Bob Thomas: We conservatives aren't all bad

Once again, I find myself at odds with my esteemed colleague Dr. Eugene Paslov. In his column of Saturday, Sept. 29, he expressed the desire for civil discourse, so today's column is an attempt to begin that process. He also voices concern about right-wing conservatives' disdain for government, including entrepreneurs and big business, believing we are revisionists. But I'm afraid Gene is sharing misconceptions by many.

I, too, dip my oar in Gene's water when I criticize public schools, which is frequent. But I don't believe I've ever tried to tell him how to teach or administrate public education. My comments are limited to what I think should be taught, and why, and my belief that higher education today is greedy business.

Yes, I admit to being mostly anti-government. But don't paint all conservatives with that same brush. I know conservatives who are public employees who don't approve of government overstepping its statutory authority anymore than I do. Why am I anti-government? Because it has been my experience that government is dominated by incompetent, self-serving lawmakers and judges who care little about our U. S. Constitution. I've also experienced unelected government officials routinely making needlessly restrictive regulations.

Concerning income redistribution, we conservatives resent it because we don't agree with how government redistributes our money and to whom. Inspecting our tax returns would likely show that we conservatives are more generous to church and charities than are liberals. We are not moneygrubbers, hoarding for our own purposes. But we prefer having our incomes being redistributed by our churches, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross or other such charities. It's our money, not the government's. We recognize our moral obligation to share it with those in genuine need, but on our terms.

We conservatives also resent those who pay zero income taxes at both ends of the spectrum. We, too, want tax loopholes plugged out of fairness, and out of fairness we resent those who don't pay income taxes. I'm not talking about Social Security recipients. Paying taxes on S.S. is unfair even if the recipients have other income. We've paid for S.S. out of our wages. Again, that's our money!

Now, I sense that Gene resents entrepreneurs and big business but he confuses the two. In the first place, few CEOs of large corporations have ever been entrepreneurs. They are caretaker managers, trained as such by Wharton, Harvard, Stanford and others. These are born bureaucrats. To qualify as an entrepreneur, one must be the founder and original builder of the enterprise - public or private. I submit that where corporate greed exists, it manifests with the interlocking directors of big bureaucracies, not with entrepreneurs.

Here is food for thought: If you were to ask 1,000 bona fide entrepreneurs why they chose that path their answers would be: 1) "60 percent of my reason is to be my own boss - to own my own soul." 2) "30 percent of my reason is to build something useful and lasting and to be proud of it." 3) "10 percent of my reason is to make money but money is the result of what I do, not a primary reason." The major exception to this is Wall Street and its fellow travelers. But at that level, the players are rarely entrepreneurs. They are soulless, giant brokerage and banking bureaucracies.

My "Law of Entrepreneurial Reality" decrees: "In growing enterprises the time comes when the founders can no longer perform all the sensitive tasks and must reluctantly delegate authority, succumbing to consensus (group) management and becoming a bureaucracy." That is why General Electric now owns Bentley Nevada and Emerson Process now owns my old company, UNI-LOC. We entrepreneurs make lousy bureaucrats so we sell out to an established bureaucracy and retire and when we get bored, we do it all over again.

As an aside: In a recent letter, Citizen Sean Mick suggests that I'm a racist because I told the truth about Obama in my column. Had he read my previous columns he'd know that I was Herman Cain's staunchest supporter for president. Moreover, I have an African-American nephew in Reno whose daughters are among my adorable grand nieces.

• Bob Thomas is a retired high-tech industrialist who later served on the Carson City School Board, the state welfare board, the airport authority and as a state assemblyman. His website is


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