New media is driving a fundamental shift in how we communicate at scale, and we will soon have to make a choice about how to move forward as a society.
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The 5 steps to a perfect sale, and how to bake them into your next digital product. #SalesLife
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When I was 19, a boy drowned at the pool where I worked. I was the first responder. This is the story of that day as I remember it.
Dedicated to Murphy Shurig. Aug 4, 2002
The screams were coming from a group of boys who moments ago were playing and throwing a ball back and forth. They were regulars at the pool but I didn’t know any of them well.
This was my first summer at this particular pool, so I hadn’t gotten to know all of the pool rats yet. I did know that they were all above average swimmers though. They were also just on the edge of my zone, (the part of the pool a lifeguard is responsible for watching). It was right where my zone and the other life guard’s zone intersected.
I thought they might be trying to get my attention as part of a game they were playing, something that is not all that uncommon. But when I looked over, I saw them holding up one of their friends. They were lifting him to the edge of the pool.
I looked over in time to see them setting him up on the edge and let him go. Just in time to watch his pale body fall lifeless to the deck.
And then time stopped…
THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!
In what seemed like slow motion, I jumped from my platform on the guard chair down to the ground. I’m not sure why, but as I ran over to where the boy was laying, I pulled the whistle and lanyard from around my neck and flung it away.
When I got to where they had dropped his body I saw my worst nightmare laying on the ground in front of me. His skin tone was not natural. Not blue like they show in the movies, but not like any color skin I had ever seen before.
I checked for a pulse. It was there, but it was weak. The manager on duty must have noticed that something was going on because she started to walk over.
I screamed at someone nearby to call 911, and ran to the guard shack for gloves and a mask. Thing I should have had on me at the time.
When I got back, the manager had starting rescue breathing. She must not have had the airway opened properly because that air went right into his stomach and not his lungs.
How do I know? Because vomit, that’s how. Lot’s of it. Right into her mouth!
Watching the kid throw up should have thrilled me, except this was not voluntarily evacuation. The air she was breathing into his stomach just needed to escape… along with whatever he had eaten for lunch.
I straddled his lifeless body and started thrusting above his pelvis and just below the belly button. Pelvic thrusts to make sure the airway was clear and to help purge the rest of whatever was left in his stomach so we could try the breaths again.
She cleared his mouth with her finger, put the mask over his mouth and tried to give him another breath. He threw up again but this time was different. This was a mild mix of foamy whiteness and whatever else was left in him from the previous purge.
I look to my right, towards the two other pools. The rest of the lifeguards are still sitting in their chairs. People swimming as if nothing was happening. I noticed that the lifeguard who had her back to me was turned around to see what was going on. I could tell she was crying. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to sit there and not be able to react.
My first thought was anger. “Why aren’t you helping?” And then I realized it was actually a good thing. It was a big facility and if they had cleared the pools, a huge crowd would be gathering around us.
Even then, a crowd was forming. Small at first, but the people who had cleared the slide pool were starting to notice that something was seriously wrong.
I continue scanning the scene. It was like time was frozen but I wasn’t.
I locked eyes with a mom who was standing there with her two kids. One on either side of her, under each arm.
“Get them out of here!” I shouted in her direction.
Where is the other lifeguard that was watching the slide pool with me? Shouldn’t she be handling crowd control? Did anyone call the paramedics? Breathe kid, Please just take a breath on your own! Dozens of thoughts were shooting through my head all at once.
I finally see the other guard. She’s standing over by the front gate, probably waiting for the paramedics. She was also crying.
I look back down, another breath, still nothing. I check for a pulse again. It’s there, but barely. No chest compressions, yet.
It get’s a little fuzzy from there, but those few minutes felt like forever. The next thing I know the paramedics were there and it was all I could do to get away from the seemingly lifeless body.
I took a step back and fell to my knees. How could this be happening to me?
I was prepared for this. I was the guard who was always stressing the importance of training. I was the guard who suggested that we start doing weekly in-service trainings, but “that would not be necessary at this pool!” is what I was told it.
“We’ve never had a drowning or major accident at this pool. There is no need for that kind of training.”
