Letter From Milo: Tough Business

November 28th, 2018
I’ve run my own small business – make that a very small business – for about 15 years. I’m not saying I run it well, I’m just saying I run it. I’ve made good money, decent money and chump change. I’ve seen good times and bad times, but I’ve never seen times as bad as these.


The way the economy is going you have to wonder if Karl Marx wasn’t right after all. Like hunter-gatherer societies, barter economies and the colonial system, maybe true capitalism’s time has passed. Maybe it’s time for a new economic system to emerge, something that still rewards individual initiative but takes into consideration the immense disparity in the distribution of our planet’s natural resources.


Why should a few nations, blessed with an abundance of natural resources, prosper while other nations, blessed with an abundance of sand, rocks, snakes and AK-47s, teeter on the brink of collapse. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s a small world, dangerous and very crowded. Such obvious disparities in wealth serve only to inflame the have-nots. New chickens are hatching every day and they’ll all be needing a place to roost.


Whoa! I’m getting in over my head here. My world view is basically limited to what I can see out of my window. If I try to go beyond that I generally get a headache and have to retire to my couch with a cold Blatz and the remote control.


I was just reading an editorial about about the bankruptcy of General Motors. The writer opined that GM was too big to fail. What kind of bullshit is that! Too big to fail! The dinosaurs failed. The Roman Empire failed. The Soviet Union failed. Everything eventually fails. Do people think GM is going to last as long as the pyramids? Let GM succeed or fail on its own merits. I’ve got no sympathy for a company that foisted a monstrosity like the Hummer on an unsuspecting public. I mean, who the hell needs to drive a military assault vehicle on the streets of Chicago? Might as well outfit a Sherman tank with baby seats and a roof rack and call it a family sedan.


My concern is not with the GMs, AIGs and big banks of the world. I’m concerned about the little guy. My sympathies lie with the auto worker not the auto company. My heart goes out to the bank teller not the greedy bank honchos who helped cause this economic meltdown. While the fat MBA-festooned bastards are grudgingly accepting the blame, they are not suffering any of the consequences. At the end of the day, they will retire to their gated communities, while the unemployed autoworker and bank teller will be lucky to hang on to their split-levels and bungalows.


Swear to God, if it wasn’t for those unreasonable statutes that deprive a man of his liberty for committing even the most righteous of murders, I’d go and…


Ah, never mind. Where was I? Oh, yeah. As I was saying, as a small business owner, I rely on a lot of other small business owners to help me provide my advertising services. Several of my clients are small businesses, too, and it breaks my heart, not to mention my wallet, to see them struggling to stay afloat and, and many cases, drowning.


Small businesses are dropping like flies. I’ve seen mom and pop print shops go out of business. I seen advertising specialty suppliers, the people that provide coffee mugs, ball caps and ink pens with logos on them, go under. I’ve listened to the sad stories of print makers, rubber stamp manufacturers and silk screeners. I’ve commiserated with photographers who had to close their studios and designers who wonder where they’ll get the money to update their computer equipment. I’ve listened to people who have worked hard and honorably all their lives wonder if they’ll ever be able to retire.


I listen and listen and listen, and all I can do is quote the great Marvin Gaye: “What’s Going On?”
In my very first posting on this blog site, I promised that I would never lie to the American people. Although I’ve fudged on that promise a few times, I’ll be completely honest now. I’m suffering, too. My business is going through the same problems that other small business are dealing with – budgets slashed or eliminated, lack of credit, longer payment terms and clients defaulting on invoices.


I don’t now how much longer I can or want to keep it going. If things don’t pick up in the next six months I’ll have to make some tough decisions. As it is, I’m probably going to have to get a night job, something to help make ends meet. The only problem is that half the people in the country are looking for night jobs to help make ends meet. As W.C. Fields said, “It’s a tough old world, you’re lucky to get out of it alive.”


Anybody wanna start a riot?

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