Are parasites sucking the life out of the economy?

Could the answer to our economic woes be to simply apply a model from nature to our economic system?

Take this example.

I’m building my new writing business from the ground up, one aspect of which is offering the service of resume writing. I came up with several ideas for how I can promote this business online, and went to GoDaddy to secure some unique URLs, usually available for $12.99 a year or less. One had been bought by a URL broker, which they wanted to sell for $5000. Way outside my start-up budget, I took a different, less-usefully-spelled, name.  Then I had an idea for marketing my business and came up with the perfect URL for that. It turns out no one else is using this URL, either, but it has been absconded with by yet another URL broker.  This time it didn’t say how much the URL would cost.  I had to fill out a form inquiry.

Here is the response I received:

Hello Laurel,
My name is Jeffrey G…, and I am a Domain Broker with [brokerage firm].
Currently, I am representing the owner of [the URL.] I spoke to my client and based on many criteria his expectations are $11,000.00. Highly premium domain names can provide the competitive edge your company is looking for.
Please let me know if you would like to setup a time to talk.What works best for you?
Jeffrey G….
Vice President of Sales

What works best for me? Excuse me. This firm buys up the URL for $12.99 so they can re-sell it to me for $11,000. Are you kidding me?  This is right up there with the non-profit which paid a drug company millions in donations, so they could develop a life-saving drug which they then turn around and charge taxpayers millions of dollars for years to come.

Here is my response:

Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you for your response. Please don’t take the following personally, but rather, directed to your field of business.

Frankly, I find your business to be morally deplorable, right up there with extortion, kidnapping, gambling, ticket scalping, futures trading, the drug trade, and the white collar mafia that is the insurance industry. Your “business” supplies no constructive work, value, or benefit to me or to the economy, but acts instead as a parasite on others, driving up the cost of conducting business for those who do actually DO the work, and driving up costs for clients, benefactors, and society.

I am an experienced entrepreneur and small business owner of 20+ years with a family to support. My goals are not to get rich, but to build a new business from the ground up, after losing my prior family business of 12 years which employed up to 25 workers in two states. I simply seek to support my family, pay off our now-bloated mortgage, restore my retirement fund, accumulate savings to be able to put my daughter through college, and cover our health insurance cost. When we had to cut our losses, lay off our staff, and liquidate our assets to pay down as much debt as possible, my husband and I were denied unemployment compensation, despite having paid in thousands of dollars on our own behalf. As the owners, we were deemed the “responsible” parties to our own lay-off.

The true “responsible” parties to the economic “crisis” our country and the world has gone through are businesses like yours, that operate on a model of parasitism, which supply no true value, no real service, to people and the economic system, but simply operate as opportunistic leaches, stealing ideas and sucking the wealth from those who actually DO the work.

Again, please do not take this personally. It is a criticism of the system in which we all operate, a system built and maintained by people who choose to participate in it.

Please extend to your employer my thanks for his “offer” of $11,000 to use my good idea for a URL for MY fledgling business, which he is holding ransom.

Also please extend my counter-offer of $100 — which according to “many criteria” I have, should cover his “costs” incurred for kidnapping the good idea I had for MY business, which, by the grace of God, will grow to take care of my family.

I look forward to your response to my counter-offer.

Maybe a bit harsh, but perhaps you can tell, this really annoyed me.  And it really got me to thinking.

Parasites. That business is truly acting like a parasite. Everything I wrote is true.

I have long been a proponent of the collaborative Deming system of  business management. As you may know, W. Edwards Deming was an American sent to Japan by our government in the 1950s, where he taught the same system he’d used to help our American industries rapidly re-tool to wartime production with a new, untrained workforce at the start of the war. In a nutshell, here’s how it works.

First, assume the best about people. People are inherently smart, good, and want to do well in their jobs. Problems are caused by systems, not by people. Problems are solved by people, making very small changes to the system.  Give people their freedom, communicate, and entrust them to change the system they use in their jobs in ways that improves their ability to do those jobs, and they will. Efficiency results naturally. This collaborative management system was foreign to Japan. But because they were down and out and had nothing to lose, they tried it.  It worked incredibly well and within a generation, Japan’s economy and reputation was restored. This system works because it is filled with the spirit of Truth.

Often Truth is found by looking at things with a new perspective, changing perception, changing the paradigm.

