Everyone has heard a similar story. A small business, a working class entrepreneur trying to keep some semblance of a middle class existence continues to lose business through no fault of his own until there is no business. The recession turns into a depression for the little man who only wants to work for himself and not be a cog in some sort of corporate machine. Being your own boss means make or break.
For almost six years I've worked right alongside my son-in-law. He's been in business for about 15 years doing what he likes to do. Until 2008 there was never a time without a job waiting in the wings. So successful it seemed like it would never end except on his own terms. Pride in workmanship was never lacking. A bulldozer, a tractor trailer to haul it with and a four wheel drive dually with tools and fuel tank, all paid for, combined with independence, desire and drive should be a very practical situation but as the old say goes, "nothing lasts forever." Tomorrow the dozer is being sold.
The business is not ending because of competition. All the small time full time competition in the area went out over two years ago. Being essentially the local last man standing didn't make any difference. It wasn't because of shoddy work. The work done was equal or better than anyone else. It wasn't because of excessive rates or dishonesty. It was an honest business charging less than most. No, it was an economic collapse that all along was designed to strip the middle class individual of not only the chance to work but to eventually take everything he had worked for.
These kinds of businesses don't show up in the statistics. There's no unemployment to be paid. It won't even be counted as one of the many small businesses to fall because those that do the counting won't even know. It will be as if it never existed except in the memory of a few.
The up close reasons for going out of business are few and simple. People don't have the money and if they do they are holding on to it for fear of needing it later. Retirees who made up a significant portion of the work and who had money in the stock market scams have lost a big portion of it and don't have it to spend. The unemployed can't afford any kind of work done. They just want work for themselves. Higher diesel and insurance costs cannot be passed on to customers who are barely making it themselves. Advertising was never seen as needed until 2008 and it was essentially a dead expense that brought in few clients in a dying economy.
The seemingly distant reasons are what we all know. The corruptions of Wall Street, government, the Federal Reserve and war are the basics. We are the ones paying for their theft and crimes. Some would say we are projecting blame. I call it as just stating the facts.
To add insult to injury, my son-in-law is selling out for less than the real value of the equipment to get cash to get by on until he can figure out what to do next but it doesn't end there. His tax lady says he will probably owe around 12% in federal income taxes on what he sells. Being forced to pay taxes for going broke should not happen. This is in a country where many billion dollar profit corporations get around paying anything. And where will his tax money go? Oh yeah, interest on debt to the federal reserve.
It's a fairly typical scenario. There will be no easy or quick solutions. People are not looking for sympathy or handouts. They just want to make a living and support their families. Maybe have a little fun in the process. Getting rich is not the goal for most. Happiness and love of what you do is not too much to ask for.
This is not just the end of an era for numerous individuals. It is the end of an era for the world. Things are changing, and fast, for all of us. What we make of it and what we do to effect positive change is our challenge.
We are up for it. I have faith.
Nostalgia is sometimes looking back and wondering why it is that you have outlived a few of those who were younger and more talented in certain areas than you.
Remembering some of the best musicians I've ever known. Mark and Alan ... rest in peace.