Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nanny State

             Since when did hard work and “putting one’s nose to the grindstone” become evil? Of course, I’m referring to the recent objections voiced by the President regarding the industriousness of the American people. While speaking to a group of supporters a few days ago, Mr. Obama said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." What?

I can only conclude from such a remark that Mr. Obama is striking at the very core of our society in a shameless attempt to roil up the latent class warfare debate leading into the presidential election this November.

The following are some of my reflections on this topic:

1) I’m sick and tired of the incessant business-bashing that successful American entrepreneurs and industrialists are forced to endure. We would be in a sorry state of affairs had President John F. Kennedy taken a critical and condescending attitude toward businesses and industry when he challenged our best and brightest in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. We did accomplish that feat, but only because the government got out of the way and allowed enterprising Americans to go with their dreams.

2) When I got my first paying job at 15, I was thrilled to be working for a well established grocery company, S.S. Pierce Foods. This chain of stores began in a location on Boston Harbor in 1831. Had Mr. Samuel Stillman Pierce not been willing to take risks, there would never have been this successful business. I first worked in one of those stores in Wellesley, Massachusetts on Christmas of 1964. I stocked the shelves, swept and mopped floors, and tore up cardboard boxes, along with taking the trash to the bins behind the store. My point is: You don’t get a job working for unsuccessful people. You get a job because someone had an idea and they made it work. They took the risks and succeeded. That creates jobs!

3) Gifts and talents are distributed throughout the human race. Some folks are much more successful in such ventures for any number of reasons. But with very few exceptions successful business people plow their profits back into the business they have created. They should not be vilified and castigated for their successes. They should be applauded and encouraged to do even more.

While in seminary in the mid-70s, I entered into a business partnership with another seminary student during my second year that we called, The King’s Custodians, a commercial janitorial business. Kelland was married and already had two kids. Isaura and I were married just prior to beginning seminary. We each ponied up $100, plus Kelland’s dad loaned us $300. With this we bought some supplies and used equipment, plus we had all necessary printing done. We went several months before landing our first account. We worked hard, with our wives helping as well. After acquiring several accounts we began to hire other Bible College and Seminary students. When I graduated the following June we were employing 15 workers, and at the end of each month we paid our federal and state taxes, we paid our employees first, and then Kelland and I paid ourselves $3000/month. We routinely gave our employees bonuses (for performance mostly), but also to be a blessing as we had been blessed. We also helped a few of our employees start their own businesses as well. In the midst of this Isaura and I had Laura, our first child. When I moved back to California to take a church position, I sold out my half of the business to Kelland for $10,000. It was a great experience. Oh, we paid Kelland’s dad back, too.

So let me explain something at this point. The government did not clean those office buildings for us – we did! The government did not buy that equipment and supplies – we did! The government did not get those new accounts for us – we did!

In fact, this is what I want the government to do for me. 1) Protect our nation by providing a standing army, 2) Maintain roads and highways for easier means of transportation, 3) Establish a ruling body to create and implement laws that serve “we the people,” And 4) Make the environment right for trade and commerce. Beyond that, the government should stay out of the way and quit messing with “we the people.”

The Constitution of the United States actually provides a very short list of those things the federal government should do: borrow money, regulate commerce with foreign nations and between States, immigration, bankruptcy law, coin money, post offices, patents, punish piracy on the high seas, declare war, raise an army, and maintain a navy. And it was only allowed to collect taxes for executing these few powers. (John Pickerill, The Role of Federal Government, October 12, 2011)

All other government powers were to be placed in the hands of the State governments where they would then trickle down to the county, city, and local governments as appropriate and as needed. A big fear the Founding Fathers had was a central federal government that grew too big and too demanding; a federal government that would exercise bully-power over the States; and a federal government that began to take away the rights of the States and the individuals within those States.

I have been saying this for years: I do not need, nor want the government’s help. If I need a job, and I am both mentally and physically capable of performing the job, then I will go out and find a job. If I cannot find a job, then I will create one. You say, “But what about people who haven’t been able to do that?” Then you provide them with temporary assistance. The American people have never begrudged helping anyone who is strapped or in need. But that person who is down on their luck should never stay in that condition – and that’s what the federal government has created – people dependent on the government. We’ve become a “Nanny State.”

I’ll visit the problems inherent in out-of-control government in future articles.

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