Reclaiming Independence: Discovering the Lost Duties of Leadership

Chapter 6 – Capitalism

Unique ideas come from unique perspective, and unique perspective comes from unique experience. If my own unique experiences have spawned any unique ideas worth sharing, they would be my ideas for the future of our economy. I very much believe in capitalism; however, I also believe that America has not been operating as a capitalist society for quite some time, and although it remains the closest example of capitalism, its shortcomings present the very opportunities for communist ideology to persist as a reasonable alternative for many Americans.

You might have a job, a house or even a degree, but all of them only come with the expense of servitude, either to a boss exploiting your talent for their own personal profit or to a bank making ungodly amounts of money on your mortgage or student loans. This system has left more than half of all Americans with less than five-hundred dollars in their bank while simultaneously widening the income and wealth gaps in America. Sure, we’re not all starving and, yes, advancements in technology make life easier than before; but that doesn’t mean the way we’re doing things is just, and everyone who knows anything about capitalism will agree, capitalism requires justice.

I was twenty-two years old when my journey to understand capitalism began, one that would take more than a decade for me to fully wrap my head around, and one I will attempt to condense into a reasonable number of words. It all started for me around my time as a soldier ending in 2005, when I suffered a collapsed lung in Iraq that nearly cost me my life. I also had a gruesome leg injury that required two surgeries, four back operations, and three stomach surgeries, as well. Ultimately, it was the culmination of these injuries while serving that amounted to my unexpected retirement.

To that point, my military service was the only thing I had to hang my hat on. I was eighteen when I signed up for the Army, having already spent nearly two years on my own, struggling to pay rent, finish high school, and just survive. Joining the military was an opportunity to get my feet on some solid footing instead of continuing the undisciplined, poverty-stricken lifestyle that had been set up for me from the start of my life. But not only that, there was a level of pride that came to a soldier after 9/11, a day everyone who lived to see will always remember.

Although I only have history as my guide, the amount of American patriotism following the fall of those towers can only be matched by the united effort our nation displayed after the attack at Pearl Harbor. It was indeed a required time for war, something we universally agreed on; albeit incorrectly. In the moment, I was able to see us as the good guys and them as the bad guys; and, as a lost and confused young man searching desperately for purpose and meaning in his life, fighting against terrorists to protect my country was a value proposition that was easy to fall in love with.

I was so dedicated to my service that just nine days before I found myself sucking for air, I had re-enlisted for another five years. I didn’t have a clue what to do outside of the Army, but I still had to figure out what I was going to do with my life beyond the military. I spent another eighteen months in the Army only because it took that long for the doctors to clear me from a medical standpoint. But almost immediately upon being released from my three-week stay in a tent hospital in the middle of Iraq, I started considering what I needed to do to prepare myself for life after service.

I remained in Iraq because doctors wouldn’t clear me to fly home after my collapsed lung. So, with nothing else to do, I enrolled in college online and opened up an E-trade account to begin learning about the stock market. I was good with numbers, and always interested in Wall Street, but really had no idea how it all worked aside from the basic understanding of ownership and the prospect of selling for more than I paid to buy. I didn’t have a clue what valuations were or how projections were even thought of, but what I did have was time on my hands and a fat bank account from a recent sign-on bonus I had received, on top of the savings being deployed forces an unmarried soldier to collect.

The first trade I ever made was a buy of around one hundred thousand shares of a company called Pacific Sands, with a ticker of PFSD. In my initial assessment of what to even start looking to buy, I had the dumb idea that the cheaper the stock, the more beneficial it had the potential to be. Buying larger quantities of a super cheap stock meant that price didn’t have to move much for me to realize a serious profit, so I began to comb pink sheet penny stocks in hopes of finding one to take a chance on. With literally nothing other than historical price charts to find a trend, I came across PFSD, a company that had a history of volatility, but the one I ultimately decided to buy.

At seven cents a share, I made a $7,000 buy, and by pure luck, the price shot to twenty-two cents just days later. I think my average sell price was twenty-one cents per share; but nevertheless, with over twenty grand in my account I was bursting with confidence. I was naively convinced of my apparent discovery to the innerworkings of Wall Street, only for it to wither away slowly over the next year as I lost every penny of that twenty grand, foolishly trying to repeat my earlier success. I wasn’t mad I lost the money because the moment I opened my account I considered every penny I put in there to be for experimentation only, so there was never an emotional attachment to the loss. But it was a reckoning for me that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was, one that motivated me to begin studying, not just the stock market, but business and the economy in general.

