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[Volokh Conspiracy] [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
[Markets] Will The US Become A Socialist Country? Will The US Become A Socialist Country?

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.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/25/2019 - 19:50
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Published:9/25/2019 7:01:56 PM
[Markets] "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

Via InternationalMan.com,

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.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/13/2019 - 13:36
Published:9/13/2019 12:43:06 PM
[Markets] 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
[Markets] Doug Casey On Why Gold Is The Best Money

Via CaseyResearch.com,

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.

Money

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
[Markets] The Biggest Migration Since The Barbarian Invasions Of Rome (Is Not Where You Think)

Via InternationalMan.com,

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
[abe676a9-f191-5278-8f8a-49f00f1e0c37] '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
[80b9d0e0-1171-59f0-a24e-872ff7880d59] 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
[Markets] 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?

What Now?

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

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

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.

Speculating

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
[Markets] 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 hereherehere 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:

"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."

Published:7/30/2019 2:41:43 AM
[Markets] Doug Casey On America's Late-Stage Decadence

Via InternationalMan.com,

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.

Why?

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
[0341d947-8886-55da-9003-d54725c1c1e0] 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
[Markets] 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
[Markets] 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.”

American freedom

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.

American tyranny

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.”

Topics

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
[Markets] 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
[Markets] Doug Casey On Bitcoin, Part I

Authored by Doug Casey, founder of CaseyResearch.com,

In this article, I’d like to explain how I learned to love Bitcoin. Why it’s a wonderful thing. Its potential as a speculation. How the government is going to co-opt it. And how this is all likely to end.

I was first introduced to Bitcoin several years ago in Cafayate, Argentina. A young Belgian guy came to visit, I bought him lunch, and we discussed Bitcoin. He was a very early enthusiast, and he gave me a physical Bitcoin as a souvenir. They’re now collectibles, but the digital codes are inscribed on them. I still have that Bitcoin. It was worth $13 at the time.

I wish I had listened to his argument more carefully, because I could have made millions. Over 600-1 in just a few years… that’s rare indeed. I was inclined towards it philosophically, but outsmarted myself on an investment level. Because Bitcoin was pitched to me as an alternative currency, and I failed to see all of its advantages in that role.

My original objection was that Bitcoin isn’t backed by anything. It’s really a private fiat currency. It’s very much like the Zambian Kwacha, the Argentine peso, the US dollar, or any of the other 150-plus currencies in today’s world. It’s a floating abstraction. Unlike state currencies, though, its acceptance isn’t enforced by laws. But, on the other hand, its quantity is limited. Would that be enough to get large amounts of people to use it as a currency?

I missed something when I said, back then, that it had no value. It’s a fiat currency, yes, but it has much more practical value than any other.

A currency has to be a good medium of exchange, and a store of value. I’ll have more to say about this in a few paragraphs, but Bitcoin’s big fault is that it’s so volatile. In other words, it’s nice to see your savings perhaps double in value over a few weeks. But few want to risk them losing value the way Bitcoin did in the recent crypto winter, when it went from about $20,000 to about $3,000 in 15 months. That said, as more people adopt Bitcoin, it should stabilize. But Bitcoin has already gone from being a wild speculation to a useful monetary tool. I believe it will keep improving, rapidly.

Why? Analyze the situation rationally, using Aristotle’s five characteristics of a good money. Aristotle defined the five characteristics of good money in the 4th century BC. His analysis is as accurate now as it was then.

A good money must be durable, divisible, convenient, consistent, and have use value in and of itself. Based on that, Aristotle believed gold and silver were best suited for use as money. How does Bitcoin compare using these five criteria?

Durable. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are definitely durable – unless we have a major electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or a significant solar flare that wipes out all the computers. Bitcoins are not as durable as the metals, but they’re adequate, barring a veritable collapse of civilization.

Divisible. Bitcoin is infinitely divisible. Better than the physical metals, actually – although the metals can be accounted in tiny fractions too.

