Soda Pop guru John Nese makes the case for limited government

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John Nese of Galcos Soda Pop in Los Angeles has an infectiously optimistic vibe to him. He started working there with his father when he was five years old and still has a childlike charm. The store he works for has been around since 1897, so it’s a good bet that he knows a thing or two about running a business.

First things first: he’s able to establish that there is indeed a difference between capitalism and crony capitalism:

About ten or eleven years ago the Pepsi Cola salesman came in. And he said, ‘I got the best buy you’re ever going on a pallet of Pepsi Cola cans. I’m only going to charge you 5.59 a case.’ I said, ‘Thank you, but no thank you. I’m going to send my customer’s down the street to Ralph’s because they’re going to be on sale down there for $1.99 a twelve-pack.’

And he says, ‘Well, you can’t do that. Pepsi Cola is a demand item and your customers are going to demand that you carry Pepsi Cola.’ And I said, ‘My customers are going to be happy I was honest with them and sent them down the street. They can buy them cheaper than I can buy them.’ And after two weeks of really being upset I said, ‘Thank you very much Pepsi Cola for reminding me that I own my shelf space and I can do anything I want.’ …

So I immediately went out and found 25 little brands of soda. Gee whiz, they’re still in glass bottles. I put them on the shelf and people would come in and look at them and say ‘What are you doing with all those old things that don’t sell?’ And when I got to 250 it was ‘Where are you finding them?” So now we have about 500 different kinds of sodas. …

When the American public has a choice, they’re going to try it. … Big Business loves Big Government. They just take the marketplace up, eliminate all the little guys — they run them out of business and then they jack the price ups and control the market. But you look at the candy section it’s Nestle’s, Hershey’s and Mars. Or you look at the soda pop market it’s Coke and Pepsi. My thought had always been that what I wanted to do was to do business with other businesses my size — to make them become unique businesses.

The more expansive the government, the more capitalism is replaced with crony capitalism. People always think that business don’t like government interference, but that’s not true because many times big companies love seeing new laws passed — as long as it benefits them.

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That dovetails nicely with Mr. Nese’s experience with California’s “Refund Value” laws, which are billed as being necessary to help make a greener world. Is that true?

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Perhaps, to some extent — but consider this:

Who do you think passed the RV laws? You’re going to get me on my soapbox again and then you’re going to have to point the camera up. It wasn’t written for the consumer and it certainly wasn’t written to keep this country green. It was written so Coke and Pepsi wouldn’t have to wash a bottle and they wouldn’t have to make recyclable bottles and they could transfer the cost to the consumer.

I called the recycling center when I got started and said, ‘Listen, I want to put a recycling center in. They bring them back to me and I’ll give them the money and I’ll sell them some more sodas.’

‘Oh, I’m sorry, you can’t do that because you have a recycling center two blocks away.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but they don’t give the full price. I want to give the full price to the customer to get them back to sell them some more!’ And he says, ‘Well, if you did anything like that you’d be in restraint of trade and you can probably get sued by the state.’ If we really cared about the state we would have reuse — not recycling.

So a business owner wants to install his own recycling center in his building, but he can’t because it will somehow be in violation of “restraint of trade” laws? Unbelievable.

How much more green could you get than a guy who sells soda in glass bottles to his local community, who then return those glass bottles to him — so that he could in turn wash them — and sell more? You can’t. And yet, the state of California would likely sue him if he went there.

Finally, John Nese makes perhaps the most important point of all, and it has nothing to do with politics. It’s about life.

People say, ‘Well, you’re here and you’re working all the time.’ And I’m saying, ‘I don’t work. I just play all day long.’ I come in and play.

Do what you love to do, and it won’t seem like work for you. When you do what you love — when you do what you believe you were born to do — getting up in the morning will be a joy. When you do what you love, it shows. It creates a positive feedback loops whereas you contribute more to your area of expertise, coworkers and customers are happy, they reward you, you’re happy and the process begins anew.

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Years ago I left a job that I felt in my heart was not in line with where I wanted to be. I took a leap of faith (and a pay cut) to do what I thought would get me there and I couldn’t be happier. There were bumps and bruises along the way, but I know that even if it didn’t work out that I’d have one less regret on my death bed. (I hope to have none.)

If you’re not happy with where you’re at, try and figure out what job you could envision yourself performing that you wouldn’t take a dime to do. When you figure it out, start working toward that goal and years down the road you’ll be one of the few who could say that their job is to “play all day long.” 

Ukraine: Leaders lived like kings off the confiscated wealth of the people — as always

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As the protests in the Ukraine unfolded this past weekend, the world got to see how President Viktor Yanukovych and members of parliament, like Yuriy Ivanyushchenko, lived. “Good” would be an understatement.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to have your own helipad, golf course, gold-plated sinks, dining halls, Grecian gardens and exotic farm animals? When you’re a member of the elite it could all be yours, courtesy of “the people.”

Time and time again throughout history, the ruling class finds ways to horde wealth created by the people — all while claiming to act in “the people’s” interest. Unlike entrepreneurial start ups, factories and businesses, government officials essentially produce nothing. Outside its primarily purpose — the safety and security of the people — the size and scope of government should be limited in part to prevent exactly the kind of predictable theft demonstrated in the Ukraine.

Americans do not need the newspaper to tell them about the countless politicians who come to the nation’s capital, only to find themselves years later as members of the “one percent” the Occupy protesters railed against. It’s quite obvious what is happening.

Regardless, documentation is good. The New York Times reported in January:

For the first time in history, more than half the members of the House and Senate are now millionaires, according to a new analysis of financial disclosure reports filed last year.

The median net worth for lawmakers in the House and Senate was $1,008,767 — up 4.4 percent, according to the analysis, conducted by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which examines the influence of money on politics in Washington.

Over all, at least 268 of the 534 current members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, which is the year covered by the reports that each lawmaker had to file in 2013.

The failure of the Occupy movement was that it had no focus. It didn’t know who to blame. The problem isn’t capitalism, but crony capitalism, which is fueled by the Leviathan they sought to feed. The problem isn’t guys like Darrell Issa, who made his millions by starting his own company (i.e., Viper car alarms), but career politicians who never worked a day in the private sector as an adult, don’t understand how it works,  but still accrued wealth beyond the average American’s wildest dreams through shady connections and the “perks” of power (e.g., buying prime real estate just before legislation passed for that new super highway or construction project).

If Americans do not think that what is happening in the Ukraine and Venezuela could one day happen here, they are kidding themselves. There are millions of Americans who routinely vote for the U.S. versions of Viktor Yanukovych and Yuriy Ivanyushchenko. There are also millions of Americans who read enough history to see that it’s primed to repeat itself, and when it does they will be angry. At this time in history, Americans would be wise to reacquaint themselves with the principles that guided our founding fathers. If they do not, there will be needlessly painful days ahead.