Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blacked out black doubt, white out why tout

Things aren't as black and white as they used to be
though the sepia seeps through your pores
You've always been coming out in one way
regardless of the level of  plausible poise
It would always come out some day
a measure of the pleasure found in noise

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Race hate sites

It's been a disturbing experience dropping in on message boards where ignorant bigots come to share their views. Apart from the obvious disquiet that hatred brings, there's the blunt lack of thought that forms opinion there.

Leaving aside the morality of selecting a whole race for opprobrium, the central hypothesis - that the race they deride are primitive savages - falls apart quite readily by the sheer count of high achievers, working at the senior levels of government and industry, dominating the entertainment and sporting worlds. It is too much to explain away an actor's success on some paranoid notion of the film world being dominated by interest groups that put him in that position. As with all film stars, standing is based on popular acclaim and Box office success.

And, drug cheats notwithstanding, a record in the sprint or long jump is unarguable.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A merry can-do spirit

In my own keening to capitalism I started subscribing to the Early to Rise newsletter (as I sit here assuredly staying up late and sleeping in) some years ago. They crowd up my oldest inbox at Yahoo and are barely opened. Imagine what thoughts stirred then when I saw there with the seventy three thousand six hundred and three messages, give or take, this bold claim

The Most Important ETR Article You'll Ever Read

the new-ish editor's effusive introduction. Excerpt: 'Today Robert Ringer has written the essay I wish I had written. It is one of the finest essays to grace the pages here at Early to Rise. Let it inspire you and let it remind you of the good that we can do when we build businesses and add value to the world. 

I won't give up on spreading the word that the American Dream is still alive. I will fight the powers that be tooth and nail to protect the American Dream and to prove to others that it still exists. '

Imagine the combination of lords of leaping logic and value-add that will be required to live up to that. As it is I could run rings around Ringer viz

The Entrepreneur and the American Dream

By Robert Ringer

With the word entrepreneur becoming increasingly popular with media pundits on both the right and the left, more and more people are coming to realize that entrepreneurship was the driving force behind America's widespread prosperity – prosperity that few Americans could have imagined as recent as the mid-20th century.

Entrepreneurship, in fact, embodies the spirit of the American Dream. After all, many of the Founding Fathers were entrepreneurs, and perhaps the two most famous in that regard are George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. They also are good examples of just how far apart the results of individual entrepreneurs can be. Though they were both farmers, Washington was one of the richest men in America, while Jefferson struggled financially throughout his life and died broke.

Jefferson's financial difficulties are a reminder that there are no guarantees for the entrepreneur, who labors away without the luxury of a safety net. In fact, perhaps the single greatest attribute of an entrepreneur is his willingness to take risks – including the risk of losing everything if he fails. By everything, I'm not just referring to savings, stocks, bonds, and collectibles. I'm talking about his house, his furniture, his cars – everything he owns – not to mention his credit and his self-esteem.

In this vein, Barbara Walters did an excellent special last week on self-made billionaires. The slant of the show belied the rhetoric of politicians who pander to voters by implying that being rich, of and by itself, is evil. They would have people believe that rich people somehow prevent others from getting ahead financially. The truth, of course, is that most wealthy people achieved their success by creating products and services that others want.

Barbara Walters' first guest was Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil. Laliberte, who has a net worth of $2.5 billion, struggled early in his career as a street performer in Montreal before venturing out as an entrepreneur. Today, his multibillion-dollar business showcases in 271 cities worldwide, employing tens of thousands of people in the process.

When Walters asked Laliberte if he still takes risks, he quickly responded, "Every day." Wall Street Journal Wealth Reporter Robert Frank, who added his insights throughout the show, then explained, "Part of the risk-taking personality is the ability to overcome failure. ...One of the things that makes billionaires successful is their reaction to failure."

Unfortunately, those who spew out class-warfare rhetoric are clueless about the risks the entrepreneur takes in his quest to achieve the American Dream. Or about the self-evident principle: The greater the risk, the greater the potential reward.

As a result, politicians have a stubborn habit of stepping in and trying to curb the natural rewards of the marketplace, insisting that "it's unfair" for the super rich to make so much more than the average working person. That's right, no other explanation other than "it's unfair."

It goes without saying that from a moral point of view, their position is indefensible. If people are truly free, they should be free to become as wealthy as their talent, creativity, and hard work can take them, so long as they do not use force or fraud against anyone else. The American Dream is about opportunity, not guarantees.