It wasn’t until 2012, when I began investing at an institutional level, before I started understanding the greed and deception that controls our financial systems. I stopped working for the government because part of my determination to deal with the PTSD I was experiencing was removing myself entirely from the things I used to do, which meant I had to find a completely new career path. Fortunately for me, investing had been a hobby of mine for a good six years by then, and I had self-taught myself into rather impressive investment performance results, at least percentage wise.

I enjoyed reading financial statements, early on like a puzzle, but as time passed more like a picture painted before me. I loved analyzing companies, following each rabbit hole every unique circumstance became and predicting what it meant to a stock or the market. I didn’t have a degree and was a few credits shy of an Associate from the online classes I took while in the Army, but I knew the market well enough to have gotten all the Series 65’s and 7’s and whatever other nonsense licenses they made me get, so I felt confident applying at an investment firm. I was hired by the only firm I applied to, and the reason I chose to start there was because the perception they created to me. I was really struggling with the guilt and regret of Iraq and Afghanistan by then, and one of the commitments I made to myself was getting away from the hostilities, returning to the normal world and focusing on doing something, anything, in a way that I could feel was helping those around me.

Now I’d name the firm I worked for, but they’re all the same so there’s no point. Going into the job I was led to believe that I’d be seeking out those within my community to help them. I’d help them understand how the complicated world of finance works, I’d help them make rational decisions that took both their financial health and personal desires into consideration, and I’d help people be more comfortable in their own lives, at least financially. Unfortunately, the job had nothing to do with helping people; rather, it was a confidence scheme designed to collect assets and sell people their own money. I was given a new office with an assistant and a lucrative two-year guaranteed salary, along with endless commission potential. I had no boss or supervisor, set my own scheduled, and aside from easy-to-obtain minimum thresholds, faced little oversight. But they didn’t just hand the job over, first I was required to complete a series of corporate training seminars with other financial advisors from around the country, something I almost couldn’t stomach to make it through.

I’m a numbers guy, and I thought I would be figuring out how to create the best solutions for my clients, but what they really taught me is how to talk to them. The job had nothing to do with the investment and everything to do with how comfortable I could become at convincing other people to give me their money. I nearly lost my job during a phone training session when the instructor required us to call a prospective client and say exactly, “Is now a good time, or do you only have a minute?” I refused, citing my inability to speak so disrespectfully to another person for such sinister purposes.

They pulled me out of the session and took me to another office where, like a kid facing the principal, threats were made that if I couldn’t complete the training, I wouldn’t be able to stay with the company. I told them I that wasn’t a problem and riddled them with the notion that me speaking those exact words had nothing to do with my ability to provide concern and care for my clients. I was steadfast in my assertion it was absurd to demand this of me, and according to the contract I signed, this in no way negated them from the obligations they’ve already committed to me. I was allowed to return to training, but I became known as a troublemaker, and they didn’t make my subsequent stay with the company any easier.

Their idea was simple: get old people to like you, and once they do, they’ll do whatever you say. The best way to get them to like you is with words, so say this or say that. If they reply this, you can say that; or if they reply that, you can say this. That is literally all it was. No capital management pricing theory, no put option downfall protection strategy training, rather weeks of teaching everyone to say, “With the money you have you should buy some today.”

I left that firm as soon as it was financially viable for me to do so. As much as I didn’t like the shit they shined into gold and sold to me, I had committed myself financially and needed to ensure I could take care of my family before jumping onto the next thing. I eventually opened my own investment firm, where I still had to convince people to give me their money, but I also did it for a scheduled fee rather than commissions and provided the history of my investment performance so that my clients knew my record as an investor, the only way investment advising should exist.

I created a series of model portfolios that I could replicate to my clients’ accounts, according to their individual needs. Much like a mutual fund does, I collected a range of assets that I bundled into hypothetical portfolios and allocated either a dollar amount or a percentage of a client’s assets to replicate, allowing me to focus on the investments separately from considering the needs of my clients while offering the opportunity to curtail specific plans for each. It’s how any investment advising should be done, and the way these large firms were doing it is most certainly unjust.