Many of us today — growing numbers, in fact — are down and out. Perhaps what economists, politicians, pundits, and all of us who care, need to do — if we genuinely seek to solve the economic problems which are leading to all kinds of other problems in the world, rather than play the shame, blame, guilt game — is to give a fresh look at our economic system.

I propose we look afresh at our economy through the lens of nature.

Consider the premise that our economic system is an interdependent, complex organic system: our economy is an organism.  If we want to heal our anemic economy, we should start by eliminating the parasites which drain it of its resources, drain it of its energy flow–which is money. Money is the oxygen of the economy.  It energizes everything. When oxygen is blocked, things die. When the flow of money is blocked, businesses choke, flow of money to consumers stops, and conditions worsen.

I could have found some really gross images of parasites, but decided the definition is gross enough.
I could have found some really gross images of parasites, but decided the definition is gross enough.

Let’s digress a moment to talk about consumers. Truly it is a ridiculous notion that corporations are “job creators.” I challenge anyone to show me a single corporation that operates a department of “job creation.”  Instead, corporations are ALWAYS looking to get as much work out of as few people as possible.  I’ve been writing professional resumes for almost two decades, and one of the best things you can boast of is an achievement showing how you did something that “improved productivity:” a euphemism for “job elimination.” Whether it’s bringing in new equipment or software or reinventing processes – the corporate goal is profit – frequently and without regret, at the expense of jobs.  Jobs will only be created in so far as the job produces profit. Companies won’t hire until they absolutely have to.

So what truly creates jobs?  Demand is the ONLY thing that creates jobs. What is demand? Consumers with disposable income are the true job creators – consumers with extra cash, over and above what they need to live on, and which they are able and willing to spend, to put into circulation.

Just like trees give us oxygen and allow us to live, consumers with money to spend create jobs. Consumers are an integral part of the organism. Without consumers with extra cash, the economy dies. In the natural organism analogy, consumers are the different cells throughout the body.  Public sector, private sector, small business and large — diversity and interdependence creates a healthy organism.   Consumers are brain cells. Bone cells. Blood cells. Muscle cells. Skin cells. Even fat cells. The body needs them all. And all of them need oxygen–money–to do their jobs. Smart economic policies support the movement of oxygen — money – through the body – to all consumers. Smart economic policies support anything that enables consumers to engage in spending:  family-supporting wages,  good health, security, peace, freedom to use their God-given gifts and talents. A stable environment. In this way, the whole organism — the economy — thrives.

Parasites Must Go

The truth is, policies and  business can be analyzed for how much they help circulate oxygen (money), or choke the flow.  Smart leaders who truly care to fix the economy will identify the worst offending policies, businesses, and business models that serve to choke the flow, that suck the life and wealth out of the system, and don’t give back. These policies, businesses and business models are parasites, pure and simple. A healthy economy should do everything in its power to eliminate parasites.  Either change the laws and alter the practice in ways that share and encourage flow. Or eliminate them entirely.

On the positive side, identify and support policies and businesses that demonstrate an increase in energy flow to the greatest numbers of consumers and other businesses–as well as to the environment. Protecting the environment is good policy because without a healthy, stable environment in which to operate–costs go WAY up.  Just ask business owners located along the Gulf of Mexico, the East Coast, Oklahoma, anywhere there’s been ecological disaster — why a stable, healthy environment  is a good thing for the bottom line.  Anything that causes mass destruction — whether war or environmental — costs the health of the economy.

Economy as a living organism. Any thoughts on this idea?

Killer vines, vampires, attack U.S. with giant sucking sound

I could hear “a giant sucking sound,” as H. Ross Perot used to say, as I read about the life-saving drug for cystic fibrosis in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (A Charity’s Investment a prescription for profits for drug maker.) With its insanely outrageous cost borne by taxpayers, clearly this was not about saving lives, but about enriching a very few individuals beyond comprehension.

  • $841 a day (for two little pills)
  • $25,230 a month
  • $307,000 a year for the rest of of their lives (and paid for by all of us, either through Medicare, or through jacked up premiums which all of us will bear.)

In 1992, Perot was referring to the sound of good-paying American jobs being flushed down the drain with the passage of NAFTA.

flushing-money-down-toiletThis time the sucking sound is billions of dollars, being drained out of our weakened and faltering American economy, into a private loo, where it will pool and stagnate.

Next time you hear someone say there’s not enough to pay for health benefits, not enough for food stamps, not enough for schools, not enough, not enough, not enough, remember where this money has gone.

