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Dissing the Rich for Fun, Profit, and Public Policy

Send him mail. “Win-Win World” is an original column appearing sporadically on Thursdays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Russell L. Roth. Russell is a 30-year marketing veteran and graduate of Jay Snelson’s “Science of Human Interaction” course (he calls it “Win/Win 101”). He has owned and operated businesses in advertising, real estate and internet marketing. He holds a degree in Studio Art from the State University of New York and is seeking a music publisher for his portfolio of original Country/Folk fusion songs. A native of Central New York state, Russell currently resides in southern California with his wife, Valerie. Archived columns can be found here. WWW-only RSS feed available here. I enjoy going online and engaging anti-Win-Win Worlders in discussions on Objectivism and libertarianism. I strongly suggest it for Voluntaryists, libertarians and Objectivists who have strong stomachs for ad hominem and false premises. Of course, I don’t hope for one minute that my little outreach will end up changing the minds of my adversaries. But it keeps my mind sharp. And by engaging in this public activity, perhaps some onlooker will be given cause to at least ponder what a Win-Win World might be like. Recently in one of these sessions I encountered an individual who described herself as working for an agency that sets homeless people up with a place to stay. She asked me to take a look at an opinion article written by Daniel Goleman and provide her with my reaction.Survey Said: Rich Folk Don’t Care The essay was entitled, “Rich People Just Care Less” and was posted on The New York Times (surprised?) web site. The editorial began: “Turning a blind eye. Giving someone the cold shoulder. Looking down on people. Seeing right through them.” I knew right there that I was in for a real treat. So I read on. It turns out that “a growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little power.” Researchers arranged get-acquainted sessions between high- and low-power folks and found that the “higher-status people” showed fewer signals of paying attention, and were more likely to “express disregard” and “take over the conversation and interrupt or look past the other speaker.” The piece went on to report that this type of activity occurs even when we of lesser power have contact with those of lesser power than ourselves. So it isn’t just the upper 1% of us who are supposedly committing these interpersonal transgressions… it’s everyone but the absolute lowest guy on the totem pole. I guess he has to resort to kicking the dog… if he hasn’t already eaten it. What’s more, a portion of this “growing body of recent research” indicates that “the more-powerful were less compassionate toward the hardships described by the less powerful.” It went on to say, “in general, we focus the most on those we value the most.” Poor folk are “better in tune with interpersonal relationships because they have to be.” And the... continue reading

Win-Win Doesn’t Mean You Lose Nothing

Send him mail. “Win-Win World” is an original column appearing sporadically on Thursdays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Russell L. Roth. Russell is a 30-year marketing veteran and graduate of Jay Snelson’s “Science of Human Interaction” course (he calls it “Win/Win 101”). He has owned and operated businesses in advertising, real estate and internet marketing. He holds a degree in Studio Art from the State University of New York and is seeking a music publisher for his portfolio of original Country/Folk fusion songs. A native of Central New York state, Russell currently resides in southern California with his wife, Valerie. Archived columns can be found here. WWW-only RSS feed available here. When my kid brother told me he decided to be a libertarian some years ago it made me proud. Even though he was incapable of addressing the logical dilemma, “if a little government is better than a lot, why isn’t no government best of all?”, it was good to hear him espouse libertarian values. Like many others of that ilk, my brother Harry (not his real name) still clung to the notion of a rudimentary government: police force, military and courts… yada, yada. This I considered workable, as all that was needed for a complete and positive transformation was the realization that ALL government is coercive by its very nature. Reducing it to a shell of its former self does nothing to change this basic fact. This is a big step, yes, but it was all that stood in his way. What worried me more was Harry’s apparently visceral aversion to Objectivism. He attempted to poke holes in her reasoning at every turn, either unable or unwilling to grasp that Rand believed the same thing that he did; that even she could not bring herself to urge the abolition of the entire state. In any event, as I said, it was good to hear him speak in libertarian terms. His rehabilitation had taken a critical first step. We lost touch soon after, being adults living 2,500 miles apart, with different families and commitments. Several years passed. Then recently, through the somewhat dubious miracle of social networking, we found one another once again. Harry’s thinking had taken an ominous turn. Now he was railing against “the plutocracy”, as he saw it. Worse yet, he posted that he could not understand all the “bad press” surrounding the term “financial redistribution.” Of course I made a heroic attempt to explain, as one would to a child, that redistribution of wealth was evil because it involved forcibly taking property from those who earned it and giving it to those who hadn’t. (I use sarcasm here because it continues to shock me that so many of us do not comprehend this seemingly simple point.) We bantered back and forth for several days. On his page Harry continued to grouse about the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and the 1% of the population that seemed to have gotten all the breaks. He continued to... continue reading

