Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Whatever your political persuasion, the truth is capitalistic principles that have served humanity well, are currently under attack in the halls of Congress. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal sounded the alarm that the highest tax bracket may soon rise 11%, from 35% to 46%, by the time the Democrats in Congress are done. "Soak the rich! Soak the rich!" can be heard in stereophonic surround sound if you drive by the Capitol these days. Indeed, the most important allocators of capital are no longer found on Wall Street. They now reside on Capitol Hill. The Administration and the Democratic leadership have declared war on the business class. In doing so, they are dooming the country's hopes for a strong economic turnaround. Here's why. The very people who know best how to create jobs, the business class, are being tied up in a never ending barrage of new taxes, regulations, and anti-business rhetoric and legislation. But just as the Law of Gravity still holds, so do the laws of economic growth, even if House Ways and Means Chairman, Charles Rangel, says they don't. I have no doubts that he will find a return to normal economic growth increasingly difficult to accomplish should his tax hikes become law. Let me take a different tack to explain the problem, basketball, for example. Isn't our objective to win, not just allow every player on the team equal playing time, regardless of their ability? Further, say we're down to the wire with only 10 seconds left on the clock. The object is to win, not to make heroes, not to please parents, or sponsors, or girlfriends. The object is to win. If you are the coach, would you call the team trainer off the bench and set up a play for him to take the last shot because it's his turn to shoot? Or would you get the ball into the hands of the best SCORER on your team? The answer is so simple children can figure this out. Get the ball to the guy or gal on the team who has a demonstrated gift for putting the ball in the basket. Do that and you will have a long career as a coach. Give it to a player with less ability and wins become losses, and you will be out of coaching. This concept is graphically shown in the movie "Hoosiers." With just a few seconds left, Gene Hackman, who plays Hickory's coach, calls a time out. He wants to run the "picket fence" and that Jimmy Chitwood, the teams prolific scorer, will act as a decoy. The team is stunned and turn away from the fiery coach, but no one says anything. Every guy on the team knows the coach is wrong, but no one speaks. Finally, Jimmy, who has been almost stoic throughout the whole movie, says, "I'll make it." Hackman immediately agrees and says get the ball to Jimmy and give him room. You know what happens. See it here on this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0QTBAWc3tM Coaches don't win games, trainers don't win games, equipment managers don't win games, and bench warmers don't win games. All these people are important contributors to success, but ultimately it is great players who win games. As it relates to business, businessmen and women produce economic growth, not politicians, regulators, or tax collectors. Until the Obama Administration grasps this basic truth, the economy will trudge along in low gear. Over the weekend, Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama were both apologizing for still skyrocketing unemployment, even though they said it wouldn't happen if the Congress passed their $750 billion stimulus plan. After Congress finally passed the measure, I said it was actually 30% a stimulus plan and 70% a welfare plan. The money went to the wrong places and until it gets to the right places, the Administration is going to be apologizing, a lot, about unemployment. A wide gulf has formed between business people and politicians. All business people are being painted with the ugly brush of the big banks and their subprime destruction. Ninety-five percent of business people had nothing to do with the subprime fiasco and don't deserve to be treated as villains. However, every business person in this country now knows that he or she will be picking up the tab for the health-care plans of the Obama Administration. We know that we will be paying for the Administration's ill-conceived "Cap and Trade" environmental programs. Finally, we know that we will be paying for the huge deficits that the Congress has saddled our country with as far as the eye can see. Business people, particularly small business people, where most of the jobs have been created over the last decade, know that they are in the gun sights of Congress and the Administration. That will keep a lid on employment gains for the foreseeable future. The main reason for this is that all these new taxes and regulations require that a businessman or woman's first order of business is to cut costs to defend profitability. The truth about costs is that the biggest one is labor. In the back of most entrepreneurs" minds is the fact that, in the stroke of a pen, the government could at some future date make it very costly if not impossible to reduce employment. The Soviet Union was full of big talk and government-created, five-year economic plans for growth. As the years wore on, the bigger the talk grew the more failures the five-year plans produced. I would have thought that the complete collapse of the illusory workers paradise that was the Soviet Union would have been proof enough for almost any politician of what does not work. But, what is going on in Washington today would make Karl Marx smile for the first time in a long time. If you consider yourself a businessperson, I recommend that you start communicating regularly with your politicians. As the employment news gets worse, they might actually start to listen.