Henry Ford, Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, Howard Schultz, Ray Kroc and Richard Branson

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 25th, 2014

 History 101

(Originally published May 8th, 2012)

Capitalism allows Entrepreneurs to bring their Great Ideas to Life

Entrepreneurs start with an idea.  Of how to do something better.  Or to create something we must have that we don’t yet know about.  They think.  They create.  They have boundless creative energies.  And the economic system that best taps that energy is capitalism.  The efficient use of capital.  Using capital to make profits.  And then using those profits to make capital.  So these ideas of genius that flicker in someone’s head can take root.  And grow.  Creating jobs.  And taxable economic activity.  Creating wealth for investors and workers.  Improving the general economy.  Pulling us out of recessions.  Improving our standard of living.  And making the world a better place.  Because of an idea.  That capitalism brought to life.

Entrepreneurs Risked Capital to bring Great Things to Market and to Create Jobs

Henry Ford established the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899.  Which failed.  He reorganized it into the Henry Ford Company in 1901.  Ford had a fight with his financial backers.  And quit.  Taking the Ford name with him.  And $900.  The Henry Ford Company was renamed Cadillac and went on to great success.  Ford tried again and partnered with Alexander Malcomson.  After running short of funds they reorganized and incorporated Ford Motor Company in 1903 with 12 investors.  The company was successful.  Some internal friction and an unexpected death of the president put Ford in charge.  Ford Motor built the Model A, the Model K and the Model S.  Then came the Model T.  And the moving assembly line.  Mass production greatly increased the number of cars he could build.  But it was monotonous work for the assembly line worker.  Turnover was high.  So to keep good workers he doubled pay in 1914 and reduced the 9-hour shift to 8 hours.  This increased productivity and lowered the cost per Model T.  Allowing those who built the cars to buy what they built.  In 2011 the Ford Motor Company employed approximately 164,000 people worldwide.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1939.  In a garage.  They raised $538 in start-up capital.  In that garage they created their first successful commercial product.  A precision audio oscillator.  Used in electronic testing.  It was better and cheaper than the competition.  Walt Disney Productions bought this oscillator to certify Fantasound surround sound systems in theaters playing the Disney movie Fantasia.  From this garage HP grew and gave us calculators, desktop and laptop computers, inkjet and laser printers, all-in-one multifunction printer/scanner/faxes, digital cameras, etc.  In 2010 HP employed approximately 324,600 employees worldwide.  (Steve Wozniak was working for HP when he designed the Apple I.  Which he helped fund by selling his HP calculator.  Wozniak offered his design to HP.  They passed.)

Steve Jobs had an idea to sell a computer.  He convinced his friend since high school, Steve Wozniak, to join him.  They sold some of their things to raise some capital.  Jobs sold his Volkswagen van.  Wozniak sold his HP scientific calculator.  They raised about $1,300.  And formed Apple.  They created the Apple I home computer in 1976 in Steve Jobs’ garage.  From these humble beginnings Apple gave us the iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro and iTunes.  In 2011 Apple had approximately 60,400 full time employees.

Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker opened the first Starbucks in 1971 in Seattle, Washington.  About 10 years later Howard Schultz drank his first cup of Starbucks coffee.  And he liked it.  Within a year he joined Starbucks.  Within another year while traveling in Italy he experienced the Italian coffeehouse.  He loved it.  And had an idea.  Bring the Italian coffeehouse to America.  A place to meet people in the community and converse.  Sort of like a bar.  Only where the people stayed sober.  Soon millions of people were enjoying these tasty and expensive coffee beverages at Starbucks throughout the world.  In 2011 Starbucks employed approximately 149,000 people.

Ray Kroc sold Prince Castle Multi-Mixer milk shakes mixers to a couple of brothers who owned a restaurant.  Who made hamburgers fast.  Richard and Maurice McDonald had implemented the Speedee Service System.  It was the dawn of fast food.  Kroc was impressed.  Facing tough competition in the mixer business he opened a McDonald’s franchise in 1955.  Bringing the grand total of McDonald’s restaurants to 9.  He would go on to buy out the McDonald brothers (some would say unscrupulously).  Today there are over 30,000 stores worldwide.  In 2010 McDonald’s employed approximately 400,000 people.

