What is Sabotaging my Planet?
If Free Trade is the Cornerstone to World Peace, What are we doing about it?
U.S. History 101
More food for thought?
CA Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (National)
When the nations of earth become dependent on their trade with each other, it brings us all closer. After all, who wants to shoot their customer or supplier?
My own success in business depends on world trade. I sell internationally. People in other countries buy from me. If they don't, then I don't make as much money. When I don't make money, I can't afford to be as good an environmentalist. I can't free up my time. I can't even be as good a family man. Wealth could afford me time to read and become more educated. I could set aside time to create better business ideas or invent something new that might make the world a better place. I could have more time to write articles here. (This is the first in three months) All these pursuits either require the luxury of time, money or both. I think you can probably feel my pain.
However, it has come to the forefront of my attention this past three months as I try to re-establish my business on the Internet, that someone's out there trying to sabotage my efforts to do all of the above. Someone's trying to make my life more difficult by eating away at both my time and money. That someone is causing the world to waste 20% of the fruits of production towards the movement of money and another 50% towards the uncalled for support of ill conceived projects. Now that leaves me 30% to achieve my own success. That 30% of discretionary money goes towards all my business and personal development. Some of it will go towards insurance and health care. Some towards housing and the rest towards "who knows what." I always say that if Americans can live well off of 10 percent of their production, then who cares about all the rest? Let the government spend, spend, spend. Right now, I'm finding it real tough to live off of 30%. It seems I must work my keester off, at least to do it legally.
So who's behind the Destruction of America?
If you've been reading my mail (or my articles these past five years) you know me pretty well. I love to poke fun and rant at the politicians, bureaucrats and corporate leadership of America. You know I'd do the same about the leadership of other countries if I were living there. Perhaps, I'm just never satisfied. After all, it is this dissatisfaction with our lot in life that causes us to change the world. We want to tweak it to our own tastes and needs.
Despite all that, most of you will agree with me when I say that, collectively, our problems are our own fault. They are related to our own knowledge and efforts. No leadership can stand for long when it is unpopular. Unfortunately, we Americans, like the folks in other countries, determine our own destiny despite the obstacles placed before us–the hand we're dealt. As honest and disciplined as we are, so will go our government, our businesses, our families, our international relations and our own personal success in relation to all those things.
But what about those roadblocks? Who's responsible for those?
If anything is going to be done about anything, it will have to start with us. We must remove the road blocks. Perhaps the seed of change will come from the voice of just one man or women, then another, and then another. First, the problem must be recognized and then it must be addressed with integrity and discipline. In this, even the Dalai Lama agrees. I heard him as much as say so in a recent movie produced about his life called Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama.
What hit me?
The first thing that hit me hardest these past few months, is that the saboteurs come from at least three specific areas. The first and most obvious is government. The second, the postal and delivery sectors and the third is the large corporate sector. Because I have a small private business, it is easy for the saboteurs to push me around, to play with me, to tax me and then, in deference to the money they make from me, destroy me. All three saboteurs have one thing in common. They all shoot the goose that lays the golden egg. Let's do the potential autopsy.
Government - Helping Businesses to Hurt Each Other
From the lowest levels of home owner associations to the presidency of the United States of America, each part of government attempts to control and dominate us. I've written so many articles in American Liberty that I don't want to belabor this topic. Let's simply say that we are very regulated and that that regulation has been largely ineffective and often designed in concert with America's largest corporations to eliminate the entrepreneur, small businessman and even personal individualism. Throughout history, only organized religion has been more deadly.
Millions have died in support of or deference to government. Government is deadly. Governments are so popular and form so quickly, that no anarchist can claim proven success over time. No Libertarian can claim that a limited government can really work. We have no petri dishes to examine success with. As in the days of King and country, the population today continues to support modern government. The chaos of freedom is too scary to experiment with, even here in America. So in the end, the bureaucracy grows, massive taxation continues and our remaining freedoms are used to support massive consumerism. The ammunition for the communists and populists to rail against American policy is amply supplied by no other than "we the people." In consideration of government's financial "take" from us, we must raise our prices and diminish our profits. All tariffs are taxes on "we the people." Coupled with the taxes of other nations, international trade becomes prohibitively expensive. The theft goes unabated, for unless voluntary, taxes are theft. Obviously, this must be considered when we price our items. We must price them so high to make a profit that our customers stop buying our products altogether. In order to lower costs and promote free trade, we can learn from the examples of other nations (or independent trade zones) like Hong Kong, where there are few tariffs and a flat tax. When we don't have to spend so much on bureaucracy and tariffs, we can better afford to compete with cheap labor and countries that don't spend money to fight pollution. Governments also make it impossible for the little guys, in some situations. This is done in order to protect corporations and their dominance in any given market. Take Italy for example. It has an arcane rule that we little folks may not ship in any toys that are made from anything but wood. Since toys are a major part of my business, Italy is a non-player and non-customer much to the disappointment of the Italians themselves. I can't have a business relationship with them. It is illegal. We can go ahead and take them over, shoot them or dominate them. Why not? With the help of Great Britain, we did it to China a century ago in order to force them to import our opium which had been outlawed by the Emperor. At that time, the government was helping our own large trading businesses in the name of getting back the dollars we had spent on Chinese goods. Today, China simply loans them back to us in exchange for our looking the other way when they sell weapons to our enemies.
