Is Atlas shrugging?

Received this. Can’t vouch for it’s authenticity but was told it holds up. It’s from a boss to his employees.

To All My Valued Employees,

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 however, is the changing political landscape in this country. However, 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 70’s. 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, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.  So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9 A.M., mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5 P.M., I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and  you have aweekend 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.  Now, 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 that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and  sacrificed a decade of my life for.  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 have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and 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 rewarde 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. Had suddenly 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 always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers inWashington 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’ll fire you. I’ll  fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, 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, will be 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….
Signed, THE BOSS

27 thoughts on “Is Atlas shrugging?

  1. I’m sick and tired of the whiny small business owners complaining about taxes. It’s so pathetic how these people blame everyone but themselves for their failing businesses. The fact is that your business probably grew as a result of the stock market and housing bubble, and now that things are coming back to reality, your business is no longer profitable. Everyone plays by the same rules, and your business didn’t deserve to survive. That’s life, get over it.

    The fact is that you took enormous risk to start a business probably because you weren’t qualified or smart enough to get a high paying job at a top firm. This is the same type of excessive risk taking that spawned the credit bubble. The real estate bubble is due largely to the excessive speculation in commerical real estate and small business start-ups.

    So please go retire to that third world country that doesn’t have clean water or decent health care. Don’t be frightening by the locals who are poor and looking for any opportunity to steal your money. I’m sure their corrupt law enforcement will protect an American.

  2. So essentially if you want to subject yourself to someone else and live your life by the rules of others you’re ‘smart’, yet if you want to show initiative & independence – the very things that drive society – you should go ‘retire to that third world country’.
    Right.

  3. I don’t think Atlas will be shrugging until many more people understand the virtue and value of productivity and business.

    It would be interesting to find out more details about this guy and his business because surely this guy gets value from his actual business (as well as simple owning a Mercedes and the ability to provide jobs for 14 people). So the decision to “shrug” is a complicated one involving feathers on the backs of camels.

    And JJ, re-read your comment. Mischaracterising the author’s position is pretty low don’t you think?
    Show some respect. And surely you can think through the implications of your allegations?

  4. jj that is the most uninformed comment.

    The business owner gave an account of massive sacrifice and long term persistence as being the factors to the success of his business and his own personal wealth.

    You simply deride him as saying the stock market and housing bubble must have been the cause. This could hardly be the case. Firstly, in recent times when the bubble has burst and stocks/property have halved, the author actually doesn’t hide behind these as easy excuses for firing people. He claims that he can still continue his business.

    He blames the taxes and regulation that his business is burdened with. And there is absolutely no doubt that the tax burden has continued to increase for businesses in America.

    Secondly, your insult telling the author to “please go retire to that third world country that doesn’t have clean water or decent health care.” is really a tribute to stupidity.

    High taxes = security, good health care and clean water ?

    You’ve got to be joking.

    Hong Kong must be a 3rd world hell-hole with its low taxes and all. Oh yes, and the U.K must have the best damn health care on the planet with no waiting lists ?

    Reality does not agree with your prejudices.

  5. jj, are you trolling or are you actually genuine with these comments ? ?

    “The fact is that you took enormous risk to start a business probably because you weren’t qualified or smart enough to get a high paying job at a top firm.”

  6. JJ,

    Employers are taxed for the pleasure of giving you a job (payroll tax). This makes as much sense as being taxed when you sign an AWA (that would be a kind of stamp duty I suppose).

    Our tax system is so poorly designed it raises very little revenue for the amount of production it sacrifices.

    A few years ago, a Sydeny tabloid had the headline and newstand poster:

    TAXED OUT OF BUSINESS

    Even if you want socialisation of some services, the way we tax and regulate our economy isn’t very sustainable.

    The health outcomes of the private system are more expensive but nearly always better than the public system. When you factor in taxation as a prepayment though, the private system is often less expensive for paitients.

    The bubbles are caused by poor monetary policy, reckless fiscal policy and supply constraints due to regulation – not the private sector provision of services or recent tax cuts. Furthermore, our economic cycles do not create poverty overseas – a lack of Governing institutions does. The “West” at worst imposes agricultural tariffs and *fair trade*.

  7. JJ says:

    “People who star their own businesses aren’t qualified enough to get the top job at company X”….

    This is the most bizzare comments I have ever read. A lot of them would rather bypass 20-30 years of banging their head against their wall, lower pay and poorer conditions.

    Gerry Harvey, Shai Agassi and Rupert Murdoch are clearly losers who couldn’t get the top job at HIH insurance….

