Tag Archives: Politics

We’re Failing Entrepreneurs

In case it isn’t clear in my other posts or any day-to-day conversations I may have with individual readers, I love entrepreneurship. Studied it in school, read all about it, love talking about, everything. As far as I’m concerned, creating something people are willing to part with their money for is amazing.

I know I’m not alone thinking this, either. People that I talk to, meetings that I attend and information I find online there are no shortage of entrepreneur supporters. At least those who say they are.

Truth of the matter is most of the supposed support is there for those who have already made it. Proven that they have something. If you’re small and just s tarting out, good luck. It’s dog eat dog out there and anyone who would be in the position to help wants nothing to do with you.

Just a few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with other people interested in startups and there was a banker talking to the group. Although the information was helpful, out of the six different financing programs he went over, zero of them had anything to do with the bank lending money. Rather it was about how he could help you apply for government programs (an of course take a cut).

I’m sure any bankers out there will talk about risk avoidance, but there doesn’t seem to be an issue lending out someone else’s money. Talk about speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

Now only this, but if you’re self-employed banks won’t look at lending anything to you personally for two years. So delay a mortgage and start saving if you want to start a business. The financing isn’t coming from anywhere else. Essentially would-be small business owners need to plan well in advance and delay their lives in order to start their company.

It’s not just the banks, either. Out of the countless government programs, there is more red tape than one person can deal with. Not only that, but if you try to call them for help you get the run-around and zero answers.

Something else that is happening is that large companies have got wise to the programs. Money meant for new businesses with innovative products is sitting there for the taking. So these large companies apply, depleting the fund for those who could really use it.

The one example that really bugs me is that MTS applies and receives SRED funding every year. Yes, I have no doubt that they fit to the letter of the application, but the money isn’t being reinvested. It’s going to pad profits. Then there’s less for a deserving small business owner.

There are countless other examples out there, but I’m sure I’ve already bored you. All I can say is I hope this becomes an issue that more people will be vocal about, because our economy (especially in Manitoba) relies on small business. If we ever want these companies to grow, there needs to be help to do so.

Real Involvement in Government

With the Manitoba budget coming out this week there has been the usual number of newspaper articles and conversations tearing it apart. While I have my own opinions on it, who really cares? It may just be my jaded-too-early-in-life view about government, but at the end of the day they don’t care about newspaper articles or people complaining on the street, so long as they have a chance to win the next election. Unless they are way out of the running, at which point they just don’t care.

While political/government knowledge, as well as involvement in the process, is very important, I think that as a society we have become lazy about what this means. I doubt that reading a headline and then making sarcastic remarks on Facebook is what the Greeks intended when they invented democracy. Our current version of democracy is much more complicated, but I think that two basic principles still apply:

  1. Keeping informed and;
  2. Active participation.

Our laziness applies to both of these equally, but in different ways. Until there is a change in actions, then unfortunately I can’t really see the government changing how it operates.

Keeping informed about the government’s actions is a duty of ours as citizens. I’m not saying that every day we have to watch question period or read every bill that is passed through the House, but we all really need to keep up to date on the big issues. This is obviously easier said than done. In addition to finding the time to stay on top of these things, there is next to no unbiased information out there. Everyone has a horse in the race and it shows. Best thing we can do is read things objectively and try to form our own opinions.

Active participation can mean many things, and voting in elections is the bare minimum. When I talk to people who don’t I straight up tell them they have no right to complain about anything the government does if they don’t vote. Other than that, we can join interest groups, sign petitions, write letters (real letters, not email or social media posts), host public forums, and on and on. I know that a number of people will think, “That won’t be effective,” but how can you say that if you’ve never tried?

My whole point (and what I try to apply to my life in general) is focus on what you can change and take meaningful action. There is no point in making broad complaints and talking idly about how you would do something different if you don’t have the power to make that choice. Instead, come up with a way to use that dissatisfaction and energy to inspire actual change around you.

Here’s one thought about the government: I heard the other day that in the last 10 years the government hasn’t once come in under it’s proposed budget. If true (and I can’t find any confirmation on the Manitoba website, surprise, surprise) then all this yelling about the budget is almost a moot point. We think it’s bad now, but it just gets worse as the year goes along. If this even has a shred of truth, I think seeing reconciles is the first step in what could be a long process.

Government Like a Business

I haven’t been around for too long, but have been interested in politics from a young age. Not that I ever want to be a politician, but the entire concept and system fascinate me. The fact that “we the people” make our decision once every few years about the few who will make decisions for the many, based on promises that are rarely kept and really only account for about 5 or maybe 10% of what a politician does while in office is amazing. I may be a bit jaded.

Something that has been brought more often than not in elections that i have followed is the “business experience” of particular candidates. That is to say what he or she did before politics, and how that would relate to governing a population.

While I don’t doubt that there could be some important skills learned from running a business that are transferable to politics (leadership, strategic planning, consensus building, etc.) I do think there are some major flaws in running government like a business. In no particular order they are:

  • Growth and revenue building are the goals of businesses, but should not be the goals of government.
  • Business strategically leverage, but governments should not engage in this.
  • The market is able to constantly react to a business’s actions, in a sense “voting” day in and day out whether they are doing the right thing. Governments essentially get a carte blanche for the time they are in office.

I have more issues with politics and politicians than those, but I wanted to keep this brief. Let me explain a few of my thoughts.

In the first point I’m really referring to how, when boiled down, there is a fundamental difference in the goals of a government and a business. Governments only have two ways of growing revenues; raising taxes or growing the tax base (though immigration or having business grow). While immigration and businesses growth are great, neither can be relied on for huge growth in the tax base in a particular year. As for raising taxes,I think we all have the same opinion on that one.

Point two talks about leverage. While it can be a very good call for a business to take out debt to invest in a capital project that may pay dividends in the future, I am of the firm belief that government absolutely never should. Nothing frustrates me more to know that the government is constantly running at a deficit and seems to have no plans to change this ever. I could go on about this for days, but am going to spare you the pain.

The last point has to deal with how frustrating it is that we don’t have a lot of say in what happens in government outside of the once every four years election. I obviously can’t speak for anyone else, but I have agreed with every political party over one issue or another. I have a party that I agree with more often than the others, but i don’t 100% support everything they do. There needs to be some more involvement in the decisions our politicians make, because it is our money and future they are playing with.

All of these points, especially the last one, have me pretty worried for our future as a country. In always trying to be the optimist, I think that there are ways of making things better all the time. Having political discussions, one citizen to another, is a good start. There needs to be more, though.

I’m going to throw out an idea that I have had for a while, but don’t have the ability to make a reality. I think there needs to be a website which tracks every vote in the various levels of government and how each representative voted. Citizens can easily view this, and even cast their own vote on the issue. Come the next election they have hard evidence as to which party they agree with the most and can make a voting decision based on some hard evidence. Who knows, maybe if it gets big enough the politicians will take notice and start involving the people.

If you have an interest in the above project, please let me know. I would love to get this going, but haven’t thought of a good way of monetizing it yet, therefore haven’t pulled the trigger. If we can get a team going, though, I’m sure we can make democracy about the people again!