. 2007 deficit: 160 billion dollars

The unemployment rate was half the over ten-percent levels it would rise to under President Obama.

The long spell of high unemployment under President Obama and the slight fall in unemployment under President Obama is attributable to individuals giving up on seeking employment.

The tax cuts of the Bush administration had in fact produced record tax revenues — more than $2.5 trillion annually. Today, the government barely takes in $2 trillion.

The 160-billion-dollar deficit for 2007 was part of a larger downward trend from the past two years.

In 2009, while Barack Obama was a U.S, Senator, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid passed continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama took office.  At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets. Barack Obama later signed the omnibus bill as President.

Today, annual deficits are ten times larger — surpassing the one-trillion-dollar mark with regularity.

Five years ago, the U.S. annual deficit was 90% lower than it is today.

The markets did not express a sense of relief upon the election of President Obama in early November 2008. What ensued was an economic panic.

Business leaders feared the coming onslaught of regulatory and redistributive fervor of President-Elect Obama and his supporters.

President Obama did not enact the bailout of GM and Chrysler. President Bush did. , As reported by Forbes, GM said this below about the bailout from President Bush in December of 2008:

GM Statement On U.S. Auto Industry ‘Bridge Loan

“We appreciate the President extending a financial bridge at this most critical time for the U.S. auto industry and our nation’s economy. This action helps to preserve many jobs, and supports the continued operation of GM and the many suppliers, dealers and small businesses across the country that depend on us…We know we have much work in front of us to accomplish our plan. It is our intention to continue to be transparent as we execute our plan, and we will provide regular updates on our progress.”

The Bush bailouts for both the financial industry and the auto industry required the funds to be paid back. In fact, in both bailouts, these funds have been paid back to the Treasury.

The success of bailouts — both for the recipients and more importantly for taxpayers reflects the fiscal conservatism and successes of the Bush administration. These were temporary emergency funding actions that were paid back by the recipients with interest.

The Obama budget office has switched the payback funds into general operating expenses of the nation that support his general revisions to stimulus that do not require recipients to repay — such as the funds for Solyndra.

As Ben Voth said in his article, It’s Not Bush’s Fault, “This is like a college student receiving an emergency bailout from parents after he wrecks his car and then insisting that a permanent increase in a weekly allowance now includes provision for a new wreck every week!”

Speaking of Solyndra, as part of the $700 Billion Stimulus, consider the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded over $16.4 Billion in loan guarantees to friends of, a.k.a., donors for Obama.

Solyndra will be considered chump change considering the likely demise of First Solar backed by $4.7 billion in DOE loan guarantees, as best described in The First Solar Swindle.  Scroll half way down the article to read “Favoritism” and beyond to recognize why the Stimulus was doomed for failure.

It’s as Peter Schweizer said in his book, Throw Them All Out, Obama is all about “friends giving friends billions of our taxpayer money.”

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

August 28, 2012

20 year Anniversary 

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 in an Obama administration in the next four years 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/

How to Communicate with High-Minded Liberals

August 8, 2012

Harry Reid

It’s been my experience it is highly doubtful high-minded liberals will listen to you if you have anything to say against this administration and the Democrats.  If they do, they will try to either steamroll you with insults, misdirection and shameful attempts to bring on a guilt trip over a multitude of entitlement issues.

The best advice I have read comes from a Twitter contributor Wayne Dupree. 

You can follow Wayne @NewsNinja2012.  I’m not endorsing Wayne, only applauding sound advice.  I could learn from him. 

From Wayne:

When speaking w/liberals, be calm and always remember. Democrats Shift the subject, Ignore the facts, and if that doesn’t work, they begin name calling.

Wayne Dupree

Another suggestion is to do the math and deal with the facts.  

Too often conservatives, in particular small business people like myself, take liberal bias personally, especially since we have to deal with a barrage of it daily.  If we complain about the media the first thing they do is throw Fox News in your face.  I disagree because Fox News is an hour long program that allows both points of view.  I would agree O’Reilly, Hannity and many other programs are biased, but no more than NBC, ABC, CBS MSNBC and CNN for their liberal bias.  I watch news and political broadcast on all the above mentioned networks, that way I feel I am being fair and balanced listening to many points of view.  Sometimes it’s best to watch a sitcom and lately I have taken refuse in watching the Olympics.

A great source fact-finding sourcw is http://PoliticalCalculations.com a Blog that does the math and cites the facts. 

Here are a few good examples:

If you listen to the mainstream media or read the news you would think Obamacare is going to save taxpayers money.  Think again.

The Tax Burden of ObamaCare

If you think the CBO is projecting Obamacare is going to cut the deficit, think again.

Projecting the Personal Cost of ObamaCare

If you think Regulations are not burdensome on the American people, especially small business, think again.  The scary part is Obama is going to wait until after the election to unleash a tsunami of addition regulation.

The Regulation of the American People

Again, if the argument gets personal, take the high road and walk away, stop Blogging, Facebooking or Tweeting with anyone who gets too personal. 

You can’t talk about what you do with your money, how much you pay in taxes and how much you donate to charity.  That’s too personal.  The best you can do is agree-to-disagree. 

Finally, once your discussion or argument’s ended, take some time to reflect and explore the other person’s point of view. 

Maybe you can learn something new.  Maybe the other person had a valid point or argument.  Maybe your counterpart will have learned something, too.   Highly unlikely, to be honest, but then you can always find solace after November 6th, 2012.

 

Justice Roberts says… Read My Lips… the Individual Mandate… It’s a Tax!

July 3, 2012

John Roberts, evil genius – Daily News

There is too much speculation and not enough information for small businesses about Obamacare, a.k.a. the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

Here are some talking points for small business people, like my own, that will hopefully lead to a greater understanding and a more intelligent debate over the new healthcare law.

First, Obama parades around the country telling people there will be tax breaks to help small businesses with Obamacare, a.k.a. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

There are no tax breaks from Obamacare for my small business with 34 employees and growing.

See –> NFIB’s website healthcare calculator to determine if you business qualifies for tax cuts.

Note: When we do reach 50 employees there are penalties for not offering health insurance coverage to my employees. As we approach this rather arbitrary number, we will have to consider any and all alternatives.

We offer our employees 100% healthcare benefits, but what effect will exchanges have on my existing plan?  There is no simple answer and not enough clarity in the law at present.  Both SHOP (Small Business Health Options Plan), the small business exchange no one knows anything about and individual exchanges are part of the new law.

In the 644 page document, Final Rule State Healthcare Exchanges, from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),  the fears of uncertainty grows from sample extracts below taken from the law that imply more government regulation and control including:

“Consistent with the scope of the Exchange establishment and eligibility proposed rules, this final rule does not address all of the Exchange provisions in the Affordable Care Act; rather, more details will be provided in forthcoming guidance and future rule making, where appropriate.”

How about this extract? “The final rule does not address all of the insurance exchange provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and additional rules will address those, according to the rule.”

This statement implies Big Brother’s not done and wants to get into other private markets, “SHOP may want to fulfill additional functions outside the scope of the proposed rule in order to offer employers a streamlined experience when managing their employee benefits.