That’s what the manager told me earlier that summer. The same one who had just been mouth-to-mouth with a lifeless 13 year old boy.
What a shitty time to be thinking I told you so!
That was just a few days before another ominous conversation I had at the beginning of that summer. A conversation in which I told my girlfriend at the time (a lifeguard at the same facility) that “Someone is going to die at this pool.”
I wasn’t specifically saying that someone would die that summer, but I sure as shit said it, and I hate that about myself. I hate that I saw it coming and still did nothing.
I saw that the training was lax and that to most of the seasonal staff, life guarding was about getting a great tan and hanging at the pool all summer. They were all strong swimmers, and the pool was in a wealthy neighborhood. After all, things like that aren’t supposed to happen here.
At least that is what they thought, before that day.
Could I have done more?
I hated myself for not being more vocal. For not being more adamant when I saw someone sitting in their chair sideways, or ignoring the pool. I should have spoken up when I saw someone using the rescue tube as a pillow, or reclining in their chair for a better tanning position. But I was the new guy. What was I gonna to do?
It wasn’t like I spent the summer before that managing a another local pool, and the summer before that working the wave pool at a large water park. I quit counting after 100 rescues that summer. But not at this pool.
There we were, half way through the summer, and I hadn’t made a single rescue. Maybe they were right. Maybe nothing bad was ever going to happen here.
So I started to relax. I started to become complaisant. Mostly I just wanted to fit in. And after a few times of being called “Pool Nazi,” I decided to roll with the cool kids. I decided to set my intuition aside and do things their way. I decided to drop my guard.
But I should have known better. Because I was also the guy who had been through everything you could ever go through as a lifeguard. I was the guy who knew, that at any moment, something could go wrong. The one who should have been prepared. But there I was. The first responder, and unprepared. I was the guy who failed. And it might have cost the kid his life.
To make things worse…
The police wanted to talk to us right away. They took me and the other guard, the one who had run to the front gate to wait for the ambulance, and put us in the back of a cop car to fill out the required reports. A cop car that just so happened to be sitting at the base of the steps that lead to the entrance of the pool.
It left us sitting so that everyone leaving the pool, as it was being cleared, would have to walk by and see us sitting in the back of that car. I felt like a criminal. I couldn’t stop shaking. No tears though, those would come later.
After I was done with the police I went into the office where some of the pool staff and management was talking. I remember trying to call my parents to come pick me up, driving was out of the question. My dad answered the phone.
Before I could get a single word out, I started bawling. Uncontrollable tears as the reality of the event began to set in. One of the managers, or maybe one of the board members (I can’t really remember) took the phone from me to explain the situation and have them come pick me up. I was 19 years old.
A piece of me died that day, even though the kid lived. But just barely. He would never regain consciousness.
It would take me more than a decade to realize how this event had changed my entire trajectory. To realize that it sent me on a spiral of self destruction that would eventually lead me to drop out of college, move across state lines and bury myself in whatever distraction I could find.
I spent a lot of time at his bedside the next few days, until the family decided to take him off of life support. His pain was over. But mine was just beginning.
A final round of tests during an autopsy revealed that he suffered from some sort of heart condition. It just happened to hit him while he was under water. They said that the same thing might have happened to him if he was playing at a baseball diamond, or in his back yard.
But he wasn’t at a baseball diamond. He wasn’t playing in his back yard, was he? He was at a pool. He was at my pool. And I was the guy. I could have saved him!
I was left to replay the events of that day in my head over and over. Wondering what I could have done differently. Knowing that none of those thoughts were productive but allowing them to eat at me nonetheless.
The local fire station set up some counseling for us, but it wasn’t at all helpful. How was an hour of talking going to change anything? The memory would be forever engrained in the deepest creases of my mind.
I would later meet with the boy’s parents and deliver a letter I had written to them. Two letters actually.
One was a firsthand account of the events of that day (in a sealed envelope in case they didn’t want to read it) and the other was a letter offering myself to them, in whatever way they might have me.
They never blamed me for the events of that day, but they didn’t have to. My worst fear had come true, and I blamed myself.
