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Entrepreneur/Super-Mom fears an Obama victory.
No one would mistake my sister Dodie — a super-mom (sometimes tiger mom) and entrepreneur — for a hand-wringing pessimist. Intrepid and resourceful, she always rises to the moment — like the “unsinkable” Molly Brown in the musical about the Titanic. But now (even after the smack-down that the object of her worst fears received in the first debate) she is worried sick — so much so that she can hardly sleep at night.
Three recurring ideas disturb her peace of mind.
One is the thought that no matter what happens between now and Nov. 6, a huge majority of young people — led by the smartest and best-educated among them — will cast their votes for Barack Obama.
Next is the thought that their votes will tip the election in his favor.
And last is the thought these same young people (including three of her own children who are recent graduates of prestigious colleges) have no idea of what is about to hit them.
We have all seen the huge crowds that turn out for the president whenever he visits a college campus. But few parents I know have been more thoroughly wrapped up in the lives of young adult children than my sister Dodie. This stems in some part from the fact that her four children (one still in high school) have all worked for her in a various capacities from the age of 12 or 13. They learned about business from a real entrepreneur… who also happened to be extremely popular with all of their friends: being, at one and same time, a strict disciplinarian, the possessor of an exuberant and outspoken personality, and a role model for her children — in short, a true super-mom.
Here, then, is the story of my younger sister and her family on the eve of what everyone is calling the most important election in recent American history.
Two years after the birth of her first child, Dodie (Josephine Havlak, to give her full name) borrowed $10,000 from relatives to start her own business — doing wedding and portrait photography. That was in 1987, when Dodie was 32 (she’s now 57). She made it into the black in year one and repaid the loan in full in three years.
The business thrived — not just because of her talent as a photographer, but still more because of her discovery of an unsuspected aptitude for business. None of our Wilson family forbears possessed what I would call the commercial gene. Despite that, Dodie found the ability to overcome the challenges posed by rapid technological change, the constant need to replace existing customers with new ones, and the adverse impact of bad luck and bad decisions. And all that is to say nothing of the high state of anxiety that exists in this particular business (think Father of the Bride).
Everything was going well — until the housing crash in late 2007, followed by the Great Recession of 2008/9 and the long bounce-less “recovery.” Over the past four years, Dodie’s income from her business has fallen by about 40 percent, due to sharp declines in weddings, births, and household wealth.
Painful as that has been, it falls well short of a personal catastrophe. Even in a down market, Josephine, as it is called, is still one of the top players in the wedding and portrait market In St. Louis. Meanwhile, her husband Jon, an architect, continues to earn a good salary at a well-regarded firm in the city.
With one full-time assistant to help her out in the organization (billings, collections, scheduling, etc.) of her home-based business, Dodie has combined the roles of a business-owning entrepreneur and a stay-at-home mom. She has been intimately and unceasingly involved with each of the children in their school work and other activities. Conversely, in growing up in and around her business, the children have all seen, from the inside, how the free enterprise system works in creating employment for some and value for others. What they’ve seen is also something that their mother preaches — being a great advocate of competition, voluntary exchange, and free-market capitalism.
With some estimates putting unemployment or underemployment among young adults at close to 50%, the adult children are doing exceptionally well, helped by the fact that they all graduated from top universities with high honors (magna or summa). One has a photography business in San Francisco; another will soon complete a PhD in engineering at Cornell; and the third is a rising star a big New York PR firm. (Julie, the youngest, a sophomore at a suburban high school, is a budding writer and musician.)
But happy as she is with their early successes, Dodie is dismayed that her children, though raised as tigers, feel no need or desire to speak out in favor of free-market principles or ideas. As she describes it, they “dare not” criticize Barack Obama’s economic policies, or let on to friends that they reject the liberal / progressive belief that it is in the power of big government to outdo the marketplace in producing material abundance and enabling more people to reach their full potential.
All of Dodie’s children are avidly pro-gay marriage, seeing this as almost a make-or-break issue. While Dodie hates discrimination against gays, blacks, or any other minority, she is puzzled at the thought that anyone should see guaranteeing gay marriage as the great defining issue in this election year — with Iran on the brink of gaining a weapon that it says it will use to destroy Israel … with the federal government racking up a trillion dollars of new debt every year as it continues to borrow about 40 cents for every dollar its spends … with the U.S. economy stuck in a seemingly never-ending recession … and with a growing threat to liberty within the U.S. posed by the growth of government mandates and regulations into strange new areas, such as forcing religious institutions to go against their own beliefs in providing health insurance that provides free contraceptives and abortion-producing drugs.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?