These commenters proposed that the SHOP sell other types of insurance, administer COBRA on behalf of participating employers, administer flexible spending accounts, assist small employers in setting up Section 125 plans, and oversee wellness programs.”

Scary stuff for private enterprise from comments like this, “We will take these comments into account as we consider future guidance on the offering of other products on the Exchange.”

For more details see –> Alien Nation, a.k.a. Obamacare Nation

What we see is more government intervention including more paperwork, compliance issues and regulatory pressures.  Why not work to improve what was already in place by simply open up the competition to providers across state lines?  Why not just do a better job enforcing the laws we already had in place to cut down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud?  An example of what government should concentrate on would be the Justice Dept.’s case against GlaxoSmithKline who agrees to pay $3 billion in largest U.S. healthcare fraud settlement.

Second, Health Savings Account plans help my employees to buy more affordable healthcare insurance for their families.

Obamacare now limits the savings, in two ways: it restricts the types of health products you can purchase with your H.S.A. money, and it reduces the amount of money you’ll be able to put into your FSA.  Unsurprisingly, there’s a price hike, too. It doubles—to a whopping 20 percent—the tax penalty for withdrawing H.S.A. funds to cover non-medical expenses. 

The new medical loss ratios (MLRs) even discourages H.S.A.s because Obamacare limits payments by individuals to 10%, only payments by insurers count, which discourages patients from making their own decisions about the cost of their healthcare.   

Third, why waivers?  Obamacare is the best thing for Americans, why is Health and Human Services (HHS) giving waivers to the largest unions, like the United Auto Workers and large corporations, like AT&T, Verizon and of course, none other than GE? 

“More than 50 percent of the Obamacare waiver beneficiaries are union members, which is striking because union members account for less than 12 percent of the American work force.”  See –> Political Calculations

          See –> Hospitals Are for Sick People

As long as we are on the subject of waivers, now that Justice Roberts has declared Obamacare’s individual mandate a tax, what happens to the waivers?  Now you are going to tax some but not all Americans?  Big Union and Big Business gets a tax break?

Fourth, consider enforcement.  Senator Rubio said in an interview, instead of spending law enforcement dollars chasing bad guys, we’ll be spending our resources chasing American’s who either can’t afford or won’t pay for health insurance.

This resonates considering they don’t want law enforcement chasing illegal immigrants,

Fifth is access.  Anything government can do to improve the quality of healthcare automatically improves the cost of healthcare. Improvement in cost improves access.

Politifact claims Governor Scott’s statement about healthcare rationing is “false” based on the premise we are not changing the business of healthcare.  That’s Politicrap.  The more people who have access to healthcare the greater the likelihood for rationing.  Why? This law does nothing about quality or cost, it’s all about access. 

Also, Medicare permeates the whole system, and the law does nothing to improve Medicare, except phantom future cuts.

Adverse selection is built into the law, Americans will wait until they get sick to buy insurance and you can’t be turned down. But, as presently constituted, the new “tax” is a steal — $695 is cheaper than most annual health insurance policies.

Premiums will skyrocket. Worse, because of the law’s modified rating, prohibiting more than a 3 to 1 spread between premiums for the oldest and youngest, the young will be hardest hit.

This is just redistribution from young to old.

The subsidies for the poor, 133-400% of the poverty level, will be budget busting.  Recipients will have premiums limited to about 10% of their income.

This is a defined benefit, open ended financial commitment and hugely redistributive.

Young people will have to stay under employed to keep their insurance.

Finally, with regard to insurance portability, the HIPPA law in the 90s prohibited carriers from denying policies or limiting benefits for pre-existing conditions to individuals with continuous coverage.

If an individual loses coverage they can buy COBRA or affordable HIPAA policies as long as they haven’t gone more than 62 days without coverage.

My vote will be “Do over, or do more to enforce the pre-existing laws, do more to increase competition.  Allow more insurance companies to compete across state lines and repeal Obamacare.”  November 2012 will be a “mandate.”

Life’s Grown Soft, While I’ve Grown Hard

May 1, 2012

I made a point to take my two young daughters to NYC shortly after 911 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 aren’t 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.

Alien Nation a.k.a., The Obamacare Nation

March 14, 2012

Alien, the movie was all about spreading spores and breeding aliens to prey on mankind, should the spores reach our planet.  Obamacare and its spores are already here.  Come 2014 the invasion will begin in earnest.

In Alien, Sigourney Weaver is the much larger than life heroine who thwarts the Alien invasion, at least until Aliens…  Who can stop Obamacare?  Maybe Pam Bondi, our larger than life Attorneys General for the State of Florida and the case she and attorneys generals in 26 other states have filed against Obamacare with the U.S. Supreme Court?

I’m just a small business owner.  My concerns as a small business person and employer need to be amplified on a scale much bigger than fiction.  We’ve already been invaded.  The spores of Obamacare have already been planted. Officially, Obamacare is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Senate passed it on December 24, 2009.

Beginning in 2014, when Obamacare explodes on to the scene, small business as we know it will cease to exist.  In its place will be big government running a significant portion of small business, literally.

The heroine (or hero) in the real life movie Obamacare is the entrepreneur, the small business owner.  The enemy is SHOP, the Small Business Health Options Plan.  Big government is betting small business owners don’t have the time or the energy to sit through the movie, but as right-brained as many entrepreneurs can be, myself included, navigating SHOP is a must see.

The entrepreneurial spirit will be crushed by the most egregious of government actions since the payroll tax increase in April, 1983 which was cause and effect, the catalyst for U.S. manufacturers investing in jobs overseas.  There will be nothing to prevent another government subsidy, Obamacare, to balloon out of control, as have Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and chase more jobs overseas.  To illustrate, below is a paragraph from HHS regarding Obamacare and the SHOP program.

“Consistent with the scope of the Exchange establishment and eligibility proposed rules, this final rule does not address all of the Exchange provisions in the Affordable Care Act; rather, more details will be provided in forthcoming guidance and future rule making, where appropriate.”
 

From what I have read in the 644 page document, Final Rule State Healthcare Exchanges, from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), how the final rules address small business, capitalism and the entrepreneurial spirit and the heroine in this movie may die.

Let’s look at the subplot, lawyers and paperwork. It takes a lawyer to spawn a comment like this, “The final rule does not address all of the insurance exchange provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and additional rules will address those, according to the rule.”

Great ambiguity, but true!  There’s plenty of room for HHS to make up more rules and regulations under the auspices of Obamacare.

Obamacare is a lawyer’s dream!  In a country and a society as litigious as the USA and a law this broad, full of waivers (prejudices), exceptions and rules yet undefined; wasn’t instituting this law insanely appropo?!  In 2014 and beyond, the justice system will be brought to its knees.  No.  It has already been brought to its knees.  It will be buried!  So will many small businesses be buried, who can’t afford a good lawyer; who can’t afford the paperwork explosion.

HHS says one form.  SHOP says only two forms, but if you read between the lines you know the paperwork will border on the ridiculous.  Hello!, fellow small business owners…think annual Worker’s Comp. audits!  Worker’s Comp. audits will be nothing compared to HHS audits sure to follow.

Here’s a snippet.  Keep in mind this is one paragraph of a 664 page document to mandate a final rule on SHOP!

