It is War!

  • By: President/CEO of the Fresno Chamber – Al Smith

“I am from the government and I’m here to help.”

Most of us remember when former California Governor and U. S. President Ronald Reagan called those the most terrifying words in the English language.

Under the bright golden dome of the capitol building, so far this year your legislature in Sacramento has introduced about 2,000 ways to “help” us. If you are an owner or operator of a company, just in case you haven’t noticed, here are just a few bills (of the many) that are still breathing life in the walls of that monument to democracy.

Our lawmakers are helping drive up the cost of business by raising minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017; they want to take away your voluntary option and force all of you, large and small, to provide paid sick leave; they want to allow an employee to file a lien on your real and personal property based on alleged but unproven wage claims.

And as my favorite disc-jockey says, “And the hits just keep on a-coming.”

Sacramento and Fresno Bee newspaper columnist Dan Walters calls the pushing and shoving going on in the state capitol – “perennial legislative warfare.” It is business owners and associations in constant combat against unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates and personal injury lawyers and unfortunately the good guys (us) are losing more than we are winning.

But like Winston Churchill advised – we can never, never, never give in.

Like any war, the more assets we have – the more wins we enjoy. The Fresno Chamber, the Cal Chamber and like-minded organizations continually take our story to our elected officials educating them on how their actions either contribute to the vitality of our State or act as an eroding factor that pushes companies large and small to evacuate to friendlier climates.

The more voices we have, the more effective we can become. So stop reading this long enough to immediately take out your smart phone (Apple or Android) and visit the App store – sear for Fresno Chamber and download the Fresno Chamber Advocacy app. There, right at your fingertips, you will be able to see who our elected officials are and how to contact them; you can follow issues that can impact your business and you can join in a chorus of voices that send letters indicating your view point. It is simple, quick and based on feedback from officials – very effective.

In this ongoing battle, we can grow or we can wither. If we sit still and ignore – I can guarantee we will continue to lose. If we join together, we have the ability to turn the tide.

In dealing with our government sometimes, particularly from an agricultural perspective, we have to get our hands dirty. For it was Plato who said, “People (in this case politicians) are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow – or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”

So in this war, let’s never “give in”. Every voice has value. So, sign up and join the battle. Semper fi.


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