To them, it isn’t about the financial well-being of their clients, it’s only about collecting the assets and having them on the books. The game wasn’t created to offer opportunities to real Americans, nor was Robinhood or Coinbase or any of these digital brokerage houses building apps for the purpose of giving more people an equal opportunity to invest. That’s the side game they need ordinary Americans to play, while the actual game is leveraging the assets they’ve collected for all kinds of purposes, not just the commissions.

I’d be invited to these multi-million-dollar corporate get-togethers at luxurious beach resorts, where we could discuss the challenges and successes of business. It was all paid for with either money the company “earned” from client fees and commission, or, worse, from a sponsorship with insurance companies and mutual funds, millions of dollars at a time. They considered these moments crucial to the development of advisors, but they were nothing more than circle jerk sessions, complete with award ceremonies and theme songs. I was under the impression that they were mandatory to attend, but the moment I found out they weren’t I never went to another one, further pitting me as an outcast within the firm.

I was always astonished to be the only advisor among the fifty or so in my region that could look at the situation and see how we’re clearly not engaged in the fiduciary responsibilities we’ve pledged to our clients. We were already playing a con game of convincing confused people that the mutual fund we were going to put their money into was better than the mutual fund they had their money in already, although they were essentially the same. But going to these getaways was something far worse than that. It was appalling to see the firm spend millions of dollars, solely derived from our clients, so that we can go to five-star resorts a week at a time, all fifty of us together, and tell each other how great we are for what we were doing.

And the conversations were always the same, never about the economy, sector analysis or anything investment related, only about ways to make the sale. Basically, it was a collaboration of grime; those not smart enough to be doctors or lawyers but who found a way to latch themselves onto the system in a way that can produce the kind of lifestyle that comes with substantive, hard work. We didn’t even have anything to sell; there’s no car or refrigerator, and no one is helping a customer to the lot with a flatscreen. A client only pays for an idea, one delivered to them via well thought-out, skillfully crafted, probably used-before, words from a person extensively trained to say them.

I was able to build some great relationships with my clients, though, by being honest with them and sharing my ideas of navigating such a corrupt system while maintaining integrity. Many of them left to become clients at my new firm, where I provided them with a much better version of myself than I could have ever been before, also at a cheaper cost. To be honest, if I wasn’t such an analytical person, I probably could have convinced myself to be happy doing what I was doing. I was making plenty of money, and I had assets coming in faster than I expected; so, if the goal was to find success, I was well on my way.

But I’ve always had the freedom to explore and take risks, a luxury my military retirement afforded me; and I am far from afraid of doing what I know to be right even when it’s uncommon or unexpected. So, when I become interested in something, there was rarely ever anything to hold me back from engulfing myself into it out of shear curiosity. It’s how I got interested in, and involved with, ridesharing in the first place. I officially launched DriveSociety, Inc. in 2015 with the promise to provide the drivers with their fair share. My thesis was that the rideshare business model is only economically sustainable under the conditions where the equity associated to the company’s value is distributed as a portion of compensation to the drivers.

Uber’s and Lyft’s business models essentially transferred the collective value of their drivers’ vehicles into the value of their company over time through a series of transactions that traditionally occur during a taxi ride. They’d hook drivers into seeing an opportunity, then trap them into committing more time to driving by instituting price cuts. Then, once their car craps out, they forget about the driver completely and move onto the next schmuck they can convince to lose their job, money, and car so that the company can reach profitability. And the only way Uber and Lyft grew was by convincing large, institutional investors of the huge payoff that comes with reaching these objectives.

Prior to 2015, rideshare companies lost billions of dollars each year, requiring multiple multi-billion-dollar cash injections. They spent most of these funds on incentive packages for drivers, convincing them to give up their careers and drudge of everyday life to start working for themselves. Those who took the first leaps of faith were rewarded handsomely for it early on, too. It wasn’t unheard of for a driver to make thousands per week driving other people around town in their own car, not bad at all. But as ridesharing grew in popularity there became strategic growth-related reasons for companies to start dropping the fares.

