Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Equality In Slavery Or Inequality In Freedom?

"There exists also in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom."

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

How can you legislate equality of outcome?

Or equality of enjoyment of the fruits of many freedoms?

Does "one size fits all" ever fit all?

Would equality equal slavery, as de Tocqueville suggests?

We have all heard it said that if we took away everyone's wealth, everything that everyone has, and put it in a pile, and then redistributed that wealth (sound familiar?) back again in equal amounts to everybody - that in short order the same "inequality" that existed in the beginning would exist again.

Why is that?  For CERTAINLY it is true!

It is because nobody can legislate drive, or desire, or individual energy, or skill development, or productive use of time, or ability in one thing over another thing - or any of a thousand other characteristics that makes each individual just that - AN INDIVIDUAL!

Taking money or any form of wealth from one individual and giving it to another harms only the one it is given to!

Why is that?  Because it is the equivalent of taking water out of one end of a pool and pouring it back into the other end.  Wealth flows to that which attracts it!

Why does a stock price go up at the end of the day?  Because more people bought that stock than sold it.  The company, or products, that risked wealth or attracted wealth in the first place, continued to attract wealth, more wealth in fact than would flee from it.  And its value improves.

So it goes with every person.  We all are paid in life, some more and some less, by what we do and how hard it is to replace us.  The person picking up trash in a park with a nail on the end of a stick can be replaced by a fourth grader, and therefore is paid very little.  Those who rise to the top in each of their fields, and become, therefore, very difficult to replace, are paid very well.  Pick your field and see if that isn't true.  Even in trash collection.


It is better to act than to be acted upon. 

Those who would bring down the "wealthy," however wealthy is defined, would make slaves of those who are not wealthy, because the only way to maintain the new found "equality" of those two groups is by force.

And when we are forced to do or to be something we do not want to do or be, we are slaves to a master.


Why?  Because eventually a new and different inequality will be the result!  But the inequality will be one of privilege.  And H. G. Wells's little Animal Farm metaphor will come to pass - the governing two legs will be "good" and the governed four legs will be "bad."  And the four legs will support the two legs in their "privilege," and de Toqueville's slavery, not freedom, will reign supreme.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Corruption Equals Legislation

"The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates."

Publius Cornelius Tacitus (AD56 - AD311)

If anyone would know about the corrupt nature of a growing and ever-intrusive gubment, it would be a Roman Senator during the first 400 years AD.

Tacitus was the son of a Roman historian, who was a friend of the historian Pliny the Elder. 

He married the daughter of a Roman general, loved hunting, became friends with the historian Pliny the Younger, and studied the machinations of gubment.

Eventually he became a Senator, and is generally recognized as one of the greatest Roman historians.  His major works, Histories, Annals and Tacitus on Christ, are still studied and referenced today.

He witnessed the growth of what he called "bureaucracy," which created many offices or bureaus which all had special focuses.  Of course, as they do today, these bureaucracies would increase in size and scope, and became more "important" and intrusive.


Do we not see that today?

What bureaucracy does not grow?  What bureaucracy does not become more "important" in the eyes of its officers?  What bureaucracy does not become more intrusive in our lives, and makes our lives more difficult?

It is said that the "health" care bill, which came into existence through legislators employing every trick and extra-legal tactic they could to "pass" it, has, at its creation, 116 new bureaucracies!

What do you think will happen to each one of those!?  They will do what ALL bureaucracies do - grow in size, grow in self-appointed "importance," and spawn other bureaucracies each with its own new life and path of existence.


If something, like the "health" care bill, is born in corruption, it has no choice but to employ corrupt tactics as it further legislates and seeks to control and regulate and impose its masters' wills on a populace which, right now anyway, is solidly opposed to it.  The longer this opposed populace experiences the inefficiencies and ineptitude of this massive bureaucracy the more disaffected it will become.

What do you think will be the ultimate result of that?  Think carefully.

Remember one of the complaints filed against King George as his bureaucracies sapped more and more individual freedoms from its "citizens," our colonist Founding Fathers, et al?

"He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.  And if we do not, it will doom us to repeat it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Raving Fan Strategy

“I don’t want mere customers.  I want raving fans!  And I want them to visit our store and come away saying, “WOW,” and keep coming back.”

Mike Lovitt, Owner/Operator
Bristow VA Chick-fil-A

My first experience with Mike Lovitt was not long ago and I did not know who he was.  I stopped in to the Bristow Chick-fil-A for a quick carry-out lunch.  I held the outside door for two ladies coming in.  One was elderly, helped by the other, and I assumed them to be mother and daughter.  Mike came and held the interior door.  He called them by name!

Then he did something I have never seen before.  He called to a girl behind the counter and said, “Charlotte, get Mrs. Smith her favorite drink.”  Charlotte knew what it was and the drink was to the table practically before the ladies had sat down!  Mike spoke with them for a minute, brought their order to the counter, and went to fill the napkin holders on the center island.  The meal was delivered to their table.

When was the last time that happened to you in a “fast-food” joint?  Me either.  To myself I said WOW.

Then I ordered my meal and went to wash my hands.  Coming out a young girl was there holding my bag.  Handing it to me and reading the logo on my work shirt, she said, “Here is your lunch, Mr. Maaar ... kaaa … viiina … kiiina … niiich.  Thanks for coming!”  That’s not even close to my name, but she tried!  Leaving the restaurant all I could say was WOW.

