Please allow me to introduce myself. I am not a man of wealth or fame. I am a small business owner.
I began ten years ago, and my company was fortunate enough to endure the Bush years. Remember back then when banks were failing? GM was going to close? How easy we sometimes forget. Banks and automakers weren’t the only businesses struggling. Small businesses were hit hard.
We lost customers because they didn’t have cash. We lost our big distributors because they lost their customers. Our country was losing over 700,000 jobs a month, and when that happens, money doesn’t trickle anywhere. People had no money to spend, orders were way down. I’d love to say I am a genius who did brilliant things to sidestep this disastrous situation. I’d love to tell you through good ol’ fashioned American hard work I kept things rolling right along without losing a dime. But I live in the real world, and to quote Ice-T, around here, shit ain’t like that.
When your business depends on selling things to people, and people don't have any money, you can work as hard as you want and get nowhere. We made many adjustments. I violated the chief rule of business- the one that has made Mitt Romney so rich. I did not maximize profit. I did not try to convince our distributors who were running into credit issues to buy more and more new things just so I could pad my pockets during hard times while emptying theirs. I did not lay off family members and hire cheaper labor willing to work for a less than a living wage.
In the end, we did get through it. The last three years have been better. We moved into larger quarters this year. We have more distributors and have recently released several new models of our main products. We have been able to bring on freelancers to help in areas where we can’t yet afford new full time hires. People are buying again, and our factory orders are up markedly. Why? Well, for one reason, because over five million jobs have been created in the last four years and people are spending again.
I know there are many who did not get through the Bush years, and many still struggling today despite the improved economy. But there are millions more just like me. We don’t get interviewed by CNN as the flavor of the moment- we aren’t trotted out by campaigns as “Joe the Small Business Guy”. We are quietly working, but we will not go quiet back into that nightmare that was 2008.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in business, if something is working, you keep going in that direction. If something is not working, and you change course and see improvement, you don’t revert back.
I don’t like to ask my friends for many things. To me friendship is not about what other people can do for me. But today I ask all of you, and anyone reading this that I don’t know, to please do me a big favor. I need your help. My company needs your help.
I need you to vote for Barack Obama. We need you to vote for Barack Obama.
Because we are going in the right direction, and quite simply, Mitt Romney wants to go back the other way. A few weeks ago a friend asked me why I care so much about this election. Whoever wins, he said, things are going to be about the same. This is the growing consensus among independent and low information voters. But it’s dead wrong. Elections really do have major consequences. When Clinton was elected, all the bad shit Republicans said would happen didn’t happen. We had a roaring economy when he walked out of the White House for the last time. When Bush was elected, all the bad shit Democrats said would happen did happen, and then some. And here we are again, at a potential turning point in history. Four years ago, Republicans told us things would get worse if Obama was elected. But they’ve gotten better. Do we want history to repeat itself again? I don’t know what path we will head down in 2016, but we have two in front of us now. Let’s take the one wisely traveled.
*Diarist's note: I know most if not all of you are already voting for Obama. This is an open letter to my undecided friends and I hope you will share it with yours.
Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 8:41 AM PT: Update: thank you to the Daily Kos for featuring this in the Community Spotlight section today. I appreciate all of the excellent comments and thank those of you who shared your similar stories with me.