“I wear the chains I forged in life,” laments the ghost of Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol."
The former partner of Ebenezer Scrooge implies that his chains were made by unscrupulous business practices. To Dickens, these included being frugal with expenses and trying to make the largest profit possible.
I imagine, however, that a contemporary version of Marley would explain that the chains came from another source, namely, a deadbeat business partner.
Let me explain…
What’s amazing is that businesses are successful in spite of one of their partners.
Yes, every business has one, whether it’s a large corporation or a sole proprietorship.
This minority partner doesn’t contribute a single iota of work. It’s a partner who forces the other owners to do things one way, even if there’s a better solution. It’s a partner who doesn’t mind if the founders work themselves to death. Despite this laziness, this partner commands a huge stake stake in the company’s profits.
It also commands revenue from the other owners even if there’s no profit.
And should your business go under, this partner really doesn’t seem to care. You’ll find little, if any, help.
Try to ignore this partner’s demands, and you may end up in prison. This partner sure does put a lot of chains on a business!
This “partner” is the government. If some organization in the private sector tried to do the same thing with a company that the government does with regulations, fees, and taxes, it’d be called extortion.
That’s why I admire successful businesses, even if they’re not at the top of their industry. Besides competing with each other, they are each chained down by the demands of government.
Of course, an established business that’s willing to pay the right people can transform government from a silent partner into a bodyguard. Government can throw up barriers to entry in an industry that keep brash, upstart companies from getting in the way, benefitting larger, established companies. It can establish laws that effectively subsidize one business at the expense of others.
Once a company goes down that road however, its extortionate behavior becomes another chain that prevents it from innovating and growing to its fullest potential. In other words, they wear the chains they forge in life.
But the worst thing that the government does is change the rules around to fit its own purposes. When this happens, uncertainty is created. That’s the kind of thing that creates fear and causes the economy to pull back as people wait for clearer skies.
Government, the less-than-silent partner in every business, should stop hindering and start supporting business. It must loosen the load on business so that jobs can be created, not further burden the only true engine of economic growth.
Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season — free of the chains, of course.
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