Richard Branson started a magazine at 16.  He then sold records out of a church crypt at discount prices.  The beginning of Virgin Records.  In 1971 he opened a record store.  He launched a record label in 1972.  And a recording studio.  Signing the Sex Pistols.  And Culture Club.  In 1984 he formed an airline.  Virgin Atlantic Airways.  In 1999 he went into the cellular phone business.  Virgin Mobile.  In 2004 he founded Virgin Galactic.  To enter the space tourism business.  His Virgin Group now totals some 400 companies.  And employs about 50,000 people.

The Decline of Capitalism and the Rise of the Welfare State caused the European Sovereign Debt Crisis

And we could go on.  For every big corporation out there will have a similar beginning.  Corporations that use capital efficiently.  Bringing great things to market.  Introducing us to new things.  Always making our lives better.  And more comfortable.  One thing you will not find is a great success story like this starting in the Soviet Union.  The People’s Republic of China (back in the days of Mao Zedong).  East Germany (before the Berlin Wall fell).  North Korea.  Or Cuba.  No.  The command economies of communist countries basically froze in time.  Where there was no innovation.  No ideas brought to life.  Because the government kind of frowned on that sort of thing.

There is a reason why the West won the Cold War.  And why we won that war without the Warsaw Pack and NATO forces fighting World War III.  And why was this?  Because we didn’t need to.  For the communist world simply could not withstand the forces of living well in the West.  Whenever they could their people escaped to the West.  To escape their nasty, short and brutish lives.  In the command economies of their communist states.  Where the state planners failed to provide for their people.  Even failing to feed their people.  The Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and North Korea all suffered population reducing famines.  But not in the West.  Where we are not only well fed.  But our poor suffer from obesity.  Which is not a good thing.  But it sure beats dying in a famine.

Sadly, though, the West is moving towards the state planning of their one time communist foes.  Social democracies are pushing nations in the European Union to bankruptcy.  Japan’s generous welfare state is about to implode as an aging population begins to retire.  Even in the United States there has been a growth of government into the private sector economy like never before.  Which is causing the Great Recession to linger on.  As it caused Japan’s lost decade to become two decades.  And counting.  As it is prolonging the European sovereign debt crisis.  With no end in sight.  The cause of all their problems?  The decline of capitalism.  And the rise of the welfare state.  Which just kills the entrepreneurial spirit.  And the creation of jobs.  Which is one cure for all that ails these countries.  And the only one.  For only robust economic activity can pull a country out of recession.  And for that you need new jobs.  And the entrepreneurial spirit.  In short, you need capitalism.

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Henry Ford, Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, Howard Schultz, Ray Kroc and Richard Branson

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 8th, 2012

History 101

Capitalism allows Entrepreneurs to bring their Great Ideas to Life

Entrepreneurs start with an idea.  Of how to do something better.  Or to create something we must have that we don’t yet know about.  They think.  They create.  They have boundless creative energies.  And the economic system that best taps that energy is capitalism.  The efficient use of capital.  Using capital to make profits.  And then using those profits to make capital.  So these ideas of genius that flicker in someone’s head can take root.  And grow.  Creating jobs.  And taxable economic activity.  Creating wealth for investors and workers.  Improving the general economy.  Pulling us out of recessions.  Improving our standard of living.  And making the world a better place.  Because of an idea.  That capitalism brought to life.

