It would be easier to write that Paul C. Fisher is your typical small businessman. But he's not.
For one thing, he says he's not interested in making money, that he's more of a philosopher with a calling than a businessman. And his business shows it.
Some of his more profitable ideas -- and he has had a few -- have come to him in dreams, he said.For instance, that's how he successfully invented the space pen, first used by the Russian cosmonauts and then by U.S. astronauts to write in outer space.
"In the early 1960s when the Russians started to fly in outer space it occurred to me they had no pen to write with," Fisher said in an interview yesterday. But Fisher couldn't perfect a way for the ink to flow under pressure without dripping in globs.
"One night I had a dream," Fisher, 66, continued. "Somebody came to me in the dream and said, 'Paul, if you use a minute quantity of rosin it would reduce the drip.'"
Later Fisher learned from his chemist that his dream messenger meant to tell him 'resin', not 'rosin.' The resin worked.
As mentioned earlier, it would be easy to say that Fisher, attending the White House Conference on Small Business, is typical of the 2,000 other delegates lobbying for legislation, power and ways to make more money for themselves.
One would think Fisher would be a multimillionaire from his invention but his total sales last year were only $4.3 million. And that was the best it has been in the past 20 years.
And unlike many of the delegates, who relish griping about how the Small Business Administration and other government agencies have ruined them, Fisher said the SBA helped keep him from going under nearly two years ago.
One reason Fisher's business has done so poorly, he says, is that he spends his money to get his ideas to the public.
"Everytime I get a little money, I try to go out to change the world," Fisher said. For instance, this week Fisher placed a $6,800 ad in The Washington Post to publicize one of his long-held beliefs: constitutional amendment "to insure the survival of our people." That amendment basically would severely limit the government's taxing power.
In 1960 Fisher received 25 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary against John F. Kennedy while trying to promote his idea that persons making $10,000 or less shouldn't be taxed. That campaign cost him "almost my last dime" and Fisher said he didn't even want to be president, he just wanted to promote his idea.
Do people hink he's a kook? "We're all a little crazy at times, aren't we?' he replied.
Fisher said he is at the White House conference this week to spread his idea. Some of those ideas:
"any government official responsible for creating a financial deficit in his department will be required to contribute 50 percent of his net worth plus 50 percent of his net income for five years to cover or partially cover that deficit."
"No tax may levied by the federal government or any state upon the first $200,000 worth of gross assets owned by a United States citizen."
No government nor any other oganization may tax or deduct from the earned income of any U.S. citizen."
"I don't understand it, but I feel I have a mission to accomplish," Fisher said. "I'm not primarily interested in making money. I'm interested in making a better world."
Fisher sold hundreds of the space pens to NASA at the retail price of $6.
He indicated, however, the Russians may have gotten a discount. Needless to say, the space program now needs only a few pens.