Casey Kasem's children, widow settle lawsuits over radio host's death
Casey Kasem's family has settled dueling lawsuits alleging that the radio personality was badly mistreated before his death in 2014 at age 82.
Published:12/3/2019 9:26:42 PM
How Inflation, Prudence, And Fundamentals Are Setting Up Gold To Soar
How Inflation, Prudence, And Fundamentals Are Setting Up Gold To Soar
Sun, 12/01/2019 - 20:30
Published:12/1/2019 7:44:19 PM
Authored by Dave Forest via InternationalMan.com,
International Man: Governments around the world, including the United States, are printing trillions of currency units. This will continue to significantly devalue these paper currencies and create inflation.
Doug Casey recently said:
With all the money that’s been created by governments and central banks, the chances are excellent we’re going to have a gigantic bull market. Maybe the last one, since I expect the world is going back to using gold as money—at which point we’ll have a stable gold price.
In the meantime, I think mining stocks could go absolutely insane. The prices will have no relation to fundamentals, because everybody will want to own them.
How do you think the situation is going to play out for gold and precious metals?
Dave Forest: Inflation is a given. I see it every day in commodities, although many mainstream investors don’t recognize it. Yet.
In the 2000s, investors were over the moon when gold broke above $1,000 per ounce and copper passed $1.50 per pound. During the previous commodities bear market, those levels were unthinkable.
But now, $1,000 gold is peanuts. Hardcore bullion investors were distraught in 2016 when gold “plunged” close to $1,000. That’s seen as a depressed and unsustainable price.
Same with copper. That sector’s been in the doldrums, because the price fell below $2.50 per pound. If you’d told a copper miner in 1999 they’d have $2.50 copper, they would have popped the champagne! Today, it’s seen as scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The thing is, back in the “old” days, you could mine and process an ounce of gold for $100. Today, production costs are more like $600 per ounce. Closer to $1,000 per ounce if you add in sustaining and expansion capital.
That’s the real reason metals, including gold, have to go higher. The gold price isn’t arbitrary. The price must exceed production costs—or mines will shut down and supply will run out.
The massive inflation in production costs is driven by lots of things: rising fuel prices, increasing wages and benefits for workers, and higher steel prices. Barrick Gold, the world’s largest public gold miner, saw costs for one of its new mines, Pascua Lama, rise by billions of dollars within just a few months!
Politicians can’t sleight-of-hand those costs away—they’re real. So, the only conclusion is gold—and all metals—need higher prices in order to keep supply coming.
International Man: What other factors are affecting gold right now?
Dave Forest: We think of gold as a “safe haven”: Break glass and use when things really fall apart.
But many players in the financial sector are already using gold day-to-day, as a financial instrument.
In China, for example, many exporters don’t have access to currency hedging. They’re exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rate between the dollar and yuan while they’re waiting for dollar-denominated payments to come in.
If you can’t hedge currency rates through the banks, what do you do? Chinese firms found an alternative: Buy gold. The idea is, if the US dollar depreciates, the value of gold holdings will go up, because gold is globally sold in US currency.
In effect, these firms hold gold as a short-term hedging instrument. They could actually do the same thing with sheets of copper cathode or barrels of oil, but gold is the easiest major commodity to purchase, hold, and eventually sell once currency has been converted.
Of course, the root cause here is currency instability: people fearing a breakdown in the US dollar. So, it’s not far off the reasons doom-and-gloomers buy gold. Just that Chinese buyers are doing it in the short term, for purely commercial reasons.
International Man: The mining business is extremely volatile and risky. There are thousands of mining companies out there, and most of them are junk. What is your approach to separating the winners from the losers?
Dave Forest: First off, recognize that “junk,” in terms of mining stocks, comes in several forms.
There are of course, outright scams. That ranges from full-on fraud (not that common) to huckster promoters who legitimately take people’s money but then use it to pay themselves huge salaries while doing little or no technical work (much more common).
Looking at salaries is a good way to spot those latter cases. Public companies in Canada disclose their officers’ wages. It’s not uncommon to see CEOs of a company with $1 million in the bank making $400,000 per year. When 40% of your firm’s budget is going to pay one person, there’s not a chance the company is going to perform. Never mind that these people generally would be unemployable, even for $1 yearly, in any other industry.
A much more subtle form of junk is the “hobby farm” company. You know how people, often older, will buy a farm for the fun of being outdoors? They’ll putter around doing a little work here and there, but the whole thing is mainly for enjoyment rather than serious commercial endeavor.
A significant number of junior mining stocks are like this. Exploration companies, after all, are just a couple of guys with a pickup or maybe a helicopter walking around picking up rocks.
Older geologists will often do this for the fun of it. It’s nice to have shareholders pay for your summer fishing trip up north. While there, these “execs” might walk into the bush and grab a few samples, but they’re not pushing to run a real business. Those companies go absolutely nowhere, very slowly.
You have to really watch out for those, because the people will seem sincere and often credible. But their heart isn’t in it, so they never accomplish much.
Once you weed out those, you’re left with a small group of more-interesting stocks. These are the companies that have good ideas about where new mineral discoveries might be made. They’re motivated and hungry; they usually have their own money invested in the hunt.
They run the company like a business. That means they consider whether the cash they’re spending will add value to a project. It also means they know what value looks like in a mineral property!
International Man: As a geologist, you’re on the ground in obscure places like Colombia, Russia, Mongolia, etc., searching for new deposits and breakthroughs. What are some of the most interesting places on your radar right now and why?
Dave Forest: North America, minus Mexico. As you say, I’ve spent a lot of my career in obscure places. Ten years ago, you would go abroad, because it was tough to break into established spots like Ontario or Nevada.
But the recent downturn in exploration’s changed all that. I spend a lot of my time in Nevada now, and it’s astounding how little exploration work is going on, despite the state being ranked number one in the world for mining.
Today, you can get acreage and try new ideas. I’ve even seen companies stake out whole districts that were abandoned during the downturn.
Building a mine anywhere is tough these days. Environmental activism (or commercial interests masquerading as such) and “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) concerns are rising everywhere. Places like Nevada or northern Saskatchewan have the advantages of having established mining sectors, relatively stable governments, and—most importantly—very few people. No backyards, no NIMBY.
That said, I still love travel. And I do keep an eye out for emerging opportunities abroad—they just have to be big opportunities to make up for the increased political risk.
One spot I checked out recently was Uzbekistan. The country has the world’s largest gold mine, called Muruntau, which has something like 200 million ounces.
Uzbekistan’s dictator died in 2016, and the new prime minister seems very sincere in accelerating free-market reforms. That includes opening the mining sector to foreign exploration and development.
I visited last summer and couldn’t believe what’s happening. Government officials couldn’t meet until 10 PM, because they were too busy working at the office to get the prime minister’s orders done. There have been reported cases of government staff dying from overwork! These people are serious. It’s one to watch.
International Man: You recently came across a new technology that could change the way mining companies find gold deposits. What exactly is this and what is the potential?
Dave Forest: A few years ago, I was introduced to a PhD mathematician. He’d been an executive consultant for 25 years to one of the world’s largest mining companies. He had a corner office and a green light for three-hour, two-bottles-of-wine lunches whenever he wanted.
Because he could do something I’ve never seen before (and apparently this mega-mining firm never had either).
He could use satellite data to find gold, copper, or zinc.
Now, there are lots of geologists who try to use satellite data to pinpoint ore deposits. This “remote sensing” has been in use since the 1980s.
I’ve always been a skeptic. Most times, satellite geologists just torture the data until it fits their preconception of the target. I never saw a convincing case where satellite imaging revealed a new discovery.
But when I met this PhD, I was intrigued. It wasn’t just his impeccable credentials in the industry—his approach is elegantly simple in a mathematical sense. He didn’t torture the data with interpretations. He just ran his algorithm and let the results speak for themselves.
I wanted to find out more. So, I gave him a test. It was a gold project in dense jungle in eastern Myanmar. I knew the gold mines are there, only because I’d been on the ground, under the tree canopy. But from the satellite view, you couldn’t see anything. There was no way to cheat.
He used his techniques and sent me a “heat map” that pinpointed the mine locations almost exactly. I was floored.
Since then, we’ve used this “digital treasure map” in Mongolia, Colombia, Nevada, and eastern Canada. The results, when field checked, have been excellent.
We started thinking about how this could benefit investors. What if you knew about a big mineral find on a company’s property before the company did? That’s what we can do with this satellite system. We can scan anyone’s property, almost anywhere on Earth.
Using the system, we recommended three stocks to International Speculator readers. One stock was bought out by a larger gold company within months of our recommendation, for a 219% profit. Another stock has risen more than 200% since our recommendation, on excellent gold drill results.
The last stock is still moving toward drilling. I think we knew they had a potentially major discovery before they did!
This also shows why now’s the perfect time to invest in mineral exploration. Why was this PhD genius available and not squirreled away in the bowels of a major mining firm? Only because the company he was working for laid off their entire exploration department during the most recent industry downturn. Crisis = opportunity.
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Dave has just deployed this satellite technology to pinpoint gold mining deposits and identify a speculative opportunity with enormous upside. That’s exactly why, he released this new video where he shares all the details for how you could get in on the ground floor. Click here to watch it now.
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Dave Forest is a geologist who has worked professionally in mining and petroleum over a 20-year career. He has also bridged his technical expertise into the finance and investment sector, originally joining Doug Casey in 2004 when he founded an advisory dedicated to finding high-potential investment opportunities in oil, natural gas, uranium and renewables globally.
Doug Casey On The Destruction Of The Dollar
Doug Casey On The Destruction Of The Dollar
Thu, 11/28/2019 - 19:00
Published:11/28/2019 6:26:52 PM
Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,
“Inflation” occurs when the creation of currency outruns the creation of real wealth it can bid for… It isn’t caused by price increases; rather, it causes price increases.
Inflation is not caused by the butcher, the baker, or the auto maker, although they usually get blamed. On the contrary, by producing real wealth, they fight the effects of inflation. Inflation is the work of government alone, since government alone controls the creation of currency.
In a true free-market society, the only way a person or organization can legitimately obtain wealth is through production. “Making money” is no different from “creating wealth,” and money is nothing but a certificate of production. In our world, however, the government can create currency at trivial cost, and spend it at full value in the marketplace. If taxation is the expropriation of wealth by force, then inflation is its expropriation by fraud.
To inflate, a government needs complete control of a country’s legal money. This has the widest possible implications, since money is much more than just a medium of exchange. Money is the means by which all other material goods are valued. It represents, in an objective way, the hours of one’s life spent in acquiring it. And if enough money allows one to live life as one wishes, it represents freedom as well. It represents all the good things one hopes to have, do, and provide for others. Money is life concentrated.
As the state becomes more powerful and is expected to provide more resources to selected groups, its demand for funds escalates. Government naturally prefers to avoid imposing more taxes as people become less able (or willing) to pay them. It runs greater budget deficits, choosing to borrow what it needs. As the market becomes less able (or willing) to lend it money, it turns to inflation, selling ever greater amounts of its debt to its central bank, which pays for the debt by printing more money.
As the supply of currency rises, it loses value relative to other things, and prices rise. The process is vastly more destructive than taxation, which merely dissipates wealth. Inflation undermines and destroys the basis for valuing all goods relative to others and the basis for allocating resources intelligently. It creates the business cycle and causes the resulting misallocations and distortions in the economy.
We know the old saw “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.” No one ever said life had to be fair, but usually there is no a priori reason why the rich must get richer. In a free-market society the sayings “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” and “A fool and his money are soon parted” might be better descriptions of reality. We do not live in a free-market society, however.
The rich and the poor do have a tendency to draw apart as a society becomes more bureaucratic, but not because of any cosmic law. It’s a consequence of any highly politicized system. Government, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, is where the money is. The bigger government becomes, the more effort the rich, and those who want to get that way, will put into making the government do things their way.
Only the rich can afford the legal counsel it takes to weave and dodge through the laws that restrict the masses. The rich can afford the accountants to chart a path through loopholes in the tax laws. The rich have the credit to borrow and thereby profit from inflation. The rich can pay to influence how the government distorts the economy, so that the distortions are profitable to them.
The point is not that rich people are bad guys (the political hacks who cater to them are a different question). It is just that in a heavily regulated, highly taxed, and inflationary society, there’s a strong tendency for the rich to get richer at the expense of the poor, who are hurt by the same actions of the government.
Always, and without exception, the most socialistic, or centrally planned, economies have the most unequal distribution of wealth. In those societies the unprincipled become rich, and the rich stay that way, through political power. In free societies, the rich can get richer only by providing goods and services others want at a price they can afford.
As inflation gets worse, there will be a growing public outcry for government to do something, anything, about it.
People will join political action committees, lobbying groups, and political parties in hopes of gaining leverage to impose their will on the country at large, ostensibly for its own good.
Possible government “solutions” will include wage and price controls, credit controls, restrictions on changing jobs, controls on withdrawing money from bank accounts, import and export restrictions, restrictions on the use of cash to prevent tax evasion, nationalization, even martial law—almost anything is possible. None of these “solutions” addresses the root cause—state intervention in the economy. Each will just make things worse rather than better.
What these solutions all share is their political nature; in order to work they require that some people be forced to obey the orders of others.
Whether you or I or a taxi driver on the street thinks a particular solution is good or not is irrelevant. All of the problems that are just beginning to crash down around society’s head (e.g., a bankrupt Social Security system, federally protected banks that are bankrupt, a monetary system gone haywire) used to be solutions, and they must have seemed “good” at the time, otherwise they’d never have been adopted.
The real problem is not what is done but rather how it is done: that is, through the political process or through the free market. The difference is that between coercion and voluntarism. It’s also the difference between getting excited, frustrated, and beating your head against a wall and taking positive action to improve your own standard of living, to live life the way you like it, and, by your own example, to influence society in the direction that you’d like to see it take—but without asking the government to hold a gun to anyone’s head.
Political action can change things. Russians in the ’20s, Germans in the ’30s, Chinese in the ’40s, Cubans in the ’50s, Congolese in the ’60s, South Vietnamese and Cambodians in the ’70s, then Rhodesians, Bosnians, Rwandans, and Venezuelans today are among those who certainly discovered it can. It’s just that the changes usually aren’t very constructive.
That’s the nature of government; it doesn’t create wealth, it only allocates what others have created. More typically, it either dissipates wealth or misallocates it, because it acts in ways that are politically productive (i.e., that gratify and enhance the power of politicians) rather than economically productive (i.e., that allow individuals to satisfy their desires in the ways they prefer).
It’s irresponsible to base your own life on what hundreds of millions of other people and their rulers may or may not do. The essence of being a free person is to be causative over your own actions and destiny, not to be the effect of others. You can’t control what others will do, but you can control yourself.
If you’re counting on other people, or political solutions of some type, most likely it will make you unwary and complacent, secure in the hope that “they” know what they’re doing and you needn’t get yourself all flustered with worries about the collapse of the economy.
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Whether it’s groceries, medical care, tuition, or rent, it seems the cost of everything is rising. It’s an established trend in motion that is accelerating, and now approaching a breaking point. At the same time, the world is facing a severe crisis on multiple fronts. Gold is just about the only place to be. Gold tends to do well during periods of turmoil—for both wealth preservation and speculative gains. That’s precisely why we just released an urgent video. It reveals how it will all play out and what you can do about it. Click here to watch it now.
Democracy Is The Ideal Distraction
Democracy Is The Ideal Distraction
Wed, 11/27/2019 - 20:15
Published:11/27/2019 7:23:25 PM
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
In the days of yore, there were kings. Everybody could agree to hate the king because he was rich and well-fed, when most of his minions were not.
Then, a more effective system was invented: democracy. Its originators had in mind a system whereby the populace could choose their leader from amongst themselves – thereby gaining a leader who understood them and represented them.
In short order, those amongst the populace who wished to rule found a way to game the new system in a way that would allow them to, in effect, be kings, but to do so from behind the scenes, whilst retaining the illusion of democracy.
The formula is to create two opposing political parties. Each is led by someone who’s presented as being a “representative of the people.”
You then present the two parties as having opposing views on governance. It matters little what the differences are. In fact, you can have the differences be as obscure and arbitrary as, say, gay rights or abortion, and they will work as well as any other differences. What matters is that your two parties object to each other strenuously on the declared issues, working the electorate into a lather.
Once you have each group hating the other group “on principle,” you’re home free. At that point, you’ve successfully completed the distraction. The electorate now believe that, whatever the trumped-up issues are, they’re critical to the ethical governance of the country.
Most importantly, the electorate actually believe that their future well-being depends on the outcome of the next election – that it will decide whether their own view on the issues will prevail.
In a dictatorship, the leaders try to convince the people to support the dictatorship by claiming that more than 90% of the people voted for the dictator. But this is primitive thinking. It results in the same focused anti-leader sentiment that plagued the kings.
Far better to have the people fail to recognise who their actual rulers are and focus on the candidates, who are mere bit players and are changed as needed.
And, in a country where the illusion of democracy has become refined, the rulers come to understand that elections should not result in an overwhelming victory for one party or the other. Quite the opposite. If it can be arranged effectively, the best election is one that results in a 51% to 49% split.
This ensures that the 49% will not lose hope – that they’ll be both frustrated and angry at their near-miss, and redouble their efforts in the next election in order to have a win. And the 51% will wipe their collective brow in relief at having won, but will fear losing their slim advantage next time around.
Both parties must remain both hopeful and fearful. Keep them focused on each other – hating each other – and they’ll never figure out that you control both candidates like marionettes. The focus should never be on you, the real ruling class.
It’s also quite important to switch winners often. The ball should bounce back and forth from one party to the other frequently, allowing each winning party to dump the other party’s actual accomplishments when they take over.
However, just as important, the new winning party does not rescind the more oppressive accomplishments of the previous party. In this way, it becomes possible for the only long-term accomplishments to be the growing power of the government over the population, not advances for the populace.
And of course, this, by definition, means that the real rulers, the perennial group of individuals who control those who are elected – continually expand their power and wealth at the expense of the electorate.
But what of the candidates themselves? Do they recognise that they’re mere foot soldiers in the game?
Ideally, no. At any given time in any society, there are sufficient people whose egos exceed their abilities. Such individuals are ideal as candidates, as they tend to love the limelight, but will easily cave to the desires of those who made their candidacy possible. No candidate at the higher levels ever attains office without owing his soul to his backers. That ensures that, in spite of their public bravado, they remain controllable by their masters.
What’s extraordinary in this picture is that it’s possible for the populace to figure out the scam and yet, still believe that they live in a democratic system in which their vote may decide the future of the country.
Increasingly, particularly in Europe and North America, the citizenry are becoming aware that the Deep State collectively rule the countries. They understand that this largely invisible group of people are the true rulers, yet they vainly imagine that somehow the puppet leaders that they elect have the power to effect a solution.
