I am not a politician. I am not running for anything. I played 18 years in the National Football League. My first salary was $12,500, and an off-season job that I had to find on my own paid me $600 a month. I am also a lifetime entrepreneur. It was never easy.
I am not a conservative or a liberal. I have supported Democrats and Republicans. My vote is not for sale. I believe in free market capitalism and in the greatness of the American people. I understand clearly the engine that has built the greatest country in the world is the goods and services produced by business, both large and small.
|Gifted athletes like LeBron James (#6 of the Miami Heat) can make a difference in sports.
As both a quarterback and an entrepreneur I have had to see the signs. The signs are reality, and reality doesn’t lie. Bad news does not get better with age, and if we do not take ownership of the problem, the problem will only get worse.
People of America, the problem is worse. Our economic situation is on the road to disaster.
It’s not just radical partisans saying this. Erskine Bowles, Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff, says the fiscal policy we are following today is simply not sustainable — these trillion dollar deficits will choke small businesses and dampen entrepreneurism.
Meanwhile, with the presidential election just a month away, we’re still talking about small potato issues: Big Bird, President Obama’s college transcripts, or Mitt Romney’s tax returns.
We lose focus whenever we are talking about anything but the things that are destroying America. That list includes: a stalled economy; out of control unemployment; states and municipalities going broke because of public pension retirement liabilities; and sustainable Social Security and Medicare reform.
A persistent cry is that we can solve our problems by getting more from the “rich.” But what does that mean other than sticking it to the successful entrepreneurs of this country?
And if you do that, then why should they stick their necks out and take risks to build companies? It’s more likely that the more you punish success, the less people will pursue it.
The victims of that tragedy would not be the rich. They will surely be just fine; they got to where they are by being smart, working hard, and figuring out how things work.
Even if they decide to sit back and rest on their laurels because their incentive to innovate has been undermined, they’ll be ok. The ones we’ll hurt are the next generation of would-be-great entrepreneurs — the next Steve Jobs, the next Sam Walton.
We make it harder for them to achieve the same level of success as those who went before them.
We understand in sports that gifted performers make the difference between winning and losing. We know that with Michael Jordan on our team, with LeBron James on our team, we have a better chance to win.
Last year, Peyton Manning was hurt and couldn’t play all season long. The Colts went from a Super Bowl contender to winning just two games all season! The coaching staff was fired and the roster was reworked almost from scratch.
Without their star, everyone involved, from the players to the team leadership to the fans, suffered.
We don’t look for ways to punish or demonize our gifted athletes, because we know they make all the difference. Why should we demonize or punish our gifted job creators?
We should be cheering them on because when they put their muscle behind America’s economic engine, we all win.
Stick it to LeBron and Kobe Bryant, to Peyton and Tom Brady, and the whole team will fall off the cliff. Stick it to the successful, the drivers of this economy, and the first people to go will be the middle class. Then it will be the poor, and then the elderly. I refuse to believe that any of us want to see that tragedy, in either party.
It’s time to talk about serious issues, and to offer serious solutions. We’ve let ourselves be distracted by other things for too long, and it’s in our hands now.
If we kick the can down the road for four more years, then in the inimitable words of my friend Don Meredith, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”
Fran Tarkenton is the Founder and CEO of OneMoreCustomer.com, a web resource for Small Business Advocacy and Education. After his Hall of Fame football career, Fran had a successful career in television and then turned to business. He has founded and built more than 20 successful companies and now spends his time coaching aspiring entrepreneurs. Read more reports from Fran Tarkenton — Click Here Now.
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