Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Let’s face it, our political system is a mess. It’s full of a bunch of folks (on both sides) who cater to special interest groups and donors.

As I see it, there are two major solutions that would be simple, but would require massive public outcry to enact.

1) Term Limits for Congress: There are men and women in congress (on both sides of the isle), who have been their for their whole life. People who are disconnected with the reality of the private sector and non-public jobs which they are creating policy for. The house should be limited to a maximum of 4 terms or 8 years and the senate should be limited to a maximum of 2 terms or 12 years. Someone could be in the house and then the senate for over 20 years in this scenario, that doesn’t seem limited, until you look at McCain, Kerry, Lieberman, and others whom have served for for longer than I have been alive! (29+ years)

Having term limits would require those individuals to focus their time in office and not focus on just the next election cycle. If term limits are good enough for the President, they should be good enough for the congress.

2) Limited Contributions: Political campaigns are out of control with the amount of money they spend. It’s all about the Benjamin and it’s insanity (on both sides). We should get drastic with this and force politicians to operate their campaigns on limited budgets. Let’s limited personal and corporate contributions to $100. Force campaigners to really hit the streets with grass roots efforts and stop with the massive donations from special interest groups.

Clearly there is a lot more that can be done, but I think the combination of term limits and limited campaign contributions would go a LONG way towards changing the way our political system operates. Oh, and abolishing the current tax code, but that’s for another post.

Congress loves adding regulations to businesses, it’s time someone added some regulation for them.

The Reality of Hiring

There is a lot of talk abot jobs right now. Esspecially from politicians, many of whom have never created a job in their entire lives.

I am a small business owner. I hire people and companies to help our clients with websites, graphic design, and many other services. I hire people down the street and half way around the world.

Here is a dirty little secret in business… It is significantly easier to hire someone OUTSIDE the United States than it is half way around the world. It’s also significantly more expensive. I’m not talking about a persons actual wage or salary but all of the government and legalities involved.

There are MANY reasons that jobs are struggling right now, but one of the major reasons is government involvement and regulation. The best thing that government can do for business (and as a result labor and jobs) is to get out of the business of business. All you have to do is look at the recent Dodd/Frank act and what it’s new regulations mean to the “evil” big businesses like Bank of America. They recently announced that they will likely be letting go 30,0000 employees due new regulations (Great article in the Wall Street Journal about it today).

When I hire a staff locally, I need an I-9, W-4, direct deposit paperwork, background check, new hire forms, unemployment insrance forms, and other legal paperwork. I also need to be concerned about the additonal cost of payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, and the fact that if I need to let them go, I need all sorts of paperwork and information to prevent being penalized by future unemployment claims. At the end of the year I need to deal with W2s and all kinds of other legal paperwork to make sure I am in compliance with the law. All of this taxes away from what I could actually pay someone and takes away from me actually working the business (and creating more jobs).

When I hire staff abroad, all I need is a PayPal account email address.

The problem with government is that so many of them would look at this situation and argue that it needs to be more difficult to hire abroad to make it fair. The reality of it is that we need to make it easier to hire here and promote the benefits of working locally.

Our business works with clients all over the world and it makes sense for us to have staff all over in many cases, but I WANT to hire local as much as possible (especially in “this economy”). The instability and regulation of government make that a more daunting process than it should be.

Now, please excuss me, I have an interview with a potential new employee. You see, while everyone in the public sector is busy talking about jobs, some of us in the private sector are working as hard as we can to actually create jobs.

10 years ago.

This weekend, while watching 9/11 coverage, my six year old Hayden asked me what I was watching. Time seemed to freeze when he asked me that. It was as somber of a moment as I can remember.

It was the first time I realized that it all happened 4 years before he was born, 2 years before I was married. To him 9/11 was just another day. I told him the story of men who flew planes into buildings to kill Americans. He said what many of us have said: “why in the world would anyone want to do that?” To that I told him, “because there is evil in the world.”

I also told him about brave Americans who risked their lives to save others. Men and women who ran into burning buildings while everyone else was running out. Men and woman who fought with their lives to bring down their own airplane to save others.

I remember 10 years ago this morning. I sat in the hall way at Florida Community College in Jacksonville with my then girlfriend, now wife, waiting for our classes to start. A few minutes before class, someone walked in and said that a plane had hit a one of the World Trade Center towers. Everyone thought: “wow, what a horrible accident.”

Claire went to her dance class and I went into my humanities class. After being in class a few minutes, someone came in late and said “another plane hit the other tower.” Everyone thought they must have been mistaken, how could two planes have the same accident? Shortly after, an all school announcement was made that classes were dismissed and everyone was instructed to go home.

No one really knew what was going on at this point. Claire’s class had a TV but the signal was not coming in clear. When we got back to the car, we turned on the radio (690AM WOKV) and started to hear the coverage. Two planes had in fact his each of the towers and it was believed at this point that we were under attack. We sat in the parking lot, waiting for traffic to clear and didn’t know what to think or what to feel. I remember the radio announcer saying: “It is now believed, that America is under attack.” A chill went down my spine.

We left school and headed to my mom’s house and the next thing I remember is turning on the TV and seeing the first tower begin to fall. We just stood speechless and watched. There were no words for the images on the screen. Like something out of a movie, and “independence day” like scene, except it was real.

I remember saying a lot of prayers that day and trying to put faith in the fact that even in these unbelievable times, God is in control.

In the days and weeks to come, the thing I remember most vividly was the attitude in the country. It was no longer left versus right, white versus black, gay or straight, north or south. We were just Americans and we were united.

Yes, let us never forget that there is evil in the world. Let us never forget that war was brought to us in a brutal way. But also let us never forget the spirit of America. Let us remember that we will accomplish much more together than we will divided.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

America’s New Civil War

We are a nation divided. We may not be standing on hills and shooting at each other with bullets, but we are with words. The political environment is so polarized that nothing productive can be done (on either side).

Almost half of our country believes in big government solutions and the other half in limited government solutions. One side believes in taxing the rich to pay for the poor and the other side believes in individual liberty. One side believes in unions and the other in private enterprise. Where is the compromise on these issues? How do you reconcile these ideas?

It seems we are in a deadlock where both sides are just banging their heads against the wall. Will one side eventually crumble and given or will one side eventually convence enough people that will give them the majority?

This political, ideological civil war could be the great undoing of our nation.

Ultimately, we probably all (left & right) need to do a little more listening and a little less talking. Understand the other side, try to share our own beliefs in a reasonable fashion and make progress where there is common ground.

The question remains however… what about the areas (big areas), where there really is no common ground? What then?