A Letter to Senator Obama
Dear Senator Obama:
I once heard all great living commences with a person’s quiet realization he or she will not play the coward’s role. This phrase from a 1988 Methodist church sermon changed my life.
It compelled me to start a business in1992. That business has become a wonderfully successful
enterprise, now employing 235 great people in our Dallas headquarters and indirectly responsible
for the employment of at least 2,500 more across the nation.
It all began with one solitary person who had nothing, and a single idea which by itself had no weight. But together, both had immeasurable power.
Hearing those words about not playing the coward’s role, I recognized I could never deny the mysterious and powerful force of grace calling me to courage and action. That powerful transformational call moved me to do what is right and great in America.
I knew if I denied this powerful force, I would be miserable with regret for the rest of my life. The regret of not living a life to its fullest is a form of death.
Since the founding of my company, I have never again felt those same intense forces - until now. I again have the undeniable urge to do what is essential and what is important, at the expense of all else. If I fight to suppress the overwhelming need to write this letter, I will be forever out of integrity. I know I would again assuredly and miserably perish.
I promise this is a totally authentic and non-ghostwritten letter. The grammatical mistakes and misspellings testify to my intention of communicating ideas rather than eloquence. After two days, I am too exhausted to re-read and proof it again.
Senator Obama, before you decrease my livelihood, compromise and possibly destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of very successful working-class small business owners who are my friends and clients, before you destroy the jobs of the middle class who you say you are trying to help, and before you destroy the aspirations of young Americans who aspire to be successful, please read this letter in its entirety.
I would appreciate a direct and complete personal response. This letter is far more important than any policy paper your campaign advisors have ever given you. I advise you sit down to read it because of its 9323 words, 20-pages, and the numerous serious questions it poses.
I am just one man in solitude choosing those private thoughts to enjoy and those to challenge. My country’s promise of free speech is my best means of preserving all the other promises made to me and my ability to make and keep promises to those I love.
Your ascension to power from obscurity has come by three means: (1) refined oratory skills, (2) pandering to the middle class with arguments based totally on emotion, and (3) demonizing a very important element of society -- successful working class business owners, the rich and those aspiring “to be” rich, who do not openly defend themselves because they have been falsely taught to feel guilty about their noble values and conservatism. They should not now or ever bear any guilt.
Your approach to obtaining power is not new. Each time it has happened in history the outcome has been destructive and tragic to its nation. I hope this time is different. I have my doubts.
Pandering to one group while demonizing another is the way to create a socialist state. But socialism cannot be sustained if grace is present.
I ask: how great a nation will grace enable America to be? I know beyond any doubt this is profoundly the most important question of our time.
I also ask: How would your presidency and your policies honor a liberating grace?
These are a few of the questions which must be answered and I do not think you can honestly answer them fully and truthfully, so I will do so for you.
To suspend your suspicions about me and this letter, I assure you I am not a right wing lunatic or a religious extremist. Unapologetically though, my faith will be part of this discussion.
I am a registered Republican who contributes to some of its committees, to some of its political candidates and to a few organizations with conservative and patriotic causes. I am not an agent of any of them.
I also assure you there is not a racist bone in my body and there never has been. I am totally color blind. I am not blind, however, to your very dangerous economic policies.
Finally, on these introductory points, despite my cool last name, I am not the Dark Knight, nor a wealthy Bruce Wayne. I am just an ordinary guy deeply concerned about his country.
SPIRIT OF JOE THE PLUMBER
You said in your response to Joe the plumber’s well publicized inquiry about how your tax policies would affect him, “I don’t want to punish you with higher taxes. I just want to spread the wealth around.” This says everything anyone needs to know about you.
What you said is dangerous to the nation. You should see by the power of my liberated mind and the minds of millions of other working class business owners, create wealth and already spread it significantly around to others.
I am a working class business owner, dedicated to a life lived completely by faith, hard work, gratitude, personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, living well within my means (especially when I had little) and most importantly -- the virtue of honoring promises. My values have been the foundation to a joyful and fulfilling life.
I am a former lower middle class farm kid now living the American dream, through grace.
I have never for one moment felt entitled to the productivity and prosperity of others, nor have I ever asked or made others sacrifice their happiness for mine.
I believe the extreme leftist wing of the Democrat Party which you lead will destroy some very important elements of our economy - notably the working class business owners like me and the millions of small closely-held businesses which are the nation’s lifeblood.
The policy agenda you share with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid contain elements that are the outright enemies of democratically-free economies.
I am the kindred spirit of Joe the plumber. I know his mind and he knows mine, though we have never met.
I am the spirited mind of 600 independently-owned businesses affiliated with ours and imbued with a common DNA to build, create and serve others. These are independent CPA firms and financial planning businesses, founded and owned by energetic working class business owners, to which my company provides essential and valuable services.
I am also the spirited mind of Tom, a successful physician burdened with a large administrative staff needed just to handle the bureaucracy of Medicare and health insurance claims.
I am the spirited mind of Steve, the co-founder and owner of a very successful chain of local delicatessens employing hundreds of employees.
I am the spirited mind of Ray, the founder and owner of a local successful aviation maintenance business and flight school.