Last month, [Vertex Pharmaceuticals] stock shot up more than 60% again, from $52.87 to $85.60, after positive early data from a clinical trial of Kalydeco and another drug it is developing with funding from the foundation. On April 19, the day after the news was released, the company’s market value jumped by more than $6 billion.

That same day, two company executives sold huge chunks of stock options. Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ian Smith alone sold 745,685 shares worth more than $60 million. Most shares were sold at $81.50, with options purchased from $29 to $39.

Enough money to run a small country, drained from taxpayer and donor coffers, now hoarded by a few, is where the money has gone.

The broken promise of NAFTA was that it would be good for America by lowering prices — planting the seeds for more  jobs and opportunities.  Does anybody disagree, that  that this two-decades-long experiment has failed to deliver? What NAFTA planted instead was the seeds of Greed, and today, we reap the harvest: a weak, nearly ruined economy, immigration and drug wars, and concentrations of power unprecedented in American history.

This latest corruption of our charitable system — a non-profit foundation financed the development of this drug and will reap “profits” from it, which they will funnel back into creating more drugs — violates the public trust of taxpayer and donor alike. This latest corruption is yet another shoot off the Choking Vine of Greed.

Our founding fathers are no doubt clucking their tongues, shaking their heads. It is a disgrace.

There should be a huge public outcry over this story. There should be united resolve by officials at all levels to take swift and immediate action to fix the system, for the gross violation of constitutional principles. There should be a bipartisan amendment to the Constitution passing quickly throughout the land, to correct the error of Citizens United which led to this, and to the IRS non-profit debacle. There should be clear resolve to not make the same mistake again, and reject the pending Pacific Rim free trade agreement. There should be resolve to heed the historic warnings of the Founders against consolidation of power, recognizing how it as an invitation to the Vampire of Corruption–which will suck the life out of us.

If public outcry and action by our leaders does not occur, it means one thing: America is lost. It means our pledge of allegiance to the ideal of “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all” is broken. It means we have abdicated our authority as the owners of this country, and sold our Republic to the highest bidder. It means we bought an oligarchy, a Fascist state led by giant corporations, no less bureaucratic and bloated than our old government, but instead beholden to no civil authority, but only profit. It means we have bowed down not to God, but to the almighty dollar.

If this is so, then Lord, help us, and our children.

stock-photo-american-heart-wrapped-with-thorns-an-american-flag-textured-valentine-heart-entwined-by-a-thorny-93840139Is it too late? No, not yet. The corporations have not yet taken away our right to petition the government–although they’re trying. They have not yet stolen our voices–although they’re trying that now, too, at the highest levels, and at the state level. We still have our brains, our hearts, and our minds. But time is short. The time is here to stand up, declare who we are and to whom we pledge allegiance. The time is now, for each of us to make a choice.

Do we blindly succumb to the life-sucking Vampire of Corruption? Do we allow our country to fall to the Choking Vine of Greed?  Or do we open our eyes, reach out, clasp hands, cut the vine and renew our commitment to the common good, and resolve to share with one another, and stop the insane drive to hoard it all?  Do we continue to congratulate those who excessively accumulate wealth, envy them, strive to be like them? Or do we choose instead to follow the founding father’s historic “prime directive,” the guiding principle of the United States of America which unites by way of cooperation, fairness, sharing, and not by hoarding? Do we at last, as I wrote about previously, Occupy Ourselves, see our own failings, and join a 12-Step Program to recover from our own addictions?

What we need is to pass a constitutional amendment correcting Citizens United: we need to say clearly that a corporation is NOT a human being.  We need to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement: just as NAFTA did in Central American, it will only wreak costly havoc for many innocent people and concentrate more wealth into the hands of a few.  We need to restore, renew and rebuild integrity in our government: reject leaders who point fingers instead of fix systems, and who call for consolidating more power. We need to instead elevate those who stand up for individual sovereignty at the local level. We need to support those who value our government for what it is, a gift from our ancestors which gave you and I the power to make this country what “we the people” want it to be–“of the people, by the people and for the people”–not of, by and for drug lords and corporations. We must, as H. Ross Perot said years ago, stand up and take ownership of the country — not abdicate ownership to those who worship the almighty dollar.

Our system of government — as broken and messed up as it is — is better than any other system on the planet!  Don’t destroy the best system on earth– protect it! Restore it, repair it, and keep it safe for our children, as our veterans did for us, for generations.

It’s up to us. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The People…are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”