I just got back from three months of traveling in Latin America.
There were a few reasons I made the trip:
1. Latin America is an extremely pleasant place (if you know where to go)
2. It has a dynamic, growing economy (Many Fortune 500 corporations are getting the majority of their growth from regions like Latin America and Asia as opportunities for growth in North America and Europe diminish.)
3. The US itself is becoming “Latinized.” (One of of five Americans is now of Hispanic origin. Not only that, but the Latin population in the US is growing rapidly. For example, one of my colleagues who has a substantial business selling satellite dishes in the US makes 10% of his sales in Spanish to US residents.)
One of my most surprising experiences on the trip was the discovery that I’m a Libertarian.
Let me explain…
- I’ve always been highly suspicious of big organizations – Big Business, Big Government, Big Media – and the more experience I have, the more convinced I am that these are the most dangerous and destructive elements of our society.
- I’ve always believed in and been an active champion of free enterprise. Real free enterprise. People risking their time and money to provide services, not big banks and big corporations getting massive tax-payer funded handouts to subsidize their inefficiency, incompetence and inherent corruption.
- I’ve always been against any war that is not immediately and absolutely necessary in the service of real (not manufactured) self defense. Having family and friends who’ve suffered through the real horror of combat, I have no illusions about what it means to put men in harm’s way. In my opinion, people who cheerlead for war are idiots at best and demons at worst.
It turns out all these things add up to me being a Libertarian. The funny thing is I had to discover this in Guatemala of all places at a fascinating institution of higher learning called the Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM) where I had the pleasure of meeting many faculty members, administrators, and even the Executive President, a remarkable individual named Giancarlo Ibárgüen.
UFM, which just turned 40 years old last year, was the brainchild of young Guatemalans who went to study in the US and came back inflamed with a passion for free markets, liberty, and personal responsibility and the thinking behind these philosophies.
They wanted to create a home for pro free market, pro liberty thinking in education in Guatemala as a way to leverage their country into a better economic position. Actually, I’m understating it a bit. Their long term goal is to lead Guatemala to becoming “the next Hong Kong.”
There are few things more inspiring (to me at least) than a huge and worthy goal. Back when UFM was founded, Guatemala was infused with Leftist propaganda. According to Cuban and Soviet-funded thought leaders, Guatemala’s salvation lay in the direction of Socialism (i.e. Big Government, Big Centrally Controlled Businesses, and a Big Media to keep everyone in line.)
Here’s the strange thing about all this…
When I think of all the colleges and universities I’ve had dealings with (I attended one of the Ivies and have lectured at the business schools of Columbia University, MIT, and NYU), I can’t think of one – not one anywhere in the US – that puts the issues of free markets, liberty and personal responsibility front and center.
Instead, from Day One, students receive an indoctrination in whatever the political correctness of the day happens to be. No values, no search for truth, just systematized conformity with whatever is expedient at the present moment.
Interesting, huh? And in exchange for that “service” countless American students and their families are voluntarily (and I say inadvisedly) shouldering student loan commitments that can hardly fail to become anything less than financially crippling.
Now that I’m back home…
I’m still running businesses (including developing a virtual System Seminar that will cost attendees only a fraction of the live one), but by design I have a lot more free time than I used to.
One of the things I’ve been doing with this free time is sharing a lot of information with my System Club members about topics outside the strict confines of Internet marketing “how to.” It seems to be working for them.
One of the Big Topics of our day is medical “care.”
50% of all the personal bankruptcies that occur in the US are caused by medical problems and, shockingly, 50% of these cases are individuals and families who had medical insurance. I’ve seen more than one friend financially destroyed by the Medical Industrial Complex. Who can calculate the extent of the financial damage this “industry” has caused the US?
Medical costs have been rising at an annual rate of 9% a year (not unlike college costs). Does the average person get a 9% raise every year? I don’t think so. Meanwhile, the quality of medical service in the US is pathetically bad even for people paying full fees for everything, something I experienced over and over again when I had my knee problem two years ago.
Is there any sign of it getting better? No and government “solutions” threaten to make an already bad situation much worse.
One possible source of a solution, free enterprise, has been studiously ignored by – you guessed it – Big Government, Big Business and Big Media. You know, “free enterprise” that thing that America is supposedly based on?
Here’s an intriguing interview conducted by Lew Rockwell who for my money has one of the most useful and interesting web sites on the Internet.
In this interview, Rockwell interviews a doctor who has returned to free market principles in medicine, thereby lowering his charges to patients and improving service, and is inspiring a quiet revolution among physicians in his home city.
Food for thought about an issue that effects every person and small business in this country (and there’s an important Internet marketing angle to the story too!):
Lew Rockwell’s interview with G. Keith Smith MD about free market medicine.
More info about the Surgery Center of Oklahoma and its unique business model.