I am the spirited mind of Carl, the founder of an extraordinary automobile dealership who takes care of his employees and his customers.
I am the spirited mind of another Karl who started and founded an excellent lawn and landscaping services company that employs about fifty year-round employees.
I am the spirited mind of Don, the owner and founder of a car valet service employing hundreds of part-time workers.
I am the spirited mind of Larry, the founder and owner of several local small gyms, who employs many hardworking people.
I am the spirited mind of Tony, the owner of a small car service with at least a dozen hardworking drivers.
I am the spirited mind of Newt, the co-founder of a law firm with at least ten lawyers plus support staff on his team.
I am the spirited mind of Pete, the founder and manager of a specialized high technology service company employing scores of dedicated workers essential to my own organization.
I am the spirited mind of Henry, who founded and runs a successful trucking business employing many drivers.
I am the spirited mind of Tim who co-owns a successful roofing business employing many hardworking seasonal and long-term employees.
I am the spirited mind of Arlen who has a family farm, employing many farmhands.
In essence, I am the spirited mind of the 5 million small businesses in America with fewer than 100 employees that provide jobs to over 42 million people. Each of them is a model for owners and employees dreaming and working hard and with pride toward self-sufficiency. Each of these successful businesses is the wellspring of productive energy of the nation, yet they are the very ones demonized by your tax policies and rhetoric, putting them and their employees at risk.
Both Joe, the plumber who aspires to own his own business soon, and I are weapons of mass jobs creation, bonafide WMJCs, and very proud of our substantial contributions to the prosperity of America. Society is far better off because of our tireless efforts.
Like the millions of Joe the plumbers in this country, love for America is a source of my energy. My patriotism and gratitude are never adequate to fully honor our founders’ values and ideals which have liberated our minds to pursue our own dignified happiness.
I have a life I do not deserve. Thus, I know the essence of “grace.” But please, do not rob me of this undeserved life until you fully understand how this life and lives like it come into being.
The enemies of democratically-free economies have now, under the cover of populist sentiment slipped in during the night. These enemies callously demonize and threaten the very engine of our economic prosperity for their own political ambitions. They do this hoping that we, the powerless business underclass, will not speak up to defend ourselves because of some guilt we are made to carry. Well, we are not guilty, we are speaking, and we are enraged.
On October 3, 2008, the government enacted a $700 billion response to a huge collective moral crisis, the culmination of millions of personal moral failures, with the partial nationalization of our banking system. Add to that your election promises to confiscate and redistribute my money and the fruits of my hard labor against my will through radical tax policies, and America is rapidly becoming a socialist order. History will say you finished the job of creating this new socialist experiment.
Your liberal rhetoric filled with indictments of working class business owners of “being unpatriotic if we do not spread the wealth around more”, and “greedy capitalists” is abhorrent to me. You would compel our benevolence through a reframing of our minds so that we feel guilt and shame for our hard work and our successes.
Let me tell you, Senator Obama, there is no better show of compassion for humankind than starting a business and making it prosper. You don’t seem to appreciate how hard this is to do having never attempted it yourself.
In these dangerous times, Americans not so much need to be enlightened as to be reminded as to our fate under your destructive tax policies.
Like a nightmarish slow motion fall off a cliff, it is surreal to see the unthinkable happening. But, this is no nightmare. For small business owners, it is becoming our new reality unless we vigorously awaken from our shock and our stupor.
Awaken we must. Awaken we will.
YOUR 95% DECEPTION
I am a CPA and do not have to think very hard to see your personal income tax plan is a prime example of your duplicitous pandering.
The effective total tax rate on my income in 2007 was an incredibly high 31%. This includes federal income tax, payroll tax, and Medicare tax. My earnings are almost entirely from productive work with only negligible amounts from passive income from savings and investments.
You read that correctly. About one-third of the income I earn from my hard productive work is confiscated by the federal government. I gather from your rhetoric you still don’t think 31% of my income is enough to take from me.
This entrenched progressive confiscation of the fruits of my increasingly productive activities is wrong. I do not consume any more of the nation’s infrastructure, nor any more of its defense capabilities, nor any more of its judicial system than the masses of Americans who pay no taxes whatsoever.
I have calculated that through your proposal my total tax bill will soon be an astonishing 42% of my productive work. You plan to tax the entirety of my productive earnings for Social Security even though I wish never to be part of Social Security. You want to redistribute my tax proceeds to less productive non-taxpayers.
Where is the fairness in this?
Dating back to the earliest civilizations, none has ever taxed its way to prosperity.
You know the data behind your deception, but let me go over the facts with you anyway.
The top 1% of income earners in America, a category in which I proudly fall, generate 20% of the nation’s income, and yet, pay an astonishing 40% of the federal taxes. (By the way, this is significantly up over the past eight years from 35%!)
The top 5% of income earners generate 40% of the nation’s income and pay 60% of its taxes.
The most destructive part of this equation is that the bottom 40% of income earners in the nation pay no taxes whatsoever.
You may think the high income earners are ripping off the nation. This is just not true. They have become the high income earners because they are the nation’s most productive segment and have borne economic and social risks to build successful businesses.
