Open Phones: Starting a Business

Friday, July 27, 2012

President Obama's "you didn't build that" comment has sparked a conversation about the role of government in private business. We want to hear directly from business owners about how they got their start. Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, helps field the calls.

Listeners: Call us if you started a business--big or small--and tell us the story of how you did it. How do you view government support for entrepreneurs like you? What would you want to see more of or less of? 212-433-9692, or post here!


Seth Pinsky

Comments [67]

James from Queens

I just listened to this story via podcast (thank you so much for that btw). I have to say I was really surprised (and a little disappointed, Brian) that no one mentioned Elizabeth Warren's comments from September of last year (link to video is here:

Warren said very effectively and succinctly what the President tried (very ineffectively) to say, which is that the underlying infrastructure that is put into place and paid for by tax payers is what allows someone with a great idea to make that idea a reality. The roads, police and education that tax payers fund is what makes it possible for businesses to thrive; and therefore, there is an implicit requirement that people who attain great success pay back into the system which allowed them to prosper. I was shocked that neither Brian nor his guest made reference to those comments since I'm pretty sure that is what the President was trying to paraphrase.

Aug. 01 2012 12:50 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

I'm Mitt Romney and I approved the editing of this speech for effect.

Jul. 29 2012 03:20 PM
P V Nasby from NYC

I'm with you, zeno. And your characterization of this conversation is spot on. I kept thinking, this is not the right guest for this topic. They never got to the topic.

They guy from NJ who complained about the subway system (among other things) must not have been in the area for long. The subways have improved dramatically since I arrived in the 80s. NYC's subway system is the country's second-oldest (Boston's is first), so naturally it has some challenges compared to newer systems. But I can testify that it is waaaaay better than it used to be.

Jul. 29 2012 02:01 PM
rolf niebergall from New York

I have proposal to the City of New York. The money they have comes from the people living in NYC in form of taxes and so on. But Mr Bloomberg also has the obligation to save money where ever he can. $ millions and $ billions can be saved when the traffic system and lighting system is updated. I am wonder if ever someone from the city government will call me about what I mean? As a physicist I used to work on solar cells and have a new technology handy, is someone interested? Mr Brian Lehrer makes a lot of sense! Let us make this country also the most efficient country in the world. In education we are 25th, what is going on?

Jul. 27 2012 01:17 PM
scott from soho

My comment about city time is simply a reference that our government wastes our tax dollars with little oversight. If a project is 100 million dollars over budget, you would think someone from the government would have seen that there was a problem. Those wasted dollars would be better spent on infrastructure, teachers salaries, or maybe even a tax rebate.

BTW, the private company that bilked the city should be banned from doing business with the city and someone should have been thrown in jail for fraud. in addition, the government project manager should also be fired for gross incompetence.

As for small business tax loopholes, if you are taking a legal tax write off, I am all for it. That's why we pay CPA's to do our complicated taxes.

Jul. 27 2012 11:12 AM
Guy from nyc

The "teleprompter meme"--Obama's opponents constantly referring to the way his political speeches are on teleprompters (rather than paper?)was originally floated in order to undermine the stunning contrast between Obama and his immediate predecessor, a stumbling incurious moron, and puncture the idea that Obama is a gifted thinker.

We are to believe that Obama is just a "good speaker" reading a script that as a law professor, author, etc. he would be unable to write on his own. Now that W is just a distant memory on the right, references to teleprompters can only be coded racism playing on the "articulate for a black person" trope. There, I said it. What other explanation is there?

Jul. 27 2012 11:08 AM
Edward from NJ

If you know character limit on the text box, chances are your comments are too long.

Jul. 27 2012 11:08 AM
MrD from NYC

Brian should have challanged the called on his weather data business. In the caller's criticism of the Govt, the main point was ignored that companies like his do rely on data from the national weather service and they repackage it and add value to it in various ways. I'm guessing his company wouldn't exist without the NWS. Rick Santorum even proposed a bill that would have prevented the general public from getting weather data from NWS for free because it "competes" with private companies.

Jul. 27 2012 11:02 AM
guy from NYC

"I paid more than my fair share. The government did absolutely nothing to help make my business successful. "

Ladies and gentlemen, your American "small business."

