How I woke up one day in Guatemala and realized I was a Libertarian

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.

Note: Why discussion on this blog is closed

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

Why discussion is closed on this blog
Numbers - Real, Make-Believe and Silly

, , , , , , , , , , ,

22 Responses to How I woke up one day in Guatemala and realized I was a Libertarian

  1. Jamie Fettig May 15, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I also discovered recently I am a libertarian. Was kind of shocked. I found out by realizing I like Ron Paul – who is running under “republican” but is really a libertarian.

    One thing not mentioned in this article – is how the FDA is also another government organization that was designed to protect us – but now is run by big business to protect them – and not the US people. Also causing the prices to be higher than they need to be.


  2. Gauher Chaudhry May 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Great article Ken. Too bad it paints a scary picture of the future. But that appears to be the present reality.

  3. Alasdair May 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Love this post! As you so often do, it articulates thoughts I imagine a lot of people have superbly. Thank you.

  4. John Rinaldi May 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    Hello Ken,
    THANK YOU! We need more articulate voices speaking on behalf of freedom and liberty. I feel the same as you but can’t articulate it near as well.

    The question now is “How do we promote Freedom and Liberty in the US?” Typcially, people like us are focused on living quiet lives, working hard, trying to make a life for families, serving our customers well…etc. People who believe in big government secure places in government, the media or as “community organizers” and use those platforms to endlessly promote things that offer our citizens less Freedom and less Liberty. How do we (the great unwashed small business people) overcome that? I would really be interested in hearing you address that question. IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT.

    Thank you again,
    John Rinaldi
    PS – your sounding more like Dan Kennedy. He is alarmed by current government policies and espousing similar thoughts though he is more bombastic and directed in his essays.

  5. Ian May 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Great post Ken!

  6. Thomas May 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    I think a lot of people are waking up to the fact that their thoughts are more along the Libertarian way of thinking due to the Republican and Democrats proving that they cannot be trusted to help the people.

    The small business and/or entrepreneurs are the ones that will help us come out of this economic mess unless big government does us in first.

    Great post.

  7. Bryan May 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    Thanks for the information Ken. Funny to me, I had thought you were Libertarian long ago just by the information you provided. Admittedly, I have been leaning toward Libertarian starting about a year ago.

    Good stuff on the medical care too. I think Latin American health facilities will be increasing in popularity as costs continue to rise here in the states.

  8. Terry May 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    What you report here about the conditions in the US is absolutely correct. The U.S. has become a fascist state. I spend too much time reading history and other things many people find horribly boring, and have come to the conclusion (as many others have) the we are at the end of the American Empire. It will collapse from the weight of its’ own follies. Happily, things will get better, but they will get a whole lot worse before they start to improve. We must protect ourselves from the death throes of the dying beast. Latin America (south of Mexico) will be a good place to be.

  9. Kim Dushinski May 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I think that more people are Libertarian than know it.

    We are so programmed by the news media and politicians to think that we can only be “conservative” or “liberal.” I am both – fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

  10. G. Keith Smith, M.D. May 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Great blog. Thanks for linking to my podcast with Lew. Here is my blog address:

  11. Orestes May 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Very interesting post…as always love to hear and learn new things from you.Here
    in Spain the Medical Indutry is getting espensive too…I think it will come the time
    when we will have to learn how to pray for our own healing 🙂

    Nice to have you back Ken!


  12. Richard May 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    My observation as an outsider living in Africa is that the majority of ordinary Americans have been fleeced most of their money wanting to:

    1. Live off credit cards which generate big debts thereafter.

    2. The mistaken belief that you can leave your job and be an instant millionaire by using one of the thousands of internet marketing scams perpetrated by fellow country men, mostly network marketing sweet talkers. I bet most of these work in your pajamas programs have made many Americans lazy and thereafter getting themselves into huge credit card debts.

    As for being suspicious of big business, well some of America’s big corporations are constantly in the news for suspicious dealings.

  13. Ulf May 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi Ken, thanks for this important article. You might find it interesting that the way we were educatetd here in old europe (I’m from Germany) is quite similar to what you’re writing about Guatemala. Hopefully that hasn’t changed since my time in school and university. Diversity, non-conformity and freethinking in my eyes are the best nurturing soil for freedom, growth and social peace. Planting these plantlets in childrens minds and hearts is much more important than teaching facts and figures over and over.

  14. Ken McCarthy May 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    Ulf – One of the many positive things I noticed when I visited Germany seven or eight years ago (Bonn and Cologne) was the absence of a real estate bubble. Nice homes in good neighborhoods were selling for sane prices. Meanwhile, back home, homes of junk construction in the middle of nowhere were selling for small fortunes.

    What made the difference? Finance. German banks did not going on a wild and irresponsible credit spree. They stuck to age old, proven underwriting standards and made loans that made sense.

    “Easy money” (coming from fraudulent financing or careless government handouts) doesn’t help a society. It drives up the price of the areas effected. In the case of the US, college education, medical care, and real estate.

    The real estate bubble has crashed and super-inflated medical and college costs MUST crash too. US families are slowly starting to realize that college – as it is priced now – is impossible. The medical system is a little harder to opt out of, but pioneers like Dr. Smith are showing there is another way.