In the UK, the electorate imagine that Boris Johnson will actually take them out of the European Union.
Instead, he delivers a Brexit deal that’s a reheated version of the Theresa May Brexit deal, which is not Brexit at all, but a perverse form of remain.
The Brexit debate is mere window dressing for democracy, whilst the Deep State carries on, according to its plan – the unelected EU government rules the UK.
In America, Donald Trump tweets in the morning that he will take US troops out of Syria. No doubt, as an individual, this is what he hopes he’ll be allowed to do.
But he’s immediately castigated by the media. He’s given his marching orders from the Deep State that, once again, he’s to do as he’s told. By the next day, Mister Trump announces a reversal of his decision.
There will be no end to the Middle East war for the US. It’s far too profitable. The discussion is mere window dressing for democracy, whilst the Deep State carries on, according to its plan.
Time after time, regardless of how adamant the marionettes are that they’ll follow the will of the people and save the day, in every case, the people’s hopes are dashed and the national policy reverts to business as usual.
In every case, the true leaders create the problems, cash in on them, then present the government as the solution to the problems, then cash in again.
In every case, the electorate pick up the tab and, rather than rebel, vainly hope that the next election will provide them with a group of marionettes who will actually deliver them from evil.
What’s astonishing is not that the Deep State lives only for its own ends, but that the populace recognise that it exists and still imagine that change from the status quo is possible.
Voting is not intended to count. It’s meant to be the pacifier that’s inserted into the public mouth periodically, when the public become grumpy that they must submit to kings.
* * *
Democracy offers a false sense of hope that things will change for the better. In all likelihood, the public will vote itself more and more “free stuff” until it causes an economic crisis. Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent new video. It explains what exactly is happening and how you can protect yourself. Click here to watch it now.
The Greatest Swindle In American History... And How They'll Try It Again Soon
The Greatest Swindle In American History... And How They'll Try It Again Soon
Sat, 11/23/2019 - 18:30
Published:11/23/2019 5:59:51 PM
Via Doug Casey's International Man blog,
International Man: Before 1913 there was no income tax, and the United States was a much freer country. Initially, the government sold the federal income tax to the American people as something only the rich would have to pay.
Jeff Thomas: Yes, exactly. It always begins this way. The average person is always happy to see the rich taken down a peg, so this makes the introduction of the concept of theft by the government more palatable. Once people have gotten used to the concept and accept it as being perfectly reasonable, then it’s time to begin to drop the bar as to who “the rich” are. Ultimately, the middle class are always the real target.
International Man: The top bracket in 1913 kicked in at $500,000 (equivalent to around $12 million today), and the tax rate for it was only 7%. The government taxed those making up to $20,000 (equivalent to around $475,000 today) at only 1% – that’s one percent.
Jeff Thomas: Any good politician understands that you begin with the thin end of the wedge, then expand upon that as soon as you feel you can get away with it. The speed at which the tax rises is commensurate with the level of tolerance of the people. And in different eras, the same nation may have a different mindset. The more domination a people have come to accept from their government, the faster the pillaging can be expanded.
As an example, the Stamp Tax that King George III placed upon the American colonies in the eighteenth century was very small indeed – less than two percent – but the colonists were very independent people, asking little from the king in the way of assistance, and instead, relying upon themselves for their well-being. Such self-reliant people tend to be very touchy as regards confiscations by governments, and even two percent was more than they would tolerate.
By comparison, if today, say, Texas were to eliminate all state taxation and allow only two percent in federal taxation, Washington would come down on them like a ton of bricks, saying they were attempting to become a “tax haven.” They’d be accused of money laundering and aiding terrorism and might well be cut out of the SWIFT system. The federal government would shut down the state government if necessary, but diminished tax would not be tolerated.
International Man: Of course, once the American people conceded the principle of an income tax in 1913, the politicians naturally couldn’t resist ramping it up. Just look at the monstrosity that exists today in the US tax code, which most Americans passively accept as “normal.” It’s a typical example of giving an inch and taking a mile.
Jeff Thomas: Yes – the key to it is twofold: First, you have to be sensitive as to how quickly you can ramp up taxation, and second, that rate is directly proportional to the level that the public receive largesse from the government. They have to have become highly dependent upon a nanny state and thereby willing to take their whipping from nanny. The greater the dependency, the greater the whipping.
International Man: Homeowners in the US – and most countries – must regularly pay property taxes, which are taxes on property that you supposedly own. Depending on where you live, they can be quite high and never seem to go down. What are your thoughts on the concept of property taxes?
Jeff Thomas: Well, my view would be biased, as my country of citizenship has never, in its 500-year history, had any direct taxation of any kind. The entire concept of direct taxation is therefore anathema to me. It’s easy for me to see, simply by looking around me, that a society operates best when it’s free of taxation and regulation and people have the opportunity to thrive within a free market.
Years ago, I built my first home from my savings alone, which had been sufficient, because my earnings were not purloined by my government. I never paid a penny on a mortgage and I never paid a penny on property tax. So, following the construction of my home, I was able to advance economically very quickly. And of course, I additionally had the knowledge that, unlike most people in the world, I actually owned my own home – I wasn’t in the process of buying it from my bank and/or government.
So, not surprisingly, I regard property tax as being as immoral and as insidious as any other form of direct taxation.
International Man: Not all countries have a property tax. How do they manage?
Jeff Thomas: I think it’s safe to say that political leaders don’t really have any particular concern over whether a tax is applied to income, property, capital gains, inheritance, or any other trumped-up excuse. Their sole concern is to tax.
Taxation is the lifeblood of any government. Once that’s understood, it becomes easier to understand that government is merely a parasite. It takes from the population but doesn’t give back anything that the population couldn’t have provided for itself, generally more efficiently and cheaply.
So, as to how a government can manage without a property tax, we can go back to your comment that the US actually had no permanent income tax until 1913. That means that they accomplished the entire western expansion and the creation of the industrial revolution without such taxation.
So, how was this possible? Well, the government was much smaller. Without major taxes, it could become only so large and dominant. The rest was left to private enterprise. And private enterprise is always more productive than any government can be.
Smaller government is inherently better for any nation. Governments must be kept anemic.
International Man: The Cayman Islands doesn’t have any form of direct taxation. What does that mean exactly?
Jeff Thomas: It means that the driving force behind the country is the private sector. We tend to be very involved in government decisions and, in fact, generate many of the decisions. Laws that I’ve written privately for the Cayman Islands have been adopted by the legislature with no change whatsoever to benefit government. As regards property tax, there are only three countries in the western hemisphere that have no property tax, and not surprisingly, all of them are island nations: The Turks and Caicos Islands, Dominica and the Cayman Islands.
I should mention that the very concept of property ownership without taxation goes beyond the concern for paying an annual fee to a government. Additionally, in times of economic crisis, governments have been known to dramatically increase property taxes. Further, they sometimes announce that your tax was not paid for the year (even if it was) and they confiscate your property as a penalty. This has been done in several countries.
What’s important here is that, with no tax obligation, the government in question is unable to simply raise an existing tax. If you have no reporting obligation, you truly own your property. And you can’t be the victim of a “legal” land-grab.
Instituting a new tax is more difficult than raising an existing one, and instituting any tax in a country where direct taxation has never existed is next to impossible.
International Man: How do Cayman’s tax policies relate to its position as a business-friendly jurisdiction?
Jeff Thomas: Well there are two answers to that.
The first is that the Cayman Islands operates under English Common Law, as opposed to Civil Law. That means that as a non-Caymanian, you’re virtually my equal under the law. Your rights of property ownership are equal to mine. Therefore, an overseas investor, even if he never sets foot on Cayman, cannot have his property there taken from him by government, squatters, or any other entity such as can legally do so in many other countries.
The second answer is that, since we’re a small island group, the great majority of business revenue comes from overseas investors. Therefore, our politicians, even if they’re of no better character than politicians in other countries, understand that, if they change a law or create a tax that’s detrimental to foreign investors and depositors, wealth can be removed from Cayman in a keystroke of the computer. Before the ink is dried on the new legislation, billions of dollars can exit, on the knowledge that the legislation is taking place.
Now, our political leaders may not be any more compassionate than those of any other country. Their one concern is that their own bread gets buttered. But should they pass any legislation that’s significantly detrimental to overseas investors, their careers are over. They understand that and recognise that their future depends upon making sure that they understand and cater to investors’ needs.
International Man: Governments everywhere are squeezing their citizens through higher taxes and new taxes. And don’t forget that printing money, which debases the currency, is also a real, but somewhat hidden, tax too.
What do you suggest people do to protect themselves?
Jeff Thomas: Well, the first thing to understand is that many nations of the world grabbed onto the post-war coattails of the United States. The US was going to lead the world, and Europe, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, etc., all got on board for the big ride to prosperity. They followed all the moves the US made over the decades.
Unfortunately, once they were on board the train, they couldn’t get off. When the US went from being the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation, those same countries also got onto the debt heroin.
That big party is coming to an end, and when it does, all countries that are on the train will go over the cliff. So, what that means is that you, as an individual, do not want to be on that train. If you’re a resident of an at-risk country, you want to, first and foremost, liquidate your assets in that country and get the proceeds out. You may leave behind some spending money in a bank account – so that you have the convenience of chequing, ATMs, etc. – and that money should be regarded as sacrificial.
You then would want to move the proceeds to a jurisdiction that’s likely to not only survive the train wreck but prosper as a result of it. Once it’s there, you want to keep it outside of banks and in forms that are difficult to take from you – cash, real estate and precious metals.
After that, if you’re able to do so, it would be wise to also get yourself out before a crash, as the day will come when migration controls will be imposed and it will no longer be legal to exit.
It does take some doing, but if faced with a dramatic change in life, I’d want to be proactive in selecting what was best for me and my family, before the changing socio-economic landscape made that choice for me.
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Governments everywhere are squeezing their citizens through increased taxation and money printing - which is a hidden tax. This trend will only gain momentum as governments go broke and need more cash. Most people have no idea what really happens when a currency collapses, let alone how to prepare. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released this new video. It shows how it could all go down, and what you can do about it. Click here to watch it now.
How The Homeless Crisis Could Soon Become An Epidemic
How The Homeless Crisis Could Soon Become An Epidemic
Fri, 11/15/2019 - 19:05
Published:11/15/2019 6:07:03 PM
Via Doug Casey's International Man,
International Man: There is a growing homeless crisis in liberal West Coast cities, including San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and many others. People living on the street are overrunning these cities.
Residents must deal with human feces, syringes, disease, and filth every day. In some areas, it’s worse than the dirtiest slums of Brazil, Kenya, and India.
How did this happen?
Doug Casey: Well, taking a long-term view, I see it as part of the continuing decline of Western civilization.
The West has always been distinguished relative to the rest of the world by its order, its cleanliness, its respect for property rights. These things are all going by the wayside. We were a middle class society with “bourgeois” values, essentially Boy Scout virtues. But these things are now held in contempt, even while the middle class is being squeezed. “Ground between the millstones of taxation and inflation,” as the phrase attributed to Lenin puts it.
Some members of the lower and middle classes are still moving up, but it’s easier to fall than to rise. Most of the homeless are whites who are headed down. We haven’t seen this since the 1930s.
This epidemic is concentrated in so-called sanctuary cities, which go out of their way to bring in people who are unwilling or unable to support themselves. But most of the newly minted “street people” aren’t migrants. They seem to mostly be failed ex-members of the middle class.
It’s quite novel to see people in camping tents on city sidewalks. It’s different from the occasional bum sleeping under newspapers on a park bench. A tent implies a measure of permanency. It stakes out a property right.
Let me pause over my use of the word “bum.”
I learned a few things when I went on a couple of adventures “riding the rails.” There were three classes of people you’d meet in and around the railyard, on the “wrong side of the tracks”: hobos, tramps, and bums. They were all “homeless people,” but that term wasn’t used. Hobos were people there for the lifestyle; often well-read, dropouts with wanderlust. Tramps were people down on their luck; they rode the rails to get someplace there might be work or where they had a friend. Bums were those with terminally bad habits: lazy, dirty, usually dishonest.
The distinction between hobos, tramps, and bums appears to have been lost. None of the new breed of street people are hobos, I promise you. They’re tramps at best, but mostly bums. But it’s now fashionable to call them “the homeless,” because the PC world likes euphemisms. Not so long ago, these people used to be called “derelicts” or “vagrants.”
Part of the Orwellian PC trend in language is that you can no longer call something what it is. You have to make up a softer and less accurate description of who or what they are. You’re not allowed to offend bums, derelicts, or vagrants. Even though they are, by their very nature, offensive.
Why is this happening? It’s no longer just the occasional lowlife just passing through, but whole communities of people who take over sections of cities and camp out on public sidewalks.
What’s caused that? The media says it’s because of alcohol, drugs, and mental problems. But as usual, the brain-dead and blow-dried media is wrong.
Where were these lowlifes before? And what’s drawn them out of the woodwork where they were apparently hiding? I question whether junkies and crazy people are the cause; I suspect they’re an effect.
In other words, it’s quite possible that the hard times that started in 2008 drove a lot of people, who were already psychologically unstable, into full-fledged psychosis. And caused others to take up alcohol and drugs as a way of hiding from an unpleasant reality.
On the largest scale, I blame it on government action. Which shocks most people, because they see the government as the solution, not the cause. They see a real or imagined problem, and they want the State, because it has a lot of power, to “do something.” In fact, the only way the State can solve a problem is by undoing things that it’s already done, not doing more.
Even though it’s said that we have all-time low unemployment, these are mostly minimum-wage jobs. And the numbers are further disguised by the fact a lot of people who’d like to work as something other than a fast-food clerk or a Walmart greeter are what are called “discouraged workers.” They’re not counted as unemployed if they’ve stopped looking for work. I suspect that very few of the street people are counted as unemployed.
International Man: Cities like San Francisco spend tens of millions of dollars each year trying to keep the streets clean to no avail. Within hours, freshly cleaned streets are again covered in filth. Many people seem to think the city needs to throw more money at the problem.
What do you think? How should they address the problem?
Doug Casey: Cleaning up after these people isn’t a solution. It’s cosmetic, at best.
What we have are thousands on the streets who produce nothing, and only consume. They survive on food stamps, various welfare programs, handouts, petty theft, and the like. In other words, they’re not an asset either to themselves or to society. They’re an active liability, and they’re actually encouraged by being allowed to group together on other people’s property.
Will cleaning up after them solve the problem? No, it aggravates it.
It’s now an epidemic. It started in 2008 when lots of middle-class people lost their houses. And oddly, the trend toward people living on the street has been growing over the last 10 years of artificial boom.
We’re going to have a very real bust very soon. The high levels of debt that we have today have allowed the whole country to live above its means. When the economy adjusts to lower levels of consumption, a new avalanche of people will lose their jobs, and they’ll have no savings to fall back on. However, their debts will remain and keep them from getting back up.
Not so long ago, Americans saved up and bought their cars for cash. Your car was a small asset, but it was an asset. Then came two-year, then three-year, five-year, and now seven-year financing. In fact, most now lease their cars, because they can’t afford to buy them, even with seven-year financing. The things have gone from being a small asset into a major liability. With simple pickup trucks selling for upwards of $50,000, many are going to lose their transportation. Then they can’t get to their job, can’t pay their rent or mortgage, and they’re out on the street. It’s easy to see how an ex-member of the middle class could become mentally unbalanced and start doing drugs.
People could lose houses they bought with mortgages they can’t afford but think they can because of today’s very low floating interest rates. Just like back in 2008 and 2009. Plus, real estate taxes keep going up—partly because local governments are in good measure responsible for supporting lowlifes forced to live on the street, ironically due to high real estate taxes.
Utilities are going to go up because commodities are very, very low now. They’re going higher—good for commodity speculators; not good for Joe and Jane Consumer.
So, you’re going to see more people moving onto the streets. And let me reemphasize this: They’re not—now—necessarily junkies or mentally disabled. But they may be, once they lose everything they thought they had. Their numbers are going to grow as the economy goes downhill.
This is an explosive problem. These are people who will have nothing to lose. They’re going to be overcome by envy of and resentment against the rich. You can count on them to vote Democratic in 2020. There’s no question the state of the economy will be by far the biggest influence in the election.
All the while, because of the financialization of the economy, the rich are getting richer. This isn’t just unfair—it’s dangerous. Incidentally, “unfair” is a word I hate to use, because it often implies a whole set of assumptions. But that’s another topic. Anyway, the situation is setting up the United States for class warfare, the haves against the have-nots. Middle class societies are stable; we’re becoming less middle class.
International Man: The Fed has reflated the housing bubble with years of easy money. It has distorted the housing market and artificially increased real estate prices. How does the Fed relate to the homeless crisis?
Doug Casey: One indirect and delayed consequence of their creating all this money out of nothing—in order to keep the big banks, brokers, and insurers from failing during the crisis that began in 2007—is the creation of bubbles. The biggest bubble is in tech stocks. But the real estate bubble that busted in ’08 and ’09 has been re-inflating, at least until the last year.
International Man: California politicians have implemented rent controls and more regulations in the hope of solving the problem. The situation has only gotten worse, and the calls for the government to “do something!” only grow stronger.
If the inclination is to ask for more government, what do you expect the outcome to be?
Doug Casey: Rent control, like other forms of wage and price controls, seems logical to someone who doesn’t understand economics. It always sounds good to politicians—they like “bold action” to keep prices down, appear to help the little guy, and punish rich landlords all at once. What’s not to like?
In addition to their crime of initiating force, stealing, and destroying the moral tenor of society, they’re looking only at the immediate and direct consequences, not the delayed and indirect ones. Namely that nobody will build new buildings or even maintain old ones if they can’t make money doing so.
Rent controls result in housing shortages, run-down neighborhoods, and an atmosphere of class warfare. Rent controls are usually a consequence of money printing, which is actually the root cause of homelessness. But government is prone to disguise symptoms, not cure the disease itself—which they cause. Nobody learns anything. It’s why historians tend to be pessimistic.
International Man: Elizabeth Warren and other notable Democrats have called affordable housing a “basic human right.” They suggest that the federal government should make housing affordable or even free. It seems this will be a new plank for the party. What do you make of this?
Doug Casey: The only real human right is the right to be left alone.
You don’t have a right to free housing or free medical or free education or free food or a guaranteed income. You don’t have a right to any of these things because the question is: At whose expense? You’ve got zero right to make anybody give you things or do things for you. Warren’s policies will turn the US into a dog-eat-dog nightmare.
What’s going on today will overturn the foundations that made the progress we’ve had in the US possible. Once you start thinking like a Third World or Soviet country, you’re going to get their results.
The fact that the US still has a lot of wealth means nothing. That wealth can be destroyed very quickly. Practically overnight, as happened in places like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. I’ve spent time in both, and they used to be quite nice. Now they’re full of people sleeping on the streets, under bridges, and in cardboard shacks. For exactly the same reasons we’re seeing this in the US.