  8. Mark Hill – don’t forget Richard Branson, about every single celebrity chef on TV, and this “university reject”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Buffett

    1950: Buffett applied for admission to Harvard Business School, but was turned down
    ———————–
    JJ – putting your attacks on the private sector aside, what do you have to say about our eminently qualified political leaders ?

    Peter Garrett’s rockstar background qualifies him for the environment portfolio ?

    Wayne Swann with his background in public administration and lecturing in management is qualified to manage an economy ?

    Kevin Rudd with his high flying diplomat status and strip club observor is qualified to run a country ?

    Julia Gillard’s student days as a socialist activist also qualify her too ?

    Oh yeah, and we have a super “community organiser” who is qualified to run the United States too !

  9. Actually forget giving examples of people who succeeded in business without prestigious qualifications.

    Look at all the genius screw ups on Wall Street who are out of a job and have made trillions of dollars of losses. I bet you have a thousand Harvard MBAs, maths and econometrics wizards, computer scientists, analysts, economists and college professors there.

  10. Come on. While the general thrust of this “email” may be correct, there’s little point in reprinting obvious, hackneyed political propaganda on this website. The chances of this being an actual email sent to employees are zero. And you’ve chopped off the section where he advises employees:

    While tax cuts to 95% of America sounds great on paper, don’t forget the back story: If there is no job, there is no income to tax. A tax cut on zero dollars is zero

    So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, who understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job?

    OMG I KNOW WHO UNDERSTANDS BUSINESS! WAR HERO JOHN MCCAIN!

    I also enjoyed the way the email flipped from him whining about the hardship he endured running the business to making the claim that he could shut the thing down and retire in total comfort tomorrow if he wanted to. The reason he doesn’t must be that mysterious “motivation to work and provide jobs” he talks about which, although apparently non-financial in nature, will nevertheless be destroyed by encroaching gummint taxes.

  11. So if this is a hoax, do people think that it will have any positive effects in making people realise their jobs wouldn’t exist without the productiveness and creativity of someone who came before them?

    Or perhaps this would have negative effects because it’s most likely a hoax.

    Or considering the vast amount of information and many distractions on the internet, it will probably be quickly forgotten and have little to no effect on spreading capitalist word.

  12. ChrisV

    Have another look at the top of the page. It says I can’t vouch for it.

    I don’t read anything into it about politics that you seem to. It’s about a guy, a business owner that doesn’t want his taxes raised.

    That appears to be a good thing, or am I getting it wrong?

    Business owners seem to illicit a lot of negativity by some people. Why is that?

  13. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as a hoax, its probably one of those ‘in house’ emails that gets sent to a few mates and is good enough to get sent on endlessly. It probably originated out of a discussion between a few mates in business having a bitch about their problems with government.

    That said I feel it offers some great discussion points.

  14. >>Mark Hill – don’t forget Richard Branson, about every single celebrity chef on TV, and this “university reject”

    Let’s not forget the Harvard dropout, Bill Gates (even though I hate the company, you gotta admire the success story). I thought this email, even if it was a hoax, was bang on. I’ve worked in a smaller transnational corporation, and I know that they had been working non-stop for the last 15 years to get it to the modest size it is.

    >> While tax cuts to 95% of America sounds great on paper, don’t forget the back story: If there is no job, there is no income to tax. A tax cut on zero dollars is zero

    >>> So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, who understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job?

    >>>OMG I KNOW WHO UNDERSTANDS BUSINESS! WAR HERO JOHN MCCAIN!

    maybe he was talking about Bob Barr :/
    That being said, I’m dirt poor now. I have very little money, but you know what I do have? My dignity. I’m making my own way in the world. I don’t want other people in my life, I don’t want welfare, I don’t need bloated health care costs. I don’t give a rats arse that there are people earning 300x what I probably ever will.
    Maybe you should start looking after yourself too, rather than worrying about how you’re going to smash your boss’ Lexus.

  15. 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.

    My heart bleeds.

  16. I doubt if this letter, assuming it was sent to the guy’s employees, would have had the intended effect.

    Most would have interpreted it as a sign that the boss was tired of running the business and contemplating selling or closing it down. I can’t see a rant like that being accepted as sound justification for cutting staff or wages.

    Also, the staff can’t really do anything about whether the government increases taxes. It might happen whoever they vote for. They are simply being threatened with the consequences.

    Those who couldn’t find a new job would start thinking about how to protect their rights if the business closed or was sold. Self-interest runs deep.