    I wrote about the unsustainability of the credit bubble for System Club members back in 2005 so if anyone says that the current problems are a surprise or “came out of nowhere” you know that’s just not true. This was a predictable crisis with predictable causes. The alarming thing now is that the people and institutions responsible have been made immune from any repercussions by both parties (which is really just one party with two faces.)

    You can read the article here:

  15. Jason May 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    Ken, I’ve just assumed for a while that you were libertarian!

  16. Ken McCarthy May 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Jim: Have you ever been to Latin America?

    Yes, I read books and thank you for pointing out what I “fail to understand.”

    Every place on the planet has problems. Every place on the planet not only has history, but a dark history as well. It’s not a long drive from where I am to the site of several brutal massacres of innocent civilians – and I’m in bucolic upstate New York.

    What pristine, sinless part of the world do you live in and and more importantly how are your efforts adding to the paradise you’ve uncovered (undoubtedly through superior intellect and grasp of history.)

    As for Jorge, “the US debt is matched strictly – to the penny – by assets in the private sector.”

    So by this logic, the recent multi-trillion dollar loss in real estate values was reflected in a multi-trillion dollar diminishment of the US debt? And as the US national debt increases, private assets increase accordingly – to the penny? OK, then let’s borrow $100 trillion dollars tomorrow and we’ll all be rich.

    Come on guys.

  17. Ken McCarthy May 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm #


    Simply posting your comments over again verbatim doesn’t cut it here.

    I’ve asked you questions about your opinion and your answer is to repeat it verbatim.

    Sorry, you’re not the Pope and your utterings are not Holy Writ.

    If you’re “an almost lifelong resident there in several countries” in Latin America, then why are you still there (or why did you stay so long) if you find it such an abhorrent place.

    Further, why would you discourage people from doing their own research and if they’re inclined to check out things for “there” for themselves.

    By the way, where’s your blog? I’d like a place where I can post the same statement over and over again too.

  18. Ken McCarthy May 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    By the way, sad to report, Carlos Fuentes passed away today.

  19. Jason May 16, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    “This is very different from the case of the US, whose “debts” are denominated in dollars. And this debt is strictly–to the penny–matched by assets in the private sector.”
    Indefinite detention for that one.

    Ken never said Latin America was a Utopia. Never even said he had much hope for UFM’s vision. He might have hope, but he never stated that, only that it was a huge and worthy goal.

    I saw some ideas attributed to “Rockwell”, that are just plain wrong. I scan 5 or 6 times every week. To say that site places blame on government deficit and not bankster and Fed theft is…. ridiculous.

    I am an American with strong ties to Costa Rica. I would prefer to just work in the uS and deal with only Americans, but I believe this is a really bad time to have all one’s eggs in the uS basket. Seeking opportunities elsewhere is only prudent. We have a currency I believe MUST collapse. We have militarized local police. We are creating more enemies just as we’re headed for collapse.

  20. Russell James May 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    So glad to read your comments Ken on the danger of big government and the real state of Big brother control that is becoming more and more evident in our lives.

    I am surprised there is not even more of an uprising from the online community in relation to cispa and the like.

    The very nature of events that are transpiring in the USA, that see big corporations like Monsanto having direct links to the pockets of elected government officials. Creating monopolized food production and GMO products introduced to the food chain, that lead to persecution of non GMO farmers through seed patent ” infringements ”

    Basic rights to health care are corrupted by big Pharma ensuring that profitable legal drug trade that cause more deaths than all illegal drugs combined continue to be the mainstay of the ” healthcare ” system.

    Surely a brief look at history will reveal to an open minded person the absolute corruption of the fractional banking system and the bloated bankers that have gained access to all elements of government policy making.

    There is a sustained attack on personal freedom and independence that have all the hallmarks of despotism of the ages as the ” ruling elite ” seek absolute power. .

  21. Ken McCarthy May 18, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    We had three “different” people – “Jim”, “Jorge”, and “Sandy” – all posting from the same IP address.

    Congratulations. Your posts have been deleted.

    Anonymity is OK on this blog (for now at least.)

    Contrary opinions accompanied by some reasonable evidence and logic are welcome.

    Being an asshole is not.

    The person who is doing this lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (and it’s possible for my tech guy to drill down to exactly where…he’s working on it.)

    The funny thing about Cabo is that it’s where well-to-do gringos (and drunks) go to hang out in a golden ghetto that insulates them from the actual residents of Latin America.

    Meanwhile his posts were lecturing me on how I don’t know the “real” Latin America or what is going on there.

    I now understand why Marc Andreessen doesn’t allow posts to his blog. It’s people like this.

    Congrats Jim-Jorge-Sandy, you got to waste some of my time.

    Since legitimate discussion seems to have died down on this one, we’re closing the article to future comments on this article.

  22. Ken McCarthy May 18, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Russell – And anyone else who is interested…

    I’ve run the following web sites for years (since 2005) (since 2009)
    2ndAmemdmentTV,com (since 2011)

    I’ve been trying to do my part. We are clearly on a dark path right now.

Leave a Reply