By Jim Welsh
Thank You, Mr. President:
Its been a couple of weeks since you made your now famous remarks that business owners who think their businesses are the result of their hard work are mistaken and that their successes are really due to the generosity of government and other helping hands. I would have responded earlier but my sons and I have been a bit tied up lately. You see we have just opened our new IGA store and have been unable to thank all the politicians and government bureaucrats who were really due all the credit. We (and many of our fine employees) were working 7 days a week, sometimes 20 hours a day (yes, that is no typo) to get our doors open. For some strange reason, we had this idea that what we had achieved was our vision, our plan and our achievement. How stupid and parochial of us. For all these years, we had left out of our Thanksgiving prayers the real guarantors of our business success – the millions of government bureaucrats who selflessly issue papers and permits to ensure that our business will succeed. How we ever figured out how to operate and succeed in business without all those regulations and requirements they provide is just beyond me.
For over thirty years, I (and later my sons) had failed to recognize how helpful and necessary those of you, who sacrifice so much to live in places like the White House or to be Senators and Governors, have been to our business success. I’m still trying to put it together as to how government and governmental services had made it all happen and how we could forget to thank you and your government associates for our success.
Let me start at the beginning in late 1996. After retiring from the grocery business, I began to get the “itch” again to own another grocery store in a small community. So our family began to take numerous trips up and down the coast looking at stores that were for sale. We eventually found a store in the small north coast community of Manzanita, Oregon that fit our needs and had potential to grow.
And to think that we failed to thank the Oregon Department of Transportation for making this all possible. Thank you, ODOT, for “giving” us Highway 101 so we could drive from Bandon to Manzanita. Where would we be without all those “free” roads that government provides us. How would we ever get our goods delivered without those “free” roads the government paves.
Yes, Mr. President, we should thank someone for those roads. They are called taxpayers and I’m one of them. You, sir, haven’t given anything to anyone that you and your similar thinking clones didn’t first take from us. If you want to thank someone for providing those roads our commerce travels on, thank the people who pay the gas taxes. Maybe even thank them for that guaranteed paycheck you receive every month.
We eventually found and purchased a run-down business that was known as Downie’s Market #2 on Highway 101 in Manzanita. Our first order of business was to get business licenses and permits from a variety governmental entities that would allow us to run a business. So we paid for our licenses, permits and filings and never gave a thought as to how much we owed our future success to the various governmental agencies who issued us those pieces of paper. We couldn’t believe how much more business savvy we felt when those pieces of paper were issued.
After getting the government to allow us to make a living (or fail), we set about ordering pallets and pallets of groceries to stock the shelves. As we spent 15 hour days for weeks on end to bring our newly renamed Manzanita Fresh Foods up to operating speed for summer we just never seemed to think of those unheralded civil servants who had done so much for us by issuing these necessary licenses. Funny thing, but I never saw anyone from the Secretary of State or the OLCC during those sweaty days throwing thousands of cases of freight offering to help. Maybe I was just too busy to notice them. Or maybe they were just too busy issuing pieces of paper to other business people.
And so it went for years and years as we paid off our loans for the business and then the building and property. I never saw anyone from the government ever make one of those monthly payments. But again maybe I just missed it, Mr. President. Six and seven days a week work schedules for years on end sometimes causes business owners to forget to thank the real guarantors of their success.
Our business grew and grew until it became apparent that our building was just “worn-out”. So my sons, Tim and Jon, began the process of planning to build a new store. One of the things that needed to be done was to purchase two small plots of land adjoining Hwy 101 next to our property. The lots were basically worthless to anyone but us. We purchased them from the State of Oregon after only seven years of communications and negotiations. Let me formally say “Thank You” to the State Department of Lands for their incredibly speedy response to our interest, expressed in 2004, in purchasing these lots. Only seven years! Where else can a citizen get service like that?
And so the financial process began. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Representative Barney Fwank and Senator Chris “Countrywide Thrift” Dodd for sponsoring the Dodd-Fwank bill. How else to say thanks for the four-inch thick binder that contained all the newly required government documents that our nameless and faceless government “partners” at the various federal and state agencies required our lender to obtain from us. Much less the two years that it took those hard-working civil servants (who continually provided us with all those hundreds (thousands?) of forms to fill out) to allow Key Bank to loan us the funds for this project. (By the way Senator Countrywide, how long did it take for you to get that “special” loan from Countrywide Thrift? Just asking).
In recounting the saga of planning, financing, building and finally opening our new Manzanita Fresh Foods, my previous antipathy towards your policies as President pales in comparison to my complete and personal disdain for you as a person. You obviously have no respect for what small business owners sacrifice to achieve their dreams. What kind of President of our United States of America would insult the backbone of our nation’s business community?
Mr. President, you owe my family and every small business person in this country an apology. It’s time to wipe that wise ass smirk off your face and stop insulting us and begin to work to get this country going again. I’ve even got a suggestion for you that might help you get our economy going again. Hire some people who have actually started and run a small business successfully. Now I realize you don’t know any people like that so just give me a call. I can provide the names of hundreds of folks who know what it takes to make a profit. Okay, I know you are thinking “profit”, what is this guy talking about? Mr. President, that’s the left-over part of our sales that you and your friends tax so you can get your paycheck. Okay, I know that’s a little complicated. Let’s try this one: think of the relationship of a parasite to a host. Business people are the hosts.
Then again maybe I do owe you a word of Thanks. Yes, I’ll say it right here: Thank You, Mr. President, for your ill-chosen but revealing words that have re-ignited that Tea Party spirit of 2010 that sent Queen Nancy into exile. If you are defeated in November, those words “You didn’t build that business” will mark your political tombstone.
[Jim, a highly successful entrepreneur, is running as a candidate for Oregon State Representative District 31, the very northwest section of Oregon along the coast from Astoria to Tillamook. He started out as a Republican candidate, but switched to the Constitution Party. He explains this decision here. To learn more about Jim and his campaign, click here]