Friday, March 19, 2010

Putting Words in Unwashed Faces


George is a heavy machine equipment owner in Wyoming. He employs, in good times, 30 people, in bad times less. He tries to take care of his people, but when he has no work, they have no work. The people that work for him are hard yet flexible – they hunker down and survive until the sun comes out again.

Without government interference, his life would be easier. He sees taxes go out, but very little comes back to him that’s measurable. He has to match the money his employees pay for social security, install expensive pollution devices on his machines before he can use them. He has Local, State and Federal paperwork on every aspect of what he does. He has to hire outside help just to document his actual work. Property taxes go up every year, user fees are added to everything he moves, and special levies on his utility bills show up that have nothing to do with anything he can understand. Even the school system has a way of getting money out of him outside of cookie sales.

His employees have rights, even though they don’t need them, but he has to pay for sexual harassment classes, strange safety training, and he has to document and store all of this crap for years. He gets penalized with fines if he can’t find the paperwork.

All of these things are outside his job – all he wants to do is earn a living through hard word and his smarts.

And he thinks it’s getting worse.

Ron worked at 7-Up, in sales. An extraordinary sales guy, after 10 years, he was promoted to become a regional sales manager. A bigger company bought the company, so one day George Clooney’s ugly brother was flown in for a day and fired all the managers. At will employment indeed.

Ron, his wife and three children stayed unemployed for a year. The company hired him back at his old job when the dust had settled after the consolidation. Ron and the family learned to depend on others, manage their money, both good lessons, though slightly outweighed by the anxiety and fear.
When Ron tried for jobs while unemployed, he found the minimum wage jobs unavailable because he was overqualified, and that the things he was qualified were crowded with people who looked a lot like himself.

And Texas is not known for its safety net – it’s a business friendly place where profits come before people. To be fair, they believe that if the business gets the profits, they will hire more people. They don’t believe the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Their philosophy might be valid, but was not helpful to Ron, a hard worker with strong skills fired and jobless through no fault of his own.

Ron and the family think things are much better, but are very careful now.

George and Ron are life long Republicans, though Ron is a little more open to talking about compromise than he was before being fired.

George is retired now, with a small annuity he put away carefully over the years he works. He also draws a government check from Social Security of two grand a month. Diabetic, he makes great use of the mostly free Medicare system. Of his nine kids, seven have completed their education at State colleges, after attending public schools for the required 12 years. The air in Wyoming is no cleaner now, even with all the anti-pollution requirements in place – the vast strip mining of crappy coal, (Though low sulfur) kicks up the dust on windy days – and all the days are windy in Wyoming. He feels safe knowing that Public services – fire, police and the army are on the job and in pretty good shape – he wouldn’t cut spending for any of it -- just the other social crap for abortions and welfare.
George doesn’t count the cost of land exploitation or possible global warning in his business – that’s always just been the way it is. He considers it a right -- and American right to use his land as he sees fit. He just wants the government to get off his back.

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