Friday, January 11, 2013

Unemployment: A paradox, and not EZ to deal with.

 A friend posted to Facebook that businesses are to blame for unemployment, saying there's plenty of work to be done, implying that it was only the greed of businesses that caused suffering. He went on to lay blame on the Conservative portion of our Congress.

Here's my reply to him:

Let me fully agree with you that our Congress, both houses, both parties, are not supporting and protecting our society and our freedoms. As a business owner, I agree with you that it is not easy to start a business. Raising capital is a huge challenge but the need for capital varies greatly based on the type of business--I have friends who are free-lance technical or "knowledge-based" workers in their own businesses who were able to start with near nothing, but, then, again, they did stay in school, off drugs, and out of jail; life skills that seem to elude a lot of people. Another huge challenge that many seem to not recognize is the near-crushing load of government regulations that a business owner must meet; our tax code(s) are indecipherable and a violation there carries the threat of government force or punishment for non-compliance, even though IRS "experts" often disagree on how a business should comply. Department of Labor rules often make it difficult to hire workers to meet a legitimate need unless you have the revenue flow to make them "full time" and eligible for vacation, holiday, and medical benefits. Sure, workers should have those things (and we do provide them)--but here's the catch: If you don't have the revenue to pay for those things you cannot provide them--and if you don't have the workers on board, you can't get the revenue. It's a deck that is severely stacked by our (I hope) well-meaning government against the startup and the small business, and that's one key fact that lets "big business" like WalMart overwhelm the mom and pop stores -- Walmart can afford to comply or to fight, Mom and Pop can't. Our small business (28 employees) keeps THREE of those 28 people busy 40-hours a week dealing solely with tax, licensing, and regulatory issues AND we hire consultants to help with state and Federal HR rules; a law firm to help with other compliance issues; and an accounting firm to deal with taxes. Complying with Federal rules consumes around 20% of our total revenue *not including* the local, state, and Federal taxes we actually remit to the government. Another point often missed is that no business ever pays any taxes--businesses simply collect the taxes and pass them along to the government(s). The businesses' customers (people) PAY all the taxes--unlike the government, businesses cannot just print money. As the government's powers all rightly derive only from the powers held in nature by the people, so all resources the government uses are taken from the people. In an orderly society we the people, through the actions of our elected representatives, choose to voluntarily allow the government to collect funds from us to be used for the greater good. Governments choose to use businesses as their proxy in tax collection so as to hide the true cost of government from its own people. We could carry this discussion on ad infinitum, but this is probably not the best venue for that. One final note: as a private citizen consumer, I'd MUCH rather have a self-checkout lane than have to deal with what many of the stores offer me in their "clerks." I go to Lowes because they offer self-checkout vs. the closer Home Depot because they don't offer a self-checkout lane.