Reporting from Monroe, Ohio…
Last June, two Texas cops saved a neighborhood from two hardened criminals.
One was eight years old and the other was seven. Both girls. Probably piggy-tailed. Their crime? Opening up a lemonade stand so to raise enough money to take their dad to Splash Kingdom for Father’s Day…
… wait for the most egregious part…
Without. A. Permit.
[Cue the gasps!]
In response, of course, the cops shut them down. And good thing. Can you imagine what would happen to this country if we let kids discover values like working for a living and providing services to their communities? It would be pure anarchy!
Denise Cruz of Carrollton, TX, received a similar taste of State “protection” when she was hit with an arrest warrant and a $700 fine for selling homemade tamales through the popular neighborhood app Nextdoor.
Because without government intervention in the economy, who would protect us from the homemade tamales and lemonade?
Fortunately, the girls opened up their lemonade stand again the next weekend. And Cruz is fighting back. Also, Cruz’s friend opened up a GoFundMe page so she could afford the fine and, upon writing, they’ve raised $4,525 of the $700 goal. It’s a good sign that Americans are getting good and tired of this crap.
And they are saying loud and clear: This sh*t’s got to go.
Fortunately, there are all-ternatives popping up all over the place. We’ll take a quick look at three I’m personally most excited about today. And then, we’ll invite the inimitable Charles Hugh Smith to show you why the mainstream has failed — and how to succeed without it.
1.) P2P Marketplaces Are on the Rise
As mentioned, Denise Cruz was selling tamales through the neighborhood app Nextdoor. Apparently, one of her neighbors ratted her out for selling without a permit.
Fortunately for the free-marketeers, encrypted, anonymous and decentralized marketplaces are on the rise. And they’ll solve the vulnerability problems entrepreneurs run into when using apps like Nextdoor or even sites like Craigslist.
And there’s very little the busybodies will be able to do to stop those who want to use such services.
Case in point: Stijn Hoorens of the RAND corporation published a study showing, despite government intervention, dark market usage has tripled since Silk Road was shut down in 2013.
Thankfully, there are a few marketplaces trying to bring the dark market to the mainstream to ‘Make the Markets Free Again.’ When that happens (not if), free-marketeers won’t have to worry much about busybodies putting their noses where they don’t belong.
Take, for example, one which already exists: OpenBazaar.
“At its core, OpenBazaar — and DarkMarket before it — allows any user of the software to connect with any other user, and initiate a transaction. A third OpenBazaar user, trusted by both buyer and seller, is brought in to act as an arbiter: they have the power to release the buyer’s funds (paid in bitcoin, naturally) to the seller once the transaction is completed.
Feedback is left as a cryptographically signed comment distributed throughout the network, while users’ identities are tied to their bitcoin keys, preventing anyone from impersonating another user.
“Without a centralized headquarters, the authorities would have no choice but to track down every single OpenBazaar user individually; and it would be all but impossible to shut down the network entirely.”
And with the anonymizing software available today, as detailed in our latest #CampbellOnTheLoose video, you can keep yourself as private as you’d like while trading with whoever you’d like, without arbitrary interference.
Keep your eyes peeled for decentralized P2P networks like OpenBazaar and many others. They’re coming. And once they’re here, they’ll be here to stay.
2.) Equity Crowdfunding For Plebeians
One of the biggest economic “game-changers” in the years to come was released quietly this year. Which is the ability for non-accredited investors (those who have a net worth less than $1 million and make less than $200,000 per year), to invest in start-up companies on the ground floor — where all the real money is made.
Under Title III of the JOBS Act, certain crowdfunding platforms have been approved to allow the plebs invest in small companies with YUGE potential.
The rules, laid out by the SEC, are as follows…
- Everyone can invest at least $2,000
- If either your net worth or income are below $100k, you may legally invest a maximum of 5% of the lesser number.
