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The Taming of the Shrewd

Updated: Jul 2

July 22, 2010

While the gang of connivers in the White House boastfully proclaims, “Never waste a good crisis,” the barrage of America-bound, economy-busting bombs from the administration’s playbook, “How to Corral Shrewd American Entrepreneurs”, continues. As an entrepreneur, I would like to know where this administration got its training in business. Like so many other American businessmen and women, I keep scratching my head and wondering what the big plan for America is. 


Ten years ago, my husband and I began encouraging our two kids to learn about entrepreneurship. Like any good parents, we started simply and suggested that they sell homemade cookies and coffee at our yard sale. We explained to them about start up costs and how after their sale they had to pay back their original investment to us (the bank), and any money left over would be “profit.” At the end of the day, they had profited seventeen dollars, and, as five and seven-year-olds, they were ecstatic. I saw a huge change in them after that day. My son became more interested in learning math and writing as he came to understand the practical uses for academics. The whole world opened up to him; he saw opportunity in everything and even started a very profitable business by the time he was twelve years old!

What would have happened to my kids that day if I had told them that, in the real world, they would have to give up most of their seventeen-dollar profit as taxes, and, at the end of the day, they would probably owe money? Where would their enthusiasm, vision, excitement, and industrious qualities go? Why would they even want to put the effort out to create cookies or, for that matter, ever start anything or become anything in life, if at the end of the day, they would have nothing to show for their entrepreneurial endeavors? If I told them the confusing truth, that even though some taxes are necessary, most of the taxes they would pay would go toward entitlements for others who don’t work and won’t work because they are encouraged to sit and wait for someone to hand them a meal, a condom, free health care, fee education, free housing, and a free ride, they would have been as completely and utterly confused as the rest of us hard-working Americans.


Now that they are teenagers, I try to point out some things to them such as how government employees make twice as much as the average hard-working private sector worker and that the government takes just about all of the profit from our businesses each year and sometimes we even owe money. It is hard for them to fathom what I tell them and sometimes they actually begin to show signs of depression as I share what America now offers to its people. 


When I explained that the government spends our hard-earned money like a group of women on a shopping spree at Macy’s and does not pay back the money that it borrows before it borrows more, my kids were confused because when they were 5 and 7 they had to pay back their original investment for their cookie supplies. When I showed my kids how our government treats successful American companies as if they were the enemy, while embracing failed companies, people, and capitalism-hating countries with the same love and compassion as a spoiling mother, they were completely overwhelmed. 


I told my kids that starting a business nowadays will take so much more than all of their great visions and ideas. They will have to jump through bureaucratic hoops and ask permission to contribute to society in the form of paying thousands of dollars for permits for everything from the initial concept to opening the doors. After they make their first dollar, they will have to pay an accountant to make sure that the government gets its share, and when they become successful, they will have to become shrewd business people and hire a team of attorneys to protect what they have made. 


As owners of a huge company, they will appear to be a greedy corporation that takes advantage of its employees, and so they will have to compensate by doing things like paying for their employees’ health insurance even when they can barely afford it for their own families.

My kids looked at me as if I had just read them a horror story and asked, “Mom, why would anyone want to start a business in America, and how would the government operate if all of the entrepreneurs decided that they would stop running their businesses and make no more money? Where would the government get its money then?” I could only answer, “Hmmm… interesting questions!”

#business #money #government #kids #entrepreneurship #business

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