“Consistent with the statutory directive for HHS to provide a single, streamlined application form, we also proposed that the SHOP use only two application forms: one for qualified employers and one for qualified employees. We further proposed that for the purpose of determining eligibility in the SHOP, the SHOP may use the information attested to by the employer or employee on the application but must, at a minimum, verify that an individual attempting to enter the SHOP as an employee is listed on the qualified employer’s roster of employees to whom coverage is offered. We also proposed that the SHOP have processes to resolve occasions when the SHOP has a reason to doubt the information provided through the employer and employee applications. In addition, similar to the individual market Exchange standards, we proposed that the SHOP notify an employer or employee seeking coverage of the SHOP’s eligibility determination and the employer or employee’s right to appeal.

The final ruling on SHOP brings more questions than answers.

Bigger government, more regulation, new laws, especially the behemoth of all laws, Obamacare, create entirely new industries. Obamacare will undoubtedly create another cottage industry, like Dodd-Frank did for compliance and regulation, but Obamacare will create a tsunami of new so called experts spawned to aid small cash strapped businesses navigate Obamacare. Essentially they are government created jobs and all at taxpayers’ expense.

Many businesses are started by sole proprietors. Sole proprietors are excluded from SHOP. Sole proprietors pay the same tax rate as LLCs and Sub-S Corps. Don’t sole proprietors often spawn small businesses?

What if an employee can find a better plan by shopping the individual market and he or she wants to opt out of a company’s group plan?

Once invited to participate in SHOP can an employee still “SHOP” for their own individual insurance plan.  If the employer is getting a less competitive price due to lack of participation, how does that affect the employer’s plan and administration?

Regardless of the “one bill for all” concept which most small businesses already enjoy, if you have 10, 20 or 50 employees, you may have to track different deductibles for each employee.

Will HHS and SHOP pit employers and employees against one another; against insurers?

Will SHOP leave one employer at a competitive disadvantage with other employers based on participation and economy of scale?

On the other hand, if insurance companies have to give individual employees the same price as employers, which according to SHOP is the rule, the price goes up for employers.  Don’t the private insurers win?

What if you have employees in different geographical areas?  What if  they are eligible for different, more competitive SHOPs?

Certainly there will be more questions.

Today the private health insurance company is on the hook for the employer’s unpaid bills, not the government.  With the government on the hook for unpaid health insurance premiums at least with SHOP, the winner is the insurer.  The loser is the taxpayer.

The Aliens have landed, their spores have been planted and come 2014 there will be no stopping them.  In the role of big government, Obamacare rules. 

I can save you some time.  All I’ve learned about the details of how the exchanges are going to work is summarized above.  To learn more HHS or your state government will have to set up SHOP.

As for the spread of big government, here’s a glimpse of the future (another excerpt).

“SHOP may want to fulfill additional functions outside the scope of the proposed rule in order to offer employers a streamlined experience when managing their employee benefits. These commenters proposed that the SHOP sell other types of insurance, administer COBRA on behalf of participating employers, administer flexible spending accounts, assist small employers in setting up Section 125 plans, and oversee wellness programs.”  “We will take these comments into account as we consider future guidance on the offering of other products on the Exchange.”

Stay tuned!

Who isn’t afraid of failing?!

February 20, 2012

The Wallenda factor is just a normal fear of falling!  Who isn’t afraid of falling?!

“Just in case you haven’t heard, the Wallenda factor refers to the fear of falling or failing. Shortly after Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978 (traversing a 75-foot high wire in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico), his wife, also an aerialist, discussed that fateful San Juan walk, “perhaps his most dangerous.”  She recalled: “All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he’d ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.”

Life is like traversing a tight rope.
If you think you need a safety net,
It won’t be long before you fall. 
Live your life without a safety net,
Or be prepared to live your life
Closer to the ground. 
Alan J Wiessner 
 
Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist says, “Pessimism is complacency.”   I think generally speaking I would have to say at times I exercised pessimism in certain situations.  I can relate it to looking in the mirror each morning and thinking, “I’m not getting any younger or thinner,  for that matter.”  I’m over that now!

To see the video - just click on the picture

Last year I spoke of challenges.  This year, I believe anything’s possible!  Last year I spoke of good fortunes, we were fortunate enough to have earned another year in business.  I said I was proud of the intellectual property (IP) and talent we had.  This year I am confident our talent pool here is second to none.    Everyone has bought into The Rational Optimist theme, “Everybody is working for everybody else.” Last year I said opportunities present challenges.

We have faced those challenges.  We have conquered many and we are prepared conquer the future.   While politicians in Washington scrum over the economy and jobs,  free market goes out and creates 100 mpg cars, even driverless cars. We need to tell our politicians…anything’s possible.This year we will focus again on making our products easier to use, easier to install and cloud ready.   Inside Integra, we will continue to concentrate on developing and acquiring better tools to do our jobs in a more productive environment.  Last year’s message was, “Attitude is everything.”   

This year we will continue  to encourage a positive attitude in the workplace, with our customers, partners and suppliers.  Everybody is working for everybody else (click on the picture to the left for the video) because again…. anything’s possible.  Finally, last year I predicted growth would be next our greatest challenge and we grew significantly.  We remain well positioned to take advantage of those significant gains in 2012 and beyond.

To see an awesome video – just click on the picture

I’ll leave you with a great video (click on the photo below) and when you feel that wave of pessimism coming on, remember, anything’s possible.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle

The Real Middle Class is the “Middle Seat” on Southwest Airlines

December 4, 2011

The real middle class?  Invisible. The mainstream media and the politicians can’t see them from where they’re sitting. 

Yet, nothing the middle class does is less than “first class.”

They don’t care about labels or occupying anything unless it’s a celebration, like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

They can’t afford the first class ticket.  So they fly Southwest Airlines.

The real “middle class” is willing to stand in line for a bargain.  They rarely complain.  When it comes to flying, they’re just happy to have afforded a seat to a destination for which they are committed and it doesn’t much matter how they get there.

In the real world, Mr. President, there’s no time for “class warfare.”  In this economy, if you do your job, the middle class can do their job. There’s no time for “camplaigning.”

I see the middle class on Facebook, but they much prefer face time.  They are grandparents visiting their grandkids.  They are students heading home with their laundry.   They are guests to a wedding.  They are the bereaved heading to a funeral. They are small business people trying to close the deal.

That would be me, my boarding pass was C4 on a full flight.  Just so you know C4 on a Southwest flight is not a seat number, it a place marker in line.  C4 means 123 passengers have boarded the flight before you and you’re playing musical chairs with anyone standing in front of you or behind.  Those people already seated, they want nothing to do with you! Trust me!

If they are the mainstream media, the pundits, the celebrities, the sound bites and the politicians who want to define the rich and the middle class, they don’t fly Southwest.  I think that can define them.  They are elitists.  I define an elitist as someone who thinks most everyone else is ignorant or stupid.  Attention elitists!  C4 on a Southwest flight is 9 times out of 10, a middle seat.  Then again, if I have to explain C4 on a Southwest flight to an elitist, I guess that makes me one.  So I guess I’m not qualified to run for office.