The history of Raymmar.com and why I am uniquely qualified to help you grow your online presence.
Let me save you some time here.
There is no secret to building a brand online.
- It takes time and a lot of great content.
- It takes a good story and a willingness to open up and make yourself and yes, your product vulnerable to the world.
- It means sharing the story of why you do the things you do as opposed to trying to trick people into helping you do them.
Once you break that barrier, you can begin to build trust with your audience and turn your online presence into a revenue generating machine that can help you spread your message across the world.
If you are interested in learning more about how to do just that, click here and let’s talk about how I can help you optimize and grow your online business.
Raymmar.com started out as just a simple online portfolio…
I was just starting out as a marketing consultant and trying to build a name for myself online. I bought a cheap hosting plan on GoDaddy, installed WordPress and bought my first theme. I had no development skills, and zero dollars to spend on any of it, but I was going to take over the world.
The site was pretty gross. At the time I thought it looked good, but a few friends told me they wouldn’t come back until I changed how it looked.
I was bombing my Facebook feed with requests for people to “Like” my page and to “check out my new website”. That is, until a friend sent me an article from The Oatmeal about how to get more Facebook likes.
To make a long story short, the article said to quit begging friends for Facebook likes and start creating content that they would actually like.
I had been so focused on trying to get people to my website, that I forgot to give them a reason to come in the first place. There was no reason for them to stay when they got there or come back if they did decide to visit. And even the few people who came had little to see, and even less that was worth sharing.
I set out to find a better theme, and then learn as much about blogging, search engine optimization and inbound marketing as I could. I wanted to learn everything I could about how the internet worked and I still had quite a few things to learn about writing words that people would actually want to read.
Starting to tell a story
I started trying to express more of my personality online. I started playing around with online memes and Infographics. I began writing more in depth articles (like this one about email marketing) and tried to understand the best marketing practices by actually practicing them.
I started writing articles about the town I lived in and wrote a couple stories about the incubator I was working in at the time. I was testing my writing abilities and trying to find ways to use local events to boost views and engagement.
I started sharing part of my personal struggle but not in an attempt to gain sympathy or pity from my audience. I did it in an attempt to inspire them. To show that determination, hard work and the willingness to fail fast are things anyone can learn and use to accomplish their goals in life.
I was able to convert my story into something people cared about. Something someone looking to find a place online would do well to learn quickly. My audience finally had a reason to come back. Now they were rooting for me.
But how to get to that next level? How would I shake things up or separate myself from the millions of other online bloggers?
“I know, I’ll start making videos!”
Said the guy who had never shot, or edited a video in his life.
My first video did pretty well online and I was happy with the couple thousand views it got but I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I released my next video.
I published the rant on a Friday afternoon. By midnight it had 5,000 views.
Friends immediately started messaging me, telling me that I was crazy. Even some of my fellow content creators told me I had just ruined my career. They said I was stupid to put something like that out to the world. That even though I made good points, I had also made a big mistake.
The next day that video did more than 80,000 views. That Sunday it did 221,505 page views and another 77,007 the day after that. Then Facebook shut down the link. This was the first, but not the last time, that Facebook throttled my content.
Not only did they block the post, but since my commenting system was connected to Facebook at the time, I lost the ability for people to comment on the post as well as losing the 900+ comments that had already been made.
Although the video got blocked from Facebook, I still got a big viral bump from it and it helped me build an early subscriber base. I now had a small group of people to update with new posts, and I had an article that was giving me some credibility with Google.
Over the next few months I kept writing and made a few more videos. Nothing took off like that first video, but I wasn’t worried. I now understood that the path to building a strong online presence would be slow and steady. It would be about testing and trying, tweaking and breaking, constantly evolving until the site gets to the point where people can’t help but spend time interacting with it.
In my mind, the goal was to build a library of evergreen content. I was telling beautiful stories and stocking the digital shelves of my website with arrangements of words that people liked to read. Available to anyone, at any time. This is the real key. Sticking with it. Sure the viral posts help but those will come eventually if you just focus on telling great stories and putting your best work out to the world.
