Believe it or not, we are all entrepreneurs. Yes Tina, even those evil, evil bureaucrats working for governments and their evil, evil masters the politicians. We are all entrepreneurs because we all do as best we can looking for ourselves. Yet, every time somebody mentions the concept of entrepreneurship this idea conjures images of exploiting billionaires sipping 40 years old scotch and smoking Cuban cigars in their 30 million yacht bobbing under the Mediterranean sun.
This image is, of course, correct. Yet, there is something very wrong with it. What's wrong with it is that these types are the unusual entrepreneurs. They are far and in between. If you are seeking the prototyping entrepreneur, the real spirit of entrepreneurship you must go to very unusual places; for example the slumps and shanty towns of Brazil or Argentina. There you will see the sheer power of will and the free market at its best.
Sure. You don't believe us. Those places are known for rampant violence, murder, drug trafficking, gambling and prostitution. And you would be correct. But this image is an incomplete image; it is a magnified and distorted image. This image is so presented to you by the mainstream media because they are in search of stories to sell and successful small entrepreneurs are not a juicy story. Consider the following.
Most people living in those towns literally walked-in only with their clothes on and some of them even lacking shoes. And where are they today? Most of them have a house (which they build themselves with their own hands), they have a family with kids (which they take care as best as they can), they have some sort of business (typically selling small items such as sweets, phone cards, books, food or gadgets) and they have savings and plans for their future. How many of us can say the same?
Most of us living in "civilized" places didn't get a real job until we were at least 18 years old. Many of us continued with our education anywhere for the next 2 to 8 years meanwhile being comfortably sheltered by the wealth of our parents. And when we were done with it, we sought and found a well-paid job which allowed us to buy a house, get married and have kids. We always had a fall-back position with our parents. We never even considered waking up at 4AM in the morning to get ready to sell stuff to people for profits in the order of cents during 12 to 16 hours a day. We didn't have to beg for clothes because we could always afford more. We were never hungry or if sick we always had access to medical care. And when we married, our spouse came from pretty much the same environment. We were and continue to be the prime product of a pampered and socialist middle class. But not them.
For them it was always the free market. It was serve a product your customer wants or go hungry. It was find the best conditions or sleep on the street. It was make a deal or have no future. They are the true entrepreneurs and it shows. They built themselves from the ground up. Literally. No excuses, no pampering, no sheltering and no government hand-outs. True, their life is hard but at the same time consider their indomitable spirit; their absolute can do attitude come rain, snow or fire. They are and they represent the very spirit of entrepreneurship. Do or die. And we owe them a gigantic debt of gratitude for reminding us what it is to fight for what you need and want, never taking no for an answer. Also consider this.
These people who began in the worst possible imaginable conditions of misery have elevated themselves to impossible heights. If we would try to emulate them, we would have to become billionaires. All of us. Not a chance, right? By comparison we are but pathetic failures.
You don't believe us. That's fine. In your next trip to "exotic" places go visit a shanty town. Speak with the people. Get to know them. Let them tell you about their dreams, aspirations and hard work. Let them win you over with their work ethics. Ethics? A pimp? A prostitute? A drug dealer? A food vendor? A gadget vendor? Yes. Ethics. For the most part, they don't steal. Many such towns have even organized themselves around simple rules which they enforce. No government necessary. They earn their living by providing products other people want. They don't tax other people. They don't lie. They don't print money. They don't use weapons to enforce their point of view. All they do is to serve and in so doing their clients and they progress together. Do us a favor. Don't believe us. Go see for yourself! What, too dangerous? Sure. Go see a proxy. Talk to a priest that works with them. Day in and day out. They will tell you the same story. They are the epitome of entrepreneurship. And they put to shame all of us!
But that's too extreme, right? Very well then. We give you Bangkok, Thailand. This city known for their exuberant night life is also known for something else: their incredible entrepreneurial energy. In order to see this spirit in action all you have to do is to step on a street, any street. It will always be bustling and buzzing with vendors, deals and opportunities, many of them operating in the "informal" economy. In Bangkok you don't need a vendor's permit or a manufacturing permit or some other sort of permit because most small people simply ignore the government. You simply go and do. If your product is desirable, you will have profit. If your product is undesirable, you will have loses. Want to sell fruit? All you need is a cart, fruit and a spot on the street. That's it!