Middle class America cannot be defined or redefined by sound bites.  The only chance their agenda gets any traction?  It’s if the middle class isn’t looking out the window on our last flight, taking the 30,000 foot view.  They’re too busy dealing with what’s in their lap.  More likely?  Elitist fly first class thinking they’re a pillow away from another Obama presidency.  A luxury we cannot afford.

FYI – The only class warfare for me comes with a “Ding!” and it’s all about getting an aisle seat.

If you subscribe and email me, I’ll tell you the secret to flying first class on Southwest.

 Express “yourself.” Leave your comments, share or spread the word click on the Stumble Upon button below. Subscribe or come back often to visit.

 

Technology Can Drive Us Out of This Fog

November 1, 2011

“Driverless cars,” what better message to tell government to get out of the way!

“This fog” being the deficit.  In fact we are in a fog and missing the “byte”when we as a country, look towards investing more in asphalt highways, in roads and rail and less towards technology, the information highway to invest in our future competitiveness in the global marketplace.

The future is technology and “smart or driverless cars” Yes, cars that drive themselves. 

Admittedly they have to “learn the course.”  Like on HWY 5 in LA bumper to bumper smart cars will drive at 80 mph during rush hour.  Think about navigating your iPad or reading your Kindle while your smart car drives itself.  Your commute can be cut in half because your car’s the ass who tailgate the car in front of you without getting flipped “the bird” or into a “fender bender.”  Who needs more infrastructure?

Currently we are chasing four economies in global competitiveness, including Number One, Switzerland.  Number Two is Singapore?  Number Three is Sweden and Number Four is Finland.  We’re Number Five.  Number Five!

Read my Blog post India Gets IT! Information Technology that is….  The message should be clear.  Most ground breaking technology (IT)  is spawned by small business.  I know.  I am the founder and CEO of an IT business who has spawned new products that include all the ingredients of a successful small business that can compete globally.

I consider myself a grinder, maybe a lone wolf.  Prideful.  A do-it-yourselfer.  Is that the definition of an entrepreneur?  It depends on who you ask.  Is that the definition of a small business owner?  More than likely the answer would be “yes.”  The difference between an entrepreneur and a small business owner?  None, until the entrepreneur, who is an idea capitalist who chooses outside angel or VC investors.

Everybody has heard of the IPO bubble in the early 2000’s where billions of investment dollars were squandered on ideas.  I pride myself by coining the phrase, “An idea is only worth it’s execution.”  The idea capitalist who decides to  forego outside investors, the grinder, the small business person, is more likely to sustain upticks and downturns in the economy.

We have a 14B deficit.  We have  over 9% unemployment,  We can argue how we might cut entitlements or raise taxes on the rich all day long.  The bottom line is all we want is our cake and eat it too. So I’ll let the experts argue what we need to do to stimulate the economy, reduce the deficit and add jobs.  Afterall they have all the answers, don’t they?

Unfortunately the answer is “no.”  Instead of idea capitalists, we have intellectual genocide where MSNBC pundits who have never had an original idea in their lives, interview (bait) Herman Cain about his 9.9.9 proposal and dismiss it with the age old adage that assumes “poor people” spend more of their  income? on consumer goods than rich people therefore a national sales tax is a burden on the poor.  Since poor people have little or no income how does this equate?  Herman Cain is an idea capitalist.  He is a grinder.  Given the opportunity, he will be successful in helping the US create jobs, lower the deficit and increase our global competitiveness.

The real answer is to increase small business competitiveness in a global economy.  The Obama administration wants to spend billions more on infrastructure.  All I can think of are traffic cones and hard hats standing in our way and in the way of the progress we are making in new technology.  Technology that solves the infrastructure problems and creates jobs.

“It makes little sense for the United States to turn away highly educated immigrants who seek to come here. It makes equally little sense to train talented foreign students in our universities but then fail to integrate them into our economy. Nearly 300,000 foreign students are enrolled in advanced degrees programs here, but the great majority will return home. We are casting away the fruits of our own investment. As has long been our American tradition, we should encourage the world’s innovators, inventors, and pioneers to immigrate to the United States and we should encourage those we train to settle and create jobs here.”  Romney for President (2011-09-01). Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth

 Visa Caps for Highly Skilled Workers

As president, Mitt Romney will also work to establish a policy that staples a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from one of our universities with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering. These graduates are highly skilled, motivated, English-speaking, and integrated into their American communities. Permanent residency would offer them the certainty required to start businesses and drive American innovation.  Romney for President (2011-09-01). Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.

Mitt Romney, Idea Capitalist

Are jobs coming back to the US?  Case in point.  A big business goes overseas to China  to make an integral component of a product going to market.  The product can be produced at 50% of the cost to produce the part in the US.  The product made overseas requires a delivery timeframe of 12 weeks as opposed to 4 weeks in the US.  The part is produced and delivered but not according to spec.  A US company, TJH Manufacturing, Zion, IL, with a stellar reputation is recruited to re-engineer and deliver the part in time for market.  The big business with the overseas propensity ends up paying four times the originally anticipated product cost.

My vote is for a “driverless government,” but first we have to put Congress and the Administration through the course.  Let’s start by teaching them the constitution.

We Need More “Idea” Capitalists to Bailout this Economy

September 15, 2011

“An idea is only worth it’s execution.”

We need more people with imagination running this government and this economy, but they need to be “idea capitalists.”  You don’t have to be a poet, a writer, a painter or movie producer too be an idea capitalist.  If you have a good idea, you can be a grinder, maybe even a lone wolf.  If you’re prideful, maybe to a fault, you can be an idea capitalist, one who capitalizes on their own ideas.

Idea capitalists do whatever it takes to execute on their ideas.  The idea capitalist, the grinder, the small business person, is more likely to survive upticks and downturns in the economy.

Herman Cain is an idea capitalist. He is a grinder. Given the opportunity he will be successful in helping the US create jobs, lower the deficit and increase our global competitiveness.

Herman Cain

The mainstream media and self-serving politicians contribute to idea capitalist’s genocide.

MSNBC pundits who have never had an original idea in their lives, interviewing (baiting) Herman Cain about his 9.9.9 proposal dismissed his ideas with the age old adage that assumes “poor people” spend more of their income on consumer goods than rich people therefore a national sales tax is a burden on the poor.  They have deep-sixed the FairTax too.  They haven’t researched the FairTax proposal otherwise they would know that FairTax offers rebates to lower income people who are FairTaxed.

The real answer is to increase small business competitiveness in a global economy. The Obama administration wants to spend billions more on infrastructure. More about this soon in a new post titled “Missing the Byte”, a play on words.  In fact we are ”missing the boat” when we, as a country, are investing more in the “asphalt highway”, in roads and rail than in new technology, the” information highway” which is an investment in our future competitiveness in the global marketplace.  Check out my post, India Gets IT.

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Old millionaires should pay more taxes!!!

August 23, 2011

You’re absolutely right Mr. Buffet!

Caution!  This is what the government does to old money!

If you are an old millionaire and all you’re doing is making money, you should pay more taxes.  Send your check here.

The problem is there are many up and coming millionaires that are making products, providing services and creating jobs.  They should be paying less taxes than they do today.  They should be investing their income in products, services and jobs.

