Clinton: Well, thank you all so much for inviting me here today and giving me a chance to not only learn more about this business, which is a family business, 112 years young.
Unknown: That’s right.
Clinton: And to meet some of the people who work here, as I did when I was walking through, and as you’ve just introduced yourself. I am excited to hear from you about what it takes to get a small business up and going and keep it growing in an increasingly competitive global economy.
Small business is the backbone of the American economy. Here in New Hampshire, 96 percent of all businesses are considered small businesses. And they employ more than half of the workers, the employees, in the state of New Hampshire. So New Hampshire is a perfect example of what it takes to start and grow a small business.
And I come from a small business family. My father had a very small business. He printed drapery fabrics in a print plant. And he did much of the work himself, sometimes with day laborers, sometimes with my mother and my brothers and me, literally, taking the squeegee, pour the paint on the silk screen. You take the squeegee, you go down, then you lift it up and you go to the next and you keep going.
And I saw where now there’s a machine that you just bought that’s printing on all kinds of material. And I’m thinking back to those years in my father’s small print plant. But he made a very good living because of his hard work and his absolute willingness to do whatever it took to design, to produce, to sell the products that were at the heart of what he produced.
And so from my perspective, I want to be sure that we get small businesses starting and growing in America again. We have stalled out. I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it, because people were telling me this, as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying.
And it turns out that we’re not producing as many small businesses as we used to. And a recent world study said that we are 46th in the world in the difficulty to start a small business. There are lots of issues and we’ll get into some of those, I hope, Dave, and the rest of you, as well.
So I want to hear from each of you, because part of what I’m doing in this campaign is making my own decisions about what we need to do. I want to embed what I propose as policies, not in ideology, not in some philosophy, but in the real daily lives and experiences of American workers and business owners and everybody who had a stake in making sure that the economy is working again. Really, we have to do more for young people, because what we’re finding is that with student debt — and New Hampshire has the highest student debt numbers of any state in the country — that interferes with the young people taking certain jobs, buying a house, even getting married and certainly starting a business.
When I was in Iowa last week, I met a young man, who — his dream had been to own a bowling center is his hometown. He graduated from college, because he’d worked, like you, during the summers, and he — and he wanted to own that business. He got a chance to do it.
With his student debt, it was really a struggle, because even though he was very responsible, he had done everything we expect a young person to do to try to better himself, he was running into real credit problems.
And even now, he’s got the business, but he runs it — he has a little grill and restaurant, he, with two employees, is trying to make a go of it. Here’s a young, ambitious guy. And when I think about my dad, it was a lot easier in those days to have an idea, to get what you needed and to go to work.
The other piece of this, as we were walking around and Dave was telling about all of the incredible machines that are used here in production, all but one are from another country. And many of them, if I’m right, Dave, are from Europe.
Unknown: That’s correct.
Clinton: And so you think — I mean, Europe has high wages. They have high costs. Why are they producing these advanced machines instead of us? What’s wrong with this picture?
You can — you can see that maybe lower-cost places that are mastering the art of machine production would be competitive, but these are high-value machines. These are very sophisticated machines.
How do we get that into more basic production again so that we can resume our lead in manufacturing, something that I think is essential? A lot of people disagree with me. They say, “Oh, you know, those days are over.” I don’t believe it.
You walk around here, you see these machines from, you know, Italy or Germany or wherever else they’re from. Why? Why aren’t we producing those machines? What do we need to do to jump-start advanced manufacturing once again in our country?
So my bottom line is, we’ve gone through some tough times, and I think Americans have done everything they could think of to do to get through those tough times.
But now it’s not enough just to tread water; we need to get ahead and stay ahead, and people need to feel that their work is being rewarded, that the deck is not stacked in favor of those at the top, that they too have a chance to go as far as their hard work and their aspiration will take them.
So in order to put together a set of policies for my campaign, I really want to make sure that they are in line with the real lives and the real working experiences of the people that I would love to represent as your president.
So we’re going to take on four big fights. You know, we’re going to fight to build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday, and make the middle class mean something again in this country. We’re going to fight to have strong families and strong communities. And of course, it’s no accident that I’m at a [inaudible] whose customer market is between six months and six years. That’s — that’s right where I am focused these days.
