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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ITDoc
1
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ITDoc 03/01/09 - 01:42 pm
0
0
GAC: I am self employed. I

GAC: I am self employed. I have earned many certifications and qualifications. I am recession/depression proof. When other companies lay off workers, they call me to do the same jobs, often for more money. Since I don't require bennies, it saves them. I give all credit to my parents' who taught me self reliance and to Jesus who blesses me daily. I am the least of men, anyone could do what I have done if they desired. My former employees were very well paid, and I helped them find work before I let them go. I CHOOSE not to employ anyone else right now due to my suspicions prior to Obama's election. The results have proven I made a wise choice.

imdstuf
10
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imdstuf 03/01/09 - 01:43 pm
0
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Unfortunately there are some

Unfortunately there are some people who take advantage of the system and come up with bogus lawsuits. Then again there are many real cases for people to bring lawsuits. No system is perfect.

grouse
1635
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grouse 03/01/09 - 01:47 pm
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and when businesses are
Unpublished

and when businesses are allowed to operate without regulation, you have sweatshops. The goal of business is to turn a profit for its owners. The welfare of its employees is secondary or less... The business of government is (or should be) to be protect its citizenry.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 03/01/09 - 02:19 pm
0
0
A word of advice to all

A word of advice to all employers: At all times try to hire ex-military people that are honorably discharged. They have learned critical and very useful traits that are not taught in High Schools or Colleges. Respect and discipline first come to mind.

GACopperhead
6
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GACopperhead 03/01/09 - 02:27 pm
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ITdoc, your questions are

ITdoc, your questions are ggod, yes people can go to new jobs, but that has it's issues, too. Loss of seniority, vacation accrual, medical benefits. These aren't perks, they are EARNED, and are part of compensation packages. Why should employees have to give these up? The loss of an employee is also costly to both the new and old employer, as training isn't free. I had a bad experience with self-employment, as I have found out that my contractor didn't report things correctly, thus giving himself deductions and making it look like I earned more than I did, and I lost deductions myself. I worked way more than was healthy, and the stress had me well on the way to an early grave. I am a hard worker, I am truly conscientious and in 08 lowered my employers costs by at least 30 thousand dollars. The only reason I say these things is so that people might see that sometimes there are unavoidable situations that may not even be recognized at the time they're happening, and that not every Democrat is on welfare. I am for tax equity and for a more level playing field in order to EARN what I am worth and to keep it. It may not be much to you, but 25 dollars every two weeks feeds me.

GACopperhead
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GACopperhead 03/01/09 - 02:36 pm
0
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grouse, I remember, in the

grouse, I remember, in the 80s working at a local medical school, and being forced to paint hospital rooms with oil primers and not being furnished respirators. It was inferred that the institution was immune, and that those who complained wouldn't last long. Needless to say, that during those times employment was poor and a secure job was valuable. I stayed. I didn't complain. Things are different for me today. I don't care what it costs my employer to provide a safe work environment, I will make them provide it, or show why not, because dead is dead, and death shouldn't come because of a job, unless of course, the possibility is part of the job.

ITDoc
1
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ITDoc 03/01/09 - 02:48 pm
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Let me be perfectly clear,

Let me be perfectly clear, please do not misunderstand this: ANY employer who pays himself first, sucks. ANY employer that does not put the needs and desires of his/her employees AHEAD of their own, is a fool and destined to fail. ANY employer who does not realize the employee, even the custodian, is more important than himself, will not last in business long. IF you've worked for an employer that didn't believe in these ideals, you have my deepest sympathies. I may have just given away my true identity to those who have worked for me in the past, but I ask them to keep it confidential just a little while longer. Thanks.