International Man: The homeless crisis is a trend in motion. It’s picking up momentum and spreading to new cities. What do you think happens next?
Doug Casey: One of the best definitions of a depression is a period of time when most people’s standard of living drops significantly.
As the Greater Depression deepens, for the reasons we mentioned earlier, you’re going to see more people living on the street.
What’s going to be done about it?
It can’t be solved by the government pushing them off the streets. Where are they going to go—outside the city limits to empty lots and fields? Actually, that’s just what Austin, Texas, did a few weeks ago. They set aside a five-acre plot near downtown where people can camp. Vagrants and their possessions were forcibly relocated to it.
Of course that temporarily solves the esthetics problem of bums camping on the street. But this is exactly how what are called “favelas” in Brazil and “ranchos” in Venezuela got started. The indigent move to state property, start out by camping, then start building informal houses out of trash and stolen building materials.
It’s an unsolvable problem, unless the country returns to prosperity. Will the government bulldoze the camps and then build high rise ghettos like they did for blacks in all the big US cities? That didn’t work really well… You only make the problem worse by putting these people in what amounts to zoos.
The interesting twist here is that today’s street people are mostly whites who’ve lost their middle class status—not blacks, not Latino migrants. This is a huge straw in the wind. So much for White Privilege…
International Man: What are the bigger implications of the homeless crisis for the future of the US economy and political system?
Doug Casey: It’s going to be very hard for everybody, especially as the government inflates more, taxes more, and regulates more. They’ll do massive amounts of all three. The situation will necessarily get worse for most people. The people who are benefiting from this one way or another—the rich and politically well-connected—will increasingly be in barrio cerrados (gated communities) to protect themselves.
It’s another sign that the state of civilization in the United States is changing radically. So far it’s been a slow slide down. But when the economy falls apart this time, it’s going to look like we’ve fallen off a cliff. We’re going to have to adjust to a whole new reality politically, socially, and economically. I’m not looking forward to it.
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The economic trajectory is troubling. Unfortunately, there’s little any individual can practically do to change the course of these trends in motion. The best you can and should do is to stay informed so that you can protect yourself in the best way possible, and even profit from the situation. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his colleagues just released an urgent new PDF report that explains what could come next and what you can do about it. Click here to download it now.
Doug Casey On What Happens When Socialists Win Elections
Doug Casey On What Happens When Socialists Win Elections
Sun, 11/10/2019 - 20:30
Published:11/10/2019 7:38:23 PM
International Man: Earlier this year, it became apparent a socialist would win Argentina’s presidential election.
The Argentine peso lost 30% of its value in a single day. The same day, in US dollar terms, the value of the Argentine stock market was cut in half.
Doug, you spend a lot of time in Argentina and the Southern Cone. What’s your take on the situation? Is Argentina headed for another currency collapse?
Doug Casey: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was elected vice president and Alberto Fernández was elected president in the October 27 election. They basically destroyed the incumbent Mauricio Macri.
It’s a real pity because Macri is a decent human being whose heart was is in the right place politically and economically. But he was too timid. He did too little too late. Typical of “conservatives” everywhere, he didn’t make a moral argument to the populace. He made no effort to pull the corrupt fascist welfare state out by its roots, explaining why it’s destructive and why the state is the cause, not the cure, of the country’s problems. Instead, he just made some marginal improvements around the edges, and made things more comfortable for the Peronists now that they’re back in office.
And—since he’s associated with the free market—he actually discredited the free market.
In any event, Argentina is going back into the toilet. Who knows what kind of new stupidities, in addition to the usual old stupidities, the two Fernándezes are going to impose upon the country?
On the bright side—but only for tourists—Argentina is one of the cheapest countries in the world right now. That’s because the currency has collapsed. Good news for tourists and foreign speculators but a disaster for Argentines, most of whom have all their savings and earn their salaries in the increasingly worthless peso.
If you’re a long-term believer in Argentina or if you want to enjoy a great lifestyle, now’s the time to go shopping there. Real estate is at bargain levels again. There’s really no bid for a lot of properties. In Buenos Aires an apartment costs 5–10% of its equivalent in New York or London.
Things are definitely in crisis in Argentina. But the fact is that just about every other country in the world is heading in the wrong direction—at a faster or slower rate—certainly including the United States, Canada, and countries in western Europe. The socialists, the fascists, and the jingoists are in the ascendant all over the world.
There are many reasons for this. One is that Marxist-oriented professors have been indoctrinating the younger generation in high school and college for decades. The left has totally taken over educational systems everywhere. The average person has been inculcated with perverse and destructive ideas about economics, politics, philosophy, and ethics from roughly age 6 to age 22. It’s hard to get these things out of their heads once they’ve learned them in their youth.
Also, remember that, especially since the end of the 19th century, “democracy”—really just a polite form of mob rule—has been the world’s ruling ideology. It’s resulted in the politicization of all areas of society. When every parliament or legislature in the world meets, they believe it’s not just their right but their duty to pass new laws. And that’s idiotically applauded as a good thing by the hoi polloi. Those laws tell you what you must do and what you must not do and designate penalties if you don’t obey. And all that legislation, which accrues like barnacles on a ship’s hull, has to be paid for with taxes.
Fortunately, science and technology are still advancing at the rate of Moore’s Law. Unfortunately, the world is degenerating politically at about the same rate. Argentina is not an aberration from that point of view. It’s just a generation or so “ahead” of the United States in sliding down the slippery slope.
That said, it’s more important than ever that you have a crib in a second country, no matter where you live—because anything can happen anywhere. If you can afford it and are able to do so, you should have a backup plan someplace else in the world.
International Man: As you said, Argentina isn’t the only country headed down a path toward economic hardship. Governments around the world are printing dollars, pounds, euros, pesos, and what have you by the trillions, and the trend seems to be accelerating. How do you see this playing out in the next few years?
Doug Casey: We’re going into what I’ve styled the Greater Depression. We entered the leading edge of a gigantic financial and economic hurricane in 2007 and went through it in 2008 and 2009, and now we’re in the eye of the storm.
It’s a very big hurricane, and the storm has a very big “eye,” but we’re now approaching the trailing edge. When we go into the storm’s trailing edge, it’s going to be much longer lasting, much different, and much worse than what we experienced in 2008—if anybody remembers how scary that was.
It’s going to be accompanied by social, cultural, and probably military upsets as well. Now’s the time to prepare. It’s going to be one for the record books, and not just in the United States. It’s going to happen all over the world, because all the world’s central banks and governments think the same way. They’re all bankrupt and trying to solve the problems they’ve created by printing up more currency and passing more laws. It’s bad news.
International Man: Americans are growing increasingly sympathetic to socialist ideas and politicians that promise “free stuff.” How does this trend translate into a situation like what’s happening in Argentina?
Doug Casey: The world’s governments—prominently including the US’s—are creating massive new amounts of fiat money as we speak. So far, most of this money has gone into the financial markets, creating gigantic bubbles in stocks, bonds, and real estate. A lot of people are relying on these artificially high values. They’re going to get hurt.
Over the coming decade, governments and their central banks are going to destroy their national currencies. The average guy—if he’s able to save at all—saves in dollars, euros, or yen, etc. He’s going to be wiped out.
The rich will continue to get richer, because they stand next to the fire hose of money being created. The middle and lower classes resent the politically favoured classes getting more. The middle and bottom levels of society could see real social upset, with catastrophic political ramifications.
It’s one of the reasons the odds favor Trump losing in 2020. I say that as someone who bet that he’d win in 2016. If the economy gets ugly, you’re going to get one of these absolutely crazy socialists or welfare statists that we see lined up on the Democratic debate stage. The best case is that somebody like Bloomberg—basically kind of a mellower Trump—steps in for the Democrats.
On the off chance that Trump wins in 2020, then the storm is going to definitely break during his next administration. That guarantees that the crazy Democrats—which is to say the socialists, radical welfarites, and cultural Marxists—are going to win in the next election. The conflict in basic belief systems between the Red and Blue counties is so acrid and radical—it’s the kind atmosphere you see before a civil war.
Who knows what either the Red or Blue people will do? They’re capable of absolutely anything. None of it good. I don’t see a way out.
But let’s go back to Argentina for a minute. As I said, the US is only about a generation behind the Argentines, and the Argentine electorate has been totally corrupted. The place is a blueprint for where the United States is going.
The US’s size, accumulated capital, and the productivity of its people have insulated it from a lot of the stupid things its government and the Fed have done. But if the US destroys its currency—and it’s well on the way to doing so—it will be much worse than when the Argentines destroy their currency.
Argentines have hundreds of billions of dollars stored abroad in foreign banks. When the Argentine peso collapses, that money can be brought into Argentina to pick up the bargains and bring capital into the country to get things going again.
If the US dollar is destroyed, however, it will be completely different.
First, the dollar is the major asset of most banks all around the world. It’s actually the world’s currency. If the dollar goes, it’s going to destroy their balance sheets.
Second, people all over the world who have foreign bank accounts generally save in dollars. They’re going to be devastated.
Third, Americans don’t have a lot of money abroad to bring back into the country to get things going again. In fact, the US government has made it quite hard for the average American to diversify internationally.
Fourth, the major US export for decades hasn’t been wheat or Boeings. It’s been dollars. The foreign trade deficit of $600 billion per year has given Americans an artificially high standard of living for many years. Nice foreigners give us real goods in exchange for fiat dollars. When confidence in the dollar collapses, Americans will feel it.
So, it’s going to be extremely serious when the chickens come home to roost this time. It’s a consequence of what the Federal Reserve is doing to the dollar. They’re inflating it—but they call that “Quantitative Easing.”
The Chinese symbol for the word crisis is a combination of the symbols for danger and opportunity. I’ve been pointing out the danger part, but I also want to point out the opportunity part of the equation.
The good news is that precious metals should go on a really wild run up in price. If you own a lot of gold and silver, you should not only be insulated from many of these financial and economic problems, but you should gain in relative terms.
The cheapest part of the market right now is gold and silver mining stocks. There’s going to be a panic into these stocks; they’re the only part of the stock market that offers real upside.
It’s a good-news/bad-news type of thing. The good news being that if you position yourself now, you should be able to profit from what’s going to happen. The bad news is that in a real depression everybody loses; the winners are merely the ones who lose the least.
The important thing to remember is that most of the real wealth in the world will still exist no matter how bad the Greater Depression is, and your share of it can grow if you allocate capital properly now.
International Man: The 2020 presidential election is just around the corner. Whether Donald Trump gets reelected or a Democratic candidate wins, how do you think it will affect the overall economic situation in the US?
An avalanche of money printing to finance deficit spending seems certain no matter who wins.
Doug Casey: As I said before, if Trump is reelected because the economy holds together until November 2020—which I doubt—it’s definitely going to collapse on his next term in office.
Trump is incorrectly associated with the free market and capitalism. Trump is basically a statist who thinks the government really ought to control the economy—but in the way he thinks best. Once again capitalism—what’s left of it—will be blamed in the next crisis, and in the following election the socialists will grab the economy in a stranglehold and choke it to death.
In a way, it doesn’t matter if the socialists win this time or the next time. The trend is in motion, and a real crisis seems inevitable.
I think the United States is going to be hard to recognize in five years. That’s not even counting the fact that the US government might have a serious war with the Iranians, the Chinese, or the Russians. None of this is necessary, but it’s probable.
International Man: What can people do to protect themselves and prevent the crisis from wiping them out?
Doug Casey: Buy physical gold and silver. Speculate in mining stocks. Be aware that commodities in general— and especially agricultural commodities like corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs, coffee, orange juice—are all very, very cheap.
It’s likely that we’re going to see an explosion in some or all of these things over the next few years. Last but not least, start getting into some—or all—of the second- and third-generation cryptocurrencies. My colleague Marco Wutzer, who knows about ten times more than anyone else in the field, makes an excellent case that some of them have 1,000-to-one potential from current levels.
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Marco just released a new exclusive video on what he thinks is the most compelling crypto play right now. Click here to watch it now.
David Stockman: How The US Went From America First To Empire First
David Stockman: How The US Went From America First To Empire First
Sun, 10/20/2019 - 07:00
Published:10/20/2019 6:28:21 AM
International Man: In a broad sense, how would you describe the foreign policy of the US?
David Stockman: Well, in two words: Empire First. I contrast that with what Donald Trump thought he wanted to seek as a candidate, America First.
Now these are obviously simplifications and slogans, but there is an underlying substance that’s really important.
I think the basic idea behind “America First” is reaching way back to Robert Taft in the 1950s. He said that we cannot have a permanent warfare state in America, because our foreign policy doesn’t require it and our fiscal capacities can’t afford it.
What Taft basically said is the US sits between these two great ocean moats in a nuclear age, where the number-one threat is a nuclear threat, not an invasion of conventional forces. The way you deal with that is to have overwhelming retaliatory capacity, to keep the other side at bay.
As a matter of fact, he was totally right. It worked for 40 years. The Soviet Union finally crumbled under its own weight in 1991, and therefore the case was proved. There was no industrial society, high-tech conventional military threat left in the world. The opportunity arose in the early 1990s to go really full out America First.
Why did we keep all of these aircraft carriers, battleships, all this forward power projection capability, air refueling capabilities, 100 bases or more all over the world? None of that was needed throughout the entire Cold War, but most especially after 1991. That’s the direction we should have gone.
Where we ended up was in the opposite direction of what I call “America First.” Instead of dismantling NATO, we expanded it from 15 to 29 countries.
Instead of keeping faith with the promise that was made to Gorbachev by Secretary of State Jim Baker and George Bush the elder—that NATO would not expand a single inch to the east—instead, we basically encircled the entire rump state of Russia that was left after the Soviet Union fell apart. That has then led to the case for a military budget this year of $750 billion, when the truth is a homeland defense would cost less than $250 billion.
International Man: What are your thoughts on the amount of money the US spends on foreign aid, wars, the so-called intelligence community, the State Department, and other aspects of foreign policy?
David Stockman: The excess over what we need for homeland defense is more than a half trillion dollars per year—money we are wasting that we don’t have, that we’re borrowing and passing on to future generations.
We’re really at a point where there is a stark contrast between what homeland security and the safety of people in Lincoln, Nebraska, or Spokane, Washington, require—and what they continually produce in the imperial city in Washington, DC, with this massive warfare-state budget.
Now, unfortunately the lesson that we’ve learned in the first three years of the Trump administration is that good intentions, even vague ones—and Trump surely had no articulated or well-developed content to his notion of America First—they don’t stand a chance against this massive machine that is self-perpetuating.
In other words, Empire First dominates our foreign policy, because there’s so much money flowing into the Pentagon, the 17 intelligence agencies, and the rest.
That money is also going to the tens of thousands of people who are getting paid big salaries to work as contractors for the NSA and other agencies. They form a built-in lobbying force of tremendous effectiveness to keep the funds flowing.
When you add to that all of the think tanks that get money from the State Department, the National Endowment for Democracy, and various pockets and crevices in the Pentagon that no one can even keep up with, essentially you have what I call the equivalent of a self-licking ice cream cone.
The thing just keeps going because it’s so big it feeds itself—the $750 billion defense budget is just the beginning. That’s the Department of Defense budget per se, but if you add in another $25 billion for nuclear energy programs at the Department of Energy, $50 billion for security assistance and foreign aid, international relations, another $60–70 billion for Homeland Security, and then the veterans’ budget, which is $200 billion, it’s just massive. It represents the deferred cost of all these stupid wars that we’ve had and didn’t need.
Altogether we’re talking about a $1.1 trillion budgetary monster that creates these enormous flows of dollars that want to perpetuate themselves. Therefore, the kind of America First rationality that the world situation clearly would permit and support is completely lost.
I don’t know what these people think they’re fighting. Do they think that China is going to get up and bomb 4,000 Walmart stores in America? That’s not going to happen. Their economy would collapse in six months if they began serious military activities or threats against the United States or Western Europe.
Russia has a GDP of $1.6 trillion, which is less than the GDP of the New York metropolitan area. It’s a little rump state that has a lot of hydrocarbons, some wheat fields, and a workforce that is shrinking because of a fondness for vodka.
These are obvious facts and the fundamentals. Let’s call it the structure of the global national security environment. It’s so obvious that this massive warfare state machine that we have is not needed. We could go the route of America First—homeland defense, the Taftian posture—and yet there’s not a snowball’s chance in the hot place that it gets any kind of airtime, exposure, or debate in Washington, DC.
Donald Trump even tried to get the last 2,000 or 3,000 troops out of Syria, where we have no reason to be whatsoever. None, zero, zip. He can’t do that because he is undermined by his own advisors and the embedded Deep State that has never seen a war that it wanted to end and never an occupation that it didn’t want to perpetuate.
International Man: It seems the one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on is a more aggressive foreign policy. Why does US foreign policy never seem to change, regardless of who is in power?
David Stockman: That’s really a good question, and I think there are two dimensions to it.
One, just in terms of the structure, when you have $1.1 trillion dollars pouring into the system every year, it creates an overwhelming lobbying force for self-perpetuation. To perpetuate this massive budget, it needs to have threats, dangers, enemies, and all the rest. The whole system is in the business of threat inflation—even threat manufacture.
It’s not just the defense contractors, as I said before. It’s all the chattering classes that inhabit these NGOs, think tanks, and all the rest of it.
Ukraine would be a great example of this now, or why we are stumbling around in Syria. Why did we walk away from the Iranian nuclear deal and impose this vicious economic blockage and sanction war? That’s inviting some kind of hostile response at some point.
The second thing is this whole Russia-gate issue from 2016. It has essentially neutered the Democratic Party as a rational voice in foreign affairs and the restraint that it historically had on the warfare state.
I started back in the ’60s, protesting the Vietnam War. I went to all the marches on the Pentagon and all the rest of it.
The reason I bring this up is, at that point in time, the Democratic Party was loaded with doves and antiwar people and people who were skeptical of anything you would hear from the CIA. We knew what the CIA was.
The Democratic Party produced a lot of statesmen in the 1970s: McGovern, Fullbright, the Church Committee, and all these guys who investigated the abuses of the warfare state and the CIA—the lies that got us into the quagmire of Vietnam, which ended up being a stain on America’s history. It really was a genocide perpetuated against a defenseless people who weren’t a threat to us at all. That’s what it was.
We came out of the 1970s with a pretty healthy debate—and a lot of checks and balances politically against this warfare-state machine.
Now what happened to the Democratic Party? They’re basically AWOL on the issue of war and peace—and on the need for a restrained foreign policy. They’ve got it into their heads that they lost the election not because their policies were failing and not because they had the worst candidate the Democrats had fielded in decades, but because allegedly the Russkies infiltrated our political system in the Trump campaign and stole the election.