Over the next few months, I set out to refine the website and prepare it for the next traffic explosion. In the process I connected with a group of people that asked me to come out to CPAC with them and be their on-air personality on Radio Row
Keep in mind, I have no formal training as a journalist, reporter or anything that even resembles either of those things. What about my radio experience? That hadn’t happened yet so I was a total rookie! But what kind of blogger would turn down an opportunity for that kind of exposure on a national level?
While preparing to head out for CPAC, I wrote and published an article titled 7 Reasons You’ll Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life. It was not until a couple of weeks later when I looked at my web stats and saw that I was getting a thousand views a day, two thousand, three thousand and then one day 26,000 page views. Turns out that the article was going viral on Medium.
That month (February 2014) we did 1 million views on Medium alone and another 1.5 million in the following four months. We still do 20-50K views a month on Medium and while that traffic might not be directly tracked on my site, the hundreds of thousands of people who did come to my site from Medium were already highly engaged with my work. This means they subscribe at a much higher rate which is definitely one of the perks of being a top publisher on Medium.
There have been other articles that performed well online. Namely this one, and this one. The exposure I got from these articles lead to being asked to become a contributor at the Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and a number of other notable online publications. All of which have gone a long way towards helping me gain credibility as a writer, but for me, the focus has always been on turning my website into the center of operations. The rest of these things are just part of the distribution mechanism but any aspiring web mogul would do well to make sure their website is the hub for all of their online interactions.
All of this exposure was giving the site a boost in search rankings which is one of the things that young blogs can struggle with. This past July, the website was showing up in Google search results hundreds of thousands of times per day. It seemed that we were not only gaining credibility with readers but with the search engines as well. And remember, this is all organic. There is no paid advertising behind any of this growth at all.
All in all, over the last year (not including the Medium traffic) we did just under a million views on my personal website and gained more than 10,000 email subscribers. Sure the web traffic is still erratic and I am sure it will continue to be that way as it grows, but I drive regular engagement, have a steady base of repeat visitors and am regularly getting leads from all around the internet. All of which has allowed me to work from home and be my own boss.
Making a confession
I do not have magical marketing powers or any secret tricks to teach you about how to be a better blogger. I can only tell you that the moment I started sharing bits of my personal story with the world is the moment that the world started actually listening.
There is so much noise online and so many people are always trying to sell you something, that most people enjoy it when someone is honest and open with them. They appreciate it when you share your goals and struggles with them, and I think that businesses can learn a lesson from all of this as well.
I think that businesses can learn a little something about lowering their shields, and letting their customers see the people that actually make them a great company.
Tell me the story of the immigrant CEO or the mom who created the product to help her kids. Tell me why you make the product, not why you think I should buy it. Let’s start making better products so that we can restore some level of faith in a sales process that has become completely perverted over time.
These last few years have been an interesting journey. They have taught me how to be a one man media mogul and showed me how to broadcast my message to the world. My web presence is now bigger than most of the media companies in my local market and I will continue to hone these skills until I pass each of them up alltogether. I will continue to publish high quality content and keep helping creative entrepreneurs and small businesses do the same thing along the way.
So if you have a business, product, or website that you are looking to build an online presence for, then I’d love to hear from you. Whether we do business or not, I love to connect with other people who are doing cool things online.
Anyway. Hopefully you have enjoyed this story and maybe you’ll even come back for another one sometime soon.
I am willing to pay whatever the price may be, for being unabashedly me.
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So… What’s Your Biggest Fear?
I was with a friend the other day, and as I was about to leave she asked me a simple question.
She looked me straight in the face, and asked me what I was afraid of.
She caught me a little off guard with that question, and I said to myself, “This bitch is trying to be my mamma.”
I couldn’t tell if I was bothered because of the nature of the question, or because I felt like maybe she could already see the answer.
I puffed my chest out like a proper macho-man and said, “I am not scared of anything!”
But then, I started to think
My heart sunk into my stomach as I came to the realization that I did have a fear. A huge fear.
One that I have trained myself to ignore, but a fear none the less.
But let’s back up for a second, I have a confession to make.
I am a total failure
I actually admit that proudly, and like to get it out of the way early.