And from an economic viewpoint, it's a no-brainer. Contrary to what some politicians would like us to believe, it's impossible for anyone to become rich without creating jobs. Wealthy folks start and expand businesses and, in the process, employ others – not just by hiring people, but through the jobs that are created indirectly by those who furnish the raw materials, parts, transportation, etc. that their businesses require.

But what about someone who spends hundreds of millions of dollars indulging himself in such luxuries as mansions, private jets, and yachts? It doesn't take a Ludwig von Mises to explain that workers are needed to build those mansions, private jets, and yachts, not to mention to produce the materials and thousands of parts and accessories that go into them. Then, once built, it takes people to operate and service those mansions, private jets, and yachts – which means long-term employment.

Thus, economic reality makes it clear that the entrepreneur is not the villain some politicians make him out to be. On the contrary, he is a bona fide hero who creates jobs and wealth for everyone who is willing to work, thus giving others a leg up in achieving the American Dream.

As such, entrepreneurs who accumulate great fortunes should be admired rather than scorned. To vilify someone for having "too much" is the height of asininity and self-destructiveness. The American Dream is not about envy; it's about getting what you want in life by creating products and services that are valued in the free market.

The single most important fact about entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and the recently deceased Steve Jobs is that their great wealth not only does not prevent others from becoming successful, it actually gives their customers the tools to become wealthy themselves. Think computers, hand-held electronic devices, and cell phones, to name but a few of the more obvious of such tools, all of which are easily available to even the most financially challenged among us.

The optimistic side of me wants to believe that truth may be on a roll here. If so, it needs all the help it can get. As angry redistribution-of-wealth advocates preach about lame abstracts such as social justice and fairness, those of us who know the truth about the American Dream need to spread the word.

We need to explain to all who will listen that the individual who aspires to great wealth by creating products and services people want is not the cause of America's problems, but, rather, thesolution to its problems.

When an individual focuses on hard work, resourcefulness, and wealth creation – and is willing to take risks – it puts him in a position to achieve the same American Dream that millions of wealthy people have experienced through their own efforts. 

Imagine the combination of lords of leaping logic and value-add that will be required to live up to that. As it is I could run rings around Ringer viz

The first nine paragraphs present a sustained position for the risk and value of entrepreneurship but what both the writer and his err-steamed editor completely miss is that the occupation/protest of key spots against the excesses of the wealthy is not aimed at the self-made man or woman so, in other words, the chances of this being the most important ETR article we'll ever read are so greatly reduced as to be infinitismal. If it takes that long to come to the wrong point.

So what are the protests about this time? Quite simply, that this is scam capitalism. We're not all socialists trumping the line that we're out to destroy capitalism. An individual can become rich on the strength of their idea or invention without this in any way sanctioning bosses awarding themselves ever higher salaries and perks - paid from the company coffers - while laying off workers or screwing them over.

Surely the dimmest of anti-commerce campers would have no problem with profits based on sales; the real dispute, in this case, is economic mismanagement on a grand scale, with whole countries going to the wall. If capitalism was as robust as Ringer would have it, then why didn't all their vast funds prevent catastrophe? Why wasn't their brilliant skill and success enough for them to weather the meltdown? Why did they need a hand-out?
Doesn't this make them bogus capitalists? More potted manure than entrepreneur. A CEO is the opposite of a small business owner. The start-up concern survives on the skin of its teeth. If the profit margin is too low, if there is a lull in people wanting that service, if a new bypass is built, that little family business is going to the wall.  Not so the corporation. The CEO can run it into the ground, wipe millions off its value, and still receive a bonus if he or she can wangle a government bail-out. This is grounds for further remuneration, despite the fact that they are, by all accounts, failed capitalists and unworthy of any reward.

And the hide of Ringer's wrangling in omitting a very important conclusion that the Wall Street and St Paul's squatters have come to: that these pretend venture capitalists aren't forging powerful laissez faire partnerships that produce profit,  they're taking from the taxpayer. So on top of taking the lion's share of money and objects already, now these fat cats are stealing even more from the poor saps who lack clever accountants and meaningful negative gearing. Far from being something to be applauded, and encouraged, this is morally reprehensible.

The only justification for providing any business leader with a bonus is if they perform. This means producing nett profit for the company and shareholders. And the people who happen to do the work that results in that profit.
No good has come of obscene greed that bears no responsibility. A revised model is needed, and that's what the one percent have to face. Eventually.