Oct. 6, 2020

You are the Judge. What Will You Choose? - with Judge Jim Troupis [Ep. 39]

You are the Judge. What Will You Choose? - with Judge Jim Troupis [Ep. 39]
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The 2020 presidential election carries the potential to catapult our country into two very different directions, depending on the outcome.  What are things to consider before voting? How will various policy proposals affect your business or personal life? If you are an employer, how can you talk with employees about economic issues that affect your business? Judge Jim Troupis is widely respected for his abilities as a lawyer, an educator, and as a legal consultant.  He is a former Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge and has taught legal studies around the world. In this fascinating interview, he shares with Linda insights gleaned from teaching internationally and experiencing real-life implications of various political systems. What is his warning to America, and what is his challenge to employers as we enter the ultimate courtroom of political decisions?  You are the judge.  What will you choose?

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The opinions expressed by guests on this podcast do not necessarily represent those held or promoted by Linda J. Hansen or Prosperity 101, LLC.

Linda J. Hansen: Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen. Your host and the author ofProsperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com. I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs.


My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com.


Thank you for tuning in today to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Podcast. We appreciate your time we know you have a lot of choices for your listening time. And thank you for joining us for this episode. I know you’ll be blessed by it and you will learn a lot. Today, my special guest is Jim Troupis. Jim Troupis is a lawyer and a retired judge from here in Wisconsin. He is an experienced principal with a demonstrated history of successfully working to advise corporations and individuals on complex financial, litigation, and public policy matters. 


He is skilled in policy analysis, public speaking, intellectual property, appellate practice, and government. He graduated from Northwestern University School of Law. He has served as Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge. He has published more than 100 opinions at all levels of the courts over a long legal career. He has provided business and legal advice and transactions with an accumulative value of more than 1 billion. He’s obtained jury verdicts of more than 100 million. He is certified by the Center for International Legal Studies and has appeared as a sought-after speaker throughout the U.S. and Europe. So, with that introduction, I welcome you, Jim. And I will let our listeners know I’ve known you for years and count you as a friend. And you’ve just been a great supporter for Prosperity 101 and I really appreciate your friendship and advice over the years. So, welcome.


Jim Troupis:  Well, Linda, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Appreciate that – and I appreciate our friendship. It goes back a ways now as we’ve grown up together, but it has been a wonderful adventure all the way.


Linda J. Hansen:  Yeah, it definitely has. So much happening all the time and so much that we can learn. So, tell us a little bit more about yourself. I know a part of your background, but our listeners do not. So, tell us like where you began. Your brief history, your family, and how you came into being a lawyer and then a judge.


Jim Troupis:  I feel like a lot of people will be my family. My father was – carried both an American and a Greek passport. And we lived in a small town in Illinois, and he – where he grew up, his first language was Greek. We ran the restaurant – we’re Greeks, we run restaurants. And my father would sell popcorn on the street. I tell you that because as I said when he started school, he couldn’t speak English. He later, after the war, graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to be the – among many different positions. He held the president of a Junior College Board, presidents of hospitals, things of that nature, which one does in a small town, and in an area of Illinois. So, he was a – he became quite prominent and quite respected. 


And I always remember – I tell this story often. When my father would be in a room, I asked people who knew my dad – I said, “Well, you know, my dad is Chris Troupis.” And I said, “What did you – how tall was my father?” And they will say, “Well, I don’t know. He’s about 6’ tall or so.” And I would say, “No. He was 5’3”. But when he was in the room, he occupied the room.” And you will remember him that way, as that kind of person who filled the room with his kindness, his humility, his intellect. And so, you know, and I was privileged after graduating from Northwestern Law School to spend almost 10 years practicing law in that small town, which is, of course, a fascinating experience being where everybody knows you and you’re always the lawyer and all those things. 


So, when I left and I had been editor-in-chief at Northwestern Law School and I had clerked on the Illinois Supreme Court, and had some offers to be – to work as a professor, so I had gone back to the small town because I liked it. I married my high school sweetheart. We are still married after 45 years and we – but we decided to move to a larger city. And we moved to, here in Madison area – Madison, Wisconsin and I continued then to practice law and eventually headed the litigation section of one of the largest Midwestern law firms, Michael Best & Friedrich. And it’s well known these days because its president is Reince Priebus, who was the Chief of Staff for President Trump, but I hired Reince years ago when I was at Michael Best. 


So, I worked at Michael Best and tried cases all over the world. We became – I mean, I literally tried cases in Australia, in Europe, and the United States. I had just an unbelievably fortunate career, the people I met, the people I got to know. Intellectual property in Madison, Wisconsin, is – it was the center of the intellectual property practice in the federal courts because our courts were faster than anywhere else. So, companies from all over the world literally filed suit in Madison, because the court would guarantee resolution within nine months. And that’s a big deal in the Patent Bar. 


