What is the United States of America (USA)? I mean, we all know that the USA is a Nation-State. We all know that the USA is a large group of people wrapped inside 3 political boundary lines. We all know that the USA is the combination of land and water with buildings and farms. But what is the United States of America really? Is it something more than the sum of these parts?
I argue that the USA is a living apparatus. It is one giant machine. And that machine has a purpose. That purpose is to create, protect, amplify and maximize wealth. When I say wealth, I not only mean financial wealth in the form of money and United States Dollars (USD $). But I am talking about anything that anyone might consider wealth. This can include spiritual wealth, love, ideas, consensus of thought, the coordination of human beings, tanks, food and anything that you or anyone else might consider of value. Think of the USA as the average American may look at it. The Average American, let’s call him, “Bob” lives in the United States. Why? Well let’s say he was either born here or else he moved here. If he was born here and still lives here, that’s because he had no real reason to move away. And if he moved to the USA from somewhere else, Bob did so because he was either seeking a safe place to live, freedom from persecution, work opportunities or other reasons like moving to be close to family. For the case of Bob though, Bob was born in the USA. He is a proud and loyal citizen of the United States of America. He works a $15.00 an hour job, 40 hours a week. And he rents a room in California and lives a modest life-style. Bob watches TV usually after working at his job and he pays his taxes automatically every time he gets a paycheck. The reason why he lives in the USA is because he is comfortable here. Bob has a few friends and life isn’t easy but it is generally good. To Bob, the United States of America is stability, it is security. Bob doesn’t have to worry about unrest and riots in the neighborhood of his Orange County abode. This let’s Bob focus on other stuff like his hobbies of collecting beer bottle caps and nailing them to cork-board. And he has other hobbies of making clever comments on you-tube videos and taking screen-shots of people’s reactions. Overall Bob is a happy United States citizen. But Bob doesn’t make that much money at his job. Bob rents a room, he doesn’t have trouble meeting women, but he feels a bit uncomfortable when he brings them home with him. He has to be quiet because he lives with an older family and they go to bed early. Bob believes that the United States of America is a great place to live, but he’s tried finding work to get a better job and since he never finished college he has a hard time.
Can the USA go to work for Bob? Well, it doesn’t exactly work like that. In the United States of America you need to create your own wealth building apparatus out of the systems that are already in place. So it comes down to one question, “If the USA is a wealth building machine, how do I get that machine to build me some wealth?” Well first thing is first, you must identify your goals. What do you want for your life? And more specifically, what do you want the United States of America to do for you? Let’s tackle the first question first. And to give the questions some meat to chew on, let’s say Bob has a best friend that he goes to the movies with sometimes named, Greg. Now Greg isn’t the same as Bob. Greg is a bit more ambitious than Bob and he wants more from life. But Greg is bankrupt, exhausted and lives with his parents. Like Bob, Greg didn’t finish College but he was able to find a job as a video editor in Orange County because of an internship that he did. What Greg wants out of life, is that he wants to save up $40,000 so he can comfortably move out of his parent’s house and pay for an apartment possibly for a year in advance. Greg also wants to eventually meet a lady and get married if possible. But priority number one is to move out of Mom ‘n Dad’s. So basically we can say that the number one goal for Greg in life right now, is to save $40,000.
OK! So now we know that Greg wants $40,000. And we also know that Greg lives in the United States of America. Since we know that the USA is a wealth-creating machine, let’s help Greg make $40,000 using the opportunities and resources of the United States of America. Well, the good news is that even though Greg is bankrupt, he has managed to save $7,000 from his video editing job. So that means that Greg only needs to save $33,000 more in order to meet his goal. Let’s take a quick look at the cash flow for a typical month for Greg. He makes $3,500 per month at his job as a video editor. So let’s use $3,500 per month as the starting point for his budget. Greg doesn’t get charged rent by his parents, but he does have a car payment of $400 per month. He is on the family plan for his cellphone and Greg uses the wi-fi connection at his parents house so he doesn’t spend money on cell-phone use and internet. But Greg usually goes to Bruger’s Bagels for lunch and also get’s a drink from Starbucks at least once or twice a day when he is working his 5 day a week job. So Greg usually spends about $15.00 per day on food and Starbucks. (This is an over-estimate but when it comes to budgets it’s better to over-estimate your costs then to under-estimate them.) Let’s say that $15.00 per day also factors for the weekends because he might go out with Bob and get some food. So to calculate Greg’s monthly Food and Starbuck’s expenditures we multiply $15.00 by 30 days per month. So the total Greg spends on Food and Starbuck’s per month is…HOLY CRAP! Greg spends $450 per month on Food and Starbucks! That’s a lot of money. But don’t forget that Greg is Bi-Polar and he has to buy his medication and see a shrink every 2 months. Every time he sees a psychiatrist he pays $100 and his medication costs him $200 per month. So if he sees his shrink once every 2 months then he pays $250 per month on his Psych visits and for meds. Let’s not forget that Greg pays $400 per month on his car, which he uses to get to his video editing job. Gasoline costs Greg about $50 per month. OK! So let’s tally up the cash flow for Greg’s budget. He makes $3,500 per month doing his job, and he spends about $1,100 per month on car, food and other expenses. This leaves Greg with $2,400 per month. Let’s set aside $400 per month for emergency expenses, like clothes, going out and other stuff and say that Greg can save $2,000 per month. Since Greg has $7,000 saved up and he wants $40,000 that makes it so he needs to save $33,000 more in order to make his goal and move out of his parents’ house. In order for Greg to save $33,000 with his current monthly saving of $2,000 per month it will take him, 17 months. That’s means Greg is going to have to stay with Mom and Dad for another year and a half before he can have a place of his own.