    The guy has a legitimate point to make, and he should make it, but not this way.

  17. I felt immediately empathetic the moment he mentioned he drove a Toyota corolla, terje as that should be enough o drive anyone to suicide.

  18. I am not in favor of higher taxes, I am just tired of small business owners blaming their shortcomings on everyone else. The author makes it seem as if lower taxes will save his business. He is completely discounting the fact that lower taxes would encourage smarter people to jump into the market. He also is taking credit for everything that went right with his business and attributing his problems on the tax man. It’s very likely that his success and failures can be attributed to the investment frenzy over the past twenty years and subsequent crash in 2008. The markets are purging excess, and this is just one of many that never deserved to be around to begin with.

    I’m also sick of the small business owner sense of superiority. They feel that just because they risked everything they have on a business that they are in some way better than everyone else. Everyone I know that owns a business is an ego maniac, and just wasn’t smart enough to get a secure high paying job. They had nothing to lose, so they borrowed a ton of capital and started a business that had little chance of succeeding. If and when the business goes under, they pay nothing back and start all over again.

    All of this is irrelevant though because the article is most likely fiction. We get it, taxes are bad. No need to disguise propaganda in some phony letter.

  19. JJ, those ‘secure high paying jobs’ would be in big companies, which grew from small companies, like Microsoft and Apple, right? So those jobs are the product of successful egomaniacs, smart enough to create jobs for other people who couldn’t start their own company.
    So what is your argument?

  20. JJ, I assume you are simply being provocative. It’s difficult to imagine anyone saying such silly things on purpose. But just in case you actually believe what you wrote, here are a few obvious flaws in your argument.

    I am just tired of small business owners blaming their shortcomings on everyone else

    That makes them no different from anyone else, including big business owners, employees and the unemployed. Very few people accept responsibility for their own shortcomings. I’m probably one of the few, but then I don’t have many 😉

    The author makes it seem as if lower taxes will save his business.

    In small business, cash is king. Quarterly and annual tax payments are typically a big lump of cash. Plenty of businesses have gone under as a result of tax payments.

    They feel that just because they risked everything they have on a business that they are in some way better than everyone else.

    An expectation of reward for risk is perfectly legitimate. But moral superiority is a personal trait – I don’t think small business owners are any more or less prone to it.

    Everyone I know that owns a business is an ego maniac, and just wasn’t smart enough to get a secure high paying job.

    Getting a secure, high paying job has never depended on being “smart”. It requires a certain amount of luck plus certain skills that are appropriate to the circumstances. Except for the obvious fact that genuinely thick people are rarely in highly paid jobs, there is no correlation between intelligence and remuneration.

    If by ego you are referring to self-confidence, I would agree. Entrepreneurs need faith in their own ability, otherwise they would opt for the security of employment. Insecure people do not make good entrepreneurs.

    They had nothing to lose, so they borrowed a ton of capital and started a business that had little chance of succeeding.

    Nothing except their house, savings, career and, quite commonly, contributions by family and friends. Plus of course the consequences of bankruptcy. Yep, plenty of people, knowing there is little chance of succeeding, risk all that.

    If and when the business goes under, they pay nothing back and start all over again.

    Next time you go bankrupt, come back and tell us how you paid nothing and were free to start all over again. Duh!

  21. [i]I don’t read anything into it about politics that you seem to. It’s about a guy, a business owner that doesn’t want his taxes raised.[/i]

    This is because the version you posted has the bottom few paragraphs removed. Google and you’ll discover that the missing section contains a bunch of negative references to Obama policies. For instance the section I posted contains a reference to his tax cuts for 95% of Americans. It was written as a Republican propaganda piece.

    I just dislike seeing this sort of thing propagated as truth, even with a disclaimer at the top. I suspect you’d see what I meant if I published, say, an “email from a Palestinian” detailing Israeli war crimes in Gaza, even if I prefaced it with a disclaimer that it might not be genuine. Plus, I doubt anyone in America has ever closed a medium size business purely because they were annoyed at a change in tax policy, so the “fake but accurate” defence doesn’t even apply.

  22. I never received the bottom bit you assert. I posted what i received.

    However, no matter, the letter still makes the right points.

    I bet lots of people have sold out or if business was slow simply closed up in a recession. And yes, business taxes in the US like here are horrendous.

  23. “I doubt anyone in America has ever closed a medium size business purely because they were annoyed at a change in tax policy”

    A marginal business will obviously close if their costs go up even a small amount.

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