Full cover of Economic Sovereignty – back, spine, front
The graphic art in Economic Sovereignty: Prosperity in a Free Society is fairly suggestive for a nonfiction book in the socioeconomics, political science, political economy, and comparative economics categories. The first requirements were practical – the images must be obtainable in acceptable-quality resolution, and copyright-free. Although this work is academic, educational, journalistic, and not-for-profit – giving us legal fair use for most copyrighted content – there is no good reason to wantonly frustrate our neighbors’ intellectual property claims.
The cover photo was taken by accident during an uncommon blizzard in the suburbs of Washington DC. The photographer, Ms. Jennifer Serrano, was visiting the area to collaborate on the book and investigate prospects for her career. As a California girl who had never seen such an idyllic winter wonderland, she was mesmerized. Unlike we northeastern snow-goers, who tend to call the snow something along the lines of “fluffy white expletives,” dumping upon us only to crash our cars, make our elderly fall on the pavement, and delay our transportation, Jennifer looked at the snow much like a child making igloos and snowmen. I thought she was going to max-out her cloud storage with all the photos she was taking, but her enthusiasm was a fun reminder of what’s loveable in snow.
Consequently, the cover photo was not planned at all. I just remembered it when reviewing dozens of candidates. Winter was the perfect landscape for Economic Sovereignty, because the harsh weather and desolation represent economic erosion perfectly. The blacks, whites, and greys symbolize the continuum of ideology between the valorists and the institutionalists. The green, gold, and red use color psychology that I learned while branding our music technology company, MYnstrel.
As for the subject? A solitary man marches forth, determined, and persevering through the elements, despite the conditions. A sidewalk to his right is covered to his waist in snow – he takes whatever path is available and yields to the occasional car passing to avoid an untimely accident. His heavy briefcase is a mobile office-in-a-bag – running database servers, web servers, software development environments, Microsoft office, internet, graphics design, and video production. A woman who once tried to carry it needed both arms and had to take a break after less than a block of walking. Despite the icy roads, one way or the other, the meeting was going to be held and the work would get done.
The profligate government had no such incentive to get their work done. Even though most roads were more traversable than mine on the day of that photograph, the schools and government were closed in a purely lazy capitulation to lawyers’ liability intimidations. This lack of ruggedness would make our forefathers ashamed of us, recalling Valley Forge:
Luckily, this business warrior had only economic targets and did not have to risk life and limb for his job. What a privilege it is to pursue prosperity in peace without crime and war. This solitary walking man marching uphill, illustrates the individual prosperity considerations and career choices that every American must make for themselves as they try to add value for their neighbors. Nothing needs to be done to create poverty and ignorance; it is the natural state of mankind. Only the willpower and virtue of individual human beings can fight poverty and ignorance.
With all of this in mind, it was the perfect cover photo.
On the back cover, the Hindenburg disaster is shown to illustrate the coming economic crises, and the historical crises in general that are discussed in the book. Few know that the creators of the Hindenburg warned its operators not to fly it during conditions favorable to static electricity. The operators ignored the warning and it exploded when they dropped the metal cables to the ground. Likewise, this book is a warning about the financial decisions that lead to economic disaster – on a personal and national level.
The photo of Warsaw Poland in the aftermath of World War 2 shows a woman and man making their photo to look as the city did before the destruction. It is a reminder that such rose-colored glasses can be useful in the aftermath of any tragedy, so that people can pick up the pieces and make the best of what comes next. But to what extent does this idealism hinder the accurate perception that’s needed to make the right choices?
The honeycomb and honey pictures on the spine represent the brand of the Alvarian Press and its motto: “Hive mind resigned, honeybee set free.” It is a reminder of the Barberini family’s paternalistic view of its subjects in 17th century Italy, as they opposed the Medici family. Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected as Pope, and he put the honeybees of his coat of arms on his monuments. John Bargrave said of Pope Urban VIII:
“Upon his elevation, his kindred flew from Florence to Rome like so many bees (which are the Barberini’s arms), to suck the honey of the Church, which they did excessively.”
In the context of the time, honey was a symbol of God’s favor in the promised land, and the hive represented a well-ruled Church. Later, bees were used often on the seals of savings and loans institutes. Alvarism wants to spread the honey, and rejoices in the liberated thinking that guards against Barberini-styled nepotism and collectivism that was encouraged by so many institutionalists in history. In ideological terms – we are erasing the patronizing symbolism of the hive and bees by appropriating it for its opposite meaning. If the Medici family could laugh from beyond the grave, this sardonic imagery would be their punch line.
The cover is definitely not the crowning achievement of Economic Sovereignty compared to the actual research, but it’s a great illustration and enhancement. There is meaning and purpose behind every detail.