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Posted on Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 10:15 a.m.

Zingerman's Paul Saginaw: Don't shift tax burden to middle class

By Staff

Chosen as one of 25 small business owners from around the country, Paul Saginaw, the co-founder of Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, appeared on MSNBC’s “Small Biz Sounds Off: Decision 2012” series on Sunday night.

The series interviews business owners to ask them about the upcoming election and critical issues for 2012.

Saginaw said he’s not just interested in a candidate who is small business-friendly, but one who looks out for the middle class because it’s the “entrepreneurial class.”

He added: “The candidate for me is the one who is going to least aggressively continue to shift the tax burden onto the middle class.”

Saginaw also praised the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act, which makes it easier for businesses to raise capital through crowd funding, or websites that help entrepreneurs find a community of investors to fund a business.

“This is going to spur a lot of business and help drive the economy,” he said.

Watch the video here:


Lets Get Real

Wed, Jan 11, 2012 : 10:27 a.m.

Interesting mix of contributors: 1.6 million, $700,000, and $45 million in reveniues for the three companies. Clearly, the two smaller companies are - as they stated - struggling to make payroll and pay the bills They are far more passionate about the specific changes that will create a business friendly environment - less regulation and lower taxes. The larger company is clearly positioned to benefit from middle class burdens being lightened - they are the secondary target market. Those who would like to live a level higher than they normally can afford, who will splurge on small indulgences. If they have more money in their pockets, the Zingerman's model will lure them to spend it with them - dinner out, coffee and a pastry, lunch, gift baskets, parties - predominately with foods they manufacture. Their funky, but exclusive "better than the rest" image says quality doesn't have to be stuffy and you deserve to treat yourself. Mr. Saginaw is right about the need to improve access to capital for entrepreneurs, and I hope this new act - if passed - will help, but Mr. Marks was much more direct about the type of environment small businesses need to spur existing businesses to hire, retool, and add assets and much more direct about fostering a climate for new business ideas to emerge and be successful. Mr. Saginaw, take a few of your numerous dollars to consult an image specialist who can help with appearance (lose the hat indoors and the red shirt) and presentation techniques (look into the camera, if alone, or at the interviewer, rather than rolling your eyes upward (It looks like you are thinking of things to make-up). Funky is not credible on the national stage. Maybe memorable, but not credible. If you must have an agenda, work it into the context of the question, but answer the question, please.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

It would be nice if the tax burden could be reduced that has been placed on the middle-class since the 30's. But lets look at the facts. From the 30's to the 90' the middle class was / is the largest group of people with incomes. The population had a very fat diamond shape when it came to incomes. Now the diamond shape is a lot thinner. The money isn't going to come from the poor and the middle class is less able then before. So, whether we want govn't or not more of the wealthy will be paying the bill. We can argue all day about how it happened or who is / was responsible; but sorry pay day is here (and has been here) & the wealthys tax bill is increasing. The rest comes down to defining who belongs in what catogory. Maybe the politicians should pay attention to the studies they have funded & use that data instead of just talking? 0


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

I love this! We constantly hear that we need to listen to business owners, but, when one disagrees with the ideology of those pushing that belief system, they attack him. Not with facts, not with examples of why he is wrong, but with comments about how expensive his food is, how business people should stay out of politics. Too funny!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Mr. Saginaw should be praised for building a big business and employing alot of people. The regulations in this country should be "entrepreneurial friendly". He is right that the middle class is the engine of small business development. The problem is that there are not enough rich people to tax to fund the level of government spending we have today. If you want to actually balance the budget at current levels of spending you have to tax EVERYONE alot higher than we do now. It is easier politically to borrow the money Congress wants to spend instead of taxing the people to pay for it.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

The &quot;Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act&quot; is an excellent proposal which should be made law ASAP! As I've noted previously, Ann Arbor's economy has been damaged repeatedly and many jobs lost because our most promising businesses sell out when they have to buy out their original venture capital backers because under current Securities Exchange Commission rules it is nearly impossible to raise capital in the public markets. For the text and links to major media news articles about the proposed law see: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The current SEC rules favor mega corporations and disadvantage small firms to the detriment of our economy. If this bill can pass it will help the level the playing field. The House passed the bill by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote, but the Senate has so far refused to take it up. Please contact Senators Stabenow and Levin today to urge them to co-sponsor and pass this bill! It could have a major positive impact on Ann Arbor's economy!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

The Senate is the place where good legislation goes to die. Senate Majority Leader Reid D NV blocks almost everything coming out of the House of Rep. Don't wait for Sen. Stabenow to take a leadership position on an issue. She has been MIA for almost 12 years now.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

&quot;Chosen&quot; by whom?

Peter Baker

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Um, the producers of the show?


