Category Archives: entrepreneur

10 Films That Portray Capitalists as Heroes

Robert - DejaReviewerHave you noticed how movies normally depict capitalists, executives or business owners?

Whether it’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End with the bizarre portrayal of the head of the East India Trading Company, or the main character in There Will Be Blood, business men (and women) are rarely shown sympathetically, often cast as the default villain.

Honestly, it might seem as if all corporate and/or entrepreneurial movie roles are written to be inherently evil, guilty of the sin of simply being in business.

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Thankfully, that’s not always the case, and I’d like to share with you 10 films which actually celebrate hard-working entrepreneurs, and show believers in the free market as heroes.

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Remember “Buckyballs”? Well, they’re out of business, thx to our Govt… and THAT’s not the WORST part

We’ve mentioned plenty of examples of insane Federal overreach in the past, and maybe none so chilling as what happened to inventor Krister Evertson, or the stultifying case of Steven Lathrop. In both instances, the Government seemed to take peculiar glee in bullying and punishing these men for doing nothing more than legally pursuing their dreams.

Well, we can now add another victim of the Obama Administration’s regulatory Insane Asylum: Craig Zucker.

buckyballs 33Zucker, as you may or may not recall, is the former CEO of Maxfield & Oberton, the small company behind “Buckyballs”, a desk toy for adults which became amazingly popular back in 2009. Unfortunately, the company ran afoul of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which held that the toy was inherently dangerous to children, …even though it was marketed exclusively to ages 14-and-up.

Here’s an interview which aired last year covering the dispute:

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Failure is an Orphan

The now-famous presidential soundbite “You didn’t build that“, has been argued, laughed at, celebrated, dissected, defended and ridiculed ever since the last syllable passed President Obama’s lips. We even covered it here in a guest post a few days ago. Basically, the argument in favor of Obama’s remark was that government was responsible for the infrastructure, schools, teachers, roads, city councils and everything else that “helped” and “allowed” you to succeed.

And, of course, I think that rationale is complete and utter pig poo.

However, if I temporarily hypothesize that it’s kosher, then does the opposite side of the coin also hold true? You know: does government share in the failure of a business, sort of a “YOU-didn’t-screw-that-up” government waiver? ‘Cause I really don’t think that’s their argument.

You’ll see where I’m going when you read the following article from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

When longtime Chattanooga-area resident Christian “Thor” Thoreson and his partner Christina Holmes decided to launch Buzz Chattanooga Pedicabs in February 2011, the business seemed tailor-made for the downtown area.

Thoreson’s pedicabs, which are pedal-driven tricycles with a two-person passenger compartment attached behind the driver, fill an important need for downtown. By offering a cheap and convenient way for people to get around between hotels, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants, Buzz Chattanooga is a boon for tourist and a convenient addition for locals.

The pedicabs prevent drunk driving and free up precious parking spaces. They also cut down on auto emissions — a major plus for a city as hell-bent on glomming on every goofy green fad that comes down the pike as Chattanooga.

The pedicabs seem like a win for everyone. They provide a needed service for tourists, help get people in local businesses, get drunk drivers off the road, are environmentally friendly and provide Chattanoogans with well-paying jobs.

Even though I’m not exactly someone concerned with “green” this or “green” that, this idea seems to make sense. Plus, if people are willing to pay for it, why not? Leave it alone and see if it works. Heck, how much trouble and regulation could there be to a glorified Big Wheel with a rear seat?

Stupid question on my part.

Just to get Buzz Chattanooga off the ground, Thoreson had to abide by those 11 pages of pedicab-specific regulations. And that’s on top of the dozens and dozens of pages of rules pertaining to all for-hire vehicles in the city, including pedicabs.

The city ordinance limited the number of pedicab permits available, capping the number of pedicabs serving Chattanooga to just six. Each pedicab permit requires a $100 fee.

Those six pedicabs have to be outfitted with a horn, a rearview mirror, headlights, tail lights and turn signal.

