Like so many other small business owners, I am so angry!
I was reading this week how the Internal Revenue service was found to be targeting certain conservative groups. Wrong, wrong, wrong! C'mon guys, as a small business owner I know you've got some serious power at your disposal. You can make people's lives miserable just by putting them on a list. You can put entire businesses out of business with a swat of your bureaucratic hand. And you're wasting your time targeting the Tea Party? Really? Those guys don't have any real influence. Please, leave them alone. If you get rid of them who will SNL and Jon Stewart make fun of? Where else can I get a chance to admire Sarah Palin from afar?
But now that the cat's out of the bag, feel free to continue your targeting. We know you've been doing it for years now, so why hide anymore? Instead, just tell the public and the business community that what you're doing is yet another service you're providing, particularly if you concentrate on those groups that really make our lives worse. I'm an angry guy, I admit it. So, as a small business owner, please let me offer just a few suggestions. Going forward, please consider targeting:
The Phillies Starting Lineup. My hometown Phillies payroll, at $159 million is the third highest in the major leagues, behind only the Yankees and the Dodgers. And as I write this the team is 2 games under .500 and one of the top teams in lost attendance. How are these players earning so much money? How can Ryan Howard, who will earn $20 million this year, have six home runs to date, bat .250 and still refuse to tap a ball to the left side of the infield when the entire opposing team are standing to the right of second base? No one can figure this out. Maybe the IRS can. A little tax investigation might pull him back into reality. Or at least 2006.
Whole Foods Customers. There is a bonanza of tax fraud going on with these people. Why else would they willingly put up with overcrowded and cramped aisles, overpriced products, labels that require a translator to read and employees who look down their nose at you when you ask where you can find a bag of Doritos? Oh... they don't stock Doritos because it's "bad" for you (not that the cakes and cookies they sell are any better of course). I am convinced that every customer there has excessive amounts of money to throw away so that they can feel better about themselves because they shop at Whole Foods. And where did all this excessive money come from? OK IRS...get cracking.
Anne Hathaway. She's annoying and makes too much money. And meanwhile you lockup Wesley Snipes over an honest little communication mistake? C'mon... that guy was the man in Blade and awesome in Money Train. Stop targeting badass actors like him and focus more on the annoying ones like Hathaway.
Any public university president making more than $1 million per year. Have you seen this list yet? The President of Penn State made almost $3 million last year! And he's just one of many who's cashing in on the backs of small business owners who are parents (like me) struggling to send their kids to college. Hey, you want make $3 million bucks go to the private sector, or work at a private university dumb enough to pay that. But if you're working at a place that relies on taxpayer funding then there's got to be limit. So to my friends at the IRS: go to it. But don't just stop at the Presidents. Please expand your targeting to the board of trustees of these institutions who think that paying this kind if money is a good use of university funds.
Any group, business or organization with "Geek" in their name. Enough with this. I'm sick of every technical person trying to endear themselves to the public just by calling themselves "geeks." It's not cute anymore. I've been calling you for hours and all you're doing is sitting around, drinking Red Bulls and googling tech support groups. Stop calling yourselves geeks, or else the IRS will start targeting you. And maybe then you'll clean up your act, cut your hair, take a shower and fix my server issue, OK?
Wearers of Google Glass. Haven't see these yet? Oh, you will. It's a $1,500 (prototype price) pair of glasses made by you-know-who that will help people navigate their way through their day. "Google Glass, take a photo." "Google Glass, call James." "Google Glass, find sushi restaurant." This is not advancement, it's decay. And it can be stopped if the IRS makes it a point to target anyone wearing these silly devices for further investigation. I look at it as a public service: these people are ultimately going to get bullied so why not protect them before things get out of hand?
The owner of that little dress shop in my neighborhood. Also, the owner of the little antiques store on Pine Street. And the owner of that little arts and crafts store in Cherry Hill. Look, I'm all about small business and I'm a small business owner myself. But I drive by these little places all the time and I scratch my head and wonder how in the world are they making any money? How many pieces of antique junk must be sold each month to pay the rent? How many stupid dresses for an eight year old has to be ordered to cover payroll? Something's amiss. The cash has to be coming from somewhere else. It's a conspiracy. Or some type of money laundering network. And the only organization I know best to uncover this type of fraud is our trusted Internal Revenue Service.
The Manhattan Moms at Disney. What a disgrace! A bunch of NYC moms are alleged to have paid disabled people to pose as family members so they and their kids could jump to the front of the "It's A Small World" line. These people need to be targeted... and hired... by the IRS. They're brilliant. This is the kind of innovative thinking our government needs. Maybe these kinds of ideas could speed up the time we wait at the IRS offices to get our tax questions answered quicker. These moms are heartless, ruthless and without morals. Sign 'em up and get them working on some real tax fraud issues.
A few others to consider. School crossing guards who hold up traffic for 10 minutes so one little precious 5th grader can cross the road (or bus drivers who stop and take 10 minutes with their red lights flashing so three teenagers can finally stop yacking and leave the bus). The people that order expensive and complicated drinks at Starbucks, while others behind them fume. The telemarketers that keep calling my home at dinner (I thought there was a law?). The two people who were too busy texting on the highway and bumped into each other, causing an hour long jam for the thousands behind them.
These are just the rantings of an angry small business owner, I know. And the IRS probably doesn't have the resources to target these groups. But, boy, wouldn't life be better (and more profitable) if someone could do something?
A version of this column originally appeared on The Philly Post.