So, at the end of that, so – but as it got further into it and I got later in my career, I decided to – I wanted to do more of whatever I wanted to do. So, I left Michael Best, set up my own law firm where we only took on – we would only take on up to 10 clients. That was it. We weren’t going to chase business. We were, you know, well enough known and that was, you know, so – again, God was fortunate – I was fortunate. And so, we were able to do that and again, wonderful clients, wonderful people that worked with us. And then as I had promised my wife and children before my 60th birthday, I walked away from the practice of law, at the top of the law practice, because I promised them I would do that years before and I honored that promise. And then eventually was appointed as a – we did a lot of wonderful things and I was appointed as a judge by the governor here in Dane County, chose not to run, and I am now the head of my own law firm, which acts more like a consulting firm than a law firm, in the sense that we can –other law firms come to us, as well as businesses in order to strategically plan large cases and strategically plan settlements. And I consult with government agencies and the like, because of that long experience, but less traditional way of doing it. But lots of people need that kind of oversight and overview, and it’s been very successful. But I try very, very hard not to work too much. I’d much prefer to see my grandkids these days when I can and I appreciate that. And I like to fish. I like to do all those things and I had the joy of being able to fish all over the world, as you know, Linda. And so, that’s where I am today. That’s a brief history of Jim Troupis.


Linda J. Hansen:  That is really great. And one thing that I love about you is that you keep first things first. A lot of people in life can pursue their career. You’ve had a fantastic, successful career. You could have kept going and, you know, searching for more and more, and more, right? But you kept your priorities. You kept your promises to your family. First things first, and I really appreciate that about you. And that’s one of the reasons I value our friendship because of that character and that authenticity that you bring to everything that you do. So, thank you, and thank your family for supporting you, especially when you were appointed as a judge. I know that that wasn’t always the easiest position. And there were attacks from all sides at times, but thank you. 


Jim Troupis:  Just a great – a great honor. I mean, you know, being a judge is a great honor as a lawyer, and as a human being to sit in and having to make judgments of what for those people. So, one of the fascinating parts about that is as a judge, you should take it that seriously. And I think I – and again, I was so incredibly humble – tried to be humble in it, is to understand when those folks appear before you in a courtroom. For them, it is the single most important moment potentially in their entire life. And yet, they only have 5 or 10 minutes. And, you know, I’ve got to go on to the next case. I’ve got a docket of 800 or 1,000 cases over in that I’ve got to deal with. 


And so for a judge, it can very quickly – judges can become very jaundiced, very like, “Well, just get on to the next thing.” And I – at least I tried very hard, and many judges tried very, very hard to understand what – what’s this about and make sure that everyone gets their chance to speak in the courtroom that needs to. Sometimes people just need to speak for somebody. Sometimes they just want to be heard. It’s not winning and losing. It’s, “Please listen to me. I’m important. I’m a human being. I’m in your courtroom.” And we tried really, really hard to do that. 


I just wrote an article, one of the most recent articles I wrote, is the – it is in the State Bar of Wisconsin’s publications. And it’s about listen – about judges and asking people to please explain what your matter is about. You know, for a judge, he’s got – people come in and they got all these lawyers, and the lawyers are always, you know, talking about the law and it’s gobbledygook. And what the lawyer – what the judge really needs to know is what’s the story? Why is this important? What’s really going on here? And I encourage people if you go to a court and you’re hiring lawyers and the lawyers as well who may listen, is that listen to the judge. The judge is going to ask you what’s really going on here. Answer the question. Tell me what’s going on here. Structure it, so that he understands, so that when you walk out of the courtroom, whether you win or you lose, you had your day in court.


So many people leave and say, “My lawyer wouldn’t do this. My lawyer wouldn’t do that.” And I go, “Well, then you need to take charge and you need to say, ‘I want to tell the judge this. I need the judge to understand this is the single most important thing in my life, and here’s the reason why.’” Then just say it. So, that’s, you know, and it probably came because I tried a lot of jury cases. I understand juries work and judges are no different. They need to understand the story. So, again, I was so thankful to Governor Walker, who appointed me and it was an incredible interlude in my life to spend time on the bench. And I was so honored to get the chance to hear people and do the best I could, you know. Do I make mistakes? Of course, I’m human, but we do our best.


Linda J. Hansen:  Do your best. Well, thank you for serving and thank you for sharing that. You know, you talked about these important decisions and these life-changing decisions. Right now, America is facing an important decision. We’re recording this in early October of 2020 and we’re coming upon our election. And just today, we have a wrinkle in the progression towards the election. We just heard the news today that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, both tested positive for the Coronavirus. So, we offer them our prayers and support. But there’s been so many twists and turns through this election cycle. And like in a courtroom, when you have your people coming there and you say, “What is the issue?” or what are the issues that are most important to this case that you’re hearing as a judge? If the American people are going to be a judge or serve as judges for this election, what are some of the issues that you feel are absolutely critically important for this nation to look at as we go into this election?


