Joss Delage

Billionaire & CEO David Siegel's letter to employees

11 posts in this topic

http://gawker.com/59...-obamas-elected

Subject: Message from David Siegel

Date:Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)

From: [David Siegel]

To: [All employees]

To All My Valued Employees,

As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn't currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can't tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn't interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.

However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees. They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. They label us the "1%" and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I'm building. I'm sure many people think that I live a privileged life. However, what you don't see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved.

I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. We didn't eat in fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations because every dollar I made went back into this company. I drove an old used car, and often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, many of my friends got regular jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a nice income, and they spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into this business —-with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford to buy whatever I wanted. Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company. Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.

Just think about this – most of you arrive at work in the morning and leave that afternoon and the rest of your time is yours to do as you please. But not me- there is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I'm the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed. Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds. Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don't pay enough. We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes. I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes. The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not, or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?

Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country. The fact is, if I deducted 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, that's what happens to me.

Here is what most people don't understand and the press and our Government has chosen to ignore – to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Instead of raising my taxes and depositing that money into the Washington black-hole, let me spend it on growing the company, hire more employees, and generate substantial economic growth. My employees will enjoy the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But that is not what our current Government wants you to believe. They want you to believe that it somehow makes sense to take more from those who create wealth and give it to those who do not, and somehow our economy will improve. They don't want you to know that the "1%", as they like to label us, pay more than 31% of all the taxes in this country. Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Constitution, once said, "democracy" will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.

So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn't? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the "1 percenters" are bad, I'm telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the "1%"; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

Signed, your boss,

David Siegel

Awesome!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An Oct 10 CNBC interview with Siegel reported:

"What has been the reaction inside your company from your employees?

"David Siegel: Mostly positive. Maybe the people that are negative haven't reacted, but the reaction that I've gotten so far has been very positive. I was coming to work today and actually had an employee stop in the parking lot, get out of their car, and come over and say we're behind you and believe in what you're doing. So not only is the reaction from my employees, but I've gotten hundreds of e-mails, 90% positive. I've had phone calls from around the country, people all very positive. It wasn't my intention when I sent the private memo to my employees for it to get outside of the company, but someone apparently sent it to the media. next thing I know it's gone viral."

Also in the CNBC report is a supportive interview with Carly Fiorina, past head of Hewlett-Packard.

A supportive and confirming comment followed an Oct 9 snide Orlando Sentinel blog article where Siegel's message was published in Florida:

His comments are right on. Thankfully there are people willing to take the risk, run a company and accept the responsibility of bringing the government into his life. As a business owner I am saying I will accept the responsibility for those I employ. They are people who rely on me to commit my life to a business that will allow them the opportunity to earn a living.

Mr. Siegel I completely understand your outlook on the next four years. While I have not enjoyed the success you have I have owned a business and poured my heart and soul into it. I have helped my employees pay their bills while they enjoyed spending their paychecks on entertainment. I have helped them buy cars, keep lights on, put overpriced gas in their cars and much more. As I am typing this letter an employee just asked for money for gas. Now mind you, this same employee asked for an advance two days ago because it was his birthday and he wanted to treat himself to a nice dinner.

If Obama is reelected I will likely close my business. I won't be able to join you on the beach but I will find my own slice of happiness. Who knows I might be the one serving you that drink on the beach and that would be fine with me. Julie

The rest of the comments there are snarling, class warfare envy and resentment, ranging from threatening violent revolution to accusing Siegel of causing someone's "suicide" when he was "fired" for reasons the writer does not reveal. (There were layoffs at Siegel's company after the government-caused crash in 2008.)

The CNBC interview cited above reported:

"In a phone interview last night David told me this is not about his own fortunes. he has 'enough money to last the rest of my life and for my children.' He said it's about his workers. They would be the big losers if Obama gets another four years. He told me he wasn't threatening his workers or even telling them how to vote, just to educate them before they pull that lever in 27 days."
"I wanted to inform my employees of what their future would hold if they make the wrong decision when they vote. I wasn't threatening any of the employees. If they vote for Obama, they're not going to lose their job, but they have the potential in the future if this economy continues to spiral downward in taxes and Obamacare coming into effect. they do have the possibility that the company will be further downsized."

Missing is an explicit recognition in public that the warning is not only for his workers' benefit; he would have the same moral right to quit for his own personal benefit when threatened with punitive government controls, whether or not he had a lot of money to keep living off himself while running an increasingly struggling business. That is implied in the "strike" message to his employees where he emphatically describes the frustrations of working so hard for his personal business goals against the weight of the looter mentality, but he may be too morally intimidated to say what that means explicitly in public when afraid of being accused of "selfishness".