Jul. 27 2012 10:59 AM
tom from brooklyn

re the weather guy who started a business 30 years ago selling weather data and has only been hampered by government in his road to glory. I wonder how much data he got for free, measurements of temperature, barometric pressure, rainfall, damage, etc., were taken by city, county, state and federal employees. I wish he had had to pay for all of that data, which he would have had to do if it had been privatized. Such blinding arrogance.

Jul. 27 2012 10:59 AM
zeno from NYC

the out of context comment that Romney is using against Obama wasn't really discussed. What the discussion became is the NYC/Bloomberg guy patting himself on the back for everything else. Blah blah blah. Why no discussion on the Obama comment. I have my own business and I know exactly what Obama meant in context. My business has grown to a higher level than anyone in the country doing what I am doing, however, when I started this in 2006, I had no idea what I was doing. But the right people, people who were willing to share the pie and have faith in me, allowed me to have the success that I have. Its all about arrogance - what Obama was saying is that it would be ridiculous for anyone to think that they did it entirely on their own. and he is right. But the Romney crew, who can't boast about anything that they have done that is good - namely Romney himself making his fortune off the backs of a LOT of other people - choose to try to spin Obama quotes out of context to create a diversion.

Jul. 27 2012 10:58 AM
Stephen from Manhattan

Why doesn't Mr. Pensky's own agency practice what it preaches? Instead of HIRING a qualified designer, the NYCEDC has resorted to crowd sourcing -- under the guise of a 'competition' -- for the design of an 'information graphic.'

There are thousands of professional designers and small design firms in NYC who are struggling in this economy. Considering the amount of work required to develop such a graphic, a $1000 cash 'prize' is insulting. The average hourly rate for babysitting or dog walking is more lucrative. No design professional would expect a financial windfall from such a project for a city agency, but NYCEDC is hardly a charity and can no doubt afford to pay a fair fee for professional design services.

Jul. 27 2012 10:58 AM

Obama did not make a gaffe. He stated his case in full sentences. And the fact that he had a few misplaced pronouns would indicate he was not talking from a teleprompter. Taking a snippet or linking snippets to make it appear that he said something else is called lying in polite circles. You have to work very hard to distort his meaning so completely. And can we please drop the teleprompter meme -- all politicians use them.

Jul. 27 2012 10:57 AM
w2 guy from NJ

Let me preface by stating that I am not accusing you of this.
That said, is there a segment of the US that does more funny business accounting than small business? My father used to own a small business in NJ. Somehow small business owners write off the cost of the nice car they drive in by using it for work purposes every now and then. there are many examples of gray areas like this when you are self employed so this debate about taxation of small business is disingenuous. There are so many loopholes an gray areas that small business can take advantage of that salaried people can't. I have seen both sides of the debate in my family and don't take one side
Or the other- just pointing out that the crying from small business owners is not the whole story.

Jul. 27 2012 10:56 AM

Okay segment but the connection between the President's being continually misquoted and NYC's own efforts to support small business development is forced.

A more interesting segment (to my ears) would be why Romney is allowed to stress a sentence in which a poor choice of pronoun...if Obama had said 'those' instead of 'that', there could be no doubt about what he used to build campaign donations and why Romney backers - WNYC blogger Karol Markowicz among them - are so willing to grab on to misquotes to reinforce false beliefs about the President.

Jul. 27 2012 10:56 AM
Harry from nyc

@fred in hoboken

Yes, the caller built it all.

We just got in his way.

PS Why does a man like that have to pay taxes to the Government = "We the people", it just doesn't make any sense, let give him a tax break.

Jul. 27 2012 10:55 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Scott, you are contradicting yourself. I agree that taxes and regulations always seem to be "too much"

But the "city time" fiasco was the govt, to save money, giving a service previously done by "big bad over-paid" unions, only to be ripped off by a PRIVATE company. There goes your theory.

Jul. 27 2012 10:55 AM
The Truth from Becky

"To whom much is given, much is required"

Why are some of the rich so opposed to paying their fair share? I work damn hard as well, make less than $250k per year, why in the hail should I pay more taxes than you?... and the two loud mouths in here who are standing up for richie rich romney are themselves NOT rich, will not benefit from the things he is fighting for are... just dumb.

