Floor Covering News recently received this letter from Vinnie Virga, a well known and respected retailer and former head of Flooring America. The letter was mailed to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. The opinions expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication. We are publishing this letter for the sole purpose of creating dialogue on a topic of relevance to our readers as well as the entire industry. We welcome your comments and will publish all opinions.
Dear Mr. President,
My wife and I own and run two small businesses and consider ourselves middle class people. We did not vote for you, because you scare us. We are worried that under your direction our country will become socialistic in nature and that despite our hard work and sacrifice to build a bright future for ourselves, we worry you feel we don’t deserve what we have earned and you will penalize us for our efforts.
To be clear, we love our country and we are charitable people. With great respect we hope to remind you that our country was founded on the ideas that all people are created equal, and we should be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Nowhere did our founders say that you should get something for nothing. What made and makes our country great is that anyone—anyone—can build a future for themselves if they work hard. That has been and should be the key. Our American founders never said that our government should take on the heady task of redistributing assets, income or wealth, something no government has ever done effectively. Just look at your efforts to redistribute tax dollars to build alternative energy sources—two of the largest companies bankrupt. Federal government is not particularly efficient at anything, politics and special interests are always in the mix and it is just the nature of the beast. Let the private sector do what it does best. But you are going to have to stop borrowing and printing money like it is going out of style and make it safe for business to grow.
Interestingly, our small businesses, like many others in the country, keep 50 or more people employed at any given time. We have the ability to ramp up and grow our business and would like to, employing more people and helping the economy, but will only do so if we know we can earn rewards in return for our risk taking. Shouldn’t you lower the barriers for us to grow by reducing our taxes, making access to capital a reality and by encouraging us to help the economy?
We also see first hand how bad the cycle of welfare has become. Too often we have jobs to fill—currently we have three—but many prospective employees would prefer to stay on unemployment than actually work for a living. Mr. President, they actually tell us this when we offer them jobs! If you can get paid for doing nothing versus actually having to be responsible, why work? Currently it is too easy for people to live on the government’s dime, or actually our dimes since we pay the taxes. Why not make people work three of the seven days a week for the government in order to collect unemployment or other subsidies? Make them sweep the streets, clean up government buildings, landscape the parks, make some staff a daycare to watch the children of those working, make them actually work. They will help with your nation building, and when job opportunities are available they will be more inclined to take them since they can’t just sit at home and get a check. We need to shorten the time people can collect welfare, we need to reward hard work, we need to stop incentivizing people to leave perfectly good jobs because they can collect subsidies from the government like they do today.
We sincerely hope that you and your team can forge a bridge between the parties and stop the bipartisan tug of war. Nobody wants to be a part of a solution that they had no voice in creating and there is so much important work to be done that it is going to take someone bigger than their political party to make a difference. That difficult task is likely to be one of your biggest challenges and our country needs you to rise to the occasion and to make it happen.
Mr. President, we agree that helping others is important. But charity always has and should be a personal choice, one that begins at home, our home, your home, our choice, your choice. Please do your nation building, reduce the deficit, help everyone have access to medical benefits, do something good on the education front (the idea of just hiring more teachers seems too simple and too weak), and help with immigration (which, if done correctly could also help spark growth), and most importantly keep our country safe. But stop giving people something for nothing, stop promoting class warfare, and please stop beating up small businesses and people like us who want to help our country grow.
We believe that you care deeply about our country, the greatest country in the world, and so in closing we hope that God blesses you, your family, our other leaders in power, and that God blesses America and her citizens with hope, with leadership, with compassion and with prosperity for all.