Predictably, Siegel's statement that he will have to cut back and ultimately close the company and quit if more punitive taxes are imposed on him, as threatened by Obama, has been misrepresented in a flurry of nonsensical accusations of "voter intimidation" -- in the usual fashion of leftists who can't distinguish force from free speech and rational persuasion. The Oct. 9 Orlando Sentinel news article reported:

"The e-mail was forwarded anonymously to the Sentinel by someone who said, 'I feel like my boss is threatening me.'

"As the head of a privately held company, Siegel has the right to employ or lay off anyone for any reason, provided he does not break other laws, said Heather Vogel, president of HR Florida, the state affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Still, Vogel said, "They're really walking a fine line there."

"The state has a law called, "Threats of Employers to Control Votes of Employees," but it applies only to state, local and municipal – not federal -- elections. The Federal Election Commission referred the Sentinel to the U.S. Department of Labor. That agency was not able to respond to a late-afternoon inquiry Tuesday."

The Orlando Sentinel published a snarling oct. 11 letter to the editor which they entitled "Siegel's decree":

The King has spoken and the message is crystal clear:

If the serfs dare align themselves with the president they will be banished from the kingdom to wither and perish ("Siegel to workers: Romney — or else," Wednesday).

As Siegel wrote: "If that happens [Obama wins], you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about."

"Signed, your boss."

I suggest David Siegel — Orlando's time-share baron — might be reminded that just because he has his photo taken in his palace on a golden throne with his faux queen in his lap, he is not really king.

This is still the United States of America and his employees are not serfs subject to his royal decree.

They are free citizens of the United States and he has no royal authority to control their free will or infringe on their constitutional right to vote their informed conscience.

Notice how they continuously misquote him in an evasively revealing manner:

  • He didn't tell anyone not to "vote his conscience", he said they better be aware of the consequences of their choice for their own sakes.
  • The title of the Orlando Sentinel article was "Time-share mogul tells employees to vote for Romney -- to save their jobs" -- not: "Siegel to workers: Romney or else".
  • Siegel didn't threaten to "banish serfs from the kingdom" -- he said he would leave himself.
  • Siegel's message concluded "I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean ..." -- not: "If that happens [Obama wins], you can find me in the Caribbean ..."

It is is interesting exactly what the writer equated to "Obama wins" but did not want to say.

We have seen this kind of snarling before, long before the left began smearing businesses which could leave the country started to move overseas to escape punitive taxes and controls:

"My car has been causing me a great deal of trouble, it's falling to pieces, and I had ordered a new one sometime ago, the best one on the market, a Hammond convertible—but Lawrence Hammond went out of business last week, without reason or warning, so now I'm stuck. Those bastards seem to be vanishing somewhere. Something will have to be done about it."
"The superintendent, the chief metallurgist, the chief engineer, Rearden's secretary, even the hospital doctor! And God knows how many others! Deserting, the bastards! Deserting us, in spite of all the penalties we've set up! He's quit and the rest are quitting and those mills are just left there, standing still! Do you understand what that means?"

"'Do you?' she asked."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about."

Given the way he is being vilified and misrepresented for his principled rejection of their impositions and refusal to sacrifice himself to them he probably shouldn't be telling them where they can find him under palm trees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good for him! No one is under any obligation to bear an unwanted, unchosen burden.

And he is headed for Southern climes. It sure beats a cold town in the Colorado Rockies.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a shame it is men like Siegel who are put forward as the ambassadors for capitalism. He didn't build wealth - he levered up and when the tide went out, was exposed swimming naked. This smells like trying to put a spin on an upcoming bankrupcy. Just my cynical former trader self speaking.

We need Steve Jobs and Bill Gates writing these letters, not Siegels.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a shame it is men like Siegel who are put forward as the ambassadors for capitalism. He didn't build wealth - he levered up and when the tide went out, was exposed swimming naked. This smells like trying to put a spin on an upcoming bankrupcy. Just my cynical former trader self speaking.

We need Steve Jobs and Bill Gates writing these letters, not Siegels.

Their companies bid on government contracts. Don't hold your breath until they write an "I am going to quit" letter.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was my point - the greatest industrialists of today, with a few exceptions like John Allison and perhaps Ray Dalio (although he just took a bribe from Stamford government), are much closer to government than is comfortable. I loved Bill Gates pre-the lawsuit, though, and suspect his later behaviour is a form of self defense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites