My mind has flashed back to the day after we announced the sale of Creative to Revlon in 1995. We held an all employee meeting out in the warehouse. Typically, these events were well scripted in advance (not my favorite approach), but when I approached the podium, I tossed my “script” into the air and told our employees that I was driving the same car, was in the same office, and would continue my same routine for the foreseeable future that I had the day before. I held true to that promise for five years. No matter what your political persuasion, who you voted for and how you felt about the results, on Wednesday, you probably got up and went about your routine like you would on any other day. Sometimes we give others too much credit for how our life is led, in this case the politicians in Washington DC. It was (as usual) a very heated campaign, but America has voted, the results are in and we now can move forward with an understandinng of what the landscape will look like, which is a lot like it has for the last four years.
In saying that, I DO have some thoughts, observations and an opinion or two to share. Firstly, I don’t know if it’s just me, but this election process was uglier than usual. We have a friend who put out a sign for their candidate on four different occasions and in each case, it disappeared within 24 hours. That is just wrong…our country at one time stood for one person, one vote and the freedom to express your opinion (in a legal and respectful way). I don’t care who you are supporting, you must be respectful of other’s views for our country’s process to work. So this was greatly disappointing to me. There were candidate comments to “vote for revenge”. I seriously doubt that our founding fathers had that concept in mind when drafting the constitution. Other polarizing comments included references to the 47%; the 1% vs the 99% etc. I don’t feel these references are healthy for our country and society. They are utilized because voters respond to it. It’s too bad, but that’s the way these elections go. There is very little focus on true solutions to the challenges that face our country. That is because real solutions are not popular and to get elected, you must say what is popular, not what is real.
Linda and I are not sure what “group” we are supposed to fall into (this election was all about what group you fall into). We are fortunate that we are partners in a succesful business. The profits from that business go into our new business, which we are grinding the way to that wonderful day called “break even”. In the meanwhile, we write checks nearly every month. We work seven days per week (literally). So are we part of the evil “succesful” part of society or are we “good” because we are trying to start a new business that we hope one day will employ many, many people? I believe what is not understood in Washington DC is the concept of risk. It is the level of perceived risk that determines if someone will take the chance with their capital, put in the effort in the hopes that at some future point, you will be “succesful”. When you start a business there is NO guarantee of success…you may go well down the road of effort and fall short, that’s how the game works. So, when I hear the rhetoric about “fair shots for all”, “even playing field for all” etc etc, I don’t understand what it means: you can’t legislate “fair risk” in a free market economy. It is up to the risk taker to determine if they will risk their capital in the pursuit of creating more capital. Up to the day of break even or better, the winner is everyone who is being paid for goods and services (ie. the EMPLOYEES of those companies) to the new company. So, it will be interesting to see how this election changes the free market system being made more “fair”. Does it mean that fewer people will take the risk of starting a new business? Does it mean that “a fair shot for all” is a growing government, thus creating those fair and balanced job opportunities? I don’t know what that looks like or how that works. If you turn the clock of the US back 110 years, the Federal Government was about 5% of GDP. Today, it’s about 27%. How much is enough and how much is too much? This election clearly stated that 27% is not enough. Who am I to say the electorate is wrong? Time will tell. In the meanwhile, I will go about my business just like I have over the last four years, hoping my assessment of the risk will prove to be correct relative to what I hope our reward will be.
Finally, I would like to see the electoral college system scraped. It’s very frustrating to vote in an election if you don’t live in a “swing” state. Your vote doesn’t make a difference. In most other countries they have a national popular vote. I believe we need that here in the US. In the just completed election, there were seven states that determined the outcome. The majority of candidate time and money was spent in those seven states. The national popular vote was approximately 61M vs 58M. At this point the electoral college breakdown is 303 to 206 (what IS it about Florida…they are still counting????). That just does not add up to me…if we had a national popular vote, I think everyone would take their vote more seriously and the candidates would be foreced to communicate to all 50 states.
Okay, that’s it…let me know your thoughts on what this election means. I’ll look forward to reading them!