Jul. 27 2012 10:54 AM
Guy from NYC

SuzanneNYC makes a great point. Pro-business types like to talk about how clean the subways are in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian countries. Yet they still start their businesses in democratic USA!

...and special thanks to Gary from Queens for turning me on to Lakoff's brilliant and spot on analysis!

Jul. 27 2012 10:53 AM

Back to infrastructure and Gary - our subway system is the world's ONLY 24-hour system and it's also among the first. Hong Kong and Singapore's are much much newer.

Jul. 27 2012 10:53 AM

A few words for Gary from Queens: Less is More. Few people are going to read your lengthy rants. Start a blog. Really.

Jul. 27 2012 10:51 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Peter from NYC -- "Btw, this speech is derived pretty directly" from what my father used to say at the dinner table all the time.

Jul. 27 2012 10:50 AM

Did that caller really think that privatizing NYC"s mass transit would be the solution? Does he not know that both the Hong Kong and Singapore transit systems are run and regulated by government agencies? Plus Singapore has draconian fines for littering -- $1000 for a first time offense! So, yes, I would guess that Singapore's transit system would be cleaner. Definitely something to consider for over here!

Jul. 27 2012 10:48 AM
Max from Brooklyn, NY

This is a false controversy. Romney has no leg to stand on because he made essentially the same point several weeks ago at a town hall meeting. He's nitpicking.

Demonizing the government intrinsically while running for public office just makes my head hurt.

Jul. 27 2012 10:47 AM
The Truth from Becky could have just posted a "link" - how full of yourself you are.

If you are honest, you would have to admit there is no way to start or run a business in the Country without government involvement. There is no ill will or underlying motive in the President's statement. Teleprompter or no, he is still smarter than G Bush.

Jul. 27 2012 10:47 AM
BK from Hoboken

Obama made a gaffe- poor choice of words and not enough reinforcement of his support for business to bancroft the concept he was pushing that government sets the environment in which business can prosper. His gaffe was "Romney-esque" if you will. So the Obama team has created debates over Romney gaffes and now we have it coming from the other way. No surprise.
To the offended business owners, go try to start up in Russia were you need capital for growth but also for the bribery slush fund. Go to western Europe where hiring rules are onerous. My friend works for Nike in Amsterdam and will require a year to to a re-org that involves layoffs- you need to show your plans and rationale to the government for approval. Some of these people who call Obama a Marxist or socialist needs to go see other places and they will appreciate what they have here.

Jul. 27 2012 10:47 AM
scott from soho

The running theme from business owners seems to suggest the private sector would be doing much better if government would back off a bit. As a business owner, I agree. The taxes I paid before starting my business helped pay for the roads, bridges, and subways. I paid more than my fair share. The government did absolutely nothing to help make my business successful.

It would be nice if the government was actually held accountable for wasting our tax dollars. The city time fiasco is just one example of massive waste with zero accountability.

Jul. 27 2012 10:46 AM
David from NYC

Mr. Pinksy
there are plenty of places in NYC that are underwater.
Please more $7 an hour jobs are not the answer.

Jul. 27 2012 10:46 AM


Jul. 27 2012 10:46 AM
Guy from nyc

These business owners are great--they never turn down a handout OR an opportunity to gripe about filling out paperwork. Yeah, we need to regulate you and pay for the infrastructure you use to enable your enterprise. And no, Romney and other fatcats are nothing like you.

The political stories--that lionize "small businesses" so that they have a particular position of power--are really harmful to the American project. Keep enriching yourselves at public cost while we all pretend you did it all yourself and soon there will be no roads or bridges for your businesses to use.

And small business owners: how bout a little patriotism instead of the constant greed griping and how about taking responsibility for your own failures rather than just blaming "the government" all the time.

Jul. 27 2012 10:45 AM

This bit is a commercial for your guest disguised as a "debate"... Obama's point was that there was an infrastructure in place before your business was born, and it was built by the people who came before. Romney has taken that out of context. There is no issue here, except that selfish issues continue to control our country. Whatever happened to teamwork, and the idea that we're all in this together?

