Meddlesome government red tape hamstrings American businesses

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As a small-business owner in the CSRA, I have some observations about the current economic crisis that might be helpful to readers.

I started in the business world in 1974, and the environment for business success has been on a decline since then. After World War II, our nation became producers and manufacturers. Industrial and manufacturing output flourished. Unemployment virtually disappeared, and the modern era of home ownership ushered in an amazing increase of our nation's overall standard of living.

THE INITIAL DECLINE began with the growth of the welfare state in the 1960s. There was an aggressive effort on the part of the federal government to feed and house persons who chose not to feed and house themselves. The "Great Society" was born.

What happened to industrial output and manufacturing in our country? Federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and dozens of others were born through federal legislation. Legislation designed to protect workers, such as the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, has turned into a lifetime of lawsuits brought against employers. Well-intentioned acts of government start off with the right idea and then they turn into tens of thousands of pages of regulations that some small-business owner must comply with or face the consequences.

The consequences are frivolous lawsuits, and revenue-producing fines for government agencies. The cost of lawsuits, fines and compliance is passed along to the consumer, or the business disappears. When you combine the above with a poorly suited labor pool and big labor unions, you create a recipe for productivity to move overseas because it is the only place a manufacturer can go and still make money. So, industrial output and manufacturing is essentially dead permanently.

Who can argue with the value of the proper use of labor unions? They were invented to protect workers from unsafe workplaces and slave wages. If you need to employ 4,000 people you need a labor union to help find the workers and ensure the qualifications and training levels of workers. That is practical. But when labor unions negotiate contracts or support strikes that put businesses into bankruptcy, not only do the employers suffer, but also employees and those communities in which they live. Now employers will do almost anything to avoid labor unions. That includes hiring through temp agencies and, sadly, moving production to Mexico, Sri Lanka or China.

IT IS NOT JUST the federal government that gets in the way. The burden on businesses by state and local governments with their zoning requirements, license fees, property taxes, smoking bans, overbearing regulations and layers and layers of other fees makes it hard to survive. Frivolous harassment-style litigation brought by regulators, consumers and employees makes the United States less than fertile ground in which to do business.

There are very few hirable people in the labor market. Twenty percent are just too lazy and do not really want to work. Twenty percent are incompetent and illiterate. Twenty percent are not hirable because of illegal drug use and criminal backgrounds. Twenty percent choose to live on welfare rather than wake up in the morning and try to find work. That leaves businesses to fight over the 20 percent who are left over. And I hired them already, so the rest of you are in deep trouble.

Back in the 1970s, and even into the '80s, we always had five to 10 good, hirable applicants who were waiting for us to call them to come to work. That is impossible now. Ninety-nine percent of the people who want to work already have jobs. Would you believe that there are people who like being on unemployment? Twice last year we offered jobs to people who said they would rather wait until their unemployment ran out to start working again. So, when the well-meaning politicians add to the amount that unemployment provides, and extends the length of time you may draw unemployment, all they are doing is adding to the unemployment rolls.

The government education complex in our country is failing. Our public school system is generally turning out very few people suited to work. A reporter I know who works for a daily newspaper told me they are supposed to write on a seventh-grade comprehension level. What does that say about the "average" citizen?

And the fault of this is not the well-meaning, hard-working, professional educators. It is the fault of our federal and state government that burdens the educators with politically correct rules and regulations, and the parents who send worthless, lazy, ill-prepared, poor-behaving young people to school. Recently, I spoke to a class of high school children, and one out of three students was asleep during my entire 50-minute presentation. They were quiet at least. I informed the two-thirds who were awake that they had a hard life ahead of them because they would be paying to feed, house and incarcerate the other one-third.

THE GOOD PARENTS who raise good children are receiving a great education through our government, private and home-school systems.

I feel sorry for the next generation of business people. It is already a 1-in-20 chance that you will make it one year in a new business. With the burdens of big union labor, big government regulation, big taxation and big litigation, you won't stand a chance to make it in business in the decades to come. You will rely on the government for all your needs.