I want to make sure we have a functioning political system. I’m going to fight for that.
I will work with anybody. I’ve done that. I did it as senator. I will do it again.
But I will also stand my ground when we need to, and part of that is getting unaccountable money out of politics, because we cannot afford that, even if it takes a constitutional amendment.
And then finally, we always have to be vigilant to protect our country against the threats we know — we can see them — but then the threats we can’t see — pandemic diseases, cyber warfare, et cetera.
So I’m excited about this campaign. I’m thrilled to be back in New Hampshire. I see some of my friends out there in the audience.
And the first place I ever came for any political campaign was in 1991 when I was here campaigning for my husband, in October of 1991. I celebrated my birthday here in — in Keene, and I have a lot of wonderful memories.
So with that, Dave, I’m going to turn it back to you, and — and we can start hearing from some of the folks.
Question: I think maybe I’ll ask the initial question, and you guys will chime in.
But — but, you know, early childhood is obviously our interest and — our selfish interest, but also, we’re fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters. And I would like you to elaborate on exactly what you think you might do for child-care in the future if — if you’re — you know, if you’re elected.
Clinton: Well, that’s a question near and dear to my heart, because I think every society starts with our youngest citizens. And when I got out of law school, I went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund. And so my whole adult life, both professionally and my volunteer work, has been around children and families and it is to me the most important commitment we can make.
And now it’s not only that we want to take care of our children and our grandchildren, but we now know that the way brains develop, thanks to all the great research that is being done by our scientists, that those early years really are critical to the success that a child will have in school and what that child can learn and then what that child can choose to do, what kind of opportunities will be available.
So I think we have to start in the family. And I’ve been working on a project to convince parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, to read, talk and sing to their babies and that’s equally important in any child care setting.
So when you are producing furniture that give kids a chance to be part of a circle, to work on a table, all of that, it’s safety and stimulation are the two most important needs that little, tiny babies have. And I think we need a much more broadly based universal pre- Kindergarten program so that kids have a chance to get ready for school.
And I really applaud states — and they are not — you know, they’re not all the states that you might think of — Oklahoma has a universal pre-K program because their state decided they would invest in those early years to get their kids better for school.
And I think the child care problem, I was looking at a statistic that it can cost as much as $12,000 a year in New Hampshire for quality child care. That’s more than the community college costs, as I understand it.
And what are we going to do about that?
How can you expect, you know, most families to afford that kind of cost?
So we’ve got to do more to support quality child care and universal pre-kindergarten because by the time a child enters kindergarten, a lot of their brain development has taken place, their vocabulary has been developed and so if we want to do well in school — and I know there’s a couple teachers or retired teachers out there, you want to have our kids do well in school, it has to start in those first five years and that’s where you come in.
And you were telling me about a light table and other things that you prepare for settings where little kids are — that’s all to stimulate them and give them a chance to develop that brain and learn more so they are better prepared for school.
Question: Yes. Thank you.
Guys, you want to start off, anybody?
Question: Well, my grandson goes to the Head Start across the way over there [inaubible] in there it’s filled with Whitney Brothers products, all down the hallways. They’re all on coat lockers. In there are all their — are little tables and chairs. And it made me feel so proud that I worked here, that these people were buying [inaubible].
Question: — more for substance abuse, help in our area, there’s very limited resources here. And we would like to see something in that respect.
Do you have —
Clinton: Well — Question: — any further ideas?
Clinton: I do, actually. I am — I’m really concerned because, Pam, what you just told me, I’m hearing from a lot of different people. There is a hidden epidemic. You know, the drug abuse problem, whether it’s pills or meth or heroin, is not as visible as in, you know, 30 years ago when there were all kinds of gangs and violence. This is a quiet epidemic. And it is striking in small towns and rural areas as much as any big city. And at the same time, we see steady cutbacks in drug abuse programs, treatment programs, mental health programs. I see Senator Kelly here and I know how committed she is to trying to get resources.
So we’re — we’ve got a perfect storm. We have an increasing problem that’s only beginning to break through the service so that people — you know, I think a lot of people are thinking, well, that’s somebody else’s problem, it’s not my problem and indeed it is all of our problem. And we don’t have enough resources, so that if somebody decides that they want to get help, where do you send them?