Now, we can make fun of that, but what it’s done is basically put the Democrats in a posture where every night if you watch the war channel, CNN, they have half a dozen of them saying Trump is jeopardizing national security. He’s not listening to his intelligence community. He’s leaving the Ukrainians high and dry—and Putin’s going to be occupying Kiev within hours.
This is all complete nonsense. They’ve lost their minds. There’s a couple antiwar Democrats left, and that’s it. That changes the equation fundamentally.
Here’s why. One way or another, the Republican Party was hijacked by the neocons back in the 1980s and 1990s, and it’s just gone from bad to worse.
So, you can’t expect the Republican Party to be any kind of vehicle for common sense and a peaceful foreign policy. The Democratic Party was supposed to be the check, and it is now AWOL. So, now there is no debate. It’s a pretty dangerous thing, because we’re doing stupid stuff all over the world.
The latest example, which is red hot of course, is Ukraine-gate.
Let’s just roll back the picture a couple years. Why is this thing even happening? The answer is because, in 2014, Washington supported, financed, and encouraged a coup on the streets of Kiev that threw out a legitimately elected government. It put in a lot of right wing neo-Nazi Ukrainian nationalists that scared the hell out of the Russians living in the eastern part of Ukraine and in Crimea—where there are few Ukrainians by the way; only 15% of the population of Crimea is Ukrainian. The rest is basically Russian and Tatars.
That’s where the whole damn thing started. We never should have been there. That’s right on Russia’s doorstep. It’s not our business to sort out the history there. Crimea was a Russian territory for 200 years anyway.
Once we got into the middle of that, that’s why we had to send our vice president, Joe Biden, to Ukraine to be the policy coordinator. Now let’s think about it.
There are 190 countries or so in the world, and Ukraine has a GDP of $130 billion. Ukraine is an absolute nothing, irrelevant piece of global real estate. We didn’t need to send the vice president of the United States to coordinate policy. In a good policy environment, you wouldn’t need to send the vice president there to coordinate anything.
What did that lead to? Well, once the vice president was there, all of a sudden everything changed, including this Burisma energy company. It was basically run by a guy—which never comes out on CNN—but he was allied with the president who was overthrown. And what did they do? They called Washington. They looked for the sleaziest lobbyist they could find. What they came up with was Hunter Biden and his buddy, Devon Archer, who was equally a sleaze bag, his roommate in college apparently or something like that. He was a campaign finance bundler for John Kerry all the time he was in the Senate.
This is how the whole damn thing got started. The debate today focuses on what Trump was doing during a very brief phone call in July 2019 and not about the history—how we got there and why the thing is off base to begin with. They pretend history only started with a phone call on July 25, 2019.
That’s the way the empire rolls. It demands that anybody who is paying attention should have amnesia and that the only thing that you’re supposed to focus on is what happened yesterday, as it’s spun by the machinery of the warfare state.
That’s why we have the irony of the Democratic majority in the House. I don’t think that they’re necessarily conscious tools of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. They’re just stupid. They’re uninformed, and they’re caught up in this imperial city groupthink.
Now they’re out to impeach a president who casually wanted to look into what was clearly a blatant case of influence peddling on the part of the prior vice president and his son.
Biden says he didn’t know what Hunter was doing. Who believes that? But the point is, why in the world would this big energy company based in Ukraine be hiring a guy, a lobbyist from Washington, DC, unless his name was Biden? Biden knew nothing about natural gas, energy, Eastern Europe, or Ukraine.
Once the empire gets as massive as it is, it behooves everybody around the world to have all of the influence operations that they can afford or can mobilize in Washington to weigh into the policy debate.
It really is like an imperial city. There are tens of millions—hundreds of millions—and billions of dollars every year being paid by foreign countries to Washington, because they think they have to defend their self-interest in the day-to-day operation of the US warfare state.
Again, it’s another example of how Empire First perpetuates itself. Not only do you have all of the domestic lobbies, the defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and think tanks that get all their money from government agencies, but then you have all of the foreign outposts. The two are actually pretty melded together.
The Atlantic Council is one of the most odious of these so-called think tanks that dominates the debate. They confuse these wet-behind-the-ears young people who get elected to Congress. I can appreciate that. I was elected when I was pretty wet behind the ears.
They send people to Washington to influence in a very subtle way, because the money goes through the back door. Much of the money for the Atlantic Council comes from Ukrainian oligarchs who are anti-Russian for whatever reason, and a lot more comes from Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the rest of the oil states.
It’s all on behalf of a big, slick lobbying operation that’s created this pro-empire mentality. It got us in the middle of all of these conflicts in the Middle East, but also Ukraine.
It is really bad. The Atlantic Council’s role in pushing the Russia-gate hoax and getting us involved in Ukraine—essentially threatening Russia on its very border—is pretty nasty stuff.
Don’t forget that Russia bought Crimea in 1783 with good gold money from the Turks, who were perennially short on cash. It was populated by Russian speakers all that time. It became the base for the home port of the great Black Sea Fleet, which is what Russia has seen as its defense under czars and commissars alike. For 170 years, it was an integral part of the Old Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union.
Crimea got added to Ukraine when there were few Ukrainians living there, only because Khrushchev won the violent struggle for succession after Stalin died. Khrushchev was Ukrainian, and so in a drunken celebration one night, he basically said, I hereby will Crimea to my buddies in Ukraine for all the good work that they did in helping kill off my two rivals to power.
Then a couple days later, the Presidium officially passed a law that added Crimea to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine.
So, what these Washington idiots are doing—led by think tanks like the Atlantic Council and all the rest of those who got us into this conflict in Ukraine—is basically trying to enforce the dead hand of the Soviet Presidium from 65 years ago.
Crimea wasn’t the site of a Russian occupation. After the Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis took control of the Ukraine government in the coup, the people in the Russian-speaking regions were scared to death.
There’s a whole bloody history behind this. Hitler marched through on the way to Stalingrad, and the Nationalist Ukrainians were with him. Then the Red Army marched back through after Stalingrad and liquidated all their Ukrainian enemies. Yet decades and decades later, Washington gets itself into the middle of this, trying to enforce the dead hand of the Soviet Union.
Crimea got partitioned. There was a vote. No one can say that 90% of the people didn’t vote to rejoin Mother Russia, because they did. So what is the big deal? And yet the warfare state found it convenient to bulk up the Russian threat as one reason for continuing to have all the defense money and the imperial footprint around the world. The next thing you know, it becomes policy, because the Democrats really embrace it—after they decided that Putin cost them the election.
* * *
The amount of money the US government spends on foreign aid, wars, the so-called intelligence community, and other aspects of foreign policy is enormous and ever-growing. It’s an established trend in motion that is accelerating, and now approaching a breaking point. It could cause the most significant disaster since the 1930s. Most people won’t be prepared for what’s coming. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video with all the details. Click here to watch it now.
[Josh Blackman] 8 Cases Everyone Should Know from the Rehnquist Court
Dole, Morrison, Johnson, Smith, New York, R.A.V., Casey, Church of the Lukumi
Published:9/30/2019 10:33:50 AM
Will The US Become A Socialist Country?
Will The US Become A Socialist Country?
Wed, 09/25/2019 - 19:50
Published:9/25/2019 7:01:56 PM
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
Recently, many political hopefuls on the Left in the US have “come out” as socialists. Some may have been socialists all along, whilst others may merely be hoping to cash in on the popularity of avowed socialist Bernie Sanders in 2016.
Whatever the answer, those on the Right have gone into attack mode, fervently stating, “The US will never be a socialist country!”
This will unquestionably become the primary emotionally based issue until the 2020 election.
Of course, in the modern world, very few countries are entirely socialist, or entirely capitalist for that matter. Most are a combination. Certainly, no country is free from government sticking its fingers into free enterprise, even if it’s just as a regulator. It’s just a question of the degree of government meddling.
So, what will be the fate of the US in 2020? Will this be the death of capitalism there? Will it become a country in which goods and services fall under government control?
Well, let’s have a look.
Social Security is a most decidedly socialistic government programme, one that takes up (according to figures provided by the US Office of Management and Budget) 24% of US government spending.
Medicare, Medicaid, etc., also come under the heading of government-run management of goods and services, thereby defining them as socialist in nature. They’re responsible for 26% of government spending.
Add to that, Safety Net Programmes (9%), Benefits for Veterans and Federal Retirees (8%), Education (3%), Transportation Infrastructure (2%) and Science and Medical Research (2%) – all of which can be provided by the private sector – and the number rises to 74%. Another 4% of expenditure comes under the “miscellaneous” heading, but much of this, too, can be performed by the private sector.
In spite of this fact, government takes them all under its wing to the tune of $3.4 trillion annually.
The 1787 Constitution envisioned the government as being responsible for the Military (15%), Interest on Debt (7%) and International Affairs (1%) – presently, a total of 23%.
By the above tally, it’s safe to say that the government that runs the US is already over three-quarters socialist in its method of management.
But there may be those who discount some of the items that make up the 77%. They may say that it’s a good idea that, for example, roadbuilding or education be managed by government rather than the private sector.
So, even if we were to say that we’re happy to have government compete with the private sector in such areas, benefits alone still amount to 67% of spending.
That, in essence, means that the US is between two-thirds and three-quarters socialist now, depending upon your assessment of what a government should manage.
So, what does that mean? Is the US a socialist state already?
Well, like most states today, it’s a gumbo of mixed concepts. And to understand this, we should first look at one of the most misunderstood “isms”: fascism.
Fascism’s creator, Benito Mussolini, said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
This takeover of power by corporatism in the US began, in earnest, about a hundred years ago and, at this point, is virtually complete. Today, the US is run jointly by Big Business and government agencies. Collectively, they’re most commonly described as the “Deep State.”
They’re not subject to election and tend to be relatively invisible to the public. Those who run for office receive the limelight and are assumed by the electorate to “run the show,” although, they are, for the most part, bit players.
The actual management of the US is corporatist; however, the system by which it’s managed is an odd combination of (mostly) socialism and (to a lesser extent) capitalism.
It’s important to note that, whilst conservative political candidates tend to wrap themselves around the flag, vehemently asserting that they’ll not tolerate socialism, they do, in fact, vote in favour of increases in socialist programmes in every administration.
By contrast, liberal political candidates tend also to pretend that the US is still a capitalist state. This serves their rhetoric well, as it allows them to claim that the “present capitalist system” is failing Americans.
The system is indeed failing; however, it is not a capitalist system. Truth be told, the great majority of failings emanate from existing unworkable socialist programmes and their enormous costs.
Whilst both conservative and liberal candidates are far from accurate in their claims, liberals almost always hire better public relations firms and produce more effective rhetoric, and the US has moved steadily to the left for the last ninety years.
All of the above suggests that the slow slide into socialism in the US will continue.
But this may not play out at the present rate, as we’ve seen a significant wrinkle on the horizon that may alter the slow progression into socialism.
In 1929, a stock market collapse occurred under the leadership of a conservative president – a wealthy businessman who had never before run for public office. This event was used by liberals to enable them to bring in a far-left president and, under him, to move the US into a semi-socialist state.
The markets are presently in a bubble of historic proportions. And the US once again has a conservative president – a wealthy businessman who had never before run for public office. Should there be a crash prior to November 2020, the stage will be set to complete the transition to full socialism, using the same rhetoric as in 1929.
It’s important to remember that, after the 1929 crash, Americans were so enamoured of their incoming socialist president that they allowed him to be president for life. (He was elected to four terms and died in office.) If this were repeated in 2020, a full sixteen years would be available to make the transition to full socialism.
Add to this the fact that, in the 1930s, most people prided themselves on their self-reliance. Today, at least half of all Americans receive federal largesse, and rather than be ashamed, as they would have been in the 1930s, they often wear their government dependency as a badge of liberalism.
Considering all of the above, it’s safe to say that, whist full socialism in the US in the near future would depend upon as-yet-uncertain events, the US is nearly there already, and whatever happens, it will not be turning back.
* * *
Misguided economic ideas are advancing rapidly in the US. Socialism continues to grow in popularity among Americans. All signs point to this trend accelerating until it reaches a crisis… one unlike anything we’ve seen before. That’s precisely why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released an essential guide to Surviving and Thriving and Thriving During an Economic Collapse. Click here to download the PDF now.
"We're In A Demographic & Fiscal Dead-End" - Stockman On The Coming Financial Panic & The 2020 Election
"We're In A Demographic & Fiscal Dead-End" - Stockman On The Coming Financial Panic & The 2020 Election
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 13:36
Published:9/13/2019 12:43:06 PM
Doug Casey’s Note: David Stockman is a former congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan.
Now, anyone with connections to the government should elevate your suspicion level. But as you’ll see, David is a genuine opponent of government stupidity. Although his heroic fight against the Deep State during the Reagan Administration was doomed, he remains a strong advocate for free markets and a vastly smaller government.
We get together occasionally in the summer, when we’re both in Aspen. He’s great company and one of the few people in this little People’s Republic that I agree with on just about everything. Absolutely including where the US economy is heading.
I read his letter the Contra Corner every day and suggest you do likewise.
International Man: We seem to be near the top of the “everything bubble.” Almost nothing is cheap… anywhere. What are your thoughts on where people should put their money for prudence and for profit?
David Stockman: I would recommend recognizing that the “everything bubble” is the most extreme, exaggerated, severe financial bubble in world history. It will inevitably collapse, and there will be massive losses, even greater than occurred in 2008 and 2001.
So, the first thing is to stay out of the casino. By that, I mean the financial-market stocks, bonds, and everything else.
These markets are so artificial. They’re just chasing what the central banks are doing. There’s no honest price discoveries or supply and demand; nobody’s discounting the future of economic growth, productivity, and investment. You’ve got the chart monkeys, 29-year-old day traders who are in charge of the market.
When the big correction comes, there are going to be massive losses, and the panic will be great. All correlations will go to 1—which means everything will fall: the good, the bad, and the indifferent.
There’s this old saying among traders that when the cops raid the house of ill repute, they carry out the good girls, the bad girls, and the piano player too. That’s essentially what’s going to happen.
You can’t be saved by picking high-yielding stocks or conservative blue chips or stocks that provide daily necessities like food—it doesn’t matter. Everything’s overpriced right now because of this huge financial distortion.
When the real correction comes and the central banks are revealed to be impotent and powerless, then everything is going to collapse. You’ll be in harm’s way no matter how clever you’ve been in trying to pick and choose. And stay away from the bubble stocks like Amazon or Beyond Meat or any of those.
The time for speculation is over. We’ve had 30 years of central bank subsidized speculation. We’re going to go into the time and era for capital preservation, and that means the highest priority is to not lose money. It’s to keep your capital safe.
I think the only way to do that is in very short-term, liquid instruments.
I don’t think the U.S. government is going to disappear. I don’t think we’re going to have a national bankruptcy or anything like that. There’s going to be a tremendous fiscal disaster coming. But 90-day Treasury bills will continue to pay you their meager interest, and they will be a safe place to put your money.
We have to recognize that the 30-year experiment in what I call “Keynesian Central Banking”—which is almost like central planning—is over.
Therefore, the central banks of the world are going to be in enormous disrepute. They’re not going to be your friends or your savior.
Remember the Time magazine cover from the late ’90s, “The Committee to Save the World”? It had Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and Larry Summers on the cover. They’re now going to be the ogres who destroyed the world.
The one thing that Donald Trump is going to accomplish in his misbegotten tenure is that his ferocious attack against the Federal Reserve will tear away the veil that it’s a beyond-politics cabal of geniuses who are safeguarding your livelihood.
He’s going to tear it apart. He’s going to totally besmirch and destroy the credibility of the Fed, at least in the eyes of his base. It’s going to create an enormous political debate about central banking.
Now, he’s coming at it from left field. He’s totally wrong. But Trump is unlike other presidents who were totally choreographed and scripted and moved their lips in the way that their advisors told them to.
And he’s going to go after the Fed. We haven’t seen anything yet. And I relish the prospect. They need to be beat to smithereens with a strong, lethal political club, and that’s Trump. And after the fragments end up all over the cutting room floor, we can figure out what to do next. But you must take down this institution.
The Fed is the number one, the number two, and the number three enemy of prosperity, capitalism, free markets, individual liberty, and the wealth of people in the world today.
Central banks have to be totally discredited and taken down.
The one thing that Trump is going to accomplish—as he desperately struggles for re-election—is he’s going to finally rip off the Band-Aid. We’re going to have a real debate about this awful curse of Keynesian central banking.
International Man: I think that’s the silver lining. For the first time, we have a president who is regularly tweeting about the Fed and bringing it to the attention of average Americans, many of whom have no idea what the Fed is or does.
Will Trump be able to pin the blame for the next recession on the Fed? What do you think the implications are for that?
David Stockman: It’s very difficult to know. It is not inconceivable that the Fed and other central banks could pull a couple more rabbits out of their hats.
Also, Trump could take the trade war to the edge and then pull back like he constantly does. He flinches constantly. He could do so again if he sees the market moving lower too fast. But if you look at the charts, there are massive air pockets down below, let’s say, the 2700, 2800 level on the S&P 500.
If there’s an event—like some tankers blow up in the Persian Gulf or something really bad happens in the Taiwan Straits or the Chinese pull some real retaliatory stunt like dumping a couple billion bonds in one hour—it could tank the market.
And remember 80% of daily volume in the stock market is essentially either index-driven ETFs or various kinds of quantitative, machine-driven investment strategies. If that ever breaks loose, the market will go through an air pocket, and then it’s all over except for the shouting.
Because if the S&P 500 drops 400, 500, 600 points, you will trigger another go-round in the corporate C-suites. They’ll suddenly wake up like they did in October 2008 and say, “Oh my God, we’ve got too much inventory, we’ve horded too much labor, we’ve got a lot of assets that aren’t producing returns.” And then they go into these big restructuring programs where they lay off workers by the tens of thousands and take huge write-downs, close facilities, and so forth. The next thing you know, you have a C-suite–triggered recession. That’s how it happens these days.
Recessions don’t happen because the Fed is tightening credit costs for Main Street. That’s the old days. That’s your grandfather’s economy and your grandfather’s Fed. But we’re now in the era of bubble finance. The Fed basically inflates the financial system until it collapses, and then it spills over into the mainstream economy through corporate C-suite panics.
If the stock market cuts through these air pockets down below, the recession will happen instantly, and no one will see it coming—just like in 2008.
I remember in the spring of 2008 they were still talking about the Goldilocks economy. And in November 2008, they were talking about the end of the world.
This is exactly what I think will happen if the stock market breaks loose.
We don’t know when it will happen. It could happen before November 2020 or after it. No one can really predict.
I think the odds are that it will happen before then, and if it does, Trump is toast. Elizabeth Warren will be the next president of the United States, and as that prospect becomes even more probable, the panic in the stock market will be something to behold. It will be worse than anything we’ve seen since October 1987.
If you talk about volatility, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Wait until the election gets really in full heat next year.