I spoke with hundreds of Uber drivers, many who drove from the first day they launched in Tampa, all with the same story. Most gave up stable, decent waged jobs for the opportunity to work for themselves and made over a hundred thousand dollars in their first year. As a result, they bought new cars with a bigger payment than they’d otherwise be comfortable with, and, soon after, began to struggle bringing in half what they started out making. Then, more than a year out of the workforce, they became unable to find jobs in their previous fields, either outmaneuvered by younger talent that entered the workforce or viewed as an untrustworthy prospective employee who won’t see things through. In the end, they were all stuck driving longer hours for less money as a means of survival. That was in 2015, and today the situation for drivers isn’t any better.

Technically, with the amount of cars and drivers that exists, Uber and Lyft will never stop finding new people to sign up, but that doesn’t come without serious economic damage. If each driver completes the cycle, they will eventually be in a worse position financially than when they started; however, if the drivers were also the shareholders of the company, and thereby the recipients of their own exploitation, then the profit and value would be reciprocated back onto them rather than stripped from them. I created DriveSociety entirely from scratch with the belief that if Uber could launch a rideshare company with just two-hundred thousand dollars only six years before, then I could get it done with four-hundred thousand, a reasonable possibility for me at the time.

I entered the business knowing the rideshare market is just another scam, much like I learned first-hand of the financial world and the defense sector before that. My ultimate goal was to let the ownership of DriveSociety end up exclusively in the hands of the drivers through a program that issued shares to them periodically based on a combination of revenue generated and duration driving for the company. And it was this company which led me to a concept that could put an end to the income and wealth disparities we’re dealing with today, perhaps entirely.

I had long wrestled with the idea that America only operates under the perception of capitalism because of how short it falls operating justly and how that circumvention of justice is what creates the disparities. But it wasn’t until I built a company designed to give the equity to those responsible for the revenue and production before I started to think differently. I realized that arbitrarily owning the financial outcome associated with the production of another’s human effort can only result in a situation that creates unbalanced wage and income disparities. Like I’ve previously stated, I believe wholeheartedly in capitalism, what we have just isn’t it.

I believe capitalism is best described as an economic and geopolitical system that operates by instituting the exchange of capital for resources and production in a free market such that any changes and determinations made to the market stem exclusively from the conglomerate efforts of all market participants, all of whom are operating both justly and out of self-perseverance. Which means in an actual capitalist society, guys like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk remain the world’s wealthiest, but their wealth wouldn’t be the exorbitant amount it is today.

To provide an example, depending on the price of Amazon stock, Jeff Bezos could give each of his 1.4 million employees shares worth around $90,000 apiece and still have ten billion dollars to himself, closer to the way things would be if our system was operating justly. The truth is that long ago, possibly from the beginning, we never properly exchanged our own resources for all the capital entitled to us. Mainly, we worked for corporations who paid us salaries, and even pensions at times, but never let us have any of the equity aside from occasional scraps found in most stock-option programs.

The truth is that in a capitalist society, a worker is entitled to all the capital that comes with their production, and any capital held away from that worker’s production is held unjustly. The truth is, as much as it seems like it would cause the world to fall apart, none of us have any business buying stocks, as it truly isn’t ours to buy. Once that became apparent to me at one company, it became apparent throughout them all. For all the hard work and dedication from literally millions of people to turn the idea Jeff Bezos had for Amazon into a reality, how much of his equity would be theirs in a fair, capitalist society?

Take the NFL for instance, my favorite example of how easily we could transition ourselves into a more fine-tuned capitalist system. On each of the thirty-two teams, there are fifty-three players and maybe two hundred staff, from coaches to executives to trainers and scouts. This means that to play the games each week it takes around eight thousand people each doing their part to generate what amounted to over $17 billion in 2021. But of the $17 billion they made, less than $6 billion went into the hands of those eight thousand participants, while about another $6 billion was paid to 32 guys who didn’t do anything aside from arbitrarily own documents entitling them to the money.

