I’m not much for anecdotal evidence about certain kinds of things, so I’ll just recount three stories from this past week, then you can be the judge.
It was time for our annual A/C unit check so the guy comes out and determines our unit needs a new fan motor and a new compressor for a unit that isn’t made anymore. He tells us rather than spend an estimated $3K on replacement parts that it might be time to replace the entire 16-year old unit. Estimated cost: between $6K-7K. Ouch. He makes his proposal, we seek a second and third opinion.
Two days later, a guy comes with a couple of proposals for us to look at. As more of a joke and to make light conversation than anything else, I ask him whether we can write off any of the cost on our taxes next year by buying a certified energy-efficient unit. I couched it in terms of something like, “…if Washington’s going to waste money like they do, they ought to waste some of it on me, right?”
The guy just shook his head and smiled, then proceeded to run through a whole host of ways his business is being hammered by the government at both the federal and state level – everything from measures that encourage people to stay in their homes even though they can’t afford them (or, surprise surprise, the A/C repairs they need). He mentioned the increase in costs his company is facing because of increased environmental regulations and healthcare costs due to ObamaCare, etc. etc.. Not to mention the tax hikes they’ll face January 1 if the Bush tax credits are allowed to expire. Finally, he said, “listen, I’m no liberal by any stretch of the matter, I’ve voted for lots of Democrats in the past. But with this guy in office (his emphasis) I’ll be damned if I’m voting for any Democrat this November.”
Our palm tree guy comes out for the bi-annual treatments our queen palms get. He’s a funny guy and I enjoy hearing his stories while he goes about his business, pumping treatment into the ground and trimming the branches and cones. This time, without any prodding from me (hey, I just offered him a cold soda, he doesn’t know my politics from Adam), he gets on the subject of unemployment benefits and how it’s impacting his business.
The problem, he says, is that the more Congress extends unemployment benefits, the less inclined people are to go out and try to either find work or start a business themselves. Because of his client base, he sees the same people and he knows those who are still receiving unemployment benefits two, even three, years after they lost their jobs. He wipes his brow and takes a long swig of Sprite Zero. “I’ve even asked a couple of them if they’d like to work for me because I’ve had a couple of deadbeats I was getting ready to fire, right? And y’know what they tell me? They’d rather take the unemployment than work out in the hot sun doing legit work. Can you believe it? And then, at the same time, they say that because they’re on unemployment they can’t afford to have me take care of their trees. I see it all over. It’s laziness and greed, you know? All supported by the feds. I voted for Obama in 2008 because I thought he’d change the way Washington works. Total fraud.”
I mentioned to him that I can’t wait to vote in November to throw all the Democrats out. He replies, “I’ll be the one standing in line in front of you, believe me.”
The palm guy notes that our other trees (the ever-expanding mesquite and our lemon and lime trees) really need some quality maintenance. He knows an arborist who’s done quality work for his clients and has him give me a call. Two days later, the guy comes with his 14-year old son (learning the old man’s trade), and Nino, his “cutting expert”. Nino’s been with him fifteen years and they’re artists in perpetual motion, scoping out what needs to be cut (not trimmed) and where, the son dutifully gathering up all the branches and cutting them into smaller take-away sizes.
“I had nine working for me full-time before the recession, had to let all but us go. Right now it’s really bad out there, my costs in everything are going through the roof. And now the food – have you noticed the prices at the supermarkets going up? And they’re really shrewd – things like 20 lbs of dog food now being sold in 16 lb bags for the same price? My margins are so low I got to keep track of this kind of thing, you know?”
I mention to him that its just inflation starting to kick in because of the federal spending and the rising debt. Boy, that was a mistake.
“Let me tell you what a lot of people are now doing. Keep it from the feds, everything is going underground. People are avoiding taxes by keeping as much under the table as they can. They see their taxes going up on everything and are doing whatever they can not to feed the government trough, right? Listen, I do a lot of bartering for services and things, you know? There’s a lot of that going on out there, and you know why? People know they can’t trust anyone in Washington to do anything right. They’ve stopped listening to the same damned people who pay their damned salaries. They’re only interested in feathering their nests and staying in power, which is why they’re now going to run heath care. What a joke. You can’t make this stuff up. Me, I take pride in my work, I’m the best around that I know. But how will I ever be able to pass my business on to my son? What’s the long-term benefit to him? My wife spends all her time in paperwork so I can my time outside in the sun and heat cutting trees. It’s not right. This country is in rough shape, and something big needs to happen – and soon.”
I tell him there’s always November.
“We’ll need two more Novembers after that, just to make sure all the trash gets taken out.”
Three people, three stories. And these are just working stiffs: I didn’t get them out of some conservative Republican business circle, they’re just guys providing a service we requested. What it tells me, though, is that the mainstream media and the Democrats are making a big mistake calling people like these “angry white men”, or “racists”, or “teabaggers”, or “Nazis”, or worse.
And by no means are they alone. There’s an anger and dissatisfaction out there that’s genuine, and, as I’ve mentioned before borne out of fear. Y’all may agree or disagree with, or dislike, the way I might occasionally rail against liberals, Democrats, and Washington in this space from time to time, but I’m not some guy coming out of left field raving and drooling about nonsense.
And come November you can bet all our voices will be heard. Loudly. The future of this country depends on it.
Pool temp: 84 degrees