Where 5% of the world lives

The blue and the red regions both contain about 5% of the worlds population.

Map by Ibisdigitalmedia


Politics Italian Style


Was in Rome walking the streets checking things out.  Came across this great political poster.  Only in Italy would you see a poster like this where the message in Italian basically says “Get the F*@K out the way”

Without Them

I was listening to music on Spotify when an ad for Spotify itself came on.  The ad mentions how “piracy is so old-fashioned” and that “every track on Spotify makes money for the artist because after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy“.

It’s that last part – the “after all, without them there would be no music for us to enjoy” part that resonated with me most.  This simple radio advert is actually pretty profound and is a perfect note to end 2012 on – a year where “you didn’t build that” and “fair share” were tossed around as if the creators of businesses were somehow not quite fully entitled to the fruits of their ideas and labor.

Apparently Spotify believes (and I agree) that the right thing to do to honor the creators of the music is to make sure the creators are paid and not stolen from – because they are in fact the brains behind the music.

The ad’s “Without them” concept can be applied to any business, any product, and the job creators behind those businesses.  “Without them” there is nothing. “Without them” people have no products or services.  “Without them people” have no jobs or ability to sustain their families.

My point here is that millions of people enjoy music thanks to those that create music.  Likewise, millions of people enjoy employment and lifestyles thanks to people who create jobs.  Is there really any difference between a musical artist who creates a song for sale or a businessman who creates pizza? (or any product/service)?  Each has a skill. Each has a product.  Each put effort and training into making that product for sale and… “without them” there is nothing but unfinished ideas and raw materials.

In the classic book Atlas Shrugged, the industrialists, the men and women of thought, vanish from the face of the Earth, going on their own strike of sorts and leaving everything behind including the keys to the car for anyone to pick up where they left off and run things.  Nobody does.  Nobody can.  Nobody remaining behind has the know-how or fortitude to do what the industrialists (i.e. job creators) did.

There is a line in Atlas Shrugged that go like this:

“Whether it’s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one’s own eyes–which means: the capacity to perform a rational identification–which means: the capacity to see, to connect and to make what had not been seen, connected and made before.”

-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Ch. 2

Imagine this.  How would it be if in the name of social and economic musical justice Spotify took a percentage of all the money Bruce Springsteen makes when his songs are played on Spotify and just gave it to an artist whose music was not chosen by the consumers in the free market to be played.  We could say that he “didn’t really write that” without the world providing to him the influence to come up with such musical ideas.   Would Bruce be cool with that?  I doubt it.

Company Founders, men and women of vision and production, should be celebrated, encouraged, and thanked, not threatened or villainized.  Like the Spotify ad says – “after all, without them there would be no music to listen to.”  The same goes for job creators.

Pulling the Wool

At the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte, NC, we got the chance to see two amazing things.

1. Why we’re not a Democracy

2. How the Democratic leaders mislead their followers into thinking their voice actually counts.

The Founders of the United States understood that a pure democracy is a dangerous thing.  As Neal Boortz, a talk show host in Atlanta often says “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner”.  So last week the Democratic party somehow makes the decision that they want to remove “God” and a reference to Israel out of their official Democratic platform.  OK – stupid political move but whatever – it’s their platform.  But here’s where it gets rich and where the curtain is pulled back.

Having received a whirlwind of blowback from across the nation, one of their delegates stands up and says he wants to suspend the rules and make a motion to reinsert these two things back into the official platform.  Clearly someone up on high made the decision that they had to do this.  It’s all scripted.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is presiding over the moment and leading from the stage.  He clears the motion and takes a “voice vote” from the convention hall delegates.  All in favor say “ay” all opposed say “no”.

The audience is split about 50/50 on the first voice vote.  The mayor is perplexed.  Apparently it’s not going as scripted.  The delegates didn’t get the message that they needed to get this passed and out of the way.

He takes the vote again.  Again the audience voice votes but this time the “no’s” are even in stronger opposition – sounds like 60/40.  The mayor on live TV is visibly a little nervous because it’s not going as planned (ordered).

As if to prove what an example of Democracy in action we have here, he takes the voice vote a third time.  This time the “no’s” are overwhelmingly more than the “ay’s”.