Your promise to 95% of Americans that they will receive a tax break is an outright deception and appalling. How can the 40% who pay no taxes receive a tax break? Under the guise of innovative tax policy, you are masterfully creating a new welfare entitlement system.
I like to work hard, very hard. I like to make money and I want to make more of it. I want to spend my money where I want to spend it and give it to the charities I like.
If you progressively confiscate my productive earnings, I will work far less hard. I will stop spending my money where others can benefit. This negative behavioral response to extreme progressive tax policies like yours has held true in all countries at all times throughout history!
Who ultimately will suffer from my choice to reduce my earnings, my spending, and my savings? The charities I give benevolently to, especially my church. The local businesses that work hard to serve our company’s needs. The banks that need my deposits to lend to its customers. And especially, the middle class you are trying to help. The unintended consequences of your policies are many.
In other words, whatever you tax, you get less of; whatever you subsidize, you get more of.
Senator Obama, your tax plan is a roadblock to your own objectives, to put more discretionary money in the pockets of middle class wage earners.
You will not help the middle class by penalizing the wealthy, especially working class business owners. This is so because wages for all people, including the middle class, can only rise when the total amount of capital increases. Simply put, without capital there are no wages. Ask any of your economic advisors from the University of Chicago.
I’ll suspend my emotional angle for a moment and speak to policy. Your proposed middle income tax cuts are larger than your proposed increases for families earning over $250,000. That math does not work. A 10% tax cut, not a tax increase, on incomes of over $250,000 frees up far more capital than a tax cut on income of $50,000. Your logic has it all backwards.
That is why it is so essential to keep the rate of taxation on high productive earners, especially the jobs-creating working class business owners and their businesses, as low as possible, perhaps the lowest rate of all. It is not open to question that despite historic reductions on top tax rates top earners foot a much greater portion of the tax bill. More importantly, middle class incomes went up as well.
You know this data. In the last eight years, the tax burden, by virtue of lower tax rates, has increasingly shifted to the high earners, to 40% from 35% for the top 1% of earners, those who account for 20% of the nation’s income. It’s not magic.
The single best way to increase middle class incomes is to reduce the success penalty on the most productive people in America, the working class business owners and their businesses.
Americans should not be fooled when you say you will help the poor and middle class by taxing the rich. It is pandering. If you actually believe your policies, then you are committed to reducing the earnings of those not yet rich.
You should consider the blessings America receives from the vital few who start businesses. Tomorrow’s yet-to-be-seen large successful monster corporations are currently small, maybe even barely incubated dreams of a few guys and gals, a card table and a couple of folding chairs in someone’s garage.
It is deceptive for you to say that small businesses will enjoy lower taxes under your plan. The reality is that because of the structure of sole proprietorships, s corporations, and partnerships, a significant number of small businesses pay individual rates of taxation on profits. So the reality is that an increase in top rates like you propose will actually harm a significant number of the small businesses you say you wish to wish to help. Astonishing!
Worse, when you betray your alleged “like for small business” with proposals of higher taxes on them, you show a blatant ignorance of how hard it is to start and grow a business. We hear the stories of successful startup companies in America like the one I started. What is unnoticed in America are the millions of small businesses that did not make it. I know personally about these. With many businesses reliant on the smallest of earnings margins to stay in operation, higher rates of taxation could constitute the difference between success and failure.
Your politics of envy is the essence of your pandering. The late Warren Brookes once noted that envy “is the single most impoverishing attitude of thought.” Of the seven deadly sins or immoral vices: envy, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, and pride, it is only envy that does not make one feel better.
Increased taxes on the so-called “rich” – high income earners - and their businesses will affect the incomes of those who strive to move up from lower and middle classes to become high income earners!
WORKING CLASS BUSINESS OWNERS.
Like every human soul I now know and those I will never meet, I believe we have one common universal aspiration. We all seek joy, significance and meaning in our lives. All else is superfluous. Our happiness is attained by the honoring of our highest values and achieving the fruits those values can bear. Values like honoring one’s promises, hard work, merited struggle, curiosity, and the mandate we use our minds and our passions to their highest potential, are the road to happiness. The fruits these honored values bear are self-worth, meaningful friendships, and yes, financial security.
There are millions of us working class business owners in America. We do not draw attention to ourselves. We silently, tirelessly, and courageously do magic for the nation. Today, we are all terrified.
Please do not refer to us as “entrepreneurs” because the term is demeaning and offensive. It does not dignify us enough for what we do. We working class business owners perform entrepreneurial miracles. Entrepreneurship is only a small part of our genius. We make the magic look easy, but it is not. Our businesses are our lives. Our businesses are our artistry. For us, they are not some get-rich-quick scheme to flip to an unsuspecting buyer. We work and live in our businesses every day of our lives, 24-7.
We, the working class business owners have no political power in America; yet, we are the inspirational, creative, risk-taking, jobs creating, and economic engine of the nation. Some even call us America’s lifeblood. All we can rely upon is a truth about the world, about human nature which is self-evident, a truth which cannot be debated. I pray it is a power which uplifts our patriotic majority.
