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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Let's Call It What It Is
By Paul Tomori
Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 12:59:09 (EDT)

If you call a dog's tail a leg, how many legs does that dog have?


Nope. Four. The dog still just has four legs no matter what you call his tail.

You see words manipulated frequently in order to try to mold perceptions. Is the clothing "vintage" or is it "used". It's used. Is the lady really "curvaceous"? Or is she fat? Ummm... I am not answering that one!

Either way, it seems to be human nature to dress up something that has a negative connotation in its name by just changing the name.

But to paraphrase Shakespeare, a rose by any other name is still a rose... (and so is a thorn a thorn).

Here we are in a casino age. Governments have caught on that Vegas doesn't need to be the only "game" in town - they can have their own casinos in their own backyards. Heck, it's profitable. Voluntary taxation. But, you know what the government calls the casino industry? They call it "gaming". But let's face it. There isn't really a "game" here and there isn't anything productive about it. It's about gambling... pure and simple. It is a transfer of wealth from one entity to another (usually from a gambler to the house). I am strong believer that people should be allowed to make their own decisions about how they spend their time and money, so I am not anti-casino... Many decent people obviously enjoy it and for most, it is not specifically addictive or harmful. It just ain't for me... at least not philosophically and I for one will never lose a dime in a casino.

I have been several times to casinos here and in Vegas. All those people... sitting idly... dropping coins into machines that rarely give back. It occurred to me the other night that if we could simply harness all that human power (physical and mental) sitting at the blackjack tables and slot machines, etc... AND if we took their capital that those people put forth each day... AND if we concentrated those dollars into an investment... AND if we concentrated all that human potential into a productive output... WOW... think of what could be accomplished. All that is needed is someone to organize the people and their money. What we need are more entrepreneurs to have lofty visions (and pragmatic plans).

Instead, we lament the advancement of the Chinese "at our expense" (I don't subscribe to that point of view by the way).

However, wealth is not a zero-sum game. If some group of people in China produces a product, they do NOT do so specifically at the expense of a group of people elsewhere in the world. Usually, it is apathy or passivity that leads to services being outsourced abroad. If we are losing here in North America, we should really look at where we do our shopping... For example, the majority of products at Wal-Mart are not produced in North America.

And what I mean by passivity is this: Does the composer of a piece of music prepare something at the expense of the wanna-be song-writer who hangs out in coffee shops just talking about the songs he will write? Really, is the non-song-writer deprived in any way by the songwriter? In fact, if he is deprived at all, he is self-deprived.

The answer is a given... Human productivity is limitless. In fact, we have an edge in North America over the Chinese, because we have already advanced to the next level of productivity: knowledge work. We do not have to toil like we used to, but the onus IS on us to actually concentrate our efforts and cash and exert some mental energy. Is the loss of a factory job a bad thing? It depends... The answer is "yes", if the workers don't take it upon themselves to graduate to knowledge work. Again, the onus is on them. Some do it and prosper. Others don't. I don't know much about it, but I suspect it comes down to whether they feel entitled to keep toiling at a job that has been terminated or whether they are instead intrigued about advancing themselves. No doubt it gets more difficult to re-invent oneself after 25 years at a factory job, but it is not impossible. The upside is the potential for pride and prosperity. What are the downsides? Thinking. Learning. I like to think that such an upside is a strong motivator against any downside.

Certainly, there is an economic element to those who find themselves let go. Hopefully, they haven't lived hand-to-mouth for their whole working lives... Hopefully, they have put away some cash to get them through the steps needed to advance themselves. The challenge for them is to ward off depression about their losses. The challenge for them is to avoid easy escapes that devour their time and mental resources... and cash. The place for them to avoid is the casino.

It doesn't help that they are drawn into "gaming" their capital resources away, does it? So, let's call it what it is... it's gambling... And gambling is not for the disenfranchised. For them gambling is the gift that keeps taking. Same goes for the lotteries. They are "gifts" from the government that we don't really need. So here's a call to action. The next time you feel like venturing out to the casino, hit the bookstore instead. Spend that cash on a stack of books... you know... biographies of successful people perhaps. Then, figure out a better plan for your time and embrace your potential. Don't squander it one quarter at a time.

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