Why I Keep Bugging People To Study History: The Art of Business

Rory Fleming Richardson, Ph.D., ABMP, TEP

My father worked in international trade for 42 years. As part of his job, he would go to different countries and help local business persons set up factories, set up trade agreements, and arrange the details of doing business. He was more closely involved with the people doing the work, than the people simply moving money around. He was respected by the business persons and the workers. This was not something that was appreciated by other service managers who were more involved in the politics. He worked on principles of fairness, respect, and honesty.

Two thousand years ago one of my great…grandfathers was also involved in international trade. He was known as Nobilis Decurio, or noble provider. He lived in the South part of Israel and had ships which he sailed throughout the then Roman Empire and beyond. One of the locations he would go to was to the area known now as Wales and Cornwall; gathering tin and metals for trade. These areas were outside of the Roman Empire. Eventually, he and others would move to the island nation settling in the area known as Glastonbury, where King Aviragus gave them 12 hides of land which was not to be taxed. His name was Joseph of Arimathea.

Despite a functional international trade, Rome eventually elected to invade Britain and attempt to make it a “client nation”. Why? The answer was control and power. Was this necessary? The answer is “No”. It was simply a way of a few individuals, in the Roman Empire, having more control to increase financial gain and control without having to earn it. Joseph’s skill in international trade gained him the respect of the Roman Empire, with the title Nobilis Decurio, and garnered him the respect of the people Britannia, which was demonstrated by the granting of him 12 hides of land.

When a business person or a community is free to trade and interact on the basis of mutual benefit, the interaction is more likely to be fair and sensitive to the needs of each party. When this is controlled by more detached, less involved parties, people are taken advantage of and placed in positions of inequality.

In many cities in the USA during the 1930s, individuals who were nothing more than thugs would extort “protection money” from local merchants. The protection that was provided was most likely to protect them from reprisal of the thugs who collected the money. What is the difference between that and a government which purposely interferes in international trade to force the development of cartels, which promote themselves, as necessary for international trade?

As problems develop in the world, we have been lulled into believing that additional levels of administration are needed to solve problems. To give the appearance that the interests of the everyday person is being met, meetings of “stakeholders” are held. Unfortunately, the input from those meetings is rarely of significant influence on those commissioned with solving the problems. Many times the interests of an elite few, who are the gathers of power and control, end up being the deciding point.

Perhaps it is time we start to peel off the layers of government, and get back to creating on environment where fair, honest trade can occur.