Take a stance, offer suggestions and make your voice heard

It’s not enough to complain — come up with a solution, and talk with your leaders.

As I walked around town, I saw a sign that said, “Elect Anybody but Inslee – Save Small Businesses!” or something to that effect.

That reminds me of a comment made by a former principal of mine. He told the faculty that staff often came into his office complaining about whatever it was that bothered them. What he really appreciated, though, was when staff came in not only to complain, but also to offer suggestions for solutions. That’s what was really helpful.

I understand those concerns because I know someone who owns his own business. He rents units in apartment buildings that he owns. He is frustrated with the governor’s concern for renters but not for landlords. The governor’s focus is on renters’ loss of jobs and their subsequent inability to pay their rent. Without government help, they face homelessness.

Such compassion is admirable, but from a small-business owner’s perspective, there is not a similar compassion for those who have started their own businesses. Their livelihoods are at stake. They are being kept from evicting deadbeat renters or opening their businesses due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. How long can most small business owners survive with their businesses closed or restricted? Four months have now passed, and small-business owners have their own bills to pay and mortgages to keep up with.

Part of their frustration seems to be a lack of trust in the governor. Small-business owners feel their concerns are being ignored. Most big corporations have enough resources to weather financial difficulties longer than a small business. Much of the federal government aid money has gone to them and not to small businesspeople.

In other words, Gov. Inslee is too much of a Democrat and not enough of a Republican for them. From their perspective, the governor is focused on safety and security while small business owners are focused on freedom to make a living. Capitalism is based on risk-taking.

COVID-19 is just one more risk to factor into the equation. Too much regulation may save lives but bankrupt many businesses in the process.

When I see such signs on people’s lawns and hear complaints from entrepreneurs, the first question that enters my mind, is, “What would you do if you were governor?” How would you handle an impossible situation where too few regulations and too much freedom will mean rising rates of infection, hospitalization and death?

We’ve seen the effects in Texas, Arizona and Florida where Republican governors opened up their states too quickly. The result is rising infection rates which are now putting an enormous burden on hospitals to serve the increasing numbers of sick. Now these Republican governors have had to backtrack, reclosing bars and restaurants and restricting large group gatherings.

Emphasizing freedom over safety hasn’t worked.

I’m glad I’m not the governor. I’m grateful I don’t have to make the difficult decisions that governors have to make. If I were Inslee, I’d wish for more help and guidance from the president and more federal financial bailouts to ease increasing government state debt from Congress.

I’ll end with an adage my mother kept repeating to me when I was a child: “You should walk in someone else’s moccasins for a year before you criticize them.” Complaining is easy, but what’s your solution, small-business owners?

In the case of my close relationship with a small-business owner, I wrote a letter to the governor for him as a template. In it, I offered solutions to ease the plight of small-businesspeople. I encouraged the governor to not just focus on renters and those who have been laid off due to COVID-19. I encouraged him to be balanced and to represent all the people in the state. That’s what he swore to do in his oath of office.

He didn’t respond, but at least the voice of one small-businessperson was expressed. You can do the same thing; write the governor stating your ideas of how to make the tough decisions between protecting lives and allowing for freedom for people to earn a living. Complaining is easy, offering solutions is hard. Take my principal’s advice. You probably have lots of time on your hands, enough to put up a sign in your yard.

Exercise your constituent power to confront the governor. The more people who write, the more likely you will be heard. That’s how democracy works.

Gov. Inslee can be contacted at www.governor.wa.gov/contact/contact/send-gov-inslee-e-message. Remember, be sure to offer realistic solutions that balance the need for safety and the need for freedom. Be respectful. Treat him as you would like to be treated if you were governor. Your letters have the potential of changing the direction of the state.

Talk is cheap, action brings changes.

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