Page 25 of the Economist, August 10, 2002. The article “A stigma that never fades” points out that the U.S prison population has risen from 110 people per 100,000 in 1973 to 700 per 100,000 now! Compare this to other countries: Canada, 102 per 100,000, Britain 132, France 85 and Japan 48.
The article also points out that the average sentence is 28 months and that 65% of all businesses surveyed would not knowingly hire an ex-convict. The result? Nearly two thirds of released prisoners are rearrested within three years of release. The American legal system is literally creating a culture of crime.
In this great nation that has more abundance than anywhere else, we have created a culture of stress, hate, anger and finger pointing to such a degree that no one seems safe.
This is not where the problems end. Look at business today. No one goes into business without considering the legal liability. We hear innumerable stories of crazy lawsuits of every sort. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor. Many seem to be looking for an opportunity to rip off some cash from another anyway they can.
Plus the hate does not stop at the border. Our system of wealth is steadily creating bad attitudes about us all over the world. Take for example a recent article in the Guardian, one of England's very reputable newspapers.
Today everything we do is fraught with legal danger. Businesses today are more liability driven than ever before. Every business decision starts with the question, “what are the legal risks?”
Is this the land of the free? You may agree that it is not, but what are we to do?
Recently I read a quote that stated the way to solve problems is to work on them at a deep enough level where the problem does not exist.
What does this mean? First perhaps it means we can all be better neighbors. Give a little more, do a little more. Stop shouting at slow drivers, act a little less tense, give a little more love, courtesy and empathy everywhere we go. If everyone were a little less greedy, the lawsuits would slow down.
And let's forget about getting paid back for this too. Other are still going to shout and argue and sue, for awhile.
Can we also be more honest, giving and attentive in business? That wouldn't hurt either.
Next maybe we can become better citizens and think of ourselves as citizens of the world. The first book I wrote (back in the 70s) “Passport to International Profit” suggested this idea then. Perhaps if I had been better at selling the idea 30 years ago we would not be worried about inland security today.
Modern communications and transportation means we live in a global community. Let's recognize this fact. This is a good way to be free today, to be able to go where opportunity is best, where the legal system is fair, where we are not pushed around by a coercive state. To be free, if the system continues to grow worse, we must have a way to invest or do business or survive in a place we choose. This is why I have been focusing so heavily on our course International Business Made EZ. Until next message may all your business be EZ!