Investing Outside of Wall Street – Of what the 2016 election reminded me

In a moment, I’ll get to what this election reminded me of as I had made the switch from being an employee to a business owner over a decade ago.  But, first, here is a bit of U.S. history lesson: After George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, voluntarily stepped down from the office after two terms in 1797, there was a tacit understanding by subsequent Presidents that the office was to be held for no more than two terms.  If any one group of people in human history understood human nature, it was the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.  The term limit helps avoid power grabs by any one individual.  One-hundred and forty-seven (147) years later, however, people either forgot or ignored WHY George Washington did what he did.  In November 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, was elected for the fourth term.  He died while in office in 1945.

The 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution sets a term limit for election and overall time of service to the office of the President. Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947. It was ratified by the requisite 36 of the then-48 states on February 27, 1951.

This is but one example of why this country continues to be revered by the rest of the world as the country “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as President Abraham Lincoln eloquently described during his Gettysburg Address in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War.

For the sake of perspective, here is a summary of the last 40 years when seven Presidents, including the most recent one, were elected.  D is for Democrat; R for Republican.

  • 1976: James E. Carter (D)
  • 1980: Ronald Reagan (R)
  • 1988: George H. W. Bush (R)
  • 1992: William J. Clinton (D)
  • 2000: George W. Bush (R)
  • 2008: Barack H. Obama (D)
  • 2016: Donald J. Trump (R)

The pendulum swings between Democrats and Republicans for a good reason.  When enough people get fed up with both parties, this country also allows for independents to run for the office as well.  It’s up to us, the people, to decide what is best for this country.

In January 2001, George W. Bush was sworn in just as the technology bubble (1995-2001) was about to burst.  It was not like the bubble burst suddenly one day, however.  I’m sure those who were impacted by it remember very well.  Leading up to the burst, the “air” was leaking out continuously during 1999-2000.  I remember thinking, “I’m putting the majority of my paycheck into my 401(k) every month, faithfully, and the value keeps going down.  What is wrong with this picture?”

Please reference, above, the timing of when each President was elected.  Can we blame President Bush for what had happened?  Of course, not.  Although President Clinton was solidly in the office during the years leading up to the crash of 2000, personally, I do not buy the argument that he was solely responsible for it, either.

In any case, just as President Bush was sworn in, millions of baby boomers, including myself, were forced to re-think our financial future.  Our comfortable way of life – toward which most of us worked all our lives, saving diligently for retirement – was being threatened.  The choice I faced was either stay the course and remain employed (and continue to feel insecure about when my services may no longer be needed; after all, hardly anyone in the automotive industry felt his/her job was secure) or change course completely (by taking a calculated risk).  After much soul searching, for a period of four years to be exact, I finally ended my 20-year corporate career in late 2004.  That was the year when I chose to end being an employee and embarked on a new career to be my own boss.

What the 2016 election brought to the surface was the huge gap between entrepreneurs and the rest of the population in terms of the level of understanding about business laws and regulations.  I used to be uninformed as well until when I decided that I had to take control of my financial destiny.  This election reminded me of every step I had to take to switch from being an employee to a business owner.  The transition has been so gradual that I had forgotten how far I’ve come.

During the three debates, Hillary Clinton made some serious accusations about Donald Trump regarding bankruptcies and taxes, insinuating that he was a failure and a crook.  To those who are not trained on tax laws to be a business owner, those remarks must have made Hillary supporters get angrier at Donald for “not knowing how to run businesses successfully” or “getting away with not paying taxes” when, in fact, the exact opposite is true.  To those who understand the laws, her remarks – clearly aimed at inflaming anger among the uninformed public – were inexcusable, especially coming from someone who should know better.  Just because Bill and Hillary Clinton were both disbarred (in 2001 and 2002 respectively) for some serious offenses, it could not possibly mean that they no longer remember the laws of this country.  When Donald finally responded, “I’m smart,” to another one of Hillary’s accusations about taxes, I thought, “About time you fired back at her irresponsible, false accusations about you!”

Diving a little deeper on the topic of tax laws, anyone who aspires to be a real-estate entrepreneur, and receives training at huge out-of-pocket expense, soon finds out that one cannot be a business owner in this country without the support of both certified public accountants (CPAs) and attorneys.  We are required, by law, to follow the tax rules.  Unlike some politicians, including Bill and Hillary, who appear to be able to somehow stay out of jail through negotiations with powers that be, there is no such leniency afforded to us entrepreneurs, including Donald Trump.  Just to stay in business and keep clear out of jail, many of us end up paying more to these professionals than to ourselves.  This is the reason why many of us say, “the heavy regulations are killing small businesses.”

Most of the pubic, who have not yet walked in our footsteps, do not understand what it takes to become an entrepreneur.  Have you noticed that, often, arrogance comes from ignorance? Because they have not taken the time to figure out how the system works, they are quick to conclude that those who run businesses are greedy crooks.  Such misperception is unfortunate.  To those of us who work virtually non-stop our every waking moment, it is an insult.

In fact, if I were to calculate how many hours I work in a never-ending effort to make it in our business, I am probably working for far less than the minimum wage.  I’m not complaining, by the way.  I’m just stating a fact.  I have no tolerance, therefore, for those who want everything provided for them by the government – read, “the rest of us tax payers” – for doing nothing to contribute toward those things that they demand.

For instance, what is this about tax payers having to pay for women’s contraceptives?  Excuse me?  I’m a woman but since when has it become fine for women to be subsidized by the government for promiscuity?  Politicians are getting paid – by tax dollars that we pay – to create these types of absurd laws.  Enough!

Another, far more serious example: What happened to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?  I wrote about it in “The 2016 Election – My thoughts,” under the “War, Peace, and Gratitude” section, if you can stomach even more of my opinion.  All I can say is, “Is it any wonder that the silent majority were outraged and voted in Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America?”  I rest my case.




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