- If both your net worth or income are above $100k, you may legally invest a maximum of 10% of the lesser number.
- No one may invest more than $100,000. Accredited investors are subject to the same investment limitations as everyone else, no matter how silly that is
[Disclosure: I’ve invested some money in two start-ups on the equity crowdfunding platform, Wefunder. One’s Legion M, a crowdsourced film production company. And the other is Cleveland Whiskey, an innovative whiskey distillery in my home state.]
It would behoove you to do your own due diligence before investing any money on any platform in any company. Moreover, don’t expect returns from these companies for years. These investments are extremely illiquid and the platforms are in their stage of infancy. Many will rise and most will fall.
That said, it’s exciting to watch how these platforms — and equity crowdfunding for all — evolve. And make no bones about it: Equity crowdfunding is also here to stay. And will most certainly help rebuild Main Street America. (Imagine being able to own shares of your friend Bill’s pizzeria or Susan’s bakery or even your nephew’s coffee shop.)
Here’s a list of the SEC approved equity crowdfunding sites, courtesy of Martin Kessler on Quora.com:
SEC Approved (as of May 23, 2016)
- Wefunder – Invest in Startups You Love
- CrowdFundingSTAR (not sure if active)
- Jumpstart Micro
3.) All Hail the Uberization of Healthcare
Also, take, for example, what Laissez Faire Letter contributor Jud Anglin calls “The Uberization of Healthcare.”
Rather than eat the onerous fees of our over-regulated healthcare, there are alternatives. We’ve already spoken at length about medical tourism. Even going so far as, you might recall, getting dental work done in Thailand and visiting Health City in the Cayman Islands.
This meme sums up medical tourism pretty neatly…
Sounds like fun
For those who don’t get jazzed up on medical tourism, fear not. We’ll all be able to take part in the “Uber for healthcare” apps soon.
“Multiple startups,” Jud wrote last week in Laissez Faire Letter’s weekly update, “are currently hard at work building such services, but as these are early days, right now their coverage areas are limited. As these companies secure additional rounds of funding, grow their teams and sign up more medical professionals, chances are we won’t have to wait too long before you’ll be able to whip out your smartphone and request a house call from a doctor anywhere in the nation.”
Innovators Uberizing Health Care, Courtesy of Jud Anglin
Heal: Currently serving Los Angeles. Heal lets you summon a doctor to your house in under 60 minutes. They don’t accept insurance. Instead, Heal charges a flat rate of $99 per consult. If you live in LA, you can download their app today to begin using their service. If you don’t live in LA but do live in California, know that Heal has aggressive expansion plans for the rest of the state.
WhiteCoat: Currently serving Los Angeles and Orange County, California. A competitor to Heal, WhiteCoat delivers doctors right to your doorstep for $99 with insurance or $150 without insurance. You can download their app here.
Pager: Currently serving New York City. Pager is one of the bigger startups, having raised over $24 million since 2014. A first-time in-person visit costs $50, before increasing to $200 for subsequent visits. This includes on-site testing, treatments, surgical sutures and first dosage of most prescriptions. You can download their app here.
RetraceHealth: Currently serving Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. RetraceHealth brings the primary care doctor to your door or to your computer through video conference. Of all these service providers, RetraceHealth appears to offer the most pricing options. A video visit is $60, while a home visit runs $150. However, you can combine the home visit with lab work as well for $190. Even better, their annual membership plan for $300 for your whole family provides unlimited primary care. To schedule a visit or find out more, click here.
DispatchHealth: Currently serving Denver. The average price of a DispatchHealth visit is $200 (which, compared against the average ER visit of $2,000, is obviously pretty good). You can download their app here.
MedZed: Currently serving Atlanta, New York City and California. MedZed actually sends a nurse to your house, but that nurse will then consult with one of MedZed’s doctors by video chat. Their house calls are approximately $150. They have not yet rolled out their app, but if you’d like to learn more about their solutions, click here.