This got me thinking, why haven’t the players realized they don’t need these rich, fat white guys funneling half their money and could create their own league void of unnecessary ownership? A player-owned league would provide financial longevity for the players and also create a more financially reasonable proposition to the fans. Imagine how much more money players would make and how much less fans would pay simultaneously by taking the ownership out of the equation. The players already have a union capable of the structure and organization needed to develop a new league, providing the union with the incentive of self-preservation, as the need for a league central office would remain in one form or another.

And what would it really take to start, maybe a billion per team, $32 billion? That’s not bad considering the NFL generates over half of that from these same players’ skills and talents each year. I’m positive that the NFL Players Association would have no problem walking into a bank with the signatures of their 1,700 committed players and walking out with a check for $32 billion. If they did, they’d be on their way to achieving capitalist success by placing themselves as the rightful recipients of the capital exchanged for their production.

I had the opportunity to pitch this idea to an NFLPA executive, but he quickly shut our meeting down, citing an agreement they have with the NFL that prohibits any type of discussions like this with an outside entity such as myself. Still, I can’t help but think how much better football would be if every year 5% of the teams’ equity was portioned off to the players and staff based on some predetermined schedule. It wouldn’t even have to be equal distribution, either; and could be incorporated through the combination of contractual commitments or even as performance bonuses. But every year, each team could commit to providing 5% of the team’s value directly to those responsible for earning the money.

This means that eventually, each year the team will be required to buy back 5% worth of the team’s stock, theoretically from former players, compensating those former players while also allowing for the ownership to transfer into the rightful hands new players. So, while a properly structured player-owned league could create a sustainable effort of paying players more, charging fans less, and strengthening the financial security of themselves as well as those who played before them, it is my opinion that the series of events following the actual formation of one are even greater than that.

A player-owned league would also be a player-decided league, meaning these players would start making decisions in their own interests, as well. I question whether the NCAA could survive a single season in a world where all professional athletic leagues were comprised of exclusively player-owned teams. I wonder how long it would take for those leagues to, as they invariably will with a capitalistic mentality, establish semi-professional leagues that help develop and farm the talent they’re looking for on their teams. And once they’ve capitalized upon that golden opportunity, I wonder what would stop them from discovering the benefits of replacing high school or even junior high sports entirely.

Upon replacing the NCAA with something designed to benefit the players, the resources to rebuild each skill level of a sport would be vast. Further, the interest in cultivating new players would only grow, inciting a level of top-down structure within a sport in a much less exploitative way. Maybe once all that money dries up for all those “educational” institutions exploiting young Americans for gain, they can begin to die the death they deserve. And once they do, we can dial in our focus toward rebuilding an education system capable of growing the minds needed for a nation with an upward trajectory.

The idea of owner-operated businesses is not a unique one, but the notion that every company probably should have been set up that way from the start is unquestionably a new thought. Anyone with financial skin in the game is going to disregard this idea as nonsense, something I completely understand. After all, I, too, once convinced myself that everything I had been doing was fair and just when it was nothing but the opposite. There is no shortage of examples to indicate the relative ease at which a society of people can be so catastrophically led astray at times. From genocides to slavery, the history of civilization is filled with instances where the masses were deceived into the submission of an evil oppressor, much like we all are today. Sure, our quality of life is better than times of past and the possibilities made available to us today outnumber our predecessors’, but the extreme majority of us are exclusively beholden to the conglomeration of power that is collectively held by the elite, far from the intentions of a representative republic or capitalist society. If you consider yourself to be a decent person, then owning up to any involvement in the evil above you is a tough pill to swallow. But the fact is, past all the noise about race and gender and abortion and war and all the other nonsense that ushers us into division, all that’s left is those who hold the equity, pulling the strings of distraction to get you to focus on race and gender and abortion and war and all the other nonsense that ushers us into division instead of the fact they’re holding what actually belongs to you.

I’m not bound to the notion that every company should be exclusively owner-operated, yet I am firm in the belief that the control of a company must reside within the collectiveness of its ranks. The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL team that offers stock to the public; however, I believe this would be an exciting addition to the idea of a player-owned NFL. Even if twenty percent of the team was allocated on a public exchange, offering fans the opportunity to participate in the ownership as well as establish the fair market value for the team, the control of the team would remain with the players while creating financial opportunities and a purpose for the market. In a world where companies were owner-operated, the stock market would have much less of an impact on our everyday lives as it does today, for sure; but that doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing, nor does it mean our system couldn’t thrive without it. A less active stock market would invariably lead to a more robust and durable bond market, without a doubt; perhaps the way it should have always been.

