October 20, 2014
Off the record

Government sticks its nose in private business

By Jim Grisso|Special to the Independent
Email Jim
Posted 6/3/09

Think about it: how would you like a bunch of federal bureaucrats running your private business?

We taxpayers are aware of the fact the government has been involved in “monkey business” for years. We have been programmed to accept it, even expect it.

But now it looks like Washington wants to make monkeys out of private business. The thought of those monkey-see-monkey-do cronies taking over in the private sector scares the P&L out of me. (For those in the federal government, P&L stands for profit and loss.)

Like it or not, taxpayers suddenly have a stake in GM as well as Chrysler, banks, insurance companies and God knows what else. We may be “stockholders,” but we definitely have no voice in how our government will react to its newfound toy car.

Billy Bob Bureaucrat (BBB for short) is in the driver’s seat. Oh sure, the Obama administration says the government plans to be involved for the short haul only — make GM and Chrysler profitable instantly and get out of town.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the government isn’t getting involved in management decisions at GM or Chrysler. That’s interesting in view of the fact the government, dangling billions of bailout money in their face, has already forced the automakers to lay off thousands of workers. Why? Because in Billy Bob’s opinion, they weren’t making cuts fast enough.

Can you imagine BBB making decisions at your business? As a guy who ran a newspaper for 40 years, I gave some serious thought as to how it might shake out at my paper. The prospect made me want to vomit 10 barrels of printer’s ink.

Here’s how I visualized BBB as my boss:

He shows up at my office door and says: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” Immediately, I think: “Someone, please hang me from the top of my printing press!”

He tells me he’s not here to run my business, but the next thing I know he’s sitting behind my desk barking out orders: “First of all, I want nothing but the truth from your editorial staff, so tell them to stop writing stories and editorials critical of the government. No more calling them crooks, even if you have proof, which you normally do.

“On top of that, give all federal officials in your town a free, lifetime subscription. I want their paper delivered personally by you with a box of chocolates in hand.

“Next, I want all Democrats to be able to advertise their business as much as they want free of charge, lifetime, of course” (it could just as easily be Republicans depending on the party in power at the time). “Oh, and by the way, my political friends get two boxes of chocolates with each ad.

“Don’t worry about paying local or state taxes. I have connections in Lansing and at your city hall. But you will pay 50-percent federal income tax, whether you make a profit or not. Newspapers have been scamming the IRS for far too long.

“Oh, and I want you to buy your ink and paper from my uncle’s third cousin, whose plants are in China. Don’t expect to get a better price just because it’s made in China. I get a cut out of every sale I refer to him. Besides, his name is We Too Hi.

“Finally, I will be here until the time you begin making a profit. In the meantime, I expect the newspaper to pay all my expenses, including the finest hotels, restaurants, and I hear you have some great golf courses. You will also pay for my travel between here and Washington and my visits to We Too Hi in China. I go there weekly to pick up my check.

“Now, get to work while I call in my hair stylist, manicurist and pedicurist. Of course, all this is a legitimate expense. I do it all the time, in the name of BBB.”

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