On the other hand, there are many millionaires that aren’t making money.  They’re making jobs.

With all due respect to a man, no, an institution for free enterprise Mr. Buffet, you have lost your way.

When I say old, I’m not disparaging your age.  I’m only calling attention to the problem at hand. The government wastes our tax dollars.  Point to one venture the government has undertaken that makes money with our tax dollars and I will stand corrected?

Let’s tax what you spend!

Take your money and run the other way!  Invest it in free enterprise and all you will see is progress, more jobs and a healthier economy.

Your letter to the public calls for millionaires like yourself to pay more than twenty (20%) percent of your income, in taxes.  No problem!  If Congress and the President get behind the Fairtax, you’ll be able to put your money where it should be, taxed fairly…

Why don’t we see more politicians, the media and fair-minded people like you talking about Fairtax.org?

In fact, you should take Fairtax up with our President?

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Threadbare – Not Just Another Pretty Face

July 31, 2011

“When you bust through all the layers of brevity and you have shaken all the hands of hope, you can begin to share the depths of depression joblessness can bring.”

This pretty much sums it up if you are over 50 and looking for employment.

Reg – Not Just Another Pretty Face.

When I decided to do this story about my good friend, Reg Lepper I thought maybe it would help him by building on the social networking he had already begun on LinkedIn and Facebook.

As I began learning more from him about his 27 plus year career at Hartmarx, known for its Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey Freeman suits, and for making President Obama’s inauguration tuxedo and topcoat, I realized the complex struggle he and his cadre of sales professionals and the plant workers endured.

The company and its United States subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy in January, 2009. Workers threatened to occupy Hartmarx’s plant if the company’s creditor, Wells Fargo Bank, attempted to lay off workers and liquidate the company’s assets.

In August 2009, Emerisque Brands UK and its partner SKNL North America completed their purchase of Hartmarx.While Reg survived the bankruptcy of Hartmarx, the acquisition, ultimately of a foreign owned conglomerate based in India, many of his friends and fellow employees lost their jobs.

Not to be outdone Reg took it upon himself to write an impassioned plea, (click on the link “a letter to the President”) a letter to the President of the United States, Barrack Obama, the beneficiary of the afore-mentioned Hart Schaffner & Marx suits.  Fifteen (15) months after the acquisition Reg, too lost his job.

Like many who are unemployed, Reg wants to work.  He wants to support his family.  Like millions of Americans, there have been forks in the road and to make ends meet, he needs a job.  Reg is, as I describe him on LinkedIn.com business social networking site.

Reg’s now been unemployed for 7 months.  Not for lack of trying.  Reg has employed every means of looking for work.  Shunned by “head hunters” most likely due to his age, Reg is 64.  I can personally vouch for the fact he doesn’t behave or look a day over 30… OK so he looks a bit older, but he’s a firm believer in exercise, has been a long time distance runner.  Now his knees are telling him he needs to go shopping for a good bike – cheap!

That aside, Reg has been and is actively looking for work.  Sending out his (click on the link to Reg’s “resume”) resume doing  job interviews, volunteering his time for Career Ministry and consulting their members regarding many aspects of their search for new opportunities and careers.

Reg isn’t alone.  This is a nationwide plight affecting thousands of households across America.  If you are over 50 and unemployed in today’s economy, you could be facing many challenges including a mortgage underwater.  In such cases, how can you move to accept a job offer across the country?  What if you took a second mortgage out to pay for your kid’s tuition?  What if your kid is living at home because he or she can’t find a job or can’t afford to make ends meet on their own?

So is Reg’s story only about being a high income earner and over 50 an age related layoff?  I began to see there are many other dynamics in play.  Those dynamics include government and politics; how an increase in payroll taxes on corporate America has impacted US manufacturing jobs; and the shift in manufacturing jobs overseas.

Add TARP and “too big to fail”. i.e., Wells Fargo into the picture.  Let’s not forget the unions. Hoping to save their jobs and start a national movement, Hartmarx workers were pressuring Wells Fargo, the company’s main creditor, to approve the sale of Hartmarx to a buyer that would keep it alive instead of liquidating it and most likely putting its celebrated labels on suits made overseas, The New York Times’s Steve Greenhouse reported.tty face.

While I’m not going to rehash all the events which took place and detail the timeline I think it is interesting to point out there were a number of high profile players involved in the decline of the 124 year old company.

While researching this debacle 9 out of every 10 – news articles or posts reference corporate greed or the big bad bank, in this case Wells Fargo, as the culprit.

“That begs the question, “who buys Hartmarx suits?”

The answer is, “Wall Street bankers.”  OK, so who is demonizing Wall Street?  Obama and his posse, including Dick Durbin, Chuck Shumer and Barney Frank those who were championing the case for Hartmarx and union labor against Wells Fargo.

As reported by Progress Illinois:   The news of a potential liquidation (of Hartmarx) caused workers, union leaders, and members of Congress to spring into action to aid the company, which employs 3,000 people nationwide, including 1,000 in Illinois.  Rep. Phil Hare, who spent 13 years as a Hartmarx employee, described himself as “livid” at the bank, which accepted $25 billion in federal bailout funds. He went on to enlist the help of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Rep.  Jan Schakowsky, whose great-aunt found a job with Hartmarx after emigrating from Russia, called Wells Fargo CEO John Strumpf and urged him to keep the company running.  Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, meanwhile, sent a letter to Strumpf threatening to sever the state’s business with the bank if Hartmarx was ultimately liquidated.

Days after suit maker Hartmarx was sold to Emerisque and its Indian partner S Kumars Nationwide Ltd, SKNL a textile giant three US plants of the clothier have been shut down resulting in the loss of over 500 jobs.  Not a peep out of President Obama, then or now and the Hartmarx factory making his suits in Des Plaines… still open.

Obama, proudly flashing the Hartmarx label

While they may have saved some jobs, politicians and union bosses who should know better and who have voted consistently for more government and more spending weren’t helping the cause.  They may have acted like they are helping Hartmarx employees but their votes for higher taxes and more spending were helping to drive manufacturing jobs overseas.

Reg, on the other hand took it upon himself to champion the cause for Hartmarx workers.  He wrote a letter to the President and stirred the political “hornet’s nest” to get politicians pontificating and deserves a lot of credit for saving US worker’s jobs.

Let it be stated, from all accounts, Emerisque, a British private equity firm working with SKNL, has been doing all it can do to promote and keep the US plants open. In fact, Bud” McCullar, a partner at Emerisque called Reg and commented on how much he cared about the company and fellow employees.  Here’s a quote from Mr. McCullar on Reg’s LinkedIn profile.

“Reg is the consummate seller for an ever evolving apparel and consumer products segments.  From presenting to closing, ever the professional.”

There’s a great book called Built to Last written by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras.  A very dear friend of mine recommended the book to me.   She has been fighting breast cancer for the past 10 years or more.  Apparently she, too, is “built to last.”  Thank God.

The authors define their choice of successful companies’ continued success to be built on “core values” and continued innovation by trying many things through change and recognizing and staying with what works.

If you are the management (CEO) of a company large or small it is your job to see to it you take care of the bottom line and all that goes with it.  That would be principally “cash  flow” management.  Too often, cash flow management is lost on CEOs who are paid for short term gains which inevitably cause long term pain.

