One set of rules for private partners of the state, another set of rules for the free enterprise sector
This is a story about interacting policies that I experience as societal persecution against the small business person. It is not an easy story to write and not an easy story to live but important to tell it because change cannot happen if we do not acknowledge where fallacies and injustices exist. If I don’t tell this story, who will? Furthermore, due to the recently rapidly escalating climate change, society is going to have to change its deeply embedded ways to create a new understanding if the planet is to survive as habitable for humans and other life forms. At this transition, we should examine all entrenched cultural dynamics as a change in our root assumptions must necessarily occur. The persecution of small business people is one such deeply embedded but seldom discussed cultural phenomenon.
This is a story of several interrelated parts. One is a story about a personal encounter with an individual launching an attack against me under the cover of a hidden identity that allows that person to express themselves without inhibitions. I call this person No Name. A primary characteristic for identifying the person behind the mask is that this person has a propensity to construe the world, events, and thoughts as a series of non-sequiturs. One cannot rationally debate with No Name because nothing that No Name says follows logically from any previous statement or circumstance. Therefore No Name will not respond with any sort of logical consistency to anything one says, although No Name does occasionally demonstrate illogical and nonsensical sequential consistency.
It is also a story of a deeply embedded social phenomenon that my family and I have encountered many times over during the lifetime of our small business, particularly damaging when the Town would not allow us to expand our business on the property we owned across the street from our home. I believe we would still be there and operating a creative productive business that teaches STEAM skills on the job today if we had been allowed to build in that location, appropriate to the type of business that Andersen Design was.
To most of the community what they saw about Andersen Design was a home, similar to any other home with a small gallery attached. They did not know that behind the exterior Andersen Design was operating a national and global business from that home. When Andersen Design was refused the right to build on its property, locally, it set up a larger facility in Portland, which was not apparent to the local community. If Andersen Design had expanded locally, the facade by which the community assesses the business that operates behind the facade would have been more reflective of the level of business in which Andersen Design was engaged.
If I am mistaken in drawing an identity conclusion between two identities with identical characteristics, I am not mistaken in identifying a prevalent widespread cultural attitude shared by the two identities. I believe that No Name, with intent to tear me down, revealed information that few would know, using a turn of phrase that is more typical of bureaucratic than common use, and so hinted at an identity as a bureaucrat of the system with whom I had interacted.
Nexdoor is a venue that frequently interrupts posting activity with a reminder of its “be nice” policy. Despite that policy, and although I value Nextdoor as a local community, it is also the community where I have encountered the most personally offensive people on social media. My first such hostility-ridden encounter on Nextdoor was over giving away free kittens, an activity I never imagined could induce such an outbreak of ill will from overly controlling people.
It doesn’t surprise me that there are so many overly controlling people in a state with a centrally managed economy. That is a given psychological characteristic of hierarchical systems. Those who are controlled yearn and expect to control others.
In this encounter, I posted what I interpreted as my domain rating, as a way of promoting my newsletter. Later I realized the DA is Substack’s domain rating with my backlinks and linking website numbers. That should be obvious since Substack is the domain where I publish my newsletter. Other sites, such as Medium, do not publish the individual content providers’ backlinks and linking websites alongside the platform’s domain rating even when inputting one’s profile address.
No Name attacked me for posting a promotion for my newsletter but did not correctly identify my mistake and instead, she said with an inescapable snarky undertone, “You know you are artificially creating a backlink by posting this.” No Name was guilty of making the same mistake as I by not identifying that Substack as the domain to which the domain authority applies but never caught on to that during the conversation, all the while branding me as one who is ignorant about internet traffic.
Although No Name portrayed me as artificially creating a link by posting about my newsletter on a social media platform, there was no link in what I posted because it was an image of a screenshot. Even if what I had posted were a link, the implication is that any time anyone posts a link to their website or newsletter on social media, it is an act of “artificially” creating a backlink as if that were the sole motivation for posting. Therefore the only honest business person in any business is the one who never promotes themselves, anywhere. However, Ahrefs states that they count “unique” backlinks which means each domain is counted only once, so even if I were to post 1000 links to my newsletter on Nextdoor, it would only count as a “unique” backlink once, which doesn’t make a significant impact on 1300 backlinks credited to my newsletter.
What are backlinks?
A backlink is a link to your business website on another company’s website. This website backlink can be text, an image, or a button. source
Seemingly, No Name intended to tear down any impression of trustworthiness that a high domain rating imparts and frame me as an inauthentic person, but she was interpreting my number of backlinks and linking websites as the target to deflate. My newsletter has a respectable number of backlinks for a small publication but is not impressive when compared to larger venues. At the time, still interpreting the Domain Authority as referring to my newsletter rather than the Substack platform, I posted various websites with lower domain authority but much greater backlinks to demonstrate that backlinks didn’t have anything to do with the DA rating. In that specific instance, I was correct since Ahrefs reports Substack‘s domain rating and my backlinks so one bit of information has little to do with the other. My backlinks are only a small portion of Substack’s total backlinks.