I think Elizabeth Warren will come to the top. Joe Biden is quasi senile, and he’s going to fall by the wayside. Bernie just isn’t going to cut it with the mainstream Democrats. So, Warren is going to pull ahead.
And if the stock market is faltering or it has crashed and the economy’s in trouble, you’ll have a populist, redistributionist, big government statist president and Congress.
That’s a totally different world from this dance fantasy that we’ve been living for the last 10 or 15 years.
International Man: With Trump’s recent budget deal with the Democrats, the last semblance of financial responsibility in US politics—which was a charade anyway—is explicitly dead. The US is headed for record deficits under Trump. The Democrats would of course be orders of magnitude even worse.
There is no meaningful force in US politics that could reign in the out-of-control spending. What do you think the implications of these political trends are for the future of the country?
David Stockman: The short answer is that, objectively, we are already fiscally bankrupt. And by that, I mean the $22 trillion of debt we have today, that’s the rear-view mirror.
That’s what the first 44 presidents in American history have managed to accomplish—including the last two before Trump, who took it from about $4 trillion to $19 trillion.
But Donald Trump is the most reckless, irresponsible president we’ve had since Lyndon Johnson, in terms of fiscal policy.
This guns-and-butter deal for two years that he just signed with the Democrats and the Congress was an abomination. It added $1.7 trillion more to the debt over the next 10 years. It eliminated entirely these spending or sequester caps that we’ve had since 2011.
But the more important point is that all deficits are not created equal. Deficits of a large magnitude at the top of the longest business expansion in history are an absolute abomination.
Even the original Keynesians in the 1960s and ’70s said you’ve got to manage fiscal policy over the cycle. When you get to a very strong economy or at the top of a business cycle, you have to reduce the deficit and even run surpluses.
Well, Trump has taken policy the other way. At the time when you’re supposed to be reigning things in, he’s actually pushed the deficit over the trillion-dollar mark.
Trump has created a monster defense budget for no reason except that he’s stupid and has been totally bamboozled by the military and the defense contractors. After all, we’ve got defense contractors running the Department of Defense. First, it was Boeing, now you have another guy in there who spent his whole life in the defense contract business.
Let’s just consider what Trump has already done at the worst time in the cycle. In the four budgets that he’s now signed up for, including this last deal, he’s increased spending by $140 billion per year.
How does that compare to Bill Clinton?
In 2019-dollars purchasing-power terms, Clinton’s budgets went up $40 billion a year.
Obama—the big spender, the terrible Democrat Socialist that Trump is always ranting about—his nine budgets went up $75 billion per year. And that’s including the huge deficit spending breakout of 2009 during the recession.
So, at the very worst time in the business cycle, Trump is massively increasing the structural deficit.
When I say the very worst time, it is both in calendar time and in cycle time. Because in calendar time, we’re entering the 2020s when all 80 million baby boomers are going to retire.
We’re going to be having 10–11,000 retirements a day for most of the decade. And by the end of the decade, there will be 80 million more people on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
The cost of the welfare state is going to soar even as the political environment will become totally nonfunctional, because no one wants to pay more taxes.
The military-industrial complex is running with a trillion-dollar budget. There’s just no give anywhere, not on taxes, not on defense spending, not on entitlements, not on the entire welfare state.
So, the fiscal situation is going to completely unravel in the decade ahead.
The real debt of the country today is not the $22 trillion that’s on the books. That’s backward looking. It’s really $42 trillion. That’s because we have $20 trillion more baked into the cake under almost any scenario you can look at over the next decade, based on these factors I’ve just enumerated.
Now, $42 trillion of debt on a GDP that might get to be, in nominal terms, $27, $28 trillion by then (but probably less), that’s a 150% debt-to-GDP ratio. I just don’t see how you get out of that box.
We’re in a demographic and fiscal dead end. It’s a very dangerous prospect and one with no obvious answer on how to escape.
* * *
It’s clear the Fed’s money printing is about to go into overdrive. The Fed has already pumped enormous distortions into the economy and inflated an “everything bubble.” The next round of money printing is likely to bring the situation to a breaking point. We’re on the cusp of a global economic crisis that could eclipse anything we’ve seen before. That’s precisely why bestselling author and legendary speculator Doug Casey just released this urgent video. Click here to watch it now.
Falling From Grace: The Decline Of The US Empire
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,
Years ago, Doug Casey mentioned in a correspondence to me, “Empires fall from grace with alarming speed.”
Every now and then, you receive a comment that, although it may have been stated casually, has a lasting effect, as it offers uncommon insight. For me, this was one of those and it’s one that I’ve kept handy at my desk since that time, as a reminder.
I’m from a British family, one that left the UK just as the British Empire was about to begin its decline. They expatriated to the “New World” to seek promise for the future.
As I’ve spent most of my life centred in a British colony – the Cayman Islands – I’ve had the opportunity to observe many British contract professionals who left the UK seeking advancement, which they almost invariably find in Cayman. Curiously, though, most returned to the UK after a contract or two, in the belief that the UK would bounce back from its decline, and they wanted to be on board when Britain “came back.”
This, of course, never happened. The US replaced the UK as the world’s foremost empire, and although the UK has had its ups and downs over the ensuing decades, it hasn’t returned to its former glory.
And it never will.
If we observe the empires of the world that have existed over the millennia, we see a consistent history of collapse without renewal. Whether we’re looking at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, or any other that’s existed at one time, history is remarkably consistent: The decline and fall of any empire never reverses itself; nor does the empire return, once it’s fallen.
But of what importance is this to us today?
Well, today, the US is the world’s undisputed leading empire and most Americans would agree that, whilst it’s going through a bad patch, it will bounce back and might even be better than ever.
Not so, I’m afraid. All empires follow the same cycle. They begin with a population that has a strong work ethic and is self-reliant. Those people organize to form a nation of great strength, based upon high productivity.
This leads to expansion, generally based upon world trade. At some point, this gives rise to leaders who seek, not to work in partnership with other nations, but to dominate them, and of course, this is when a great nation becomes an empire. The US began this stage under the flamboyant and aggressive Teddy Roosevelt.
The twentieth century was the American century and the US went from victory to victory, expanding its power.
But the decline began in the 1960s, when the US started to pursue unwinnable wars, began the destruction of its currency and began to expand its government into an all-powerful body.
Still, this process tends to be protracted and the overall decline often takes decades.
So, how does that square with the quote, “Empires fall from grace with alarming speed”?
Well, the preparation for the fall can often be seen for a generation or more, but the actual fall tends to occur quite rapidly.
What happens is very similar to what happens with a schoolyard bully.
The bully has a slow rise, based upon his strength and aggressive tendency. After a number of successful fights, he becomes first revered, then feared. He then takes on several toadies who lack his abilities but want some of the spoils, so they do his bidding, acting in a threatening manner to other schoolboys.
The bully then becomes hated. No one tells him so, but the other kids secretly dream of his defeat, hopefully in a shameful manner.
Then, at some point, some boy who has a measure of strength and the requisite determination has had enough and takes on the bully.
If he defeats him, a curious thing happens. The toadies suddenly realise that the jig is up and they head for the hills, knowing that their source of power is gone.
Also, once the defeated bully is down, all the anger, fear and hatred that his schoolmates felt for him come out, and they take great pleasure in his defeat.
And this, in a nutshell, is what happens with empires.
A nation that comes to the rescue in times of genuine need (such as the two World Wars) is revered. But once that nation morphs into a bully that uses any excuse to invade countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, its allies may continue to bow to it but secretly fear it and wish that it could be taken down a peg.
When the empire then starts looking around for other nations to bully, such as Iran and Venezuela, its allies again say nothing but react with fear when they see the John Boltons and Mike Pompeos beating the war drums and making reckless comments.
At present, the US is focusing primarily on economic warfare, but if this fails to get the world to bend to its dominance, the US has repeatedly warned, regarding possible military aggression, that “no option is off the table.”
The US has reached the classic stage when it has become a reckless bully, and its support structure of allies has begun to de-couple as a result.
At the same time that allies begin to pull back and make other plans for their future, those citizens within the empire who tend to be the creators of prosperity also begin to seek greener pastures.
History has seen this happen countless times. The “brain drain” occurs, in which the best and most productive begin to look elsewhere for their future. Just as the most productive Europeans crossed the Pond to colonise the US when it was a new, promising country, their present-day counterparts have begun moving offshore.
The US is presently in a state of suspended animation. It still appears to be a major force, but its buttresses are quietly disappearing. At some point in the near future, it’s likely that the US government will overplay its hand and aggress against a foe that either is stronger or has alliances that, collectively, make it stronger.
The US will be entering into warfare at a time when it’s broke, and this will become apparent suddenly and dramatically. The final decline will occur with alarming speed.
When this happens, the majority of Americans will hope in vain for a reverse of events. They’ll be inclined to hope that, if they collectively say, “Whoops, we goofed,” the world will be forgiving, returning them to their former glory.
But historically, this never occurs. Empires fall with alarming speed, because the support systems that made them possible have decamped and have become reinvigorated elsewhere.
Rather than mourn the loss of empire that’s on the horizon, we’d be better served if we focus instead on those parts of the world that are likely to benefit from this inevitability.
Socialist ideas are becoming increasingly popular in the US. At the same time the US government is printing money hand over fist. All while the US empire continues to overstretch itself across the world.
It’s all shaping up to be a world-class disaster... one unlike anything we’ve seen before.
That’s exactly why New York Times bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video showing how it all could go down. Click here to watch it now.
Published:9/1/2019 11:36:16 PM
Doug Casey On Why Gold Is The Best Money
It’s an unfortunate historical anomaly that people think about the paper in their wallets as money. The dollar is, technically, a currency. A currency is a government substitute for money. But gold is money.
Now, why do I say that?
Historically, many things have been used as money. Cattle have been used as money in many societies, including Roman society. That’s where we get the word “pecuniary” from: the Latin word for a single head of cattle is pecus. Salt has been used as money, also in ancient Rome, and that’s where the word “salary” comes from; the Latin for salt is sal (or salis). The North American Indians used seashells. Cigarettes were used during WWII. So, money is simply a medium of exchange and a store of value.
By that definition, almost anything could be used as money, but obviously, some things work better than others; it’s hard to exchange things people don’t want, and some things don’t store value well. Over thousands of years, the precious metals have emerged as the best form of money. Gold and silver both, though primarily gold.
There’s nothing magical about gold. It’s just uniquely well-suited among the 92 naturally occurring elements for use as money… in the same way aluminum is good for airplanes or uranium is good for nuclear power.
There are very good reasons for this, and they are not new reasons. Aristotle defined five reasons why gold is money in the 4th century BCE (which may only have been the first time it was put down on paper). Those five reasons are as valid today as they were then.
When I give a speech, I often offer a prize to the audience member who can tell me the five classical reasons gold is the best money. Quickly now – what are they? Can’t recall them? Read on, and this time, burn them into your memory.
If you can’t define a word precisely, clearly and quickly, that’s proof you don’t understand what you’re talking about as well as you might. The proper definition of money is as something that functions as a store of value and a medium of exchange.
Government fiat currencies can, and currently do, function as money. But they are far from ideal. What, then, are the characteristics of a good money? Aristotle listed them in the 4th century BCE. A good money must be all of the following:
Durable: A good money shouldn’t fall apart in your pocket nor evaporate when you aren’t looking. It should be indestructible. This is why we don’t use fruit for money. It can rot, be eaten by insects, and so on. It doesn’t last.
Divisible: A good money needs to be convertible into larger and smaller pieces without losing its value, to fit a transaction of any size. This is why we don’t use things like porcelain for money – half a Ming vase isn’t worth much.
Consistent: A good money is something that always looks the same, so that it’s easy to recognize, each piece identical to the next. This is why we don’t use things like oil paintings for money; each painting, even by the same artist, of the same size and composed of the same materials is unique. It’s also why we don’t use real estate as money. One piece is always different from another piece.
Convenient: A good money packs a lot of value into a small package and is highly portable. This is why we don’t use water for money, as essential as it is – just imagine how much you’d have to deliver to pay for a new house, not to mention all the problems you’d have with the escrow. It’s also why we don’t use other metals like lead, or even copper. The coins would have to be too huge to handle easily to be of sufficient value.
Intrinsically valuable: A good money is something many people want or can use. This is critical to money functioning as a means of exchange; even if I’m not a jeweler, I know that someone, somewhere wants gold and will take it in exchange for something else of value to me. This is why we don’t – or shouldn’t – use things like scraps of paper for money, no matter how impressive the inscriptions upon them might be.
Actually, there’s a sixth reason Aristotle should have mentioned, but it wasn’t relevant in his age, because nobody would have thought of it… It can’t be created out of thin air.
Not even the kings and emperors who clipped and diluted coins would have dared imagine that they could get away with trying to use something essentially worthless as money.
These are the reasons why gold is the best money. It’s not a gold bug religion, nor a barbaric superstition. It’s simply common sense. Gold is particularly good for use as money, just as aluminum is particularly good for making aircraft, steel is good for the structures of buildings, uranium is good for fueling nuclear power plants, and paper is good for making books. Not money. If you try to make airplanes out of lead, or money out of paper, you’re in for a crash.
That gold is money is simply the result of the market process, seeking optimum means of storing value and making exchanges.
Published:8/12/2019 7:08:21 PM
The Biggest Migration Since The Barbarian Invasions Of Rome (Is Not Where You Think)
International Man: Former Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi once warned that “Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration… it could turn into Africa.”
Since the United States and NATO helped overthrow Ghaddafi in 2011, millions of migrants from Africa and the Middle East have poured into Europe. Many transited from Libya.
This is all well known, and all signs point to this trend accelerating. What’s your take on where this is going?
Doug Casey: First, it’s a pity Ghaddafi was taken out. Another disastrous US policy decision. Not that he was a nice guy—no one running an artificially constructed nation-state can be. But it was at least a stable situation. Now it’s been replaced by a bloody and costly war. And it’s complete chaos. Nice work Hillary and Obama. But let’s talk about Africa at large.
Africa, or at least migration in and out of Africa, is going to be the epicenter of what’s happening in the world for the rest of this century.
Africa has gone from being just an empty space on the map in the 19thcentury, to a bunch of backwater colonies in the 20th century, to a bunch of chaotic failed states that most people are only vaguely aware of today. Soon, however, it will be continuing front-page news. This is because Chinese are moving to Africa in record numbers while Africans are leaving as fast as they can.
What we’re looking at is actually the biggest migration since the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire. There will be tens of millions—scores of millions—of Africans trying to get into Europe. I don’t know how the Europeans will keep them out. I used to say Europe was going to be a petting zoo for the Chinese, but it may be more of a squatter’s camp for the Africans.
Africa is the only part of the world where the population is still growing and growing rapidly. Africa south of the Sahara was about 6% of the world’s population in the ’50s, now it’s about 16%. But by the turn of the century, it’s going to be 45%. Assuming there isn’t some kind of catastrophe. It’s not clear that the Africans can grow enough food for billions more people.
In fact, if the West stops supporting the continent with capital and technology, it could be in for very tough times. Wakanda, the country in “Black Panther”, doesn’t exist. On the contrary, the continent is full of Gondwana lookalikes. Gondwana is where most of the action takes place in Speculator, the novel John Hunt and I wrote. It’s the first of seven in the High Ground series.
Few people realize how fast the population is growing, and things are changing in Africa. I ask knowledgeable people what they think the biggest cities in the world will be at the turn of the next century. They all guess cities in China or India.
But that’s not true. Eighty years from now, Lagos, Nigeria, will be the largest city in the world. It’s on track to have a population of more than 90 million. The world’s second biggest city will be Kinshasa in the Congo with about 80 million people. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, will be the world’s third biggest city with a population of roughly 75 million people. It’s quite amazing. When I first visited Dar in the early ’80s, it was a quiet, exotic seaport with old tramp steamers in the harbor.
Now all those people have cell phones, and they’re well aware of the fact that the standard of living is vastly higher in Europe and every other part of the world than in Africa. And they’re well aware of the fact that there are welfare benefits of all types if they can get to Europe.
There are hundreds of NGOs encouraging Africans to come across the Mediterranean to Europe. Or for that matter, flying them to the US. Exactly who paid the airfare and legal and living expenses of the 200,000 penniless Somalis who were transplanted to Minnesota?
It’s a growing tidal wave. With the European population diminishing and the African population growing, you’re going to see Europe basically taken over by Africa in the next several generations.
International Man: What we don’t hear as much about is the massive migration of the Chinese to Africa that’s taking place.
Doug, you’ve spent a lot of time in Africa. What’s going on with all this?
Doug Casey: We’re seeing a veritable recolonization of Africa. Each time I visit Africa, there are more Chinese. It doesn’t matter which country; they’re everywhere.
Rich Chinese are smart to diversify to developed Western countries. Poor Chinese go to backward countries to try to become wealthy. Africa is the prime recipient.
It’s supposed to be official Chinese policy to migrate about 300 million Chinese to Africa in the years to come. They’re employed in building roads, railroads, ports, mines, and other infrastructure. It’s partially driven by their Belt and Road Initiative.
The Chinese are lending billions to African governments. African governments are, by an order of magnitude, the most corrupt in the world. And the people who run these African governments are being well compensated for making deals with the Chinese. And in effect, selling out their countrymen. All these governments are full of people trying to be “Mister 10%.”
The worst case for them is to retire as centimillionaires, to live high off the hog in France or Switzerland. So, they’ve got nothing to lose. It’s a fairly unstoppable trend at this point.
Regardless of how much is stolen, however, I expect the Chinese are going to want the money they loaned to the Africans back, with interest.
If bribing or intimidating political leaders proves ineffective in getting it back, it’s possible that they’ll put soldiers’ boots on the ground. They could send in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to defend their assets. Or send in assassins to take out recalcitrant African politicians.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find the PLA in Africa in the years to come, physically collecting on those debts. And to make it easier for them, they’re going to be greeted by lots of Chinese already there.
It will be interesting to see what happens when a couple hundred million Chinese are living with a radically expanding native African population.
If the Africans were unhappy with European colonization, I think they’re going to be very, very unhappy with the Chinese colonization. The Chinese will not be “inclusive” and PC like today’s Westerners. It has the makings of a race war a generation or so in the future.
International Man: What about Africa piques the interests of the Chinese?
Doug Casey: It’s important to remember that Africa doesn’t produce anything besides raw materials—and people. There’s close to zero manufacturing—like 1% of the world’s total—in sub-Saharan Africa. And almost all of that is in South Africa.
The Chinese see Africans as no more than a cheap and dispensable labor source. That’s at best. Other than that, they’re viewed as a complete nuisance. Basically an obstacle—a cost—standing in the way of efficient use of the resources of the continent itself.
What do the Chinese people think of Africans? They don’t hold them in high regard. Of course, you’ve got to remember that China has viewed itself as the center of the world since Day One. They see all non-Han people as barbarians, as inferiors.