I hear the kids all want to work at this Chick-fil-A.  My fifteen-year-old daughter had been by many times to drop off an application.  They never called.  So one afternoon she had my wife take her over and called me saying, “Dad, I got a job!  My first day is Friday, and I am going to wear the cow suit!  They are paying me [more than minimum wage] !”  She thought she was a millionaire!  I told her I would try to get by and take her picture.

Friday afternoon I did just that.  Not seeing her I went inside.  She and Mom are sitting at a table speaking with the gentleman I recognized from the door experience!  Mike Lovitt.  He is talking with them.  I sat nearby and listened.  Arriving at the tail end, this was an interview I have never seen before.

Drawing on the back of what must have been her file folder, Mike was teaching her.  He was teaching about what he expects of employees there.  And he is drawing as he speaks.

Mike was explaining the Raving Fan Strategy!  And the WOW experience.  It consists of three parts.

Operational Excellence – to be attentive and courteous, clean, serving quality food quickly.  All of that you would expect from any “fast-food” restaurant.  But not like Mike’s restaurant practices #1.
2nd Mile Service – interesting.  Roman law required a subject to carry a soldier’s sword for one mile.  Jesus counseled that everyone should carry it a second mile as well.  Why?  Because during that second mile a subject could return it at any time.  Who was the boss during the first mile?  And who was the boss during the second?  So, who is proactive at the Bristow Chick-fil-A?  Each employee - as they carry trays of food to the patron’s table; ask to “refresh” (refill) drinks; tell patrons not to worry about clearing the tables; offer a high chair as a family with a little one enters the door.  In other words, doing more than you have to or is expected.  Remember, WOW
Emotional Connection – have you ever entered a fast-food restaurant where they knew your name or what you like or typically order?  That is part of the Raving Fan Strategy at Mike’s store.   Given enough visits, they will know yours.

I was so grateful that my daughter could hear and experience this kind of information!  Never in my employment experience has anyone laid out anything like that for me!

It seems to me that in addition to teenagers, two other groups could use employment at this store:

A group residing in tents in a public park sitting around saying gimme, gimme.
And the most recent MBA graduates who think they deserve $500K a year, without any experience.

Then Mike invited her for a third interview!  Three interviews at a fast-food restaurant?  I told her to study the information he gave her and demonstrate that she is the kind of person that can provide what he is describing in his Raving Fan Strategy.  I also said to her that she costs him more per hour than he is paying her.  So she also has to demonstrate that she will be worth more than that cost.

More than what she costs him?  Yes!  Mike is in business to make a profit!  And the Raving Fan Strategy is how he wants to do that!  So he needs a team composed of the right people.  

In 1776 a Scottish economist wrote a book called The Wealth of Nations.  In it, one thing said is that the butcher, baker and beer maker do not provide our dinner because they care so much about us, although there is a degree of care in there.  He said they want to provide the best dinner they can to us so that we will come back again.  And when we come back they make more money.  And the more we come back the more money they make, and their lives improve.  They provide us the best products they can so they can derive PROFITS.  They are acting out of SELF INTEREST.

That’s not selfish!  It is self interest!  We all want better lives.  Mike is no different.

Her last interview consisted of a test!  A test of Do’s and Don’ts!  I don’t remember seeing those things in the file folder.  She says she got them all right.  Again, Mike wants to see if a candidate has on the inside what it takes to create Raving Fans!  He offered her a job as the newest hostess for the store, and she starts next week.  Mrs. Mike is ordering her a uniform.  And she thinks she is a millionaire!

I wondered if her having to go back time and time again to drop off an application is not a part of the interview process.  Does Mike want to see if someone has the gumption to come back more than once?  It would not surprise me a bit if that is not the case!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Altruistic Entrepreneur

"While profit remains the final goal, entrepreneurs spend the better part of each day figuring out how better to serve the needs of their actual and potential customers.  They are operationally, if not intentionally, altruistic."

Dinesh D'Souza

Interesting that D'Souza would combine economics with zoology.

Altruism is basically a zoological term!

According to my Oxford dictionary, altruism means "behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense."

How is that possible?  I thought entrepreneurs were about their OWN BENEFIT!?  They reap all the profits, right?

But according to D'Souza the final profit is the end goal!  Where is the damage before that happens?

By definition, entrepreneurs are risk takers.  They are self driven and self confident.  Go ahead, try to talk them out of what they are doing.  They are risking their reputations, for sure, but also suffer in terms of family, finances and livelihood. 

When they are putting together their crank idea, let's say an image-dissecting camera tube that can transmit an image (television), an entrepreneur's true source of strength is an inner source.  These are driven people.  In terms of the television, only about three people thought it could be done, and they competed!  They did have interaction with each other, but finally Philo T. Farnsworth had his patent accepted and his company put out the Philco television.

You should know that in a nearly secret, basement lab (which he called "the cave") Farnsworth also invented a defense early-warning system, submarine detection devices, radar calibration equipment, and an infrared telescope.  One of his most significant developments was a circular-sweep radar display used in controlling air traffic.  He was essentially the father of today's air-traffic control systems.

Unable to get financing for his ideas, he cashed in all his family's personal wealth to keep things afloat.  Not succeeding the end of his life was a tailspin of personal disaster and in his emotionally and physically-weak state contracted and died of pneumonia.  He was only 64.

In this case, profit was not the end result, but the benefits to other animals were great.  This story is one of an altruist.  And a true entrepreneur.

Now that I think of it, Jobs was only 56 when he died.  While he did reap profits, his personal suffering, in many ways, was a big part of that story.