What kind of opportunities do they have for treatment?
And I am convinced that the mental health issues — because I consider substance abuse part of mental health issues — is going to be a big part of my campaign because increasingly it’s a big issue that people raised with me.
And when I was in Iowa last week, I literally heard from one end of the state, from Davenport to Council Bluffs, about this problem and how the state was shutting all their inpatient facilities and there was nowhere for people to be sent.
So we’ve got to do more. We have treatment in the Affordable Care Act, which is a good thing, which we — and we have at least on paper, what’s called mental health parity, you know, insurance companies have to care of mental health just like they take care of physical problems.
But we are just at the beginning of trying to figure out what this is, and the whole substance abuse issue — I’ll just end with this. You probably have read about this small county in Southern Indiana where there was an epidemic of HIV among just people living in the community because they were sharing needles and shooting up some kind of pill that was I guess turned to powder.
So now they have not only the drug abuse problem, they have people who contracted HIV. So this is not something we can just brush under the rug and wish it would go away. We need a concerted policy, national, state, local, public, private and we need to try to help young people like the mother of your grandson.
Question: Thank you.
Question: Well, the drug issue is not really a no-issue here. I mean, as a kid myself, as the son of a minister, of a preacher, the little town that I grew up in, I was the only kid my age who was not involved in drugs of some sort. The dealer lived across the street, the kids used their drugs in the front lawn of the house next door. I mean — and there was no — really no recourse in upstate New York at that time because this little town of 300,000 acres, one town cop, two local sheriffs, that’s a lot of territory to cover.
So it’s not really a no issue but it is certainly an ongoing issue.
Clinton: You know, that’s exactly right. It’s not a new issue, but it’s taken a new — kind of a new turn, if you will. And I think more young people — maybe because we stopped the messaging about how dangerous drugs work, because I can remember the same kind of, you know, messages advertising that we would see all the time, you don’t see that anymore.
And so I think for a lot of young people, especially if it’s pills, I think they believe, well, what’s wrong with that? I mean, you know it’s a prescription pill so that means it must be OK. And they don’t know that taking it and mixing it and all the rest is going to be dangerous for them. That’s a good point. Yes.
Question: Well, I was in the line with the drugs and things, you made a point that educating the kids at an early age, it might be advantageous to really push the drug issue there at Head Start, you know, just in a — in a way that they’ll understand it, no, it’s not a good thing to do, even though your friends might do it. You don’t need to do this. You don’t have to. There’s other ways.
Clinton: Yes, so starting early.
Question: Start it early.
Clinton: And, Chris, you hire a lot of people, so you see this, don’t you and —
Question: Yes. Whitney Brothers actually does drug testing. It’s a pre-employment drug testing in order to come to work here, so we want a drug-free workplace.
Clinton: Well, I think that sends a strong message and a lot of employers are either doing that or thinking about that going back to doing it, from what I’m hearing.
Is that what you hear from your human resource contacts as well?
Question: Yes. And Workmen’s Comp likes having it, too, because we haven’t [inaubible] machines that people are running and if they’re high, running them and obviously there’s going to be — someone’s going to get hurt.
Coordination and everything goes downhill.
What are some of the other issues?
Jim, like, what’s on your mind economically and kind of how you see things for yourself and your family?
Question: Well, thank you. Because my kids are all grown and they’re in their late 20s so they’re — have established themselves and they’re doing their thing, so I don’t have to worry about them anymore in the way I used to with young kids. But for myself, I’m getting, you know, up in age and looking for — I’ve worked for small companies all my life. And most of them have just enough money to give you minimal health care, to, you know, retirement. I have very little saved for retirement because of you know, trying to make ends meet with kids and you know, it’s [inaubible] the resources. And the company I just left before I came here a year ago closed their doors because of the economy — they were — they were making super insulated panels for the building industry, which I thought was the way to go.
And so when they closed their doors, I was 27 years working for them, left me with — looking for a new job and thankfully [inaubible] you know, Whitney Brothers were looking for my skills to help them with their products and I’m very thankful for being here.