(The writer is owner of Advanced Services for Pest Control in Augusta.)

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Nammy
2
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Nammy 03/01/09 - 02:42 am
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That 1st sentence in that

That 1st sentence in that last paragraph is NOT what I want or need to hear.........damn.

As It Is
2
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As It Is 03/01/09 - 03:05 am
0
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Hmmm....He tells it as it

Hmmm....He tells it as it is.....better watch out for the local, state and federal inspectors who don't like what you have to say.

44mag
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44mag 03/01/09 - 07:22 am
0
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I can hear it now - "Rich

I can hear it now - "Rich white guy that don't won't to help the needy." In response - "Feel free to get up and go work hard."

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 08:17 am
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Reality bites. Well said Jeff

Reality bites. Well said Jeff Annis. SOCIALISM DOESN'T WORK! Punishing the productive to buy the vote of the non-productive is telling the tale on America.

DonH
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DonH 03/01/09 - 08:20 am
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Thanks for a great article on

Thanks for a great article on the subject, Jeff Annis. We need to hear more from actual business owners who really know what is happening in the workplace, what ever that may. After the politicians and the newspapers feed us their opinions, it is refreshing to hear from the business sector. The underlying problems in this country will not be fixed until the root problems are addressed.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
9175
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 03/01/09 - 08:40 am
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I had 2 small businesses, one

I had 2 small businesses, one retail and one service. I closed the retail last year and laid off 3 employees. The service business I stll run, but, laid off 2 employees just this year. It is only me for now. I'm hoping to make it, but I'll be surprised if I can make it for 2 more years.

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 03/01/09 - 08:51 am
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Great, great article Mr.
Unpublished

Great, great article Mr. Annis. "Our public school system is generally turning out very few people suited to work." No Child Left Behind has left us in an unprecedented dilemma. Teachers spend 95% of their time trying to educate, discipline, baby-sit students who don't care about school and don't want to be there, just so they don't get "left behind." A high school diploma today means next to nothing. The education system in the United States is a JOKE and the students know it. And, sad to say, the joke's now on all the small business owners and the rest.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 09:15 am
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I agree crackertroy. Without

I agree crackertroy. Without vouchers, this problem won't be fixed.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 03/01/09 - 09:56 am
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Does Annis's distaste for

Does Annis's distaste for lawsuits emanate from his coming out on the very short-end of at least one which arose shortly after the sale of Annis Pest Control?

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 10:09 am
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Craig Spinks, is that really

Craig Spinks, is that really what you gleaned from this column?

dashiel
176
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dashiel 03/01/09 - 10:09 am
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Mr. Annis, You are the best

Mr. Annis, You are the best author to grace these pages in a very long time. Thank You! Now, more than ever, we need reminding that "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves..."

disssman
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disssman 03/01/09 - 10:45 am
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And twenty percent of

And twenty percent of employers are greedy. And twenty percent of employers don't provide any employee benefits. And twenty percent of employers don't know as much as employees about how their own company works. And twenty percent of employers buy their spouse a new vehicle before they invest a cent in the equipment employees are forced to use. BTW how many of your employees are covered by the same retirement you have. How many are covered by the same health care policy you have for you and your family? How many of your employees are union members? how many times has your company been sued for frivilous law suits? Jeff I hate to say it but you have been watching too much Fat Rush and it appears you can't think for yourself now.

disssman
6
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disssman 03/01/09 - 10:56 am
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As to regulators getting in

As to regulators getting in the way, I guess thats why the plant in Savannah blew up last year, and the peanut producers sent out tainted products, or better yet why the Love Canal poisoned an entire area with chemicals - we must have had too many inspectors getting in the way of industry making a profit. Working in an industry that routinely uses potentially life threatning chemicals, I would assume you would welcome strict regulations for their use. BTW I am just curious but are you sure all of your employees fit your last 20 percent or did it dawn on you that they may really figure out what you really feel about them?

