Zoran's Speech At The 2010 Tax Day Teaparty in Shelby, NC
Allow me a few minutes to give you a little background about myself… My name is Zoran Naskov, my wife Jennifer and two home schooled children Nastassia and Aleks live in the neighboring Rutherford county. Jennifer and I have been married for almost 12 years, and until last year have never, and I mean never, been involved in any political activity whatsoever.
That all changed last March, when Jen and I gathered together with about a dozen friends and decided that saying "someone has to do something" just wasn't going to cut it any longer. From that simple gathering, came forth two tea parties in 2009 and a local 912 group meeting once a month and actively involved in our local government.
Now, from my name and accent you can tell that I am not from this part of North Carolina… I am from a little east of here… I was born in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the mid 70's, lived there during the 80's and came to the US in the early 90's.
Socialism In Yugoslavia
It was a Federal Republic in name only, the Socialist part is what really described it fully.
Like others who come to the US, I came because I saw it as a place where anyone can make it big by working hard without having to stay in line with an oppressive government system.
Yugoslavia was one of the places which actually had the choice between Communism and Monarchy. At the start of World War 2 the Royal family fled the country, and the people loosely organized themselves into small militia groups to defend their homes against the German invasion. The Communists took advantage of the leadership vacuum, and became the de-facto head of the guerrilla warfare that took place.
After the second world war, the Communists presented a choice to the population: do you want to accept the return of the royal family which abandoned you, or do you want the Communists which saved you to run the country? The choice was made.
One of the first things the Communists did was to place the leadership of the movement into the palaces of the exiled royalty. To be fair, there were strong ideologues who refused to be a part of that process, however they were dealt with quickly, and within 10 years of the war ending, there were no objections to some of the Party members being "more equal" then the rest. The official word was that they were only doing that as a service to the people, so that they could show the rest of the world how Communist/Socialist systems could provide the same level of dignified diplomacy as the "greedy" capitalists.
To further assure the people that everyone was being equally taken care of, these "more equal" leaders made promises of "gifts" to the population of the new socialist republic.
So, the gifts started arriving:
Gifts Of Socialism
Housing for everyone
This meant that land, factory and home owners were "encouraged" to turn over their property to the state, in exchange for which they were issued "certificates of ownership". The state then apportioned land, houses, apartments and farms to everyone who didn't have them. Again, some citizens were "more equal" than others, so they just had to suffer living in the luxurious homes while others contributed to the state by living in shared quarters.
Education for everyone
Free school, books and meals resulted in the post-war generations to pursue higher education, thus avoiding the burden of getting a job. The country was plagued with 35 year olds still living in their parent's 1 bedroom apartment, because they couldn't slow down their education with things like work and waking up before noon. Those 35 year olds holding PhDs ultimately became 45 year old public transportation employees driving buses and punching tickets. Unless of course they were related to the "more equal" citizens, in which case they became teachers in the public education system, fervently equipping future generations of PhD educated bus drivers and train ticket hole punchers.
Health care for everyone
This part was great too… you have a health card issued to you by the state, and then when you go to the doctor, you present your card, and then promptly sit down in the waiting room until you were called in… this meant coming back day after day after day, while watching others going into the doctor's offices without waiting one second. It wasn't a problem, because by the time you got your bus driver job, you figured out that in order to get same day service at the doctor's office you had to come in with a box of chocolates as an entry fee… not just any old box of chocolates mind you, it had to be a special kind, where a few of the chocolates were replaced with a $100 bill or a gold coin. The more specialized the doctor, the more chocolates you had to replace. So yes, healthcare was free and available to everyone, the state just failed to mention that wait times were measured in years instead of minutes.
Cars for everyone
And you just know I had to get to the Yugo… it was the crown jewel model of the Yugoslavian car company Zastava… we were all very proud of it, and people just couldn't get their hands on one fast enough when they came out…
Yes, they may have been made fun of in the west, however we never heard of the ridicules, and our domestic, government run, car magazines were filled with raving reviews of the Yugo from the US and elsewhere. Oh, we had other cars in the country, BMWs, Mercedes and so on, however unless the imported vehicle came from the eastern block, a domestic industry protection tariff doubled and tripled their real prices of imports.
On an annual income 1/10th that of the western world, a household couldn't ever dream of owning anything but the "people's car". Needless to say, the "more equal citizens" did have party provided western made cars, however it was so that we could show that the socialist system isn't any less prosperous than others in official diplomatic dealings. Sadly, the "more equals" had to just suffer the pain of driving those cars. The rest of us enjoyed the privileges of Yugos, Trabants, Fiats, Shkodas and Volgas… as a side note, if you have never heard of those car makers… considers yourself blessed.