That was absolutely true when the British sent an ambassador, Macartney, to open relations at the very end of the 18th century. He was treated with borderline contempt—pretty much the way Europeans and Americans have treated primitive peoples since the days of Columbus.
It’s actually the normal human attitude when an advanced culture encounters a backward culture. The Chinese see their culture as superior to even that of the West and believe—probably correctly—that they’ll soon be economically and technologically superior as well.
International Man: If China comes to dominate Africa and its resources, what does that mean for its rivalry with the US?
Doug Casey: Well, the US government is basically bankrupt at this point. The only thing that the US exports in quantity is US dollars. And sometime soon, the Chinese, the Russians, the Malaysians, the Iranians, and the Indians, among others, won’t need or want US dollars. They don’t want to accept them now, because it’s an asset of their adversary or even their enemy. They’re unhappy about having to settle accounts in dollars that all have to clear through New York.
So, they’re going to come up with their own alternative. And I suspect they’re going to use gold. Why? Because they don’t trust each other’s paper currencies. And why should they?
How’s the United States going to react to that?
It’s going to be left out in the cold. No one needs or wants their dollars—they want and need real goods, not the paper obligations of a hostile, unpredictable, bankrupt government. Also, the US isn’t in a position to export people, except for some unwelcome soldiers. The Chinese are in an excellent position to export a couple hundred million spare people. The bottom line is that the Chinese are going to take over Africa financially, and they’re going to take it over demographically as well.
International Man: What kind of speculative opportunities do you think this trend will create?
Doug Casey: Well, I’ve often said that if I were 30 years old today and wanted to make my fortune, I would definitely go to Africa. The reason for that is that you don’t want to be on a level playing field. You want to be on a field tilted in your direction as much as possible.
If a young Westerner goes to Africa and travels around, he’ll find it quite easy to move with the top levels of society. Because he’s unusual. And people are interested in things that are unusual. The fact that you’re a Westerner means that you’ve probably associated with people who have much more money, much more sophistication, much more knowledge than any of the locals do. You have unique advantages in Africa. If a young Westerner stays at home, however, he has no marginal advantages.
It’s very hard to vault yourself to the top in a Western society, because there are tens of millions of people just like you with the same education, background, and abilities.
But in Africa, you’re automatically on the top of the heap. And you’re noticeable. So, it’s a great place to go for entrepreneurial reasons.
At the same time, I don’t think Africa is a place to invest unless you’ve got the PLA standing behind you. It’s a place for a hit-and-run type of entrepreneurialism. Or perhaps political entrepreneurialism.
As corrupt as Africa is, the way almost everybody makes money is by getting hooked up with the government. And that’s possible to do. You could go to any number of African countries, hang out there for a month, and be sitting down with the president.
That’s not going to happen if you try to do the same thing in North America or Europe or for that matter even South America or Asia.
International Man: If you were 30 years old and looking for opportunity in Africa, what countries in particular would you be most interested in?
Doug Casey: Well, I wouldn’t jump off the deep end at first. Don’t go to a place like Nigeria to start. Nor is South Africa ideal for this purpose. It’s too developed, and there are too many people of European descent—although that’s changing. White people are making what the Rhodesians called “the chicken run” and for the same reasons. There’s too much anti-white racism in South Africa, and besides, the economy is going into reverse.
I would go to a country like Namibia, which is large, empty, and pretty mellow. I would definitely look at Mozambique. Or Mauritania—a huge country, where nobody goes. São Tomé and Príncipe, an obscure island country off the west coast. If you’re adventurous, the Central African Republic, which is probably the most backward country in Africa.
* * *
International Man is all about helping you make the most of your personal freedom and financial opportunities around the world. We just released a new report, called “Getting Out of Dodge,” written by contrarian investing legend Doug Casey. Inside is his action-packed survival guide. Click here to download the PDF now.
Published:8/12/2019 3:02:18 AM
'Dukes of Hazzard' star Catherine Bach hits back after Casey Affleck said he couldn’t watch the ‘sexist’ show
Catherine Bach is speaking out after Casey Affleck claimed his parents didn’t allow him or his brother Ben Affleck to watch “Dukes of Hazzard” growing up because it was “sexist.”
Published:8/8/2019 1:10:39 PM
Casey Affleck speaks out on #MeToo allegations, says harassment claims are 'antithetical' to who he is
Casey Affleck, who's been accused of sexual harassment in the past, says he kept quiet during the height of the #MeToo movement to avoid being a distraction, even though he supports the cause.
Published:8/6/2019 11:28:58 AM
Save, Invest, Speculate, Trade, Or Gamble?
Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,
For some time, I’ve been saying that the economy is in the “eye of the storm” and that when it emerged, the weather would be far rougher than in 2008. The trillions of currency units created since 2007, combined with artificially suppressed interest rates, have papered over the situation. But only temporarily. When the economy goes into the trailing edge of the hurricane, the storm will be much different, much worse, and much longer lasting than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009.
In some ways, the immediate and direct effects of this money creation appear beneficial. For instance, by not only averting a sharp complete collapse of financial markets and the banking system, but by taking the stock market to unprecedented highs. It’s allowed individuals and governments to borrow more, and live even further above their means. It may even create what’s known as a “crack-up boom”.
However, a competent economist (as distinguished from a political apologist, many of whom masquerade as economists) will correctly assess the current prosperity as an illusion. They’ll recognize it as, at best, a natural cyclical upturn – a “dead cat bounce.”
What we’re really interested in, however, are not the immediate and direct effects of QE - “Quantitative Easing”, and ZIRP - Zero Interest Rate Policy. As much as I love the way they fabricate these acronyms and euphemisms, what we’re really interested in is their indirect and delayed effects. In particular, how do we profit from them? What is likely to happen next in the economy? Which markets are likely to go up, and which are likely to go down?
I’ve been looking for bargains, all over the world and in every type of market. And, yes, you can definitely find a stock here or a piece of real estate there that qualifies. But when it comes to any particular asset class, absolutely nothing – with the sole exception of commodities – is cheap at the moment.
You may ask, how that can possibly be? It’s almost metaphysically impossible for “everything” to be expensive, if for no other reason than that it raises the question: “Relative to what?” Nonetheless, we’re in a genuine economic and financial twilight zone, where nothing is cheap and everything is high risk. This is most unusual because there’s usually something on the other end of the seesaw.
The reason for this anomaly is worldwide “QE” on a completely unprecedented scale, by practically every government. So much money has been created in the recent years that it’s flowed into almost every sector of every market – stocks, bonds, and property. Even money itself is actually overpriced – the conundrum is that it’s maintaining as much value as it is, despite many trillions having been recently created around the world and much more to come.
Many people, and most corporations, are staying in cash simply because it allows you to move quickly (which is important when you’re sitting on a financial volcano), and it seems better to suffer a sure loss of perhaps 5% per year than an unexpected loss of 50% in some volatile market. Neither is a good alternative, of course. But I’ve thought about it and feel I can offer some guidance.
Again, an economist tries to see the indirect and delayed effects of actions. But this isn’t an academic exercise. So although we want to think like economists, we want to act like speculators.
A speculator sometimes profits from the immediate and direct effects of actions, but that’s not his real forte; almost everyone can predict those, so it tends to be a crowded playing field. Running with the crowd limits your profit potential – the whole crowd is unlikely to get rich. And it’s dangerous, because crowds can change direction quickly and trample the less fleet of foot.
Rather, the thoughtful speculator prefers to look for the indirect and delayed effects of politically caused distortions in the markets. Because the effects are delayed, we have more time to get positioned. And because far fewer people pay attention to what’s likely to occur over the horizon, versus what’s tucked up under their noses, the potential tends to be much bigger.
The speculator is a natural contrarian because few tend to share his viewpoint, and he rarely runs with the crowd. He’s always looking for something similar to silver in 1965, when the U.S. was controlling it at $1.29, or gold in 1971, when it was controlled at $35. Although politically guaranteed distortions are best, any kind will do – especially those caused by manias, when things rise way too high, or panics, when things fall way too low.
Rothschild’s famous dictum “Buy when blood is running in the streets” is the speculator’s motto.
This concept is especially critical at the moment. You have to decide – basically right now – how you’re going to play your cards over the next few years. If you don’t, you’re going to find yourself acting in an ad hoc way in what will likely be a chaotic situation. If that’s the case, you’re likely to wind up as financial road kill.
There are basically three realistic actions available to you: saving, investing, and speculating. I urge you to burn the distinctions into your consciousness. When people don’t fully understand the words they use, they can’t understand the concepts they convey; the result is confusion.
Saving means taking the excess of what you produce over what you consume and setting it aside. It’s basic and essential, because it creates capital. It is capital, in turn, that allows you to advance to the next level. An individual or a society that doesn’t save will soon find itself in trouble.
A major problem is looming, however, that transcends the fact that many, or even most, people don’t save. It’s that those who do almost always save in the form of some currency – dollars, euros, yen, etc. If those currencies disappear, so do the savings, devastating exactly the most productive and prudent people. That is exactly what I believe is going to happen all over the world in the years to come. With predictably catastrophic consequences.
Investing is the process of allocating capital to a productive business, in the anticipation of creating more wealth. You can’t invest, however, unless you have capital, which usually only comes from saving.
Investing necessarily becomes harder, more unpredictable, and less likely to succeed as government interventions – in the forms of currency inflation, taxation, and regulation – increase. And all three are going to increase vastly in the years to come.
In addition, as society reorders itself to different and lower patterns of consumption, most businesses will suffer serious declines in earnings, and many will go bust. Investing, which thrives in a stable, business-friendly atmosphere, is going to be a tough row to hoe.
This is the process of capitalizing on government-caused distortions in the markets. In a free-market society, speculators would have few opportunities. But that’s not the kind of world we live in, so speculators will have many opportunities to choose from.
Sadly, speculators have an unsavory reputation among the unwashed. That’s true for several reasons. Their returns are often outsized, inciting envy. Their returns are often realized in times of crisis, which prompts the thoughtless to presume they caused the crisis. And since speculators usually act counter to the wishes of governments and counter to their propaganda, they’re made to appear anti-social.
In point of fact, I wish we lived in a world where speculation was redundant and unnecessary – but that would be a world where the state had no involvement in the economy.
As it now stands, however, the speculator is actually a hero, and something of an unloved good Samaritan. When everyone wants to buy, he stands ready to provide what others want. And when everyone wants to sell, he stands ready with cash in their hour of need. He’s a bit like a fire fighter – his services aren’t usually needed, but when they are, it’s typically a time of danger.
One mistake that novices make is to confuse a speculator with a trader, or worse, with a gambler. Again, let’s define our terms.
A trader is generally one who’s in the market for a living, a short-term player who tries to buy low and sell high, often scalping for fractions, typically relying on technical analysis or a read of the market’s mood at the moment. There are some extremely successful traders, but it’s a real specialty.
I’m disinclined to trade for two reasons. First, it’s necessarily very time and attention intensive, and therefore psychologically draining. Second, you’re always swimming upstream against lots of commissions and bid/ask spreads. A trader and a speculator are two very different things.
A gambler relies on the odds, or sometimes just luck, in an attempt to turn a buck. While luck and statistical probabilities are elements in most parts of life, they shouldn’t play a big part in your financial activities. People who think so are either ignorant or losers who want to attribute their lack of success to the will of the gods.
The years to come are going to be tough on everybody, but the speculator has by far the best chance of coming out ahead.
Published:8/3/2019 6:09:50 PM
An Increasingly Dangerous Stand-off Between Civilizations
Authored by Denis MacEoin via The Gatestone Institute,
Not all people who worry about a replacement of civilizations are necessarily violent or even incorrect. They appear to be frightened folk, sent over the edge by matters they may feel beyond control. In Europe and the United States, they have witnessed wave upon wave of attacks by individuals and groups openly espousing violence in the name of religion. They seem to fear that their own governments are doing too little to protect them and their families from future attacks.
"What unites these groups ideologically is a belief that Europe is facing a 'great replacement' by Muslim and African immigrants. And they want something done about it." — Marion MacGregor, "The push from Europe's young new right", Infomigrants.net; May 5, 2018.
Political correctness, often an extreme form of denial of reality, has made it increasingly hard for even the most reasonable and careful of thinkers to say anything critical about Islam... efforts to block fair criticism of aspects of Islam can become unjust forms of censorship.
The number of deaths is not always a guide to the impact of a tragedy. One of the most recent tragedies had a high, but far from record-making, toll of fatalities. First, and as a basis for comparison, it is worth noting that the November 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris slaughtered 90 people in the Bataclan Theatre and more elsewhere in the city, for a total of 130 deaths. The Islamist truck attack on a single stretch of road in Nice on 14 July 2016 took no fewer than 86 lives. On Easter Sunday, 21 April 2019, around 253 innocent people, including many children, were slaughtered during radical Muslim attacks on churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, the largest death toll since the nearly 3,000 on September 11, 2001.
Pictured: The wreckage of St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on 21 April 2019, following a bomb attack earlier that day. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)
These all took their toll and will not soon be forgotten. Another attack recently took place that may have left a lasting impression, already changing how people think and act about our responses to these attacks and the people who perpetrate them, as we move more forcefully into a state of concerns on both sides of an increasingly dangerous stand-off between civilizations.
Most recently, 50 people were killed and another 50 were injured during an armed attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019.
The alleged killer was a 28-year-old Australian man, apparently a far-right activist named Brenton Harrison Tarrant. He was arrested while driving away from the second attack, possibly headed for another Islamic centre. Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that authorities "absolutely" believe they stopped the suspect "on the way to a further attack." One target may have been the Ashburton Mosque, about an hour's drive away. According to New Zealand's News Hub:
There are several other targets within Christchurch that Tarrant may have considered while plotting his alleged crime. There are two Halal food outlets - a butchery and a supermarket - in the vicinity of the immobilised car. The most chilling possible target en route to Ashburton is the An-Nur Child Care Centre on Springs Road in Hornby in the city's far west. The Centre is described as "the only Islamic early learning service in Christchurch".
The same source said that Tarrant, in his written manifesto, identified the Ashburton Mosque as the next outlet for his hatred. He called the place a "desecration" because it had been converted from a church.
We must all be grateful that Tarrant was found and arrested before he could carry out further killings. But, as it stands, what he did in Christchurch will go down in history as the second -- but largest -- major attack in the West on Muslims peacefully at prayer in their house of worship.
When Baruch Goldstein, a far-right American-Israeli, killed 29 Muslim worshippers and wounded 125 in a 1994 massacre in the Ibrahimi Mosque inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Israel, he was condemned outright by the Israeli government, the Israeli population, and Jews across the diaspora.
According to the New York Times, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "declared murderous settlers to be outcasts, alien to Israel and to Judaism." Rabin even called Goldstein a "villainous Jew," and a "Jewish Hamas member."
"I am shamed over the disgrace imposed upon us by a degenerate murderer," Rabin continued. "You are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism."
As for Australia's Brenton Tarrant, in early April, reports appeared concerning his close ties to some European anti-Muslim groups. According to the Washington Post:
The probes currently concentrate on any money trails leading back to the suspect...
But it also reflects wider examinations into a new crop of far-right groups whose rise has paralleled the increasing use of anti-immigrant fears to buoy right-wing political parties in the West.
Among the groups most adept at stitching together the various strands of nativist anger and suspicion is the French-rooted Identitarian Movement, which promotes an alarmist message that Muslim migrants will one day overrun Western culture...
The Identitarian Movement apparently echoed Tarrant's anger toward Muslim migrants, and is now at the center of international investigations as authorities try to piece together the elements that shaped Tarrant's views.
The Identitarian Movement may have seemed to many a minor and obscure political trend that came to public attention only after the revelation of Tarrant's links to its French and Austrian branches.
Jason Wilson describes it as follows, starting with its Austrian movement:
Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs (IBÖ) is part of a larger far-right Identitarian movement, with branches in most western European countries, North America and New Zealand...
Organisations that affiliate themselves with Identitarianism include Génération Identitaire in France and Generazione Identitaria in Italy. The American Identity Movement in the United States (recently renamed from Identity Evropa and banned from Facebook on Thursday) participated in the Charlottesville rally, and recently leaked chat logs showed that their ranks include serving members of the US military. Identity Australia appears little more than a grouplet for now and the Dominion Movement in New Zealand claimed on its website to have disbanded in the wake of the mass murder at Christchurch.
The Charlottesville reference draws attention to another disturbing feature of Identitarianism: it is not just anti-Muslim, but anti-Jewish. White supremacists in the Charlottesville rally chanted "Jews will not replace us":
The demonstration was suffused with anti-black racism, but also with anti-Semitism. Marchers displayed swastikas on banners and shouted slogans like "blood and soil," a phrase drawn from Nazi ideology...."
It gets more complex: In Europe, antisemitism is most often found within socialist and Muslim groups, but while Identitarians and their affiliates hold that as part of their philosophy, their attention is mainly focussed on Muslims, in particular on refugees and immigrants: "What unites these groups ideologically is a belief that Europe is facing a 'great replacement' by Muslim and African immigrants. And they want something done about it."
These movements are mainly made up of young white men, like Tarrant. With regard to Muslims, they see themselves as modern heirs to the Christians who fought wars against Muslim invaders such as the Ottoman Turks. In 2012, French Génération Identitaire members briefly occupied a mosque in Poitiers. They did so on the anniversary of the famous 732 Battle of Poitiers (better known as the Battle of Tours), the game-changing occasion when the Frankish Prince Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, defeated a raiding force of Arab Muslims sent north from the Umayyad Caliphate that controlled the Iberian Peninsula. That battle has come to be regarded as the event that blocked the entry of Muslim invaders into the rest of Europe.
Tarrant clearly took concerns about Muslims to a pathological extreme, and was ordered to undergo testing for mental illness. According to the Associated Press, however:
Tarrant's rifles contained the names of legendary Serbs and Montenegrins who fought against the 500-year-rule of the Muslim Ottomans in the Balkans, written in the Cyrillic alphabet used by the two Orthodox Christian nations.
Elsewhere, it is noted that:
In photographs from a now deleted Twitter account associated with the suspect that match the weaponry seen in his live-streamed video, there is a reference to "Vienna 1683", the year the Ottoman Empire suffered a defeat in its siege of the city at the Battle of Kahlenberg. "Acre 1189", a reference to the Crusades, is also written on the guns.
Four names of legendary Serbs who fought against the 500-year-rule of the Muslim Ottomans in the Balkans, written in the Cyrillic alphabet, are also seen on the gunman's rifles....
The name Charles Martel, who white supremacists are said to credit with saving Europe from invading Muslims in 734, was also on the weapons.
These are not the only names or references on the rifles and ammunition; what is striking is that Tarrant had obviously done his homework. He knew where to visit, whom to celebrate, and the historical context into which to situate his own attacks.
