Small Business, Big Words


The sign hanging below the roadside marquee in front of Gaster Lumber and Hardware reads: “I built this business without gov’t help. Obama can kiss my ass.”

Gaster Lumber and Hardware has often thrived and always survived in Savannah, Ga., through the efforts of its owner, Ray Gaster. Gaster is a bit of a political player in the area, and his influence is considerable. But his success as a small-business owner is due entirely to a combination of dogged determination and excellent service. Lest you think I have turned this space into an advertisement for Gaster’s business, let me assure you that I’ve never been to the place. I don’t even know Gaster, although I do know his son well enough to say hello in passing. And on the rare occasions I find myself in need of some hardware-related item, I have to admit I tend to drive to Home Depot. But such a strongly worded message deserves examination, if not celebration.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised to read his rather — ahem — blunt response to President Barack Obama’s now-infamous Roanoke, Va., revelation. After all, I hardly expected to see a well-respected and long-established member of the local power structure of the fairly sleepy Southern city of Savannah step out to such a loud drum. To paraphrase Miss Manners: That sort of thing just isn’t done.

But stress can do funny things to a man’s thought processes. And stress unnecessarily created by a profligate, self-important elitist who declares your decades of tough labor and love in building a successful small business an exercise in futility can do doubly so.

I suppose I can’t really blame Gaster for his own declaration of business independence. While I suppose his wording lacks a certain poetry, it’s hardly fair to expect him to pen a sonnet under the circumstances. Gaster sells construction supplies to contractors. His clientele primarily consists of people who spend their days working jobs that guarantee that by the time they get home, they’re dirty, sweaty and tired. These are people who work hard, day in and day out. They aren’t looking for Shakespeare, and Gaster doesn’t offer it. My guess is the overwhelming majority of the people who spend money in Gaster’s store nodded their assent to his sentiment — probably with a fair smattering of adjectives which actually made his sign seem like a love note by comparison.

Democrats tend to go into hysterics when they see remarks like Gaster’s — especially when the remarks are so public. It’s no Olympian leap of logic to think that Gaster risked losing their business with his sign. It’s absolutely worth noting that he was so outraged by Obama’s slap in the face that he was willing to risk their business in order to take a stand. Some of the more prominent local liberals took offense at Gaster’s pronouncement. One, a local Democratic Party official, even complained about what he called the “vulgarity” to which Gaster had unwittingly exposed the Democrat’s daughter. I suspect his moral indignation gets lost in the laundry when far more prominent Democrats make far more vulgar remarks about far less deserving subjects. I wonder if he purchased one of those charmingly G-rated “BFD” T-shirts the Obama campaign offers (for a nominal fee, of course). One local union thug and “organizer” for Al Sharpton’s racist hate group has predictably demanded a boycott of Gaster’s business; here’s hoping the boycott doesn’t involve Sharpton smearing feces on a teenage girl — again.

This, then, is the real Obama economic legacy: Real unemployment in the double digits; Brobdingnagian bailouts for favored Obama cronies in the billions of dollars; a national debt that looms nearby like the villain from a slasher movie — just out of sight, but ominously close; a Nation as divided by the liberal politics of class envy and finger-pointing as it has been in nearly a century and a half; and a successful small-business owner reacting to an shockingly elitist statement by the President and taking a very public stand, despite the rhetorical storm his stand virtually guarantees.

I might have phrased it differently, but I can’t argue with Gaster’s sentiment. Mr. President, you can kiss my butt as well.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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