In Praise of the Millionaires Tax
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Making Obama's tax plan work for small business. President Obama's plan to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the top tax bracket - individuals who make $200,000 a year - has drawn ire from small business advocates who argue that the increase will be a hardship for small businesses. Writing in the New Yorker, James Surowiecki proposes a compromise: Create additional tax brackets at the top, spare the small businesses, and raise taxes only on the very, very rich. "At the moment, we have a system of tax brackets well suited to nineteenth-century New Zealand," he writes. "[S]omeone making two hundred thousand dollars a year and someone making two hundred million dollars a year pay at similar tax rates. LeBron James and LeBron James's dentist: same difference."
Wrestling entrepreneur wins Senate primary. Linda McMahon, the co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, prevailed in her bid to win the Connecticut Republican Senate primary last night. McMahon entered the race as an underdog and was initially mocked by her opponents, but her substantial wealth allowed her spend $22 million while still campaigning as an outsider and running on a business-friendly platform. McMahon will face the state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who currently leads in the polls. The Wall Street Journal reports that she has vowed to spend up to $50 million to take the seat from Democrats.
BP station owners still scrambling to recover. It comes as no surprise that sales are down at the 10,000 BP gas stations nationwide, as the BP brand suffers from the backlash of the oil spill. But as the New York Times reports, because BP itself owns fewer than two percent of its U.S. gas stations, its independent owners are faced with bearing the brunt of the oil spill blow - with a frustrating lack of support from BP. "The company introduced a lavish campaign describing its efforts to clean up the gulf, but spent little on ads explaining to the public that its station owners were independently owned businesses with only an inadvertent connection to the disaster," the Times says. The Times also points out that BP "invited them to submit claims for their losses, but they must join a long line of others seeking payouts, among them fisherman, restauranteurs and hotel owners." The sales dip at BP gas stations was most pronounced early in the crisis, tumbling as much as 30 percent at some stations, but it's now averaged out to a (still significant) five percent decline across the board.
The great whiteboard hoax. Yesterday AllThingsD predicted that the viral story about Jenny, the dry-erase-board quitter, was a hoax. Today, The Chive, which posted the photos of Jenny, admitted that it is. It's not the first trick the guys behind The Chive have pulled. In 2007 they published a story on their site Derober about Donald Trump leaving a $10,000 tip. Jenny, who had so much of the Internet applauding her bravery yesterday, is really an actress named Elyse Porterfield. Alright, everyone, back to being wusses.
Innovation after two centuries. Even at a young company it can be easy to get complacent about your business model, or rest on your laurels a bit. You'd certainly think that Crain and Co., the company, which we profiled back in 2008, that provides the paper American currency is printed on would have no need for fresh ideas. But CNN Money has the story of how the company invested in R&D to bring its anti-counterfeiting technology up to snuff for the latest incarnation of the hundred dollar bill. But Crane and Co. isn't the only ancient company making waves. Here's a list of the oldest companies to appear on last year's Inc. 500 list.
How vulnerable are small businesses? Today's Wall Street Journal reports that small businesses are more susceptible to workplace violence. In fact, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics proves that 86 percent of the 497 workplace homicides that happened between 2003 and 2008 occurred in the private sector. The story explains that since small businesses are less likely to hire office security or place an emphasis on disaster-response training, they're more vulnerable. Often, these acts of violence aren't so random, either, which is why Joseph Grenny, who co-wrote "Crucial Conversations" tells the Journal that when you're firing or disciplining employees, "You need to increase the likelihood they will walk out feeling they were dealt with somewhat justly and somewhat compassionately."
Lemonade stand entrepreneur gets another try. We told you the story of a 7-year-old Oregon girl whose lemonade stand was shut down by health inspectors. Well, after an enraged Internet audience sided with the enterprising tyke the inspectors were told to use "professional discretion" before enforcing the law in such a literal-minded way, The Oregonian reports. Just think: If only we could get more kids hooked on entrepreneurship at a young age we could have a fresh crop of Bill Gates-wannabes in a few short years.
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.