I also don’t believe the federal government would benefit by forcing businesses to change, either. An economic transition such as this requires willingness from a motivated populace with the shared goal of creating a truly capitalist society. Congress shouldn’t be passing laws requiring companies to become owner-operated; but rather, adopt programs that support Americans’ efforts to build new companies from the ground up that follow the mantra of self-determined capitalism.

What if, instead of the NFLPA going to the bank for a $32 billion dollar loan, the President, being fully motivated to initiate programs in the best interest of the People, convinced Congress to approve a loan for $32 billion through a program with the Department of Commerce? It could be just one of a number of federal, multi-faceted programs designed to create economic opportunities for Americans. Would those 1,700 players all opt to stay under the ownership of 32 guys instead of claiming ownership for themselves? I doubt they would.

Every detail of their business can function exactly as it does today void of the ownership reaping profits from their collective production. All the skills and talents exist, all the organization and structure is present; so, if given the opportunity, what is stopping the skill and talent from banding together and taking ownership in their own production and societal contributions? I would argue that it is nothing. I believe assisting professional sports in achieving new leagues will branch into positivity throughout other aspects of American life, especially in education. But I also believe assisting all working Americans to create opportunities for themselves to do the same will have positive ancillary effects in far reaching places, as well.

What tantalizes me with economics isn’t so much the numbers but my fascination with how seemingly innocuous activities correlate. We are connected, all of us; the only question is how long the ripples from my droplets take to reach your end of the pond, how long your droplets take to reach my end of the pond, and which droplets in between created ripples strong enough to alter ours. The power of a President to incite such economic change as I am proposing is limited; and for good cause as no one should have the sort of power that can simply take over companies and restructure them. But there are several measures a President could implement to promote the idea of reborn capitalism in America. One of the most impactful would be changing the criteria for companies we issue federal contracts to and creating loan programs for new companies launching under an owner-operated corporate structure.

If you work for a government contractor, how long would it take after learning that both the government is cancelling your contract because your company is structured outside of newly established federal contract guidelines and the government is creating programs for owner-operated businesses to launch and take over government contracts before you and your colleagues are meeting with an attorney to draft a new corporate charter? I surmise it wouldn’t take long, especially knowing the federal government is backing your loan. Do you think these companies would be unsuccessful or fail to repay those loans? Highly unlikely, considering they would be same people who were working on the previous federal contracts and there would no longer be outside shareholders to appease.

It wouldn’t take long at all for the military industrial complex to die and a new military industrial complex to form; hopefully one that can recognize both the reasonable need for a national defense while also restraining themselves from encouraging conflicts in search of their own financial gain. Maybe if the new complex consisted of companies under the direction and control of their employees, then decisions would be made in a veracious capacity that afforded our system a chance to operate more justly. It’s one thing to get the board of directors to sign onto the evil deeds of a corporation, it’s something entirely different to get half the employees to agree to the same.

And the loan programs wouldn’t have to exist for only federal contractors, either. Private schools would become less expensive and improve in quality if the teachers banded together and formed their own school, splitting the equity amongst themselves. Healthcare would become cheaper and more efficient if the doctors, nurses, and staff at hospitals were responsible for their own value and left to their own judgment when deciding what’s best for those they’ve taken an oath to care for, instead of adhering to obstructive mandates corporate interference creates in the healthcare industry. Imagine both the quality of food and level of service you’d even get at McDonald’s if every employee there knew their performance was linked to their own value and that creating the right environment for guests only increases that value. Imagine how little attrition Amazon would have if each of their worker bees running miles every day through inventory dungeons, with no time to even use the bathroom, had a voice in how things should be done, and better, realized the monetary value of the hard work they’re putting in.