Jim Troupis:  Well, there’s no question. I mean, whether you’re going to be listening to this in 10 years or you’re listening to this ten hours from now, that this is an election of extraordinary importance and all elections are important period, full stop. But this one is particularly important because it – you have two very different competing philosophies and one can argue for either philosophy, but understand what you’re voting for. I think that this – you’ve had four years of extraordinary prosperity before the Coronavirus. And you had the slowest unemployment in the Hispanic, lowest unemployment among African-Americans, lowest unemployment on women, lowest employment among every minority group.


You had a booming economy in a way that they said couldn’t happen. You know, manufacturing jobs are never coming back to America and all of a sudden, they were coming back. And it didn’t happen by happenstance. It didn’t just happen. It happened because the folks who came in with the president and you know there are many, many people that deserve credit here, not just the president, who came in with a philosophy of stepping back from a regulatory environment. Number one, that is to reduce the amount of government regulation and to return to businesses and to employees and everybody the power to control their own futures, rather than having the government designate how you control it. That’s what regulation is. Sometimes people call it a tax. Of course, it’s a tax, too, because it increases the cost of doing business. 


And I always tell them, I’ve been on a board – I was on a board for decades, a conservation board being – I’m a fisherman and a hunter, and the like. And I’d be on these boards and you get people on it that, you know, didn’t understand really what conservation was all about. I mean, this is a little digression. But we – in this case, was the Black Earth Creek Watershed Commission, which is a Class I trout stream in Wisconsin, and it flows from Madison West. So, you get a lot of people from Madison who are wildly liberal and assume if you’re on the Commission, that you must be wildly progressive or liberal as well. And that, therefore, you know, things like cows wandering through the stream and what have you are really bad things.


And I’m like, “Well, timeout.” The greatest conservationists in America are farmers. They’re the people who protect the land, who preserve the land. They – the last thing they want to do is something that would hurt the land because that is their livelihood. And so, you need to understand that these things play against each other. They’re not – and that the more – I would always – I always pointed out the reason there are fewer small farms today is because the government stepped in and imposed regulations on the farms. Let’s be clear here. It was not a matter of economics, pure economics. It was a matter that the government came in and imposed so many rules and regulations. You can’t be a dairy farmer, a small dairy farmer in Wisconsin anymore. That’s a practical matter without a lawyer and accountant, and everybody else working for you. And then you got to have a 500-head of cattle or 500 cows because that’s the only way you can pay everybody for all the stuff you have to pay for. 


And, again, the Black Earth Creek Watershed Commission is a great example of that – of we’re down to just a few farmers left that are in the watershed and raising dairy cows in a state known for its dairy cows precisely because nobody could afford to meet the government regulation because everybody said, “We need to regulate you,” as opposed to, “Work with you and you’ll make the right decisions.” So, number one, regulation. Number two, they released the human spirit. So, if the question you face is whether or not an individual is important, does the individual have the rights? Do we – is our opt to the individual, not or as my opt to the community, to the whole, so to speak. And again, you know, those are two very different philosophies. 


You know, one says individuals have responsibility for themselves and they’ll make good decisions and bad decisions, but they’re their decisions. They’re valuable, not because they’re right. They’re valuable, not because you’re going to make more money. They’re valuable, not because it’s better for society. They’re valuable because you’re making them. The individual counts or you tend to favor the community at large, the village, whatever it is, that – however you want to call it, the collective, that the collective consciousness should drive it. So, those are the two competing philosophies in this upcoming election and what the Trump administration, and by that I mean all the people who work with it, did was release the individual, made the individual feel more important. Most importantly, they made the individual responsible. You’re responsible for your own life. It’s not somebody else’s fault. It’s not somebody else who’s going to do this for you and nobody’s going to step in there. There’s no safety net in life.


And that’s hard for people in this day and age. They’ve gotten so used to the reverse, which is the collective will be there for you. They’ll take care of you. They’ll do those things for you. And the more you do that, the less people are respectful of the individual. And as you know, Linda, as I taught around the world, I always begin, you know, with the philosophy that founded this country. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – the Declaration of Independence. And I say that and I make all my students, in every class I’ve taught everywhere in the world, I give them that document. I say, “This will be – if you understand this, you understand what America is, and why it released the greatest economic boom in the history of the world.” And as you get further and further from that, you get further and further from individual rights and individual responsibility to a collective responsibility, then it’s somebody else’s fault. And you cannot achieve as much. History tells us this, we know this, and it can never be satisfying.


So, those were the two things that happened in my view, and those are – and that’s what’s at stake. Are we going to have the collective or are we going to have the individual? And that’s just the reality. I don’t think many people disagree. I think the other side would say, “We want the collective.” Okay, argue for it, but don’t hide behind that you’re going to support – that what you’re doing isn’t the collective, that it isn’t your – my money don’t belong – doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to you. My life belongs to you, not to me. Please don’t misunderstand this election. That’s what it’s about. It is a march toward a collective and away from an individual. And we have seen this story throughout the 20th century and we’ve seen how it fails. So, I know where I come out on it. But that’s what you must understand.


