I have a family owned and operated business that was started by my father almost 30 years ago. My father, an Italian immigrant, came to this great country of ours with dreams and goals that were only attainable in the United States. Through his desire to succeed and his vision to persevere he accomplished what many might believe to be impossible. Though I am proud of may father's many accomplishments I am not writing this letter to praise my father in all that he has done since coming to this country. I am writing this to convey that there are millions of stories from many people that have used the opportunity given to them from this country to be successful.

One of the many lessons that I was taught by my father is that, "you must take responsibilities for your actions." A pretty simple statement, but when you look at it, it speaks volumes in being an important ingredient for the recipe of success. What ever happened to being held liable? What ever happened to being held to task? What ever happened to honesty and integrity? All these questions are supposed to be basic principles that we are supposed to live our lives by. But, somewhere down the line, it became okay when, in the business world, these basic principles need not apply.

I look at the economic climate and I am as concerned as any other working person out there. I also look at the economic climate and I am infuriated with the way we, the United States of America, the greatest country in world, are dealing with our economic problems. When did the term "bail out" become the norm and not the exception? Did I miss something in college? Was that a class that perhaps my university was not offering? As a small business owner I have no "golden parachute." I have no legal loopholes to hide behind. All I have is that simple lesson that I was taught by my father - you must take responsibilities for your actions.

I speak on behalf of all small business owners. Alone, we may be small, but together, we are the true heartbeat and pulse of America and without us, America would be just one big corporation, filled with more "golden parachutes" and more "bailouts."

As small business owner, our day is filled with challenges that stem from employees, to marketing, to sales, to finance, and to anything else that is required of us in order to keep the doors open of our companies. The question I am asking is that, with all the "bailouts" of the banking system, where is the relief for small business? Since the government allocated $700 billion to the banks, why do I have more pressure today from banks than I ever had? Why am I being treated as if I have changed the rules? All I have done is what every other hard working small business owner is doing - making adjustments, cutting my budget, and, most of all, making personal sacrifices until things get better.

I am not looking for a "bailout." All I am looking for is an explanation, just like the millions of other small business owners out there. While the government is "bailing out" corporate America and banks, why is the government "bailing" on small business? We don't need billions of dollars of the taxpayer money. All we need is somebody to actually understand what it is that American small business means to our country and the world's economy.

As I sit here today as a member of the small business community, I hear our government talking about how important it is to keep banks and big business from collapsing, but is anyone in our government listening to small businesses? I am only one voice and alone, I may be a whisper, but with the millions of small businesses out there, with unity, we can become a loud roar.

Please join my fight in keeping small business alive and send this to your Congressperson, Senator, or local government official.

John C. Di Stefano

Franklin Square

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