The recent government shutdown is hurting our economy at every level. Whatever your politics, the inability of our elected officials to come to terms with each other within the entire year before the shutdown deadline has demonstrated the ultimate in misplaced priorities to the world.

We are just now emerging from the worst recession in recent times, with high unemployment and many of the formerly employed giving up the job search entirely. And what do our elected officials do? Shut down the government, a major employer and source of private sector contracts.

Why? To prove that they carried out what they think is the will of the most influential members of their constituency to the edge and beyond. They feel that they have to do this or else those factions will accuse them of not holding their ground and giving in. This is ridiculous. It is exactly the opposite of why we elect these representatives. They are elected to come to a consensus, not close down the government by standing their ground.

We in the business world, who compromise every day, are being victimized by this narrow-minded thinking. It hurts business. Consumers are less likely to spend, businesses less likely to order new equipment, and expansion plans are put on hold. And hiring? Forget about it! Things are just too uncertain and too unstable. This is not the environment we need to create new business, and grow existing business.

So who are these representatives, anyway? Mostly lawyers! Lawyers trying to fix an economy by playing chicken with each other at the cost of jobs and new business. Shame on them! They have been given a sacred trust by all of us to come up with a budget by a certain deadline every year. And they have failed.

The media would have you believe this shutdown is over the Affordable Care Act. Both sides will debate it, but they are missing a huge point. The shutdown itself sets a precedent. Every year we can now expect another shutdown! The message to small business and start-ups is clear. This is now an acceptable way for our elected officials to “negotiate,” even if it hurts the economy. This is nothing short of irresponsible.

Talk about the trickle-down effect! Our elected officials have effectively stopped essential funds from flowing into our economy. Whatever either side thought they could gain by the shutdown is eclipsed by the loss caused by the shutdown itself, resulting in loss of faith in the competency of those officials.

Every economic downturn in this country has been reversed by small entrepreneurs starting new businesses and creating new jobs. This requires a stable government that does not take actions to discourage them.

The states have the power to call a Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution. Improvements to consider include cutting off congressional salaries when there is a shutdown. Just beginning this process will send Congress a message that they are ultimately accountable, and they too will suffer financially.

Brinksmanship and playing “chicken” hurts our fragile economy. When business people don’t compromise, they simply don’t get paid. Why should congress be any different?

As entrepreneurial cheerleaders, we are speaking to universities encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them with our learnings, and inspiring them with our humble beginnings. Like they say in ‘Jersey, “Can we get a little help over here?”

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

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