I've definitely been busy... To recap my own efforts:
In 2009, I have...
- Written dozens of articles, a few of which have been published online & in print.
- I created an extremely popular graphic representation of the decline in the value of the U.S. Dollar over the past two centuries.
- I've produced a video that was popular enough on YouTube for them to suggest I add advertisements to.
- I've written the music for 3 important video campaigns supporting specific legal cases which would increase freedom in parts of the United States.
- I've consulted on media for a few organizations.
- I've designed & implemented (or helped implement) three websites
- I have done a ton of graphic design for a number of people (which was probably the most unexpected aspect of my year) and learned much more about Photoshop, which is excellent.
- I've played a dozen or so gigs around Los Angeles, mostly on vibraphone...
- And of course, I contributed my music editing & management skills to SmartSound software, where I produced over 20 albums worth of music to be used with their software, Sonic Fire Pro.
All in all, I think that personally I've had a pretty productive year.
On the other hand................. The economy is predictably devastated and has seen absolutely no improvement since 2008. This has come as no surprise to me, since every "action" taken by those in power have served only to make things worse. Last week the government forged ahead with other economy destroying measures in their new regulatory bill; the so-called "Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act" - which fabulously sets us up for prolonged unemployment, new bureaucracies "controlling" things they don't understand (by which I mean being instantly captured by the more savvy traders), and higher costs to goods across the board... Not to mention further exacerbating the problems of big businesses succeeding through political favoritism at the expense of their poorly connected competitors.
Less competition, more political influence, more expensive. Great.
Oh, and speaking of all that... The Senate just passed the Health Care "reform" bill. A 2000+ page monstrosity that not only fails to meaningfully "reform" a single aspect of our current system, it basically takes all of the worst elements of what we're doing now, quadruples down on those things and scrupulously avoided any legitimate way to increase supplies or reduce costs. It's yet another massive give-away to insurance companies (people are now being forced to buy insurance under penalty of law) and to drug companies (any provisions which might have allowed us to buy cheaper drugs from international suppliers have been eliminated, thus the insurance mandate now forces us all to pay big pharmaceuticals in the U.S.) and yet politicians - especially the president - in their infinite doublespeak are pretending it's a bill to help consumers.
I've written an awful lot about health care this year - I've tried to explain why the government plans are doomed to fail, but in people's willful obstinacy, few people seem to have grasped the problems.
For the record, here are my currently collected works on Health Care:
- Health Care - Part 1: The Four Strawmen of the Apocalypse
- Health Care - Part 2: More Rebuttals & Actual Solutions
- Leeching the System: The false heroics of guaranteed insurance.
- Why We Must NOT Ration Health Care: A rebuttal to Peter Singer
- Peter Singer, Round 2
- A Tale of Two Burgers
- The Profit Motive, ObamaCare & Corporatism
- Barack Obama Speechifies on Health Care
- I Promise. I will never... Die.
- Stossel: "ObamaCare's Inevitable Logic"
- Medicare Denies MORE Claims than Private Insurers!
- Economics Lesson of the Day: Public vs. Private Efficiency
Sadly though, all of it has been more or less in vain, since today the Senate pushed through their massive health care overhaul bill anyway. A bill which, according to today's Wall Street Journal "Question of the Day" (online, so no, it's not scientific by any stretch) only about 10% of the American public actually support.
Granted, an online poll isn't representative of the total public, so let's say in reality this works out to around 20% Yes & 80% No - or even 25%-75%... It's still massively undemocratic - which should just go to show that the "people" aren't remotely in control of the government in this country. It should be obvious to most people by now that votes in Congress are obtained, not by listening to constituents, but by bribing your fellow Senators & Representatives with promises of immense amounts of pork directed at key individuals. My former Governor and Senator, Ben Nelson is a fine example of this, as was Mary Landrieu (famed for presiding over one of the most all-encompassing failures of government from top to bottom of all time in New Orleans a few years ago) - but rest assured, similar backroom deals were made for everyone else involved.
And yesssssssssssssss.... Of course there are worse places to live - I've been to some of them (many in Europe, point of fact). I keep hearing that from people as if it is somehow a valid response to complaints about America. I hear, "Why don't you just move somewhere better?" and things of a similar nature...
But why should I have to move? I'm always the one merely asking the government to live up to the promises it's constitution makes. That shouldn't be too much to ask. Yet it appears that it is... So who knows what's going to happen in the long run. What I do know, is that we're looking at long term stagnation, possibly a second "dip" into recession/depression, coming next year... We're looking at seeing the further inflation of prices across the board due to the Federal Reserve's rampant money-printing policies, and we're definitely looking at targeted price increases in at least health care & energy.
As a result, innovation - the one thing America has consistently led the world on in medicine - will soon be a thing of the past for this country. But that's hardly the end of it - employers are going to struggle to comply with the diverse number and scope of new laws, and consequently will be hiring more lawyers & lobbyists, and fewer productive employees. We've seen this repeatedly over the last 50 years in the U.S. and yet somehow people seem to think that it's not going to happen this time. But as always, people (especially savvy businesspeople) respond to incentives.
I regularly ask myself: Why would a business come here? Why would they set up headquarters here, why would they employ people here, why would they invest here? Each time I ask the question I come up with fewer & fewer reasons. What are the incentives to come to America? What are the incentives to stay?
And ya know what? My brother is moving to Qatar for a much higher paying & better job in a matter of days, while I go back to California and compete with everyone else in the entertainment industry looking for work. I'm great at what I do... I think I've sufficiently proven that over the years. But building a successful service business takes time and a network of contacts built up over much more time than I've had to contribute diligently to that process. Unfortunately I've only been in Los Angeles for two years - and one of those years I spent traveling all over the world and meeting no one locally. In the meantime, I've got about one serious year of introducing myself to potential clients in the libertarian world - and that has been going well, but I'm going to have to do more if I'm to meet any kind of projected/needed earnings.
I think I can do this... But everything that's happened over the last year has made it harder & harder to see how it's going to happen. As Ira Newborn always tells me... I'll just keep punching.
So yeah, 2009 has been quite the roller coaster for me. I have survived it though, and 2010 offers some promising opportunities already - from potentially working with Reason.TV, to producing more of my own liberty-oriented video projects, to setting up a recording studio and associated music & audio company with a good friend, to delving into the world of license libraries & freelance commercial music, to getting the funds together for a documentary. All of these things are possible, some on the immediate horizon.
Hopefully, I can parlay my current opportunities into a consistent lifestyle. But in truth, who knows what will happen. 2008 was largely a surprise in terms of the direction my life took, 2009 was too. I expect that 2010 will be as well. My dreams of being a media-mogul aren't gone, but I definitely need to up the ante on my various game plans.
In the meantime, happy holidays to all - and good luck for next year.
(And P.S. I'm still booking projects for January - so if you're reading this and need one of my myriad professional services... Just give me a shout!)