We’re back on the self-publishing beat today…In today’s episode, you’re going to learn about two fantastic services you should consider if you’re self-publishing a book.Even if you’re not writing a book, if you’re an avid reader you’ll love these websites too. They’re how you can find some of the world’s best “hidden” authors in the […]
Is Democracy really all its cracked up to be? Does Hong Kong really need it? That’s the question Chris Campbell ponders today as he observes the protests in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has enjoyed low taxes, free business and trade, and high social freedom without our favored system of governing.
The government is on a mad race to create a vaccine for Ebola. What they aren’t telling you is that, in 2003, they may have found a way to beat it naturally. According to one unclassified government document, this little-known plant beat Ebola 90% of the time. Why isn’t the government developing it? Read on…
The mainstream media has been complacent in reporting the truth about Ebola. They’re not telling the truth about how dangerous the Ebola situation really is. Because of this, millions of lives are at risk. Inside today’s Laissez Faire Today, learn what the mainstream should be telling you about how to protect yourself in the case of an outbreak in the United States. Read on…
Writing a book? Chris Campbell shows you three secrets to successfully self-publishing. Secrets including, how to get a professional-looking cover for as little as $5… how to format your book to get people to love it and buy your next one… and how to market your book to hundreds of thousands of people -- absolutely free. Read on…
One CIA insider visited our Baltimore HQ yesterday. While here, he leaked 30 potential events to cause the next financial avalanche. Even more, he also gave us several ways everyday Americans can thrive because of these events. Why did he impart so much valuable information? Find out in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Instead of letting you choose, the government has found it fit to force one potentially dangerous medication on you and your family. Where is it? In your drinking water. Even more outrageous: While Uncle Sam forces medication down your throat, he also says you have no right to choose your own milk. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
ISIS’ spokesperson is a kid from Calgary who wants to “paint the White House black.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell asks one question none of the “officials” seem to care to ask: Why? Why are foreigners flocking to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS? Why is Saudi Arabia so keen on getting involved? How far does Obama really want to go? Find out inside. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
America has about 4% of the world’s population, yet houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated. What’s going on here? Chris Campbell digs deep into the industry to figure out the truth. While many blame the private prison industry, the real culprit, says Chris, begins right outside your door. Read on…
When Obama first announced U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, most people have no idea that it was to destroy U.S. military equipment in the hands of ISIS. How did ISIS get U.S. weapons? Chris Campbell blows the story wide open in today’s Laissez Faire Today. Read on…
Every 37 seconds, an American is arrested and criminalized because of one racist and ridiculous law. Join Chris Campbell as he takes you back to when marijuana became illegal… why it’s hurting America… and why you should fight to end the prohibition. And it’s not so you can smoke it. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
Think it’s impossible to escape Obamacare? Think again. Laissez Faire Today reader David F. shares how he did it and how you can do it too. Don’t see another doctor, take another pill, or shop around for better medical insurance until you read his story. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
“While I heartily subscribe to your premise of pursuing one’s dream,” one reader, Donald J., wrote, “there are alternate perspectives worth considering.”[We’re listening… go on.]“Some wiseguy once said that life is what happens to you while you’re waiting for something better to come along. Milton put it a little more poetically in one of his […]
“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
“Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.” — Oscar WildeIn the wacky world of American politics, if you as an employer have a religious objection to paying for your employees’ contraceptives, it is you who is contemptuous of religious freedom.As the New York Times editorial board lectured a judge who thinks otherwise, “the […]
Socialism is the big lie of the 20th century. While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny. Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, socialism may […]
Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government’s National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist’s camera. I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a worldwide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say. I […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
Last spring, Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems… They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because […]
In the Huffington Post last week, Glenn Greenwald, Slate contributor Ryan Gallagher, and Ryan Grim had an investigative piece reporting that the NSA had been tracking the online porn-viewing habits of several Muslim leaders whom it viewed as radicals. A top-secret document shows that the agency was considering exposing these firebrands’ Internet dalliances as a […]
Americans are still trying to get a handle on the full extent of the government’s domestic spying activities, including the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting and storing the email address books of ordinary Americans using online messaging services. Many users of such services are looking to tech executives for […]
A few months ago at a demonstration against the president of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, a Canadian citizen made the following claim: “We don’t have guns, we are not Americans, we are civilized.” A few days before, in early July, a train of the company had run away and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing […]
From the Tongue-In-Cheek Department of Laissez Faire Books…Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced that her committee will hold a “major review into all intelligence-collection programs.” This surprising declaration followed the revelation, through documents leaked by government whistle-blower Edward Snowden, that the NSA has been listening to the […]
To do serious business in America requires vast campaign contributions to several layers of elected politicians, an army of lobbyists in Washington, retired government employees on your board and public devotion to the American civic religion. It goes on every year and restarts every election cycle.
Even then, it is hard to know if you are going to get what you pay for.
