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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Thankgiving, 2020


No matter how many times you say it, to yourself or outloud, 2020 has been a crazy year.   Thanksgiving was spent on Zoom, with my 76 year old mother on the 3rd week after testing positive for covid.  She's fine, thank god.  But a week later, pre-symptomatic, she would have infected the whole family who was set to arrive for Thanksgiving Dinner -'whole' family much reduced since a bunch of us weren't coming due to virus best practices.

I do a family Shutterfly calendar each year and typically because of the sports and the get-togethers and the travel and the fun times, there are far too many pics for the allotted 12 months of picture slots.  Not this year - if there is one true measure of what a 'stay at home' year looks like, it's the lack of pictures I've taken.  How many pics can you take of your son gaming, or your dog looking cute lying on her back with her legs pointing skyward?

We remain busy, which sheds off some survivor's guilt, because me and my team are prospering.  But that type of over-self analysis is boring and as indulgent as feeling guilty in the first place since my company being busy has such an intense and wide-ranging economic impact on a huge number of families, that to assume the guilt as singularly, is silly and self-absorbed.  Catskill Farms dumps $1.5m a month into someone's pocketbooks and wallets, and that impact creates ripples and waves of ancillary impacts in community spending, retirements, consumption, but most of all - it creates economically stable families who can engage in predictable planning near-term and long-term  - benefiting communities - be it social, economic, health or spiritual. $1.5m a month rivals most SuCo town's annual budgets.

I'm without a doubt a free-market believer - not in the pure Ayn Rand where all gov't is bad, but I do believe without hesitation that I make good decisions more than bad, that I can navigate the micro-market I work in better than anyone for the benefit of more, that I reinvest my profits back into the community and people I work with, and that a lot of gov't rules that create the box from within I work are good.

I believe in gov't assisted healthcare - mostly because I see how destabilizing lack of healthcare is for families.  We just had a guy with a serious member of his family ill, and he was able to take off with pay for 3 months (and his wife under a separate program) to care for this family member, rather than having to make a choice of bankruptcy or caring for the family member.  That was a big deal, that none of us had ever even considered before when complaining about NY taxes, or Obamacare.  This was life saving for 7 people.

The idea that small business people reject any form of higher taxes when in the public good, especially when you can see the diret impact on persons you work with, underestimates the caring many employers have for their employees, and the intelligence and realism good managers use when deciding what is good and bad for them ('them' always defined as the whole corporate family, not the owner individually.

Near the year end, when tax planning is crystalized before Dec 31, charitable giving becomes front of mind.  And sometimes I look at my percentage of income given, and it seems paltry, but then I step back and have to acknowledge I give everyday, every week, to my employees, my vendors, my extended family - just giving everyone off Thursday and Friday costs $7000 not including the opportunity costs of not getting anything done, the illness in a team member's family was truly expensive indirectly - healthcare, 401k, time off, bonuses - all definitely not 'charity', but definitely an allocation of profits to others other than oneself.

So on this Thanksgiving, we feel blessed - as individuals, as an owner of a company, as a family - for the bounty of harvest and health we have here in 2020, even if we have to measure it a bit irregularly.

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