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The Power Washer Approach

I  somehow blew up my brother-in-law’s power washer last week.  I don’t  know  how  it  happened, but you know the feeling.  You try never to borrow  anything  but when you finally do, not 20 minutes in, the otherwise indestructible  machinery  that’s  been well-used for 15 years suddenly and inexplicably  starts sputtering and belching smoke like a wounded Godzilla.

 

It’s a shame too. I was trucking right along, smoothly blasting away muck and  grime and basking in the glow of my rejuvenated siding when I suddenly  heard  a  bolt  blow  clean  off  the side of the machine. So my meticulously  planned three-hour task turned into a full-day excursion as I headed  to  the  Home  Depot  to  educate myself on the wide world of power washers and  where  I  bought  new  ones  for  both  my brother-in-law  and  myself.  Lesson  one:  better  not to borrow anything expensive, for Murphy’s Law will surely intervene.

 

But  that  old  adage aside, my column is actually about the process. If  you’ve  ever  used a power washer you know how strangely satisfying the experience  can  be.   To be sure, it’s slow and tedious work that requires careful  attention  so  as  not to let the water’s force damage what you’re cleaning.   But  as  you  progress inch by monotonous inch, you’re rewarded with a renewed  surface gleaming back at you.  And if you’re like me, you occasionally  power  the  washer  down  to step back, admire your work, and reassess the details of your approach.

 

In  reality, this is precisely how so many of life’s challenges have to  be  managed.  I think power washing might be the perfect chore by which to  teach  our teenagers the value of slow and sustained effort.  It’s also what  came  to mind this past week as I spoke at the WOR Business Breakfast at  the  Jericho Terrace. I was invited by  WOR  and  CNBC contributor Ron Insana to speak with more than 100 local business owners  about  the business environment and what’s being done to help it flourish.

 

I  asked  Richard Bivone, Nassau Chairman of the Long Island Business Council  and  Nick Terzulli, Director of Business Development at the Nassau County  Industrial  Development  Agency  (IDA)  to join  us.   The session immediately  took  off  because our passionate business owners have no problems telling you what needs improvement. But that’s the kind of honest  discussion  that  has  been  lacking  in New  York’s business policy-making  for far too long. In the past, officials took businesses for granted and let New York City special interests dictate the discussion. 

 

We all agreed though that we’re finally turning that corner. We’ve delivered on-time, balanced budgets with no  business  or  personal  tax increases.  We cut personal income taxes to their  lowest  level in over 50 years, kept state spending to less than 2 percent  growth  and even established a real property tax cap.  In essence, we’ve  maintained  state  finances  much  as  a  successful  business would maintain its own.

 

But  we  also agreed that we have to strike while the iron is hot and incentivize existing businesses to stay, while convincing new ones to open in  New  York.   That  simply  can’t  be  done  until  we tackle New York’s notoriously  excessive  regulations.   I’ve  already  reviewed thousands of pages of what appear to be ambiguous and often duplicative regulations, but untangling  this  mess, with an eye toward simplification is very appealing to  me. Much like the power washer, it’s slow and steady work, taken inch by  painstaking  inch.   The  reward will be an attractive business environment that’s better for all working people. 

 

I’ll be hosting a series of Senate hearings  where  business  people  can  share their insights and expertise. Just  like  this  week’s WOR breakfast, the more frank the discussions, the better. In  the meantime, I urge any small business or would be start-ups to  reach out  to  the Long Island Business Council (516-396-0600) and the  IDA  (516-571-1945).  These are business people just like you, and they’re dedicated to helping in whatever way they can.