I don’t usually lead with it, but hey, this is a blog, and not an HBO special, so I don’t have much time for character development.
I have failed repeatedly in my personal life, my professional career, and definitely in my political perspectives.
Quite frankly, I’m sure I will continue to make mistakes. Lots of them. I’ll continue to stumble, because this is the life I have chosen to live.
I will never apologize for being who I am or how I am, but this does not answer the question at hand.
I’m really good at faking it you see
I can twist you and bend you however I want.
The power of coercion is strong in this one. It has been since I was young.
Maybe that’s why I found the world of sales so comfortable. I felt right at home in a world where all that mattered was whether or not I made the sale.
It was easy for me
Living in a lie seemed normal. It seemed like everyone was doing it.
I’d do whatever needed to be done in order to get what I wanted. The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted.
Maybe that’s what led me to build a house of cards on top of all of those lies.
Maybe it’s that line of thinking that led me to believe that I could be happy in the life I was building, or maybe that is why I sat there that day with a gun in one hand and a phone in the other, wondering whether to pull the trigger or call for help.
Maybe that is why I am writing this article today. Maybe I was unwilling to admit it back then.
Maybe I was unwilling to admit that I was wrong, so I pushed forward. I pushed with no regard for the price that would one day have to be paid.
But that was then, and this is now.
That price has been paid.
In fact, I am still paying. It cost me 10 years, a wife, some strife, and almost my life.
It has pushed me to accept and reject many things about myself and the world around me.
It has forced me on this path that I am on, but this, again, does not answer the question at hand.
You want to know what I am afraid of now?
You want to know what I’m scared of today?
I fear that one day I will become successful, and the world will look at me as if I were a total joke.
I fear that one day I will stand at the top of this mountain I am climbing, and people will say that I lied, cheated, and stole to get here.
I fear that they will say that I hurt others in order to help myself.
I fear that the whole world will get to look at the person that I really am, and then decide to destroy me because they can no longer control me.
You see, I have faced all of my fears
I can honestly look you straight in the face and tell you that the only thing I fear anymore is finding out that I actually am a fraud.
That I am incapable of doing what I set out to do.
I am scared that at some point, I will have to turn back and admit defeat.
I am afraid to find out that the guy who “faked-it-til-he-made-it,” actually made it, and he won’t know that it is okay to stop pretending.
I am afraid that I won’t recognize success, and that I will keep on thirsting for more.
I am afraid that I will never find true happiness because of my inability to truly let people in.
I am afraid that I will be unable to realize that once you fake something for so long, it’s no longer fake, it’s just you.
I am afraid that one day it will all come crashing down again, but that this time I won’t be strong enough to handle it.
But even that doesn’t really scare me
Up until now, I’ve done this all before. I have been on this road, and I know where it leads.
I might not be able to see around the bend, but I have memorized the map.
I adjusted my approach in order to come around the corner just right: at just the right speed so as not to fly off the edge of the cliff.
I will make the turn, hammer the gas, and never look back.
This time is going to be different.
This time, I am becoming successful by being myself, and that is what scares me.
I am scared to be walking around this world naked – emotionally, and otherwise, completely unprotected, yet somehow entirely prepared to take the arrows and to face the consequences.
I am willing to pay whatever the price might be, for being unabashedly me.
There will be no shield, no barrier, no buffer between me and the real world.
No one to blame for my failures but myself…and that, my friends, is absolutely terrifying.
What is your biggest fear? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
The struggle to stand out.
A unique perspective on what it takes to succeed in life.
Breaking down the definition of the word capitalism and exploring the perversion of the word in America and around the world.
Why write this?
Political Correctness has pushed us so far out of the realm of honest conversations that so many people are scared to talk openly about anything that might offend anyone around them.
Not only am I hoping to start a discussion here, I am trying to start an all out war on the battlefield of ideas over the political incorrectness of being politically correct. That being said, read along, challenge what you know and let’s talk it out in the comments after we’re done. Get it? Got it? Good!
It’s not that I think you’re stupid…
Unless of course you actually do think capitalism sucks. In that case I would ask you to kindly pack your shit and head off to Europe, China or anywhere other than America really.