The Shippers - Again, Helping Businesses to Hurt Each Other
I have shown how government depletes our profits and raises our costs, making international trade less attractive. The next most damaging element to international trade are the shippers. Foreigners, outside of investment in our securities (insecurities), won't buy our goods if we don't deliver them. He who controls delivery controls international trade. Imagine if costs of delivery exceed the cost of production? The USPS has been raising prices and diminishing the quality of its services. Imagine that your foreign buyer pays the excessive shipping costs only to have the item arrive broken due to extremely poor handling. This is an accurate picture of the modern United States Post Office. It is grossly expensive, unreliable, inefficient and destructive to international trade. It too is a key component preventing world peace. I don't think that each un-fireable employee realizes the role they play? There is so much postal destruction between France and the United States that worrying about the name of fried potatoes seems a moot issue. Sadly, I have this distorted picture of postal workers sitting at the border drop kicking each other's packages to make a political point based on a very shallow understanding of the world. Meanwhile, my customers suffer and I suffer. "We the people" suffer. Trade is further diminished and peace on earth is forfeit.
The Corporations - Again and again, Helping Businesses to Hurt Each Other
We all know the benefits of incorporation. The first is protection. The Government, in its infinite wisdom, gives protection to corporate share holders. No matter what kind of destruction caused by a corporation, we cannot go after the shareholders personally, at least not easily. We can only sue to the extent that the corporation itself, determined by government to be a suitable human being, owns assets. I have trouble understanding the difference here between the government and the Mafia. If what I say is true, then only the pretend human being can be held accountable. Working in unison with the government that they control through campaign contributions and other gifts, corporations use the hammer of government as a private tool to stomp out its competition and to force their goods onto the world market. The other benefits of incorporation are the economies of scale where corporations can gain greater discounts on their supplies and inventory, the fully retained legal firm protection, and the leverage with government itself which tends to bail out inefficient large corporations in times of crisis. How can "we the people" complain now that government offers us the opportunity to incorporate, too? Who's left to take responsibility for their own actions? Only the "fake people," only the corporations. Though not advertised as such, corporate welfare is always the biggest form of welfare. Even the taxes they pay to the government are passed onto us as consumers. It raises the price of goods. Therefore, corporations make sure import taxes are appropriately applied to protect their interests and to cause consumers to buy from them rather than from foreign businesses. Their own expenses being so high, it would seem they had no choice but to lobby government for protection. In California alone, billions are spent just to bribe government. How dare we rail against corrupt officials taking bribes in foreign countries. We simply do so more elegantly.
Collectively, this methodology fails, even for the large corporations and all but a few economists seem to understand this. Yet the corporations, like their government slaves, continue with the same old losing strategy. Today, communist China surpasses our ability to produce common goods, and now along with India, even common services. We only compete with them in the production of weapons. We are still very good at that. Unfortunately, weapons require wars and thank Goodness, we are very good at wars, too!
Off the top of my head, I can think of a bunch of folks that, through their arrogance, inefficiency or poor work ethic, cost my business gobs of time and money. As an added value, I proposed giving a beautiful database to my customers with every purchase. Of course, making a CD with the database already on it and then sending it to them through our illustrious postal services, would make the cost prohibitive. Therefore, I thought I would simply post it online for others to download. I have an Apple online membership that was supposed to allow me that opportunity. However, for weeks the ability to do that has been unavailable. This is the first time I've put their service to the test. They've been marketing the fact that they've expanded their storage services to members. Meanwhile, at the same time that they notify me that its time to pay for them again, even though the services are unavailable. What good is more storage if you can't use it at all–and it ALL totally blew away my business plan?