Jul. 27 2012 10:44 AM
fred from hoboken

Did the weather entrepreneur launch the satellites that provide his data? Did he build the doppler radar at airports around the country? Or is he benefiting from infrastructure provided by the taxpayers?

Jul. 27 2012 10:44 AM
Ken from Oradell, NJ

Earlier caller who unfavorably compared NYC subway to foreign ones, then then concluded that since NYC subways are government-run, it would be better if they were privatly run: HILARIOUS!! If he thinks private enterprise runs those nice shiny foreign public transportation systems, I think he needs to look into that just a tiny bit more.... Those are all government-run.

Jul. 27 2012 10:44 AM

Gary - I have never read anything so selfish in my life. The point used to be that no matter who you were or what you were doing you were aware that you are of service. Even the Rockefellers did not have to be told this, nor did the Fords.

You are not alone - you do use many common resources.

Countless common resources. Did you know that 32 trillion dollars worldwide are stashed in offshore tax havens?

Jul. 27 2012 10:44 AM
Ian in NYC from Manhattan

Jeff just called and asked why NYC's subway system is second to places like Hong Kong - saying that maybe we should privatize it. Is Hong Kong's metro privatized? I don't think so. Is Singapore's? It drives me crazy when Americans point to the successes of totalitarian government's infrastructure.

Jul. 27 2012 10:43 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Sign seen at Occupy Wall Street: "It's only class war when we fight back."

Jul. 27 2012 10:42 AM

Brian can you get a free market guy like Peter Schiff balance the statist POV

Jul. 27 2012 10:40 AM
Harry from nyc

the job of the business owner is to navigate the government requirements.. Stop complaining... be grateful for the system that lets you have a business in the first place....

And you as business owner have the responsibility to the Government = People.

wow you have to send these selfish looser "business people" callers to china, its essentially government free, they will love it..

stop complaining and be grateful for the opportunity this country = government = people give you..

Jul. 27 2012 10:40 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The caller is uninformed, "Privatize" the MTA and they will have to charge $5 a ride, just to break even. What a fool.

Jul. 27 2012 10:40 AM
Tony from Brooklyn

It might be off topic but it's a bit disingenuous for the Right to fight for smaller government but then applaud declaring parts of the country a disaster area and stick their hands out for Goverment backed insurance (which pays out more than what they would have gotten without).

Also without Unions, management has no reason to do the right thing for their employees.

Jul. 27 2012 10:39 AM
john from office

The subway in new york is older the subways in all the examples of greatness are new. Give them a break.

Also, can you people be brief??

Jul. 27 2012 10:39 AM
Peter from NYC

Btw, this speech is derived pretty directly from one by Elizabeth Warren:

Jul. 27 2012 10:39 AM
gary from queens

As I said, Obama's "no one got rich on his own" speech was obviously about justifying policies to soak the rich, and not about the wonders of roads & bridges!

Here’s Obama's remarks in full:

1. There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.

2. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own.

3. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

4. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.

5. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

6. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

7. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

8. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.


1. Wealthy people should give back their wealth. To whom? To government through taxes, in which some of it trickles down to poor people.

2. They don't deserve the rewards of their investment in money, time and expertise, because they had helpful parents & friends?

3. "Smart"-alecs in business, as seen by the resentful, less-wealthy academic (Obama), who is among the other less well-off "smart people out there" and "a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."

4. "It takes a village" (i.e. gov.) liberal theology. ONLY government helpers are specified----the public school teacher and the govenment road & bridge builders.

5. Taken in context, someone besides you, made your business "happen."

6. Yet another thing that government created (which is utterly incorrect) that helped the businessman get wealthy (also false).

7. Equates the individual's own efforts with the "assistance" from government. No mention of the oppressive regulations, fees and taxes.

8. Rediculous: The fire department deserves some credit for your invention or investment etc. You don't deserve appreciation for paying firefighter's salaries though.

Thus, the Lakoff framing of this issue INTENDS to minimize the great personal sacrifices, risk of loss, and hours of toil by entrepreneurs. If you believe it was solely & mainly about giving credit to government infrarstructure, then YOU are ignoring the full context of it.

