The 20 Hour Watch ... Why The Smart
Russians & Even Smarter Americans Aren�t The Smartest
By Chester Billingsley
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Russians sent me a Russian. I
was to teach him about capitalism. He was amazed at the concepts of
discounts, the emotion of advertising and the possibility of stiff
commercial competition. After his internship, we exchanged $40
watches. As I was an avid jogger then, he got a waterproof sports
watch, digital and accurate to 3 seconds a year, with dual time
zones, alarms and lap times.
quite happily and smugly traded for his new Red Star analog military
watch. I was a little chagrined when he told me it had a winding
stem like by Dad�s old watch. I quickly found that it lost 4 minutes
per day, fogged in the shower, and the band came un-sewn. This all
didn�t matter much, because the watch stopped within a month.
The stem fill out. But what left me with the biggest lesson, was
that one winding of the watch lasted 20 hours. Who the heck designs
a winding watch that you can�t just wind once a day? Well, the
answer is any worker in a centrally planned economy, not subject to
the competition of the market.
This is all in great contrast to Costco blueberry muffins. My hard
working friend, Jesus, ran a trucking company that delivered muffins
to Costco. A vendor of his was trying to introduce a new blueberry
muffin into Costco stores. At the taste-off there were thirteen
competing brands of blueberry muffins.
With just the right mix of sweetness, the best oil, a few pecan
chips (never walnut), full blueberries and snappy packaging, Jesus
and his vender won. In a similar way, mini-muffins, muffin tops and
giant muffins were all introduced to Costco. The same type of
vetting and re-vetting is going on today at WalMart and any number
of stores across America.
The reason capitalism works and socialism does not is the genius of
Jesus and a million other experts in their daily jobs that keep
striving to make their particular product and work a little bit
better than the competition. Even though the many advisors around
you are all smart, none of any of us is as smart as the collective
Jesus� of the world.
president, especially a competent and intelligent president, must
keep the effective and distributed dynamic of capitalism in mind and
not substitute the centralized judgments of a well meaning elite.
Chet Billingsley did his undergraduate work at West Point. He
attended Harvard where he received a Master�s Degree in Applied
Physics with concurrent study at Harvard Business School and MIT�s
Nuclear Engineering Department. He spent the major portion of his
early career at General Electric in the energy and high tech sector
in project turn-around and international management positions.
Currently, Billingsley is the CEO of Mentor Capital (Symbol:MNTR).
For more information on Mentor Capital see:
�The Prince� by Chet Billingsley can be purchased at
(Disclosure: Bob Meyer owns Mentor Capital stock.)