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A bullying, unappreciative partner. There’s no other way to describe it.

Most of our employees are unaware I am not the sole owner of D-R Media. This column will likely come as a shock.

Our readers, customers and suppliers are also unaware I have a silent partner.

This column, this time, may not be the best way to break the news, but there is no good time for unpleasant news.

I have a 40 percent partner in D-R Media. He’s mostly a silent partner. But I feel the constant pressure to perform.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t ask for him as a partner. I was required to take him on when I launched the company. He gets 40 percent of the profits and I get 60 percent. I put up 100 percent of the capital. He put up none.

I do all the work — all the sleepless nights, all the difficult product decisions, all the difficult customer decisions, all the difficult employee conversations. As my 40 percent partner, he does none of the work.

He’s regularly looking over my shoulder, constantly sticking his nose into business operations, giving me “suggestions” on how D-R Media should conduct its business. When I ask for help, he doesn’t return my phone calls or emails.

I carry all the “it is three o’clock in the morning and can’t go back to sleep” stress. He carries none.

I try every week to visit each office. He’s never been to any of our offices. Never met with a single employee.

During a difficult economic year like this year, I put up $500,000, saved over a lifetime, to try and keep as many jobs as possible. My partner didn’t put in a single dime.

I carry 100 percent of the downside. My 40 percent partner carries none of the downside.

With luck and good health, I will be running D-R Media another 20 years. But if I ever chose to sell D-R Media, my partner receives a share of the proceeds from the sale, too.

A 40 percent partner. Despite not putting in any money. Despite not working in the business. Despite not helping out in times of trouble.

It’s distressing — and there is nothing I can do to get rid of my 40 percent partner.

My 40 percent partner is the government.

Like every small business owner, we have a silent, but always present, government partner who feels entitled to 40 percent of any profits we make. Plus, our partner feels entitled to a big part of the sale proceeds if we sell the business.

America is about to have a discussion about what tax rates are fair.

Many of the Democrats think the government should be a 50 or 60 percent partner in my business. Is that fair?

Many Republicans think the government should be a 40 percent partner in my business, but only a 20 percent partner in Google’s and WalMart’s businesses.

This tax disadvantage to small businesses was magnified by the 2017 tax law passed by Republicans. Is that fair?

Small business creates almost two-thirds of all new private sector jobs and is about half of all private sector employment. I believe both parties take small business for granted and as a resource to be used up by the government.

Is the government responsible for 20, 40 or 60 percent of the success of a small business? Should all businesses be taxed at the same effective net tax rate, no matter their size or political contributions?

What’s fair?

Share your thoughts.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Four Corners News-Sun, Winter Haven Sun and Polk News-Sun in Polk County, as well as newspapers in Highlands, Lake and Sumter counties. He can be reached at