Joe the Plumber is not my role model

Laura Lang, my ace marketing consultant, sent me this link to a commentary piece on written by Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation.  Carl does a great job of laying out the reasons we as a nation should encourage people to become entrepreneurs.


I agree with everything Carl said except for the headline, and his elevation of Joe the Plumber as someone we should admire.  My reading of Joe the Plumber is that he wants instant success.


Here is one concept that Carl missed.  His stats about 1,000 high growth firms started each year is probably more accurately stated as 1,000 small firms joining the high growth club each year.  They may have been started years earlier.  Companies aren’t necessarily high growth from the git-go. 


My brother Hank’s company, IssueTrak, is a case in point.  He started the company in 1992, and just made the INC. 500 a year ago for his performance in the 5 years ending in 2006.  Where was he the first 10 years of the business?


And what about my company, Luhring SurvivalWare, Inc., which went live on the web in 2002?  We’ve been coasting along at about $100,000 in annual revenue the last three years, while pouring every spare nickel into development, field testing, and documentation.  With the release of version 2.0 of SurvivalWare over the summer, the focus is now shifting to marketing and sales.  Our web traffic has quadrupled in the last 2 months, and leads have grown by the same amount.  We think 2009 will be a breakout year.  The transition from hanging on by our fingernails to high growth will have taken 7 or 8 years.  Excuse me if I don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone who expects to make $250,000 soon enough to be affected by Barack Obama’s tax policies.   Joe the Plumber should be worried about Barack Obama’s successor 4 to 8 years from now.


One reason we as a society celebrate the entrepreneur is the same reason idolize the cowboy from years past.  We are independent.  We can take care of ourselves.  We march to the tune of our own drummer.  We mostly do what we want.  We don’t have a boss telling us to do ridiculous things.  Unfortunately, we do have the government telling us to do ridiculous things on occasion, like “Fill out this tax form” or “File this report.”  Sometimes we drag our feet in silent protest.  Then there’s that other thing we have to deal with – that whole thing about not running out of cash.  The stress from worrying about that can be crushing.


Here’s a message to Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke and the others:


Hey you all!  You’re not making life any easier for us out here in the trenches with all the uncertainty you’re layering on top of an already uncertain world.  Cut it out!


Let the damn banks fail.  You won’t see a lot of tears shed from this sector.  I kind of like the imagery of a squirming banker being told he’s been turned down for loan.


Let Wall Street change its business model.  Excuse me, but buying a Credit Default Swap to me is like buying a lifetime membership in a health club.  Did you really think the counter-party was going to be around to make good on the debt?  If you’ve got any money left, I’ve got swampland in Florida you should take a look at.


My problem with Joe Plumber is that he had the expectation of making a $250,000 income right after buying (not building from scratch) a plumbing business.  I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 30 years and have yet to make $250,000 in a single year.  When I do get there, I will only be happy to pay more in taxes, because I will have more to pay with.  I tell my kids and anyone else who will listen that my goal in life is to pay $1,000,000 a year in taxes – because that means I’ll be making a whole lot of money.


My personal preference is for a flat tax like the one Steve Forbes proposed years ago.    As I recall, the first $40,000 in income would be totally exempt from taxes, and then a flat 17% of income after that was paid in tax.  No deductions.  No loopholes.  Total simplification of the tax code.  Time to sell your stock in H&R Block.


In the meantime, going easy on the middle class by squeezing the rich just a little bit more doesn’t seem so bad.


Note to the politicians – whatever you do, just give us a level playing field, and stay off of our backs.  We’ll be glad to pay our fair share in taxes as long as you treat us right.


2 Responses

  1. Carl Schramm’s “Schrammenomics” Creates Record Unemployment
    By entrepreneurshipeconomist

    Over the past seven years, Carl Schramm has presided over the least entrepreneurial and most corrupt era of American business. During these seven years he has done far more harm than good by redefining entrepreneurship in a Harvard MBA “growthology” buzzword manner that pleases his Statist friends. During the era of Schrammenomic “entrepreneurship/growthology” the government burgeoned (growthology) as tens of millions lost their pensions, savings, jobs, and homes while entrepreneurs lost their credit lines and the rising generation lost its future earnings, as the Kauffman Foundation’s endowment/hedge fund needed the TARP bailout funds to line Schramm et al.’s pockets with millions upon millions, as the $2.5 billion endowment benefited from taxpayer bailouts for the Wall Street rich both directly and indirectly.

    Instead of investing the Kauffman funds in entrepreneurs and innovators (as Mr. Kauffman willed), Schramm has pocketed millions for his corporate vanity press while leading and furthering double-speaking Statist philosophies, dumbing down and feminizing the university campus and replacing wealth-creating Ph.D.’s with wealth-transferring MBAs/JDs, all the while saying one thing while doing another; as one cannot serve two masters. As Schramm’s campaigning for the Nobel prize and fostering innovation and entrepreneuership are opposing endeavors, he had not the time to do both; and as he does not personally innovate nor invent nor create companies with actual names, he figured the former path would be the safer investment for the $2.5 billion endowment he inherited/commandeered.

    Never has Schramm used his throne to speak out against massive student debt, but instead he has rewarded the administrations who augmented the student debt in an unprecedented manner and bought up more land and property with hundreds of millions of dollars–stolen capital that Kauffman had meant for entrepreneurs, rather than a private citizen’s campaign for the Nobel in economics.