We, the working class business owners, understand the sentiments and the motivations of the elite liberal class far more than you. This fact should be a great source of anxiety to you because the source of our personal power and our motivations is infinitely stronger than yours could be.
We do not pander or demonize people.
As personally responsible motivated working-class business owners, we have the grounding and the motivation to ethically and legally overcome every political obstacle thrown at us, to overcome every economic catastrophe the government causes, like obscenely high personal and corporate taxes, because we have a love of life most people cannot fathom.
My business began as a powerful life-changing idea and it must withstand the onslaughts of billions of destructive tendencies in all people and all organizations. The biggest threat to small business is the force of the federal government.
I have experienced the wrath of big government impacting our own business. Since Enron, the financial services industry has become so overregulated that the onerous administrative and regulatory costs have caused us and most of our competitors to change the way we do business. Forced to raise prices to cover regulatory compliance costs, we have severely curtailed our services to average Americans, the middle class, the very families who now desperately need us and our 600 affiliated professional businesses. Instead of helping the mainstream of America, we now restrict our professional services to the more affluent tier of Americans. What a shame.
Working class business owners are not to be confused with the leisure class. The overwhelming source of our income is from our active work in our companies, the wages and income for which we work very hard. We are often confused with the leisure class with whom I have no problem and I respect. Their primary source of income is not from productive work, but from passive income their investments generate and from their store of wealth derived from once being working class business owners. I say good for them. No, it is the horrific tax policies on the earnings from work, the fruits of one’s labor, that portend terror for our businesses, our employees and our lives.
Our terror stems from political pandering to hard-working middle class Americans through promises of unearned entitlements, risk-free home ownership, universal health care, and income redistribution, while simultaneously demonizing the most economically productive people the country needs.
Pandering in politics is defined in Wikipedia as the “portrayal of one’s views to fit in line with a certain crowd of voters the candidate is attempting to impress, when often, these are not the candidates true beliefs.” Apparently pandering by politicians is a legal license to lie. You have elevated it to an art form.
Your pandering is transparent. It attempts to gain the favor of all those who will keep the powerful in power or to replace those in power. It is very transparent. In so doing, all citizens eventually suffer. Abuses of the law of man ensure that our liberties, our freedoms, our right to justice, our right to private property and our right to pursue happiness will most assuredly disappear.
Moreover, you do not seem to understand human nature. You are willing to say only enough to get elected. You are not willing to expend any political capital to solve any real problems like social security and Medicare entitlements that lapse outside your next election cycle except by raising the taxes on the high earners, including working class business owners. We see this deception; do not act as though we do not understand it.
It is like going to a play. We the audience know the actors are acting and we forget they are acting sometimes. The actors know we know they are acting, but for a moment they wish the audience did not know. Stop the pandering and get honest with the American people.
MY PERSONAL STORY
Since you have written two memoirs before ever accomplishing anything of significance in your life, I can, with much humility tell you a little about me. It may help you understand.
Like the millions of working class men and women, my story is very ordinary.
I came from a family of lower middle class income and social values. I was a Catholic altar boy all the way through high school, with divorced parents, three younger brothers, one of whom is disabled, and a father who occasionally drank too much. All of these attributes are pretty standard American experiences that ultimately present a very strong foundation for big dreams and incredible success.
Like most of the so-called millionaire households in America where 70% are first generation wealth, mine is the fruit of very hard work, not the blessings of inheritance. Born from an enterprising mind, not from any family wealth. There was none available.
I bootstrapped my way through life to financial independence and happiness because those were the values I aspired to. I believed totally in the promises America made to me and to all its citizens.
My motivations were many. I could never tolerate the thought of being an economic burden to the government, society, or to my family. Self-sufficiency is a virtue. I grew up in a nation which promised that someone like me could commit himself totally and attain total self-sufficiency. I never ever once conceived someone or some government agency owed me a head start. I committed myself to live by unconflicted values and attain higher levels of joy, significance and meaning.
I am a product of public schools, local community college, and state university. I am only marginally educated beyond my intelligence. I was taught to think rigorously.
No job was ever beneath my dignity. I did farm work, drove a tractor to plow fields, operated a combine to harvest summer wheat, cut and stacked hay, navigated a Sunday morning newspaper route, was a fry cook at Kentucky Fried Chicken, cutter in a beef packing plant, roughneck on a drilling rig, night clerk at a liquor store, a bouncer at a discotheque, and I even trapped and killed gophers on a golf course. Yep, I was the original Carl Spackler in “Caddyshack.”
My parents never financially helped me because they could not, despite their desires to do so. They did the best they could in life and they would not have ever considered asking for a handout from anybody. I would never change one thing about my upbringing.
I have never asked for or received government assistance. It never even crossed my mind. I know a lot about struggle: the only path to joy, significance and meaning.
Even though I am successful and supposedly “have money,” I still retain my middle class values and teach them consistently to my children.
I have continuously prepared my mind for life’s fascinating intersections with chance and opportunity. I know personally the power of divine inspiration. I know the possibilities the human mind can create. I know by changing my thinking I have changed my destiny.
