A population that endures centuries of persecution eventually evolves to be pretty damn wily. Each successive generation gets sneakier, trickier, uniquely problematic.
I’m speaking, of course, about gophers. After futzing with old-school Macabee traps and digging enough trenches to destroy an entire lawn, I found this GopherHawk device on Amazon. Works great, clean kills. Only problem is, my gophers show up in droves, and the trap gets bent out of shape after a few uses.
Then I found the Chinese gopher trap knockoffs.
The sentimental part of me thinks I ought to support honest American small business. The rational part of me understands that The World is Flat, Patriotism is the new Racism, and the Chinaman shilling knockoffs from Shenzhen is just as deserving of my dollars as any American worker.
People complain about big tech monopolies and their greedy platforms: Amazon charges an average of 15% commission for seller listings, plus another 30% of the item’s price for fulfillment. Apple and Google take 30% of app revenue in their app stores.
Why is that a problem? Maybe 30% is an extortionate cut, but sellers could simply pass the cost onto consumers, like they do with any other tariff. The thing that prevents a price increase is the fact that American retailers will be undercut by overseas merchants Every. Single. Time.
There are online courses on how to dress up wholesale Alibaba garbage with a swanky ad, then drop-ship the lot to an Amazon warehouse. Your margin is my opportunity, says the intermediary for Chinese wholesalers.
Same with the app store: Got a killer app? Clones are sure to follow.
The only type of app that can still turn a profit is something like Spotify, which itself is a monopolistic platform. While Spotify complains about Apple’s innovation-stifling fees, musical artists complain about Spotify’s oppressive take.
Why does anyone even bother making anything anymore?
If you’re gonna make something, make it rent-taking. Manufacturing is dead and not coming back, but there is one place where we still have a competitive edge: Capitalism. In America, anyone can finance anything, from used cars to pants to an 8-year degree in humanities.
Rents on real estate make up 13% of our GDP. Foreign investors have pushed Bay Area home prices beyond middle class affordability, but online platforms open up investment opportunities in bustling metropolitan areas from Memphis, Tennessee to Gary, Indiana.
Memphis residents who find themselves priced out of the local housing market can become absentee landlords in Mozambique or Tajikistan. That’s right, a rising flood of cheap capital lifts all boats. Instead of producing anything of value, we’ll find new ways to intermediate and extract. That’s American Exceptionalism!