Linda J. Hansen:  Absolutely. So, as the American people are the judge, shall we say, for this election, we’re really looking at whether or not they want more freedoms for themselves and their families or they want fewer freedoms for themselves and their families. And we talk about government controlling. You talked about regulatory policy on conservation principles, but there’s so many things –


Jim Troupis:  Yeah.


Linda J. Hansen:  – from education to economics to everything, and I think as a conservative, I say, give the people more freedom.


Jim Troupis:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  That people will rise up and be innovative. And, you know, our system that has allowed for entrepreneurship and free enterprise and capitalism has not only helped America, but it has helped people around the world. I always say a strong America makes for a stronger world. And you have –


Jim Troupis:  There’s an old saying, “If America coughs, the rest of the world gets the flu.”


Linda J. Hansen:  Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly.


Jim Troupis:  Economics, that’s the reality. We stumble. The rest of the world goes into – is a disaster.


Linda J. Hansen:  Exactly. And that’s part of why you have chosen to be involved, teaching these principles around the world. Can you tell us a little bit about your work, this international work that you’ve done?


Jim Troupis:  Sure. So, one of the things is that there’s a group called the Center for International Legal Studies, CILS, and they contacted me, actually, several decades ago now. But they contacted me as a practicing lawyer, someone who I’d represented, you know, the governor, I mean, I’ve represented a lot of public bodies in addition to a lot of private, so I was relatively speaking, and they asked if I would be willing to consider teaching overseas. I said, “Of course, I think that’d be great.” It was a good point in my life when I could do that. So, I went to Switzerland and Austria – I’m sorry. And became certified through a series of classes in – so I could teach overseas and then you get invitations then from law school around the world. I mean, literally around the world, every – all major countries, you know, come and teach for an extended period of time, a short period or extended period, whatever you can do. So, that’s what I did.


And I accepted the invitation because I got to go to Irkutsk, Russia, which those who play Risk may know about Irkutsk, but most other people don’t. But it’s actually a city of several million people in Siberia. It is the center of the Gulag. It is the center of – you couldn’t get a map of Irkutsk. They didn’t publish one. You couldn’t – literally couldn’t because it was also the center for chemical biological warfare for Russia. It had been – and throughout its history for 200 years it was the Gulag. They sent the political prisoners there. That’s a consequence of sending the political prisoners there for 200 years, long before the Soviet.


It became the center of educated people because, of course, they sent all these people and they were Jews – a lot of Jewish people. They had a lot of synagogues there, a lot of Orthodox as well, and they were – but there were brilliant musicians, brilliant lawyers, brilliant professors, brilliant doctors. And, of course, genetics being what it is, they stayed there, and Irkutsk became the center for all of the major hospitals in Russia during World War II. It was well outside the area where you had combat. So, they would ship people out there to the hospitals. There’s this huge hospital complexes in Irkutsk.


And then after the war, of course, it became a center for nuclear work and all of that, very secret place and ultimately, it had one of the best symphonies in all the Far East. It’s just above Mongolia. And it has some of the best medical research and it also had Baikal National University of Economics and Law. It was considered – ranked third as – among universities in all of Russia and Russia’s a big place. And it’s a very – so, it’s a very prestigious university. So, I got invited to spend time there, which I did on their faculty at – in the – in 2008, I think and then again in 2011 or ’12, and teach for an extended period of time, four to six, eight weeks, and with students there in Irkutsk.


So, I got to be one of the first people to really spend some time there from the West. The government has to approve you going there at the time. It’s not so much now. So, I got there, sort of just as the – Russia was exploding with capitalism and the like in the late 2008 to 2014 period. Just wonderful. Irkutsk is known also because it’s on Lake Baikal. So, it is the city of – on Baikal. There are no other cities of any consequence. Baikal’s a massive – it’s the large – 20% of all the freshwater in the world is in Lake Baikal. So, amazing and just an incredible – I have lots of adventures and I had a wonderful time. I wrote a blog. People can still get that blog, FromRussiaWithLaw.blogspot.com and that was a very popular blog around the country at the time. And I tell the stories, some of the stories of teaching in Irkutsk. I told you all that, I – it was a fascinating time in a fascinating place.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, that exemplifies, too, that it isn’t just in America that people crave for freedom. 


Jim Troupis:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  And they craved for the principles that made America great and allow for individuals to prosper, both intellectually and economically. And just a little aside, I know that back in those years, you took copies of my original book,Job Security Through Business Prosperity, which I’ve recently updated and people can buy on my website right now. But you took copies of that original book to Russia with you.


