"Joe Ordinary" and the President
On February 25, 2009, The President sent me the following email. I realize it is a form letter, but it is obvious the President is doing what he can to get input that can help America. My favorite line in the email is:
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for the above email. I am just an ordinary citizen. For the most part, I am very thankful for the way the American Government has educated me, protected me, and helped me with my small family operated business. You can call me Joe Ordinary.
I really don't want the general public to know much about my private life, but I feel compelled to tell you a little bit about me, and my family, so that you understand I am just an ordinary citizen, in an ordinary house, in an ordinary neighborhood.
In some ways I am like "Joe the Plumber" -- for example, I believed that when I started a business, I would make above average income. I started the business in 1988. I have now been in business for over 20 years.
When my brother's business failed, he began working with me. For the past fourteen years, the business has supported me, and my brother, and his family.
My brother is an ordinary man, with a wife, and a few kids. My brother drives an ordinary 20-year-old economy car with a sagging headliner and over 300,000 miles on the odometer. My brother's ordinary wife drives a new Prius because she wanted to make a "statement," and my brother doesn't have the balls to say, "NO!" I believe many ordinary men in this country can relate to my brother's ordinary situation.
Like many Ordinary people, we have already sent one child to college (who graduated with a degree in computer science). After he graduated, he worked for us for a short time making door handles and driveshaft alignment kits. These are some of the hundreds of parts that my brother and I normally make. Like most young adults, he didn't want to work in the family business, and being the college educated computer geek that he is, it only took him 5 minutes to tell us the work was "boring." He got a real job, using his computer skills, and our family is happy for him.
The reason I put in some of the links to parts we manufacture is that I want you to understand that I am just like the hundreds of thousands of ordinary small business owners who manufactures esoteric products that can support a family. The door handles alone, provide a steady, $30,000/year revenue, while some other parts we sell, are failures in terms of sales. The equipment I have purchased to design, develop, and manufacture parts would cost several hundred thousand dollars to replace.
Government Successes, and Income Taxes
One difference between me and "Joe the Plumber," is that I actually started a business. Another difference is that I believe in paying a higher percentage of income taxes when my income increases. One reason I feel this way, is that the Government provided me with Pell Grants, an education from kindergarden through college graduation, and a job when I graduated from engineering school.
My first job after college graduation (1984) was to work for a Government Contractor (FMC) that made the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (which is still used by the US military). During the first two years of working for FMC, I was paid while getting even more education, compliments of the Government.
Another way the Government has helped me was by issuing CARB (California Air Resources Board) Executive Order D-371 for Vehicle Speed Sensors I design and sell for cars and trucks with engine swap (I also manufacture some of the parts). The California government, through the CARB, has also helped my business by providing a Referee program for vehicles with engine swaps. The Referee program was in place long before I started my business.
Furthermore, as a result of the CARB reading a Conversion Manual I wrote, which stated that many vehicles are causing excessive pollution because they are not using speed sensors (which are part of the emissions controls on modern vehicles), the CARB instituted test procedures to make sure vehicles with engine swaps had functional vehicle speed sensors. The testing for vehicle speed sensors is a win-win-win situation for me (financially), the general public (which breathes cleaner air), and the owner of the vehicle (the vehicles run better and perform more efficiently with a vehicle speed sensor).
My father, another ordinary person, can also thank the Government for his education. As a World War II veteran, he used his GI bill to get a college degree, and then he became a school teacher.
The fact is, the Government has helped me, my brother, my sister, and my parents get college educations so that we could get jobs doing what we want to do. I am thankful for that, and that is why I don't mind paying more taxes, as my income increases.
Back to being "Joe Ordinary," a small business owner... with a simple idea
Like most small business owners, it took longer than expected to grow my business to where it made above average income.
After I began making an above average income, I moved from a one-bedroom apartment, to a small house. After moving into the house, my business income began to drop. It was caused by the phone company's decision to use defective phone lines. It should be noted that I have a home occupation business license, and I pay for commercial phone service.
As "Joe Ordinary," when I complained to the California Public Utilities about the phone company's decision to use defective phone lines, I was treated very badly, not just by the phone company, but by the California Public Utilities Commission. If I was a powerful person, or I had friends in high places, there is no way I would have been treated so badly.
Mr. President, I am glad you are now in Office, so that "Joe Ordinary's" like me can expect fairness when asking the Government for help when Corporate thugs violate laws that destroy the livelyhoods of "Joe Ordinary's."
I hope that like the CARB, which instituted testing procedures as a result of reading a book I wrote, that the Office of the President, will acknowledge that the "RSA" phone number is my phone number, and establish common sense regulations that will make life easier, and better for the Government, small businesses, and the phone companies. A Simple Solution, a Consumers' Bill of Rights
Mike Knell, aka, Joe Ordinary
last edited 02/25/09