On the August 31 episode of HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher talked about how, growing up, he learned that the Republican party was the party for business. That still is the assumption today. Friends and associates assume I am a Republican because I am a businesswoman. Here's the problem I have with the Republican Party:
Government shouldn't run like a business. Business shouldn't run like a government.
Business is an autocracy. There is one person at the top who sets the vision and holds the team accountable for implementation of the grand plan.
The U.S. Government, at least on its best days, is a democracy. Our elected officials are honor-bound to represent their states and communities and work towards mutually beneficial social structure and services.
We need both government and business to thrive as a free society. Business is a platform for production, enterprise and job creation. Government should protect us from greed-gone-amok, and provide services and infrastructure that support the collective good. The government also creates jobs. Both benefit from cooperation and creative approaches to problems Both systems are well served to impose standards and consequences for those who deliberately or consistently screw things up. And, in business and in government, self-interest and social responsibility are not necessarily mutually exclusive ideals.
Come November, we get to vote for one guy or the other. Hopefully, we won't have given up on the U.S. democratic process by then. Because right now, as we are awash in sound bites and "say anything" political jargon, it can be challenging to sort out what the true outcome will mean to each of us. It's easy to get jaded. Still, I hope you stay engaged in the political process over the next few months. There are responsible journalists who check facts. There are opportunities to see the whole video, read the rest of the story, and consider voting records and committee participation. Do your best to stay informed without succumbing to numbing disappointment in the process. Then, vote for the platform and the person who is aligned with what you think is in your best interests, and who has the best plan for our country's collective interests.
As a businesswoman, I share these points for your consideration...
1. You didn't build that. Nobody and no business are successful without a supportive government. A friend of mine just returned from Haiti. I asked her, "What is your take on the economic environment of Haiti?" She said, "The roads are terrible. You just can't get from one place to the other. As a result, a few people own all the businesses and real estate in the cities, and there is a steep division of classes." Now, there is more to the situation. But, as Jon Stewart noted in his Daily Show coverage of the Republican National Convention, the people chanting, "We built it!" were sitting in the Tampa convention center, built with tax dollars and union labor.
2. The best thing we can do to jumpstart business is to provide single payer, nationalized health care. Nope, tax cuts are not going to do it. Most small business are not paying a crushing amount of income tax. What is crushing is health insurance costs for the owners and the employees. And the cost is volatile. At least with income tax and payroll tax you can consistently calculate the costs. Can't we at least see the cost benefit analysis of a tax hike to pay for national health care vs. current health insurance premiums? Doesn't cutting out the middle man -- the health insurance companies -- present the opportunity to make this a cost effective option? It's not like the current level of care is so stellar that we would be fools to mess with it.
3. Focus on your economy, not the. economy. Cast your votes for president and other offices this November. Consider the best candidates for improving our government. But, hedge your bets. There is an old adage, "Trust in god, but tie your camel." Perhaps we could also say, "Vote for the best guy but don't expect him to front you $200 for your utility bill."A. Start or fix or grow your own business.
- Even if you have a job, a business of your own could help you expand your options. You can only tighten the belt so much. It could be a simple home-based or vehicle-based enterprise. Charge more than it costs and manufacture profits and cash. Business can be prosperity and freedom building.
- If you are just not interested in your own business, skip to bullet "b." There is no judgment here. I'm a businesswoman, and, well, "to one with a hammer, everything is a nail." If your own business is not an option for you, do what you can to expand your career path at a successful company.
- If you are at all intrigued, consider what you could do to supplement the family coffers with a business of your own. It doesn't have to be the next Starbucks - though it could be. Every great business starts with one person and an idea. At some point, getting by on less may just not cut if for you and your family. A better job may or may not be an option. Your own business could be a great way to jump start your economy and it has a positive effect on the economy.
- If you have a business and it is struggling, consider...is the person in the oval office going to make the difference between a profit and a loss for you this month? Fix it or divest it but don't hold your breath for either candidate to make an immediate impact on your economy.
B. Stay healthy.
- The surest way to financial ruin is a major health crisis. Even with health insurance, could you pay your portion of a month-long stay in the hospital or extended rehabilitative care? Exercise, eat right, no smoking and cut back on the booze. Those things will do more for you than any health care plan... private or public.
- Many employees stay in dead-end jobs or choose not to risk starting a business because they just can't afford to be without adequate health insurance. The healthier you are, the more choices you have in your career and in a business.
Bottom line, government is the system by which we take care of, protect and encourage the collective. Free enterprise is our opportunity to expand our individual ambitions. We are very well served to have both...functional, working together and mitigating the other.
And, in the meantime, tie your camel.