Americans have a proud history of refusing to justify corrupt law with meek compliance. Think Boston Tea
Party and Speakeasy. Why then should Americans meekly accept a tax system that charges a young
professional or business executive or contractor 30% of his or her income and allows multimillionaires
like Mitt Romney and Warren Buffet to pay only about 15%? Is that a situation that calls for meek
As it happens, the very people who have corrupted Congress to game the system for their tax breaks
and profits have created a financial meltdown that is being solved worldwide by a refusal to comply with
corrupt law, an expanding black market.
Students of the black market have provided extraordinary insights into its extent and operation. "Robert
Neuwirth is a journalist who is preoccupied with this question: What do people do when the state has
made satisfaction of their wants, their natural desire to improve their lives, almost impossible?" (Jeff
Riggenbach, "The Education of Robert Neuwirth," Ludwig von Mises Institute Daily, November 28, 2011).
Neuwirth calls the black market "System D," a name "pirated from French-speaking Africa and the
Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated
people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man (or woman) is a débrouillard(e) is to tell people how
resourceful and ingenious he or she is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own
social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are
doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most
part, without paying taxes, are part of 'l'economie de la débrouillardise.' Or, sweetened for street use,
'Systeme D.' This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-
reliance, the do-it-yourself or DIY economy." (Ibid, quote is from Robert Neuwirth, "Stealth of Nations: The
Global Rise of the Informal Economy," Pantheon Books, 2011).
Neuwirth is also quoted describing the rise of the black market. At first, "System D was small... the
economy of desperation. But as trade has expanded and globalized, System D has scaled up too. Today,
System D... is where the jobs are. In 2009, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), a think tank sponsored by the governments of 30 of the most powerful capitalist countries and
dedicated to promoting free-market institutions, concluded that half the workers of the world — close to
1.8 billion people — were working in System D: off the books, in jobs that were neither registered nor
regulated, getting paid in cash, and, most often, avoiding income taxes." (Ibid).
While participation in the black market is usually a survival tactic in a world drunkenly incapacitated by
huge debts, it is also a tax revolt that involves an estimated half of the working people of the world. An
estimate of the size of world black (informal) market is about $10 trillion a year. In some countries like
those once in the USSR, over 40% of economic activity is unregulated. In most of South America and
Africa, informal markets account for at least 30% of sales. (Friedrich Schneider et al., “New Estimates for
the Shadow Economies All Over the World,” International Economic Journal, 2010).
The black market thrives best in places of where poverty is high. Even so, it is present in America and is
estimated to account for between 10% and 20% of economic activity. (Ibid). Think flea markets, street
markets, illegal drugs and prostitution.
The black market comes in layers. At the bottom level are sales prohibited by law, like illegal drugs and
prostitution. The problem of dealing at this level of the black markets is risk, the profits can be huge, but
an inordinate number of violent people are involved in getting their share.
Street markets range from disorganized vendors that pop up for a day in unused parking lots to formal
businesses in established street or flea markets. This is generally the safe end of the black market as
long as you are not dealing with sellers of stolen goods.
There is no question that black market activity is on the rise in America. True unemployment as of
January 2012 is an estimated 22.5%. (http://www.shadowstats.com). (Just how false the government
unemployment figures are is apparent from one of their own statistics. In January 2002, the civilian labor
force participation rate was 66.5%, in January 2012 the civilian labor force participation rate was 63.7%.
See http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000. Currently, 36.3% [100% minus 63.7%] of the people of
working age don't have jobs. That means that a lot of people who want jobs are not being counted as
The kind of poverty that accompanies unemployment will leave many people little choice, they must find
some way to make money. The question is, does selling in a flea market fit you? With a little research, you
can figure it out.
The Internet has sites which have step by step instructions for starting a flea market business. You can
find practical advice online gathered by Leah French in "How to Start a Flea Market Business," About.
com Guide, http://fleamarket.about.com/od/sellingbasics/ss/startfleamarketbusiness.htm. I thought her
advice was quite good. There are other guides that can be accessed by searching flea market business
Homemade snacks like muffins, cookies, desert breads, and pies are great sellers, but there may be a lot
of health department regulation in your state. You can get an understanding of the requirements in your
state by searching flea market food "your state" health dept.
If you decide that you want a flea or street market business, learn enough law to understand exactly what
the state and federal governments require of you. You may not choose to follow all the rules, (I suspect
that most vendors don't), but do not get in trouble with the government by accident. If you start by
renting a one day table at the flea market, you can probably get a basic understanding of your legal
obligations from the office. You can also do preliminary research on the Internet.
So why did I name this article Black Market Revolution? Primarily, I like the idea of a revolution that is
passive in nature, no bullets, no bodies. After a year and a half of diligent study of the economy, I'm
convinced that years of corruption and greed and hypocrisy have destroyed the American Dream. If you
choose to quietly stop supporting our corrupt government by under-reporting your income, I have no
quarrel with you. The money is better spent preserving your family than supporting a government whose
global economy and controlling banksters have recently wiped out half the wealth of the middle class.
One word of warning, if you have a permanent location and are open regularly, you must appear to
comply with the regulations for collection and remission of sales tax. Also keep records just like any
business, simply don't report all sales. Be sure you report enough sales to justify staying in business. In
other words, appear to be legitimate and stay out of trouble, but minimize your support of the
My studies of the economy have convinced me that America is in the throws of the Second Great
Depression. (See No. 137, "Reality Check, GDII Is Already Worse Than GDI.") When you set up a black
market business and keep most of the profits for your family, you are accomplishing three goals.
First you are insuring that your family will have a reliable income in these perilous times. Second, you are
withdrawing your support from a government that does not deserve your money. Third, you are helping
to set up a commercial system which will be the support of the world when the existing system is interred
under its mountain of debts.
Amo Paul Bishop Roden