My wife and I have decided to take the kids to Disney World next year. In planning for this trip, I discovered that Mickey Mouse has much he can teach central planners in Washington and St. Paul about certainty and taxes – if they’ll listen to him.
Any trip, particularly one like this, requires a great deal of planning, and my wife and I are serial planners. That means buying the guidebooks, researching the best hotel deals, airfare deals, socks and shoes to minimize foot soreness, smart phone apps that will give us a minute-by-minute update of lines at rides, show times and days, transportation - you get the idea. In the process of planning this trip, I read how Disney World has taken steps to get people to raise their hand and tell them when they plan to be there as early as possible. That is because Disney wants to know as soon as possible how much staff to have on hand, what hours to have the parks open, how many hot dogs, hamburgers, pop, napkins and other supplies to order, right on down to how many cupcakes to bake and fairy crowns to have in stores. The reason for this is that by having enough, but not too much, staff, food, and supplies necessary to run the business of Disney World, Mickey and the rest of the team cut down on waste. When you have a company as large as Disney, savings of a percent of a percent can mean millions of dollars to their bottom lines. Millions saved means millions that can be invested back into the company via expansion, new hires, increased employee compensation – business success.
The lesson here for central planners is that businesses and families require certainty to plan. In order to plan our budgets, we need to know what it is going to cost to run our businesses and manage our family finances. We simply cannot do that when central planners – either in Washington or St. Paul – cannot tell us from one day to the next, not to mention month to month or even year to year, what tax rates, regulations and other items are going to cost. According to the Tax Foundation, unless Congress and the President can agree, the average Minnesota family of four will see their taxes increase $4,382 in 2013 as compared to 2011 (the most recent year figures were available). Or will they? Will taxes go up as predicted or will they agree to something? If they do agree, what will it look like? Will there be tax increases or not, and if so on whom? It is hard to plan when you lack certainty. When businesses lack certainty, they do not invest, they do not hire, they do not grow – they wait. Families do the same.
Hey central planners, learn a lesson from Mickey Mouse and give small businesses and families some certainty so we can plan accordingly.