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Digital Motorbike Carpetbaggers?

A tale of modern-day moto hoodwinking

By Saul Bishop

Crazy-dumb or scammed, fleeced, and flim-flammed Yanks?

America’s South had the Northern carpetbaggers in the late 1800s, defined as “outsiders, opportunists, exploiting the local populace” or a “non-resident who seeks private gain from an area by meddling in its business.” With the 21st digital century, the name may have changed, but the game remains the same.

Today’s game is to ride around the world on a motorcycle, then self-proclaim yourself a pseudo-celebrity by digitally spruiking to Americans a wide variety of products and services under the motorbike adventure sun. How wide? Paid-for speaking engagements, books, photographs, t-shirts, as group guided tour personalities, and calendars, all pushed and promoted digitally.

This is not a new ploy, to extract money from Americans. Hundreds of motorbikers have circled the globe since 1912. Most finish and slip into obscurity, but a few see an opportunity to exploit an unsuspecting American public, and privately gain through the business of promoting themselves and their products.

“Oh, blow me over,” said my mate. “My nose is not put out, but why didn’t I think of that?”

The answer was, “You’re simply too friggin’ honest.”

So how does the digital carpetbag game work? Pretty simple. First, make the journey. Whilst doing so, try not to leave too big a digital trail of carnage from one location to the next, playing on the favors of those in front and behind. Use the internet and your personal website to aggrandize your journey with stories of near-death experiences, living hardships, and personal empowerment.

Besides your personal website, use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and eventually Youtube to promote your self-described epic and incredible adventure. As it approaches its end, explore self-publishing options for your own photographs or possibly acquire some extreme images off photography sales sites and think of product sales such as calendars, books, and t-shirts.

As a foreigner, enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (90 days for residents of certain foreign countries) or on a Tourist Visa, neither which allow the non-resident to offer goods or services for fees or pay. And then, armed with freshly-printed books and posters, use the internet to promote yourself across the country as a pseudo-celebrity, describing yourself as “the worlds (sp) best rider(s).” Slip in and out of the country to meet your visa or visa-exempt limitations for staying.

Hype helps, so constantly spinning the bollocks is needed, like aggrandizing the long time away from a home, job and financial safety nets and saying “after 14-years of global travel we have collected an unprecedented amount of experience, insight, and knowledge…” and if the target pays $20.00 to attend a seminar titled SEARCH FOR FREEDOM, the self-fabricators of the ad say “THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO LEARN ‘HOW IT’S DONE’ FROM TWO OF THE WORLDS (sp) BEST ADVENTURE RIDERS.”

After stripping away the veneer that the adoring public sees (all scrubbed, shinning, and smiley), what is underneath are digital carpetbaggers, making money in one location to the next without bothering to license themselves (or pay local licensing fees and possibly declare income for federal taxes) as a business (which is not allowed under either visa option). Often staying on the piss or supping tea, whilst they move ahead of the legalities as did the carpetbaggers of the 1800s.

Two of the leading carpetbaggers, operating under the flag of 2Ridetheworld, have been referred to as 2Skamtheworld. Whilst using the favors of a trusting publisher to put hundreds of hours into a cookbook, imagine the pair resting their feet up on a chaise lounge with a beer between their feet like the Corona beer ad, when they were lounging in Mexico.

A later move saw the pair taking the publisher’s hard work to a smaller publisher to print the cookbook for selling at half the price, stiffing the original publisher. One cookbook (ISBN 978-1-945705-0605) sells on Amazon for $39.99, a 2017 paperback, whilst a 2018 second edition (ISBN 978-0-692-05831-2) perfect paperback, with the same cover, sells by a second printer/publisher for $29.99 and, prior to Christmas, a special price of $14.99. A “second edition” is a purely subjective term not requiring any minimal content changes. The dumbest of the dumb can conclude which cookbook was being sold by the original publisher’s outlet and which dirty edition was sold through the later channel.

At question is whether the American buyers of cookbooks, calendars, photographs, t-shirts, and seminars are aiding and abetting in any tax and licensing dodges or visa violations. “Buyer beware” and “Ignorance is no excuse” are old adages…older than the carpetbagger game of the 1800s.

Missing in the digital trails around the world the pair post on the internet is some of the carnage left behind, like that in Malaysia. There a trusting and traveller friendly host allowed them to use her house as a base. She said later, “I could not get rid of them, they kept coming up with excuses of why they could not leave!” She described how she would come home after a day at her job and find the pair lounging in front of the telly, feet up, on the piss or enjoying a bottle of wine. After a local group raised funds for a new camera and further travel, the pair left a sour taste behind, not being invited back by the friendly Malaysians.

As for the Americans who have unknowingly aided and abetted, or conspired and knowingly did look away from tax, visa, and licensing rules and regulations, one could apply the saying, “If God did not want them sheared he would not have made them sheep.” (Bartholomew Bogue in THE MAGNIFICANT SEVEN - 2016 release).

Of course, all of this is opinion, based upon some solid facts, interviews on and off the record, and easily connecting of digital dots. Clearly what was left out of the “HOW IT’S DONE” seminar was the digital carpetbag factors, how the pair used and abused patrons around the world for 12 (now 15) years. And a question to any book buyer is, did they purchase the one the original publisher invested so heavily in or one that was called a second edition and flogged through another outlet with no return to the first publisher?

The larger question is whilst the Americans are handing over dollars to foreigners, are they subsidizing the vacations of others living a lavish lifestyle, chilling and swilling whilst they travel the world? If so, one can say, “Oh, blow me down, jolly good fun for them, but don’t do it to me again.”

SB/January 2019

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