The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Opinion

August 1, 2012

You didn’t create your own success!

HARPING

TARBORO — Perhaps our president should get a portable teleprompter about the size of a hand mirror.  This way he wouldn’t adlib and express his own personal views instead of those his advisors and speech writers know would be more acceptable to the voting public.

The adlib by Obama recently that went, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”  This remark was a slap in the face to just about every small businessman and businesswoman in this nation who worked long hard hours, both day and night, to build up a business to serve its community and to pay employees to help it grow.

Of course we were helped by teachers, parents and others along the way, but the president went on to imply that it was primarily the government that made it all possible.  I wonder how farmers who might get up at sunrise and not stop working until sunset feel about this.  This is also true of every other businessman, or businesswoman, who has struggled to build a successful business.

Oh, but the government helped.  Not necessarily.  In many cases th government was an adversary, making it much more difficult for ambitious entrepreneurs to pursue building a business.  Too often they were faced with unneeded and complicated rules and regulations that seemed to be established just to give some bureaucrats a government job.

This was the case with me when I was trying to develop the radio

stations WCPS-AM and WKTC-FM into top notch radio stations in eastern North Carolina.

I, along with great employees, managed to succeed, but not without an almost on going battle with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).  The government did not invent radio broadcasting (or TV).  Guglielmo Marconi is generally given credit with the invention of radio broadcasting.

After this the radio broadcasting industry began and shortly thereafter the industry asked the federal government to regulate them.  Regulation was not in any way about how they operated as a private business entity, but in the assignment of broadcasting frequencies, so they wouldn’t overlap one another and cause a terrible airwave traffic jam … much the same as how airline traffic must be regulated.

 So the FCC was established for just that one purpose, but of course, the government wasn’t happy with such a minor role.  From then on stations had to renew their operation license, every three years and to do so jump through more hoops than one could imagine.  It was then that the bureaucrats started having a field day.  Without any knowledge of knowing how to actually operate a radio station they were turned loose to tell us just what we should do and what we shouldn’t do.

It would have been humorous, if it hadn’t been such a ridiculous situation for us to be in.  Now, not all bureaucrats are bad guys.  They are needed and many do their jobs well and cause little damage and occasionally are helpful.

My worse experience with a FCC bureaucrat was when we had constructed a new, taller tower.  All permits had been granted and we were ready to go, and were standing by to get on the air with the new tower, but I had not received the final go-ahead to begin broadcasting on the new tower.  I called  the FCC office and talked with the proper bureaucrat in command.

After I asked about said permit, he answered, “Mr. Harper I have your permit on my desk now and I’ll get it to you fairly soon.”

“But, we have completed construction and are standing by right now to go on the air with the new tower and we’re losing money every day we are delayed.”

He answered, “Mr. Harper, if you give me a hard time your permit will go to the bottom of the pile on my desk and when it works its way back up to the top, I just might send it right back to the bottom again.  I immediately call my FCC attorney.  (We had to have one on retainer just to exist).   He told me to call Sen. Jim Broyhill.  I did and received the permit four days later.

I’m sure the government has helped some along the way, but for me if someone shows up and tells me that, “I’m from Washington and I’m here to help you,” I’m outta here.

I also wonder if Obama had been around back in 1927, when Charles Lindberg flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean would he have said, “He didn’t do that on his own, by himself.  He didn’t flap his arms and fly … he had to have an airplane.”

(Bob Harper is a Tarboro resident who writes a column of general interest.)

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