MY BUSINESS, MY LIFE
My wife and I started our company in 1992 with an $88,000 investment from our savings, a few untapped credit cards, a month-to-month rental on an executive suite, no customers and no employees. All we had was a dream, the willingness to work very hard and to honor the promises we made to people.
We lived frugally and saved money which allowed us to have options and choices in life like starting a business. For the first thirteen years of marriage, we lived in a 1,200 square foot home with our two young sons with mortgage payments of only $650/month. Frugality ruled the day and it still rules.
For two years after the start of the business, I drew less than a $30,000 salary, living mostly on additional savings. For the ensuing five years, I drew a salary substantially below my market value just to make the business work. This is the price a working class business owner pays for happiness.
Sixteen years later, we have a national payroll of over $125 million and the pride we feel is for the creation of so many good jobs and the opportunity to serve those we love.
A life centered on high and unchanging values is central to the life of a working class business owner. For me, the virtue of personal responsibility is so important that I will not even give a permanent job to my sons. They cannot even apply for a job at my company. They are not entitled to one from me. I love them and I only owe them a good education and an education in those life values essential to their personal joy, significance and meaning. They will be better and happier men for it.
Senator Obama, business and commerce together have solved far more of society’s problems than government ever has. Why don’t you see this?
The purpose of business is to make people’s lives better. Period. When this aim is the focus of the organization, ample profits and incredible economic value accrue to the owners, managers, employees and vendors to share.
Those businesses which make people’s lives better thrive and produce greater economic value to spread to owners, managers, employees, and vendors. Those vendors produce even more economic value to their owners, managers, employees, and other vendors. You see, productive success is contagious unless tax and regulatory policies like yours intercede and then the whole system crashes.
Government is a necessary, yet fundamentally ineffective element of society which has the power to make and to enforce laws. Yet it sabotages people’s lives. It does not make them better.
The sole purpose of government should be merely to defend the nation’s borders, protect its citizens from thugs on the street, and to assure private property is protected from the government and all others who would confiscate it.
As Ronald Reagan so aptly put, “we are a nation with a government, not the other way around.” America is a concept, a set of incorruptible values its citizens and its government must honor: justice, liberty, freedom, personal responsibility, and the pursuit of happiness. This does not include the guarantee of happiness.
Our loyalties can be directed only in one of three ways: to individuals, to institutions, or to our values. History proves loyalty to persons (especially aspiring presidential candidates) and to institutions (like the federal government) always, inevitably, disappoints because they are, at their core, self-serving. It is in their nature, and in the nature of their system to fail us.
One cannot and should not be patriotic or loyal to any government or person which distorts these values. We can only be patriotic and loyal to the values themselves.
Values will not fail us. They live strong and forever in our minds, unblemished, never corrupted, never corruptible.
Like artists, working class business owners gain the joy of work done extraordinarily well, the stress of it being in progress and unfinished, and the knowledge it will be done even better the next time. We never attain perfection. This is our struggle. In our mind’s eye we absolutely know what perfection looks like. This vision is the source of our power.
One of my objectives as a business owner is to educate and motivate our great employees to someday start their own businesses if they so dream for this is one path to ultimate happiness. Your confiscatory tax policies may eviscerate a major reason to ever strive -- the hope for real financial independence.
Those values that define the best in business character should be made manifest and expressed ever more in government. These values being: honoring of promises, fiscal discipline, honesty and transparency. You would not, if elected, find it in yourself to be as noble as the very best leaders of commerce that you seem not to respect.
HAPPINESS - THE GREATER PUBLIC GOOD
Senator Obama, we working class business owners will not sacrifice ourselves for the so-called greater public good. We will not sacrifice our happiness, which derives from honoring our values.
I once read that happiness is a state of “non-contradictory joy.” A joy without penalty or guilt. A joy which does not clash with our personal values. A joy which does not simultaneously work toward our own self-destruction. A drunkard knows no real joy though he may think so. Productive people, like working class business owners and their employees, know real joy.
You are seemingly intent on making the federal government the source of everybody’s happiness. For us, your scheme will not work. It can only cause our unhappiness.
In summary, you and the Democrats wish to destroy the very same system which enabled me to not be a burden to the nation and to take care of those Americans who legitimately suffer and need help.
In the secularist’s mind, I am independent and wealthy because I am either lucky, corrupt, or both. You probably think my ultimate goal in life is to be wealthy. I assure you it is not. My goal is happiness - there is a difference. Yet, my wealth, in large part, is a by-product of commitment to my values. The honoring of these values has led to my happiness.
There is a very high cost to happiness and most people will not pay its enormously high price which includes extremely hard work, long hours, loneliness, fear, doubt and personal struggle. With my success, others, especially the government through confiscatory tax policy, seek to take away the fruits of my pursuit of happiness.
Senator Obama, do you really believe we are supposed to be benevolent and compassionate to anyone and everyone who suffers? I am sure you do not and your policies are an example of your pandering. There is a keen difference between “legitimate” and “illegitimate suffering.”
“As you do unto the least of these you do unto Me” is often misinterpreted and misquoted. Christ was talking about that segment of society that legitimately suffers, not through any sin of their own. He meant those whose circumstances are not a product of their choices in life, like a birth defect, extreme judicial abuses, or supernatural catastrophes. Christ did not mandate that altruism be shown to those who suffer because of their own bad choices, or their lack of a noble value system, or their lack of discipline to honor that value system.