But you know, I look at, you know, hope your ideas on health care and Social Security and you know, where are those — where are those heading? [inaubible] probably I’m in my late 50s right now and you know, 10 years from now I’m going to hopefully work less. You know, what’s going to — you know, and so, in regards to our company here, [inaubible], what could be done to help you know, bolster our company here to help us all live a little better life?
Clinton: Can I ask you, you worked for 27 years.
Was there any kind of retirement account, kind of [inaubible] 401(k), anything?
Question: There was initially; that lasted until the economy went belly up back in 2008. And you know, our company went right down the tubes. So it was, you know, people weren’t going to, you know, to spend that extra little bit of money to get a better — a better product.
And you know, the same what happens here. I mean, we’re struggling to try to fight with, you know, the Chinese and other people who are making similar items to us and are, you know, cutting costs and we’re, you know, we look at every penny that we put into the — into our products here and try to you know, get everything out of it we can with the CSN machines, with the — with the processes that we use.
So, yes, the company I work for was — I always thought was the way to go.
Clinton: Well, you know, you really raised an important issue because one of the really big problems we face is that American worker productivity has continued to go up. American workers work longer and harder and more productively than the vast majority of workers anywhere in the world.
But it’s been very difficult to turn that increased productivity into increased wages and increased benefits. And in some cases, where you have small companies, it’s— the margin’s just too thin. You know, it’s really hard to do that. In some places where you have big companies, they just choose not to. They’d rather stock buybacks than increase the, you know, the wages and salaries of the people who’ve actually contributed to the productivity and the profits.
So I think there has to be a look at the range of different kinds of companies because some companies have the cash and they make decisions that leave out their workers and some people are trying just to keep the doors open and the work coming and be successful and stay afloat.
So what we need to figure out is how we incentivize companies that have the cash to do more with it and how we support smaller businesses to be more competitive, to get more market, especially export market.
And Dave and I were talking about how important it is for small businesses to have access to market openings. I mean, how do you get the best support you need for a website or for you know, telling other potential customers about your product?
How do you compete with, as you say, somebody doing the same thing in China?
So I think we have to look at this from kind of the top and the middle and try to figure out what’s the best way to do it.
On Social Security, though, you know, there is a lot of loose talk about Social Security. And I don’t know how people can make some of the arguments they make, because if you look at how dependent so many people are on their Social Security — they’ve worked hard for it, they retire, they postpone retirement as long as possible because they want to keep working, but they also want to, you know, get the maximum amount of payout from Social Security.
You know, the Social Security trust fund, according to the trustees, will be solvent until 2035. So what do we do to make sure it is there and we don’t mess with it and we don’t, you know, pretend that it’s a luxury, because it’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity for the majority of people who draw from Social Security.
So I think there will be some big political arguments about Social Security. And my only question to everybody who thinks we can privatize Social Security or, you know, undermine it in some way is — and so then what’s going to happen to all these people like you, who worked 27 years at this other company?
What’s going to happen? It’s just wrong.
So part of what we have to do is say, look, let’s everybody take a deep breath. Let’s figure out what works and how we build on what works. And let’s not get into arguments, as I say, about ideology and rhetorical, you know, attacks and claims. Let’s just kind of take a deep breath here as a country and say, OK, we’re going to have a retirement issue and people who have worked hard deserve to have enough security when they retire so that they can have a good quality of life. And so I’m 100 percent committed to that.
Question: That sort of dovetails with what Mary’s situation — and I don’t know your whole circumstances, Mary, but you know, Mary worked here for a number of years, quit, and then come back. If you could just talk briefly about why you came back and was it a — was it a financial decision or was just because you were bored or what?
Question: Actually, it was a financial situation. As a homeowner there’s always overhead that have to be done, those things you have to keep up that you don’t really count on when you’re not working. So coming back to work and I said I have, why not come back to Whitney Brothers? It’s a place that I know I’m familiar with, I like it and I like the product. [inaubible] financially.
Clinton: Did you think, Mary, when you retired the first time that you had enough resources to be able to take care of your needs and then something unexpected happened?
Are you —
Question: I thought I could — I could live like comfortable, not above but comfortable.
Clinton: What — did you start drawing Social Security?
Clinton: What did you get a month, do you — do you remember what you were drawing on Social Security?
Clinton: Yes, when you started?
Question: You don’t remember what you — what amount you were [inaubible] amount?