It’s easier and more efficient in Mexico. You pay bribes directly. The decision maker gets the money. He or she clears the path for you to do the thing. The facilitator takes a slice. People mostly keep their promises. The deal is done.
Apparently bribe paying in the United States is a sign of a healthy, functioning democracy; doing the same thing in Mexico in a more streamlined way is a criminal violation of the standards of good corporate governance.
Here we have the New York Times “exposing” the shocking and presumably ghastly fact that over several years, Wal-Mart paid out some $24 million in payoffs to politicians, bureaucrats and petty gatekeepers in Mexico, all in the hope of employing people who need jobs and bringing goods and services to those who need them.
The breathless and bloviating Times expose is written as if these intrepid reporters were exposing a violent mob engaging in killings to get its way. You never quite get that Wal-Mart would much rather have used the money to expand its business, hire more employees or beef up its inventory. Money used for bribes is a loss to any company, a terrible price of doing business under the state.
In any case, the trove of information was shoveled on the paper by disgruntled employees. And it is hardly unusual. It’s how business is done. Regardless, the Times is out for blood — not from the extortionists who run the system but from the victim, Wal-Mart.
Last count, there were 1,200 news stories about this on the wire. Forbes reports: “Wal-Mart Stores will likely face the wrath of the U.S. Department of Justice for reining in an internal investigation into bribery allegations at its Mexican subsidiary.”
I’m sure that congressional investigations are around the corner, with all the named executives hauled before committees and harassed by regulators.
The bitter irony is that it will transfer more of the Mexican system to the U.S. To survive, Wal-Mart will be forced to spend more than the $12 million-plus it already spends every year on campaign contributions and lobbying.
All that enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) does is increase the amount of domestic corrupt practices. Indeed, that is the way the system is supposed to work. Truly, if the FCPA were actually enforced as written, business around the world would come to a grinding halt.
Under the well-known Mexican system, people called “gestores” specialize in interfacing between business and bureaucracy. They deal with inspectors, permit issuers, environmental bureaucrats, labor officials and zoning regulators. If the gestores can make the deal, they keep 6% as a matter of convention. Even average citizens use these people to stand in line for them — all in an effort to find non-violent means around the bureaucrats.
Given the ridiculous barriers in place, it’s not a terrible system. Corrupt government that you can buy your way around is far better than “good government” that blocks all progress.
The rap on Wal-Mart is that it did far worse. When the company discovered this was going on, it buried it, rather than going public. No kidding. Maybe the company imagined that it would be smeared and attacked?
Bribing officials is illegal in Mexico, just as it is in the United States. But of course, that is just the gloss. Anywhere there is government, there is corruption. That’s the purpose of barriers to enterprise, to extract wealth from those who want to get past them.
Is it worth it? It is either pay or don’t do business, which means lasting poverty. Today, Wal-Mart Mexico employs 209,000 people and is the country’s largest employer. It has provided a fabulous example of the merit of private enterprise in this country, which is finally getting on its feet economically. It has brought food, goods and services to millions of people who otherwise would not have them. It has done more in 10 years for Mexico than all the government bureaucrats have done in one hundred or a thousand years.
For its crime of bringing economic development to this country, it must be smeared, beaten and forced to pay obeisance to the American political class. Why should Mexico enjoy such largess when there are millions of American bureaucrats who need to be part of this gravy train?
You can read thousands of academic papers on the problem of “corruption” in countries around the world and completely miss the central point. The way to eliminate the corruption is to eliminate the barriers to enterprise. Why is this not obvious? Because many people imagine a utopian ideal that does not now and never has existed: good government. They imagine that government rules can be enforced impartially based on science or the public good.
It’s sheer nonsense. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in Human Action in 1966:
“Unfortunately, the office-holders and their staffs are not angelic. They learn very soon that their decisions mean for the businessmen either considerable losses or — sometimes — considerable gains. Certainly, there are also bureaucrats who do not take bribes, but there are others who are anxious to take advantage of any ‘safe’ opportunity of ‘sharing’ with those whom their decisions favor… Corruption is a regular effect of interventionism.”
But here’s the part that upsets me so much. Somehow, private enterprise is always and everywhere blamed for perpetuating it, when the truth is obviously that the blame rests with government. It’s like watching a mugging and blaming the mugged for carrying too much money with him. It’s like telling anyone who has faces the demand “your money or your life” should always choose to give up his life.
The background here is nothing short of anti-capitalist resentment. The elites loathe Wal-Mart for its achievement in putting on display the incredible reality about capitalism that you never hear about in school: It is a system that is maniacally focused on the well-being of society in service of the common man.
Go to Wal-Mart, and you see the workers and peasants not rebelling against the system, but buying stuff that makes their lives better. It looks rather mundane. It’s how civilization is built: one economic exchange at a time. The people who stand in the way don’t deserve a dime, but private enterprise is kind enough to cough it up, anyway. Wal-Mart deserves sympathy, not condemnation.
[Join the Club to continue the discussion]