I believe Jeff Bezos deserves his place among the world’s wealthiest because of the incredible business achievement that is Amazon. But in a truly capitalist society, he’d probably have around ten or twenty billion, while each of his employees would have an average of $90,000 in stock apiece, like I previously state. And that’s on average of course, as some people would be there longer than others, some would do more than others, and some compensation packages would be different from others. But if you start extrapolating that idea throughout the entire economy, you begin to see a robust capitalist society filled with workers who have a definitive value within the economy to which they contribute, along with a strong capital lending market for all to utilize their worth leveraging against.

Maybe you would even see ten or fifteen percent interest on homes again, which is seemingly unheard of today, but any historian of American finance would tell you is unremarkable. Because you’d also likely see a good amount of deflation as well; much like how the pay to players would increase while the cost to fans decreases in a player-owned NFL, the margins required for corporate success in the absence of shareholders arbitrary to any production would become much more reasonable to attain.

Furthermore, just as companies like Uber and Amazon, as well as many others, have excited us in the past, I really believe the rapid growth potential of new employee-owned companies would generate an energy that only fuels the overall effort of American resurgence that is both possible as it is essential for the survival of our country. The income and wealth gaps in America will only continue to widen until the people of this nation stand up and do something about it together. Corporations are nothing more than miniature governments, and just as I believe in our Constitutional right to be the servants of our own destiny and maintain a government of, by and for People, I believe the economic system we adopt should be representative of that as well.

If American leadership consisted of those willing to create effective programs that generate opportunities for Americans to seek, I believe Americans would seek them out if for no other reason than their own self-interests. And if we choose leaders determined to create a future for our nation in the best interests of the People, programs designed to promote an effort like this would not be difficult to initiate. Only then would the grip of corporate power over America diminish, and that power transfer back into the hands of whom it rightfully belongs, the People. But in addition to this, a national shift in attitude is also vital to the re-collaboration of American Exceptionalism. We need to encourage more people to get back to work, maybe with better mental health care and better education to assist in these efforts. We need to recapture the idea that success derives from hard work, but also ensure the value from our economic output is properly bestowed upon us, as we each rightfully deserve. Once we do, I believe we will have both the political and economic structures needed to redefine our financial goals, recover from decades of outlandish debt accumulation, and build a federal budget capable of sustaining longevity.

In the defense sector alone, our nation will spend over $761 billion on military expenses in 2023, triple that of the next biggest spender, China, and over one-third of all military spending in the entire world. This results in some of the richest and most powerful corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and others, all of whom in turn spend billions lining the pockets of the inept politicians we’ve collectively allowed to mislead us for decades. Replacing the politicians alone doesn’t solve the problem, but creating possibilities for Americans to take charge of their destiny includes ending business with corporations we know have corrupted our politicians.

That means new, better corporations will need to be formed by pockets of professionals throughout the country, working to achieve something greater together. Off the top of my head, I can envision a federal budget that is twenty or thirty percent smaller just by turning away from those who have manipulated us all and finding ways to function from something new, built of, by, and for the American People. Our government has all the money it needs for America to be what it’s supposed to be. We have the money for the best schools, hospitals, and roads. We have the money for the greatest military and to control the seas. We have the money to solve homelessness and drug addiction, fractions of what we’ve sent to Ukraine in support of a war we did everything in our power to incite over a three-decade period. And we have a citizenry of rational people, needing only to recognize the duties of freedom and answer the call to serve. What we shouldn’t have as a nation is uncontrolled debt or trillion-dollar annual deficits. What we shouldn’t have are multi-trillion-dollar wars predicated upon lies that destroyed entire countries, wars that took countless lives and only enriched those benefitting from the continuing wealth gap in America. And what we shouldn’t have are perpetual increases in the funding of our federal administrations despite improper and ineffective uses of those funds.

Another example is Social Security, which will be defunct before the end of this decade. There are very reasonable solutions to this problem neither side of the political spectrum is even considering; but the detriment to us all economically only spells catastrophe while no one promotes any plan to fix it. It makes me think those in power want it to fail, but regardless of what they want, adopting a real solution takes a new wave of leadership willing to do what’s best for the American People and not beholden to the demands of the elite. I’ve twice completed analysis on Social Security, once before COVID struck and once after, and based on the Social Security Administration’s own data along with the Congressional Budget Office’s reports, the short of it is that the cap limit on Social Security taxable income needs to be removed entirely, and if it was, we would be able to decrease the overall tax rate in the process.

