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  I HATE YOU. YOU HATE ME. THAT'S GOOD FOR THE E-CON-O-MY.  
   
   
 

Forget the touchy-feely stuff regarding "diversity" and why it's so great. Ethnic diversity is good for America because it's good for business.

That's the bottom line. For all those words wasted on globalism, the simple fact of the matter is our chaotic, multicultural existence -- with all the unfair stereotyping and bias -- lubes the wheels of business and makes rooking saps easier. It doesn't matter what those touchy feely "up with people" biz books say: We don't like each other much and that's good for business, because everyone goes home happy in the end, feeling they won something from partners who wouldn't give it up anyway.

Consider this savvy business advice from a guy who raked it in against real long odds: Keith Richards. He revealed his business

 
 

secret with perfect lucidity and economy while discussing the immensely profitable Budweiser endorsement of the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour. "We were sure we'd shafted the Budweiser people," he drawled to Rolling Stone in 1990. "And they were convinced they'd rooked us ...Yeah, the perfect business deal."

There you have it. A glittering gem. More wisdom in 15 words than a library of business book bosh.

     
  And backed by more proof of success than the whole crop of business gurus and sorcerers and consultants and new-age soothsayers, could muster together. More than ten times what they could muster.

The Voodoo Lounge Tour was the highest grossing event in the annals of entertainment. Bridges To Babylon topped even THAT! Yet we're supposed to learn business skills from some failed televangelist squawking and flapping his arms like a deranged stork on a stage? Gimme a break. When he starts charging what Mick and Keith charge for deranged flapping and squawking on stage THEN I'll listen to him.

Keith not convincing enough? How about an impeccably scientific

 
      source, Charles Darwin, in Voyage of the Beagle? After exchanging goods with natives in Tierra Del Fuego at the tip of South America, Darwin said: "Both parties were laughing, wondering, gaping at each other; we pitying them for giving us good fish and crabs for rags and trinkets. They, gaping at the incredible fortune of finding people so foolish as to exchange such splendid ornaments for a supper."  
 

 

We Don't Like Each Other. Everyone's a Winner!

People have won Nobel Prizes for exploring this phenomenon. Myron S. Scholes and Robert C. Merton won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1997 for a theory explaining how the stock market works -- why stocks are bought and sold. They boiled it down to two words: Asymmetrical Information.

In other words, information that one party has that the other party doesn't.

That's the whole thing. In brief: one party sells or buys because he thinks he knows more about what that stock's going to do than the other party -- he knows it's value better than the sap he's dumping it on, or idiot he's stealing it from.

Consider these thoughts from Ludwig Erhard, the West German

 
 

economic minister responsible for West Germany's post-war "economic miracle." "The art of economic compromise," he said, "is dividing the pie in a way that everyone thinks he got the biggest slice."

These all sounds a hell of a lot more like Keith's definition of a win-win than the hogwash in the business books at Barnes & Noble.

     
 

 

Ethnic diversity spawns win-wins on a vast scale across the commercial landscape. Bona-fide business people know what "win-win" really is: two people shaking hands and smiling, above each head a little balloon with the famous love scene from Deliverance. Each party to the transaction sees himself as the snarling, thrusting mountain man. Each sees his partner as the squealing, blubbering Ned Beatty.

But this is difficult to achieve when both parties think alike. Then they're likely to see themselves as a squealing Ned and their partner in the gloriously triumphant role of the toothless mountain man. This paralyzes commerce and stonewalls economic growth.

The late Italian sage and man of letters Luigi Barzini wrote a superb

 
     

book about his childhood as an Italian immigrant to New York in the 1920s titled, O America When You and I Were Young. Here's what caught his eye immediately:

"Sicilians did not need to learn anything about America ... The trouble with their native land was that it was filled from shore to shore with nobody but Sicilians ... whatever business you were engaged in, you had to face another Sicilian. They

 
 

all knew the same secrets, conducted themselves by the same rules. They scented their opponents concealed fears, anxieties, hopes, or confidence. In Sicily this produced a kind of collective paralysis ... Life in the new country was infinitely easier for Sicilians because only a small number of Americans (mostly policemen) had heard of the Sicilians crafty arts. And these ill informed few coped with them as ineffectually as if trying to box with ghosts in a dark room."

Genius! This still happens today. Just insert Cuba for Sicily and Miami for New York. Here was another case of (supposed) Mediterranean guile meeting (supposed) Nordic naiveté. And the economic results were equally bountiful. The locals had a field-day fleecing these excitable Latins in every business deal. The Cubans had a hard time keeping a straight face while sticking it to these slow-talking dim-witted crackers.

In The Spirit of Enterprise George Gilder called it "The Cuban Miracle

 
 

... No other immigrant group so inundated a city, and transformed it so quickly and successfully, while achieving such multifarious business breakthroughs as the nearly 600,000 fugitives from Castro's regime who made Miami their home after 1960."

Why Familiarity Breeds Contempt and Winning is Relative.

     
 

 

Gilder has it right, but it takes two to tango. The locals are part of the equation too.

Nothing's harder than rooking a countryman. He has my identical habits of mind. He sees through my ruses and schemes like I see through cellophane. He scents my machinations even through a bad cell-phone connection. Worse, I scent his.

Know what that hug or abrazo between Mediterranean men signifies? They're frisking each other! A simple handshake wasn't enough. And why do we shake hands, anyway? It was an ancient way to demonstrate that you weren't holding a knife. Sneaky southern Europeans then started hiding the knife on their backs. Hence, the abrazo.

Here in the land of the Statue of Liberty, the Melting Pot, the Rainbow coalition and the Puritans, we have peculiar notions about immigration. In other lands populated and made prosperous by immigrants -- places like Argentina, Australia, Canada -- they come right out and say it: "We came here looking for fresh meat."