Maybe you would be happier in North Korea or some other tyrannical state. I hear the soviets are making a comeback! And before you say anything about how great Canada is, I direct you back to my “pack your shit” statement a few sentences back.
No one is keeping you here! If you think they do it better somewhere else then by all means, be gone! Just saying.
Now, before we get into the ideological debate behind the bastardization of the word capitalism, let’s understand the origin and root of the word.
We will start out with a few generalizations about the word capitalism, I’ll explain why it really is that simple and the tell you why people who think capitalism sucks are really just plain stupid.
What is capitalism?
An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of capital goods and the means of production, with the creation of goods and services for profit.
Neither of these definitions tells us a whole lot about capitalism at its core so let’s dive a little deeper.
What is a capitalist?
A wealthy person (apparently you have to already be wealthy in order to capitalize on anything) who uses money to invest in a trade and industry for profit in accordance with the principles of capitalism. (We’re starting to see the skew already)
Wikipedia actually redirected me to the definition of capitalism that I listed before where I quickly ended up on a page about Karl Marx’s critique of political economy and his views on the capitalist mode of production.
This is where I start to get frustrated
Lets look at one more definition (capitalize) before I get started explaining why we need to be careful of how we let people redefine words and the context in which we use them.
What does it mean to capitalize?
1: Taking the chance to gain advantage from.
2: Provide (a company or industry) with capital. For this article I will ignore this definition as it relates to the funding of businesses and the capital (money) used to start and fund business ventures.
Let’s use a little common sense
If I am capitalizing on a situation, I am simply using that situation to my benefit. Where we pervert the game is in the governance and regulation of capital and industry. When we begin picking and choosing winners and losers.
Which is really part of why it bothers me when people vilify the word capitalist or capitalism. Furthermore, the system of capitalism has served to push forward technology and innovation and has free’d more people from the clutches of poverty than any other system before it.
If you think about it, the person who tells you that capitalism is bad is actually trying to capitalize on your intellectual ignorance and sway you into thinking that their definition is the one you should believe.
As if capitalizing on a low information audience is any different than a dishonest business capitalizing on an uninformed buyer.
This is not to say that people do not capitalize on the stupidity of others (it happens all the time), but since when does motive determine the definition of a word?
A politician might capitalize on his opponents weakness or mistakes just as easily as a business might capitalize on an opportunity stemming from a failed competitor or by taking advantage of an opening in the market for a new product.
A salesperson might capitalize on the stupidity of a naive car buyer, but is it not the responsibility of the consumer to also protect themselves? Is the world around us not always some battle which requires survival. It used to be jungles and wildlife, but now it is the wild world of consumerism and advertising which vies for our lives and souls. So yes, the salesman is sleazy for trying to take advantage of you, but you are naive to think that the salesperson would operate with anything other than their best interest in mind.
You see, we are all born with the natural instinct to take advantage of the situations that present themselves to us through the course of our lives. Whether it be for advancement financially, personally or intellectually.
Someone with a full-ride scholarship might be capitalizing on a lot of hard work leading up to receiving that scholarship. Just like an entrepreneur who makes it big by capitalizing on the years of hard work and struggles they put in before taking their company to the next level. Neither of which makes that person evil. In fact, it makes them smart, and we should applaud a system which rewards hard work and dedication.
We should applaud and protect a system that allows individuals to go out and create value in the world. But more importantly, a system that allows people to own the fruits of their labor. This is why capitalism is so important. Because in a capitalist system, the government protects the individual’s right to ownership of property. A fundamental tenet of a free society.
Humans are prone to greed
Generalizing all capitalists as bad would be like saying all Catholic priests are child molesters.
Whether in business, government, religion or life in general, people are prone to failure and greed, which eventually leads to an abuse of power.
That being said, assuming that all capitalist are bad and that they are all trying to get to the top solely by taking advantage of others is narrow minded, ignorant and impractical. The economy is not a zero sum game. It can expand and grow as new innovations are introduced to the market which means many people can succeed without others having to fail.
If you think business people and “capitalists” are bad people, then you should be willing to admit that people in general are bad, therefore the people that would teach you to hate a capitalist are also bad.