The 10 Hottest New and Improved Businesses and Industries of a Win-Win World

Send him mail. “Win-Win World” is an original column appearing sporadically on Thursdays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Russell L. Roth. Russell is a 30-year marketing veteran and graduate of Jay Snelson’s “Science of Human Interaction” course (he calls it “Win/Win 101”). He has owned and operated businesses in advertising, real estate and internet marketing. He holds a degree in Studio Art from the State University of New York and is seeking a music publisher for his portfolio of original Country/Folk fusion songs. A native of Central New York state, Russell currently resides in southern California with his wife, Valerie. Archived columns can be found here. WWW-only RSS feed available here. In my first article, “Why We Can’t All Just Get Along” I outlined the dire, unavoidable need to trash the current coercive system of political government (“the state”) in favor of free market anarchy. I called this new paradigm a “Win-Win World,” because it is based on all parties getting what they want out of voluntary dealings with each other. Since that article I began to think about the many ways in which individuals could ensure their financial success quickly and efficiently in such a world, and identified 10 businesses and industries that presented the highest rate of growth. This article is the result.The title ends in the words “a Win-Win World”, not “the Win-Win World” for a reason. This is because there is more than one answer; more than one Win-Win World is possible. This article represents simply one example of that which I feel could or should happen in the absence of coercion. I may have missed businesses or industries, or even gotten the whole thing entirely wrong. But… it’s a start. An obvious key step in transforming the current mess into a Win-Win World is the privatization of everything that is the state: departments, agencies and other entity classes whose stated but failed purpose is to adequately and efficiently provide services to citizens paid for by tax dollars. Many have a hard time envisioning how this would work and I don’t claim to have all the answers. But we might start with local public utilities. Heck, years ago, my city bought the then-privately owned, local water company and turned it into a government agency; the reverse ought to be just as simple: convert each entity into an IPO. Put it up for sale on the stock market. Whoever wants and can afford to purchase stock in that entity then become the new owners. What happens to the proceeds from these IPOs? They’re used to finance the fledgling private utility’s transition to a Win-Win World: to improve performance and efficiency; retrain and reeducate workers to think like private employees instead of public ones; streamline processes; upgrade equipment as required; perform any deferred maintenance; create and finance internal, performance reward programs; and much more. It’s hard to imagine any entity of the state that wouldn’t lend itself easily to this scheme. The workers themselves may have to be dragged kicking and... continue reading