ITDoc
1
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ITDoc 03/01/09 - 02:51 pm
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0
GAC: I've never had an hourly

GAC: I've never had an hourly employee. I do not believe in hourly employment. It sets a poor example. Who am I to set a price on another's worth? My employees were and always will be paid based upon the work performed, the quality of the work, and the satisfaction of the job. If they outperformed their peers, they made more. If they didn't, they made less. THEY control their pay, not me. I've had employees earn MORE than I did in a year. That's the American Way. Hourly pay is entitlement thinking, no more, no less.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 03/01/09 - 03:11 pm
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My company does insurance

My company does insurance work and the money they proivide does not leave any to pay medical, retirement or anything like that. That is why I pay on production. Mork work equals more money, less equals less. If I had to pay benifits I might as well close and lay off the employees that I have because I would be out of competition with all others in my line of work. To GAC, sure I pay myself more because I work more, have more risk and all comebacks come out of my pocket and not theirs. To itdoc, I do think of my employees as assets. I have paid light bills, water bills, car and truck payments, tax bills, doctor bills and anything you could name and never get paid back. I always pay them first and pay myself a salary that is not unreasonable. I never never take the money out of the company and leave it without working capital. The employees must like me because most have been there over 15 years with steady enployment. I only have 1 who works by the hour and that will soon change because jis production is now slow that he is 50% more labor that what is normal and wants a raise. I will turn hin to production and you can bet the time alloted will go down and production up.

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 03/01/09 - 03:15 pm
0
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WW: You stay in business for

WW: You stay in business for 15 years ONLY by following such excellent business practices. May God bless you and your work. I know He has mine.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 03/01/09 - 03:32 pm
0
0
No government needs to become

No government needs to become an albatross; thank you Mr Annis for such an informative and well-written article. AC should FedEx this to Congressional members and the big O, who has now crowned himself as both King of the United States and God. Government has NO buisness interfering with free enterprise through outrageous taxation (watch out for the energy tax; it will be passed onto consumers at double the amount the corporations will pay in order for them to maintain their profits), let alone interfering with the medical field (if you are elderly, seriously ill, then you will be DENIED treatment; the govt says you are expendable). The big O has no leadership qualities and has no idea as to what the Presidency means; like the kid in a candy store, his eyes are bigger than his stomach.

justus4
97
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justus4 03/01/09 - 04:39 pm
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0
Much of this article is not
Unpublished

Much of this article is not ture. According to the underlying theme of this non-minority writer, the problem started with a "welfare state" which is code language for blacks. So, blacks back in the sixties, started to contribute to the decline in the nation's economy. Wow! Welfare's percentage of the budget has NEVER been over 3%, but foreign aid to allies are 9% but look where the focus is: On the country's working poor especially minorities. How could only three percent of a budget bring down the entire nation? Oh, it must have something to do with race. That's the country's history. Again, nothing original just code language attempting to blame blacks for a failure of ideology.

142
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Dan White 03/01/09 - 05:12 pm
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Way to go, Jeff! Write on!

Way to go, Jeff! Write on!

Obamessiah
0
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Obamessiah 03/01/09 - 08:34 pm
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justus4 is all that is wrong

justus4 is all that is wrong with the black community...

twilahzone
0
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twilahzone 03/01/09 - 08:55 pm
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To quote Mr. Annis: "There

To quote Mr. Annis:
"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. . . "
Mr. Annis, I have been in the workforce for 20 years. I received my master's degree in management 5 years ago. And that degree has been the kiss of death for my career (working for someone else). There are also a lot of incompetents IN the workforce--and they get by from day to day by whom they know, whom they have had relations with, etc. And my feelings are not associated with achievement envy. I have applied for jobs---and I get the stink-eye most of the time--for employers don't wish to train me--and I leave eventually. At least that's the mindset of human resource professionals. How do they know if I will leave or not? If the place of employment is a good place of employment---who in their right mind would leave??? I am so sick of hearing the word "OVERQUALIFIED." That's 'code speak' for so many other things I won't even mention. Meanwhile, I am an independent contractor...plugging along. It could be a lot worse.

twilahzone
0
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twilahzone 03/01/09 - 09:09 pm
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What's next...dumbing-down

What's next...dumbing-down the old resume/CV so you can find a job that keeps the electric bill paid? Perhaps. Quite the opposite of pursuing The American Dream, huh? Maybe I can get a loan to start my own business? You think?

