Brad Miller

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Brand Differentiation – Red Bull vs. NASA

In Free Market Miracles, Liberty, True nature of the State on October 18, 2012 at 6:14 pm

On Sunday Oct 14th, “Fearless” Felix Baumgartner set world records for skydiving when he leaped from an altitude of 128,000 ft. What makes this even more amazing than him becoming the world’s fastest unassisted human being, traveling at over 884 mph at one point in his free fall, is that the endeavor was a completely private enterprise. It was a Red Bull energy drink publicity stunt to the edge of space. The entire purpose of the event was to further differentiate the brand of Red Bull from the other energy drinks on the market.

Red Bull has a history of these kind of “stunts” but this one by far is the most impressive. It got me to thinking about how NASA and the entire “Space Race”, which was really one big PR stunt The two competing brands for world Market Share were NASA and the Soviet Space Program who were selling their country’s brand of Statism around the world.

NASA and the equivalent Soviet Space program were trying to “Sell” their government’s ideology through “publicity stunts” in Space. When we look at the Space program in this manner it clarifies the difference between what Red Bull accomplished this week and what NASA has done in the past. One of them is a champion of Privately owned capital and profit seeking while the other is an inevitable example of what happens when Government steals from the productive and collectivizes that property.

Red Bull has made its founders Billionaires. NASA has had its budget cut repeatedly and is being relegated to the history books. Red Bull’s founder’s created an entire market for energy drinks that will soon be worth 52 billion dollars. NASA is relying on the Russians to ferry astronauts to the ISS. The founders of Red Bull were told by a research firm that the product would fail, they now sell 4 billion cans a year.  Because of privately held capital and Mateschitz’s vision Red Bull now owns an F1 team, two soccer teams, a NASCAR team and a hangar full of restored vintage planes. While NASA has retired its costly and deadly Space Shuttle and which are now  collecting dust in museums.

That is appropriate if you think about it. That is where Government programs should go, to the dust bin of history. They are inefficient and waste valuable resources. Socialism, as Mises wrote will always fails because it lacks the pricing mechanism, stated differently Socialist systems lack the ability to calculate economically. That is the difference between the success of Red Bull and the failure of NASA and all other government programs.

Today we hear so much about how the Free Market and Profit seeking is destroying the “Economy”. But those love Liberty know that is false. As the United States Federal Government Collectivizes more and more individual wealth in this country it is destroying the Free Market. There are some bright spots still and that is why I love the story of Red Bull and the other private companies that are charting a new Era of Freedom in Space.

A perfect example of this is the LunarX prize. That is a prize offered to the first private non-governmental entity that can successfully launch, land, and operate a robot on the Lunar Surface. When the prize was first conceived NASA was going to be the sponsor. But due to budget cut backs they backed out. Google became the main sponsor and upped the prize money from 20 million to 30 million. It also opened the competion to all individuals regardless of what country they lived in and created bonus challenges. The most intersting bonus challengs awards an extra million dollars to the compnay that whose robot takes pictures of the Apollo 11 site and beams them back to earth. Private Enterprise always trumps State Enterprise.

The private space industry is growing everyday while the Space programs of the world are faltering or completely failed. There will be in the next five years an explosion of private space travel, while Government space programs will have to buy time like anyone else on the privately owned rockets and space stations.  Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic all see Space as a huge opportunity that government planners could never fathom. In other words some of the richest men in the world are investing billions of dollars into Privately owned Space travel and Space Stations. Why? Because just like Red Bull they are doing so for profit. Now their business models are very different from Red Bull but upshot is the same, going to Space makes economic sense to them. They see Profit in the Stars.

I hope that the amazing feat of Fearless Felix  and Red Bull will spark people to  ponder the difference between Privately owned vs. Collectively owned Capital. We can have more Red Bull,’s amazing Marketing trips to the Edge of Space,  Virgin Galactics Space Tours, Bigeolow Private Space Stations or we can have more mothballed Space Shuttles. The choice is ours. Diffusion of Knowledge within a society as Hayek wrote, can only be efficiently utilized if people are free to trade their knowledge and products and services which it creates, freely with each other.

When the State steps in and its central planners tell you that they know how best to spend your money, think of Red Bull and Fearless Felix. And think about the harmony that the Spontaneous Order of the Free Market facilitates versus the limitations and failures of Government Space Programs.