Jul. 27 2012 10:36 AM
Phyllis from Harlem

Listening to the quotation from Pres. Obama, I hear class issues loudly underneath. A business owner who doesn't start from a position of affluence, would be more aware of the need for the SBA, and other supports that make small businesses possible. With generational wealth or personal affluence, one may have a sense of 'doing it all on their own." Of course, good roads, effective public transport and excellent public education are markers of a high functioning society and help entrepreneurs and everyone else.

Finally, an embedded myth of American culture is "rugged individualism" and Pres. Obama's statement pushes against that myth.

Jul. 27 2012 10:36 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

As someone who started my own business, I understand what Obama was trying to say. And yes, I "hate" taxes and regulation, but like getting my teeth cleaned, they are both necessary.

People who disagree, should go to a third world country and try to start a business, good luck getting a dependable electricity, roads, or water supply, or skilled workers.

Go to a country like Russia and see how easy it is to enforce your business rights, via the rule of law, against the govt or someone connected to it.

Jul. 27 2012 10:36 AM
Quincy from Brooklyn

Aren't we making some brusque assumptions about the role of government? Is it the responsibility of the public sector to increase employment?

Jul. 27 2012 10:36 AM
gary from queens

You would have to take Obama's "no one got rich on his own" speech totally out of context to claim that it was really about building roads, as Huffington believes:

The original thesis----the product of liberal linguistics consultant George Lakoff----is a way to minimize individual success, so as to justify taking from successful people the rewards of their success, through taxes. Liz Warren adopted it to frame the debate for OWS, if you recall.

Here's Lakoff:

"There is no such thing as a self-made man. Every businessman has used the vast American infrastructure, which the taxpayers paid for, to make his money. He did not make his money alone. He used taxpayer infrastructure. He got rich on what other taxpayers had paid for: the banking system, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and Commerce Departments, and the judicial system, where nine-tenths of cases involve corporate law. These taxpayer investments support companies and wealthy investors. There are no self-made men! The wealthy have gotten rich using what previous taxpayers have paid for. They owe the taxpayers of this country a great deal and should be paying it back."

It's a ridiculous "thesis", to be sure, since everyone, including businesses, contribute to society at large, via taxes. Indeed, wealth created by business is the sole underwriter of public works. And the wealthy pay the most. In 2009, the top 400 taxpayers paid almost as much in federal income taxes as the entire bottom 50 percent combined. And businesses in the US pay the highest taxes in the world. Corporate profits are taxed twice: once at the corporate rate of 35% and once at the dividend or capital gains rate of 15%. And that’s just federal taxes.

Yet Obama truly believes in the Lakoff thesis. But when he presented it in his speech in Roanoke, the "articulate professor" managed to make the thesis sound even more ludicrous, with unscripted banal observations and utterly false contentions.

That's right, he mucked it up because there was no teleprompter.

Had Obama simply said "there's no self-made man" he would have been alright. But being that it was an unscripted speech, he betrayed a candid view of his redistributionist, spread-the-wealth philosophy, and an angry, resentful attitude toward business people.

Jul. 27 2012 10:35 AM
John from NYC

Look, it’s obvious that businesses, indeed nothing, can function without government services, including roads and education.

There are two points here:

ONE: Do we value the spirit of enterprise? If Obama and the current Democrats in government do, please cite when they have said so.

TWO: Hmmm. Roads and education. What has happened to our roads and bridges over the past 40 years???? We have been paying with our gas taxes, but they have been left to rot.

A hundred years ago, we built an entire subway system. Now we can’t repaint a station.

And education – now a total joke, hijacked by educationists and the teachers union. Pick up your newspaper – stories every day about businesses that cannot find SKILLED workers. Indeed, find one who can read and write.

We are PAYING top dollar for government services, including roads and education. Including $800 million in the stimulus for infrastructure. WHERE ARE THEY????

Jul. 27 2012 10:35 AM
Bill from Long Island

I would be curious to know if anyone could crunch numbers and estimate the actual contribution of Government ( fed state local) and the taxes they levy, to the world we live in.... perhaps ant answer would be an oversimplification?