Meanwhile, Ebay has been raising rates as their market shrinks. Ebay also owns PayPal and a percentage of Craig's List. All these services except Craig's List have had problems handling online shipping which stimulated my added value database concept to incentivise customers to put up with the higher costs dealing with Ebay and PayPal inefficiencies.
Recently, It all got Personal
While all this is happening, I upgraded my AT&T services from AT&T at Home to their new fiber-optic U-Verse program. They promised all these improvements while hiding the programs short comings. On the personal and professional side, I record everything so I can watch it at more appropriate time in my office or in another room. Unbeknownst to me, these services were limited or impossible with the new U-Verse program. That was not explained to me until I asked questions at the very end of the installation. It would now cost me more time and money. Though the Internet services were faster, even though they weren't completely set up by the time the technicians left the premises, I ended up losing a day or two on my decision to upgrade. Sometimes I like to work on my laptop around the house or from the places I keep inventory. Funny, the wireless had a range of only fifteen feet, making that type of work impossible. A month later, the technicians came back and took a few more hours out of my day to replace a defective router. With a few additional hours tweaking the new router to my specifications, I was eventually back in business.
All along the way, these companies went about the business of giving me less than I bargained for. They increased my costs and I would have to pass that along to my customers. The staff was so poorly trained, the support so inadequate and the commitment to excellence so non-existent. For all these companies, it was about market share and dominance. It was about marketing around their inefficiencies to a public that grew to accept each new level of poorer service and cheaper products. After all, where else could they go?
The Answer starts with You and starts Today
Yes it comes down to us. We enable corruption by ignoring it. We continue to register and vote Republican and Democrat rather than registering Decline to State and then voting for the best people that are hopefully registerd the same way. We don't demand politicians to refuse the money. Instead, we let them make new laws that kill our democracy and actually increase the corruption. Having run for the California State Assembly, I think to myself, if only you knew what I know. Meanwhile, "we the people" continue to roll over and play dead. (Maybe that's why groups like "Grateful Dead" have remained so popular).
We continue to buy products without a thought given to their origins. We give China our dollars in exchange for goods that will be virtually worthless within a few years or even a few months after their purchase. China grows off of our apathy and bad habits. They don't have to waste money on smog prevention, child protection or expensive elections. Even the lobbyists are fewer and cheaper.
As though the big three problems are not bad enough, some of us still buy drugs and thereby support criminal organizations, who by themselves cost us a fortune. They are perhaps as big a part of our national consumption as military spending.
We enable the monopolies and still buy into their targeted marketing. That's right. We are the targets. We set ourselves up to be targets. Then after getting shot at, we bitch at the companies poor service and lack of reliability. Still, we will buy from them tomorrow. The most unreliable companies in the world are AT&T, Microsoft and Apple. Why are they still around? Because we let them. We have become and perhaps have always been a society of "enablers." Our hallmark is that of the hive. The problem is that we actually believe that resistance is futile.
The answer lies in our consciousness. Too many of us are unconscious or might as well be. We must learn to first believe in ourselves. Then we must invest in ourselves. If we better educate ourselves and take responsibility for the world we touch, there is no doubt in my mind it will become a better place. Even where this attitude is propped up by religion, the discipline is still up to us. How many more generations must come and go before these lessons are learned and a generation takes action? In the end, the answer to the title question is that it was us. We sabotaged ourselves. In our search for others to take care of our lives for us, we have given up life itself.
IPods are not an end unto themselves
My vision of utopia holds no room for Republicans or Democrats, specific religions or a corperican America. I don't believe that we were created equal. Instead, I believe that we were created as unique individuals that when given the space and time, we can accomplish beautiful tremendous feats. We give our own meaning to our lives. That meaning is not defined by those around us and certainly shouldn't be defined by the corrupt institutions that try to bind us to them. I cannot say exactly who or what created us, but I can say this. When we bond with others through trade, we become personally involved. They become human to us. We find we have things in common. We desire peace instead of war. In conclusion, if we look beyond the tunnel vision of our televisions and beyond the common laws we live by, we can truly imagine a better freer world, space exploration, living beneath the sea, solar energy, or a universe where man has the time and means to explore his or her dreams. A life can be so full. We have only to imagine it and then make it so.
Michael Patrick Murphy is the author of two books. The Greens and The Government, ISBN 0-595-30863-5. Both are available online or from your favorite bookstores by special order. Mike also ran for the California State Assembly in 2006.
Mike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org