The Red Bull Stratos jump is a victory for not only Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull but also for the Free Market. It is an amazing story that an energy drink company from Austria can mount a manned mission to the edge of space and land him safely home. That is incredible. In twenty years from now instead of the NASA Logo or any other Government logo on the side of rockets there will be logos of Companies and even individuals. It will be Private Companies like Chevy, Ford, and Toyota do now in NASCAR, with all their associated sponsorships competing to take people and cargo into Space.  And I have a feeling Red Bull will continue to be a key player in getting people to the stars. And it will not be for the reason of  “National Pride” or “Collective Security” but for “Brand Differentiation and Profit”

Capital in the hands of Private individuals is the superior way to live as human beings. Being able to trade and keep the profits from the products and services created by Private Capital Leads to amazing inventions and betters everyone’s life. This is demonstrated by the successful track records of the entrepreneurs who are leading the privatization of space travel. Men like Dietrech Mateschitz co- founder of Red Bull and the Stratos jump , Robert Bigelow a hotel chain owner now designer and manufacturer of Private Space stations with his Bigelow AeroSpace company who currently has two prototypes orbiting earth, Richard Branson Aviation and telecom mogul with his Virgin Galactic and private space tours,  Peter Thiel founder of Pay Pal and investor in Space X which recently delivered cargo to the ISS, Paul Allen co-founder of Microsoft and StratoLaunch which won the Ansari X Prize in 2004, and John Carmack Founder of id Games and Armadillo Aerospace who is building lower cost reusable rockets; all prove that privately Owned Space flight is another example of how Individual Liberty is always superior to Collective Coercion.

Ayn Rand would have been very proud of Felix Baumgartner and Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull. This is her summation of her philosophy circa 1936:

” To make my life a reason unto itself. I know what I want up to the age of two hundred. Know what you want in life and go after it. I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals and I loathe humanity, for its failure to live up these possibilities…”

Brad Miller

AdvocateofLiberty and Privately Owned Capital

If you want to learn more about the men and women who are living up the the highest possibilities in private space travel check out these sites. Track in real-time the position of the Genesis II prototype Private Space Station launched by Bigelow Areospace in 2010.

Government Made Disasters – Red Cross in Spain Taking Donations for Spainards

In True nature of the State on October 11, 2012 at 2:19 am

Has a hurricane, tsunami, or flood hit Spain that I’m not aware of? If not then why is the Spanish Red Cross collecting money to help their fellow country man?

The Red Cross is out soliciting donations around Spain because people are beginning to starve in Spain. How can that happen in a First World Nation? Has there been a Famine caused by drought, locust or some other Biblical Plague? No. There hasn’t been a faminine in Europe since Laissez-Faire Capitalism hit the shores of Europe.

Has there been a war that has disrupted the economy? No, Spain’s last real war was the Spanish Civil War back in the 1930’s.

Has there been a massive outbreak of disease forcing millions to be unable to not work? Well sort of. Its not a physical disease but rather a mental “disorder” that is causing massive physical effects for the people of Spain today.

The reason why so many people in Spain are needing “assistance” is because of the ideology the majority of the Spanish have embraced over the decades. Spain and the other “PIIGS” Portugal, Ireland, and Italy are suffering the effects of what happens when Individuals embrace the ideas of Collectivism and elect politicians who put those ideas into action.

I’m not saying that the Bankers, Politicians and Pundit apologists didn’t orchestrate this collapse. They were front and center. But when individuals forget they have a God-given right only to their own life, liberty and property they suffer the effects of the violation of the Natural Laws.

Right now the Red Cross in Spain is going around the country soliciting donations for those according to Bloomberg Business “are hurt by the economy and government austerity measures”. But the article did not dig into why the economy is in shambles in the first place.

Spain is the case study for how Collectivism fails even when its shrouded in t”Deomcracy”. It was on the forefront of the Green Economy movement and gover the last decade has seen massive government intervention into every aspect of the economy. Just four years ago American politicians were pointing to Spain as the model for how to turn an economy around. Those politicians may want to rethink that now.

Spokesman Jose Javier Sanchez Espinosa for the Spanish Red Cross laid out the current “Utopian State” of Spain today:

“25 percent of children are living under the poverty level and old people now have their children and their grandchildren depending on their pensions,” he said.

“Spain is in its second recession in three years, and has near 25 percent unemployment”

Spain is in bad shape. The reason why is simple. The people of Spain like the people here have traded liberty for security and now they have less and less of both.