Today, to show you why the mainstream has failed horrifically — and even more ways to thrive outside of it — we invite Charles Hughes Smith to the show.
Stay vigilant, dear LFT reader.
And read on…
The Mainstream Has Failed
Charles Hugh Smith
The mainstream became mainstream because it worked: the mainstream advice to “go to college and you’ll get a good job” worked, the mainstream financial plan of buying a house to build equity to pass on to your children worked, the mainstream of government regulation worked to the public’s advantage at modest cost to taxpayers and the mainstream media, despite being cozy with government agencies such as the C.I.A. and operating as a profit machine for the families that owned the newspapers, radio stations, etc., functioned as a basically honest broker of information and reporting.
Now, the mainstream has failed. Mainstream career advice now leads to crushing debts and career stagnation, mainstream financial planning generates high risks, mainstream government regulations are costly and burdensome, and the mainstream media is little more than a corporate-owned mouthpiece of propaganda and distributor of infotainment that is sold as “news.”
Does anyone actually believe the mainstream political process isn’t broken? Those who claim it isn’t broken are either well-paid shills just doing their job or they’re delusional.
The mainstream American diet now leads to chronic disease and early death. Supersized portions, large amounts of sugar and/or salt in virtually every packaged food item, heavy doses of low-quality fats in almost all mainstream fast foods — these have become mainstream at a very high cost in diminished health and reduced years of life free of chronic disease and pain.
The mainstream level of fitness contributes to chronic disease and early death. The mainstream lifestyle is one in which people passively watch a few daredevils pursue extreme sports on a variety of digital screens, passively “consume” music rather than learning to play music themselves, passively consume “news” rather than being engaged in community activities that make news, and so on.
The mainstream healthcare system is structured so it is incapable of promoting health.
But the real problem is the soaring costs of the system will eventually collapse the entire economy. The same can be said of the soaring costs of increasingly marginal higher education, the soaring costs of increasingly marginal weapons systems, and so on.
The mainstream healthcare system is incapable of promoting health or restraining costs:
The other problem with the mainstream is that any attempt to structurally reform these broken systems will trigger collapse. The mainstream systems are now so fragile that any significant change will cause them to implode. I explain why in my book Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform.
The good news is there is a way to avoid failure and stagnation: avoid the mainstream like the plague. Stop eating packaged and fast foods, eat restaurant meals only occasionally, prepare 90% of your meals at home with real ingredients, including lots of fresh vegetables. Walk at least one mile/2 kilometers a day, start bicycling instead of driving (where possible), start doing yoga, tai chi, etc. every day, turn any 6-foot square floor area into your home gym — get lean.
Stop watching sports and start doing sports (appropriate to your age and climate, of course).
As for fashioning a sustainable career–don’t count on a college degree to work some sort of magic. I describe a more proactive approach to forging a sustainable career in my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.
Don’t accept “standards of care” that include addictive pain-killers and powerful meds that require another six meds with their own side-effects to counter the side-effects of the first med. Do you own research, get a second opinion. Discover what you can do to help heal yourself first.
Stop “consuming” mainstream media except in small, limited portions and consume even these portions with a skeptical eye and ear for propaganda and rigged numbers that supports failed mainstream narratives.
We are what we do every day. Step out of the mainstream and stay out of the mainstream and opportunities that are unavailable to those who passively accept the mainstream as “all there is” will emerge.
As Douglas MacArthur observed, “There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.”
If you’re interested in avoiding the mainstream of failure and stagnation, please consider these quotes drawn from my extensive list of Aphorisms:
“We are what we repeatedly do.” (Aristotle)
“Do the thing and you shall have the power.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” (E.F. Schumacher)
“He who will not risk cannot win.” (John Paul Jones)
[Ed. note: This article originally appeared on Smith’s website OfTwoMinds right here at this link.]
Charles Hugh Smith
Founder, Of Two Minds