Jim Troupis:  It was the heaviest thing I took as I recall. I had to – if I had to have enough, so I could pass them out to all my students and the reason for that was that, as I said, the country was just exploring. I called it capitalism on steroids, to be in Irkutsk in 2000 – you know, during that period, 2008 to 2014, because the people were, for the first time in 100 years, rediscovering freedom. You talk about excited. I mean, these kids were like – I mean, they were kids in a candy store at the university. It was like everything was possible. All of a sudden, you could talk about what you wanted to. You could ask questions about it. You could set up your business. I had pictures of – oftentimes the businesses that were being born every day there in Irkutsk because people could just set up a stand. You couldn’t do that before.


And I always – you know, I always taught at American Law schools and done the like. I always talk about that because I said, “You don’t understand freedom until you don’t have it.” Now, when you get it again, it was so exciting. It was such an exciting time. They understood what freedom meant and they wanted it in a way it was unimaginable to Americans. Sad to see on American College campus and I did the comparison all the time. I did it in my talk here, you know, and I’ve got photographs and things with it. I just illustrate that if you don’t have it, you’re poor. You have no chance of advancement. Your future is completely dependent on the party or the government. You’re sad all the time. Now, all of a sudden, when you open it up, you’re excited. You’re happy. That’s just incredible.


I spoke just like last week to my good friend there, my translator,Gayla Yaseva[phonetic] and Gayla is – she was my translator. So, I always had translators around with me at all times and she showed me a picture from the day before. And there are all these Irish pubs now in – when I went first, there were two restaurants. Two – city of over a million people, there were two restaurants in Irkutsk in 2008. Today, there’s restaurants everywhere, just 10 years later. So, like, there’s restaurants everywhere and there’s these Irish pubs. Everybody, of course, in Russia thinks the Irish pubs in Moscow, et cetera, are all, you know, some American or somebody can – no, this – like one of the students I had back when I was teaching set up an Irish pub and it became a big national thing. So, the Irish pubs are all over and it’s this one guy who, you know, set them up based in Irkutsk. And, you know, you look on the street and people are dressed and they’re happy and, you know, they’re enjoying life. They couldn’t do that in the Soviet period. They just couldn’t.


Linda J. Hansen:  It’s interesting because right now, there are some areas in the U.S. that, you know, the amount of restaurants have been severely limited. Many restaurants are closing. Our freedoms have been severely limited under Coronavirus. And it’s – I would say that in every country that has come under oppression by government, you could see the slow decline. It’s not typically an instant thing. It is – when it comes from within, it is layer by layer by layer, little bit by little bit, just nibbling around the edges, nibbling around the edges a little more, and pretty soon you wake up and you have no freedom.


And I know I’ve talked to some business owners. One of my recent podcast guests talked about how his business was closed without due process. I mean, it was – he was mandated he had to close and no due process. It’s like one day you could be open, the next day you couldn’t. And this is an interesting thing that’s happened in the United States. And I feel that Americans have become so complacent about our freedom. And like Ronald Reagan said, you know, “We must protect it because it can be lost in one generation.” 


And as we’re seeing the outgrowth of a lack of education about what freedom truly is or how we truly protect freedom, a lack of constitutional education, we see this playing out in our streets in America and in our conversations in America now. And what would you recommend? I know I talk all the time about employers educating employees because, as you said there, people were able to start businesses. And all of a sudden, they could have businesses. They could grow a business. They could open a restaurant, which is a freedom they didn’t have before. So, you know, employers have a big role in educating about freedom. What would you say to employers now?


Jim Troupis:  Well, I mean, I think, you know, to add to your comment, you know, what we have now is oppression of the masses. I mean, one of the saddest things and I – we say this, you know, on our radio show, and I talk about it on the radio show all the time, is I tell people, “Go to downtown Madison. Go to downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin.” These are relatively speaking small towns and they’re all boarded up and burned down. You want sad? You want – that’s oppression of a mass. We let that happen and the idea that, you know, there wasn’t enforcement of the law, that people weren’t arrested, the people weren’t jail, that didn’t stop. Now, all there is on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin are just boarded. You can’t even tell whether stores are open. It’s all boarded up. Every store is boarded up. You can’t even tell – you can never tell whether they’re open and half of them aren’t.


And that’s what the Left wants. That’s what the communists want. That’s what’s going on in Venezuela. It’s going on in other countries, in China, other countries. It is as long as we can enforce this mass hysteria, this sort of, “I’m not going to stand up against this,” then they’ve got – they won. And as you – and that is exactly what the communists want and they did it. They did it successfully because everybody reported and everybody else. Everybody was afraid not to raise their fists because they were being told to do it. You know, the Brownshirts of Nazi Germany are identical. I mean, they’re wearing brown shirts. I couldn’t believe it. I see this stuff – you don’t understand what a raised fist means? You don’t understand that 50 million people died. People with kids – kids, adults – they died. They died. They were shot. They died in the Gulag but all because of that raised fist.