It reminds me of the story of the Farmer who wanted to catch some Wild Hogs on his property and domesticate them. The Wild Hogs were wary and proud creatures who regarded the farmer with great suspicion because of the stories they heard of the animals being caged and slaughtered on the farm. They valued their independence living in the forest only by their brain and their brawn. Sure the forest was dangerous and nothing was guaranteed but he Wild Hogs were crafty, strong, and self-reliant; that was until they discovered how tasty free Farmer corn could be.

The Farmer was cunning and patient. He knew he could never get all the Wild Hogs into a pen by force. So instead of the stick he used the carrot or more accurately, free corn. .

He began putting corn out in a small clearing next to the forest. At first The Wild Hogs were leery but soon one by one they began to eat the corn. After a few days of laying out the corn the Farmer put up some fence.  Not too close to the corn but close enough that the Wild Hogs noticed it when they ate. They rationalized it away. They told themselves “Hey, I’m still free I can come and go as I please and this corn is mighty tasty”.

Now as days passed the Wild Hogs continued to eat the free corn and the Farmer began putting up more and more of the fence.  The Wild Hogs didn’t mind at all and became more and more accustomed to it. As the second side of the corral was completed the Wild Hogs told themselves  “I’m not worried I can still come and go as I please and this corn is so tasty”. They even didn’t mind seeing the farmer because they knew that he was the one brining them the corn. After a few weeks of this The Wild Hogs now didn’t even notice the fence at all, it was just part of the landscape. That was until the Farmer put in the last of the fencing, installed a gate and locked it shut. That was the day the Wild Hogs became very aware of the fence and that they could no longer come and go as they pleased.

But the Farmer assured them that the fence was there for their protection. They were safe in the pen from the wolves that lurked in the forest and they no longer had to go out searching for food in the forest. So the Hogs calmed down and settled into a routine of sitting around each day waiting for the farmer to bring the free corn.

Over time the farmer began cutting the rations back  and the pigs  after a while noticed and began to protest. But what could the pigs do? The Farmer simply ignored their pleas. They were trapped. They could no longer escape. They now were no longer the Wild Hogs who lived free in the forest by their brains and their brawn. Their muscles had atrophied and their power to reason was gone. No longer were they strong enough to push the fence over or smart enough to work the gate.  The once Proud Wild Hogs were now nothing more than trapped domesticated pigs.

The people of Spain,Italy, Ireland and Greece are all beginning to feel the “restricted rations of corn” from their Government Farmers. The crazy thing is that those who are calling for austerity are the one’s who  have fattened themselves the most by using the Central Banking System and the ability of Government to tax through force. The PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) don’t have a chance. The Farmers today, the central bankers, politicians and pundits, are all trying to pen up as many people as possible so  that they ensure that their supply of corn is never shut off.

The people were not forced into these pens by the pointing of guns. They were  domesticated little by little over the years by the desire for a steady diet of free corn. The majority of people around the world clamor to be taken care of. People naturally want to do other things besides work. Work is strenuous, hard and requires people to use their God-give ability to reason. None of that is easy.  Mises like to called this natural human tendency the “disutility of labor.” Everyone he wrote would rather do something else besides work. Fortunately (I’m being sarcastic) there are philosophers and politicians who take advantage of this human tendency with concocted theories of “collectivism” which gladly relieve the masses of their need to reason and place the responsibility of their lives in the hands of the Government Farmers.

The observable results of the Collectivist philosophy in action are always the same.  It is not something new. In the last century Collectivist Governments have killed over 170 million of their own citizens. A lot of these were “non-comliant” pigs who were agitating the other pigs in the pen and others were “undesirable pigs” who were starved to death either by design or simply through bureaucratic neglect. When your life is in the hands of the Central Planners, a.ka., the Government Farmers, they decide who lives and who dies.

It is sad. This is not some abstract debate about the theory and practice of governing. This is about millions of people beginning to starve to death in a First World Nation. That is startling. I think more people should be outraged at this because the same ideology that penned up the people in the PIIGS is running rampant through the hearts and minds of Americans today.

A lot of people in America are beginning to notice the government fencing in their lives. Unfortunately  Mitt Romney and Obama are not talking about taking down these fences, they are in fact talking about making them higher and stronger. Make no mistake about it, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Obama Care, 401ks, IRAs, tax deductions are all Fences designed to keep you in the Centrally Planned Pen. Instead of demanding to hear about how these fences should be taken down, the only thing most Americans want to hear is who among the Government Farmers will be giving them the biggest ration of corn.

Brad Miller

AdvocateofLiberty and Living Free of Government Fences