Isn’t your effort to convince me that capitalism is bad an attempt to capitalize on my ignorance on the true understanding of the word? Isn’t your effort to vilify the producers just an attempt to try and steal something you have not yet earned? What system would you suggest in its place? How should we treat the people and money of a country in order to produce a better outcome than what we are working towards today in America?
Let’s examine a few alternatives:
We already defined capitalism, so let’s look at some of the other “ism’s” that people might look to replace it with.
We could just give everyone the things they need. You know, take from the rich and give to the poor and all that shit. Some might say that we are already living in a form of socialism now as we have welfare systems and social safety nets of which more than 50% of our population participate in. And on paper, it sounds like a great idea to just give people their basic subsistence, but in practice, it never works.
This is not to dispel the idea of a Universal Basic Income, which I actually support at some level but will discuss in a future article.
In a socialist world, there would be no accumulation of capital (wealth) and equality would abound! But the truth is that socialism has been tried (without success), time and time again, and you cannot guarantee an equal outcome for any large group of the earth’s population at any given time. What you can do is provide equal opportunity at success, which is really why America was so successful as an experiment in the first place.
That being said, I think everyone considers socialism to be a viable solution at one point in their intellectual evolution. Typically before they acquire any fundamental understanding of economics and free markets at scale. Don’t believe me? Just go ask someone on the street to share their hard earned paycheck with you. It likely won’t happen. But ask the same person for advice on how you should spend your money, and they will surely give it.
The truth is that at some point, the producers will quit producing and the entire system will collapse. Without compensation that is commensurate to the efforts, people eventually quit trying to produce and soon there are no goods or services (or anything else for that matter) to redistribute amongst the people.
After socialism comes communism which is really just a natural progression of state controlled means of production and equal distribution of capital. Which never seems to actually get distributed equally funny enough. To each according to their needs, from each according to their abilities. Or some stupid shit like that. What actually ends up happening is that the separation between classes becomes extreme and you eliminate any chance at upward economic mobility.
Eventually you end up with some dictator who thinks they are a god. A self inflated ego who runs around breaking shit like some pissed off toddler who needs a nap. Seriously, Mao, Stalin, Castro, etc. They all ruled over a communist regime which lead to death and despair for millions of people. Yet surprisingly you still see these dumb antifa fucks running around with the hammer and sickle on their flags while criticising the swastika on others. like for some reason the genocide attached to one is acceptable while the other is repugnant. Because obviously, they get to set the rules in every debate.
Communism sucks the life out of its people by propping up a select few who hold all the power. Eventually a communist society devolves into mediocrity and tyranny. Completely divided into have and have not while espousing equality for all. No middle class, no ability to separate yourself or change your station in life.
At least with socialism and communism you get a cursory effort to provide for the people. With Fascism, all you get is fucked. Essentially this is a complete dictatorial control of a country and their entire economic system.
Think Hitler and Mussolini here.
Another key problem with Fascism is the propensity for violence. In a Fascist system, there can be no dissent or second party. Often, Fascist dictators rule through the threat of military violence, and through the subjugation of their people. Yet even in these corrupt systems, enterprising and conniving business owners will find ways to snuggle up to the people of power in order to earn favors and to gain an advantage in the market.
Back to capitalism
There are many more political and economic philosophies for you to explore than the three I listed above. These are just the most commonly referenced and have all been tried in some form or another in the last century. I encourage you to learn more about each of them and understand their history, their implementation in the past, as well as their strengths and weaknesses as political and economic theories. In that effort you will find that none of those systems can hold a candle to capitalism in its power to change the lives of those who play by its rules.
I will once again point out the propensity for human corruption and highlight the fact that regardless of the system, there will likely be iniquity amongst the people. This is primarily due to the fact that we are all different, have different motivations, interests, pursuits, etc. Not because the economic system in which we live is somehow designed to hold us back.
What I am trying to point out is that capitalism gives the average person (you and I) the best opportunity to carve our own path, to follow our own dreams and be rewarded according to our individual efforts in doing so. It is why America, has surpassed the rest of the world in innovation to this point, and why we were able to come so far in this country while others stagnate for centuries.