Entrepreneurs Risked Capital to bring Great Things to Market and to Create Jobs

Henry Ford established the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899.  Which failed.  He reorganized it into the Henry Ford Company in 1901.  Ford had a fight with his financial backers.  And quit.  Taking the Ford name with him.  And $900.  The Henry Ford Company was renamed Cadillac and went on to great success.  Ford tried again and partnered with Alexander Malcomson.  After running short of funds they reorganized and incorporated Ford Motor Company in 1903 with 12 investors.  The company was successful.  Some internal friction and an unexpected death of the president put Ford in charge.  Ford Motor built the Model A, the Model K and the Model S.  Then came the Model T.  And the moving assembly line.  Mass production greatly increased the number of cars he could build.  But it was monotonous work for the assembly line worker.  Turnover was high.  So to keep good workers he doubled pay in 1914 and reduced the 9-hour shift to 8 hours.  This increased productivity and lowered the cost per Model T.  Allowing those who built the cars to buy what they built.  In 2011 the Ford Motor Company employed approximately 164,000 people worldwide.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 1939.  In a garage.  They raised $538 in start-up capital.  In that garage they created their first successful commercial product.  A precision audio oscillator.  Used in electronic testing.  It was better and cheaper than the competition.  Walt Disney Productions bought this oscillator to certify Fantasound surround sound systems in theaters playing the Disney movie Fantasia.  From this garage HP grew and gave us calculators, desktop and laptop computers, inkjet and laser printers, all-in-one multifunction printer/scanner/faxes, digital cameras, etc.  In 2010 HP employed approximately 324,600 employees worldwide.  (Steve Wozniak was working for HP when he designed the Apple I.  Which he helped fund by selling his HP calculator.  Wozniak offered his design to HP.  They passed.)

Steve Jobs had an idea to sell a computer.  He convinced his friend since high school, Steve Wozniak, to join him.  They sold some of their things to raise some capital.  Jobs sold his Volkswagen van.  Wozniak sold his HP scientific calculator.  They raised about $1,300.  And formed Apple.  They created the Apple I home computer in 1976 in Steve Jobs’ garage.  From these humble beginnings Apple gave us the iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro and iTunes.  In 2011 Apple had approximately 60,400 full time employees.

Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker opened the first Starbucks in 1971 in Seattle, Washington.  About 10 years later Howard Schultz drank his first cup of Starbucks coffee.  And he liked it.  Within a year he joined Starbucks.  Within another year while traveling in Italy he experienced the Italian coffeehouse.  He loved it.  And had an idea.  Bring the Italian coffeehouse to America.  A place to meet people in the community and converse.  Sort of like a bar.  Only where the people stayed sober.  Soon millions of people were enjoying these tasty and expensive coffee beverages at Starbucks throughout the world.  In 2011 Starbucks employed approximately 149,000 people.

Ray Kroc sold Prince Castle Multi-Mixer milk shakes mixers to a couple of brothers who owned a restaurant.  Who made hamburgers fast.  Richard and Maurice McDonald had implemented the Speedee Service System.  It was the dawn of fast food.  Kroc was impressed.  Facing tough competition in the mixer business he opened a McDonald’s franchise in 1955.  Bringing the grand total of McDonald’s restaurants to 9.  He would go on to buy out the McDonald brothers (some would say unscrupulously).  Today there are over 30,000 stores worldwide.  In 2010 McDonald’s employed approximately 400,000 people.

Richard Branson started a magazine at 16.  He then sold records out of a church crypt at discount prices.  The beginning of Virgin Records.  In 1971 he opened a record store.  He launched a record label in 1972.  And a recording studio.  Signing the Sex Pistols.  And Culture Club.  In 1984 he formed an airline.  Virgin Atlantic Airways.  In 1999 he went into the cellular phone business.  Virgin Mobile.  In 2004 he founded Virgin Galactic.  To enter the space tourism business.  His Virgin Group now totals some 400 companies.  And employs about 50,000 people.

The Decline of Capitalism and the Rise of the Welfare State caused the European Sovereign Debt Crisis

And we could go on.  For every big corporation out there will have a similar beginning.  Corporations that use capital efficiently.  Bringing great things to market.  Introducing us to new things.  Always making our lives better.  And more comfortable.  One thing you will not find is a great success story like this starting in the Soviet Union.  The People’s Republic of China (back in the days of Mao Zedong).  East Germany (before the Berlin Wall fell).  North Korea.  Or Cuba.  No.  The command economies of communist countries basically froze in time.  Where there was no innovation.  No ideas brought to life.  Because the government kind of frowned on that sort of thing.

