Three Encounters – A Random Thoughts Column


He presented vignettes from his past with such practiced eloquence that I momentarily suspended my disbelief and accepted his importance as presented.


My Republican friend was giddy. The debate had been everything he had hoped for, and then some. Theodore (name changed) effused about the transformation of Mitt Romney to the 2012 version of Ronald Reagan. Not satisfied with the unsurprising change in all of Mr. Romney’s positions to those that more closely mirrored both Ted’s and the general electorate, my friend then went on to attack the President as a Socialist clone of Bill Ayers.

I was OK with Ted celebrating Romney 3.0, but the Ayers comparison was both silly and irrelevant. So it was time for a little intellectual honesty.

Ted and I are businessmen. We don’t know anything about defense spending. Cuts? Weapons systems? Bases? We are forced to trust our leaders. But taxes? We know taxes. And we both know a lot about health care funding. The politicians on both sides of the aisle have uttered countless half-truths, exaggerations, and out right lies. We know what the real numbers look like.

Ted was playing dumb. He told me that there were tons of small businesses that would have been created, but for the entrepreneurs’ fear of the tax code. Mr. Romney’s tax plan would motivate the creation of these new businesses.

And I laughed.

How many new businesses pay taxes? Small businesses write off equipment costs, office
furnishings, and fees. Small businesses are unlikely to have a taxable profit in the first couple of years. Few small companies ever approach the top of the tax table. Two guys starting a machine shop are hoping to net enough to make their house payments. Taxation is just another excuse for inaction from someone afraid to take the risk of being self-employed or starting a business.

Real entrepreneurs dream of being so successful that bitching about taxes would be justified.

And large businesses? This is a great time to captain a large company. Corporate profits are up. The stock market is at a record high. And governments are throwing money at you. Cities and states are bidding for corporate headquarters the way NFL teams were wooed twenty years ago. Tax abatements, tax incremental financing, and no interest loans are just part of the packages. If only Ohio could get the employees to work for free…

Ted was no longer smiling. So I gave him my best impression of last Wednesday. “Uh, Umm, Uh I agree with Governor Romney.” And Ted was OK. Hell, he was positively giddy.


I didn’t need any sunglasses. The political discussion was generating plenty of heat, but no light.

They were surprised that I didn’t cave, that I didn’t bend to their will. After all, they were repeating all of the lines that they had heard on Rush’s show, Huckabee’s program and even from Greta. No one ever refuted this avalanche of information on FOX.

But I didn’t question my sexual identity when I was once the only straight guy in the room. And I didn’t change my religion any of the times that I was the only Jew in the room. So I certainly wasn’t going to change my politics when I found myself surrounded by a dozen Republicans.

In truth, I liked my odds.