Question: Yes, yes.
Question: [inaubible] amount.
Well, I also had a retirement, too, but I dropped from a Social Security $1,400.
Clinton: $1,400 a month? OK.
Clinton: So I think that, you know, if you — if you look just realistically, especially if you still own your home, you’re still obviously very independent and able to take care of yourself, you are going to have a lot of expenses, both predicted and unpredictable.
So when you came back, did you believe that you were here for a period of years, or are you going to —
Question: Just —
Clinton: — take it year by year?
Question: — yes, part-time.
Clinton: OK, part-time. All right.
Question: Going to catch up on those [inaubible].
Clinton: I can tell, yes. They were calling you every day, saying, why don’t you come back?
It really was a — it was really unexpected expense, right?
Question: Her kind of experience, you know, being here so many years, it’s really priceless, I mean — and that brings up something I would like to have you address and that — one of the biggest problems we have, Madam Secretary, is getting good CNC adult center trained in math and computers and, you know, we’re — we compete against a lot of local companies that are — you know, you look at our ads in the local newspapers or on the Internet, I mean, i is CNC folks, it’s a — people that have math skills. You know, we’re — our machines are metric and our — the architects and dealers are in standards so where we’re switching. So you need intelligent employees. And you know, we have the college and the high school do have technical services.
But it just doesn’t seem to be [inaubible] we’re always struggling to find people like that.
Would you agree?
Question: Yes, I do agree.
So I mean, what —
Clinton: Well, I met — I met a young man, I don’t know if he’s out here —
Question: Dan? Dan Brown, somewhere?
Clinton: — yes, he went to the Keene State College program to learn these skills and that’s what we need more of, right. You need at the high school and the college level, community, four-year college, more programs that are related to the skills that employers actually need.
You know, what are the job skills that you are trying to —
Question: It’s technical skills, it’s —
Question: — I think there is a place for the humanities, but it’s the technical skills, the electricians, the plumbers, those are the guys that we’re looking for, and those are the people.
Clinton: Well, I think we have to get back to encouraging more young people to see these as careers and then we have to have both more education-based skills programs and employer-based skills programs, you know, the kind of apprenticeship programs and other training programs that are both public and private and try to give young people the opportunities.
It’s really important that we do more to publicize why these skills are going to get you a good job. I think we have kind of lost the thread here. Too many young people don’t know — nobody’s told them that, you know, you can get a really good job, as you just named, an electrician or a welder, you name it — and the computerized numeric control systems that you’re talking about on these big machines, that takes, you know, a year or two of training to really understand, because that’s a level beyond what we typically think of as technical education.
So I would love to hear from you — and maybe start with you, indeed, Chris, because when people come for a job interview, where have they gotten their skills or do they even know that those skills would enhance their chance to get hired?
Question: I think the majority of the people that come here, on the job training, they’ve been other places so they’ve done — it’s not really any tool change.
There is a career center at the high school, but it’s more metal and more wood. It — you know, it can go hand in hand, but with us, we look more for wood and it’s more on-the-job training that people [inaubible].
Question: Yes, so we’re having to train relatively green people to run the machines. And it has worked out, but, I mean, again, you know, in the — in the local marketplace, we are competing against a lot of different companies that are — that need CNC operators. So you know, we might train someone for a year or two and they might go somewhere else for a couple of dollars more. And that — I mean, that’s life, that’s tough, but we would like to think that there could be a greater pool of technical — technically skilled people in this —
Question: Hard for us to retain the CNC operators because with — we are doing wood manufacturing and we are going against the overseas people. So we need to keep our costs low and we only can pay so much [inaubible].
Clinton: Yes, so you have got cost pressures plus skill pressures.
Clinton: Well, I think, first of all, we just have to have more programs that are going to prepare more people. I mean, that sounds so simplistic, but we kind of backed off from what used to be called vocational education and I think that we made a mistake because we backed off, thinking that it was going to be picked up by either businesses or community colleges, technical schools and that didn’t happen fast enough. It’s starting to happen now. There are more and more places where you can get these kind of advanced skills, but we need to create a bigger pool of people in order to meet the needs that you are talking about.