Jul. 27 2012 10:34 AM

Its the free market and capitalism that what makes a person successful...not government...Goernment is the toll booth that collects fees. It's the ideas that people risk there time money lives to make it worse. It really was a disturbing clip that he pandered to an audience of NON creators and made it seem like the tail was wagging the dog.
This guest is a a classic statist...he scares me. The free market will protect the consumer...make a bad product no one buys it. he is in the language of my youth high.

Jul. 27 2012 10:33 AM
William from Manhattan

I run a one-person communications consultancy registered in New York State. I could not do my work without the internet, the National Institutes of Health websites PubMed and, the highways and bridges I use to visit my clients, and the public transportation I use to get around the city. All of these are substantially supported by our tax dollars. These are just the most obvious examples of how I rely on public resources to thrive in business. The same is true of every business person in this country. What does Mitt Romney and the Republican Party take us for - total idiots?

Jul. 27 2012 10:32 AM
gary from queens


My two posts you keep removing are civil, and touches on Brian's introduction and comments, including "the correct context" of the famous Obama remarks. Callins make it relevant too, as i hear them now.

So that leaves "BRIEF". Could you please define it for everyone?

Jul. 27 2012 10:31 AM
Mike from Tribeca

It's worth noting that since the president's speech, Romney has run at least two TV ads featuring business owners who between them have received millions in federal, state, and local money, and one of those companies relies almost entirely on government contracts.

When did freedom of the press become freedom of video editing software?

Jul. 27 2012 10:31 AM
Nick from UWS

Obama's remark was taken completely out of context, everybody knows he was referring to the vast infrastructure around and facilitating businesses, and this is an argument that is an argument of idiots, which seems to be the #1 focus of American these days, NPR included.

Jul. 27 2012 10:29 AM
leoinnyc from Staten Island

Brian you know I love your show, but this segment is a HUGE LAPSE IN JOURNALISTIC JUDGEMENT! What debate!!?? What debate? There is no debate, because the whole thing started with a gaffe. The entire idea that there is a debate is a fiction manufactured by the Romney campaign in order to create some apparent difference between The President and himself.

By having this segment you are just perpetuating the notion that there is some big difference between Romney and Obama — namely that Romney believes that people work hard to build their businesses and Obama thinks the government does it for you.

This is a mistake. But I still love you!

Jul. 27 2012 10:29 AM
carolita from NYC

I tried to incorporate myself as a business, and had no help. So, guess what? I made a royal mess of it. I ended up with fines, forgot to sign this, or pay that. I'd have been nowhere without meeting the accountant who extricated me out of that mess. (Unincorporated me!) From just that experience, I can tell that you cannot just become a business without the advice of at least an accountant, and the help of the government agencies that you need to work with in order to set up your business (or dismantle it). You can't possibly take all the credit for it. For that matter, I've watched my more capable friends run their businesses, and they'd be lost without the help of their employees, friends, and the people they pay for advice.

Jul. 27 2012 10:28 AM
Bobby G from East Village

After the years of G.W. Bush Americans should be wary of distortion and mendacity.

Jul. 27 2012 10:27 AM
Lisa from Jersey City

It takes a village !

(successful small business for 32 years)

Jul. 27 2012 10:27 AM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

You might ask Mr. Pinsky whether he thinks that the Barclays Bank scandal and LIBOR rate manipulations could lead to any complicated lawsuits affecting his economic development agencies financings (and possible their supply of subsidies). See: Noticing New York Thursday, July 26, 2012, “Barclays” Center Opening Pending; Fellow Government Officials Don’t Back Bloomberg Re Minimizing NY Lawsuits Against Barclays Bank.

Jul. 27 2012 10:27 AM
sue from Mnahattan

Please tell people who are starting or want to grow a small business that SCORE NYC has 70 experience business executives who volunteer to help them at no cost. Just come in to the office at 26 Federal Plaza (Broadway between Worth and Duane) or call 212-264-4507

Jul. 27 2012 10:26 AM

@Gary - "Brief" is defined here, under our comments guidelines:

We have to make a judgement call when moderating comments about what fosters the most productive and relevant conversation. But trying to stay on topic (to the radio conversation), civil, and brief is a good way to start.

