Reasoned solutions, minus the politics, can save our future


    I have not been impressed for a long time by any of our public figures. “Joe the Plumber” changed that.

    He was the speaker at the Small Business Association of Michigan’s annual members meeting in Lansing this month. He was a man of few words. How refreshing.

    How we view people is a function of the values we are taught. One of my favorite stories about my father illustrates my point.

    He was head of production at Buick in Flint in the ’60s. He would stop by the area of the plant where executives’ cars were washed and engage in conversation the person washing the cars. The car washer became curious and asked one day why an executive would spend time with someone doing such a menial job. My father’s answer was that it was a pleasure getting out of the executive offices and talking to someone who knew what they were doing.

    Therein lies my respect for Joe the Plumber. He knows what he is doing and that is a lost concept in business and politics today.

    I am going to use the term “conservative” to make my point. This is a period of time in which conservative values can help us weather a storm. I don’t mean conservative in a political or religious sense; I am referring to common sense.

    No matter how beautifully a speech is made, the message is more important than the messenger’s talent as a speaker. Abe Lincoln was not admired for the beauty of his speech-making; he was admired for its content.

    Try to find that today. Analyze the meaning of the words you hear. Try not to be dazzled by the dog and pony show that is intended to deceive. It is your job as a citizen to focus on the message, not the messenger — no matter the beauty of the delivery. Does the proposed action make sense? Follow the logic not the speaker.

    These are difficult times for investment. We all found out again that what goes up fast comes down faster. Did you listen to the people who told you the real estate market never comes down? That it was a new age on Wall Street with the future looking unlimited? Does common sense tell you that is true? What does history tell you?

    We were told we had to get in on it before it was too late. Did the person saying that get paid based on that decision?

    There is nothing new under the sun. That is not an absolute but it is a good starting point in analyzing the world around you. Whenever a proposal is made that is irrational (e.g.: It is good for people who can’t afford the mortgage to own a house), you should look closely at who benefits. It may be someone’s ideological beliefs, profit motive or just stupidity.

    Some people have gotten fabulously rich on the next best great idea. Some have been financially ruined. Kind of sounds like the lotto.

    Joe the Plumber represents the wisdom you sometimes find in common people. The reason he is so vilified by the media is that his simple logic gets in the way of the juggernaut that is East and West Coast elitists’ experiments in economics. Joe the Plumber understands the value of hard work, and like a lot of common people has a pretty good handle on what works.

     Being a plumber does not mean he lacks intelligence — any more than a Harvard education indicates a capacity to use it.

    You are going to make a lot of decisions, both personally and in business, that will affect your long-term well-being. Rarely has there been a time that a reasoned approach was more essential.

    When the economy tanks, the same people who got us into this mess claim they know how to save us. They really are clueless. You have to save yourself.

    Michigan has monumental economic issues that have solutions from Joe the Plumber, but for political reasons they are not available to the governor. Michigan labor unions have forced Michigan to be noncompetitive. The $75-an-hour jobs are gone forever. We need to be a right-to-work state first; then we can worry about being green.

    In the long run we need a quality education system. The same union mindset that destroyed our manufacturing base is doing the same to our education system.

    Reason should move you to work to save our state. Masterful speeches will change nothing. Reasoned solutions carried out without political ramifications can save our future.

    Paul A. Hense, CPA, is president of Hense & Associates, a local accounting firm. He also is past chairman of the National Small Business Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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