When I first visited these United States back in 1982, one of the immediate things I noticed was the sheer size of the market.
I don’t think that people outside the U.S. can quite comprehend the scale of industry of all kinds that native-born Americans pretty much take for granted, if they think about it at all. After the Great Wetback Episode of ’86, I remember watching TV in Longtime Friend Trevor’s place, and snorting with laughter at some car dealer whose claim to fame was that he was “The Largest Chev-lay Truck Dealer in South-East Texas” or some such puffery, and wondering why the geographical area was so tightly defined. As it happened, the dealership was a little outside San Antonio, and one evening I and a few others drove south for an evening’s carousing and passed said Chev-lay dealer’s place.
It was the largest car dealership I’d ever seen. It seemed as though the lot contained well over a thousand cars and trucks, and I was completely gobsmacked. By chance, one of the group was involved in a car dealership — I think in advertising — back in Austin, so I asked her how many times this guy was likely to turn his stock over in a year, thinking that it might take at least a year or maybe even two to sell it all. When she said, “About four or five times a year”, I could not believe her. That would involve selling about 5,000 vehicles a year, or roughly 15 vehicles per day, every single business day of the year. And this was one dealer in a small town (as San Antonio was still back then) — and of course we passed dozens of dealers on our way into town.
Similar discoveries lay ahead — such as the fact that Jewel supermarkets in Chicago was larger in both size and sales than the national chain I’d just left in South Africa (OK Bazaars, for those with long memories) — and just about every week brought more and more.
I ran into a fellow consultant in Chicago, a Belgian who was making a very good living in South America by selling a piece of software he’d discovered in France, and whose franchise he’d purchased for the international (outside Europe) market, as the Frogs weren’t interested in selling outside their home territory. It was the only one of its kind in Europe, so after setting up the easy business in South America, he decided that it was time to try and crack open the U.S. market. He attended an industry conference in Miami, and found to his horror that not only did he have competition, but he had lots of competition from companies selling almost the identical product, and at several different points on the pricing scale withal. He stood absolutely no chance of success, so he slunk back to South America, tail between his legs.
This country is enormous. The scale of business and the size of the market simply boggles the mind, and it’s no surprise that when the Euros try to bully us into using metric, for instance, we can them them to piss off because outside the sciences and drug dealers, the U.S. market prefers to work with Imperial units, thank you very much, and the U.S. market is big enough for the rest of the world, in most cases, not to matter.
I told you all that so I could talk about this.
Via Insty, as usual, I read an interesting article entitled A Nation Divided, which bemoans the fact that not only are we facing a permanent political divide between Right and Left, but we run the risk losing our conservative voice by falling under a Big Tech monopoly as well:
Now, Apple, Amazon, and Google are teaming up to make life extra difficult for Parler, a right-leaning alternative to Twitter. Apple and Google are removing it from their app stores while Amazon, who has been hosting the site, is yanking their hosting.
Now, Parler will migrate over to someone else and be back up and running soon enough, but it’s still troubling. Especially with people being de-platformed and then some of the biggest in the tech industry doing everything they can to shut down the alternative.
I doubt that. Remember that when Roger Ailes came up with Fox News, his selling point to Murdoch was the simplest ever: “Half the market.”
At some point, the Left is going to run away with itself. That outlets like Gab and Parler even exist in the face of a near-monopoly like Twitter shows that half the market is still there to be had.
Okay, to put on my marketing wizard’s pointy hat for a moment: not quite half the market because conservatives have better things to do with their time — like holding down a real job — than to fuck around in a glorified chat room 24/7, but remember what I said above: even a third of the U.S. market is a huge number, and perfectly capable of supporting not only a competitor to Twitter, but to Facebook, GoDaddy and [gasp] even Amazon. Think I’m mistaken about the last? Remember when Kmart was the market leader in mass merchandisers? Not so popular now, are they, thanks to Walmart. Think Walmart is too big to fail? Say hello to Amazon.
And if there’s one thing anyone can bet the house on, it’s that at some point a competitor to Amazon will arise, and put them out of business. After all, General Motors was once the Big Cheese of automotive manufacturing, but as little as a decade ago, they required a government bailout to keep their doors open and since then they haven’t exactly gone back to their position of market eminence.
And apart from crappy financial management, the one thing that causes all big enterprises to fail eventually is losing touch with their market, whether in spirit or by the market changing to a different model.
I showed just the tiniest bit of this a couple of days ago when I talked about disentangling myself from Big Tech, Big Retail and Amazon. Sure, I’m just one guy. But let’s just think about what would happen if the 75 million Trump voters like me did exactly what I was doing — individuals and conservative-minded businesses alike. I would also venture to suggest that when it comes to the conservative market, 75 million is a massive underestimation.
As to who would actually fund all this… I would suggest that Elon Musk is not the only billionaire in town — hell, a bunch of old boys at the Houston Cattleman’s Annual Ball in Houston could probably buy the New York Times with the change rattling around in their pockets, if they wanted to. (FYI, if Mexico’s Carlos Slim wanted continued access just to the Texas market, he’d probably sell his share of the NYT in a NY minute.)
Size matters. There is sufficient size in this country, whether geography, population or commerce, to support two competing visions of America. Would it be easy? Nobody said it would be, but if there’s one thing I have faith in, it’s in that restless American spirit which once said, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…” and I think you know the rest.
Let me also offer the words of John Adams, who when he realized the immensity of the task ahead and the purpose and intellectual powers required, cried: “We have not men sufficient for the times!” Whereupon Jefferson, Madison, Hancock, Washington and several others said, “Hold my beer.”
We also have men sufficient for our time. They just haven’t been motivated enough, yet. But they will be.
Unlike the earlier men, though, the only impediment we face is not external (George III, Russia!!), but internal. That would be when the Left attempts to prevent such a severing, or suppressing competition by passing a series of laws forbidding such.
Allow me then to quote, or rather paraphrase the words of George Washington when he was asked why he was preparing a number of boats to cross the Delaware at midnight on Christmas Eve:
“We are going to murder our enemies in their sleep.”