Clear Thinking blog reader and business owner Don Ross recently received an email complaint from a customer. Don’s reply comprises a solid condemnation of Washington’s explosive invasion into our private lives. Don graciously granted me permission to post that reply following a summary of the customer’s concerns.
The customer expressed disappointment at finding political commentary on Don’s business website, taking particular issue with remarks on taxes and unions. The customer is a public sector union member and thinks that the commentary should be removed.
The argument boils down five main points.
- Taxes pay for services and protection that people take for granted.
- Unions are required when working conditions are unsafe or unfair.
- Political commentary on a business website offends certain customers.
- Political correctness has gone too far, but businesses should embrace political correctness.
- Personal political commentary is okay, but expressing such opinions on a business website is not okay.
Here is Don Ross’s reply in its entirety.
Thanks so much for buying our product and for taking the time to write to me about your concerns with my site. I’m sorry I haven’t written back sooner. Our season was really busy and I’m only now getting back to cleaning out my emails and other tasks.
Regarding the statement I have on my site, please notice that I most definitely do NOT state that there should be NO taxes. About the only things that the federal government is supposed to do is protect us and make commerce “regular” between the states. For these things, there needs to be some revenue. I suggest that we turn to a more equitable, fair, honest and clean form of taxation. Right now, the IRS is one of the most incompetent, wasteful and unfair bureaucracies in Washington. The convoluted and socialist taxation system is used by politicians as both a carrot and a stick. If you are interested in reading some non-whitewashed (read: media-biased or public school textbooks) data and stories about the foundation and current criminal practices of the IRS, let me know.
The FairTax, as currently written, would eliminate all of this while at the same time retain the current (or at least current up until Obama, Pelosi and Reid took over) revenues to the government. It’s a short and simple piece of legislation, I recommend you read it in full to give you a better understanding of where I’m coming from on this.
Regarding the comment about “Card Check”, this is a bill that will take away our freedoms like no other. Look it up. It will effectively give unions the ability to bully workers into creating a union shop without the possibility of secret ballots. It’s a horrible bill. As of this email, I think it has been killed, but there are talks by the Democrats to get it done through regulation rather than legislation (if you can’t win at the ballot box, use the bureaucracy, if you can’t regulate, use the judiciary – it’s all about forcing things down the public’s throat even when they vote against it).
I was raised in a blue collar neighborhood in the city limits of Pittsburgh. My dad was a union member (I think it was the UAW, or whatever the union was that controlled the workers at Allis-Chalmers on the North Side) for as long as I can remember. I have some knowledge of this topic. I agree with you that unions should be legal and encouraged when they are needed. In my Catholic faith, there is a long history of the Church supporting unions. My concern is with public sector unions that will in the very near future take down the economies of most major cities because of the unreasonable pension funds that we support with our taxes. I also have concerns with the underhanded and vicious tactics that are a hallmark of the bigger private-sector unions. They have gotten into bed with the Democrats who in turn have been taken over by the far left fringe in the country (and the world when you include the likes of George Soros).
Being a business owner, I try to understand as much as I can about economics, sales, inventory, marketing, accounting, client satisfaction, local, state and federal government regulations related to my product, assets and home, world economies, weather, shipping, insurance, etc. To an employee in either the public or private sector, most of these things are irrelevant, unless they happen to touch on your task directly. In the public sector, most don’t even apply. On the simplest level, I make a product so I can sell it and make a profit on that sale so that I have money to buy food, clothing and shelter. This is the bedrock of a capitalist economic exchange.
You see, I don’t get tenure, I must offer a good product, I have to be pleasant to my customers, I have to be aware of my costs, I have to budget, etc. None of these things are real concerns to a government entity that takes from others whenever the need arises. If I had the fist of government to take people’s money, I wouldn’t need to make a great product to feed my family. Government bureaucracies do not answer to anyone; government employees do not have to be pleasant, they do not have to be efficient (I was in the Marine Corps, I know about the encouragement to spend everything you were budgeted in a year, even if its wasteful, otherwise, you get your budget cut for the following year), they do not have to stay within budget, they do not have to offer the best product, they do not have to satisfy the market, they can create a monopoly, they can practice nepotism, etc.
(Regarding compensation inequality, look HERE.