My recommendation, to your question, is if you’re an employer, sit down with your employees and let them talk about these things. This individual responsibility begins with the individual. Let them speak about it, hear them out, talk about it. It is the only way things get resolved in a positive and peaceful way. You need to have the freedom to speak out without worrying about, “Oh, gee, that was racist,” or “Oh, gee, that was whatever.” I mean, this fear of offending ultimately destroys our culture because, well, history is history. What happened, happened. We are all flawed. You know, every one of us, we are. We accept that, but you cannot have a society based on individuals or an individual responsibility and merit, unless you let people address that.


As you may know, I have a son who runs one of the largest charter. He isn’t – not runs, but is one of the people in charge of one of the largest charter school networks in North America. And he had really good points that I was wrong about, you know, with regard to how to handle the Coronavirus in a big city. Well, you know, I’m just listening to, you know, conservative websites or what liberal websites and, you know, I have my own opinion, but how about talk to somebody on the ground? What does it mean? Why is it different in Chicago versus, you know, Kenosha or Hayward, Wisconsin or, you know, San Jose? Every place is different, but you have to listen. It starts by listening and respecting people in that listening process.


And I think so many businesses – there are different ways to run your business. But a business based on the principle of individual freedom and individual responsibility, then you – accepting that – you have to accept that you may be wrong as the running business. You may be right and ultimately, it’s your choice. It’s your business, but listen. Put people on – let them talk. Let them defend their positions. Don’t be afraid to do that. We’re so afraid to do that. We’re so afraid we’re going to offend somebody.


Linda J. Hansen:  Right.


Jim Troupis:  And you have to create a safe environment in which people can have those discussions, and you listen and you make an effort to do that. And successful businesses have known this in the successful business world, just about their business, but now, just because society, with the COVID, with the Black Lives Matter, with all of those things coming in, now you need to have a free environment where people can discuss all those things, and not be concerned about repercussions on it, but be able to talk about it. It’s the only way we get out of this, but that’s – it comes from simple respect. Same way you respected their opinion about whether we should have paper bags or plastic bags that are right for business.


Now, you should respect their position to say, “I feel that there’s a problem in the workplace. I feel there’s a problem in society, or I’m upset that people are claiming there’s a problem in society.” If you don’t have those discussions in your business, then they’re not having discussions. Everybody just goes their own way. We can become a disparate society. So, people should do that as hard as that is to do.


Linda J. Hansen:  It is and I think that there are employers who are afraid to speak up. They may be afraid to talk about these, like you talked about before, the regulations or the compliance issues, or things that may totally impact their business. I mean, obviously, in Coronavirus, we have seen how businesses are severely affected by government mandate. And some that make no sense, depending on which state you’re residing in and where you operate your business. And depending on the leadership. Leadership matters. I always say ideas have consequences. Elections matter. And, you know, it matters who’s elected. So, we have to think through who we want to as leaders and these common sense solutions basically to these problems.


But you bring up a good point about communication. I try very hard in everything that I do with Prosperity 101 to increase communication, as I say, from boardroom to breakroom in a sense, like helping people, you know, see each other’s side in a sense, but also increasing that understanding of the connection between policy to paycheck. But right now, in our cancel culture, shall I say?


Jim Troupis:  Right.


Linda J. Hansen:  This hot political season, it’s like people are afraid to speak up. You said they need to be able to speak up. But I think employers are somewhat afraid and they’re worried about the legalities of doing so, not only what will happen to them as a business but, you know, we can’t let fear be our dominating reason for why we do or don’t do something. So, what would you say to those employers who might be a little concerned about how they speak to employees about issues? Especially as we go into an election that could be so – I mean, all elections are impactful, but this one is truly a choice between freedom and not –


Jim Troupis:  About freedom and government. I mean, government is opposite of freedom. The only reason we have government is to preserve a civil society where the individual is free. When government no longer serves that purpose, it’s we undid government in the 18th century and we can do it again. Yeah, it’s a very difficult question you pose because each employer is – everything’s a little different. But if you voluntarily go to employees and say, voluntarily, “Look, I, you know, we’re going to have a roundtable discussion.” This is a good – easy, roundtable discussion over lunch. I’m the CEO and, you know, we got this business. I’ve got 40 employees. We’re going to – I’m going to have this on a – you know, on a regular basis and I’m going to supply you with some materials that I think are important. I hope you take the time to read them and I welcome submissions from everybody else. It’ll be a surprise, you know, and so if you’ve got something you’d like to share, share it. And we’ll share it with everybody. And in that environment, you use the term I probably wouldn’t use. I would not talk to employees. I talk with employees. 


Linda J. Hansen:  Very good point. I stand corrected.


Jim Troupis:  And, you know, it’s  – no, that’s okay. But the – it’s what we really mean. It’s like I want to talk with you. I respect your ideas. Respect mine. And boy, did you hit a homerun when you just said the connection. Every single person listening to this podcast can appreciate this. People no longer relate to two given events. Best example, whole bunches of millennials with children. You know, they’re all Black Lives Matter, the Antifa, yay, yay, yay, vote for these guys. And then simultaneously, they’re furious about the fact that their kids aren’t going back to school. You know, they have to be educated at home. You know, they had to go through all this rigmarole at your district. You’re not relating the two items. These are – one is a direct consequence of the other.


