Topical Tales of Trade


Do you know that there is virtually no difference between conventional soap and antibacterial soap? The traditional soap bar, which hasn't changed since the 1940's, kills as many germs as the antibacterial bar. But we don't believe that. We are convinced that every domestic surface is teeming with salmonella, E coli and other threatening diseases that require not just any soap but antibacterial soap to get rid of. Guess who made us believe that.

In the year 1916 Stanley B Resor took over the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. He believed that constructing fear and then provide the product solution was the key for modern consumerism. The then completely unknown Listerine mouthwash was one of the first to receive this special treatment.
Jane has a pretty face. Men notice her lovely figure but never linger long. Jane has halitosis: bad breath. If only she used Listerine mouthwash.
Half of what we buy, we buy because we are persuaded we need or want it, not because we actually need or want it.


But fear does not only sell. It can also destroy. In Europe fear of a flu-like virus is momentarily crushing the aviation industry, the leisure sector, the real-life art and entertainment sector, the hospitality sector, and with the hospitality sector closed so the high street and its shops will be crushed.
With the above sectors closed others like big online retailers, the tech companies, and online entertainment companies benefit greatly. So do producers of soap, face masks and other protective gear and last but not least the pharmaceutical industry.
Thus far the pharmaceutical industry had to content itself with providing one-off vaccines to new-borns and annual flu jabs to the old and vulnerable. But this new fear not only wipes out competing sectors like the leisure sector and the arts which cater for health and well-being in alternative ways (read more about this in An Awesome Meal  >>), this fear also opens up the vaccine market to a much wider part of population.
Stories are already circulating that immunity against this virus only lasts about 6 months necessitating more frequent vaccinations than once a year.


America & Guns
Glossy adverts and calendars, slick in-store presentation...
In The Gunning of America, Pamela Haag shoots down the myth that America's infatuation with guns grew organically from its early history.
It is not a direct inheritance from revolutionaries, settlers, cowboys and Indian fighters in the 18th and 19th century, she argues, but a consequence of mass production and innovative marketing in the early 1900s. "One answer to the question of why Americans love guns is simply that the gun industry invited us to," Haag writes.

"Gun violence was rarer than is widely imagined on the frontier, where other methods of killing were common, including poisoning - especially with arsenic - along with throat-slitting, stabbing, and beating with fists, or with objects such as pump handles or hammers." Settlers also tended to spurn fancy new weapons that fired multiple shots and choose more durable muskets.

Haag explores how aggressive entrepreneurs like Oliver Winchester, Samuel Colt, Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson entered an industry that in the mid-19th century looked more like a branch of agricultural supply. Business boomed during the Civil War but dried up afterwards. The international market saved the gun companies, with Winchester earning two thirds of his 1867 revenues in Mexico, Chile and Peru, and Smith & Wesson securing a contract to supply 250,000 revolvers to imperial Russia in the 1870s.

However, by the start of 20th century the overseas business was also in decline. The Winchester Repeating Arms Company and others responded by carving out new domestic markets for firearms among peaceful urban Americans.
Glossy adverts and calendars, slick in-store presentation, and the rise of pulp fiction about heroic gunmen helped to foster a romanticised history of the West.
Associations with American masculinity were played up, but women were also appealed to. An advert in The Outing magazine in 1914 stated: "Any woman can learn how to use a Smith&Wesson in a few hours... she will no longer feel a sense of helplessness when male members of the family are absent." Direct mail shots were aimed at three million boys aged 10 to 16, and a network of shooting clubs for boys was created.

Today an estimated 300 million firearms in circulation kill more than 30,000 Americans a year.
Report by Ben Hoyle
in the 'The Times', Saturday May 14, 2016
"One measure of wheat for a tenner
and three measures of barley for a tenner,
but don't harm the olive tree or grape vine."

The Bible, Revelation 6:2
Barter, trade and commerce shouldn't destroy peace (the olive tree) or lessen and curtail abundance (grape vine). Yet, yesterday it did destroy peace and left many impoverished. Today it is even worse. It is the age of thieves and conmen.
This world has sunk into mendacity
and everybody toils.

All things of the world
are useless and bear useless fruits.

There are no friends.
There are no brothers
since everybody seeks his own advantage

The Teachings of Silvanus
The Nag Hammadi Library
A businessman I know always keeps fresh flowers on his desk, insisting they are a wise investment. In silent eloquence they exert their influence. "It is difficult to think mean or selfish thoughts in the presence of flowers," he says. "They help a gentleman to be gentle."
In the Little Gazette


Fair and square...
The wheels of fear have been set in motion, crushing whole industries and sectors. Borders have been closed but the wheels don't stop for borders, they carry on regardless leaving behind piles of debts and mass redundancies.
If history is anything to go by most governments will respond to this situation by increasing taxes. Before they do they might want to have a look at Estonia.

Estonia, a small European country on the Baltic Sea with a population of 1.3 million, has one of the most transparent and efficient tax systems in the world.

Personal and corporate income tax are paid at a flat rate of 20%. Corporate tax is paid only when the company distributes dividends, meaning that as long as profits are ploughed back into the business no tax is due. Loopholes are practically non-existent.
And as businesses are only taxed on paid-out profits they do not need a separate, complex system for tax accounting.

The whole process is cheap, not only for businesses. It costs the country €0.40 for every €100 collected. That is half the average for the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Could this well be not only the simplest, most transparent and efficient tax system but also the fairest?
The argument for progressive taxation originally rested on the perception that the achievements of individuals, including their financial rewards, were always dependent on the collective operation of society. Whether that was in the form of infrastructure, the public order and legal system or of shared knowledge, cultural resources and moral attitudes. It did not just involve the assertion that those who have more can spare more. By progressive taxation society was to reclaim some of what it had created.
However right or wrong or well intended that might have been it does not take into account that we humans are naturally extremely loss averse. We hate it if we first get 2 coins only for one to be taken away again.
Governments worldwide have largely by-passed this problem by deducting the tax before our wages reach our bank account. Now, we just never get to hold the full 2 coins we earned.
The rich, however, who make their money in all kinds of ways, do get to hold their 2 coins and like any of us they don't like it very much that they have to give one back again. So, they look for the loopholes, have the money to find them and eventually don't have to give that one coin back making the whole progressive taxation system redundant. "But that isn't fair!" society shouts.
But instead of realising that progressive taxation goes against human nature and will therefore never work the way it was meant to be, more and more time and money is spent on trying to make it work. And who will pay for that?
It is not only the financial burden society has to carry. It is also an emotional burden as with all these attempts a lot of negativity drifts into the society giving all kind of bad feelings and forces free reign under a banner of fairness and justice. This has the potential to undermine all that is good within a society and could even lead to a collapse of its sophistication and civilisation. And that then would only be fair.

Top-Notch Tips for Savers

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Bad Career Choices

An up-to-date list
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The smelliest job I ever had was packing slightly gone off coley for cats.
The fishermen's wives who worked at the factory were great. They would smoke in the toilets on their breaks, telling filthy jokes and howling with laughter. I loved that job.

The cleanest job I ever had was packing princess dolls for children.
We had to wear a light-blue uniform, a matching light blue cap and an identity card to tell who was who. The women worked diligently towards the set production targets and waited silently for the end of the week when they were allowed to see their husbands and children for a day. I almost died there.

The Tale of the Mexican Fisherman

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The profit motive, if carried to the extreme, has one
certain result - the ultimate death of the land.

Henry Fairfield Osborn in his book 'Our Plundered Planet'

Waste not, Want not

Side effects of an economic downturn
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Other Topical Tales  >>

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