A Crossroads That Demands Our Firm Resolve and ActionBy Toby Mack
Article Date: 10-01-2010
Copyright(C) 2010 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpts from a speech delivered at the Executive Forum on Sept. 17
As most of you know, I’ve been around AED for a while, and I’ve lived through some pretty deep downturns – I think this is my third major recession, and there have been some lesser ones in between. But this one is fundamentally different. No doubt excesses in our economic system were a major cause of our going into it. But for the first time, excesses in our political system are preventing us from coming out of it, and are indeed making it much worse. Here’s how I see it:
Increasingly, America – its people and its politicians – is sorting itself into two camps:
The first being those who believe that national economic well-being is created primarily through the public sector; who consider businesses and entrepreneurs to comprise “the rich” and believe that “economic justice” demands administrative transfers of wealth to the lower end of the economic scale, and who see Government’s role as arbiter of the details of daily life.
And the second being those who see business and personal investment, initiative and responsibility as the drivers of growth, jobs, economic recovery and national prosperity and strength.
The forthcoming elections and the campaigns leading up to them are, perhaps more than any time in memory, a clearly delineated competition between these two starkly different visions of the path to national strength and well-being.
The prosperity and future of AED’s members and the entire industry hinge on the outcome of this debate. Our industry is clearly at a crossroads.
This election, and the Congress that takes its seat afterward, will decide:
1.) If your taxes and Government-imposed employment mandates, and therefore your financial capacity to expand your business, will increase, remain steady, or shrink necessary long-term investments in our transportation and water infrastructure,
2.) If transferring your business to the next generation will be a seamless process, or will require the de-capitalization and leveraging of your company and therefore the loss of your competitive advantage, or indeed outright sale of the business
3.) Whether capital investments in your business will be incentivized or penalized
4.) If America will begin the critically necessary long-term investments in our transportation and water infrastructure, or muddle along on a month-to-month stopgap basis while shoveling hundreds of billions to fatten up the already-bloated public sector
5.) If Government inspectors will run roughshod over your operations and arbitrarily impose criminal penalties on minor oversights of increasingly stringent safety, environmental and labor regulations, or assist you in compliance
6.) Whether you, or the unions, will decide your pay scales, work rules, benefits programs, and indeed whom and how you may hire, and then how you train and fire your workforce
7.) And if in fact, whether you will be selling your products and services into a robust and expanding economy, or fighting for an ever less profitable piece of a shrinking pie
The Ante Has Been Raised
What could be more important to our futures? When can you remember a time when the outcomes mattered more? I submit the answers to these questions are: Nothing, and never.
So AED is at a crossroads as well. You have consistently told us that advocating the industry’s interests in Washington is Job No. 1. We responded by growing our efforts and resources there.
Things have been difficult for us over the past two years. We’ve had a Congressional majority and an Administration fundamentally hostile to free enterprise and private sector growth. AED’s resources to counter this onslaught have been reduced by deep recession. But we have kept fighting the good fight in a very frustrating and unfriendly environment.
But now, my friends, the ante has been raised. Now the stakes are the highest in anyone’s memory. The next few years will be the most critical in our lifetimes in determining the future of the construction equipment industry, the private sector, and indeed our national prosperity.
AED must go “all in” with our resources and focus – partnering with our association and business community allies – to have the maximum possible impact on these momentous contests between those who call for a Government-led economy and those who see the private sector as the path to prosperity.
In the months ahead, you will see our footprint in Washington grow, along with our impact on this, the debate of our lifetimes. But this is an expensive job.
So we hope you will join us for the fight, help us with the resources we will need to fight it, and get as personally active and involved as you have ever been in this battle. AED will be your national vehicle, but it is your individual voices, and the resources you put behind them, that will determine if we can turn the tide.
So I’m asking you to stay the course with AED, provide your fair share of the costs of this fight, and then to get very active both with your employees and with your own involvement.
There’s the sense that, at least philosophically, we and the American public may have turned the corner. We have much work left to do – but we’re in for the duration, and we look forward to your being there with us.
Thanks very much for your ear – we’ll see you in Washington.
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