I might want to abandon any thought of working for a company that would hire someone who would tell anyone he or she is overqualified. It says a lot about that company in ways you would not believe. Has anyone even exercised the thought of saying someone is overqualified as being an oxymoron?

I am not bitter...just perplexed at the contradictions of life.

Rozzie2003
5
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Rozzie2003 03/01/09 - 09:16 pm
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Jeff, you sound just like

Jeff, you sound just like Rush--too much Rush.
There are companies in the CSRA turning away job applicants because they pay a living wage with good benefits.On another note, I am closing my account with your company. Goodbye
lil Jeff.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 03/02/09 - 10:38 am
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Rozzie, I would love to be

Rozzie, I would love to be able to afford to pay medical, retirement and all other benifits. Because of material increases this year a $5000.00 job has gone to $6186.00. If I add benifits the job would even be higher. The problem is the purchaser of my products doesn't care if I provide benifits. They want the lowest price for the product they wish to purchase and since I do insurance work they also want me to cover their deductible. This is even true for union employees.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 03/02/09 - 11:34 am
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WW1949, how about the
Unpublished

WW1949, how about the purchasers of your services, people like Dr. John C. Whitley, Jr. or Randy Cliett of Wisteria Hill Plantation, who assemble honest contractors to provide their improvements, and, after completion, immediately declare a bankruptcy to avoid paying for what they legally contracted? How do you factor that into your estimates?

CarlA
114
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CarlA 03/02/09 - 12:01 pm
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Barry Hussein's killing the

Barry Hussein's killing the DOW!

fd1962
26
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fd1962 03/02/09 - 02:00 pm
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I hope that comprehensive
Unpublished

I hope that comprehensive remark didn't overstrain your brain, Carla.

ak.migrant
0
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ak.migrant 03/05/09 - 02:24 pm
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disssman&GaC - I've worked

disssman&GaC - I've worked with Jeff for MANY years. He's grown his business from the ground up and has never placed his financial gain, over the stability of the company that employs 44 people. He is a true entrepeneur who has helpped employees through every crisis you can imagine - including not losing their homes. On average, empoloyees earn at least double the minimum wage (not including management) - that's BEFORE insurance benefits, etc. Not to mention the company matched SEP. AND not one makes less then $10/hour. I would hope he made a descent living, after spending 23 yrs building a business. Would you rather he be broke, just so you didn't have to resent him for being a success? I heard someone say, "If someone would just give me a break, I could get ahead." Let me tell you, successful people make their own breaks, they're not handed to them. Jeff is a great example of someone who's worked hard, been successful and created jobs. You should try it. BTW-Regulation is to protect consumers, business & the environment not what our industry faces in GA. Jeff never sacrifices safety for profit. Get your facts straight before you blather on about things you don't understand

Kramer
22
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Kramer 03/05/09 - 10:18 pm
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0
I am very familiar with

I am very familiar with Advanced Services. I know for a fact that it is one of the best employee and customer centered businesses there is. Their employees get paid vacation medical, dental, short and long term disability, and a tax free savings plan to which the company contributes. The entry level people there earn no less than 50% MORE than the minimum wage. They won the Torch award for marketplace ethics from the Better Business Bureau. They virtually require that their top people take part in civic clubs and community efforts, and they do so gladly. That is a company that started from scratch in 1986 and now employs almost 50 people. Not bad.

Kramer
22
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Kramer 03/05/09 - 10:24 pm
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As to the writier who

As to the writier who supposed that government regulators should be counted on to prevent accidents like the one in Savannah last year I must say this to you. There is a place for a balanced amount of government regulation and various kinds of industrial oversight. That just makes sense. It also means that when those fail, the same government is somewhat responsbile for the bad outcomes. Will the government be paying money damages because it failed to do the job at the plant in Savannah? Governments and regulators can be found to be inaccurate, inactive, and inattentive. Why was this dangerous situation found and prevented by government regulators? Will there be an investigation into that?

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