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Do You Value Your Time? Thank an Entrepreneur.

This morning I got up at 6:30 am. I took a hot shower, turned on the sprinkler to water the lawn, cooked an omelet for breakfast, put the dishes in the dishwasher, read The Wall Street Journal on my iPad while I enjoyed a cup of espresso, and answered five questions from my staff and clients via email. Then I got into my car and drove five miles to arrive at work at 7:45 am.

The point here isn’t that there’s anything exciting about my morning routine. It’s to emphasize how much our current technology allows one person to do in 75 ordinary minutes. Some of what I do every day, like getting to work in ten minutes or reading an East Coast newspaper the same day it’s published, would have taken hours or days to accomplish 100 years ago.

One of the greatest benefits we all receive from new inventions, discoveries, technology, and tools is time. The most valuable commodity a dollar can buy is time. Time to do what we want, when we want to do it. Time that allows us to easily provide for our day-to-day needs and frees us to develop and use our own particular skills.

Who do we have to thank for that gift of time? Entrepreneurs. Through their inventions and services, successful entrepreneurs don’t just make it possible for us to live more comfortably and have easy access to more goods and services. They create more time for all of us.

According to many politicians, the real problem with America is its entrepreneurs. If all those business people just paid more taxes, focused less on profitability, hired more people, and spent more money, all our problems would be solved.

I would suggest the opposite is true. Entrepreneurs are actually what is right with America. Instead of demonizing them, our politicians should support them in every manner possible. Entrepreneurs are the reason for our nation’s relatively high standard of living.

Disdain of entrepreneurs shows an ignorance of how a successful economy works. Production drives an economy. Show me a nation where the government produces most of the goods and services, and I will show you a nation in poverty. Cuba comes to mind.

Certainly, governments do have an important role to play. They provide services and infrastructure that support and encourage entrepreneurship. To do so, governments must take a portion of the production of their citizens by requiring them to pay taxes. Therefore, citizens must sell their labor, goods, and services to acquire the country’s currency with which to pay their tax obligations.

A government must strike a fine balance in the amount of productivity it takes from its citizens and what it leaves them. Taking too much risks killing the golden goose of productivity. If entrepreneurs decide that what is left after paying taxes is not worth their capital, time, and risk, they will expend less effort and become less productive. Some will even move to countries that encourage productivity.

According to Adam Smith, “The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”

The work of entrepreneurs like Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Bill Gates continually reduces the toil and trouble it takes us to acquire goods and services. The enormous improvements in our standard of living over the past 100 years have come from the creativity and risk-taking of entrepreneurs. It is they who provide us with the most important form of wealth—more time to do what matters to us in our own pursuit of happiness.

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14 Responses to Do You Value Your Time? Thank an Entrepreneur.

  1. Richard Trachtman, Ph.D. September 10, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    Rick,

    When you stick to writing as a financial planner you are good. But here you are writing, or should I say diatribeing, as an individual with a fiscally conservative political philosophy. You are welcome to your opinions, but you are really not qualified to present them as some sort of expert. You just undermine your professional credibility by muddying the waters in this way on your website.

  2. Alisa Houck September 10, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Thank you for what you have written here Rick. I’m with you, thankful for the freedom in the country (right now) to enjoy the benefits of the creativity and hard work of entrepreneurs. I hope that they do not lose the freedom/incentive because of governmental interventions/taxes.

  3. Zer September 10, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I would like know which politicians said “the problem with America is its entrepreneurs” or is that part complete BS since it doesn’t even pass the smell test?

  4. Mark September 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    This fallacy that ‘many politicians’ demonize entrepreneurs will only serve to derail any REAL political debate and further widen the divide among the folks in this country with extreme views (on both sides). Raising taxes (back to Clintonian levels) on some of our wealthier citizens (to raise much-needed revenue) is not the same as asking them to “focus less on profitability, hire more people, and spend more money.” Surely you don’t fall into the same camp of folks who lifted Obama’s “They didn’t build that!” quote out of context to serve a dirty political master. That is poorly played. We all know what Obama meant: It’s about the coming infrastructure crisis, Rick. Google it.

  5. Svend September 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    I agree with comments 1,3 and 4. I think that you should stick to the realm of financial services (which you are very good at)and take your political philosophies to the local coffee shop (where they will be appreciated).

    This is a reason that I am not a client……I am tired of your political persuasions.

  6. Mitch Anderson September 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Two years ago I would have been only moderately interested and then with only passive views on this topic but that changed when I actually became an entrepreneur. I have a newfound perspective and appreciate immensely what goes into starting and, more importantly, maintaining a successful business. Frankly I am amused with the concept that you are “not qualified” to render an opinion on this. I wonder what would qualify – perhaps a PhD in Economics, Taxation, maybe even Western Civilization? Certainly not years of experience and professional training in financial theory, taxation, and behavioral finance. Keep writing my friend…thanks.

  7. Rick Kahler September 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    I think one of the most interesting points of the comments above is that there is disagreement whether there is a class war in America being waged by some politicians.

