From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

Vinyl record sales

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First, a big caveat — this post is NOT going where you think it’s going.  It’s only peripherally about vinyl record sales.

Second, I’ve made my peace with digital music.  Thanks to somewhat degraded hearing (not deaf, but you know…) I don’t pick up the subtleties of vinyl records.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely in love with rock music, particularly some of the new stuff that’s better than we give it credit, but my ears are not dexterous enough to appreciate vinyl.  That said, vinyl record sales in 2017 are expected to top $1 Billion.  I’ll let that sink in for a minute, because back in the day, my expenses on turntables, speakers, headphones, etc, dwarfed my actual expenditures on vinyl records.  Add it all up, and this is a huge business.  There continues to be a huge amount of money in this world, and inventive people who figure out ways to market to the demands of folks who have that money, or who have needs in the 21st century, will prosper.

Which leads me inexorably to entrepreneurism.  The story 0f the internet revolution has been one of entrepreneurism.  I won’t belabor it, only to note that a bunch of college-age kids (often drop-outs — I’m looking at you, Bill Gates) took IBM, DEC, Wang, Amdall, and a bunch of others out back of the barn.  I was in the supercomputer biz in 1990-1994 (as an academic, running a scholarly program) and I can tell you NONE of the big-ass suit-and-tie companies I was working with then are still in biz, save for Intel that saw the writing on the wall and got out of supercomputers and back into chips where they belonged.  In short, great strides foward in our economy have been made — indeed, have always been made — by entrepreneurs, usually working tirelessly in the shadows.

Which leads me to Robert Henlein.  If you haven’t read him, he’s one of the deepest of the deep thinking science fiction authors.  Among the top four or five on everyone’s list.  Naval Academy (which is where I met him, as a 19-year-old midshipman, 40+ years ago), then a masters in engineering, washed up by 30 with tuberculosis, he dragged himself up to become a masterful writer.  Stranger in a Strange Land  alone has spawned an untold number of PH.Ds.  In creating his fictional worlds, he noted that new colonies always thrived quicker and better than the monther planet.  Why, you say?  Because it takes a certain gumption, a certain spirit, a certain amount of energy, to jump on a boat on the high seas (or, in his case, in outer space) and take a risk on a new place.  The western U.S. thrived because disillusioned Civil War vets — blue and grey — struck out for a new land with new opportunities.  Heinlein, an early 20th century Coloradan, saw that first hand.

Which leads me to the wet-foot-dry-foot rule, and all that accompanies it.  I note that the Obama administration, for reasons I don’t fully grasp, suddenly suspended the rule this past week.  I had the opportunity to go to Cuba last January, and was amazed and overwhelmed buy the entrepreneurship of the people.  It’s tough to eek out a living in a totalitarian, centrally-planned dictatorship, but many people seem to do it in a style we can only hope to emulate.  As a west-coaster, I’ve seen how the influx of Asian immigrants have fueled the entrepreneurship of the internet age.  As a native of the south, steeped in east-coast-ness, I know how our country has been fueled by wave after wave of immigrants from every corner of our planet.  In every one of our major cities there is a jewish tailor, there’s a mid-easterner with a falafel stand, an Indian with a hotel, a Chinese merchant, an Italian eatery, a Nisei left with nothing at the end of WW II who started a business and built a fortune.  These may seem like stereotypes, but these stereotypes built the nation I call home, and swore to defend w-a-a-a-ay back when.  I spend a bunch of my time in Key West, where eastern Europeans have built some nice homes by setting up janitorial businesses and t-shirt shops, doing work I wouldn’t do.

I agree — the laws should be followed, and illegal immigration should be dealt with.  But how?  Arguably, the deck has been stacked terrifically against brown skinned folks and in favor of people who look and sound like me.   The folks who we endeavor to keep out are often the most inventive, figuring out how to make markets out of janitorial services, falafel stands, and yes, selling vinyl records to music afficianados.  I’d like to keep America great, and I would argue that only with a constant influx of new, inventive, aggressive, creative blood, that may be a problem.

Written by johnkilpatrick

January 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Economy, Uncategorized

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