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John Trandem and Paul Owens, Published July 21 2012

Obama doesn’t get it

A week ago in Roanoke, Va., President Barack Obama once again illustrated his hostility toward small-business owners by way of a few very telling comments. He berated business owners by telling them they had little to do with the success of their endeavors with such comments as, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hard-working people out there. ... Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

This most recent slam by the president on business illustrates a fundamental disconnect from the hardworking Americans who put their money and lives on the line to create businesses, which in turn create jobs, and those jobs create taxpayers. The very taxpayers who pay highway taxes so we can all enjoy bridges and the interstate highway system we are supposed to be thanking him for.

Believe it or not, business owners do indeed thrive because of dedication, risk and hard work. Many work multiple jobs to generate the funds necessary to start up new companies while sacrificing time with their families trying to improve their lives by providing goods and services that others desire. Yet there is still no guarantee they will achieve success. There is no contract with an exit clause, no paid vacation, no way to recover the time, energy and money invested should the venture fail.

The guarantees are these: long work days, sleepless nights, skipped vacations, pinched pennies and a non-negotiable date with the Internal Revenue Service every year to “share the wealth.” For the many sole proprietors, it gets even better in that there is nobody to share the burden of compulsory Social Security deposits each month. The president may not know this, but they pay the entire sum themselves.

We who have chosen this path are not bitter about the perils of business ownership; rather we are proud to live in a country where we can engage in free enterprise. It is that option that makes the American dream a reality for so many. But we also recognize that we have succeeded in spite of the president’s leadership, not because of it.


Trandem owns Trandem Automotive Services Inc., in Moorhead. Owens owns Twin City Sharpening in Fargo.