Thursday, January 12, 2012

The OpenText Guy and being a good Drummer Boy

Who should decide my freedom? me.
Who is responsible for my choices? me.
Who should control the federal Innovation Grants? elected officials.
Where should they get policy advice from? experts in the field.
How should I qualify for these grants? only by fulfilling the criteria.
Background: I didn't vote for Stevie Wonder's government in the last election.

Now begins the rant.  Parents, please remove your children from the room.

I haven't been given access to every SR&ED and IRAP claim or the way the money was used in the history of Canada.  However I am going to make a bold statement here: I bet there was abuse.  But, I believe there is (and will be) abuse in every place where money changes hands: in filing taxes, in paying taxes, in collecting refunds, in applying for grants.  And in every department: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Defense, Human Resources, you name it.  If you use the Prone-To-Abuse Trump Card in your argument against innovation credits, you are a POLITICAL ASS, a puppet for the white-bread-eating bogey-man-fearing bean-counting mandarins that provide government services to us (us, BTW, the people that actually build the wealth in Canada - not the bank of Canada, not the department of Finance).  When there is abuse in a department (let's say 5% of employees).  Do you shut down the department or do you change the employee's behaviour?  Do you enact rules so this doesn't happen?  Do you shut down the company for 5%?  When you eat people's bagels in the cafeteria and don't drop in a dollar in the donation box to cover the cost?  Do you commit suicide because of the gross abuse you have committed?

WARNING: Analogy shift here.

Say I'm a farmer, and I know that the expectant lifespan of my fruit trees is 30 years and the economic value years of those trees is the years from 5-20.  So basically every 20 years I need to have a whole new orchard of trees to keep my business afloat.  That means that every year I need to nurture young trees so that they can reach their 5th year so I can gauge if they have any economic value.  It would be pretty stupid not to support trees at this stage and give them a chance to grow.  Because bringing young trees into the orchard is the main way I keep my farming business going.

Shift back here.

What do the following companies have in common: Odesta, NIRV, OnTime, Dimensions, Lava Systems, Bluebird, LeadingSide, Centricity, Gauss, Eloquent, Corechange, IXOS, Vista Plus Suite, Hummingbird Ltd., eMotion LLC, or Spicer Corporation?  These are all smaller companies or products acquired by OpenText.  Awesome strategy huh?  Our trees are getting old, and let's keep the orchard fresh with young trees with a future.

Now if small businesses are the key for big business success, why would someone take-away the SR&ED credit from small companies?  Only an ECONOMIC ASS, would jeopardize the future of small business in Canada.  One employee grows to two, two grow to three.  That's the reality of day-to-day business growth in Canada.  As you get bigger your corporate growth only begins to match the birth-rate, unless you buy smaller companies.   So why, oh why, would anyone propose dropping this credit for small companies?  I know, because there are lots of small companies and they make up the majority of claims.  That's my guess, anyway.  Ok, so it's about saving money.  So let's not drop the funds evenly across the board, let's just cut the small company's portion.  Could it be because they don't have a voice? a political voice?

When I look at companies to invest my time and money in, I look at broad indicators of what they are doing and what the political and legal frameworks are for these companies.  Most WTO and OECD nations have some sort of research refunds/grants/credits/incentives for small business.  Some are directed in only certain areas, some are broad.  I'm going to be less interested in riskier ventures if I know that these innovation credits will be harder to come by in Canada.  I am.  It's because the government is saying "F**K YOU, small business doesn't deserve our help, we all have big companies now and we have no clue.  There's the door, please leave."

So here's the next proposal.  Let's give it to Universities.  Ya.  There's no abuse in those institutions, and they're right on the ball on the economic-feasibility stuff.  (If you have more than a grade 12 education in Canada, you don't need me to explain that last sentence.)

[cut to Andrew, sitting behind the desk, looking somber into the camera, dim lights behind him, put a warm light on his face.]

Starting companies (one of my greatest joys) entails lots of risk. [pause] Life ends in death so these risks are not so bad.  Starting companies requires a good mix of Courage and Stupidity.  I have excelled in both.  Once there were no tax credits. (There was a time of no personal taxes too!) Life will go on. Governments will pay for Canadian flags to be sold in Quebec, for memorials of the war of 1812.  Innovation will be stifled in Canada.  Dollar stores will be the most influential store chains.  These chains will claim to have more and broader clientele than any other stores in Canada.  We will continue to dig up things and trade them for Chinese goods.  And then one day [very dramatic pause] the Chinese will take our land, all because the OpenText Guy didn't have the balls to stand up for the innovative courageous and stupid visionaries that start small businesses but chose to be a good Conservative Drummer Boy.

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