Here I go peering into the abyss again. Still I say, “Be afraid. Be very afraid, small businessman.”
The latest business warning comes from Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, who unleashed a blistering jeremiad last Tuesday on an investor conference call published by Business Insider, directed at the business climate in the U.S. and, very specifically, at the constant stream of new regulations and the anti-business rhetoric of the current federal government.
What he said was most surprising in that Steve Wynn is a big contributor to the Democratic Party and heavily bankrolled Sen. Harry Reid’s reelection in Nevada last year. He said, “I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime.”
He says all business at all levels should fear President Obama and his bureaucrats. Wynn feels the U.S. is becoming dangerously statist, oligarchic and authoritarian, even as China successfully embraces free enterprise and capitalism.
Though there is a huge amount of capital waiting to invest, including his own, he basically feels you’re nuts to invest in the U.S. in the increasingly suffocating bureaucratic environment.
“Until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it’s not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America.”
Warren Buffet (another large Democratic donor) and Bernard Marcus of Home Depot also spoke with increasing alarm about our business climate last week, and, unsurprisingly, Nouriel Roubini is quoted in Forbes Magazine as saying we have already entered a new recession.
Now, the interests of big business big shots like Wynn, Buffet, and Marcus are not always congruent with your or my interests. However, in this case they are. Marcus said flat out he could never have started Home Depot with all the bureaucratic barricades set up in the last three years. These new and multiplying regulations create a stultifying trope for small businessmen. And we have yet to see what time-wasting paperwork awaits us in Obamacare (145 new bureaucratic entities and counting) and Dodd-Frank. All this new regulation is well-meaning but the results are a killer for the entrepreneur.
I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur if my core wasn’t that of an optimist, but reality is daunting these days. As Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah puts it, “We have lost that which has made us great over the generations, and that is the sense…that we can come up, that we can pursue our dreams and our aspirations and that we won’t be blocked by government [from making] our dreams come true.”