LaTwon
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LaTwon 03/01/09 - 10:58 am
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A man owned a small building

A man owned a small building business in Northern Michigan. One day theState of Michigan Hourly Wage Department contacted him and claimed that hewas not paying proper hourly wages to his employees.They sent an agent out to interview him. "I need a list of your employeesand how much you pay them," demanded the agent. "Well," replied the builder, "there's my master electrician who's beenwith me for 10 years, so I pay him $45.00 an hour and give him the use ofthe company pick-up truck, plus benefits. Then there is our apprenticeelectrician who I pay $23.00 an hour, plus benefits. Also, a half-witworkshere, who puts in about 18-hours a day, does about 50% of the work andbuys his own truck. He makes about $10.00 an hour and gets no benefits. I buy him a fifth of vodka every week and he quite often sleeps with mywife.The agent exclaimed, "That's the guy I want to talk to, the half-wit!" The builder replied, "That would be me!"

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 03/01/09 - 11:02 am
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you are pathetic disssman. no

you are pathetic disssman. no business survives mistreating its employees.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 11:07 am
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disssman, and why is it

disssman, and why is it someone else's responsibility to pay for your insurance and retirement? And why is it you only mention the three incidents of of the business owners intentionally harming their employees and don't mention the many thousands of businesses that are trying to make a profit and are employing the millions of workers? You seem to be a bitter person suffering from an advanced case of achievement envy. I'm not sure what your point is.

HotFoot
17
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HotFoot 03/01/09 - 11:09 am
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OK, that's it. Last fall,

OK, that's it. Last fall, there was a letter from Pat Van Hooser, or whatever her name is, attacking Obama. Now, this. We've been customers of Advanced Services for more than 4 years, ever since we moved down here. Do you people understand that your customers don't always agree with you? That there may be a price to pay for expressing your right-wing (or left-wing, for that matter) opinion? That maybe you ought to take that into consideration before writing a column? Mr. Annis, you make some good points (unlike VanHooser) but obviously your company has a political orientation I cannot support. You just lost a customer.

dashiel
176
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dashiel 03/01/09 - 11:10 am
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LMAO!!! LaTwon.

LMAO!!! LaTwon.

karmakills123
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karmakills123 03/01/09 - 11:19 am
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midwest....are you really

midwest....are you really that stupid??/ Are you really so brainwashed by the left that you could make yourself look so pathetically desperate as to threaten Mr. Annis because he doesn't share your socialist views?......That because he had the audacity to speak the truth about the empty suit puppet that is destroying this Country you will no longer be his customer??.....good riddence to bad rubbish.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 11:22 am
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karmakills123, midwest has

karmakills123, midwest has answered your first question many times.

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 03/01/09 - 12:10 pm
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midwest Annis has a whole
Unpublished

midwest Annis has a whole column filled with valuable testimony to share -would you rather him keep it to himself in fear of losing customers? I doubt he cares. Oh, and buy the way. If you cannot support Annis because of his political orientation then you need to stop posting on this blog because of the Chronicle's political orientation -lest you reduce yourself to hypocrisy.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 03/01/09 - 12:11 pm
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1) Though this could have

1) Though this could have easily been written by me, I am not Jeff Annis. 2) I wish I would have wrote it. 3) Those who would contest the facts contained in this article do not comprehend English. There are jobs available right now, good jobs. IF you are qualified. IF you can pass a drug screen. IF you can get your lazy butt to work on time and work a full day. IF you don't think it's fine to steal from your employers just because they make more $$$. Thanks Jeff, I'll be switching my pest control services tomorrow to make up for the delusional one who says they're leaving you.