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

@hut hut and others. I would be much more happy to not know local business owners political leanings. If the businesses I frequent remain apolitcal as far as I can tell (even if I can GUESS how they would be) than I don't think about supporting or not supporting them. Once they open thier mouth to side with certain causes or show their political leanings than I have no problem cutting off my &quot;funding&quot; of them if I chose to do so. Zingermans is overrated, they sell the overratedness well, that doesn't make it the best place to eat in town.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

So, no more from the Koch Bros! Cool! No more Herman Cains! No more Ave Maria court cases!


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:58 a.m.

Wait, you have to be the best place in town to be a successful business? So why not name all these successful businesses in town that haven't shown some form of political bent. The Main Street Ventures restaurants had an owner who was president of the Michigan Restaurant Association. He made VERY political moves based on that position. The owner of Paesano's has held charity events that support catholic schools, which have a VERY political nature to them. Mr Saginaw gave HIS opinion about what makes successful economy. He knows what HE wants out of a political leader to make the economy work better for all the stake holders in his business. I guess a business that was pretty apolitical, like say a Borders, would be a better business model for you? How'd that work out for ya.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 10:07 p.m.

Nobody said that they are the best place to eat in town, Zingerman's is just a very successful local business. To me that indicates they are doing something right. And I think the owners must know something about business. Being a successful capitalist does not mean that you ascribe to a particular political line. Mr Saginaw must know something about how the decisions political leaders make affect his business and is willing to tell everyone that President Obama's polices are good for his business.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

And we'd be happy not knowing yours, but you never gave us that same opportunity or employed 500-1000 people, paid them decent wages and benefitted the community in which you located your business. I don't suppose you'd be unhappy knowing that Walmart is a supporter of conservative causes and candidates. I guess you'll stop shopping there as well.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

For the whiners, you can't have it both ways. One the one hand praise capitalism and on the other disagree with the politics of a businessperson who's an unmitigated success because of how he approaches capitalism.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

well I won't be going back to Zingermans for anything. also, zingermans doesn't practice what they preace. All that Zingtrain stuff they do isn't how they operate, it's a bunch of hooey.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

I've never worked for Zingerman's, but everyone I know that has had a great experience. From what I've heard, they do follow their ZingTrain philosophy and make it a positive place to work. If that's not true, the employees sure do a good impression of it.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

This is what's known as cutting off your nose (in this case palate) to spite your dogmatic political beliefs.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

The lines to get a sandwich will be one person shorter.

Top Cat

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

And all of this from the guy with the most over priced food in town.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:52 a.m.

&quot; most over priced food in town&quot; Please tell us what is &quot;overpriced&quot;? There seems to be a market for people who are willing to pay what Zingerman's charges. There are those that could say paying $1 for a bottle of water is overpriced, but tell that to the guy in the dessert without water. If you think you can replicate the quality , service and knowledge of Zingerman's and do it for less money, you are free to prove how much smarter you are than he is. There is NEVER such thing as over priced when you have options. Over priced is me being forced to pay DTE for &quot;delivery&quot; of my natural gas, when there are no other options to get it delivered in town.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Regardless of the facts, some people will always find a way to argue with success.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Mr. Saginaw's comments are not as thorough as the other two. He gives us more of a political view than a business view. It is all a little off track anyway. Businesses have more problems with state and local taxes than at the federal level other than with federal regulations. It is like Mr. Marks says, he is looking for areas that are &quot;business friendly.&quot;

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Did you consider that Mr Saginaw had a limited amount of time on camera and could not lay out his business success and how it affect his politics? On what basis are you making your claim that business has more problems with state and local taxes? I guess that Republicans have a different opinion that yours about Federal regulations because all the presidential candidates want to gut regulations and get rid of more than a few regulatory agencies. What good would an &quot;area&quot; that is business friendly (by which you mean less regulation and lower taxes) if the workers were not as educated, the public infrastructure crumbling or consumers less able to buy your product or service because they are bearing the brunt of taxation and make lower wages? Would a business choose a location only on the basis of being &quot;business friendly&quot; (code for less regulation and lower taxes) when the other factors are less than attractive? Mr Saginaw thinks not and the proof is on his side.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Paul Saginaw sounds like he is on the Obama reelection committee. Its scary that someone who employs so many people in Ann Arbor thinks like this.


Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Maybe you could show us how the recent tax cuts for the highest quintile tax payers has led to job growth?

hut hut

Tue, Jan 10, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

I'm sure his employees and the construction contractors he hires are scared to death.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

So Mr Saginaw has it wrong? That Zingerman's success was a fluke because you disagree with his politics? On what business experience are you basing your opinions of how his politics affect his business decisions? Maybe he's right and you're wrong. His success speaks volumes. The proof is on his side.

hut hut

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Inform yourself. Here's what constitutes a small business. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Here are a few facts about Zingermans. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

I missed it on the video $43 million and 600 employees. I would not call that a small business.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

Don't see a figure for total sales on Z facts.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Zingerman's is a small business?


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

It's not Bank of America.