Greg now has a choice, he can try and fast track to earn more wealth…or he can use his current funds to finish college. If Greg chooses to finish school he will definitely find it easier to get a job. The problem is that not all jobs pay very much, and his current job is actually very good money. So he has to choose what he wants to do and factor in his pride/long term goals. In this scenario he chooses to fast-track moving out and not finishing school. But he could have easily taken a different path. Like many of us, Greg is impatient.
Well, waiting a year and a half isn’t good enough for Greg. He wants to move out in 1 year. So in 1 year at his current savings rate he will have $24,000. $24,000 plus his $7,000 in the bank leaves Greg with $31,000 which is $9,000 less than his goal savings amount. So let’s find a way for Greg to take advantage of his interests and the opportunities and resources of the United States of America and make an extra $9,000 bucks!
OK! Greg has some hobbies. He owns a blog, he likes to make videos and post them on You-Tube, he likes going out to the movies with Bob and he enjoys watching Babylon 5. He has other hobbies but his blog in particular has the potential to make him some money. Well, Greg uses Google AdSense in order to make money on his blog. In past 4 months he has made 48 posts, he had 6,000 unique visitors, 35 ad clicks and he has generated a whopping total of $3.50 … It’s not that much money but 48 posts isn’t that many posts in 4 months. Also Google Adsense will only let Greg get his Advertising Revenue once he makes $10 or more. So he has a lot of work to do before he get’s that first check from Google.
So how can we help Greg make more money with his blog? First of all, he needs to produce more content. Greg needs to start waking up earlier and blog every day. Maybe he should read my article on waking up early for inspiriation! If Greg wakes up and blogs every day then he will double his content in a month and a half. But what is Greg blogging about? Does he have a target audience? Let’s say, Greg’s blog is pretty dis-jointed and he blogs about pretty much whatever is on his mind and he doesn’t care if anyone listens or not. THERE’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! (hehe.) It will just take Greg a great deal of content and consistency in writing for him to attract the visitors that he needs to get AdSense clicks. This $3.50 stuff just isn’t working. In order for Greg to make $9,000 from his blog in 1 year he will need to generate $750 per month in advertising revenue. So this means he is going to need to increase the viewership of his blog by 200 fold in order to have the kind of traffic he needs. Fortunately there are some tools that Greg can use to in order to get more juice out of his blog. Since Greg uses a popular web hosting company for webhosting. He has access to something called Awstats, this application tracks his hits and unique visitors. But Greg can also use Awstats to find out which of his blog articles are getting visited the most and also he can find out what websites and pages are referring traffic to him the most. Let’s not forget that with Awstats Greg can determine which search keywords are relating to his page. If Greg uses this information wisely he will be able to determine what articles are the most popular. But let’s take this information grabbing a step further and recommend Google Analytics to Greg. Since Greg uses WordPress for his blog he can download the latest Google Analytics plugin…Here’s a link. With this plugin he’ll be able to use Google Analytics and this program is GODLY powerful. With Google Analytics Greg will be able to find out what articles are bringing in the most Adsense revenue from related links. He then will have the choice to write more articles that are along the same subject lines as ones that are attracting clicks, or not. Google Analytics is great because it can also show you what country and city the web hits are coming from.
Once Greg starts to pump out more content for his blog, he can then use the many opportunities of the United States of America that are at his fingertips to spread the word about his blog and attract more visitors to his content. He can put up flyers about his blog. He can join other blogs that are in the United States of America and use his website URL in his avatar or post signature. Greg can get business cards made with his website information on them and then give them to people who may be interested in his blog. But once Greg gets a critical mass of articles that he thinks are really good. Let’s say he posts 500 articles that he is really proud of. Then he can advertise his website, on the web and even on TV. Last night I saw IJustine on a Hulu commercial when I was watching Babylon 5. Who’s IJ? IJ is this girl. What’s interesting is that she started as a YouTuber who posted videos of how she wants a pizza or other stuff. Anyway now she is getting commercials and her commercials are popping up during the commercial breaks of me watching Babylon 5. Well, once Greg has more content he can make either a text advertisement which shows up when someone puts a related keyword into google search. Or else Greg can create an actual video promoting his blog and if it is up to quality standards, Greg can put that video advertisement up on TV.
Well now we know that the USA is a money making machine! Just remember, if you don’t use it…someone else will. And there’s no telling what anyone else is going to do with the awesome wealth creating power of the United States of America, so you might as well harness some of that potential for yourself!
[UPDATE - 12/8/2012]
Looking back on this post it is very clear Greg had a decent plan. One thing I’ve noticed in talking to people over the last couple years is that going into debt for college can really create a hamper on one’s life. It’s like a gamble. The people who have done the best are either the ones who went into debt and paid it off quickly…or else the people who finished community college and worked through their vocational and or preparation for 4 year school degree’s. In the example above, Greg chose not to finish school. That can be just as risky and going into debt, because although credential-ism is unfair and often unjustified in the workplace, it is a very real aspect of societal interaction. So although Greg may do well with his endeavors, he may hold himself back mentally or neurotically by not getting that degree.
Speaking from experience, I took a different path than our virtual friend “Greg” here. I spent the money I saved up to finish my education in International Relations. Although the degree isn’t making me “tons” of money by a long-shot, I definitely do find that I have an advantage in getting a job. Also, I moved out of my parents house only a few months after getting my degree. So there’s something to say for the discipline and motivation required to actually finishing a task that one set’s out for.
But Greg, we hope you the best in your endeavors and never give up on your dreams! (oh wait, Greg isn’t real)
PS: Thanks for reading!