Money for everyone
The state decided that nobody should be short on money, so compensation was set high, and people were able to afford niceties, take vacations and so on… as predicted by every sane economist, by the mid 80s items like a loaf of bread reached prices in the "thousands" and clothing cost "millions"… needless to say a "money for nothing and the chicks for free" social policy put the country in dire straits... (… … … tough crowd… thank you thank you, I am here all week, try the veal… moving on…)
so inflation caused our money to have absolutely no meaning, and when people were thinking, talking and acting in terms of savings, it was only done in foreign currency, gold, silver and other non-perishable items. For example, my grandparents lived in an old house, which contained items like tires, pants, appliances, tools in large quantities, worth many times the value of the house itself. They used the sale of those items over time, as their retirement income, since savings, retirement investments and government pensions simply lost value too quickly due to inflation.
Business and Taxation in Socialism
Now while similar in color to Santa Claus, the Socialists did lack the elves needed to deliver all of those "gifts" for free… So a heavy taxation system was in place taxing everything from imports to production to incomes, with rates in the 80% range and above. These ridiculous taxes ended up creating a two sector business environment: The Government Sector and the Black Market Sector.
The Government Sector
The Government sector was made up of state owned businesses, where performance and efficiency took a distant second place to making sure that relatives and friends of the Party were positioned in roles of importance, so that the purposes of the ideology were kept on track.
The Black Market Sector
On the other hand, the Black market sector was where real efficiency and productivity took place, and it is what actually enabled the people and the country to last as long as it did before imploding and completely disappearing. This sector came into existence out of necessity, as while the least productive and least enterprising members of society found comfort in the failing government sector, there were still those who sought freedom in their productivity and enjoyed being their best and benefiting from the fruit of their labor. Prosperity found a way.
For example, my dad as one of the rare private business owners in the 80s and 90s worked with some of the largest private and government enterprises in the country. However more often than not the payment for his work consisted of:
- Apartments when doing work for construction companies.
- Expensive furniture and appliances (only intended for export) when doing work for furniture and appliance factories.
- Meat, cheese and produce when doing work for large farms.
And so on and so forth, you get the idea… people who wanted to produce, still produced, just outside of the broken system, not using it's currency, banking structure or tax restrictions. Bribery, favors and non-perishables were the currency of the real industry, thus causing the general population to suffer a sub-par lifestyle when attempting to live under the law.
The Fall of Socialism
It doesn't take a bus driver with a PhD in economics to figure out that the system wouldn't last long. By the late 80s early 90s, Yugoslavia crashed with a loud economic and military boom, costing a terrifying number of people their lives and even more their possessions and status in society. Overnight, the country ceased to function and exist.
So, once again, the people of Yugoslavia found themselves at a crossroads, deciding which system of government to use as they started rebuilding from the rubble… they had tried both capitalism and communism…. so what did they chose after the fall of the eastern block.
The New Choice
I can tell you what my home land, Macedonia, did after separating from Yugoslavia:
- The heavily entrenched socialists were ousted within three election cycles.
- A US-educated Macedonian Methodist Lay Minister was elected for president.
- A flat personal income tax of 10% was instituted
- A 3 year elimination of corporate taxes was instituted on all foreign business investments.
- A 10 year elimination of corporate taxes for foreign investments in industries like software, technology, energy etc.
- Privatization of the government health care system.
- Decentralization and privatization of the education system.
- Privatization of the government pension system.
Countries suffering under totalitarian systems for 50, even a 100 years saw the light of liberty half way across the world, and guided by it, formed governments of the people and for the people.
Today in Macedonia, and countries like it, the process of rebuilding and moving away from socialism is ongoing, however recently these countries have started to falter. They falter because the one place which used to light up the road to liberty, no longer shines its light clearly.
The Missing Lighthouse
The US, once known as a shining city on a hill is not leading as it was set to do over 200 years ago. Naturalized citizens like me, with backgrounds like mine, are dumbfounded as our country's leaders aren't able to recognize this light while standing right underneath it. What happened? Have we Americans gone blind and can no longer see the light of liberty?
I am reminded of a statement made by Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the US Constitution. He commented on an engraving of a sun on the President's chair, struggling to determine if it was a rising sun or setting sun. As he watched the signers put their lives their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line, he affirmed to be convinced that the sun was in fact rising over America.
Today, we have permitted the ignorant to fool us into believing not only that the sun is not shining, but that it never was rising over America.
We The People - A Mighty Wind
Well I say NO! I say, that it is just our view of the sun which is obstructed; obstructed by clouds of deceit, revisionism and corruption. The sun IS still here… The sun is STILL rising. It only awaits a mighty wind to blow the clouds away, so it can again light up this shining city on a hill.
As we are gathered today, here and all across our land, it is time to be that mighty wind… rise, speak up, hold your ground, make the skies free of clouds. Light up our shining city today for our children, and for the billions oppressed around the world.
So, when you leave here tonight: do NOT - rest; Liberty DEMANDS that we not rest! Answer her call… BE THAT MIGHTY WIND!