I visited a community college in Iowa last year that takes high school students and trains them on CNC. And then they are able to really be job prepared when they leave high school, which is amazing. But they still have a relatively — they might graduate — I think they told me 30 or 40 a year, when the demand is much greater than that.
So I think we have to take up — I really approve of the president’s proposal to try to make community college as free as possible. That would be a big help here in New Hampshire, where it’s so costly. I mean, the amount of tuition is so high, both in the two- year and the four-year schools, but that still doesn’t help unless we somehow provide incentives for more people, younger and older, to go into these trades, right.
Question: Yes, I was just going to, you know, comment on, you know, being as if I had to switch jobs again for some reason, thank God I have — still have decent skills. As a — as a draftsman and designer, you know, I learned how to, you know, use the computer on my own without any education, which if I had more education, I might have been able to do more.
But to afford to go back to school, time wise as well as cost, is always hard, especially like say with health care and all that, you know, taking the little bits out of my pay, that there isn’t any money for me to go back to school to try to get other new skills, to — and need to either enhance what I am doing here or to think about, you know, if I ever decided to move somewhere else.
Question: Before I came to Whitney Brothers I had actually looked into a CNC program that’s offered by the local community college, but it was only going to be in Clermont that next session and of course that was the middle of winter. And it’s a bit of a hike up there.
Question: Fortunately, I found this place and it worked out very well.
Clinton: Now what are your hours of operation?
Question: We’re 7:00 to 3:30 but we’re always doing overtime. So it goes to 4:30, sometimes 5:00, so it’s eight or nine hours. And then during the summer occasionally we have skeleton crews on the second shift, because our — the nature of our business is the busy months are June, July and August and September, before school starts.
Clinton: I mean, I’m just thinking that you know, you have this equipment here, if you get some kind of grant or other support from either local government, state government, even the community college or the colleges and you know, you could have a program at night. I mean, it — you know, if somebody were to come in and basically say we are going to designate Whitney Brothers as one of our training facilities and your expert employees would get some kind of wage bump because you would be the instructors.
I just think we’ve got to be imagining outside the old box about what we’re going to do to get our skills up, how we’re going to get more people of all ages to have the opportunity to improve those skills. Very hard to do it if you’re already working during the workday — but maybe there could be some, you know, cooperative approach that might make a difference. I just — from my perspective, I hear it everywhere. I hear we don’t have enough skilled workers, with technical skills. We don’t have enough R.N.s and CNAs. We have a whole missing group of workers that could be employed you know, in our existing industries, and so how do we fix that? Because we don’t fix it, we’re not going to be able to be competitive. We’re always going to be, you know, behind the curve in trying to succeed [inaubible].
Question: Going back to changing the mindset, I mean, when I was in school and growing up, there was nothing wrong with being an electrician or a plumber or a carpenter. I mean, these were really good jobs and you know, you could make good money doing that. And it seemed to fall off the table. Everybody wants to go right to the top. Well, no, you got to be at the bottom before you can kind of work your way in there.
And I think if we work in the high schools, even in the grammar schools in some points, you know, get these kids — a lot of kids just don’t want to go to school. They don’t want to go to college. You know, well, fine, you don’t have to go to college to make a good living. But you have to get it out there, that it’s OK not to go to college if you don’t want to, but these are good positions. You can get a good job, you can make a good living, support your family by doing these other things. And I think that kind of got off track. Clinton: I agree with you.
Does anybody else feel that way?
Question: When I was in high school, we had to have at least a semester or two of shop classes.
Clinton: When I was, too. Yes.
Question: Everything it seems got computerized and everybody wants either sit with their gadgets or, oh, I’ll design computer games. That’s what I’m good at. I love — I’d love to do it. And [inaubible] do that. But you know, it is true, you need a nurse. You’re going to get sick sometime, you know, we all want to live somewhere. We got to have these people building our houses. And we want to be here working at Whitney Brothers, you know.
Question: You’ve got to have that —
Question: Somebody has got to be making the —
Question: — at night when your [inaubible]
Question: Somebody’s got to fix it. Yes.
Question: That we’re not all computer geeks. I don’t think I could be one if I tried.
Question: You know? You just — you have to find your fit, you know. But I think the generation coming up needs that push to say, well, you know, here are some of these other things to do besides sit in front of a computer your whole entire life.