Basic principles of fairness and personal responsibility support this philosophy.
I love my sons and tell them I do not care about their “self esteem.” But I do care deeply about them. There is a difference. I will not ease the emotional and financial suffering they bring onto themselves by their own choices. I will not protect them from the appropriate emotional responses to the consequences of their poor choices. This is a sign of my love for them.
The worst form of hypocrisy is the compromising of one’s innate values to obtain or retain power. We, the working class business owners, see clearly your hypocrisy.
STOP DEMONIZING CAPITALISM
Senator Obama, your policies are an affront to capitalism and you demonize it with your subtle cynicism and your condescension.
Where capitalism appears to have failed is because of government intervention. This fact is not even debatable. Government intervention has created such deviant versions of capitalistic democracy that those variants should not even be called true capitalism.
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has declared class war on capitalism and democracy in Latin America. Much of the Latin American form of capitalism should be called “capitalistic cronyism,” where true open and vicious head-to-head commercial competition was never allowed to take root and the best entrepreneurial minds were hamstrung by aristocratic legacies and corrupted governments.
Do not compare America’s capitalism to its failed imitators. Your plans for more federal government intervention and control of our economy will most assuredly lead to the same fate as the club of failed imitators.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUNCES OF YOUR IDEAS ON OUR COMPANY AND OUR EMPLOYEES
Senator Obama, your promises of horrifying tax increases on me and on the company I run and your threats of even more burdensome regulation are, in your own words, “game changers.”
Higher corporate income taxes and payroll taxes rob and neuter all businesses great and small of their ability to make and keep essential promises to the people who depend on them. This is a shame and a consequence of idiotic and pander motivated ideas.
Under your taxation plan, I may one day be in a position to no longer make any meaningful promises to our fantastic employees.
I need you to come to Dallas and join me some day in our bi-weekly company staff meeting and tell them why their hard work may not be rewarded with higher compensation, promotions and higher self-worth, which all should come from their successful efforts.
You need to explain to them why I may no longer be able to afford the 100% matching contribution in their 401(k) plan.
You’ll need to explain why I may no longer be able to afford top-tier group medical, eye care, and dental insurance for them.
You’ll need to explain why I may no longer be able to afford to continue our great personal development programs.
You’ll need to explain to them why their stock options may never be as valuable as they had hoped because the company is less profitable and less valuable.
You’ll need to explain to vendors why I may no longer be able to do business with them because our revenues may drop and corporate tax rates rise.
The mere threat of your policies is force enough to cause small businesses to react. You and the Congress do not even need to enact them into law.
I must eventually yield to the socialist state. I will unfortunately have to run our company much leaner in anticipation of these terrible policies because I was born to use my talents and gifts toward a better life, not to be forced to suffer for the so-called “betterment of the greater good.” That is my truth and the truth of all closely-held businesses and their working class owners.
You need to ponder today the inevitable consequences of working class business owners giving up on the pursuit of joy, significance and meaning in their own lives in America because of our hostile tax, regulatory and legal environment. What would happen if we simply took our talents to another country like Ireland, Russia, China, India, or Brazil where ideas, labor, capital and victories are loved and respected?
All great lives commence with a person’s quiet realization he or she will not play the coward’s role. Working class business owners are the most courageous people in America, except for our men and women in uniform, those police officers protecting us on the streets of America, and firemen who rescue us from tragedy and peril.
Where you see a successful business, where you see a successful life, I promise you tremendous gut-wrenching courage has been exerted again and again to build that life. High tax rates discourage many talented people from ever acting on that call to courage. They simply conclude that it is not worth it.
Your unspoken Socialist creed “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a creed which will eviscerate any chance of a great and honorable society.
The source of America’s daily sustenance and the source of her eternal salvation is from grace. There is no salvation from the federal government.
I believe our nation can achieve greatness beyond our imagination only if salvation by federal government is erased completely from our consciousness. It is a toxic addiction - the heroin from which we must commence immediate withdrawal.
The federal government is dysfunctional beyond repair. Dysfunctional organizations are chaotic and grossly inefficient and you, amazingly, intend to make it bigger. Why?
The first axiom on organizational dysfunction is that dysfunction increases exponentially by the sum of (a) the square of the headcount of its non-productive persons (usually the people who feel most victimized by the organization and who express extreme forms of social compassion to fix all of the world’s problems utilizing the resources of the organization) and (b) the cube of the number of incompetent management people. The federal government has set the bar high for this axiom. Just ask any working class businessperson who knows all too well the causes and dangers of inefficiency.
You, who have never run an organization in your life, may be stepping into the chairman’s seat of the largest most dysfunctional organization in the world. I am astonished you think you are prepared for it. I am even more horrified you want to make it bigger.
The purpose of business is to make people’s lives better. Business and commerce have improved and will improve far more lives than any government. Yet under your policies, we who improve the lives of others are targeted for extinction. We might all collectively “shrug,” give up and go on strike. What happens when there is no one left to create jobs like we can?