That’s why small business is the backbone (more than 70 percent) of the US economy.  For small business cash flow is king.  Our only short term goal is to stay in business, cash flow and grow.

Maybe if more corporate giants and Wall Street bankers had stuck to their core values we wouldn’t be in as big a mess as we are now in today?  Case in point, the merger and acquisition (M&A) frenzy in the 90’s.  Corporate giants, including banks, joined in the M&A rush, to the extent some industry experts were predicting there would only be 3-4 large bank holding companies left in America.

Hartmarx too, jumped into the fray with an acquisition in late 1996.  They added two more in 1998.  In late summer 1999,they added another.  Maybe these acquisitions were good for the company.  I’m not here to judge.  What’s intriguing about the acquisitions is the correlation with offshoring.

In the 1990’s Hartmarx began the offshoring of production facilities to control costs. During that period, they closed ten domestic factories and shifted production to the Far East, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Someone should have written a book titled Built to “Be” Last – The Decline in Manufacuring Jobs in America – as American manufacturing companies began moving production overseas.

Now here’s the strongest argument yet to keep as to why there are fewer and fewer manufacturing jobs here in America.  If it were not for payroll taxes many more manufacturing jobs in America would have been saved.

While everybody was pointing fingers, blaming everyone but themselves for plant closings and lost jobs, you need not look further than, “it’s payroll taxes… (I’ll let you finish the sentence).”  Granted corporate greed is a factor here.  The problem is many large corporations are multi-national and feel the pressure from foreign competitors not burdened with the higher payroll taxes on workers.

Our government raised payroll taxes in April 1983.  The illustration here shows the investment US corporations began to make overseas according to PoliticalCalculations.com as “unintended consequences” of the payroll tax increase.

If you are a “for profit” company and it is your job to increase shareholder value, you are going to look for ways to lower your costs.  Increasing the payroll taxes on American workers was a major impetus to shift American manufacturing overseas.

We vote to place politicians in office to spend our tax dollars wisely.  They don’t.  On the other hand, we vote with our investment dollars to allow corporate “greed” to profit on the backs of American workers.  They do.

It’s time politicians wake up and reverse the course of lost manufacturing jobs by eliminating payroll taxes and adopting  the FairTax – see www.Fairtax.org.

Ultimately it is up to us as individuals to make the right choices.  This debt crisis is our wake-up call.  Let’s get back to our core values.  If you ask Reg it’s about God, family the desire to contribute his tremendous talent and work ethic to a company and a country “built to last.”

Made in the USA doesn’t have to be about politics or unions.  My good buddy Reg and many of those that have suffered the “unintended consequences” of increases in payroll taxes and lost  manufacturing jobs, will find no comfort here.

For more on Reg click here resume.

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Hospitals Are For Sick People!

July 14, 2011

We are a small business in the “high tech” business.  Our goal is “advancing the paperless office.” It’s a shame our company and so many companies like ours simply cannot afford to do business with the government.

Doing business with the government is  a paperwork and regulatory nightmare.  We don’t have the time, the resources, a team of consultants to guide us or a team of  lawyers to protect us, God forbid we forgot to dot an “i” or cross a “t”.

“That is why The Affordable Care Act is destined to fail. It’s unintelligible.  Just ask anyone who hasn’t read it.”

As a software development company which replaces paper with electronic records, we believe technology can and will solve many of the cost containment problems with healthcare.

The problem is government needs to get out of the way.  Forget about subsidizing doctors with taxpayer dollars for buying government mandated and precertified technology called HITECH.  The problem is there’s too great a cost and too much red tape for a small business to get into the game.

Worse, doctors are going to pay too much money from the select few companies that are willing to run the government gauntlet to become certified under Obamacare.

Let the free market work.  My company has 32 employees.  Healthcare costs are a growing concern for our small business.  We pay the employee’s healthcare in full which has risen on the average more than 10% per year per employee over the past several years.  In the process we are seeing benefits shrink and costs increase for both employer and employee.

This is a partnership between employer and employee.  Employers want to provide a benefit in the form of compensation, in particular with a pre-tax benefit to the employee.  Employees want quality affordable healthcare for their families.  We ask the employees to participate in the decision making process.  We collaborate to find the best available plan for the money.

One of my employees with a spouse and 5 kids says, “I might as well just hand my paycheck back over to you to pay for my family’s healthcare.”

As an employer I feel terrible about this type of sentiment, but I’m paying for the employee’s healthcare, plus the cost to shop and administer the plan.  There’s nothing in it for me but to try to remain competitive in the salary and benefits area with other employers.

The 2011 National Physicians Survey, conducted by Thomson Reuters/HCPlexus and polling almost 3,000 American doctors, shows that while Obamacare would raise spending, premiums, overall U.S. health costs, and debt, it wouldn’t raise the quality of American health care. Rather, by a margin of well over 3 to 1, doctors expect the quality of American health care to decline over the next five years, in the wake of Obamacare’s passage: Only 18 percent of doctors expect the quality of health care to “improve,” while a whopping 65 percent expect it to “deteriorate.”

Recall that Gallup recently announced that only 13 percent of Americans support ObamaCare as is.  I’m not blaming this all on the President, but you have to walk the walk to talk the talk.  The President doesn’t do either.

Health insurance cost is a moving target for small business. In 2010 we paid full medical benefits for 27 FTEs.   Our cost averaged $4,900 per employee per year. This is up only 5% over 2009 due to changing providers from Blue Cross to Humana, changing plans from a PPO to an HMO, higher deductibles and over 1/2 of the FTEs selecting H.S.A.s due to the cost to their families. Since there is really no competition between providers, Blue Cross, Humana and United Healthcare we have been switching from one to the next every 2-3 years based on the plans available and the economics. In 2011 the cost will has increased to $5,030 per employee until August when we will again negotiate a new and undoubtedly less desirable coverage. Keep in mind the impact is felt not only by the employer, but by the employee with spouse and children as well.

The answer to rising prices and declining benefits is to increase competition in the health insurance market.  Why do we need a new law to create healthcare exchanges?  Why can’t we lift existing regulations to allow competition across state lines?  Encourage, not put limits on Health Savings Accounts H.S.A.’s as the new Affordable Care Act does.  I pay for my employee’s health and dental benefits up to the monthly H.S.A premium. If they select a more expensive plan they pay the difference.  I have physicians who have discounted procedures 25% because they know I’m paying for their services out of my own pocket (at least until I reach the out of pocket maximum).  The emphasis at our company is to be healthy.  We have our own gym.  We have a cycling team for the formed to fight MS.  If an individual is making decisions on their own behalf with regard to their health and their health care costs, the cost of healthcare will  truly become more affordable.

The bottom line is we simply cannot afford to get sick.

Where common sense fails. disingenuous, dishonest, demagoguery prevails.

From PoliticalCalculations.com: Combined, the Top Ten recipients of this corporate welfare took 45.6% of the total $1,789,449,634 taxpayer dollars that were doled out, with the United Auto Workers taking the largest chunk by a wide margin, with $206,798,086, or 11.6% of all the taxpayer money that was allocated for the purpose.