There is a reason why the West won the Cold War.  And why we won that war without the Warsaw Pack and NATO forces fighting World War III.  And why was this?  Because we didn’t need to.  For the communist world simply could not withstand the forces of living well in the West.  Whenever they could their people escaped to the West.  To escape their nasty, short and brutish lives.  In the command economies of their communist states.  Where the state planners failed to provide for their people.  Even failing to feed their people.  The Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and North Korea all suffered population reducing famines.  But not in the West.  Where we are not only well fed.  But our poor suffer from obesity.  Which is not a good thing.  But it sure beats dying in a famine.

Sadly, though, the West is moving towards the state planning of their one time communist foes.  Social democracies are pushing nations in the European Union to bankruptcy.  Japan’s generous welfare state is about to implode as an aging population begins to retire.  Even in the United States there has been a growth of government into the private sector economy like never before.  Which is causing the Great Recession to linger on.  As it caused Japan’s lost decade to become two decades.  And counting.  As it is prolonging the European sovereign debt crisis.  With no end in sight.  The cause of all their problems?  The decline of capitalism.  And the rise of the welfare state.  Which just kills the entrepreneurial spirit.  And the creation of jobs.  Which is one cure for all that ails these countries.  And the only one.  For only robust economic activity can pull a country out of recession.  And for that you need new jobs.  And the entrepreneurial spirit.  In short, you need capitalism.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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The Weight of Europe’s Sovereign Debt Crises forces Rich People to flee with their Wealth to Escape ever Higher Taxes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 21st, 2012

Week in Review

The problem with the European sovereign debt crisis is the population growth rate.  These nanny states set up their social democracies when people were having babies.  And based their calculations on a continuing rising birthrate.  Which would have paid for their social democracies until the cows came home.  But then something happened.  They stopped having babies.  And now have a declining birthrate.  Which means they have an aging population.  There are more people becoming seniors than there are being born.  There are more people leaving the workforce than there are entering the workforce.  And worse of all is that they have better health care.  And are living longer.  Put it all together and you have a real big problem (see Europe’s old wealth seeks new home in Asia by John O’Callaghan and Charmian Kok posted 4/17/2012 on Reuters).

Wealthy people from Europe and the Americas have long looked to the East for ways to build and preserve their fortunes. But only recently have they started opening family offices – private companies that manage the trusts and investments of rich households – in the region in earnest…

Campden Wealth, which provides research and data on family offices, says up to 10 European family offices have moved to Singapore since the financial crisis in 2008, bringing $5-$10 billion worth of assets with them.

Singapore, a global banking and investment centre in the heart of Southeast Asia, is an attractive base for its efficient registration process, relatively benign regulations, smooth movement of money, financial infrastructure and low tax rates…

Asia’s prospects are alluring as economies in Europe and the United States look weak. After the crisis, regulatory pressures in the West and a crackdown on offshore centers have hastened the pace of family offices moving to Singapore and Hong Kong…

The Spinolas are clubbing together with two other family offices to cut costs and leverage on efficiencies. Parly officials declined to identify the partners, other than to say they are “household names” in Europe – one is an English entrepreneur who has donated much of his money to charity and the other is a Swiss-based family…

Concerns about the health of big banks and dismay at their hard-sell tactics that pushed products of dubious merit onto high net worth clients – such as mortgage-backed securities that turned toxic – are other factors.

The tax-consumers are growing at a greater rate than the taxpayers.  Which means you have to raise tax rates on taxpayers.  Find other things to tax.  Or cut back on pensions and health care for retirees.  Not a difficult decision for the politicians to make.  They’re going to raise tax rates.  And find other things to tax.  Precisely because the population is aging.  For they’re just not going to cut any benefits from the largest voting block out there.