I have risked my entire financial future on noble enterprises which have improved the lives of others, and yes, even my own family. My family and I have borne the high cost of the pursuit of happiness.
I wake up every morning thinking about what promises to make and how I will honor the promises I have already made. This is the result of grace, but it is not grace itself.
I have paced the hallways of my own home for three straight days and nights worrying and praying about how to solve an insurmountable problem that I could not even define, or whom to trust, or where the resources would come from, and in the end successfully turned the dire situation to the good. This too was the result of grace, but it was not grace itself.
In the early years, I had to make more than one payroll out of rotating a series of personal credit cards because of tight cash flow and the commitment to my employees that they were always to be paid before me. This too was the result of grace, but it was not grace itself.
I have many times out of compassion, and when I did not have money, carried on the company payroll employees who were not performing as needed or could not be helped to improve, or who were going through a traumatic personal crisis. My benevolence gave these employees time and money to sort out their problems or to find other employment. This too was the result of grace, but it was not grace itself.
I have taken many complex and almost desperate situations and, from the wits of our leadership team, turned them into positive outcomes. This too was the result of grace, but it was not grace itself.
I have been sued many times under nuisance pretenses. The distractions of litigation did not and could not divert the energy needed to run and grow my organization. This too was the result of grace, but it was not grace itself.
Two years ago at the age of 50, I was diagnosed with a rapidly growing stage three throat cancer with only a 15% statistical chance of a five year survival. I do not smoke and I drink only an occasional glass of wine with a restaurant meal. This was not a tragedy. This was just life.
I suffered through the dehumanizing and debilitating effects of 40 radiation treatments, two bouts of poisonous chemotherapy, and recovery from more than one surgery. I am victorious and cancer-free for many reasons: the love and care from my family, friends and business colleagues, great new cancer treatment protocols to name a few. And prayer, yes, prayer to Almighty God for my healing.
But my victory is also very much due to the love of my work, my business, my aspirations to finish the unfinished, to make it perfect, and to take care of the people who depend on me. This is why small businesses and working class business owners are important to America. This too was the result of grace, but it was not grace itself.
TEMPLE OF DEMOCRACY
Our exulted Temple of Democracy, the United States federal government, is miserably corrupted and shamelessly dysfunctional and its hubris will not even allow it to recognize its state of being. In this presidential campaign, you have fired the very loud shots of class warfare. The sickened pathology of our government would get much worse under your presidency before it hopefully eventually gets better under another.
Whether one is a secular humanist or a fundamentalist Christian (I am neither), our Judeo-Christian heritage should point us immediately to the testaments for some understanding. Regardless of whether one views the Bible as sacred scripture or as history or as mere mythology, it is embedded with essential truths about the nature of man and the nature of bureaucratic power. The testaments deliver an irrefutable reminder for all Americans.
Our metaphoric American temple is corrupted and ineffective for the very same reasons as the ancient holy Jerusalem temple, the seat of Jewish political, economic and religious power during the time of Jesus Christ. In its day, it was the most massive working construction project and the largest center of commerce in the entire Middle East.
“ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN”
Your twenty years under the pastoral guidance of Reverend Jeremiah Wright has apparently not taught you the message of Christ’s complete desire for humankind. His desire for us is beyond imagination and He gave us the key to it. I apologize if I have read you wrong on your understanding of this point. I have never heard you speak about it.
Again, I am not a religious extremist.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” from the Lord’s Prayer states emphatically Christ’s desire for humankind. The kingdom on earth does not mean a socialist state. That would be anything but a kingdom where “His will can be done.” A socialist state is enslavement of the human mind. Such a kingdom cannot possibly thrive.
The kingdom on earth is created by God’s liberating grace, the freeing of the mind from oppression and tyranny so we can be reunited with Him. You seemingly do not understand this.
Christ so loved His Father, He so loved His Jewish faith, and He so much hated the Jewish temple’s bureaucratic corruption, that for three years He engaged in the most famous political activism in history. His activism targeted the entrenched corrupt and arrogant powers which controlled the temple and oppressively ruled the subject Jewish people.
The oppression was manifested by impoverishing subjects with high taxes and a Gordian knot of abusive interpretations of Jewish law, akin to our modern federal regulatory environment and the plaintiff’s bar. Like them, we modern Americans are always in a legal and regulatory “gotcha” which is now suffocating our dynamic creative and liberating spirit. Your policies and your ideas are no different.
The rulers of the Jews were an intellectual class, similar to you and your friends, and backed and supported by the armies of their Roman occupiers. This intellectual class included hereditary aristocratic families and scribes, the ancient version of our modern lawyer class, of which you and much of Congress are members.
The oppressed Jews included the poor peasants, the farmers, and the working class small business owners.
The Sanhedrin, the seventy-one member ruling council of the temple, similar to a blend of our Supreme Court and Congress, was comprised of various intensely competing sects of Judaism. One of the largest, most powerful sects was the Sadducees, a hereditary aristocratic upper class, perhaps an ancient version of our Senate. Another sect was the Pharisees, the strict pious enforcers of the Jewish law who directly interacted with the common people and oppressed them with their schemes and intimidation.