Cry Me a River

Send him mail. “Win-Win World” is an original column appearing sporadically on Thursdays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Russell L. Roth. Russell is a 30-year marketing veteran and graduate of Jay Snelson’s “Science of Human Interaction” course (he calls it “Win/Win 101”). He has owned and operated businesses in advertising, real estate and internet marketing. He holds a degree in Studio Art from the State University of New York and is seeking a music publisher for his portfolio of original Country/Folk fusion songs. A native of Central New York state, Russell currently resides in southern California with his wife, Valerie. Archived columns can be found here. WWW-only RSS feed available here. It’s not often I find myself in a restroom, confronted by something I’ve never seen before. When I do, I have to stop and consider the implications. This time the subject of my fascination was a small silver plaque, hanging on the tiled wall directly above the urinal I was in the process of using. Was this plaque announcing that some famous person had also peed in this exact spot? Was it commemorating some important event in someone’s personal history, such as the passing of a particularly troublesome kidney stone? No, this plaque was celebrating ME.Specifically, I was being lauded for my wise decision to utilize this particular porcelain facility for the purpose of depositing my pee. Here’s what the plaque read: This facility  is committed to protecting and preserving the environment. By using this touch-free, completely hygienic Falcon Water-free system you are helping the environment to conserve an average of 40,000 gallons of fresh water per urinal, per year. It goes without saying that this made me feel pretty special. But as I headed to the sink to soap up, it suddenly occurred to me that the process wasn’t exactly “touch-free” OR “completely hygienic” – if you catch my drift. The afterglow of learning that I had just helped to protect and preserve the environment simply by using this facility quickly began to fade as I wondered what else the plaque had gotten wrong. Preserving That Which Requires no Preservation I couldn’t quibble about the 40,000-gallons-a-year thing. Falcon had obviously done its homework and I didn’t possess the time or the resources required to confirm or disprove its estimate. So instead I began to think about whether my actions had really protected and preserved the environment. Was the environment truly any better off for my being here? Was my bodily fluid going anywhere different from where it would be headed had I utilized a more traditional, water-powered unit? Presumably not. So – no additional environmental protection there. Well, what about the obvious: the water savings? You know, the water that didn’t get used as a medium for transporting my urine to its final destination? 40,000 gallons is nothing to sneeze at. But I didn’t see how this could be construed as “protecting” the environment. Why? Because I wouldn’t exactly classify the use of... continue reading

Why We Can’t All Just Get Along

Send him mail. “Win-Win World” is an original column appearing sporadically on Thursdays at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Russell L. Roth. Russell is a 30-year marketing veteran and graduate of Jay Snelson’s “Science of Human Interaction” course (he calls it “Win/Win 101”). He has owned and operated businesses in advertising, real estate and internet marketing. He holds a degree in Studio Art from the State University of New York and is seeking a music publisher for his portfolio of original Country/Folk fusion songs. A native of Central New York state, Russell currently resides in southern California with his wife, Valerie. Archived columns can be found here. WWW-only RSS feed available here. Not long ago a friend of mine asked the question, “Why is there so much violence in the world? Why do we find it so difficult to respect and appreciate each other?” Here is the answer I gave her. Violence between humans exists because, almost to a person, we have been raised and educated to believe that in order for ME to gain something, YOU must lose. This win/lose mentality is responsible for all inter-human violence and has so permeated our way of thinking that we barely see it for what it is. We believe that violence is inevitable because of competition, natural or otherwise, and we believe the urge to compete for what we’ve been told are scarce or limited resources is a natural state and therefore impossible to abolish. Because of this, many of us believe that violence may be attenuated or controlled, but violence and the need for it are inevitable and inescapable. This win/lose philosophy is invoked wherever competition exists, which is everywhere. Siblings compete for parents’ attention and affection, students compete for scholastic fame and acceptance by the best schools, workers compete for the corner office, men compete for the most desirable women, and vice versa, nations compete for land and/or more power, or better natural resources, and different religions compete for the hearts and minds and money of fresh initiates. In the present world, competition sooner or later becomes inexorably associated with violence. Such is the inevitable outcome of adopting a win/lose philosophy, and it’s given competition a bad name. Is humankind doomed to inflict and suffer violence forever? Well, maybe not… if humankind can swap one outlook for another.WIN/LOSE = LOSE/LOSE Looking at all the wonderful things humans have succeeded in doing – wiping out diseases, catapulting to the moon, building huge cities, forging magnificent cultures – is it too incredible a notion to imagine humans trading a cruel, inefficient approach for a kinder, far more efficient approach? I don’t think so. The human race (there is only one race, and it is human) may have had brutal and violent beginnings, but it is not necessarily hard wired to commit violence. Violence has helped some of us survive over time, but violence ceases to be a viable survival skill when it involves hurling hydrogen bomb-tipped rockets at your enemy. Today, when the concept of... continue reading