Surprisingly, two telecommunication giants AT&T and Verizon took the second and third positions, with 7.8% and 5.1% of the total take respectively.

After that, three state agencies occupied the fourth, fifth and sixth largest positions—the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, the Georgia Department of Community Health and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the latter frequently in the news recently for corruption scandals and its massively underfunded pension liabilities.

The eighth and ninth ranks are taken up by the State of New York and the Pension Accounting Services Department within the State of New Jersey’s Treasury Department.  Corporate basket case General Electric, which has come to rely greatly upon government mandates, special protections, subsidies and bailouts for its revenue, rounds out the Top Ten with an even 2.0% of the total handout.

The remaining 1,305 entities collected the remaining 54.4% of the money paid out by the government to pay for the health benefits of people who chose to retire from their professions early, with the Minnesota Cement Masons taking the least of all the recipients, at 60 dollars.  Source: politicalcalcualtions.com


Why do politicians, the president the mainstream media and a plethora of celebs continue to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?  Not so at the Washington Times…

“The president’s own secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, has admitted a major section of the Obamacare law is “totally unsustainable.”

“The now-familiar monthly trickling down of new waivers is, at best, a tacit admission that Obamacare is a failure. So far, seven entire states and 1,372 businesses, unions and other institutions have received waivers from the law. The list includes the administration’s friends and allies and, of course, those who have the best lobbyists.”

“More than 50 percent of the Obamacare waiver beneficiaries are union members, which is striking because union members
account for less than 12 percent of the American work force.”

“But the political payoffs don’t stop there. The Obama administration  didn’t forget its closest friends in the latest round of waivers. Although  there are 435 congressional districts across America, nearly 20 percent of the new waivers, amazingly, found their way to a single district – Mrs. Pelosi‘s.   As for Mr. Reid,  well, the entire state of Nevada found an early waiver in its Christmas stocking.”

The answer is they have no real stake in the game.  Politicians and the President want to be re-elected.  Their own constituents get a pass.  They don’t pay for their own healthcare. The mainstream media and celebrities and their Cadillac health insurance plans can afford to pay more.

The small businesses and their employees are left to deal with big government mandates already proven to unpalatable to 3.1 million individuals exempted from the plan, of which 1.55 million are in union plans. Those who received waivers and those who pay no taxes are going to continue to vote in favor Obama, Pelosi and Reid.  They have held the keys to the kingdom and skyrocketing debt too long.

If you are a taxpayer, do something.  Lean hard on federal, state and local politicians to come up with a better answer to the high cost of healthcare than the Affordable Care Act.

Ask your physician to cut you a break on your healthcare costs.  Negotiate with every insurer who offers healthcare in your state.  Look for plans which cover individuals and their families outside your employer’s plan(s).  Start moving.

Do everything you can to stay healthy.  Hospitals are for sick people.

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Another Milestone

March 8, 2011

It’s lonely at the top!

Twenty-three (23) years in the making.

The number 23 certainly doesn’t solicit much sensation. Not like 25 or 50, still a milestone all the same for many businesses, especially today on when we are all on twitter time. 140 characters or less now defines us!

From his book, Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office, Todd G. Buchholtz, quotes a line from a futuristic movie and someone saying, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads, we just need people made of the right stuff.”

He goes on to say, “One of the statistics out there is that 33 percent of all new businesses fail within the first two years. That number is much higher when you look at the first five years.”

There are a lot of articles, books and blogs out there portraying entrepreneurship in the same sentence with risk, blind luck, or just plain foolish.  Many of the pundits will never know first-hand the emotional roller coaster ride.

Well let me be your Garmin.  I can take you there.

There are hundreds of thousands of small business entrepreneurs that are made of the “right stuff.”  I formed Integra Business Systems, Inc. March 7th, 1988.  Looking back, it was, the most frightening, yet most enjoyable year, I had experienced professionally, for some time.  Funny, since I was unemployed and unemployable.

For more than a year, my corporate headquarters occupied the guest bedroom in the same house we still own and occupy today.  When I look back on how I survived and managed to squeak out a living those first few years I have to say it had to do with confidence and faith in myself and the support of my family.  Yeah, we were scared. I don’t want you to think I’m bragging.  I have never done anything heroic.  I have made sacrifices, but nothing on the same level of a police officer, fireman or soldier.  Tongue in cheek, maybe I have potential?  Maybe in my next life?

As is the case with many small business start-ups, entrepreneurs, I had to liquidate all my savings; then borrow from friends and family to make ends meet.  I borrowed from credit cards, transferred funds from one card to the next, worked the low percentage offers, played the shell game with credit cards.  Yet, I never defaulted on a credit card or a loan.

My experience at NCR Corp. and subsequently at a start-up, North American Business Supply (NABS), operating as a subsidiary of a small bank data-processing company, became invaluable, learning to make something from nothing at all; learning to trust my own instincts, even in the face of overwhelming doubt.

One of the important things I have learned after over 35 years in this business is “don’t burn bridges”.  Often times the organization you dislike the most is composed of people you like the most.  Many of my business associates from my NCR and NABS days kept the faith and helped me build a line of products and services for whom I hold undying loyalty.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay

August 31, 2010

Business is improving, despite all the obstacles in this unpredictable economy that remain and those ahead of us.  This is largely self-fulfilling prophecy as our engine runs on premium personnel and our management team isn’t half-bad either.

We have invested a great deal in new products and new markets.  I’m a big fan of Alan Kay’s expression, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Klondike Bluffs mountain bike trail outside of Moab. In the background, Arches National Park and the La Sal snow-capped mountains (click on the photo for a better view)

I guess you could say this message comes somewhat diluted by the BP oil spill.  Accidents, like the BP oil spill and natural disasters are unpredictable but they are going to happen.  I can see the raw and gut-wrenching affects as they unfold for our neighbors in the Gulf States and the Florida Panhandle.  We are certainly not exempt from the fallout.  We are also far more fortunate.

There’s little one can do in the moment but there is much that can be done to either prevent an occurrence or deal as effectively as possible with the results.  Unless of course, your government gets in the way.  That’s a whole other topic. 

I believe we are as well prepared as we can be to limit the impact of most natural disasters.  Arguably we are and will be impacted on a financial and personal level as well.  To what extent will be born out by the actions, performance and lessons learned by others.  Certainly, we are far more fortunate.

There is still no consensus on when and where the economy will improve.  I spend a great deal of time measuring and evaluating circumstances as they may affect our business. 

You can watch Fox News or CNN but our success or failure has little or nothing to do with the economy, politicians or other outside factors.  It has to do with you and me.  It has to do with the quality and functionality of our products and services.  It has to do with how we deliver our products and services!  It has to do with how we choose and treat our customers and our partners.

We are nothing to big business or big government in terms of our success or failure.  We are everything onto ourselves.  We will not succeed or fail due to outside influences.  We will only fail if we are cannot deliver excellence on all levels, products, customer service, implementation and ongoing support. 