But it gets better. This spirit of can do pervades the entire city to the point that a critical mass of interconnected entrepreneurs emerges. You can find them from all walks of life and with all kinds of budgets; from a few Baths to a few million Euros. Everybody is in it and everybody is doing it. It is simply the most natural thing to do in Bangkok.
This city is a shining example of what a free market can do. Furthermore, it is a shining example of what a society who ignores the government can do. Obviously, not everybody can ignore the government but those who do, prosper! But of course, you don't believe us. Then please do believe the official unemployment numbers: 0.56%. That's right. Not 56% and not 5.6% but a stunning 0.56%. And if we now take into consideration the "informal" economy, the unemployment level drops as close to ZERO as you can possibly go. And there you have it. The power of the free market and the entrepreneurial spirit.
What you won't ever find in Bangkok are "western" politicians explaining how is it possible that in their "advanced" and "developed" countries their unemployment level is anywhere between 5 to 15% even "massaging" the numbers. And if we look at the real unemployment numbers, we find them oscillating between 25 to 40%. That's right! Not 0.25% and not 2.5% but an incredible 25%... as the lower limit! And these numbers have been achieved after many glorious decades of taxing, borrowing and printing because it was the "right thing to do" in search of "equality". Of course, the official explanation is that "a large proportion of population [is] working in subsistence agriculture or on other vulnerable employment (own-account work and unpaid family work)" and somehow this seems to be bad. Well, they are working. They are not starving. And the economy is getting better and better all the time. What it is that these procrastinators want? Instant equality? Yes! Precisely. Do as I say, not as I do. Who cares if we have been trying to achieve the same for the last… oh…100 or so years and failing miserably? You should spend because unlimited debt is good… we don't know exactly how…but it is good…
As we have explained time and time again (see for example Piketty Fences and Austrian Economics In Pictures) seeking "equality" is what got us into the pathetic economic state in which the entire world now exists. It is precisely the opposite that we require (Inequality Is The Source Of Wealth) and in so doing we will all be better off. No governments required.
But of course, Bangkok is in Thailand which is a backwards, retarded country that cannot be seriously considered. Really? Consider again.
There are more expatriates as percentage who chose to live in Thailand than anywhere in the world. Why would people flock to Thailand, a foreign country with a foreign language and a foreign culture? Because of entrepreneurial conditions. Set shop. Ignore the government. Serve your customers.
Not only that. These expat live quite well at a fraction of a cost that they would had to pay in their countries of origin. Yet another benefit of the free market. Goods and services rise and therefore prices drop. For everybody! And yes, this also benefits poor people. Actually, this benefits poor people disproportionally!
But as if that would not be enough, a large number of legitimate venture capital companies are now moving to Thailand. Incubator companies are also setting in. Need support to bring a new product or service to the market? There is an entire private infrastructure set-up to help you do just that! Some of these incubators are three generations old!
But is it all good and nice? Of course not! There is poverty and difficult subsistence for some people. However, the point is that they are far better off than any other poor people in a sinking "modern" economy. This is so because handouts won't disappear overnight as soon as the economy collapses and also because they have a true safety net called business. Their own business. If they need employment, they can always get it. That is a true guarantee of success. Not Welfare or Workfare or Employment Insurance or Government Jobs. Those are all nothing but hidden un-employment positions.
And we also have a message for those demanding to "cure" poverty in Thailand now: don't insult us. Start "curing" poverty in your own country. Take a look at the poverty levels in your country and compare it with Thailand's. You will be surprised. Thailand has about the same poverty as France, Switzerland and Canada and about half (that's right, half) the poverty as in US and Japan!
If you want to see what entrepreneurship looks like, consider Bangkok as a trip of discovery for your next vacation and discover entrepreneurship. How knows? You may even get the bug!
We, the pampered people of socialist "developed" countries have lost our entrepreneurial spirit. We didn't lose it because we are lazy and peddling money from the government, but because the government taught us that so doing is the "right thing to do". We have been brainwashed with the notion that "entrepreneurship" equals "capitalism" which equals "exploitation", when in reality it is exactly the opposite; it means progress. Want proof? Go to Thailand. See for yourself and you will see progress in motion.
But then again, perhaps you would like to see Europe. Sure, go there while it still exists. You will see decay, stagnation, rising desperation and no future. But hey! They are living the socialist dream where entrepreneurship must be heavily punished! For the greater good, of course.
Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.