Rather than sequentially relating to my argument, No Name responded “ Your egotistical gloating combined with your lack of knowledge about internet traffic sure is entertaining” Her comment poses herself as having superior knowledge and asserts that I am ignorant, and gloats about how entertaining it is to look down on me. She followed that by claiming I had admitted that no one reads my newsletter since suddenly, by comparison with the larger-scale websites, my backlinks were not so impressive after all.
I gave her a dose of her own medicine and said I know people read my newsletter because in the real world, people tell me so and because there are the stats but given her miscomprehensions, I wouldn’t go into that as it was clearly over her head.
That is when she gave her identity away with this comment:
After my sister died I revealed information about my financial stress in this newsletter but in general, I do not discuss my finances except when necessary such was the case with the local community resource organization that I approached for a tax-deductible contribution to my project on the Field, to which I was told by the chief of the organization, (via an assistant) that the organization would require me to apply for general assistance before they would consider my request for a tax-deductible donation. I declined, pointing out that it is not allowed to negotiate conditions for a tax-deductible donation and I did not want to put my fiscal sponsorship at risk by engaging in a negotiation, all the while feeling like metaphorically punching the chief in the nose.
The response given by the organization to my request for a donation is also a non sequitur. The only relationship that applying for general assistance has to requesting a tax-deductible contribution, is that making an income from tax-deductible contributions might disqualify one for general assistance. The words were that I must apply for general assistance to show I am doing the “most I can do”, or the chief’s branding of “the most that I can do”, echoed loudly by No Name’s branding that I can’t understand internet traffic.
It would be egotistical of me to say that my family created and operated a very successful and complex business for decades as few of the local bureaucrats have done. Most don’t know how to create a successful business using STEAM skills as my family did. That’s not “egotism” speaking, it’s self-esteem, that quality that is recognized as the key to innovative ability by the academic community who write papers on how to induce the workforce to innovate for the shareholder-owned enterprise. The chief and the No Name both seek to tear down my self-esteem and frame it as “egotism” as they define what I am capable of according to their incongruent worldview arrived at by nonsequitur illogic. One gem of this illogical system is that those without wealth also have no skills or abilities, ironic since it is the working classes who have been depleted of wealth to the point where they are excluded from ownership and it is the quest of the academics working in the interests of corporations that subsidize academia, to discover the holy grail of how to get the workforce to unleash their innovative abilities in the service of the ownership class. In other words, the underpaid working classes have the skills and abilities needed by the overpaid ownership classes to increase their profits.
The key to understanding actors like No Name and the chief is to apply nonsequitur incongruent thinking. No rhyme or reason can be applied to de-codify the system, except perhaps quantum logic, which operates under different laws than those within the time-space parameters of classical physics.
No Name is so obsessed with tearing me down that she took a screenshot of her egotistical gloating comment intended to denigrate me and posted it on Nexdoor, the site that is persistently pushing a “be nice” policy.
The screenshot is like a meme that posts “information” with no identifiable source. Some take these memes as authoritative and repost them. She posted about me but eliminated my voice from the conversation making it impossible to comment on her screenshot.
In growing up on the Peninsula, community leadership was never on our side and often worked in a way that was destructive toward the objectives of Andersen Design. Overall within my Town, State, and Federal Government, when looking for support for our business, it is evaluated as having no worth whatsoever. Most of the time I do not even receive an answer to my correspondence.
However, If I apply for benefits, suddenly my assets are rated as too high, assets consisting only of what is seen on the Andersen Design website, but there are never questions asked, only unsubstantiated assumptions made. One such assumption, that I have recently been debating in my search for free legal aid to help with probate, is that despite the name of the website being “Andersen Design” it is assumed that everything shown is personally owned by me. One would think lawyers would have heard that corporations are people and no two people can inhabit the same body! Andersen Design was established as a corporation. I am another person, not the same person as Andersen Design. The reason I need a probate lawyer is to legally establish that I am the owner of Andersen Design.
I protested the decision to decline service based on my assets without even identifying what the assets were, how they were evaluated, and at what value. I told of another organization that had arbitrarily assigned a value, invented out of thin air, and that I needed legal aid in getting that taken off the record. The response I received from the Executive Director did not identify the amount at which the organization had valued my assets.
I observed that assuming that all of the items displayed on the website belong to me is analogous to assuming that if I sell products on Etsy everything sold on Etsy belongs to me. I said much more than that, thinking that this might be an opportunity to get a lawyer interested in working for me pro-bono on the probate issue because it opens up more legal work that can later become a paid service. I think it is very interesting and innovative legal work to design a new type of brick-and-mortar platform. I did not say this directly but I provided enough information to arrive at such a conclusion.