If you don’t have a government intrusion in your life, then you will be making decision at the local level to send your kids back to school. It’s precisely those people that you’re supporting that in our case, in this particular election, the Biden-Harris ticket and people like that, that are in fact saying, “We have a right to tell you this and you have no right to object.” And you can’t send your kids to school because that’s what we’re doing. And I’m not trying to make a decision for your local districts. I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is you should understand that your frustration is in fact with the people who are talking about government control. But so many people, so many mothers in suburban America right now, they don’t even relate those two things. 


Business employees do not relate unless you talk about it and show them that this government regulation vis-à-vis paint means that, even though it’s silly for us, because we only paint like three things, that it cost me $100,000 to put in that paint room that I don’t need. I’m going to do it. I’m not telling you I’m not doing that. I’m complying with all the rules, but you need to understand that’s $100,000 that you don’t get, that my customer has to pay. And when you talk about an election or even at the local level, forget the national stuff, that’s always, you know, hot bid.


But what – when you talk about the cost of doing business in your community with property taxes, that cost is passed on to a customer. And if you’re in, say, Iowa, and your taxes are, let’s say hypothetically in a local level lower, but they’re higher than Georgia, then if I’m buying the item, I’m going to buy it from Georgia, not from you in Iowa, because it costs more. This is not rocket science. It’s – but you must understand that because so many people, as I say, make widgets, employees don’t relate the widgets, even though they do understand if they’re buying a box of cereal that may cost less at Walmart than it does at Trader Joe’s. You know, that’s the reality. They understand that. But if you don’t relate it to your business, you’re the negligent person here. You’re – and that’s just a discussion. That’s just, “Look, I just want you to see all this. I want you to understand it. You make your own decisions, but you need to appreciate.” This is real. It’s not hypothetical. 


And once you start talking in real numbers, as you and I have talked over the years, Linda, then that’s the beauty of your Prosperity 101 program, so once you start talking about real numbers, not hypothetical, not some esoteric, people don’t talk in hypothetical, take it to your business. Take the smallest little thing. This is the result. I mean, that’s all. I’m not – and I’m not telling you how to think. I’m telling you this is what it is. This is a fact. This is the way it works and the consequence is this. Just understand that. 


And when you close the businesses as they have done, you need to understand that if you run a cleaning business, let’s say you clean industrial towels, your business just dropped off 75% because they closed the restaurants, because they said we can’t – you can only have 25% and you, my employees need to understand that’s going to cost your job in the end. I can’t – I’ve just lost 50% of my business. But unless you talk about it in a non-confrontational way, you never get there. You’ll never get there. And that’s what I like about trying to educate people about economics of it and we have to accept that they just don’t understand economics, but most people don’t, even in – good, highly educated people don’t because you don’t explain it. You need to come back, explain it, answer the questions.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, this is really a good point. Again, it’s communication. It’s just helping people understand. And for employers listening, it’s never telling someone who to vote for it. It’s just talking about the consequences of different policies that impact your business. And for anyone listening, like Jim did mention the Prosperity 101 resources. If you go to the website, Prosperity101.com, you’ll see the book I just referenced. You’ll have – if you just want to get a free e-book with some tips on how to open up these conversations with your employees, there’s a free e-book with some tips, just to help you talk about it.


I know especially before the election, there’s not a lot of time, and employers might be feeling like how do I even talk about this, you know? I don’t know what to say. But that’ll give you some ideas and that’s a free resource for anyone listening. But then, too, if you’d like to help your employees learn a little bit deeper, either the book or online courses, and there’ll be more things coming out as we move forward because this is just so important, providing tools for employers to educate employees. But bottom line, talk to your employees. Like Jim said, not just to but with. We all like to be spoken with and not spoken to. But it’s really helping them understand it’s about raising the tide so all the boats can sail in a sense, and businesses cannot survive if they are regulated or taxed to death. And they just can’t and therefore, then there’s no jobs.


And my materials and resources also tried to make the connection and I encourage employers to help people understand this connection that without healthy businesses, we don’t have parks, or we don’t have, you know, government services. You know, you can call the police or the Fire Department or the Health Department, whatever, and unless we have healthy businesses that are supporting that economically and paying people who also supported through their taxes, we will not have this type of infrastructure. We won’t have roads. It all depends on a healthy business, which depends on freedom to have that.


Jim Troupis:  That’s true and again, when I talk about – I began this program, we’re talking about my courtroom where we listen to people. Listen, what’s their story? You’ll be – you’ll – no matter how small your business is or how big your business is, you sit down with your employees and let them tell their story, and create an environment where they feel comfortable doing that. It’s remarkable what you can achieve by empowering the individual but you have to philosophically understand that you’re the educator now. We – it’s one thing to moan about the past. The person you and I both knew so – respected so much, John McGiver [phonetic] told me many, many years ago, before he passed away, “Don’t tell me what the problem is. Tell me what the solution is.” I don’t care about the problem unless it helps me understand what the solution should be. 