And, of course, the fallout is that rich people will finally say enough is enough.  They’ll take their wealth and leave.  Because they’re tired of being screwed.  Whether it was the American government passing off toxic subprime mortgage backed securities as safe investments through their GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Or government taking an ever larger piece of their wealth through ever higher taxes and costly regulations.  They’ve had enough.  So they’re taking their wealth (i.e., much coveted investment capital businesses so desperately need) to greener pastures.  Investing in economies in other nations.  And donating large sums of their wealth to charities in other nations.  Which, of course, will cause ever greater budget hardships.  Because contrary to popular belief rich people pay the lion’s share of a nation’s income tax.  So when a big chunk of their wealth leaves the country it will explode budget deficits.

The sad truth is this.  There isn’t enough wealth to confiscate to pay for rising pensions and health care benefits with a declining birthrate.  There just aren’t enough rich people.  No matter how you crunch the numbers.  You just can’t have a declining number of taxpayers pay for a growing number of tax consumers.  It will only lead to deficits.  And sovereign debt crises.  Kind of like what they’re having in Europe right now.  Because of their unsustainable social democracies.  And unless they start having babies like they once did there is no way to sustain the unsustainable.

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Obamacare – Lies and Politics to transform One-Sixth of the U.S. Economy into a Welfare Program

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Here’s the skinny on Obamacare.  And it isn’t good.  For it transfers health insurance into a massive welfare program.  That ultimately will be paid for by the state.  Which means we the taxpayers will pay for it with massive new taxes.  After Obamacare shuts down the private health insurance industry.  Which it appears to be designed to do (see Obama’s health care law: A trek, not a sprint by RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press, posted 3/11/2012 on Yahoo! News).

The Affordable Care Act gradually reorganizes one-sixth of the U.S. economy to cover most of the nation’s 50 million uninsured, while simultaneously trying to restrain costs and prevent disruptions to the majority already with coverage.

If the government takes over one-sixth of the U.S. economy this won’t be the same USA anymore.  It won’t be free market capitalism here.  But a European social democracy.  Like the European nations suffering from the European sovereign debt crisis.  Caused by excessive government spending.  And excessive government borrowing to pay for that spending.  Which will happen under Obamacare.  Because you can’t provide more for less.  More health care will cost more.  And when the private health insurance industry fails when they can’t provide more for less that leaves government as the sole provider in the health care market.  The ultimate plan for Obamacare.  As it has to be.  Because you can’t provide more for less.

“We really haven’t seen the main game,” said Drew Altman, president of the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit information clearinghouse on the health care system. “The major provisions that will affect the most people and cost the most money don’t go into effect until 2014 or later.”

The timing of Obamacare is further proof that it will be a disaster for health insurers and for those buying health insurance.  If it was good they would have implemented it before the 2012 election.  So Obama could campaign on its successes.  But knowing it was a failure they pushed back implementation until after the 2012 election.  So that failure wouldn’t dash all hopes for an Obama second term.

Millions of people are getting preventive care that now must be provided at no additional cost to patients. Birth control for women soon will be on that list. Insurance premium increases are getting more scrutiny.

You can’t provide more for less.  Forcing health insurers to provide free birth control without charging more in premiums to pay for this will put the private insurers out of business.  Unless they allow insurers to increase premiums.  Then everyone will pay more so women can use birth control without paying for it.  A product that shuts down a natural biological function of the human body.  Which isn’t insurance on more than one level.  First of all, it’s not financial protection against an unexpected catastrophic health care expense.  For there is nothing unknown about this expense.  Second, getting pregnant is the proper thing for female body to do after sex.  Stopping this process is not a health issue.  It’s a lifestyle choice.  And therefore shouldn’t be paid for by the same thing we use to pay for cancer treatments.  An unexpected catastrophic expense.

A highly promoted program that provides a lifeline to people denied coverage because they already had medical problems has probably saved lives. But enrollment in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan has been disappointing, with only about 50,000 people nationwide.

Glenn Nishimura, a consultant from Little Rock, Ark., checked it out and found his premiums would come to about $6,300 a year.

