Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Start Small and Grow

       This is one of the subjects I address in the chapter “Myths About Starting a Business” of my book Business Fits. 
The opportunity to start a small business and grow into a large business might have been viable at one time.  There are always exceptions, but this is basically a thing of the past today. 
A quick look at any downtown business district will verify the changes in retail business.  Franchises and chains are replacing the small independent business owner.  We see all kinds of small businesses closing as chains and franchises take over specific industries.
Today’s consumer demands the selection, price, and attractive image that the chains and franchises offer.  Franchisors have learned this and that’s why they have a minimum investment for new franchisees to market effectively and attract customers.
The opportunity to start small and grow is not realistic for a variety of reasons. The small start-up usually does not have the resources to expand.  The owner often works in the business so they don’t have time to run the business.  Because the owner works in the business, they also don’t have the time or sometimes the talent to develop a good working business system. 
Don’t make the mistake of thinking a fast increase in sales will generate enough profits to finance the growth.  Rapid growth of a business may actually put a company out of business.   I give an example in Business Fits of when I bought a Ford-Mercury dealership and tripled sales in ninety days.
There are still exceptions for specific industries, like the dot-com business of a few years ago.  Just remember, any success story you hear is the exception rather than the rule.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crime & Punishment

        The last time I was in Las Vegas, there had been a gang shootout in one of the main intersections on the strip.  Not good for tourism.  Is there a problem with law enforcement?
        On a previous trip to Las Vegas, I was talking to a cab driver that was a life-long resident.  He said he was about ready to retire and he was leaving Las Vegas because of the street crime.  He felt Las Vegas was a safer city when it was run by the mob.  He said there was no street crime then.  
        This sounds a little crazy until we think about it.  The mob ran the casinos and wanted to keep the city safe to attract gamblers.  When the mob ran Las Vegas, there was no street crime because punishment was swift and severe.  Maybe we can learn something from this.  I know I liked Las Vegas a lot better in the early 1970’s than now.  Maybe I was just young and more impressionable then.
        Our legal system today is certainly not swift and severe.  I would recommend you spend some time as a spectator in our courts today.  I have and it is quite enlightening.  I saw repeat offenders asking for bail when they had one or two prior offenses that had not been tried or plead out yet.  I understand why young offenders have no respect for the justice system. 
       Sometimes felony cases are delayed for years before they actually come to trial.  This is ridiculous.  Major Hasan committed a terrorist act at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009.  He was convicted of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder and was finally sentenced to death almost four years later on August 28, 2013.  That sentence still has not been carried out.  Our federal administration called it a work-place incident until recently.  There was no swift punishment. 
       Our courts and prosecutors are swamped with a backlog of cases and paperwork because of this lack of swift and severe punishment.  I understand the accused have rights too, but we have to clean up this mess.  I agree with rehabilitation, but if all it does in promote future offenses, maybe punishment is a better deterrent. 
       When we consider crimes committed by our political elite, the picture is even more depressing.  Politicians and bureaucrats do not have any fear of punishment.  They just cover up the incident until it is forgotten.  Prompt punishment is not even a possibility.  It takes years to even obtain the facts to start proceedings.  In most cases, the offender will be retired and forgotten before any charges are brought. 
        Partisan politicians from both parties feel pursuing old offenses of politicians and bureaucrats that are no longer in office is not good for their image, so they tend to drop the investigation.  Our Department of Justice has become so political that it is a joke.  If someone is actually convicted, the sentence is minimal.  If a bureaucrat is good at keeping his or her mouth shut and maintaining the cover-up, a pardon is always a possibility on a President or Governor’s last day in office. 
        We should let the mob run Washington DC for a while.  A few politicians and bureaucrats might go missing in the desert.  Just joking, but the mob did the job in Las Vegas. 
 We must make changes in our criminal justice system to insure prompt justice that will deter crime at all levels of our society.  If we don’t, street crime will continue to increase and our cities will continue to decline. 
        Vigilante justice is another result of a slow and ineffective court system.  I don’t think most of us want that.  The fact that people don’t feel safe is part of the reason for the increase in handgun sales for personal protection. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Operation Choke Point

