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Solutions Part One: Informal Enterprise

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http://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept10/solutions-informal09-10.html

Devising solutions requires an accurate assessment of the problem to be addressed. In the U.S., that requires a painful appraisal of all that we prefer not to see.

Readers often ask for solutions to the pervasive problems we face, individually and as a nation, and this week I will do my best to offer solutions. My solutions will not be reducible to easy-to-digest bullet-point policies, nor will they align with standard-issue ideological "solutions."

I consider these topics "important," which means my readership will plummet. (Readership spikes on "preaching to the choir" about how rotten the system is; far-ranging solutions which cannot be reduced to simple policy tweaks are deeply unpopular.)

Everybody agrees the system is rotten and broken. But once you break through the thin brittle crust of surface agreement, then that unanimity is quickly revealed as fragile. Nobody can even agree on what the problems really are; many cling to the ideologically convenient closed-circle of policy tweaks (raise taxes, print money, give more government benefits, send in more troops, offer tax breaks for small business, etc.)

In my view, we all long past the time that ideologically convenient policy tweaks will be useful; the problems are far deeper than the tax structure or even the Global Empire.

What we must face is the global fantasy of "endless growth of consumption and debt" is ending. Yet what we find in the political/financial status quo and the mainstream media is a uniform consensus of "liberals" and "conservatives" that what the U.S. economy needs is "a resumption of growth"--that which is impossible for a variety of macro-economic reasons I have catalogued in Survival+.

One key tenet of the Survival+ critique is that how we frame the "problem" defines the "solution." For a "problem" to be ideologically convenient to "solve," it must be narrowly defined.

Thus we end up with intrinsically trivial "debates" between "liberals" and "conservatives" and "libertarians" on tax breaks for small business, the policy parameters of sickcare "reform," the exact nature of various Imperial occupations of foreign territory, and so on.

The core reason why these "solutions" will solve nothing is that the actual problems are being ignored and denied. To use a well-worn metaphor, all the "political" debates in the U.S. are akin to the squabbles on the Titanic about who gets to enter the first-class lounge and who is relegated to steerage as the ship sinks steadily lower in the water.

A few prescient souls from the upper-class decks are already away in sparsely populated lifeboats; those left on-board will drown regardless of what class they inhabited in their last moments of life.

As the ship goes down, the "politicians" are in effect arguing about what music should be played in the second-class public rooms to placate the passengers and give them the comforting illusion that everything is under control, and scurrying around to re-arrange the proverbial deck chairs so they don't slide away as the bow sinks into the freezing sea.

.........

Urban America has acquired many of the negative attributes of Third-World cities and few if any of the positives. What are the positives of teeming, overcrowded Third World cities? I cannot speak to all such cities--some "work" and some don't--but cities such as Bangkok are teeming with the opportunities offered by informal enterprises. The opportunities to improve one's income by enterprise and hard work are what draws poor people to such cities. That was once the case in America, too.

There are street vendors hawking everything from watch bands to handmade sweets to haircuts. Are these people wealthy? No. Are they productive? Yes. Are they getting by? Yes. Do they have self-respect? Yes. Do they have the dignity of labor and making their own way? Yes. Are they performing useful services? Yes. Are they operating with integrity? Yes, or they would not have any customers. Are they begging? No

.........

Culture matters. It's not just a statistical matter of relative wealth or poverty or the redistribution /skimming of wealth via the Central State.

In Bangkok, certain streets completely change-over three times a day for various types of commerce. In the early morning, vendors set up for the breakfast crowd. These vendors pack up and leave as noon approaches, replaced by the lunch vendors. By late afternoon, these vendors are gone and the evening enterprises set up their stalls and carts. Huge numbers of people earn livelihoods in each single block.

What is absolutely striking about most of urban America is how devoid it is of informal enterprise. We in America have overly formalized and thus destroyed vast swaths of enterprise. Food must be prepared in approved kitchens (which all cost thousands of dollars a month to lease), goods must be sold from storefronts and restaurants with handicap-accessible bathrooms, and so on.

