Surviving a 70 Year Error

The first book I wrote in the 1970s was entitled “Passport to International Profit”.   One chapter in the book was about the “Concept Conversion Trick” and how it creates the “Soil Defense Syndrome”.


Here is an excerpt from that chapter:

“The Concept Conversion Trick begins when people agree on a good concept for working and living together.  The people go to work and if the concept is good they will create a paradise.  The government gives them a flag and a song. Then the government pulls the trick.  The government convinces the people that the flag and song are important.  Then while the people are busy watching the flag and singing the song, the government replaces the concept with a set of ever increasing written rules and regulations administered by bureaucrats and backed up by a police force.

“This trick trades people’s individual freedoms for a shiver up the spine when the song is played the piece of cloth is waved.  The Concept Conversion Trick turns spirit into matter.  Like trading love for a beautiful plastic doll.  When the trick has been pulled and the dust settles, the people realize too late what has happened. Anyone who steps out of line is called unpatriotic or even criminal.  He is swatted down by the bureaucracy or police force, crushed with overwhelming power or made an example of so others will tow the mark ‘for the good of society’. All this is done in the name of public interest.”

If this writing sounds prophetic having been written almost 40 years ago, it was not.  A simple review of any previous great society shows that this trick was part of its evolution.  Like the Roman Empire, things may get better for a while, then worse and then better again.  In the long term, as societies age, they lose their original vibrancy and life.

Should we be surprised?  Does not every single thing in this universal existence develop in the same way, vibrant and flexible while young and growing thicker and more brittle with age?

My father loved animals and worked at the Portland City Zoological Gardens.  He was a really kind, gentle, fair and scrupulously honest man.  Yet one of his jobs was doing the zoo’s annual budget.  I recall him spending weeks late at night (on his own time) working over these budgets each year.  I also remember his telling me that every year they had to ask for more money because otherwise the city government would give them less. “If we do a good job with their funds, they penalize us,” he told me.

This is how the bureaucracy and society works, millions of small units each trying to grow until the whole swells into an unstoppable mass of self-interest.  This is the universal nature of growth.

This truth shows us the nature of mankind and every underlying force that goes from birth to continuity and then transformation.  This is the way of life and once we accept this, we can become better investors who embrace change and adapt.

This is why I have almost always bet against the US dollar.

This is why my business has been global for more nearly 40 years.

This is why I am so involved in a global business from Small Town USA now, where more of the old American values linger.


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