The benefit I derived from analyzing the updated information a second time, post-COVID, was recognizing how crucial time was becoming to the equation. In 2019, a change such as I’m suggesting would have allowed us to take a two-year tax holiday, virtually depleting the Social Security reserves, and restarting the system with a joint (employee pays half, employer pays half) 10.2% rate on all income, not just the first $150,000 or so. But upon re-analyzing the updated data in 2022, my models showed the rate needed to increase to 11% to meet viability, only four-tenths of a percent drop from the current rate today, with no tax holiday. Those discrepancies got me to start projecting out what rate increases would be needed in five years, but also uncovered the realization that had we adopted a plan like this decades ago, our overall tax rate would be miniscule to what it is today, maybe as low as three or four percent total. The Social Security taxable income limits are a perfect example of the type of control the elite have always had over the perception of something designed for the People. But it can be fixed if enough Americans take on the challenge of becoming the leaders to fix it.

This plan, of course, is a terrible idea to anyone who makes millions or even hundreds of thousands each year and only pay into Social Security with the first $150,000 they make. But consider this, regardless of how much money you make or have, you remain dependent on the collective efforts of others to be able to find success for yourself. Had it not been for the world that others built around us, the chance for anyone to be anything doesn’t exist. Not to mention, if the entire tax code is reformed to be fair and simple, such an increase won’t be a big deal for the highest wage earners at all.

There are, and have always been, thresholds in which a society reached new heights which caused recognition that their collective success warrants minimum acceptable standards to increase, and the formation of the Social Security Administration was exactly one of those times. But what makes literally no sense at all is watching that system die while not taxing citizens once they reach a specific level of income. What shows me how little the elite understand economics is that it’s those who have found the most success that should be willing to ensure the vitality of the system that afforded them that success in the first place. Instead, it’s those who have the most that ensure broken tax systems like this, and others, are embedded into the law. The ease at which Social Security could be fixed is only one of many examples that demonstrate, not just the inability, but the unwillingness of our leadership to do anything positive for those they have sworn to serve. This ineptitude becomes apparent whenever financial decisions are made, and the portrait of it is clear when reviewing both the financial condition of our country as well as the decisions we continue to make.

The same goes for our entire tax code, it’s a complicated system that will only become fair once it is simplified. Much like Donald Trump promised but failed to do, it can be simplified so that every American can file their taxes on a single form. But it only happens when our government is recaptured by willing and faithful servants of our republic. It isn’t a difficult task to recognize the needs of the government and appropriate a graduated tax schedule on all income based on those needs. It’s not hard to eliminate virtually every special tax rule by combining all income in a calendar year as income and having a straightforward tax bill based on graduated rates. Those in power will do their best to convince the American public these systems must be complicated to be fair, but that’s not the case. If done right, I believe we could develop a reasonable and proper tax system that provides the people with what they are promised without disrupting their ability to achieve success. What exactly those tax rates are takes a good bit of calculations and discussion, but I know the fix is as fair and simple as a new tax system would also be.

I’ve just grazed the surface when it comes to the financial obstacles facing us all in the future, something that diving deep into would require a book of its own. My goal in this text is only to peak interest and begin conversations toward a new way of thinking. It is my sincerest hope that by November 2024, enough Americans have captured the essence of the message within these pages and have taken on the challenge to reclaim our nation from the tyranny it has become. Let’s not be afraid of uncertainty even if we end up going in the wrong direction at times. We’ll have the curiosity, derived from our determination to be free, to seek out the right answers, as well as the humility to recognize the mistakes we make and traverse from them. It’s time to move on from the misdirection we come from, the misdirection that has controlled our government and our entire lives for decades. I believe in capitalism, but true capitalism and not the illusion portrayed as such, which means I believe in Americans and our ability to control our destiny both individually and collectively as a nation.

Restoring our financial integrity takes an enormous amount of work from an enormous team of dedicated Americans. I’m not the most capable, and my only desire is that the most capable among us take on the roles their country needs from them and return us to a path with a brighter future. While the World Economic Forum focuses on building a world where “you will own nothing, and you will be happy,” we could be focusing on a world where we will own everything, and we will be happy. We just need to stand up and do it already.

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