He asked for the vote, he got the vote, BUT the vote wasn’t what the party wanted or needed to hear.

Without wasting another second, the Mayor simply decided (ruled) that in the “Opinion of the Chair, two-thirds having voted in the affirmative.. the measure is passed”.  The audience boos.  Clearly he was simply concluding the vote the way they wanted to have it concluded.

What did we see and learn here.

1. This is why we’re not a Democracy on purpose.  Democracy is nothing but mob rule.

2. The Democratic party only pretends that they want to hear the true opinions of their delegates by staging this show that the vote actually counts.  Their position clearly goes like this:  We’re going to take a vote and if we hear what we want we’ll pass the vote – and you all will think your voice actually matters.  But if we don’t hear what we need to hear, we’ll just keep voting until we get the result we want”.

The Democratic party lies and misleads the very people it portends to care about.  They say they’re for mob-rule but but it’s worse than that – what they’re really for is nothing short of dictatorial power.  It’s all just for show.  How do we know this?

The vote what pre-decided Politburo style.  The Mayor was simply reading the pre-determined and scripted words from the teleprompter.  The leaders don’t give a damn about what their delegates (voters) actually want – just get in line and be good little soldiers.

Here’s a link to the story with the video of the moment and here’s the photo of the teleprompter the Mayor was reading from.  Draw your own conclusions.

Photo Credit: Carlos Amezcua, Fox 11 News

Prescient Ayn Rand

Today is my 500th post.  When I started Anthidote in 2006 I did quick reviews of things I liked.  That evolved into more long-form essay style posts on subject matter that interested me.  That evolved into pulling in travel photos from adventures around the world when I blended my personal blog with this one.  For the 500th post, I thought I’d make the subject matter a little bit heavier again since we’re in such an important year in the history of the USA.

I’ve been a fan of Ayn Rand since 1993 when I read Atlas Shrugged.  That book change my life and clearly it has also has an affect on millions of others as well.   In mid-July President Obama gave his now famous speech wherein he basically openly exposed his belief that the collective is more important than the individual (when if he would simply acknowledge that successful individuals freely trading with one other automatically makes for a strong collective).  It’s as if he and his like-minded crowd keep pushing on a door that is marked “pull”.

What continually amazes me is how Ayn Rand foretold so much of what is happening in the world because she had witnessed (lived it) already it first hand growing up in the old Soviet Russia, which she has described as a truly terrifying place the likes of which modern Americans have no real understanding.  How could someone born say after 1990 have any real concept of what tyranny feels like or looks like?  It’s the stuff of history books as far as they know.

There is a scene in Atlas Shrugged that is so similar to Obama’s ridiculous speech last week that I thought I’d lay the comments side by side.


“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t…. look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.” (Enthusiastic Applause from the audience.)

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t  build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

Now look at this scene from Atlas Shrugged – a scene where a government “official” is stating that the smart industrialist Hank Rearden somehow doesn’t deserve credit for inventing the metal he invented.

From Atlas Shrugged:

“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”


“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”

She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

Looking at Obama’s comments, he loves to talk about roads and bridges.  Is that what Obama believes is the reason people are successful?  Because the country invested in roads and bridges? A lot of countries have roads and bridges – so what?  What Obama fails to grasp is that it’s is smart, competent people that make the world a better place not only for themselves but for virtually everybody.   It’s not because their country invested in roads – hell North Korea has roads, Venezuela has roads.

The absolutely amazing thing about Atlas Shrugged is that no matter what decade you’re in, it reads like it comes straight from today’s headlines – and today more than ever unfortunately.  The good news?  At the end of the book when the government has completely screwed everything up they finally realize that the only way to set things straight again is to get out of the way and let competent individuals forge the new path (again).  It’s a mentality shift that some have made and some other haven’t.   In December 2011 I wrote a piece here on how we should be grateful for entrepreneurs instead of casting them as somehow the bad guys sticking it to everyone else.

Sticking with the “mentality shift” theme, there are two movies worth checking out before the election that shed light on the realities of the day – the first (2016 Obama’s America) dives into why Obama thinks the way he does and how he sees his mission as President to “fundamentally change the United States of America” by essentially realigning the USA in the world.  The second (Runaway Slave) deals with the black experience in America after almost 50 years of Democratic party allegiance.