      Operation Choke Point is the type of thing that we want to believe can never happen in this great republic, but it is happening.  It is just one more example of our out-of-control federal government operating illegally and taking away our rights. 
In 2013 the US Department of Justice initiated a program called Operation Choke Point.  The stated objective is to investigate banks doing business with companies like payment processors and payday loan companies for money laundering.  This sounds innocent enough as the Department of Justice should always be on the alert for any criminal money laundering operations.
        Operation Choke Point does not have the authority of law passed by Congress.  It is once again the brainchild of the administrative branch of our government and implemented by appointed government bureaucrats.
        Operation Choke Point gives government bureaucrats the authority to threaten banks with audits based on the bureaucrats opinionated perception of specific industries.  This power has been expanded beyond payment processors.  It has also been applied to manufacturers and sellers of guns and ammunition.  The liberal left cannot get Congress to take away our Second Amendment rights, so maybe they can take them away in an indirect way. 
Any industry that the current administration does not like can be targeted through banks.  The coal industry is an excellent example.  They are targeted because the Obama administration does not like the potential for carbon emissions from the industry.  He can’t sell Congress the idea of man-made emissions causing global warming so he uses a back door. Regardless of how someone feels about coal as a fuel, I don’t see how anyone can condone this abuse of power.
        The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has designated the following industries as high-risk: Ammunition Sales, Cable Box De-scramblers, Coin Dealers, Credit Card Schemes, Credit Repair Services, Dating Services, Debt Consolidation Scams, Drug Paraphernalia, Escort Services, Firearm Sales, Fireworks Sales, Get Rich Products, Government Grants, Home-Based Charities, Life-time Guarantees, Life-time memberships, Lottery Sales, Mailing Lists/Personal Info, Money Transfer Networks, On-line Gambling, Payday Loans, Pharmaceutical Sales, Ponzi Schemes, Pornography, Pyramid-type Sales, Racist Materials, Surveillance Equipment, Telemarketing, Travel Clubs, and Travel Clubs. 
        I may not do business with or even like all of these industries, but they have a right to exist if they are not breaking the law.  Cutting off banking rights for these industries will force them to be a cash only business.  This presents the opportunity to avoid taxes and makes the business much more attractive to the criminal element.  I don’t think we should create any new opportunities for the criminal community.  How did prohibition work out?
In my book Business Fits, I warn people about getting involved with some of these industries, but federal bureaucrat don’t have the right to deny them banking privileges.  At least we can be confident this abuse of power won’t be used for political purposes, or will it?  What was the deal with the IRS and conservative groups?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

People Hear What They Lisen For

        Barron Spotlighters Community Theater recently gave a performance of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.  The setting is Maycomb, Alabama in 1935.  The play dramatizes the racial inequalities of the time.  A black man is tried and convicted for the rape of a white woman. The black man is not only innocent, but there has been no sexual involvement with his accuser. 
        The black minister states that he has never seen a jury rule for a black man.  Deep South at that time was referred to as the Bible belt.  It also was the heart of the Democratic Party.  
        I played the role of Judge Taylor.  I had one line that seems to be as true today as it was when Harper Lee wrote it.  “People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.”  This is how the jury could convict an innocent black man.  It is also true of politics today. 
Republicans hear what supports their agenda.  Democrats hear what supports their agenda.  Conservatives hear what supports their views, and liberals hear what supports their views.  The media reports the events that support their agenda. 
If something fits a specific agenda, few people seem to care if it is true.  They don’t like to let facts get in the way.  Senator Harry Reid twice stood on the floor of the Senate and stated that presidential candidate Mitt Romney had not paid his taxes.  Reid knew it was a lie at the time, but because he made the statement on the Senate floor, he is protected from any criminal or civil suits.  This is not right.  I think he should be subject to perjury charges at the very least.  When Reid was recently asked if he regretted the lie, he responded, “He lost didn’t he?”  The lie supported Reid’s agenda.
Sarah Palin has often been quoted as saying; “I can see Russia from my porch.”  This was actually a Tina Fey line from a Saturday Night Live skit.  People that did not support Palin as a politician loved to use the line.  They did not like to let the truth get in the way. 
The problem is that finding the truth and exposing lies takes a lot of work and time.  Most people don’t have the time or interest.  This should be the job of the media, but they clearly are not doing the job.  I spent over two years trying to find one piece of documented evidence that had not been refuted showing man-made carbon emissions were causing global warming.  I was unsuccessful, but people still use the B.S. claim that 97% of all scientists agree that man-made carbon emissions are causing global warming.   
Some of these flagrant lies, promoted for political reasons, would be funny except for a large uninformed, gullible, and apathetic public that believe them.  Sometimes when I watch political ads for Progresives, they sound so conservative that I would vote for them if I didn’t know better.  If their liberal ideas are so good, why do they try to sound like conservatives?  I know the answer.  They know their faithful followers will vote for them regardless.  They now try to deceive enough uninformed independents in order to get elected. 
How do we get politicians to be truthful and how do we get the media to actually report the facts?  I wish I had some easy answers.  All we can do is keep spreading the word to get better elected representatives, and support news sources that report the facts accurately.  We must somehow remove the political elite from power.