GACopperhead
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GACopperhead 03/01/09 - 12:21 pm
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Well, pt, the employer can

Well, pt, the employer can either get a better deal on insurance, or he can raise wages to enable an employee to buy his own. It's called the worker getting paid what he's worth. You don't think you ideas through. You rail against universal health care, while you're already paying much more for less services. Your ideas of "freedom" are what eventually forced mandated auto insurance, and seat belt laws, not to mention all the drunk driving laws. Mr. Annis is well off, and obviously doesn't think there should be any safety or labor requirements to take money out of his pockets. Poor wittle rich boy. How many meals do you miss? How many do your employees miss? Can they afford to go to the doctor on what you pay them? How many are losing their homes because of rising prices and no raises......it's pathetic that anyone would put profit before integrity and safety, but then he's a Republican.

GACopperhead
6
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GACopperhead 03/01/09 - 12:25 pm
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ITdoc, since when was it

ITdoc, since when was it wrong for an employee to get paid fairly? I'd like you to say what you're writing to the faces of those out there....MILLIONS of people who've lost their jobs in the past year. Let your situation change, and I guarantee you'll be saying some different things.

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 03/01/09 - 12:37 pm
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all the bitterness

all the bitterness copperhead............ start a business, hire the world. run it the liberal way. dont just snipe.......... seems to me me he is saying safe workers, drug free intelligent doers, are hard to find.

gcap
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gcap 03/01/09 - 12:38 pm
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disssman, you just don't get

disssman, you just don't get it...unless someone gives it to you. Employee benefits were expanded in the 50s and 60s to attract new, more highly qualified employees. If employees don't like their benefits, let them find another job. If employers don' know as much about their industry as their employees, so what! They own the company! If employees want to do it their way, they can start their own company. Unions' time is up. Look at the auto industry. Unions won't negotiate and American auto companies now rely on the government. I say if you can't make it in private industry under the rules of free enterprise, get yourself a government job. And disssman, your last sentence confirms your "we deserve it" attitude. It's not about how employers or employees "feel" about each other. It's about getting the job done. It's not what you deserve, it's what you earn.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 03/01/09 - 12:40 pm
0
0
GaC, can the employee go to

GaC, can the employee go to an employer that offers more for the services supplied by the employee? can the employee increase his knowledge and skills to make himself more valuable? Why is the employer responsible for supplying more than the employee to the relationship? How does "free market" enter into any of your ideas? Are you sure you want everything provided for you?

gcap
290
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gcap 03/01/09 - 12:51 pm
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Gee, GaC, I didn't know you

Gee, GaC, I didn't know you attended the University of Stalingrad. What you write is socialist idealism in its simplest form. Competition requires that employees are paid "fairly." If not, they'll go elsewhere to work, and I encourage them to. Let there be no misunderstanding. Those in the unemployment lines did not have to stand there until the democrats took over Congress. And, I'd wager, those in the lines have no training to make them marketable. That is, there are more uneducated in those lines than there are marketable, educated people. But you wouldn't know anything about marketability. That's not a socialist ideal.

KSL
134766
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KSL 03/01/09 - 01:19 pm
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GaCop, you won't make it

GaCop, you won't make it with that mentality. Always expecting someone else to pave the smooth way for you. Why should the employer make certain you get the best deal on health insurance? Is he supposed to keep you advised on where the bargains at the grocery store are or where you get the best deal on a new car? Is he supposed to tell you that you should buy your clothes from the Salvation Army instead of Dillards? Is he supposed to tell you not to go to the movies or out to eat? If you are a good worker, you will get paid what you are worth. If you have no more talents than the next guy, you are expendable.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 03/01/09 - 01:25 pm
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Jeff, You are right on. I own

Jeff, You are right on. I own a small business and find it very hard to find employees who do not drink heavy, do drugs or just want to work a small time so they can get on the welfare rolls. Every year we had one previous employee who would call for a job so he could work just the amount of time to get the "Unearned income credit" As far as pay is concerned, I pay the going wage and pay on their production instead of by the hour. Those that choose to come to work early and work late make decent money. Those that don't do not. Thank goodness I have weeded out all of the non producers, cut my staff and we are now lean with no excess. I have worked 40 years in my business and it has never been so hard to find good employees. I guess because I pay on production as do all of my competition.

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