Not all people who worry about a replacement of civilizations are necessarily violent or even incorrect. They appear to be frightened folk, sent over the edge by matters they may feel beyond control. In Europe and the United States, they have witnessed wave upon wave of attacks by individuals and groups openly espousing violence in the name of religion. They seem to fear that their own governments are doing too little to protect them and their families from future attacks.
Political correctness, often an extreme form of denial of reality, has made it increasingly hard for even the most reasonable and careful of thinkers to say anything critical about Islam. While it is reasonable to call out overt racism or brutal hate for Muslims -- or anyone else -- efforts to block fair criticism of aspects of Islam can become unjust forms of censorship.
Many members of society might well see this censorship as a denial of their concerns on topics such as Islamist terrorism, unintegrated newcomers entering what they consider "their" territory, and their anxieties about what seems to be uncontrolled mass immigration into their native countries.
When governments dismiss these fears and do not seem to offer positive solutions to manifest problems, many people might understandably feel helpless. While many Muslims protest the violence in Islam, when presidents and priests say, "Islam is a religion of peace", events that people see around them (such as here, here, here and here), combined with indisputable facts about fundamentalist doctrine and political demands, seem to have convinced increasing members of the public that such a statement is simply not true.
Freedom of speech, the most readily available alternative to violence, is, in many places, being ruled illegal. When it is, social dislocation is likely to follow.
Many immigrants who do make efforts to fit in play vital roles to the point where many are indispensable. If, however, as some may claim, there has been failure to work hard for the full integration of Muslims, what should be done if many seem to want not to be integrated?
In 2015, on behalf of the British government, Dame Louise Casey produced a report on integration in the UK, in which she concluded that Muslims were the hardest ethnic and religious community to integrate. By 2017, she openly declaredthat government ministers had done absolutely nothing to advance social cohesion and integration.
Both extremist Muslims and all agitators seem to suffer from the same issue in their communities and personal lives: an unwillingness to change or to want to change.
Values considered Western -- such as democracy, which is rejected as man-maderather than divinely made; adherence to human rights, unless they align with sharia; and equal justice under the law -- simply do not seem to be among the highest priorities of many newcomers. Those who might disagree often seem unable to speak out.
Until extremists on all sides wish to adjust to life as it has developed in the past century, it seems as if both the hatred and violence will continue.
Our security services, already strained by Islamic terrorism, now face growing threats at a time when many former fighters from Islamic State, bitter from their defeat, have returned, or are trying to return, to several countries in Europe. Is it necessary to say how far this convergence of opposing views threatens Western civilization?
As Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has lived in both worlds, states:
Published:7/30/2019 2:41:43 AM
"These efforts are well meaning, but they arise from a misguided conviction, held by many Western liberals, that retaliation against Muslims is more to be feared than Islamist violence itself.... In the process, we... marginalized dissident Muslims who were attempting to pursue real reform."
Doug Casey On America's Late-Stage Decadence
International Man: Economically, politically, and socially, the United States seems to be headed down a path that’s not only inconsistent with the founding principles of the country but accelerating quickly toward boundless decay.
The word “decadence” is often associated with the fall of the Roman Empire, which became morally corrupt—its people lazy, wasteful, and lacking discipline. Many observers have pointed out the US is similarly becoming decedent. How do you see it?
Doug Casey: There’s no question about it; the culture in the US is changing. Where to start? It’s a book-length subject. One thing that absolutely amazes me is that the term “cultural appropriation” has become a buzzword for a lot of people today. The concept is actually completely insane.
It’s bizarre—perverse, really—that the people doing the most whining about cultural appropriation by Americans don’t actually have worthwhile cultures themselves. The fact of the matter is that the only culture in the history of the world that amounts to anything is that of Western civilization. The West has given all of humanity concepts like freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press, free markets, individualism, science, and rationality. In addition, the West has created almost all of the world’s great music, literature, architecture, and philosophy
People trying to make cultural appropriation on the part of Americans into a scandal are basically scam artists and race hustlers. I’m talking about blacks who are outraged about white women wearing African earrings. Or Hispanics picketing a couple of white girls who set up a taco stand after visiting Mexico.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the Spanish-speaking world south of the US border. Other than quaint sombreros, some local food, and some basically primitive handicrafts, they don’t have a culture that’s worth anything.
That’s absolutely true of Africa. Africans should be eternally grateful to the West if, when da Gama was rounding the Cape in the 15th century, he’d just thrown out a wheel. But he would have also had to throw out an instruction book. But nobody could read it, because the entire continent south of the Sahara was illiterate.
This is true of most of the primitive world. I hesitate to say “developing world” because development is solely due to imported capital and expertise. If that inflow stops, Africa could go back to the bush, with mass starvation.
The only cultures in the world that can compete with Western civilization are those in the Orient. But what do they have? Frankly, not much, apart from Taoism, Zen, yoga, martial arts, and some great cuisines. Some things of value but not much by comparison to the West.
The fact that Westerners are ashamed of their culture is a sign of the collapse of the West. Most Europeans and Americans are so intimidated by these people squalling about ridiculous things that they don’t even try to defend themselves.
Instead, they agree with their attackers, stick their tails between their legs, and wander off. I don’t doubt Americans will agree to pay “reparations” to blacks for slavery. It’s an absurd concept, about as ridiculous as the English paying me reparations because of what they did to my ancestors in Ireland 200 years ago.
In fact, the Africans exported to the New World were the lucky ones. Their descendants have a standard of living and opportunities 10 or 20 times greater than those still on the continent.
But the fact these things are even discussed is a definite sign of the collapse of the West. It’s very much like what happened in the late Roman Empire.
When Rome was in its ascendancy and at its height, the leaders of Rome were all native Romans or at least native Italians. If they were born in other parts of the Empire, they were of Roman culture and had Roman names and Roman values. They had a stake in their civilization.
But as time went on, all of this started changing.
By the time the barbarians invaded the Empire wholesale—starting with the battle of Adrianople in 378 AD—the handwriting was already on the wall. Within 30 years, the barbarians controlled the entire Empire.
The old political structure had completely collapsed. Native Romans were leaving the Empire, going to barbarian lands, to avoid onerous taxation. The currency was worthless. The economy was in a shambles. The military structure had completely collapsed. None of the soldiers were Italians; they were all barbarians hired as mercenaries. Likewise, here in the US, few Americans in the diminishing middle class want to join the military. The city of Rome itself was sacked in 410 AD and it never really recovered.
International Man: Economically, the US government continues to spend ever-increasing amounts of money. In 2018 alone, the federal deficit was $779 billion—a $113 billion increase from the year before. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are falling over themselves to offer new government freebies that could pay for college, medical care, and the list goes on.
How does this play into the theme of US decadence?
Doug Casey: Well, whether you’re an individual or a family or a country, when you live above your means, you’re almost by that very fact decadent. You’re not planning for the future.
But the US government’s debt and reported deficits represent only current cash outlays, not obligations in the form of future spending. If the deficits were represented with accrual accounting—which is what businesses have to do—the annual deficits would probably be more like $3 trillion.
Not to mention that interest rates are artificially suppressed to about 2% in the US. At more normal levels of, say, 6%, the annual deficit would be about $800 billion higher. So the financial situation is actually much, much worse than it seems.
On top of all this is the fact that these deficits come during a time of supposed recovery. But the “recovery” has been ramped up by creating trillions of new dollars and allowing people to borrow at effectively negative interest rates, certainly after inflation. This is all very decadent.
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. That’s not the attitude of a rising civilization.
The opposite of “decadent” is to be constructive, disciplined, forward-thinking, and self-respecting. You produce more than you consume and save the difference.
That’s exactly the opposite of what Americans are doing today.
We’re completely decadent.
Small comfort that the Europeans are even worse off than we are.
International Man: On an individual level, Americans are living beyond their means. Many Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.
What does this say about a society?
Doug Casey: It augurs very poorly.
The average American is one paycheck from not being able to pay his rent. When the distortions that have been cranked into the economy over just the last 10 years unwind and the economy as a whole goes downhill again, there are going to be millions of people who can’t pay their rent. Many millions more are going join the 42 million Americans now living on food stamps.
The social repercussions of this are predictable.
The population will get angry; many will go into the streets and riot. They’re going to vote overwhelmingly for some politician who says that he—or quite possibly she—can cure all their problems by giving them free stuff stolen from rich people.
In a way it’s understandable, because the fact of the matter is the rich have indeed been getting richer at an accelerating rate.
Because they’re the ones that get to stand next to the firehose of money that’s coming out of Washington. They get it first; they get most of it. It’s another sign of a society in decline: the dominance of cronies. That creates a lot of class antagonism.
It’s going to explode and be really ugly. Perhaps one thing keeping a lid on the situation is the huge number of Americans on psychiatric drugs: Zoloft, Prozac, and a hundred others. Perhaps millions of others don’t care as long as their internet connection enables them to play video games.
International Man: Aside from the financial aspect of decadence, what is happening culturally and intellectually in the United States? For example, many Americans are rejecting biological facts in favor of the politically correct fad of the day. Is this a sign of decline?
Doug Casey: The PC types say there are supposed to be 30 or 40 or 50 different genders—it’s a fluid number. It shows that wide swathes of the country no longer have a grip on actual physical, scientific reality. That’s more than a sign of decline; it’s a sign of mass psychosis.
There’s no question that some males are wired to act like females and some females are wired to act like males. It’s certainly a psychological aberration but probably has some basis in biology.
The problem is when these people politicize their psychological peculiarities, try to turn it into law, and force the rest of the society to grant them specially protected status.
Thousands of people every year go to doctors to have themselves mutilated so that they can become something else. Today they can often get the government or insurers to pay for it.
If you want to self-mutilate, that’s fine; that’s your business even if it’s insane. To make other people pay for it is criminal. But it’s now accepted as normal by most of society.
The acceptance of politically correct values—“diversity,” “inclusiveness”—trigger warnings, safe spaces, gender fluidity, multiculturalism, and a whole suite of similar things that show how degraded society has become. Adversaries of Western civilization like the Mohammedan world and the Chinese justifiably see it as weak, even contemptible.
As with Rome, collapse really comes from internal rot.
Look at who people are voting for. It’s not that Americans elected Obama once—a mob can be swayed easily enough into making a mistake—but they reelected him. It’s not that New Yorkers elected Bill de Blasio once, but they reelected him by a landslide. All of the Democratic candidates out there are saying things that are actually clinically insane and are being applauded.
International Man: In fact, in the recent Democratic debate, candidate Julián Castro even mentioned giving government-funded abortions to transgender women—biological men. It received one of the loudest bouts of applause from the audience.
That’s not to mention that two other candidates spoke in broken Spanish when responding to the moderator’s questions.
Doug Casey: As you said, it got a lot of applause.
US presidential candidates speaking in Spanish would be very much like an ancient Roman addressing the Forum in Gothic, not Latin. It’s all over for a culture when it starts using the language of its conqueror. In a restaurant here in Aspen, the owners have a sign in Spanish that refers to the progress of the Reconquista—the recapture of the American Southwest from the Anglos. Perhaps someone will speak Arabic in the next debates.
I hate to sound defeatist, but it’s all over for what was once known as American civilization. The celebrity of AOC is indicative. How else could a 29-year-old Puerto Rican waitress, poorly educated and not very bright, set the political tone for the whole country?
International Man: Is America’s late-stage decadence a product of its political and economic decline or vice versa?
Doug Casey: The decadence we see all around us is arising from every source. Cultural, economic, and political. Cultural decline is the most basic area. Massive immigration of people with different cultures, languages, and religions guarantee it. Especially if they’re coming because of free benefits. Many actually despise traditional American culture, as well as holding the current culture in contempt.
Their views are then reflected in a corruption of the politics. We see that with the apparent acceptance of the Squad—although I prefer to call them the “Gang of Four.” Politics engenders economic distortions. Part of the problem is that politics completely dominates the economy today.
For Trumpers to think that building a wall is going to change things is naïve. A wall will be about as effective as a kid’s sandcastle on the beach to hold back the waves.
The barbarians are already within the gates.
* * *
As Doug Casey discussed, the late stage decadence in the US is contributing to a growing wave of misguided socialist ideas and politicians. All signs point to this trend accelerating until it reaches a crisis... one unlike anything we've seen before. That's exactly why Doug and his team just released this urgent video. Click here to watch it now.
Published:7/28/2019 6:10:15 PM
Casey Kasem’s widow accuses attorney of ‘conspiring to kill’ him
Casey Kasem’s widow, Jean Kasem, has filed a wrongful-death suit against the late radio legend’s attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III.
Published:7/28/2019 10:33:14 AM
Woke Capitalism: Answering A Question Nobody Asked
Via Doug Casey's InternationalMan.com,
International Man: Everything seems to be increasingly politicized these days… in a way that it wasn’t just a few years ago. To name a few, we see it in sports, with large corporations like Procter & Gamble in their razor blade ads.
Politics is creeping into more and more areas. It’s a trend that seems to be accelerating.
How did this happen and what does it mean?
Doug Casey: The politicization of the country is poisonous. Politics is not like the fiction of some friends getting together and deciding what movie to see. It’s about force and coercion. This is the myth of democracy, which amounts to a somewhat gentler version of mob rule.
Politics is about getting control of the reins of the State. It’s a question of one group of people getting to tell every other group what they must and must not do. And how much they have to pay for the privilege.
It’s astonishing politics has become so popular—considering that only the worst kind of people are drawn to it. As evidence, I’d offer the current slate of Democratic presidential candidates. Although, I promise you, their Republican counterparts, waiting in the wings, are no better. Remember that lineup of buffoons who were on stage in 2016?
In theory, the purpose of the State—which itself is congealed force—is to protect its citizens within its bailiwick from illegitimate force. That means police to protect you from force within the country, a military to protect you from outside force, and a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without resorting to force.
But the State has gone far, far, beyond those boundaries. In fact, it does none of those three things well today. Instead, it tries to control every other aspect of life, at the expense of its subjects.
That’s why everything has become politicized in the US. Americans have come to see the State as their parent, so they’re constantly pleading with it, like children, asking it for favors and benefits. Like children, they expect the State to magically support them.
They don’t seem to understand that the State isn’t a cornucopia. It’s the opposite. It’s a dangerous parasite. A huge tapeworm in the body of society.
Over the last 100 years the average American’s mind has been captured by the idea of politics and the State. It’s the Stockholm syndrome—where people are captured by kidnappers and actually grow to love and support them—writ large.
Where's this trend going to go?
I'm a believer that trends in motion tend to stay in motion until they reach a crisis. Only then can the trend change. So the growth of the State—which is abetted by the politicization of American society—is going to continue growing until we reach a crisis. I don't know what will happen during that crisis. Will it change direction, or will it mutate into something even worse? Could it be as bad as what happened in France in 1789, Russia in 1917, Germany in 1933, or China in 1946? It's unpredictable.
International Man: Where do you think this shift in seeing everything through a political lens comes from?
Doug Casey: The State has expanded hugely from its original function of protecting people from actual force. It's now perceived as a cornucopia that can give everybody everything.
For instance, it’s completely taken over the education system—and the public applauds that, because they think it’s “free” and “fair.” Most teachers today—almost all college professors—are cultural Marxists, leftists, socialists, welfare statists, and the like. And they indoctrinate the students in their classes.
There was always a tendency for this to be the case, because academics naturally tend to live in a bubble. They resent the fact that although they’re well educated, they generally earn far less than businessmen. That resentment is evident in their political and economic views.
Even as recently as the ‘60s relatively few kids went to college. Now practically everybody goes to college. Not only is the indoctrination now far more virulent, but far more people are being exposed to it.
You can see this in the Democratic Party, where the two dozen or so people running for president vie with each other to promise more free stuff than the last person. They're coming up with the most collectivist possible ideas. The millennials—who've been indoctrinated in college, high school, and even grade school—accept these ideas. Kids will have a much bigger effect on the 2020 elections than they did in 2016.
Not only don't I see any change in the trend—I only see an acceleration of the current trend from every point of view.
International Man: A big part of this trend involves the politicization of Big Tech companies like Google and Facebook.
When people engage in discourse that is at odds with mainstream ideas on these platforms—not just in politics but in health, nutrition, economics… everything—there seems to be a concerned effort to silence it.
How did these powerful platforms become guardians of the mainstream and leftist propaganda?
Doug Casey: It seems the main way people communicate with each other today is through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. And these platforms—as huge as they are—are indirectly controlled by elements of the government.
People on these platforms who believe in ideas at odds with what "everybody" believes are apparently being de-platformed in large numbers.
I personally know people who’ve had a presence on Facebook or YouTube, and have been kicked off it. Because of what they believe or say. That makes it very hard for them to communicate with their previous audiences.
Now on the one hand, Facebook, YouTube, and others have a perfect right to kick anybody off their platforms because they're privately owned. On the other hand, these companies are indirect arms of the government. Or, more precisely, the Deep State.
The CIA, the NSA, the FBI and the other praetorian agencies all have black budgets. Part of it is money from Congress that’s siphoned into corporations run by sympathetic individuals and cronies. It's augmented by activities like running drugs, weapons, and God knows what else. This is rather famous in the case of the CIA. But there are probably two dozen government agencies that have black budgets, hidden by the veil of “national security.” They’re governments within the government, secret and untouchable.
I have little doubt that people from these praetorian agencies invested in and supported outfits like Google, Facebook, and Amazon from the very beginning. And influence them today.
It used to be in the ‘60s and ‘70s, that computer guys were libertarian oriented. Remember when the guys at Google used to have a sense of humor, and their motto was “Don't be evil”? Most people have forgotten that was actually their official motto. They now have a lot of power, and power corrupts.
International Man: With these Big Tech companies it seems to go beyond politics. They’re now policing people who have alternative views on health and medicine.
For example, recently, Facebook targeted the global exercise brand CrossFit. The group, which had about 1.6 million users on Facebook, was de-listed without warning because the individuals in that group were discussing a low carb, high fat diet.
This is contrary to the mainstream ideas on health and nutrition, which is of course dictated by large government agencies like the USDA. Is this further proof that companies like Facebook have become extensions of the government?
Doug Casey: It really is. Busybodies are naturally drawn to organizations where they can impose their views on others.
Like most government departments, the USDA should be abolished. It has over 100,000 employees and it doesn't produce a single bushel of wheat, or a single cow. On the contrary, it makes farmers lives miserable. Any useful functions it has would be easily provided by entrepreneurs in the market.
In the area of food recommendations, the USDA’s food pyramid puts grains at the foundation. However, since modern humans came into being probably about 200,000 years ago, humans have primarily lived on the meat, vegetables, roots, and nuts. Our ancestors didn't live on grains for 95% of human history, and humans aren’t bred to do so. Grains are fine for maintaining large masses of people cheaply, but they're not optimal for individual health. Especially not once they’re highly refined and processed.
Who knows what's going on in this bureaucracy’s hive mind? But it shouldn't make any difference to us, because nobody should be getting health advice or medical advice from a government bureaucracy.
