Friday, December 19, 2008

Respect and Authority

This morning I was thinking about respect for authority and wondering if there is more, or less respect for authority than there used to be.

In my case, I think I respect authority less than I used to, mainly because I've learned, over the years, to think for myself. Any authority that I do respect must earn my respect. I do not respect authority simply because they are --or are called-- authorities.

That being said, I do not run around deliberately or flagrantly acting contrary to laws, or what the government authorities say I should do, there are other reasons that might make me act in a way that would make it appear that I do respect authority.

In the case of many laws and regulations, my reason to act in seeming conformity to them, may be simply because I feel that the complications to my life for not conforming are more than the benefit I might perceive from doing otherwise.

There is another aspect of my superficial respect for authority. I have a practice of treating most people with respect, because I respect them as people until they give me some reason to not respect them. So, I may be entirely polite and deferential to someone who might consider my actions as respect for their position where, in reality, I am simply giving them the benefit of the doubt because I don't really know them as a person.

Much of the turmoil we see in society around us these days is, I believe, due to the fact that people in positions of authority are confused with this relationship between authority and respect. The respect does not come from the authority, nor is there anything inherent in authority that leads to a person automatically respecting it.

Respect must be earned, authority can be given or taken by anyone for any good or bad reason. Much too often, authority is abused, and for that reason, people as they are more and more exposed to that abuse, tend to respect authority less. This can reach extremes where authority completely looses meaning.

Friday, November 28, 2008


con'·tre·pre·neur n. A person who habitually uses deceit, deception, and misrepresentation to earn a profit in a business venture.
--con'tre·pre·neur'i·al adj.
--con'tre·pre·neur'i·al·ism or con'tre·pre·neur'ism n.
--con'tre·pre·neur"ship' n.

Today, I'm coining a new word, to describe people like Robert Metzler, president of Allstate's of America, Inc., a Miami, company which I have had the misfortune to deal with.

Although Metzler, may be the world's first contrepreneur, he is not necessarily the best, or even the first contrepreneur to exisit, but simply the first to be described by this term which combines the term "con man" with "entrepreneur".

I believe we need a term for this kind of business person, because, although they are in the minority, we all have had, or will have an encounter with this type sometime in our lives and unfortunately the bad taste which we are left with as a result of such an experience, tends to seriously taint our feelings about business people as a whole.

After having my experience with Bob Metzler and his company Allstate's of America, Inc., located in Miami, I had considerable difficulty in comprehending how such a deceitful operator could continue to operate for 34 years, as Metzler claims. (Or was his 30 plus years in business just part of his story?)

As I thought about this, and gathered more information in my quest to seek some retribution from my dealings several things became clear to me that explains how a person so unethical can continue to operate for such a long period with impunity.

Metzler acquires discarded, replaced or damaged automotive service machinery and equipment, cleans and paints it, and resells it as supposedly reconditioned, tested and guaranteed equipment. In this sense, he is providing a wanted service to the owners of the obsolete equipment, taking it off their hands and providing them some payment for it.

Next, he specializes in exporting. A significant portion of what he sells is shipped out of the US, to countries where equivalent new equipment would be considerably more expensive than the used alternatives he offers.

Most of this equipment is heavy and bulky. Shipping it is expensive and the importation of these things into their destined markets is both fraught with red-tape, and expensive duties and taxes.
There are no existing laws or agencies which regulate and enforce standards of quality, warranties and general compliance with sales/purchase agreements. Agencies such as the Miami Better Business Bureau (which rates his business with it's lowest "F") and the State of Florida's Consumer Affairs Office, do not have any authority to do anything apart from attempt to communicate with the business and request a voluntary reconcilliation. This is in spite of the fact that the BBB has a long list of un-resolved complaints against this business.

According to Detective Kenneth Joseph with the Economic Crimes unit of the Miami Police, no US police force would respond to any complaint against Mr. Metzler as long as he shipped something -- anything -- in return for payment.