A very powerful capitalistic form of self-help and upward mobility has thus been destroyed.

Brilliant blog and well worth anyones time (and money, if you are that way inclined.)

Theres a lot more and i've only posted a small portion. It's US centric but this critique of no small scale capitalism due to regulating it out of existence could be equally applied to the UK.

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Brilliant blog and well worth anyones time (and money, if you are that way inclined.)

Theres a lot more and i've only posted a small portion. It's US centric but this critique of no small scale capitalism due to regulating it out of existence could be equally applied to the UK.

As a 'maker of stuff' I can confirm that a real problem is the multitude of gatekeepers that surround any possible venue where my products could be brought to market, or even sold at all.

Nice recent example; I use a mobile payment terminal which often fails to connect, so I wind up using the manual backup. So my bank recently wrote to inform me that not only were they going to charge me more because my transactions were too few, but were adding an additional fee for my failure to use the electronic terminal they supplied- the one that does not work!

Any attempt to operate a small enterprise seems to attract rent seekers like flys to shite- in fact everywhere you look there seems to be a massive preponderance of those involved in feeding off the productive, most of whom seem to make a lot more money and have a lot more job security than I do.

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Any attempt to operate a small enterprise seems to attract rent seekers like flys to shite- in fact everywhere you look there seems to be a massive preponderance of those involved in feeding off the productive, most of whom seem to make a lot more money and have a lot more job security than I do.

I`m a one man band and have been for 26 years. You are right, there are so many non productive leaches feeding of small business, telling us we need them or their useless but necessary (by law) service.

Health and madness......

The only way I can navigate through this minefield of publicly funded bull sh it is to use tunnel vision and lots of hopefully common sense in regard to safety and treating people with respect.

If I was to digest all of the laws, health & madness implications and then run my business within all these guidelines and laws I would go MAD....

Edited by GinAndPlatonic

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Any attempt to operate a small enterprise seems to attract rent seekers like flys to shite- in fact everywhere you look there seems to be a massive preponderance of those involved in feeding off the productive, most of whom seem to make a lot more money and have a lot more job security than I do.

I was chatting about this with a guy last week.

He was a florist (assume a small independent), and had just picked up a parking ticket in the 60 seconds or so it took to deliver a bunch of flowers to somebodies door.

We exchanged a few choice words about traffic wardens and how they were sneaky buggers. He made a comment about how he was really just trying to earn a living, and how that was the days profit down the toilet just to the council.

Seemed really beaten down by it all.

Edited by Kyoto

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My father-in-law was a local shop keeper, pretty successful but worked seven day weeks and often set out at 5am and didn't get home til 9pm. He retired a year ago, and said, by the end, the level of legislation and legal requirements had become unworkable.

One major problem for him was that he sold alcohol. The bureaucracy over this now is crippling anyone who only employs a few part time staff. Apparently, you've to nominate someone as a kind of manager who takes responsibility over the alcohol sales, but it cannot be the proprietor and there are a load of other regulations about it as well, plus all the licensing hoops you have to jump through with the council. The legislation is basically designed so it is only workable for chain stores and supermarkets with a hierarchy of employees.

Another family friend has just retired and sold his food processing business. In the last year of operation, health and safety came round and told him he had to install some sort of rail by one of his machines that was completely unnecessary, but at the cost of about £5k. He decided to retire when he realised he was working all hours to make £15k profit a year, only for the tax man to take a third of it.

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http://www.oftwomind...ormal09-10.html

Brilliant blog and well worth anyones time (and money, if you are that way inclined.)

Theres a lot more and i've only posted a small portion. It's US centric but this critique of no small scale capitalism due to regulating it out of existence could be equally applied to the UK.

Interesting Blog. Thanks for sharing.

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  • 259 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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