2016 Obama’s America


Runaway Slave

I know a dentist that keeps copy of Atlas Shrugged on his front desk where the patients check in.  The deal he offers his patients is that they can take the book for free on the condition that they pass it on to someone else after they’ve read it.

Misdirected Arrows

Having just seen last year all of the occupy demonstrations, my wish for the new year is that more people worldwide, and especially in the USA, will realize that the economic problems we are seeing in the world stem not from Capitalism but from Government and government intervention in what should be free markets.

While I get the beef the occupiers have, I have it too (anger at crony business for example), but so many people have their anger focused on the wrong place.  It is ignorance in the most caring sense of the word.

The occupy crowd (and the population in general) should not be upset at Capitalism or at the too easily contrived “fat cats”, they should go to the source of the problem which is Government.

Markets naturally self-regulate.  Why?  Because Buyers and Suppliers of anything have to both agree before any product or service can be bought or sold.  If one or the other cheats, lies, or otherwise doesn’t offer value they will naturally be eliminated or otherwise ignored.   The good and the bad word gets out.

The minute an outside party to the transaction gets involved and alters the relationship (screws with the free market) it is no longer a free market but a manipulated market.  Look around – do you not see Government intervention and manipulation in markets almost everywhere?  Housing, Health Care, Food, Labor, Stocks, Banking and on and on.

Look at the United States – we have a Constitution, a founding document of the nation that sets forth not what the Federal Government can do but rather what it cannot do.  This is somewhat unique to the USA and what has up until now set the USA apart from the rest of the world by levels of degrees when it comes to economic productivity.  The first job of the government is to protect your liberty, life, and property rights, and the first job of the President is to defend the Constitution.  We have a Congress that passes laws that regularly interfere  with your liberty and property rights and a current President that routinely tramples on the Constitution.

The problems we’re seeing in the USA and in many parts of the world are not stemming from Capitalism – on the contrary – its the lack of Capitalism that is pushing everything down.  When Capitalism flows freely the markets would take care of themselves.  If Government would get out of the way of interfering in markets so many of the nations economic issues would naturally resolve themselves.  Resolving economic issues leads to resolving many social issues.

Do you really need a far-away Federal bureaucrat deciding for you what you should buy, when, and for how much?  If you support this sort of a world, maybe there are a few countries for you where you could relocate, but the Constitution in the United States lays out the terms and conditions of the country.  It is clear that many people also confuse the role of the Federal government with the role of the States (ex. Dept of Education).  So many people lose their minds when you say we should get rid of the Federal Dept of Education – but think about it, what business does the government have being in the business of educating children?  That is not a role of the Federal government.  (As a side note, if you think about it again, you’ll realize why the Federal government like to have a hand in education.)

So while nobody like crony capitalism (hardly a free marketplace either), the occupy Wall Street Crowd and most Liberal Democrat voters have their arrows and frustrations pointed in the wrong place.  They should really take a clearer look at from where these problems stem and if they want to occupy something they ought to direct their energy at voting out people in the Federal government that are creating the policies.   The Federal government is the entity creating the problems then coming forth with “solutions” for the problems they create.  Enough – just vote out the wrong people and do your best to vote in the right people.  When you elect people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, and the like, you get what we have now.  I’ll even throw in George W. Bush because he too abandoned free market principle as she said “to save the free market“.

So in this theme, spend 15 minutes checking out the above insightful video from Peter Schiff who went down to one of the occupy protests to see if he could have a dialogue with the people there.  You can see in the video that the crowd wants to just spout out quick slogans or blame zillionaires for making too much money, but Schiff sympathizes with them, calmly shoots straight with them, and shows them that their anger really needs to be put squarely on Washington DC and the politicians who create policies that do not let markets self regulate.  He is fair in his analysis and I hope here in 2012, in what is easily the most critical election year of your lifetime, more people everywhere understand that free Capitalism is the solution, not more Government.

Remember that at least in the USA the government governs at the consent of the governed.  How many Americans no longer consent to the current state of the Federal government and will vote out the wrong people this year?

Video from Reason.tv