If the public sector employee happens to be pleasant, hard working, industrious, so much the better, but it’s not necessary. Think about it from a higher altitude – for each pensioner, there are actually two or three salaries being paid to do one person’s job. With the unreasonable pay and retirement packages offered to public sector employees (because of the union contracts), you can retire long, long before you have reached the age at which you can no longer produce (hence the reason so many former public sector employees get jobs after retiring) but you still get paid for the rest of your life for doing something years before. That’s a huge cost for no return. But since it’s paid for by taxes that are literally taken from the producers in the economy, there is no need to offer an equitable exchange to the tax payer.
Now, if I weren’t paying for that, I wouldn’t care, because any private business run like that would be out of business in days. It’s basic economics. But since I am paying for government and since I know it to be wasteful, inefficient, corrupt (and more so the larger it gets – remember the USSR?), I have some problems with its perpetuation. So far, our system still has a way for me to voice my concerns, at the ballot box. So far, I also can still freely state my opinions about politics, religion and anything else – that’s a Constitutional right. Big government socialist leftists don’t like these freedoms that we have, so that’s why they try to curtail them. In the past, the godless, leftist dictator would just abolish the constitution and replace it with his own (Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Chavez). That won’t work in the US, so they must take another route. That path is to increase the size of government so that they can just implement their failed policies through bureaucracies. Socialism doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away. Murder is wrong and there are laws against it, but it still happens.
Bigger government is not a good thing. It stifles output, it threatens freedom and it leads (if unchecked by reason and courage) inexorably to tyranny. It must. You cannot support something that produces nothing without taking from the producers to support it. But since the producers get very little in return, then it’s not a free exchange and there will be tension. But since government holds the threat of imprisonment for non-compliance, the producers must comply until they are unable to produce, i.e. their costs (taxes, inflation, labor costs, etc) surpass their income.
(Regarding regulation HERE.)
Chuck Rogér’s Clear Thinking blog HERE (Big Government in a nutshell)
Unfortunately, few unions exist that are only about what unions should be about (some smaller, more focused ones are, e.g. the electricians union and the pilot’s union). Big unions don’t seem to consider the business decisions of the owner. They exist to aggrandize for themselves and their members even if it means the destruction of the industry (remember, I grew up in Pittsburgh, I know what really killed the steel industry). Do you need to be reminded what happened in Detroit? It’s like the story of the frog and the scorpion – it’s just the nature of unions nowadays. Although it’d be nice to think that it’s still like the “On the Waterfront” days or the lies perpetuated by Sinclair in his fictitious book The Jungle – he admitted that he fabricated a good portion of it. But today, big labor (predominantly public sector unions) is not about the members as much as it is about supporting the Democratic party and furthering socialism throughout the world.
One change I plan to make to my comments on my site is the one about manufacturing. Some things I’ve been reading lately seem to point that we actually have a lot more manufacturing in the US than previously and that it’s the jobs, not the manufacturing that has gone off-shore. But that’s not a bad thing, since it means that we’re more productive with less cost.
I do appreciate you writing to me to voice your concerns. That’s one of the freedoms we have left. But we have lost some and are losing more because some people are silenced by the ones with power. For example, you ask me to not voice my opinion because I might lose business. But you only ask me to be quiet because what I have to say is not politically correct. I can list a whole manner of “controversial” topics that are OK to associate with a business (global warming, “reproductive health”, inclusivity, etc.). But if it’s one that isn’t approved by the leftists in power in the media, entertainment industry, government and schools, then I should be polite and not talk about it. That’s how we got to the point we’re at. The good, mature, adult, sensible people have been shamed into silence by the threatening minority who espouse deviancy as a good.
I think because of our backward society, my incredibly innocuous, accurate and fleeting statements on my site will shock people who are happy to go with the flow and accept what they hear on CNN, HBO, NPR, etc. as truth while ignoring what they know deep down in their guts to be a falsehood. We’ve been lied to for a long, long time and things are only now beginning to hit the fan. Some of us are willing to shake off our prejudices to open our eyes to what might be beyond most people’s ability to understand. As opposed to the leftists and socialists in power right now, I will admit when I’m wrong. If you present me with data and facts, I promise to look at them with a critical, discerning eye. If I have been mistaken, I’ll gladly admit it. My search is for what is right and good. Show me factually how unions help increase productivity, grow a business, raise profits, and cut costs, and increase the bottom line for everyone involved (including the evil business owner who is providing the jobs in the first place) and I’ll reconsider my statement.
Thanks again and I look forward to hearing back from you.