The letter in question has been going around the internet a little bit. It was picked up off craig's list, and is purportedly a real letter, written recently by a real entrepreneur.
The person who emailed it to us thought the letter made a very good point. He commented, "This guy hits the nail on the head!"
But B was appalled. She thought the whole thing sounded like sour grapes, and doesn't acknowledge the help the business owner probably got from other people, and the lucky breaks he most likely had.
At first I thought the letter might not be real at all -- that it could be a plant from some conservative group. But I've noticed a lot of closed businesses lately. Our mall has half a dozen empty storefronts; the strip mall up on the corner has sprouted several "For Lease" signs, and ... my old employer itself filed for bankruptcy last year. It didn't go out of business, but it fired yet another round of employees, broke a lease and moved to less expensive quarters, and is trying to sell off a few of its departments.
Read the letter (I've condensed it a little for brevity.). Do you think it explains anything, or nothing?
To My Valued Employees,
There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job is the political landscape in this country.
You see me park my Mercedes outside. You saw my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life. What you don't see is the back story.
I started this company 12 years ago. I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living space was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which would eventually employ you.
My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.
Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and spent every dime they earned. They lived in expensive homes and refinanced their mortgages to live a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business --- with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, would be able to afford these luxuries.
You arrive at the office at 9 am and leave at 5 pm. I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and have a weekend all to yourself. I do not have the freedom. I eat and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. Every day this business is attached to me like a 1 day old baby.
You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations. You don't realize the sacrifices I've made. Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail out all the people who didn't.
The people who overspent their paychecks, or who never got legitimate jobs at all, suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:
Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with them occupy most of my time. And I am being taxed to death. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. They're so extensive and complicated I have to hire an expert to manage all the taxes. I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Zilch.
Had suddenly the government mandated that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.
So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If I deducted 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy. If any new taxes are levied on me or my company, or any onerous government regulations, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. It won't be my problem any more. I will close this company down and retire and maybe move to another country.
You see, I'm done. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed. You'll find me on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about.
Signed, Your boss,
So, do you think this guy has a point? Does the letter explain some of the closed businesses in town? Or is he just an ass? The reason I'm asking is because I'm conflicted. And ... well, he could be both.