Welcome to Curious Business
Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
Friday, January 15, 2016
Going Political, Part 1: The Blue Post
With the 2016 presidential primary voting coming up, I'm going to go off-topic and present one small businessman's view of the political landscape. Sure, it's a little early; although the Iowa caucuses are almost upon us, they're an irrelevant dog-and-pony show that rarely predicts the eventual outcome. Things get serious with the more relevant New Hampshire primary, and that's still a month out.
Gone are the days when Republicans and Democrats were the mirror-image Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum of American politics. People are far more polarized today, and populist movements on both sides show that the parties aren't keeping up. Some things haven't changed: Republicans are still evil and Democrats are still incompetent. But that's a choice we don't have to make until the general election, and today we're thinking about the primaries that decide which evildoer will face which incompetent boob.
In open primary states like Massachusetts, unenrolled voters (i.e., independents, the majority of the electorate) get to choose whether to take a Democratic or a Republican ballot. Are you going to take the blue pill or the red pill? Ordinarily I take whichever ballot looks more competitive. This year, the Republican primary looks wide open while the Democratic side wants you to believe that voting is just a formality. Therefore, take the Republican ballot unless you reject the Democrats' coronation narrative.
My working draft of this post tackled the Republican field first, because it's the most interesting. Being interesting, however, also makes it hard to evaluate. Since I can't endorse anyone on that side yet, I'm going to let it bake for another week and skip to the Democrats.
If you took the blue ballot, you either didn't have a choice or you reject the official narrative. The Democratic establishment would have you believe that their party is insulated from the outsider insurgency that's sweeping the GOP. The Democratic Chosen One has spent her life burnishing her resume for the presidency. The corporate, big-money, hawkish Hillary Clinton has certainly dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's to appear qualified for the Oval Office by every conventional measure. The party establishment is her lapdog. She has locked up the big money and the important endorsements. The mainstream media treats her as inevitable and shuns her rivals. By all conventional measures, she's a shoe-in. Being a woman gives her an edge with older female voters who would love to follow the first black president with the first female president. Interestingly, this historical milestone carries less weight with younger post-feminist voters because they accept it as given that a woman will be president someday. They just don't feel compelled to make that woman be Clinton.
One must also acknowledge two things, though. First, the anti-establishment sentiment sweeping voters is not neatly confined to the Republican Party. Clinton's success at sewing up the conventional path to power is, ironically, a big strike against her for a lot of people this year. Like our conservative brethren, many liberals and independents are fed up with cautious, centrist, politics as usual, and Hillary Clinton embodies mainstream convention.
Second, a lot of people really, really don't like Hillary Clinton. Scandal dogs her at every turn. She's so anti-charismatic that her disapproval rating is chronically higher than her approval. She comes off as sleazy and insincere, and she's a tightly scripted campaigner. She always seems to be one news cycle away from destruction. The DNC's united front of inevitability is not likely to survive its encounter with actual voters, and indeed the latest polls show Sanders winning New Hampshire and threatening to take Iowa.
Ah, Bernie. Running an irreligious socialist Jew is audacious and might be doomed on at least three self-explanatory levels. Yet Bernie Sanders is a very rare thing in American politics -- a man of genuine integrity whose political message has been consistent throughout a long career, and whose support is genuinely populist -- if you aren't sold on that statement, check out this profile from (of all places) Bloomberg. Unlike Clinton, Sanders isn't for sale. He takes no corporate money and doesn't have a super PAC. Electing Bernie Sanders would be a grassroots political revolution similar to what's happening on the Republican side, but without all the hate and fear and crazy talk. Think of him as the Bizarro Anti-Trump.
The choice on the Democratic side is stark and therefore easy to make. If you want another conventional centrist administration with an interventionist foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is your candidate. If the status quo is treating you well and you're already in the top 5% or you aspire to the oligarchy, then Hillary solidly represents your interests. If, on the other hand, you believe that it's time to transform our New Gilded Age into a New Progressive Era through peaceful revolution, then you have to choose Bernie. It's really that clear.
You probably guessed that this struggling one-man corporation is squarely behind the socialist Bernie Sanders.
Next week I'll force a conclusion on the messier Republican side.
Sales were remarkably good this week, especially since most of my ads were turned off most of the time. My spend is down to $25 a day or less -- still over budget at $750 a month, but I can cope if sales keep coming like they did this week. Last week's deficit is more than erased and I only need modest business for the rest of the month to beat last January. I need to do better than that if I'm going to survive the spring, but a couple more weeks like this one would do the trick.
Yesterday I finally took the Metal Earth plunge that I've been threatening for weeks. $600 bought me the minimum that I need to support the joint venture that I told you about. I could easily have spent $1,000 more, and I'll need to go back to the well next month if the promotion works. The resulting debt will dog me for at least a couple of months. If this experiment flops, then this inventory and the debt that comes with it will still be with me until Christmas, assuming I can last that long.