“It’s out of my price range,” said Nishimura. It makes more financial sense to take care of his high blood pressure and high blood sugars by paying out-of-pocket and gambling that his health will hold up, he reasons. In three years he’ll be eligible for better coverage under Medicare.

This individual mandate, the main target for the law’s critics, also takes effect in 2014. Without it, many experts fear that the new exchanges, the state-based markets for private insurance, won’t work. Healthy people would be tempted to postpone signing up until they get sick, raising costs for everybody.

You can’t provide more for less.  And there’s nothing that costs more in the health insurance industry than paying for preexisting conditions.  Because if you’re covering a preexisting condition it means that the preexisting medical condition wasn’t covered before it existed.  Meaning the person did not buy health insurance when they were younger and healthier.  And paid nothing into the health insurance pools to help offset the costs of those who fall ill with an unexpected and catastrophic illness.  Only now that they are sick and facing large medical bills do they want health insurance coverage to pay these bills.  Which isn’t insurance.  It’s welfare. 

The individual mandate addresses this.  But it’s unconstitutional.  For the government doesn’t have the right to make people buy anything.  And, no, it’s not the same as car insurance.  Because if you don’t drive a car you don’t have to buy car insurance.  And if the Supreme Court upholds this unconstitutional individual mandate it will have the same effect as a massive tax increase.  And kill economic activity.  At a time the nation is still reeling under the Great Recession.  Massive new government expenditures and a fall in economic activity, and therefore a fall in tax revenue, will put the U.S. ever closer to those European social democracies wallowing in the European sovereign debt crisis.  And in case you’re wondering what that would mean it would be a bad thing.  A very, very bad thing.  Unless you like riots in the streets.  As they had them in Greece, France, and the UK.  And elsewhere wherever they tried to cut back some great government welfare program.

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Too Much Socialism and Tax Evasion Triggered the European Sovereign Debt Crisis

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 12th, 2011

Week in Review

The cause of the Greek problem was too much socialism (see Newsmaker: Greece’s Papandreou, Socialist scion, felled by debt by Dina Kyriakidou posted 11/6/2011 on Reuters).

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was elected as a Socialist who would lavish jobs and benefits on the poor and working class, but was brought down two years later by an economic crisis that forced him to do the opposite.

That’s the problem with being overly generous.  And its why businesses are very reluctant to make long-term generous financial commitments to their employees.  Because everything works during good economic times.  But when the economy turns sour, look out.  Those generous commitments can sink a business.  Or a country.

His Socialists came to power in 2009 with promises to help the poor that had been left behind by an economic boom that followed the country’s entry into the euro single currency.

But since he took power and announced that Greece’s debts were higher than thought, the country has suffered its longest recession in generations, and the poor and working class have been hit hardest.

To stave off bankruptcy, Papandreou has been forced to impose severe spending cuts and hack back at a welfare state and a system of generous treatment of state workers seen as the legacy of his own charismatic father.

That’s right.  The Greeks cheated to get into the Euro.  Had they been truthful about their debt they would not have met the requirements to join the single currency.  And the rest of the Eurozone would not be struggling to save the Euro.  Debt matters.  Too much of it is always a bad thing.  And if you’re lying about it you have way too much.

Of course, continuing business as usual hasn’t helped.  It’s only made things worse.  Which led to the European Sovereign Debt Crisis .  And the hated austerity measures.

A raft of austerity measures followed to counter pervasive tax evasion and scale back a bloated public sector to meet the terms of EU and IMF bailout packages.

This is why socialism doesn’t work.  It takes high taxes.  Which the recipients of those generous benefits don’t mind.  Because they’re not paying those high taxes.  It’s a different story, though, for those who have to pay those taxes.  And they go out of their way not to.  Because they’re too high.

Of course, the defenders will say it’s just another example of the greed of the rich.  Those selfish people who don’t want to work long and hard so others don’t have to.  The taxpayers, of course, see it differently.  They just don’t see it as their responsibility to take care of everyone else as well as their own families.

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