Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Rats are Circling

I worked for a company once upon a time that was having tremendous cash flow problems. The problem was obvious to anyone paying the least bit of attention to what was going on…Bill collectors calling, orders on hold, management unable to answer a direct question with a straight answer, and an overall ambience of fear and uncertainty. The smell of nervous sweat hit you as soon as you walked in the door.

As the accountant of note, I found several employees keeping a close eye on me. One of them told me, “If I see you going out the door, I’m right behind you.” They knew that as an accountant I had a different view of the company than they were privy to. The rats were waiting for the number cruncher to jump first. Then, it was every rat for himself.

Speaking of rats…I wanted to touch on some thoughts I have about the federal government (nice segue, huh?) Now, let me start by saying that in my own strictly personal opinion, I do not think the current occupant of the Oval Office is the best and brightest this country has to offer. As they say, that is my issue and I own it. No sense writing to tell me I am wrong, I won’t believe it. That aside, I will say that as a person with a financial background, I have some very deep concerns about the fiscal health of our great country.

We are fighting an extremely expensive war in Iraq (and I believe we are still fighting a war in Afghanistan, although we seldom hear of it), the country has just been hit with a disaster of Biblical proportions, and we are faced with the possibility of another. Just one of those items is enough to throw the finances of this country into a tail spin. Add to that the myriad programs, entitlements, infrastructure needs, and pork barrel promises and the question comes to mind…Where is the money going to come from to pay for all this?

The answer is, of course, the money will come from you and me in the form of higher taxes or program cuts. The alternate answer is that the money will come from our grandchildren or great grandchildren as we leave them saddled with so much debt that they will have to invent new cuss words to talk about us.

Now, as you know I am all about small business. We may well bear a large chunk of this burden through increased insurance premiums, tightening federal funds, rising costs, and higher taxes. We have already seen this at the gas pumps. This does not bode well for the economy.

I am not currently ready to start flapping my arms and shouting, “the sky is falling” but I am concerned. Deeply concerned. And the rats are circling…watching me. Waiting for my cue to abandon ship. But seriously, as small business owners we really need to keep an eye on what is happening in Washington and to start asking some hard questions.

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan
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