But we like to think that our commercial success springs from the legacy of English common law, from our Bill Of Rights, our Constitution, our passion for liberty, the Protestant Work Ethic.

Yes, yes, undoubtedly. All these things contribute. They lay the foundation and grease the wheels. But mainly, it's because the U. S. is the land of the scentless swindle, or rather, win-win. It's a place where every group, not only senses, but has palpable evidence daily that he's in fact shafting all others.

Tell Mexican construction workers in Houston they're exploited. They laugh. They make ten times what they'd make at home even if they could find a job. They can't believe these fools pay so much. Tell the contractor who's paying them he's depriving his countrymen of jobs. He laughs louder. His unemployed countrymen make more on welfare than he pays the Mexicans.

This identical theme has been going on since the Germans started settling among the Dutch and English in Pennsylvania. Ben Franklin watched with bemusement. "Those Germans who come hither are generally the stupidest of their stock ... we should let them settle here. They are hardworking."

Anyone who doubts this should get his goddamn nose out of that stupid business book and look around the world. The proof whacks you on the side of the head.

Jews, usually shining testimonials to self-reliance and capitalist efficiency, prosper as capitalists everywhere except Israel. They finally get a homeland where they can live and work exclusively with other Jews and nothing works! If anything ever looked like a sure thing it was Israel. You have a whole country full of the most demonstratively industrious and ingenious people on Earth -- 20% of the world’s Nobel Prize winners are Jewish -- and yet, Israel’s economy is consistently in the red, propped up by foreign aid.

Asia prospers at the direction of overseas Chinese. Red China, full of nothing but Chinese, flounders and creaks along. Here they scent each others' swindle. And don't tell me about Taiwan. Most of its citizens are Formosan, ethnically distinct from Chinese. Formosans and Chinese love to prey on each other. The Taiwanese economy thus booms.

How about Switzerland? Is it racially homogeneous? Not at all -- it's a mutt nation, roughly a third German, French and Italian, each group with a bitter loathing for the other. They go at each other commercially with a vengeance, the squeals and blubberings audible from every alpine peak. Consequently they're the most consistently prosperous nation in Europe. Depressions, recessions, wars -- the Swiss economy works like its watches.

The British Are Stupid.

Consider the historical worldview of the British as unimaginative slobs.

"Like all Italians, Frenchmen and Mediterranean people in general, I then believed a nimble mind, quick reflexes, eloquence, and brilliant improvisations were the essential requisite for success. Were all Englishmen dull-witted?" Barzini said. "My first conclusion was that the English, like most Nordic people, were not very sharp."

Not that there's anything new or novel in Barzini's sentiment. In the

 
     

1st Century B.C., Cicero advised Atticus: "Do not obtain your slaves from Britain because they are so stupid and so utterly incapable of being taught that they are not fit to form a part of the household of Athens."

Ten centuries later, little had changed. Said of Toledo wrote this from the capital of Moorish Spain: "Races north of the Pyrenees are of cold

 
 

temperament and never reach maturity; they are of great stature and of white color. But they lack all sharpness of wit and penetration of the intellect."

But taken alone, these sentiments would never work for economic progress. For a genuine win-win this feeling of contempt and loathing must be mutual. Fortunately for global commerce and international economic cooperation, it is.

"If non-Nordics are more closely allied to monkeys and apes than to Nordics, why is it possible for them to mate with Nordics and not with apes?" wrote German professor Herman Rauch from Berlin in 1923. "The answer is this: it has not been proven that non-Nordics cannot mate with apes."

Or as the famous British proverb goes: "The Wogs start at Calais."

Bring on the Suckers!

Ugly as it may sound, these charming and timeless sentiments that facilitate commerce, my friends. But they'd be worthless without commercial access. What's the use of having such a juicy and appetizing prospect-list if you can't call on them? This is what so excites everyone about the "Globalization of Markets." Free trade, my friends, free trade. Forget the academic arguments in its favor. Forget the sophistries from the pundit. Forget the touchy-feely stuff in the business books.

When the Japanese attempted to install their "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" with bombs and bayonets the thing failed miserably. But note the term "co-prosperity."

Here was proof that under those scowls and samurai swords lay budding merchants. The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere works like a charm now. They caught on quick. Why kill all those juicy prospects? Take them to lunch. Buy them some sea urchin, sake and a geisha. You'll earn ten times the profit.

Scentless swindles spawned the Gilded Age and the Roaring 20's. Today, it's not so easy. Now Barzini's Sicilian confronts a prospect with a reassuringly Irish or Slavic name but isn't so sure. He's got a disturbingly Mediterranean cast to his features. Maybe he inherited his mother's Neapolitan mind? Better watch it. Second generation Cubans in Miami face the same challenge. So they move to Atlanta. I have a flock of cousins and nephews there now.

This is what so excites savvy financial types about the "global economy," about the dismantling of trade barriers everywhere, about the opening of new markets. But in the U.S. today, it sometimes takes as many as three or four calls, and up to five or six lap dances, to convince a prospect that you're a numskull. This gets expensive.

At the turn of the century, as Barzini showed us, it was a cinch. Your name did it. With global telecommunications, unmelted people and the "globalization of markets" we'll be back in the Gilded Age. Beaucoup prospects, and dumb foreign ones to boot.

 

Humberto Fontova is the author of The Hellpig Hunt and The Helldivers' Rodeo, described as "Powerful and compelling!" by Publisher's Weekly, "Totally crazy!' by Bill Maher and "Just what the doctor ordered!" by Ted Nugent.