Clinton: You know, one of the kids that they told me about at this community college, advanced manufacturing program, graduated from high school and got a $40,000 job as a welder because there was such a shortage. And he’d had a two-year program, passed some kind of national certification. So here he is, like 18 years old and you know, starting off on a really good track. Yes.
Question: There was some — you probably know more about it than I do, but I heard it, that there are several high schools in Chicago that are affiliated with like IBM is one of them, one of their companies and it’s an eight-year program, it’s not four years and these kids are trained through high school and into this extended high school, as it were, being mentored by IBM. And when they get done, they are guaranteed a job at $40,000 a year in the company. And so, you know, you don’t have to go to the University of Illinois. You’re going to get your training right here. And I think five out of the eight schools in the country are in Chicago.
Clinton: Well, that’s exactly the kind of model that we need to look at and try to see where we could implement that. I think we have to try all different kinds of approaches and first it’s to figure out what’s already working and do more of that. And then I think you make a very strong point, we have to persuade, particularly young people, that this is an opportunity, that this is part of the economy that really needs them.
And yes, some might want to be computer programmers and some might want to be the best welder or the best plumber. But we have to make it once again attractive for young people to feel like that’s a good route for them.
Well, Dave, we will give you the last word because you have been here — how long have you worked here?
Question: Thirty-two years.
Question: A long time.
Question: A long time.
Question: But it’s been great. I mean, it’s a wonderful industry. And you know, I get to do R&D work by going to child care centers. And you know, you get little 3- and 4-year olds running around. And you know, it really is quite a — I have an enviable job. And then, but you know, we — I am still a small business owner and as such I have the 3M worries also.
So it’s not all peach and cream. Actually, you know, in 2006 we had a flood and we had — actually there was about two feet of water where we’re sitting. And the SBA was great to give us a low-interest loan. So kudos to the SBA.
But I guess one final question I might ask you is that capital improvements, you know, we like keeping our machines monitored and up to date and historically, I think the last 8-10 years we have been able to write off the capital improvements in the year that they were installed and now in 2015, they’re talking about reducing that to $25,000.
And I know that’s Congress, but I’m curious as to your feeling. I mean, if you are president, are you — what can you do to help small businesses like ours to improve the equipment that we have and not make it so onerous that — so that we can — we can spread it out and still do right by the IRS?
Clinton: Yes, no, I think that’s an important question and I can assure you that I don’t want to make your life any more onerous. I want you to be able to invest in both maintenance and upgrading of existing equipment and, like that new printing machine you showed me, new equipment, if that’s going to make you competitive.
I think what we have to do is we have to look at the whole tax system and try to figure out what is an economic investment as opposed to one without economic purpose, because there are a lot of those, where people are just basically playing games and — you know, not — you know, like capital gains was supposed to be, for example, a way to reward people who made risky investments, you know, starting new business, investing in somebody else’s business and now it’s just being churned. And so we have to take a look at the whole tax system.
But I can — I can assure you, I would not support anything that makes your business more difficult to run, because you have a real business and you have real economic imperatives. You are in the production of goods and I want to do everything I can to support goods and real services and take a hard look at what is now being done in the trading world, you know, which is just trading for the sake of trading. And you know, it’s just wrong that you know, a hedge fund manager pays lower tax rates than a nurse or a trucker or an assembly worker here at Whitney Brothers.
And so I think we have to say, look, if you’re doing something which is enhancing the economic productivity of your business and the larger economy, we’ll be open to that, but if it’s just you know, playing back and forth in the global marketplace to get you know, 0.1 of 1 percent advantage, maybe we should not let that go on. Because that is unfortunately kind of at the root of some of the economic problems that we all remember painfully from ’08.
So I think that, from your perspective, I would want to be a president who made it as easy as possible for you to be as productive and profitable as possible because you’ve got 40-plus people whose lives and families depend upon that.
Question: Yes, absolutely.
Well, great. It’s been great to have you here.
Clinton: Yes, thank you.
Question: Thank you all for coming.
I know the secretary has got a busy schedule, so I think — I’m not quite sure how this works from here.
Clinton: Well, I think what we’d like to do is a picture with everybody who was in the roundtable. And then, you know, I want to say hello to some of my friends who are here.