Related to that, I thought it was interesting that the founder of CrossFit is a self-described libertarian.
Could that have anything to do with the fact that his group was de-platformed? I don't know. But if you're off Facebook and you can't use Google, it makes it much harder to communicate with people. Right now these companies have an immense amount of power.
However, I’m not overly concerned.
Why not? I think, barring State intervention, the market will to solve the problem. I'm certainly not looking for the government to intervene. If anything, by making more laws the government will only cause more distortions making the situation worse directly and indirectly.
Hopefully, Facebook will annoy enough people that millions, then tens, then hundreds of millions will just cancel their accounts. That will drain power from them. And perhaps a hundred other Facebook or YouTube lookalikes will grow up and decentralize the market. Various innovations using blockchain technology will accelerate the process. Instead of having a few giant platforms, maybe there'll be hundreds of platforms, with many different characteristics.
Facebook and most all of the other major tech corporations are tremendous short sale opportunities. Not only are they in an enormous market bubble today. But people are starting to actively distrust and dislike them. They’re like any other large organization - once they get to a certain size they inevitably become corrupt, concrete-bound, unmanageable, and counterproductive.
I’d look at pair trades - short things like Facebook, and long equal amounts of smaller companies and startups looking to dethrone them.
* * *
The politicization of everything is spreading like a wildfire across all parts of life. It’s contributing to a growing wave of misguided socialist ideas. All signs point to this trend accelerating until it reaches a crisis... one unlike anything we've seen before. That's exactly why Doug Casey and his team just released this urgent video. Click here to watch it now.
Published:7/20/2019 7:04:17 PM
What Would A Free Society Actually Look Like?
Authored by Laurence Vance via The Future of Freedom Foundationm,
It is a common occurrence at sporting events. Someone is singing the U.S. national anthem — “The Star-Spangled Banner” — and when he gets to the last line of the first verse (although the song has four verses, the first verse is the only one that is ever sung), the crowd starts cheering and shouting after the singer utters the phrase “the land of the free.” Most of those same people have an equally high regard for the country song by Lee Greenwood, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” and especially the beginning of the chorus that says, “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.” Greenwood has sung the song at Republican and conservative political events. In churches on the Sunday before Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, the patriotic song “America” (“My country, ’tis of thee”) is often sung. It speaks of America as the “sweet land of liberty” and the “land of the noble free.” It speaks of the “ring” of freedom, “sweet freedom’s song,” and “freedom’s holy light.”
To suggest that America is not free, not as free as other countries, or not as free as the majority of Americans believe is anathema. To imply that government at all levels in America is becoming more and more intrusive, authoritarian, and dangerous is unconscionable. To even hint that America is a nanny state or a police state is all but treasonous.
Of course Americans are free, say the people cheering and shouting at sporting events and singing along with Lee Greenwood at concerts. Americans can travel freely across the country. Americans are free to choose from among fifty varieties of salad dressing at the grocery store, a hundred types of wine at the liquor store, a thousand television channels in their living rooms, and a seemingly limitless assortment of songs on the Internet to download to their phones. Americans are free to attend the church of their choice or no church at all. Americans have the right to vote. Americans are free to eat at the restaurant of their choice. Americans are free to marry, divorce, or cohabitate. Americans are free to buy, sell, change jobs, move, or start a business. Of course Americans are free!
When compared with the citizens of countries such as North Korea, Sudan, Myanmar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, Americans do appear to be absolutely free in every respect. But there are 190 other countries in the world. America could be the freest country in the world and still not be absolutely free. The truth is, Americans live in a relatively free society when compared with people in many other countries. The American people are relatively free when compared with people in Thailand, Egypt, India, Argentina, Indonesia, and Pakistan. But when we begin to add other countries into the mix, the freedom in the United States doesn’t look so rosy.
The Fraser Institute’s latest edition of Economic Freedom of the World “measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom” based on 42 data points used to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas: personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to enter markets and compete, and security of the person and privately owned property. The United States comes in sixth place, after Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Ireland. The United States returned to the top 10 in 2016 only after an absence of several years.
The Heritage Foundation’s latest edition of the Index of Economic Freedom measures “economic freedom based on 12 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness), Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health), Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom), and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).” The United States comes in twelfth place, after Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Iceland.
Freedom House’s latest edition of Freedom in the World “evaluates the state of freedom in 195 countries and 14 territories. Each country and territory is assigned points on a series of 25 indicators. “These scores are used to determine two numerical ratings, for political rights and civil liberties.” These ratings are then used to determine whether a country or territory “has an overall status of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free.” Freedom in the World “assesses the real-world rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals.” The United States received a score of 86 out of 100 points, behind such bastions of freedom as Costa Rica, Estonia, Lithuania, and Slovakia.
The latest edition of the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders “ranks 180 countries and regions according to the level of freedom available to journalists.” The United States ranks only 45 out of 180 countries, well behind Cyprus, Ghana, Jamaica, Namibia, and Uruguay.
Things look even worse when we get a little more specific. The government seizes more assets from Americans every year than the dollar amount taken in burglaries. Americans collectively pay more in taxes than they spend on food, clothing, and housing combined. Thanks to the war on drugs, Americans can be locked in a cage for purchasing too much Sudafed to relieve their stuffy nose or possessing too much of a plant the government doesn’t approve of. The United States has one of the highest per capita prison populations in the world. Tens of thousands of Americans are incarcerated for nonviolent or victimless crimes.
The federal government is at times nothing short of tyrannical. It has a myriad of laws that criminalize almost everything. In Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2011), Harvey Silverglate showed how prosecutors can use broad and vague federal laws to indict and convict people for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior. Federal regulations apply to almost every area of commerce and life. The government takes money from those who work and gives it to those who don’t. It takes money from American taxpayers and gives it to corrupt foreign governments. Do Americans live in a free society when the government reads their e-mails and listens to their phone calls? Do Americans live in a free society when they have to be scanned, groped, and forced to throw out tubes of toothpaste exceeding 3.4 ounces before they can board an airplane? Do Americans live in a free society when they are limited to six withdrawals from their savings accounts per month? Do Americans live in a free society when no beer brewed at home can ever be sold? Do Americans live in a free society when any person who is arrested for any reason can be strip-searched even if there is no reason to suspect that he is carrying contraband?
State and local governments and their police forces can be just as tyrannical as the federal government. They violate property rights, engage in civil asset forfeiture, perform invasive surveillance, carry out warrantless searches, and execute no-knock raids. Do Americans live in a free society when legal adults cannot purchase alcohol until they reach the age of 21? Do Americans live in a free society when they need to get a permit to have a garage sale? Do Americans live in a free society when they need a license to cut someone’s hair? Do Americans live in a free society when it is illegal for car dealers to be open on Sunday? Do Americans live in a free society when it is illegal to resell a concert ticket? Do Americans live in a free society when no alcoholic beverages of any kind can be sold before a certain time on Sunday? Do Americans live in a free society when local police are militarized with an arsenal of assault vehicles and firepower and employ marauding SWAT teams?
When the question is asked whether Americans live in a free society, one can’t help but ask: Compared to what? And if that weren’t bad enough, Americans live in a nanny state. Americans have a government full of politicians, bureaucrats, and regulators, and a society full of statists, authoritarians, and busybodies, who all want to use the force of government to impose their values, hinder personal freedom, remake society in their own image, restrict economic activity, compel people to associate with people they may not want to associate with, and limit the size of soft drinks you can purchase at a convenience store.
Yet, most Americans are oblivious to the extent of government encroachment on their freedoms. They are complacent when it comes to government edicts. And they are ignorant as to what a free society really means.
A free society
What, then, would life in a free society in the United States actually look like? In many respects it wouldn’t look outwardly any different from the relatively free society Americans live in now. Americans would still go to work; have garage sales; buy houses; rent apartments; take vacations; start businesses; eat at restaurants; attend school, church, sporting events, concerts, and movies; drive cars; have weddings and funerals; walk their dogs; take their grandchildren to parks; go walking, jogging, shopping, and bike riding; drink beer; order pizza; work out at the gym; watch television; play video games; and visit the doctor and dentist. In a free society, Americans would just do those things without government mandates, licenses, regulations, restrictions, standards, intervention, oversight, surveillance, or interference.
A free society is a libertarian society; that is:
a society based on free enterprise, free exchange, free trade, free markets, freedom of conscience, personal freedom, free assembly, free association, free speech, and free expression;
a society where people have the freedom to live their lives any way they choose, do with their property as they will, participate in any economic activity for their profit, engage in commerce with anyone who is willing to reciprocate, accumulate as much wealth as they desire, and spend the fruits of their labor as they see fit;
a society where, as long as people’s actions are peaceful, their associations are voluntary, their interactions are consensual, and they don’t violate the personal or property rights of others, the government just leaves them alone.
Yet, misconceptions and misinformation about libertarianism abound.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times during the federal government shutdown earlier this year, columnist, economist, professor, and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman mockingly termed the shutdown “a big beautiful libertarian experiment.” After all, “it’s striking how many of the payments the federal government is or soon will be failing to make are for things libertarians insist we shouldn’t have been spending taxpayer dollars on anyway.” Although the article was primarily about Republican and conservative hypocrisy, Krugman insinuated that without the federal government, Americans were more likely to get food poisoning: “And if you have libertarian leanings yourself, you should ask whether you’re happy with what’s happening with government partially out of the picture. Knowing that the food you’re eating is now more likely than before to be contaminated, does that potential contamination smell to you like freedom?” Never mind that it is not the federal government that inspects most food. Never mind how foolish it would be for food providers to sicken their patrons. Never mind how implausible it would be for food producers to poison their consumers. Never mind how unprofitable it would be for “greedy capitalists only interested in profits” to kill their customers.
Government in a free society
Government has always been the greatest violator of personal freedom and property rights. As former Foundation for Economic Education president Richard Ebeling puts it, “There has been no greater threat to life, liberty, and property throughout the ages than government. Even the most violent and brutal private individuals have been able to inflict only a mere fraction of the harm and destruction that have been caused by the use of power by political authorities.” Government should therefore be limited to the protection of rights.
In the “big beautiful libertarian experiment” known as a free society, government — in whatever form it exists — would be strictly limited to reasonable defense, judicial, and policing activities. As libertarian theorist Doug Casey explains, “Since government is institutionalized coercion — a very dangerous thing — it should do nothing but protect people in its bailiwick from physical coercion. What does that imply? It implies a police force to protect you from coercion within its boundaries, an army to protect you from coercion from outsiders, and a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without resorting to coercion.” In a free society, these are the only possible legitimate functions of government. There is no justification for any government action beyond keeping the peace; prosecuting and punishing those who initiate violence against, commit fraud against, or otherwise violate the personal or property rights of others; providing a forum for dispute resolution; and constraining those who would attempt to interfere with people’s peaceful actions.
It is not the proper role of government to inspect food; fight poverty; subsidize or give grants to any individual, business, occupation, or organization; create jobs; level the playing field; explore space; feed anyone; vaccinate anyone; rectify income equality; maintain a safety net; help the disabled and disadvantaged; regulate commerce; establish CAFE standards; fight discrimination; provide disaster relief; mitigate climate change; stamp out vice; have a retirement program; or provide public assistance. Government should be prohibited from intervening in, regulating, or controlling peaceful activity. And government should never punish individuals or businesses for engaging in entirely peaceful, voluntary, and consensual actions that do not aggress against the person or property of others. Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address in 1801, described thus the sum of good government: “A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
Aside from the nature of government, there are many topics that can be explored in the course of which it can be explained what life in a free society in the United States would actually look like. I want to discuss four of the most significant ones: education, charity, employment, and commerce.
Education. In a free society, all education is privately provided and privately funded. On the federal level, there would be no student loans, Pell grants, school breakfast or lunch programs, school accreditation, Head Start, Higher Education or Elementary and Secondary Education Acts, special-education or bilingual-education or Title IX mandates, Common Core, research grants to colleges and universities, math and science initiatives, and no Department of Education.
On the state level, there would be no public schools, government vouchers, teacher-education requirements, teacher licensing, teacher-certification standards, property taxes earmarked for public schools, and no departments of education. Education in a free society is also voluntary. There are no mandatory attendance laws or truant officers. In a free society, no American is forced to pay for the education of any other Americans or their children. In a free society, the education of children is the responsibility of parents, just as their feeding, clothing, lodging, training, health, recreation, and disciplining are.
Charity. In a free society, all charity is private and voluntary. There would be no Social Security; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); refundable tax credits; Medicaid; or Medicare. Generosity is a hallmark of Americans. According to the Giving USA Foundation, “Americans gave $410.02 billion to charity in 2017.” But government charity crowds out genuine charity. In a free society, Americans would keep the entirety of the fruits of their labors and give or not give — individually or through charities — to those in need as they saw fit. A free society must include the freedom to be generous or stingy, benevolent or miserly, charitable or uncharitable. But that decision is up to each individual American. Foreign charity would work the same way. In a free society, it would be up to individuals, or charitable organizations funded by individuals and businesses, to provide other countries with disaster relief or foreign aid. A free society must include the freedom to be unconcerned or insensitive to the plights of foreigners.
Employment. In a free society, employment is a private contract between employer and employee without any government interference whatsoever. There would be no minimum wage or overtime pay laws. There would be no family-leave or health-insurance mandates. There would be no government job-training programs or government licensing or certification. There would be no unemployment-compensation program. Unemployment insurance would be purchased on the free market just like fire, car, homeowners’, and life insurance. In a free society, union membership and collective bargaining would be voluntary, and employers would be free to allow or disallow either. In a free society, it would not only be perfectly legal to fire workers who strike or otherwise refuse to work, but it would also be perfectly legal for employers to fire employees at any time and for any reason. In a free society, employers could hire anyone from any country without having to check his “status” or “papers.” But there would also be no Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Discrimination in hiring, pay, or promotions on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, marital status, dress, appearance, political affiliation, or anything else would be perfectly legal.
Commerce. In a free society, commerce is conducted in a free market without interference from the government. There would be no government regulations to stifle businesses, no occupational licensing to prevent people from working, no price controls, no government grants or subsidies, no government loans or loan guarantees, no protectionist tariffs to benefit certain industries, no Export-Import Bank, no Small Business Administration, no crony capitalism, and no usury or price-gouging laws. Mergers and acquisitions would not need government approval. No more anti-trust laws. No business would be singled out for special protection by the government. Bye-bye, farm subsidies. All transportation would be private. No more AMTRAK or public transit. Businesses large and small, including airports and airlines, would handle their own security. Good riddance, TSA.
America once had a free society, and it can have one again by returning to the libertarian principles that made it the freest country in modern history.
Published:7/20/2019 5:02:16 PM
Joe Biden: Protector Of The Deep State
Authored by Jeremy Kuzmarov via Counterpunch.org,
Kamala Harris surged in the polls after attacking frontrunner Joe Biden during the first Democratic Party debate for opposing federal busing programs in the 1970s that were designed to desegregate public schools. Bernie Sanders in the debate also criticized Biden’s support for the Iraq War. Left overlooked, however, were some other skeleton’s in “lunch bucket” Joe’s closet, including his history of advancing the interests of the “deep state.”
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Biden sat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which was established upon recommendation of the 1975/1976 Pike committee to provide “vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Biden himself admitted that the Senate Intelligence Committee failed at this latter task, telling The New York Times in 1982 that its performance was “barely adequate. There is a lack of prudent and consistent oversight…. and a willingness to accept blanket findings and to give indefinite approval for conducting operations.”
With the Vietnam anti-war movement going strong, the slick young Biden had supported a 1974 bill that called for banning all covert operations. Sensing which way the political winds were blowing, Biden, however, told the Senate Committee in 1976 that he had “no illusions about Soviet intentions and capabilities in the world” and expressed agreement with neoconservative Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) that “isolationism was a dangerous and naïve foundation upon which to rest our foreign policy or the intelligence community which must serve that policy.”
By the 1980s, Biden was supporting increases in intelligence and counterintelligence funding after Jimmy Carter had tried to cut the CIA’s staff by a third. In 1980, he voted to approve as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William Casey, a staunch anticommunist who ramped up covert arms supplies to the Afghan mujahidin, Nicaraguan Contras and Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA forces in Angola. While opposing the Contras use of terrorism and the FBIs illegal surveillance of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Biden supported Reagan’s War on Terrorism, whose double-standards were significant, and was a staunch proponent of the War on Drugs, even though he reviewed DEA reports on the illicit drug trade which would have pointed to the corruption of CIA allies.
In 1978, Biden helped to write the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permitted electronic surveillance by the President to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period of up to one year without a court order and sanctioned secret court proceedings.
A year earlier, Biden had been part of a joint investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, chaired by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), on unethical government drug testing programs during the early Cold War.
One of the witnesses was Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the CIAs “Dr. Death” who had spearheaded the Operation MK-ULTRA in which Lysergic Acid Diamelythide (LSD) was given to unwitting human guinea pigs as part of an effort to develop novel interrogation methods.
Gottlieb was asked about Dr. Frank Olson, a CIA biochemist at the army biological warfare center at Ft. Detrick Maryland and member of the CIAs Special Operations Division (SOD), who was thought to be a victim of MK-ULTRA. In November 1953, Olson was allegedly given LSD at a CIA retreat, and after a bad reaction, jumped to his death from the 13th floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City.
Forensics investigation, however, later determined that the cause of Olson’s death was blunt force trauma to the head. According to researcher Hank Albarelli Jr., two CIA hatchet men snuck into his hotel room through a side door and threw Olson out of the window while framing his death as a drug-induced suicide.
At the 1977 hearing, Dr. Robert Lashbrook, Olson’s hotel roommate and SOD colleague, committed perjury. Neither Biden nor his colleagues, however, challenged him in any way. The same was true of Dr. Gottlieb who perjured himself after being granted legal immunity in exchange for his testimony. Senator Edward Kennedy, the “liberal lion” concluded that his hearings “closed the book on this sorry chapter [the Olson affair]” which was framed as a “tragic accident.” The book was anything but closed though, and it was not an accident, but likely state sponsored murder of a man who threatened to blow the whistle on state secrets.
Biden should be judged as part of a generation of lawmakers who failed to reign in the “deep state.” Joe’s conversion from an opponent to a protector of the CIA in the 1970s set the groundwork for his Vice Presidency – and would do so for his presidency.
In the 2009 debate over the “surge” in Afghanistan, Biden characteristically wanted a small troop increase and more air strikes and drone attacks – the approach favored by the CIA. Biden also supported the CIA’s operations in Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, Venezuela and Syria, and backed the expansion of the private military industry under Obama, which is heavily dominated by the CIA.
In the next debate, Joe’s sparring partners should call him out for his dubious record on foreign policy and vow to work to curtail the power of the Executive Branch and “deep state.”
This would mark them as the real people’s choice.
Published:7/10/2019 10:05:13 PM