-BL Moderator-

Jul. 27 2012 10:24 AM
gary from Queens




Jul. 27 2012 10:09 AM
John from NYC

If you have time to discuss the purpose of the NYC EDC, could you please ask Mr. Pinsky what the rationale is beyond deriving money from tourists for a proposed ferris wheel to be installed near the St George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island? It appears this structure will overwhelm the residences in the area. Is there a balance between residents of NYC and tourists being considered by the EDC? The EDC sponsored $70MM minor league ballpark holds 30 games/ events a year and has been a moderate success at best. Now they offer this proposal which seems contrived.

From the Staten Island Advance local newspaper-July 20th - Ferris Wheel would turn Staten Island into a World Class Destination

Jul. 27 2012 10:06 AM

A brief start-up story.

I left a corporate job to start a business in the early 90s. My partner and I started carefully, working at home until we had enough business to support an office and our first employee. When we could not afford to pay ourselves, which was often, we used credit cards for personal expenses. In some years I made less than $1,000. In the first 5 years combined, I made less than the annual salary of my previous job. As a small business owner, I had to sign personal guarantees to get any sort of business loan (i.e. if the business failed, I would still be personally liable). We worked 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 10 years. We had scant time for family or fun. We had to defend our business against frivolous lawsuits (one from a government agency). We paid a lot of taxes to NY state. Our credit scores were terrible and we would come home to a long line of phone messages from creditors. As the company grew (with the help of private equity) and stabilized, we eventually dug out from under the debt and were able to earn a normal salary again -- after 10 years of struggle. Our employees had stock options and many made a nice return when the company was eventually sold. It was an experience that I will never regret, but also one that I would not lightly recommend.

I am grateful to have been born in America and have had the opportunity to build a business. I am grateful for my public secondary school education, my moderately priced state school college, and my outrageously expensive private school graduate degree. I am grateful that we were able to find talented employees, both Americans and those on work visas. How did government help me? 1. Public education. 2. Student loans. 3. H1-B visas (needed to find qualified employees). I am grateful for the help, but I reject the notion that I did not work harder, take more risks, and give up more personal freedoms than the "average" worker.

Jul. 27 2012 09:57 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

This partisan segment is such a brazen and pathetic attempt to defend our anti-business, anti-wealth, anti-opportunity, anti-prosperity nasty and negative socialist in the White House and his recent revealing statements. What a cynical, divisive and vengeful approach to America this man exudes.

FDR moved in the same direction, but at least he did it as an optimist and a happy a believer that happy days would be here again for all. The grim vision of THIS president is life as a gloomy, zero sum game..... in which if others have something....they must have taken it from you.

Heaven help us if Obama can pit us against each other for another 4 more years.

Jul. 27 2012 09:35 AM

We've removed a few comments - please remember to adhere to the WNYC posting policy and keep your remarks brief.

-BL Moderator-

Jul. 27 2012 09:09 AM
gary from queens


A government bureaucrat, or someone who runs a pseudo-government agency, won't explain how government gets in the way of businesses. For balance, i will excerpt this from a man who started 2 businesses, and who has a different opinion of government.


I'll tell you one other thing about starting your own business. If government takes any interest at all in you, it's going to involve collecting taxes. I hadn't been incorporated for a month before I started receiving letters from the New York State Department of Taxation telling me when I could start paying them. There were incorporated business taxes, workmen's compensation taxes, unemployment taxes, Social Security taxes and on and on. Nearly all the correspondence I received while I was trying to start a business involved the government telling me how much money I owed it. I gave up the business in 2001 yet until last year I was still receiving letters from New York State trying to collect more taxes. They tracked me through three changes of address.

[ ... ]

Indeed, there are millions of people who work very hard at their jobs. But to start a business you've got to do more than work hard. You've got to create something entirely new. You've got to be sensible, you've got to be ambitious. You've got to be willing to quit your day job, run up a lot of credit card debt and maybe risk everything in order to turn your dreams into reality. It's a lot different than taking college exams.


President Obama -- Public Employee #1
By William Tucker on 7.17.12 @ 6:09AM

Jul. 27 2012 04:32 AM

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