Punchinello’s Chronicles

September 19, 2009

Just Stop the Other Guy

Filed under: Butterfly Wings — Punchinello @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

We make decisions in two basic categorical ways, generally speaking. We either vote for something or we vote against something. In other words, we decide either yes or no. The problem today is that so many people feel (not think) that any particular decision has only a yes or a no option. The reality is that the decision process can be manipulated to include both a yes and a no, applied to the same problem.

For example, the question is whether you want health care reform. On the surface, in a simplistic example, you can decide yes or no. That should be the end of it. True, it’s a complex analysis, but again, we’re looking simplistically at the concept of decision-making. You can vote for health care reform, or vote against it.

But consider the additional effect of manipulating the question. Would you rather have health care reform or people dying in the streets? Although it seems like a basic decision, allowing for only yes/no options, that’s not true. Instead, we now have four options, not two. The first yes/no applies to health care reform. The second set applies to a whole different proposition, the one about people dying in streets.

With proper psychological manipulation, we can appear to have only a single decision. Someone votes against people dying in the streets and they “feel” they’ve completed the process. Instead, they’ve left the original question and problem entirely unexamined. When you vote against something, you still haven’t made any kind of decision at all about the related (and usually primary) question.

Given an ignorant, uneducated and apathetic citizenry, we can use negative campaigning to make it appear as if we’re offering people some sort of choice, some sort of actual decision process. In fact, we’re just distracting them from thinking about reality.

This is what’s going on with American business, particularly in the small- and micro-business sector. Anyone who has a small business, and certainly those who have large corporations, now are using this sort of additional confusion. It used to be that a company would ask, “Should we make this new product?” The answer would be yes or no, based mostly on the company’s internal analysis of profit and loss, market demand, and so forth.

The “new” business model has begun to wipe out the whole concept of business analysis. Along the way, it’s taking down the entire philosophy of free markets, capitalism, and individual liberty.

Nowadays, business owners have the option of asking two things. The first is whether or not to produce a particular product or service. But the second is to examine how to prevent someone else from staying in business. Not only does the company analyze whether to make the new product. They also examine whether or not they can shut down anyone else who might be a competitor. Or, simply buy them out and shut down the new “division” or “subsidiary.”

For decades, corporations have increased the number of legal and operational managers on their payrolls. They’ve introduced such things as lobbyists, people who work with the federal government to impose burdensome regulations on competing products. They’ve introduced lawsuits and class-action suits to also shut down competition. When a company has been the “market leader” for a long time, it’s easier to come up with the money to shut down competition.

And so we have banks that are “too big to fail.” We have multi-national corporations that continue to produce out-dated products, having shut down competitors offering new, better and less expensive versions.

When you strip away all the crap and media fantasy, reality dictates that you can only trade for what you want with what you have. “Money” is only a helpful tool to make it easier to form contracts and make promises to trade and deliver. But you absolutely MUST have a value in order to exchange it for a value.

The reason we’re in the trouble we’re facing today is that people mistake the money itself as something valuable. The financial services sector on Wall Street has for decades pretended that stocks and bonds, currencies and securities are actually worth something. Paper isn’t worth anything.

Additionally, we’ve built a business model that uses regulations and lawsuits to wipe out innovation, competition, and has totally obscured the basic principles of decision-making. Far more importantly, but not part of this post is the use of feelings instead of thought where it comes to making critical decisions.

Trillions of dollars are pouring in to the few largest banks and investment companies. Additional trillions are propping up mega-corporations that wipe out small, modern, innovative competitors. The US steel industry was demolished by trade protections and tariffs, originally designed to keep away Japanese steel. But the resulting price of steel was so high, nobody could afford it and everyone bought Japanese steel anyway.

So too, America spends more and more time and money voting “no” to competitors. Anything that threatens the status quo, potentially could shut down a multinational company or that could make waves has been regulated out of existence. The result is nothing left to vote for; nothing left to say “yes” to.

Until we begin building companies, inventing products, creating goods and services, we’re going to remain dead in the water. Without something of value to trade, nothing will change. We’ll just move money back and forth. For the first time since the 1930s, the average family income has declined year-to-year for an entire decade. In 1998, that family was making around $51K per year, factoring inflation. Today, the same family is making about $50K per year.

And yet the headlines today speak about new government regulations that will dramatically impact garage sales and resale shops. Just another set of regulations designed to stop in its tracks any form of small business. EPA regulations are about to fundamentally impact any small business with a product that could be imagined to have an impact on health. Regardless of FDA approvals, many companies will have to go through the process all over again to satisfy contradictory environmental regulations. At a cost that likely will simply drive out of business those that can’t afford it.

Graduates with MBA business degrees can’t find jobs on Wall Street anymore. Nobody’s hiring, everyone’s laying off. So they turn to the tried-and-true American concept of starting a small business. Imagine their shock and amazement when they discover that they’ve been regulated out of existence! Maybe they’ll be able to ask the Federal Reserve to print more money and hand it to them, so they can buy food, clothing and shelter.

Why produce anything when you can live on credit cards? Why make anything when you can just put everyone else out of business? Who cares? Let the future handle it. Fiddle-dee-dee, tomorrow’s another day!


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