Simon Black….from Sri Lanka…Notes From the field……e-mail

In Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Interesting places, Money and Finances, Opportunity, Travel on November 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Sovereign Man
Notes from the Field

Date: November 2, 2010
Reporting From: Colombo, Sri Lanka

My sister recently sent along this quote from Houseboat, the 1958 movie starring the always-lovely Sophia Loren. Given the circumstances, I thought it appropriate:

Sophia Loren: Perhaps I will get a job.

Her Father: A job?

Sophia: Yes! A job. A job.

Her Father: I have given you the finest education in all of Europe…You do not know how to do anything.

Sophia: Then perhaps, Father, I will run for the Congress.

It’s cute, but true. The state of the modern political system, whether in the United States or anywhere else for that matter, is that our government halls are littered with candidates who have no real world experience or skills.

Few, if any, have started a business, practiced a trade or profession, saved lives, developed works of science or engineering, created art, traveled extensively, managed investments, or any other worthy endeavor which actually contributes something of value.

I don’t find it much of a skill to be able to confiscate the wealth of others, blow most of it, borrow even more, and distribute what remains in such a way as to benefit one’s own position.

Perhaps the real skill is being able to convince voters that politicians are a necessary part of life, and that they can make better decisions about what to do with our money than you or I can.

Even more, despite such a dismal track record they’re able to convince people that they should be honored; we have statues and monuments to forever memorialize dead politicians, and children’s history books are filled with glowing tales of presidential deeds, completely devoid of any objectivity.

Nearly every country on the planet has holidays to commemorate their leaders; just recently, the Argentine government forcibly shut down the entire country to pay tribute to Nestor Kirchner, the recently-deceased former president.

Here in Sri Lanka, the sitting president Mahinda Rajapaksa even had the arrogance to put his own likeness on the national currency. This is the sort of pathological narcissism that is emblematic of politicians– they feel that regal privilege and authority is their divine right.

When I pose these views to new acquaintances, people typically push back with, “yeah well what’s the alternative– a world with no government? That would be total chaos.”

Look at our existing system– we have a small group of serially incompetent men who make self-serving decisions which frustrate the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. If that’s not chaos, what is?

Regardless of the constant voting day hoopla that has saturated TV airwaves, newspaper headlines, and the Internet, I really don’t think it’s going to matter what happens in the US election today… but here’s what does matter: we do.

We don’t have any control over the political process, the direction that our home country is headed, or which corrupt politician is bombing civilians and indebting future generations. But we have total control over ourselves and how we choose to spend our time and energy.

Rather than relying on politicians to fix the big picture, we can rely on ourselves to improve our individual situations. Often this may entail unique, out of the box solutions that depart from the norm.

If you’re looking to build wealth, I’ve long believed that there are fortunes to be made in developing markets where growth is rapid and the society is becoming wealthier by the day. Many of these countries are long on potential, but short on expertise, and they need experienced foreigners to help manage the opportunities.

Sri Lanka is a great example. The post-war economy is seeing an influx of foreign capital, and the place is crawling with Chinese entrepreneurs and Asian investors.

I’ll be discussing my specific ideas about Sri Lanka much more in this month’s Sovereign Man: Confidential, but at a high level, I really see this as a land of opportunity where fortunes can be made.

Again, this would be a significant departure from the norm, and it’s the type of idea that usually draws harsh criticism from naysayers. Friends and family will think that you’re crazy, and others will chime in with comments about why it’s foolhardy.

Bear in mind, these are the same folks who will be standing in line to cast their ballots and actually expecting something to change in their own lives. Sometimes, going against the herd mentality can make all the difference in the world.

Until tomorrow,

Simon Black
Senior Editor,


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