We know in America that employees do not understand basic economics. We know this. It’s not like open to debate. Well, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? If you don’t do – then here you are. That’s exactly right. At the end of the day, do something about it and it starts with a conversation, and it’ll go from there. Successful, unsuccessful, so be it. It’s just start the conversation, explain the economics, talk about it. And again, you can create the environment to have that kind of open discussion.


It’s not people arguing on the assembly line about Trump or Biden. It’s people discussing, honestly, what do they want in their future? How can we get there? And what are the economics of that question? And, you know, we need to do more and more of it. If we don’t, you know, we’re destined to – the example of what we’re seeing on our streets these days, of people not appreciating, not understanding, or destroying somebody’s dreams when you destroy their business. When you destroy their windows, you’re destroying their dreams. And when you close all these businesses, you’re destroying dreams. You’re not just destroying – and a way of life. You’re not just affecting people a little bit and I think that’s part of the lesson this year 2020, the strange and bizarre year has taught us.


Linda J. Hansen:  Right, that’s true. Well, and the constitutional awareness, I know sometimes people yawn if we mention, you know, constitutional education or policy education, they think, “Oh, boring.” But honestly, even just helping people understand the Bill of Rights, you know.


Jim Troupis:  Yeah.


Linda J. Hansen:  Just the simple Bill of Rights, like these are the things that allow you to live your life of freedom and to make choices for yourself. And be careful when you go to vote, that you’re not voting for someone who’s going to vote those rights away. And people just don’t understand that. They get – I think, in this era of social media and instant communication, so much is dependent on emotion. And people just, you know, it’s like the herd mentality in a sense, and they just go, “Oh, my gosh. We have to all support this because it’s –”


Jim Troupis:  It’s all magic. It’s all – not – it’s not magic.


Linda J. Hansen:  Yes.


Jim Troupis:  And I guess one of the great joys of my life has been the ability to go, you know, to have gone through a variety of different jobs, variety of different places I’ve lived. I’ve gotten to go all over the world. I mean, I’ve just been – people, I’ve been so lucky. And you – so many people will not have that but appreciate what I’ve said, which is if you’ve ever been to Russia, if you’ve ever seen what’s going on in Venezuela, if you ever go to China, you would so much more appreciate what we have and understand it’s our responsibility to preserve it, I guess. And it’s of all things, it’s our responsibility. It’s not the government’s responsibility. It’s not the school’s responsibility. It’s our responsibility. And that’s the message to all of your listeners.


Linda J. Hansen:  Very good. And with that, I think it’s getting to be time to close the interview. So, is there anything else you’d like to just add as a closing statement? That one was a great one though. It’s our responsibility.


Jim Troupis:  And I think that one of the things that you’re doing and I do encourage people to is to look into your book. Buy one copy first. I don’t care. But I’ve been there from the beginning when you’re working on it, yet people are so reluctant and it’s what you provide for people, is a teaching resource on that. And so Prosperity 101 provides that teaching resource. It’s a real – if you don’t have to have it, that’s fine, but it is helpful and have it. And if you have it, it will be helpful. Just as I took it to Russia and used it there. It’s an effective tool to get the discussion started. So, I do encourage people to do that, and it’s been a great – Linda, we’ve had a wonderful run, a lot of adventures together, and I wish you the best and I wish all your audience the best in this tumultuous 2020 meet 2021. I didn’t think anything worse could –anything more could happen. More keeps happening.


Linda J. Hansen:  More keeps happening.


Jim Troupis:  So, just – all of us feel that way, right?


Linda J. Hansen:  Right, right. Talk about October surprise.


Jim Troupis:  Well, thank you. Thank you very much.


Linda J. Hansen:  So, yeah. Well, thank you so much for being here. And if people would like to get in contact with you, would you like them to contact me through Prosperity 101 or how would you like them to?


Jim Troupis:  They can do that or they can also use my e-mail address which is judgetroupis. It’s an easy one, judgetroupis@gmail.com. You know, just send me an e-mail. I always respond, as you know, and glad to have that if they would like to get in touch.


Linda J. Hansen:  All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing that and thank you for sharing the time today, and we just love your perspective. The fact that you’ve seen freedom ebb and flow around the world and you’ve been a part of protecting and promoting freedom, not only here in America, but around the world. So, thank you for serving and fighting for liberty. And thank you for being here today and for supporting Prosperity 101. So, thank you. All right.


Jim Troupis:  Thank you.


Linda J. Hansen:  Well, we look forward to next time and more adventures in the future. So, thank you, Jim.


Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don’t forget to visit Prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library, to order my newest book,Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free e-book,10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Paychecks. 


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