Conversely, big business and big government need us to succeed, Theirs has become a global problem.  Because they have simply ignored the entrepreneur; unless, of course, the entrepreneur is holding the glass slipper.  Small businesses are mostly carriages of pumpkins and mice out there delivering the goods.  There are very few Cinderella stories.  Once delivered, the glass slipper still fits but we are working well past the ballroom festivities which has become just as intended, a fantasy.  We are soon  forgotten.  When the carriage and horses are stabled and the cats are away, the mice, small business people, you and I, will come out to play.  Small business can be very resourceful, if left alone.

Made in the USA

August 30, 2010

“Made in the USA” isn’t about the Big 3 automakers…

It’s time to put the brakes on government spending. The road to recovery lies with the success of small businesses, not with behemoth car companies and big labor. If we were going to bailout anyone, we should have bailed out the car dealerships and auto supply companies to allow them to remarket, retool and invest in new technologies. We should be growing our tax base, which is only going to happen if we fuel the small business private sector. Speaking of which, why are we not doing more to grow and keep promising small business technology companies and their technology jobs in the USA, where our best talent and our best jobs can remain right here at home?

“You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don’t seem to see that we must all lift together and pull together.”    Henry Ford

We have Bill Gates and Microsoft, Larry Ellison and Oracle; and Eric Schmidt and Google, not to mention a plethora of phenomenal technology and software companies that started from nothing and today generate thousands upon thousands of high paying private sector jobs and tax revenues, all “Made in the USA.”

What’s more, most technology companies, in particular software companies, do little to harm our ecology (true green); they do not tax our ports, our roads, our bridges or our rail. This reduces our carbon footprint, while not adding to the tremendous and costly burden on the seemingly never ending and costly construction of our roads and our beleaguered transportation infrastructure.

Competition is increasing dramatically from foreign countries who wish to attract our talent, both foreign and domestic grads educated here in the USA, many getting their higher education with the help of US taxpayer dollars. The number of “propeller heads”, a.k.a., the savvy entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers “Made in the USA”, are leaving for a more favorable business climate or jobs overseas.

Our foreign competitors are offering much lower tax rates and hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives to technology business startups and to their highly paid – highly skilled employees. They are advertising a better quality of life, improved infrastructure and a lower cost of living. Our foreign competitors recognize what we increasingly take for granted, which is the huge tax and revenue potential from small business startups, in particular in the technology field; with their disproportionately high numbers and high salaries as it pertains to job creation. This is coupled with the minimal impact on their country’s costly transportation  infrastructure.

The now and next generation of Bill Gates’, Larry Emerson’s and Eric Schmidt’s may find our politics too ambiguous, too costly and too unimaginative to breed success here in the USA. There are hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs right now who are losing the battle against a poor economy accentuated by high taxes and ever increasing regulation. There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial ventures not even born yet that will never pass the incubation period.

Where should we, the United States of America, concentrate our efforts to keep our existing technology gurus and attract the next generation of “byte heads?” We need to provide education and programs that offer immediate and future tax relief to small businesses and their employees, like a payroll tax holiday. To do this we need to elect government representatives who want less government, who do less for Wall Street, who care less about big government and big union.

We need tech savvy, forward thinking, feet on the ground, “been there, done that” politicians who have missed a few paychecks like the rest of us and who want to do more for small businesses and the working class.

Get started by offering existing small businesses and their employees, tax relief with a payroll tax holiday of 6 months or more. Offer new business start-ups, especially technology and software businesses who are Made in the USA and who are 1) less impactful on our transportation infrastructure; 2) provide green technologies; and 3) provide the high end wage earners, which is our future tax base, lower taxes and less government to stay and grow their businesses here in the USA.

“What’s right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity – intellect and resources – to do some thing about them.”
Henry Ford

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Santa Claus Is Still Coming To Town

December 24, 2012

Santa NewtonSanta Claus Is Still Coming To Town

We’ll not forget the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.

While we grieve the slaughter of innocents, this tragic act serves as a reminder of how precious, how fragile, the gift of life is.

Whatever your religious beliefs, let’s not forget to appreciate the Christmas spirit.

Set aside your politics and prejudice, the spirit of Christmas is about giving.  In the spirit of Christmas, we need to turn to those we love, family and friends and give of ourselves.

Not to pontificate, it’s easy for people this time of year to find a reason to be unhappy.  Let’s not forget those less fortunate and find joy in all we have been given.

These lyrics from Santa Claus is Coming to Town come to mind…

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!  And be good for goodness sake!

If a Pilot Can Carry, Why Not a Teacher?

December 18, 2012
No, it won't fit in the cockpit.

No, it won’t fit in the cockpit.

If a Pilot Can Carry, Why Not a Teacher?  Crazy, I know, but isn’t it crazy someone shot 20 defenseless 1st Graders and their teachers?  Isn’t it crazy to take the same guns criminals use out of the hands of private citizens?

After the Sandy Hook shooting, I heard a newscaster say, “Let’s try to make sense out of this senseless violence.”  You cannot make sense out of senseless violence.  So what does make sense?

Does it make sense for teachers to “carry” in schools across the country?  First reaction seems to be “hell no” not around my children!  After 9-11-2001, consider, your children may have been or will be on a flight to Grandma’s house and the pilot on your flight may be carrying.  That’s OK?  After 9-11, no one seems to have a problem with a pilot having a gun.  Maybe parents, who don’t want teachers to carry, think teachers can’t handle a gun as well as an airplane pilot?  If a kid wanting an easy target, knew teachers were carrying, wouldn’t they think twice?  Maybe teachers should carry?  Otherwise the carnage will continue.

Israeli teacher - rifle

Israeli teacher – rifle

There’s a lack of involvement and a lack of caring with regard to parent and teachers in schools today, these same parents that are for gun control.  They expect to drop the kids off at school and they become someone else’s problem.  My spouse worked in the classroom.  I know a number of teachers who work in the classroom and most of them are disenchanted with the parents and the system.  Some of them complain about the behavioral problems with the students.  So come to think of it, maybe teachers shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns?   If my spouse was still in the classroom and it was legal to carry, I would want her to carry.  The only other way I see around this senseless slaughter in schools, would be to ensure armed guards carrying equal to or superior weaponry to that which can be obtained on the streets, were guarding the school.  Otherwise the carnage will continue.

I’m all for gun control.  Gun control should consist of taking guns out of the hands of criminals, including mentally deranged would be, or soon to be criminals.  Concentrate on the would be criminals and the criminals who seek to do harm.  Otherwise the carnage will continue.

If you want to take assault weapons away from law abiding citizens, you need to ensure and assure them, would be criminals and criminals can’t win the arms race.  If you want to limit the ownership, the manufacture or the method by which assault weapons are built, you need to make sure these weapons can’t be altered, modified or made by other  societies that allow would be criminals or criminals access to these guns.  Otherwise the carnage will continue.one-guy-the-crowd-gun-politics-1342843642

I hope calm heads prevail, that both sides of the gun control argument will roll back the rhetoric, examine the laws and proposed legislation already on the table and make some apolitical, bipartisan decisions that can prevent more senseless violence.  After all one of the most sage advice given to a person grieving a recent loss, is not to make any major decisions for at least one year after a major loss.  Maybe as a nation, we should heed that good advice.

Tell lawmakers to concentrate on taking guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but take the time necessary and make a decision on gun control everyone can live with.

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