    When entrepreneurs innovate and create, according to Schramm, they do it for selfish motivations, and that is why Kauffman cannot fund them, but only take credit for their success, while leaving them with their failures as their lines of credit are cut off by Schramm’s satatist/banking friends. But when Schramm takes credit for the wealth created by entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship via his elite Kauffmun-funded PR team and Kauffman-funded vanity-press buzzword bloggers, he does it for the greater good of humanity, and thus he is the one, true pre-ordained beneficiary of Kauffman, as he is more virtuous than you, because he neither innovates nor invents, which is considered to be a crime against the Statists and the State. And over the past seven years, he and his team of elite Statists have crusaded against the true entreprneurial spirit, while seeking to take credit for entrepreneurship’s wondrous wealth creation while funneling millions to the bureuacracies/university administrations that oppose it. Name one–just one–Kauffman venture that has sprung fourth form the millions they have invested in Statist technology transfer and university dog and pony shows.

    “I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.” –Tolstoy Writings on Civil Disobedience and Nonviolence (1886)

    Scrhamm and his socialist friends would have dominated in the Soviet Union, as the Statists redefine entrepreneurship as a puerile Web 2.0 riskless/centralized blogfest/PR machine/vanity press.

    Yes–America still loves its entrepreneurs, but Schramm is the opposite of the entrepreneur, funding university administrations and creating vast technology transfer/entrepreneurship education bureaucracies in Schramm’s image–filled with lifelong, professional Statists who are jealous of wealth creators and entrepreneurs and pull out all the stops in opposing them.

    The Kauffman funds were meant to fund entrepreneurs all across the land–not to be concentrated in one central-planner’s hands so as to build his vanity press/buzzword blogfest and further his campaign for the Nobel in ecomics, as millions of entrepreneurs lost their homes, savings, pensions, and businesses over the seven years of the central-planners’ anti-entreprneuerial leadership. Under Schrammenomics government spending has burgeoned in an unprecedented manner while corporate corruption has soared. And all the while, Schramm has remained too big to fail as the eocnomy crumbled under his anti-leadership.

    How many more years is the Kauffman Board going to sit idly by as Schrammenomics funds innovationless university administrators and Statists? How many more homes, jobs, pensions, businesses, and savings must be lost, before the Kauffman Board reallocates the hundreds of millions directed towards Schramm’s vanity press/soulless, dishonorable boomer blogfest filled to the brim with conflicts of interest?
    “It is interesting that Dealbreaker references Carl Shram of the Kauffman Foundation as an authority on ethics. Those of us who live in the Kansas City region know that Carl Schram and been a controversial figure since he was appointed to his post a number of years ago. Board members have resigned in protest of his leadership style and strategic choices. His controversial leadership led to the Missouri Attorney General reviewing the Kauffman Foundation for not staying true to the intent of Ewing Kauffman. The purpose of this review was stated as:

    “In light of the public allegations of a departure from Mr. Kauffman’s intent, lack of appropriate oversight by the Board of Directors, and certain instances of conflicts of interest. ” (

    See also this editorial from the Kansas City Business Journal (

    Ewing Kauffman was famous as an ethical leader. Carl Schramm is not.

    Talk talk talk talk talk talk, PR release, soundbite, soundbite, blog, blog, talk, talk, talk, PR release, talk, fund blog to review schrammenomic books with kauffman funds, talk talk talk, blog, blog blog. And the DOW goes down, down, down, along with the economy, pensions, savings, and the American Dream. Hord. Hord. Hord Kauffman funds for personal profits/book promotions/book tours. Deny entrepreneurs funding while pocketing millions meant for entrepreneurs and funding friends and schrammenomic “team players.” Write another vanity-press book. Send to sycophantic buzzword Harvard MBA/JD bloggers.

    Nowhere in the Kauffman mission statement did Mr. Kauffman say that one risk-free, Machiavellian man/Statist should so dominate and transmorgify the fruits of Mr. Kauffman’s vison, service, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

    Over the past seven years as the DOW plummeted, housing prices plummted, and tens of millions of American’s lost their jobs/homes/savings/penisons to Schrammenomics, Schramm has pocketed millions and doled out hundreds of millions more to university administrators and elite blogger/lawyers supporting his campaign for the Nobel in ecomomincs.

    Schramm had a vast opportunity to directly fund entrepreneurs and innovation–to lead an army of entrepreneurs; but as his major goal was the Nobel in economics and not fostering wealth creation and growth, nor saving the US Constitution nor economy; he focused on PR and “being liked” and surrounding himslef with syocphantic socialists who could put on the best entrepreneuership dog and pony shows. And after seven long years of anti-entrepreneur Schrammenomics, the unemployment rate has hit an all-time high:

    Under Schramm’s anti-leadership (As the WSJ article states that he is proud that nobody knows what it is that Kauffman does), Kauffman will not fund entrepreneurs nor innovators nor risk-takers, but Schramm’s purloined empire will instead merely seek to take credit for the entrepreneurs’ innovation, work, and wealth creation via PR releases.

    Notice what has happened over the past seven years since Schramm took the helm of the Kauffman Foundation and redefined entrepreneurship in his own elite, “never worked a day in my life,” “never filed a patent nor launched a company with an actual name,” “too big to fail” image.

    This is because Schramm sees entrepreneurs as greedy, selfish people. And that is why he receives the lion’s share of the Kauffman funds to promote his vanity press and hire an entire cabal of “growthology” bloggers and Harvard MBAs to coin new buzzwords so as to transfer more wealth into Schramm’s pocket as the economy declines. For when entrepreneurs seek money, they do it for selfish reasons. But when Schramm’s “schrammenomic” Harvard MBA/blogger/lawyer friends seek money, they do it for the greater good of society.

    When entrepreneurs innovate and create, according to Schramm, they do it for selfish motivations, and thus the Statist will not fund them. But when Schramm takes credit for the wealth created by entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship via his elite Kauffmun-funded Harvard MBA/PR team and Kauffman-funded vanity-press buzzword bloggers, he does it for the greater good of humanity.

    Schrammenomics is the problem–not the solution

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