My message communicated and backfired as this is the response that I received
Hi Susan, thanks for your response. Do I recall correctly that we had this discussion a few years ago when you reached out for legal help? I appreciate that you do not have a lot of cash available to hire an attorney, and that navigating the probate process is challenging. We recruit lawyers to assist individuals with civil legal problems for free. In my experience, if I refer a case with assets to a lawyer for free work, that lawyer is unlikely to continue to volunteer with us. As a result, I need to enforce the financial limits strictly. There are number of (relatively) complicated assets involved in your situation. Yours is not a case that I can effectively refer for pro bono representation.
Here is a link to the Maine probate courts website: https://www.maineprobate.net/welcome/ There you can find the forms you need to file to probate your father’s estate. As the site mentions, you can contact your local county probate court clerk for information and guidance on filing the forms and notifying your siblings.
In other words, the reason I am declined free legal aid has nothing to do with the legally assignable value of my current assets. The Executive Director did not address the argument I was making about the ownership of the assets, instead, she is talking about the potential of our business to attract free legal aid as a foot in the door for a future paid relationship for the volunteer lawyer.
The Executive Director acts in the interest of retaining lawyers who will work for free for the organization. Like most systems designed to benefit a sector that has lesser means, it is also designed to “stabilize” that sector exactly where it is, rather than structuring it as a growth opportunity. That is how the system creates the wealth divide, by using public subsidies to increase opportunities for the top of the economy and oppressing opportunities at the bottom, in this case, oppressing opportunities for those volunteering for the organization
My business is detected as threatening the interests of the executive director of the free legal aid service because it represents a growth opportunity for a volunteer lawyer.
I wrote back and said, “So if I smash all our vintage ceramics, I can qualify for aid?” That wouldn’t change the threat to the self-interests of free legal aid and I am sure the director knows that. A better option for me is to file my own probate papers. At least I got the director to help me out by informing me as to how I could do that.
Since free legal aid recognizes that my assets have value whereas the chief of our local community resource organization does not, Free Legal Aid can qualify me as a person with skills and capabilities. I wondered if I were to apply for general assistance, I would be rejected on the basis that my assets are too great? It occurred to me that they have the application online and found that It does indeed require one to list assets with a category for “other”. A tax-deductible contribution does not require that I list my assets. The chief just wanted to downgrade my self-esteem, or “egotism”, as she would call it, but listing my assets will not do that. It increases my “egotism” by assigning value to what Andersen Design created.
The chief’s will to tear down is consistent with the way that No Name was behaving but what gives away the identity is the phrasing. “In financial disrepair” Who speaks that way? I can’t think of anyone who would use such bureaucratic language except a bureaucrat.
Meanwhile. I will fill out those probate forms myself but I have yet to see if those forms provide a legal way of establishing the value of such unique assets. I will still need to attain legal counsel. The project of reinventing Andersen Design’s production as a network of small independently operated studios needs to begin by creating a legal framework,
I will try Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, once more. In the past, I acquired a lawyer from Bernstein and Shur to help with forming the Museum as a non-profit but the lawyer advised finding a board first. That was not forthcoming. When I approached Wendy Wolf, the head of the Joint Economic Development Council for Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor, for help in that project, Ms. Wolf told me to “go get help from my own peer group”. She also told me that the JECD couldn’t help individual businesses revealing her inability to identify that Andersen Design and the Museum are separate entities. Why is that so difficult to understand?
So I need to pay for legal help and I also need to pay for the software and consulting services of Network for Good because the agent who has been pursuing me has not given up. I was going to try Network for Good for the year-end season until I discovered that even with a monthly fee I have to commit to a full year’s contract and it requires investing time into working with the software. Since the promotion is written for much larger organizations with teams, I questioned if the app would be appropriate for a single-person organization as I am today. I told him I am just one person I don’t have a team to work on the software, reflecting upon how the information is written for organizations with teams. However, the agent is still pursuing my account. I need to work with other supportive people and in his persistence, he is supportive. The site says it guarantees increasing one’s current level of donations or refunding one’s money but I said my current level is very small. I need it to guarantee that I can at least break even, but I think that is probably included in the guarantee. He says he has worked with small organizations that have not received any donations and they all saw results. This isn’t just my best shot to work with others, It is my only shot. I need to work with others so I want to take this step.
Please consider helping me to achieve these goals by donating to my cause in your year-end giving
Mackenzie Andersen is a sponsored artist with The Performance Zone Inc (dba The Field), a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the performing arts community. Contributions to The Field earmarked for Mackenzie Andersen are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information about The Field, or for our national charities registration, contact: The Field, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 906 New York, NY 10038, phone: 212–691–6969. A copy of our latest financial report may be obtained from The Field or from the Office of Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.
originally published on mackenzieandersen.substack.com