Caiaphas, the Chief Priest of the Sanhedrin, and a Sadducee, was the most entrenched and corrupted of them all. He was the president of the Jewish temple and held sway over the economic and political system.
The corruption technique used by the Jewish power elite was to pander to some groups and demonize others. Some things never change.
Christ’s plan was to return the temple to a sense of judicial fairness and economic justice by empowering the oppressed and disarming the oppressors with a new paradigm -- a paradigm that brought forth truth about themselves, about power, about human nature and about love. He did not spread an evil message of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor as you have in your campaign. He was diplomatically speaking in code through parables to the Sadducees, the entrenched, corrupted, rich and powerful of the temple structure. He was thoughtfully telling them to deeply consider their motivations.
The wealthy class in the Jerusalem temple controlled all the land and productive agricultural assets of the nation. The so-called rich today, especially the working class business owners and their small businesses, ARE THE PRODUCTIVE ASSETS OF THE NATION. There is a vast difference between then and now.
His campaign for eternal Truth, as we know, cost Christ His life and in so doing, empowered ours in so many unimaginable ways. Christ changed humankind forever with the empowering concept of “grace,” a magnificent liberation from the impossible laws and regulations with which we can never comply and the high taxes we could only barely afford. His best gift to mankind was a direct, non-interpreted, reconnection with the source of liberating grace, God the Father.
The corruption and the ensuing destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70, and the fall of virtually all the political temples of ancient and modern history, such as Greece, Rome, the Kings of France, the Czars of Russia, and numerous others, were as predictable as any of Isaac Newton’s laws of physics. You are about to ignite the greatest temple destruction in history with your policies.
With the destruction of the Jewish temple came the death of the Pharasitic/Sadducean system to be replaced by the modern rabbinical system. The point is that the strong values and the contributions to humanity Judaism made did not die with the temple. But, the ancient and corruptible power structure did die. You seem intent on destroying both the temple of America and also its founding values.
History shows that a condescending aristocratic and intellectual ruling class retains its power, its sole motivation in life, by abusive self-preserving means. It acts as both villain and hero by simultaneously creating and resolving class warfare and massive economic booms and busts through ill-conceived policies. It subtly abolishes any chance of a true meritocracy where the cream of society can rise to the top and unleash its brilliant mental and creative energies for the betterment of themselves and of society.
Justice, fairness, private property and liberty are denied in toto. Open class warfare ensues. Society suffers and silently fails, leaving the historians to explain to future generations what happened who then see the cycle repeat itself with later generations that either never study history, or simply believe “this time is different” and “history does repeat itself.”
The character of our current government and its policies are the enemies of democratically-free economies just as the abusive Jewish legal system enforced by the Sanhedrin created a domination system that oppressed the ordinary, hardworking Jews. You intend to take this oppression to its zenith.
The axiom, “Free people can never be equal, equal people can never be free” lives forever.
Righteous rage is brewing in this nation. What can we do to overthrow the modern “tables of the moneychangers?” What are we, the working class business owners of America, willing to do to make holy again our own temple of democracy? I do not yet know, but the energy and the rage are undeniably strong and growing.
Grace, as the ancient Jewish Christians initially conceived it to be, when coupled with redemption, is the unearned gift to be freed from personal guilt, from despair, and from the sinful corruption of our own personal making.
Christ had a design for us on an even grander scale than simply forgiveness for our frequent moral failings which stem from the seven deadly sins. He made it so our minds are liberated from all oppression, freed from despair, and renewed to seek our own unconflicted happiness, to honor our noblest values, to be creators like He commanded us to be in His image, to be caregivers to the legitimate sufferers, not all who claim to suffer. Our nation’s government, our temple, must honor the same noble values as its citizens who are committed to honoring theirs.
How great a nation will grace enable America to be? Democratic capitalism is the only solution for humankind. It is the only manifestation of liberating grace for each and for all.
Grace liberates our energies from the demonic bureaucratic oppression that you unfortunately propose with plans for bigger government.
Grace liberates our minds to conceive and attain the true source of our happiness.
Grace liberates us from despair.
Grace liberates us to honor the very important promises we want to make to our loved ones.
Grace liberates us to be creators as God intends us to be.
Finally, grace liberates our souls to be reunited with the mind of God – to be in His image.
Your tax policies inhibit grace, and do not liberate it.
Senator Obama, we working class business owners do not cling to our guns and our religion when times get tough. Our faith and our connection to truth are the source of our energy. Do not destroy this energy with your ill-conceived policies.
Free up our minds. Liberate us from tyranny. Don’t promise to regulate us more. Don’t increase taxes on the most productive segment in society. Otherwise, this temple will also crumble.
Most importantly, grace, as Christ meant it to be, is the source of America’s daily sustenance and the source of her eternal salvation. The federal government is the source of neither.
Just as working class small business owners fully and personally bear the consequences of their decisions in life, I do so now by sending you this letter and making it public. Again, I am just an ordinary guy very concerned about the damage your policies will assuredly bring to my life, my business, and my country.
Senator Obama, I’d be glad to discuss the contents of this letter at a place and time of mutual convenience. With kindest personal regards, I am
Stephen Anthony Batman