While the cost of most of his equipment is expensive, much of it running to several thousand dollars per item, it is not a mass market and the absolute total value of his transactions is not large enough to justify the cost of legal action either on an individual basis or even as a class action. The cost for a foreign complaint to attempt court ordered resolution in small claims court is prohibitive.

The fruits of Metzler's fraud are not of much interest to any news media who would reach other potential victims. This is no mass consumer problem or multi-million dollar fiasco that affect thousands. Local news media are likely to turn a deaf ear to reports of wrong doing because the only outcome would be loss of local jobs and purchases from local businesses. National and international media are too sophisticated to focus on a miniscule ripple in a distant, backward nation who should be thankful that cast-off American products are available in the first place.

So there you have it, the formula through which for anyone with limited scruples to find a lucrative niche .

  1. Provide some limited service to somebody in the community.

  2. Caters to a hungry market which is outside the base community.

  3. Sells products which involves considerable extra expense to receive.

  4. Operates in activity in which there is no regulation.

  5. Police have no jurisdiction.

  6. Legal action involves high costs.

  7. Scale small enough that news media are not interested.

The internet now offers us some tools which may help to make these contrepreneurs better known. Two that I know of are Ripoff Report, and My 3 Cents which allow individuals to publicially expose these kinds of operations. I encourage everyone to use these kinds of opportunities to avoid falling prey to contrepreneurs and to spread the word so that the world becomes more aware of their activities.

Anyone who is interested in the sordid details of my dealings with Metzler and Company can find them at:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seizure of Arms stashes

Every time I see a TV news report of a seizure of an illegal arms stash, I find myself being amazed at the attitude of the reporters who seem to build up the idea that the public is being relieved of a tremendous threat to their safety. But never do these reporters ever try to answer the question: "Why do these stash of arms exist?"

To me it seems that the reasons criminals accumulate arms is because they want to be prepared for a possible confrontation with armed opposition, which quite often might include those people who legally have the right to have extensive arms ar their disposal ... that is to say law enforcement agencies.

What I'm thinking is that if authorities in any country did not possess extensive and powerful armed weapons, then those who oppose them, or who might wish to, wouldn't go to the bother of building up their firepower.

This line of thinking is an extension of the idea that violence begets violence, and while it might be argued that the legitimate arms holder only have their arms in order to do their jobs and protect the public from anti-social elements, it might also be true that if they weren't armed in the first place the criminals wouldn't be as violent as they appear to be.

I don't claim to have the answer to the elimination of violence in the world, but I do believe we need to start looking for ways of stopping the bullies without resorting to the same tactics which the bullies use so that our "good" bully beats up the "bad" bully. Sooner, or later the good bully is going to be tempted to abuse his power and when he does he will be the bad boy.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Woman in the other time zone

Last night I had a most fascinating dream.

I dreamed I was beginning an intimate relationship with an exotic woman who told me that she, and her entire family lived in a different time zone. She explained that they did this to constantly remind themselves that they were different from the rest of the people around them.

I became acquainted with her when she came to do some work for me. What I didn't know until we began our relationship was her different time zone. In effect she was living one hour different from me. If I asked her to come to work for me at 8 am she arrived on time, but it was 7am in the world in which she lived and while I thought she finished the day a 4pm, she was leaving at 3pm according to her watch.

She told me, that if she committed herself to me, she would be willing to live in my time zone, but if I wanted to really become accepted by her family I'd have to adopt their time zone.

Of course this was just a dream, but it seems to me that the idea could be expanded into an interesting story or novel. If anyone is inspired by the idea, please feel free to use it ... and let me know: I'd be delighted to read what you come up with.

Friday, March 21, 2008

How To Leave A Trackback

I wonder if I will ever see a day when I'm not amazed by something or other on the internet.
Well, today, I've just learned about Trackback from Marcus Hochstadt. How To Leave A Trackback In this blog he demonstates how this works byproviding this link to where his learning all began, which was a blog entry by Kirsten Farris. You want to learn about Trackback too? Do what I did, and follow these links. Then try it out, maybe by tracking back here where YOU first started your lesson.

In this blog environment the link you use for trackback is named "Permalink". You can right-click on it and copy it's content to use in the post you want to make.