Pedicab drivers are required to go through an intensive licensing process by the city, including passing a test given through the Chattanooga Police Department Regulatory Bureau Transportation Inspector’s office, as well as being subjected to a drug screening and a background search.

City regulations don’t allow pedicabs to cruise for passengers — they must remain parked and wait for customers. Strangely, even though cars often come much closer, pedicabs must stay at least 10 feet away from horse-drawn carriages. The vehicles also can’t be operated in public parks.

Huh? They can’t ride what is essentially a bike in a public park? I’d think that would be the IDEAL place to have them. However, I’ve looked and can’t find the reason for that rule anywhere.

Anyway, back to the government-sponsored torture:

But there is one regulation in the mountain of rules that pedicab owner and operators must follow that is more unfair and outlandish than any other.

Sec. 35-251(3) of the Chattanooga City Code states that a “pedicab driver shall not operate a pedal carriage or pedicab on any bridge or in any tunnel.”

That’s right, pedicabs can’t take passengers the 2,000 feet from downtown to North Shore. Pedicabs aren’t allowed on the Market Street bridge. They’re not even allowed on the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge. They can’t take visitors staying at the Delta Queen to the Chattanooga Aquarium. 

Larry Zehnder, administrator of the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department, advised the city council that having a “speedy motor vehicle [on the pedestrian bridge] could be a hazard.” 

In case you got lost there, the “speedy motor vehicle” to which Zehnder is referring is the pedicab.

Yes, really.

After dealing with the frustrating regulations placed on his business, the unwillingness of city leaders to allow him to serve customers on both sides of the river and difficulties in selling ads on the pedicabs, Thoreson decided yesterday to throw in the towel and close Buzz Chattanooga.

When asked what he’d tell another entrepreneur considering starting a business in Chattanooga, Thoreson replied, “Stay the hell away.”

Thoreson’s story is the hidden side of regulations that the city council and other bureaucrats rarely consider in their absurd exercises in trying to keep people safe and micromanage businesses. Too often, regulations stifle entrepreneurs’ ability to innovate, and prevent them from improving their businesses, serving more customers and, ultimately, making Chattanooga a better place.

I’m sure that the city council won’t lose one second of sleep about Buzz Chattanooga Pedicabs tonight. Yet it is the city’s regulations, and the actions of other city governments and our national government, which is the thousand-pound weight drowning such start-ups. And I don’t see the “You didn’t build that” crowd pounding their chests on TV, offering mea culpas for helping to destroy this man’s dream. No, the failure was the individual’s fault.

When someone defends Obama’s ludicrous “You didn’t build that” pap, you may wish to remind them of the old proverb: “Success has many fathers, while Failure is an orphan”.

That’d be a much more truthful description of government, IMHO….

Put WHO in the zoo?

[Note:  Although “two heads are better than one,” my brother has been ably holding down the fort “single-headedly” for the past two weeks.  I’m hoping to have more of a presence here in future.  Today’s post is an apt illustration of the fact that fodder for blogs can be found anywhere…]

One of my granddaughter Lucy’s favorite books is Put Me In the Zoo, the story of a fantastical creature with large spots which change shape and color.  He visits the zoo, sees the animals being groomed and fed and generally pampered, and wonders why he can’t live there, too.

Lucy loves animals and I was counting the days last month until our local zoo opening.  We’ve visited at least five times so far…including twice this week.

We are fortunate to live in the same town as the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, which has been voted one of the ten best zoos in the country.  With a huge African Journey section, (which includes a herd of giraffes that come to a viewing station where we can actually feed them!); Indonesian Rain Forest (tigers and orangutans, among other delights); Australian Adventure (walk-through aviary and kangaroo areas); and model Indiana Farm, this zoo is not only beautiful but focuses intentionally on educating all its visitors.

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***Courtesy of BlackMettle blog*** …A small change of pace with this one, to show what we can still do in America with just a pinch of ingenuity and some good ol’ fashioned hard work. Hats off to this young lady and to BlackMettle for the post.