America’s perverted versions of progress?
This article is not intended to be a defense of American Capitalism in its current state. I believe we have made –and continue to make– major mistakes in our economic and political behavior as a country. We’ve been printing money like it’s going out of style, and although we since stopped, we’ve yet to feel the effects of that increase in our monetary supply. Furthermore, look at the amount of money we let influence the decision making of the people we send to represent us in Washington.
We have completely bastardized the idea of a free and open market, and to pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest.
The problem is that America is no longer a purely capitalist society. We have evolved into a corporate oligarchy. A system where corporate money pulls the strings of all of the puppets in Washington. A system where the government itself is just a paid extension of the corporate crony machinery. A structure that has created greatness over the years, but one which is also now killing itself by suffocating the people who support it.
A truly capitalist society would strive to provide a level playing field so that its citizenry can compete freely. It would protect our ability to innovate and take risks on new ventures. Not seek to limit or diminish our potential for success. This is where regulators seek to find balance.
But instead we find our government striving to pick the winners and losers. Making investments or restricting industries in ways where the long term results cannot be predicted. And to write off that lack in leadership as a failure in a basic economic system is why I can plainly call you stupid for not understanding the nuance. At the very least it makes you ignorant and naive to the real problems we face as a society.
So where do we go from here?
Would you rather have a dictator telling you what to do? A monarch? A tyrant? An out of control government? Wait, we might already have that one…
But seriously. Tell me when the other systems have ever worked? I’m waiting…
When has a nation ever given up their individual freedom and ended up better off because of it?
Actually, I could argue that we are moving away from the ideas of free market capitalism and fair competition, and moving towards a systematically skewed system of social equality in name only. Instead of working to protect equal opportunity and a fair shot at the pursuit of happiness, we are working to ensure equal outcomes on paper at the expense of freedom for all in practice.
Furthermore, we have seen time and time again that the road towards socialism, communism, or any economic model other than capitalism for that matter, inevitably lead to mass oppression, a military style police state, and total control of the people and ideas which might otherwise power a free society.
So if you ask me, I’d prefer to put my trust in the people and in the market itself. I would rather see more competition, more innovation, and less government interference. I would like to see less influence from the corporate elite in the lives of the average American, and more opportunity for each of us to pave our own path.
Because I would rather be in control of my own destiny –for better or worse– as opposed to surrendering control to someone who has never met me, yet somehow thinks they can make my decisions better than I can make them for myself.
I would rather be in control of my own fate. To be in control of my ability to not only fail, but to succeed beyond all of my wildest dreams.
And I’ll take that every day as opposed to putting my faith in a state controlled corporate machine.
America was –and still is– the most amazing place to live in the world. There is a reason people risk their lives trying to get here in order to escape their oppressive regimes.
We are what we are because we’ve allowed people to realize the benefits of risk and reward. Have we messed up along the way? Yes. Have we gotten it mostly right? You better fucking believe it.
And if we find a way to correct that path, as opposed to looking for ways to turn from it, then there is no limit to what we can accomplish. But, if we continue restricting capitalism as a principle and vilifying the producers of this nation, then we will ultimately drag the entire country down with them.
Imagine a teacher telling the “A” students to not try so hard because they were making the “D” students look bad instead of finding ways to bring the “D” students up a level or two. It’s a little simplistic but it is in essence what we are encouraging people to do by pretending that some other system might serve us better.
We must stop telling people that success and profit are evil. But we must also not teach them that profit is everything that matters. We must teach people to be accountable for their thoughts and behaviors. Teach them how to go out into the world and create value for themselves and others. Teach them to reinvest their intellectual capital in themselves in order to advance their own agenda as opposed to walking around blindly advancing someone else’s.
Because I personally hate the thought of being anything other than exceptional. I hate the idea of striving for just good enough.
So, what do you say? How about we go capitalize on everything that makes humanity great and remember that we are after all, just people. Let’s remember that the slave masters keep the slaves uneducated for a reason. And let’s all set the shackles of societal stupidity aside and go build something beautiful.