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There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company and, more specifically, your job. As you know the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this - the economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job is the changing political landscape in this country.
Let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.
First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.
However, what you don't see is the back story.
I started this company 28 years ago. At that time I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.
My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times I stayed home on weekends while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.
Meanwhile my friends got jobs They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually some day I too would be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.
So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations.... you never realize the back story and the sacrifices I've made.
Second, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people who overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries for which I dedicated, earned, and sacrificed a decade of my life.
Yes, business ownership has is benefits, but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.
Unfortunately the cost of running this business and employing you is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:
I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what - I must pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates, regulations, and all the accounting that goes with it now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.
The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business or the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.
The fact is if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.
Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. If suddenly the government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes guess what - instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.
When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life do you? Or do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and has always been. To restart it you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.
So where am I going with all this?
It's quite simple.
If any new taxes are levied on me or my company my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you and I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay your mortgage note, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.
Then I will close this company down, move to another country and retire.
You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed and with it my citizenship.
So, if you lose your job it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about ....
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That, is the very truth if it all.
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"Out, damned spot! out, I say!"
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 5.1
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I posted a pic of his beautiful house on facebook and i was shocked to recieve catty remarks from people who called themselves my friend. People who would never get off their backsides and show the commitment he did for all those years.
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Let me try (maybe in vain) to lay out at least one other perspective here.
We all have hard starts, and tough times when things are first getting rolling. I left my parents home at the age of 18, to attend college that I paid for. No parent-authorized student loans (my parents went through bankruptcy when I was 17), and almost no financial help (about $3k in cash/gifts over 5 years). During my time at school, I lived in a crap-hole pad with 4-6 other people, just so we could make rent. I served tables 35 hours a week to pay for the college tuition not covered by private (read high-interest) student loans. Blah, blah, blah, right? I mean, really we all come from low points before we move up.
So, I graduated with a bachelors degree in CS, 50k in student loans, a 3k maxed-out credit card, and a $100 car. I was fortunate enough to find a job a few months after I left at a growing company. During my tenure there, I made the company millions of dollars. Yes me, personally, made the company millions in savings, up-sells, customer retention, and loss-mitigation. We all know that the CEO knows nothing about the technicals of how our backup system works and what to do in case of massive failure. Guess who does? Your lowly employees making $35k/year. Guess who solved hundreds of potential lawsuits by being creative and finding the right way around the problem?
Now, I give you credit for creating the business that employs me. Your foresight and leadership towards a common goal definitely drives the business forward. Your decisions also have a _much_ greater chance of creating or destroying millions of dollars worth of sales/reputation/whatever.
My big gripe is the pay differential. You make 50 times what I do. I pay taxes too. In fact, I would wager that after taxes, the ratio of what you make to what i make increases to 60x or more. This is where the unfairness comes in. I pay 28% of 35k to the government, leaving me with 25.2k in take-home pay. You pay 35% of 2000k to the gov, leaving you with 1300k in yearly income to spend on boats or roofing repairs or whatever. But wait, you have the money to pay accountants to find all the tax loopholes. In fact, you have someone on the payroll specifically to ensure you pay the least amount of taxes possible. I am guessing the 35% you pay in taxes is only on "income", and not based on the complex options dated specifically to grant the best tax breaks for you, or your "real value".
Now, I have worked for the company for 4 years, have no options, and have increased my wages to 60k/year in a middle-management position. I have a pre-owned car with no lien, a small condo with a reasonable mortgage (50k), and have done nothing to do with the financial collapse that has happened. I can pay my bills 3x over each month, have 6 months worth of savings, contribute the max I can to my 401(k), and am scared to death. What happens when things get tough, and taxes have to go up? You are going to fire me because your 1.3mil a year just isn't cutting it? Why is it so hard to remember that the success you have had as an employer isn't solely your doing?
Through these last 4 years, the company has grown, and you have continued to accrue money that you put in various investment vehicles to generate the most recurring income. At this point, you have enough money to stop working, close the company, and use the money you have hoarded to move to HI and live in modest luxury for the rest of your days. I have to continue to work, and move forward with my life.
Have you worked that much harder than I have over these past 4 years? I understand you have worked harder, and possible 3-4x as hard. Causing increased stress (handled by masseurs), a distant wife (handled by trophy-bagging), and kids that have been raised by their nanny (don't worry, they will have a silver parachute at least). However, to imply that over 4 years you have worked harder than I will work for the rest of my life is ignorant, self-centered, and just plain wrong.
Take your licks, and pay your taxes. You made the most during the good times, you surely should pay the most during the bad times. My federal tax break of ~1k is a drop in the bucket once things fall apart and hyper-inflation leads to $30 bread. Your tax hike of ~20k will not hurt that bad. One less maid for your opulent house? Maybe you will have to trade down your new caddy SUV for a pre-owned BMW 3-series or whatever. You won during the boom, now pay back a bit during the bust. Did you think that free money would rain from the sky forever just because your ideas were so ground-breaking? Check your ego, and get to work creating something worthwhile to society.
Your generic employee
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Think not of it so much as me firing you, but now with the experience you have gain, providing you with the opportunity to go out on your own, use your initiative, and start up your own enterprise so you too can achieve what it is that you believe that I have. Then you may also know the pleasure of not only worrying about a business, but also carrying the weight of the employees that now see me as an evil b@stard because I must make difficult decisions to save what is left of what I built.
Remember, I did not go into business so that I could hire people and provide employment; I went into business so that I could build a viable profitable business, hiring employees was only an outcome of ongoing success while it lasted.
Sorry that you begrudge me and judge my family where we once worked side by side as colleagues.
I wish you the best in your new business enterprise.
With both regards and regret,
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