    My many business clients drop their jaws in disbelief when I point out that half of the country does not feel there is any class warfare being suggested by some of our leaders.

    Clearly, most of my clients that own businesses are hearing the words of those politicians very differently than those who don’t.

  8. Scott September 11, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Rick,
    I didn’t realize it required a Ph.D. to implement logic and common sense. If it didn’t require all of my time and energy to run a successful, 40 year, family business I would pursue an education.
    Mr. Trachtman’s website has a disclaimer that clearly states that “He is not qualified to give advice on economics, investing or financial planning.”
    Guess I’m just another fiscally conservative businessman!

  9. Mark September 12, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    re: class warfare. This is a non sequitur. Wasn’t mentioned before in this thread until you brought it up, Rick. But, because this is the internet, and there’s little time to figure out what you mean, I’ll assume ‘class warfare’ is shorthand for sunsetting the Bush tax cuts. Taxes are lower than they’ve ever been in this country. Even under the Clinton Tax code taxes were remarkably low (historically). Please explain how this is class warfare? How does a civil society provide the infrastructure to continue as a civil society without some sort of revenue? Without participation from all people? And what did the Bush tax cuts do for us to create jobs, and support a more entrepreneurial economy? Don’t the Bush tax cuts coincide with one of the most disastrous decades (financially) we’ve ever weathered? Isn’t this some sort of proof of the fallacy of that line of thinking? Just looking for correlations here.

  10. Rick Kahler September 12, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Thanks for your comments. I didn’t have the Bush tax cuts in mind when I referred to “class warfare.”

    I was more referring to the rhetoric we’ve heard coming from many politicians in DC that it’s “the rich” who are not paying their “fair share”, spending enough money, or doing their part to bring us out of this financial crisis. Many have inferred that it was “the rich” who actually got us into this financial crisis. It’s the general notion that if you are “rich” you have become so on the backs of the poor rather than from hard work and risk taking. The growing anger toward those who succeed is palpable and real. A political pundit friend of mine says all you need to do is go to a town hall meeting and this becomes very apparent.

    As far as the Bush tax cuts, if they expire they will raise taxes on the middle class (as a percentage) more than any other group. What goes unmentioned in the media is that the Bush tax cuts benefited the middle class more than any other income bracket.

  11. Mark September 12, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Please cite the instances where you’ve read ANY politician attacking the rich for not paying their fair share. Real quotes. I’m curious to know who is saying such things. I think the notion, in raising taxes BACK to former levels is that EVERYONE needs to pony up more. Even the precious middle class. We’re all in this together. Dennis Berman (of the WSJ) said today that “Median U.S. household income in 2011 was $50,054. In 1999 it was $59,604.” Again, what major financial (or other) policy correlates? Maybe the Bush tax cuts. Maybe the wars…I’m simply asking. Oversimplifying this as ‘class warfare’ is dangerous and irresponsible. If it were ‘warfare’ there’d be blood.

  12. Rick Kahler September 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Hey Mark,

    I did a quick search and immediately found a couple of people you might know that said the rich are not paying their fair share. There were too many to list, but you asked for just one. I’ll give you the first two:

    USA Today, April 11, 2012
    President Obama promoted his “Buffett Rule” again today, saying millionaires and billionaires should pay their “fair share” to help reduce the federal debt and pay for necessary government investments like education.

    He later added, “it’s just plain wrong that middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires.”

    TV Interview, May 28, 2010 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said that “the rich are not paying their fair share” of taxes in the United States and other developed countries.

    Also, Mark, my use of “class warfare is a colloquialism and I use it as a metaphor, which is a type of analogy and is a figures of speech I use to achieve an effect via association, comparison or resemblance. It is not meant to literally infer that there is an actual physical war being waged with guns, bombs, and blood.

    Hope that helps.

  13. Mark September 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Now we have context. Thank you. In this context then, do you think it is fair that one group of folks would pay more, as a percentage of their income than another? Agree or disagree with Obama, Clinton, etc., but please state your reason…Further, how is this ‘demonizing’ entrepreneurs? Some evidence is necessary.

    Side NOTE: See Rick, this is more like debate. Resorting to tired and ineffectual cliches you call metaphors (co-opted from progressives oddly enough) doesn’t further the debate. ‘Warfare’ overstates the disagreement (about taxation in this case) which has the larger effect of derailing dialogue and inverting it into emo-political screed. Plus, the further we get from the nugget of truth here…That we disagree about taxation, the further we get from a solution. Then we waste time debating abstractions like ‘class warfare’ and time is money, right?

  14. Scott Kuhn September 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I think Rick is speaking more on monetary & fiscal policy instead of politics. I didn’t see one mention of Democrat or Republican anywhere. Unfortunately neither party understands our modern monetary system. It would be devastating to our economy to raise taxes on anyone during this fragile period of time. (this could be a republican statement but it is true) It would also be devastating to cut federal government spending at this fragile period in our economy (this could be a democrats statement) the truth is if we actually did both of those…raise taxes & cut spending we would see an economic collapse far greater than the great depression (this would be a statement based on monetary theory & require no politics to make it…only policy)