Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Capitalism, Not as Fun Anymore
by James Glaser
November 16, 2007

I don't know when Washington started taking the fun out of being a capitalist, but my guess is that it started about the same time income taxes were introduced. Ever since that time, every form of government we have has been trying to get a piece of the action.

I just opened a new business here in Tallahassee. I opened a fine craft/art gallery. I was going to name it Depot Agent Gallery, because it is located in the Railroad Square Art Park, and we are trying to do a railroad theme. I ended up modifying the name to, James Glaser's Depot Agent Gallery, because if I didn't have my name on it, I would have had to fill out an "Application for Registration of Fictitious Name" with the State of Florida, and pay a $50 non-refundable processing fee, and then pay another $10 to find out if they registered the name.

I already had to pay to get a Tallahassee business license, and I had to get a State Sales Tax number, so I could collect taxes for the State of Florida.

I talked to a CPA about helping me set up my books, but when she told me that she charges $150 an hour, I decided to do it on my own.

I had the Gallery open last Friday night as sort of a sneak-preview to see how things would go, and found I need better lighting inside and out, more art work for sale, and I will have to move my computer out of the office I set up, to the check-out counter, because I run a slide show of my past work, which people seem to like.

Things did go pretty well. The credit/debit card machine seems easy enough to use. With help from a man in India, who answered the 800 number help line on the side of our new cash register, we were able to get that programmed. And to tell the truth, having the place open was kind of fun. I have never owned a retail shop, and it is a new experience.

The only draw-back is the paper work, and there is lots of it. Keeping track of everything I do or spend has never been my strong suit, but I am learning.

I really believe, a hundred years ago, I could have been a rich man. Buy something at a good price, and sell it for a higher price, and keep the difference. Everything was cash, and nobody cared about receipts. Now I'll have to have a file for every credit card purchase, and keep track of them for 18 months, then I'll have to keep, collect, and send in the State's tax money, and that is more paperwork. Then when I get all done with everything, the federal government is going to want their share.

There seems to be a million things to do to get a business open, and then there will be lots to do to stay open. The buying and selling of products are the fun parts of any business, but that has become a smaller and smaller part of any retail endeavor. The paperwork for the government part of the business is taking more and more time as Washington and Tallahassee figure out ways to take more and more of what you make from your labor.

I don't even mind paying the taxes. It is the paperwork, forms, and record-keeping that I don't like. I'll be doing everything on the up and up, because I would like to sell this business in a few years, so that means everything on the books. I can see why America has such a huge underground economy.

Many people don't have the education nor the skills to do all the things the government requires, but more than that, millions of people in America don't have the patience to jump through all the hoops that our government sets up before you can open the doors to your business. So, they work on the sly, they work for cash or they barter. I guess I can't really blame them.

Post Script:

I haven't been able to get on line the past few days, but today I had the teenager from next door come over and in about 60 seconds he had every up and running. No, I don't really know what was wrong, and I don't really care. I guess I still figure this whole internet thing runs on magic.

CBS news reported today that over 120 American veterans commit suicide every week now. Here in Tallahassee, at the VA Clinic, they have expanded the Mental Health Unit. They have added more doctors, but the one I talked to said that he can still only see a vet about one time a month, because his case load is so heavy. He explained that returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan who need help should be seen several times a week for many months, if he is to really help them. Right now all he is doing is keeping track of the numbers of vets seeking help. Sad huh? I think criminal, too.

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