Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seriously good news

Things are looking up!

I am tired of all the doom and gloom in the news lately. So this morning, I opened my newspaper determined to find something good to write about. Surprisingly, it didn't take long!

First, I found an article about Bernie Madoff's wife. Did you know that she withdrew $15 million from their brokerage account just days before he was arrested? What amazingly lucky timing! Good for her.

Then, I found an article about 696 lucky people at Merrill Lynch, who were "secretly and prematurely" awarded $3.6 billion in bonuses just before the firm was acquired by Bank of America. Amazingly lucky timing, once again! Good for them.

I bet you are smiling already. I'm sure you are happy for these lucky, lucky people. I know I am. But wait! There's more!

YOU are also a lucky, lucky person this morning. Congress has reached a compromise on the new stimulus bill, and it includes a generous provision for you. (yes, you!) The "cornerstone" of the bill is a tax credit which will translate into an extra $13 per week in take-home pay for the average worker. That's right, you can look forward to a whopping $13 per week. Good for you.

Ironically, the nickname for this tax credit is "Make Work Pay."

I have a better idea.

Let's go into the wallets of the fat cats who stole our 401(k)'s, our IRA's and our homes, running rackets that were not all that different from Mr. Madoff's ponzi scheme. Let's take back the bonuses they generously awarded themselves. Let's uncover the fraud that was perpetrated on the American people. Let's put some people in jail.

Let's make them pay. THAT would be good news.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On lighter note ...

No politics today. My blood pressure can't take it. No more pondering why elected officials whose policies have led us to this mess would dig in their heels and throw temper tantrums and compare themselves proudly to the Taliban.

Nope. Today I will play with Riley, and ponder more important things.

Like, why did my new jar of honey have a seal on top, with no pull-tab? How was I supposed to get that off? I jabbed it with a knife, knowing full well that anything I do with a knife at 6 am is a bad idea. Then I tore it off in little sticky sections, leaving smears of honey all over my fingers, glops of honey on the counter and a little honey trail leading to the trash can.

I think I'll leave it.

While I'm off at the park with Ry-Ry, maybe some little ants will come along. Maybe they will happily follow my trail. They won't bicker about who is in charge. They won't complain that there is too much honey being wasted. And even though they will encounter some trash along the way, they will end up in a huge smelly landfill where they can make a better world for themselves.

Or maybe I will squash them all with my shoe.

I just don't get it

Somebody sent this email to my husband yesterday. I don't get it. First, please read the email. Then see my questions at the end. Maybe you can help me understand.


To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a Back Story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the BACK STORY :

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends went to their jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It's quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....

Signed, THE BOSS


Ok, now here's what I don't get:

This email was not sent by a "boss." It was sent by a blue-collar worker. Let's call him Joe. (A random and over-used name, I know.) Why on earth would Joe feel sorry for The Boss?

Here is what The Boss was saying, as far as I can tell:

1. I am way smarter than you.
2. I work way harder than you.
3. You have a lot of nerve, aspiring to my lavish and well-deserved lifestyle.
4. I will soon retire and sit on a beach.
5. You won't.
6. Tough luck.

Now, maybe Joe sent the email around because he is outraged by it. But I don't think so. I think he agreed with it. I think an awful lot of Joe's believe that they made the right decisions, and worked hard, and saved hard, and are now being screwed by the Big Bad Government. I think Joe thinks he is The Boss.

Wake up, Joe. When was the last time you made enough money to generate a quarterly tax bill of $288,000?

Wake up.