Convenient. Yes – as long as you have a smartphone, Bitcoin is very convenient. But your smartphone, or something like it, may not always be with you. And your counterparty also has to have one. And it’s not very convenient if someone doesn’t know or trust Bitcoin. Right now, that’s still probably 98% of humanity.

Consistent. Absolutely. Every Bitcoin is exactly like another one. It’s at least as good as .999 fine gold that way.

The problem I had with Bitcoin was the fifth point: Does it have use value in itself, so you can’t get stuck holding the bag?

If you have a million US paper dollars, and nobody accepts them, they have no use in and of themselves – except as wall decorations or kindling. They’re just unsecured liabilities of a bankrupt government. In essence no better than a million Zimbabwe dollars, although there’s obviously a continuum. Fiat currencies can be easily destroyed by their issuers. The things are burning matches. They have half-lives, like radioactive elements.

Sure, there were advantages to Bitcoin being a privately issued fiat currency. But I didn’t see its real use value; that’s where I went wrong.

Bitcoin is certainly a fiat currency like the dollar or the Kwacha. But it’s also an excellent transfer device. You can move wealth from one country to another, or to another person, quickly and privately. I’d say secretly, but you’re not supposed to say “secret” anymore, you can only say “private.” Part of the politically correct corruption of language, I might add.

Better yet, you can do so outside of the banking system, which is increasingly important. If you use Bitcoin, you don’t need a bank to store your money.

Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoins, are just the first, and most obvious, application of blockchain technology. Hopefully, among other things, blockchain and Bitcoin are going to destroy the SWIFT system, the vehicle for wiring money from one bank to another. SWIFT is expensive (typically $50-100 per transaction), slow (generally a day or two, sometimes a week or more), and insecure (who trusts either big banks or the US Government?). And SWIFT requires that all dollars clear through New York; non-Americans don’t care for that. SWIFT is used by thousands of banks around the world to send payment instructions worth trillions of dollars each day.

So, this is one big use value of Bitcoin. It allows you to transfer something that is accepted as money outside of the banking system, privately, and outside of government fiat currencies.

Bitcoin is well on the way to being accepted as money. I think it will succeed. Remember, money is just a medium of exchange and a store of value. Almost anything can be used as money. Some things are just much better than others.

Salt, seashells, and cows have all historically been used as money. After all, the word “pecuniary” comes from the Latin pecus, which means cow; cows were used as money. And “salary” comes from the Latin sal, which is salt, which was also a money. Wampum were seashells. Cigarettes are money in prisons and war zones. Giant Yap island discs were used as money.

Bitcoin is becoming more and more accepted as a medium of exchange, while most government fiat currencies approach their intrinsic values – essentially zero.

Bitcoin is a bit more problematic as a store of value. Once again, let’s get back to the basics. You’ve got two kinds of currencies: commodity currencies and fiat currencies.

The commodity currencies are actual physical commodities. You know they have use value. Fiat currencies, on the other hand, are just made up. They’re totally arbitrary and political.

It’s like that old joke about sardines. You’ve got eating sardines and trading sardines. Commodity currencies are eating sardines. Fiat currencies are trading sardines. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Bitcoin is going to be accepted a year or two from now. It’s a high tech innovation, and maybe a Version 2.0 will collapse the value of the current version. So in a few years, we may find that Bitcoin fails the store of value test. But it’s accepted at the moment. And its acceptance is growing at a crazy rate – unlike fiat currencies, which have almost all been falling against real goods and services at about 5-10% a year. Incidentally, I don’t put much faith in the accuracy of government inflation figures.

Bitcoin has been a great speculation so far. But is it a store of value? Bitcoin is a technological innovation. There likely will be Bitcoin 2.0 and 3.0, not to mention other, even more advanced cryptos. What will the current Bitcoin then be worth? There’s a reason the expression “High tech, big wreck” is true. Just because it’s been a great speculation, doesn’t mean it’s a good store of value. Technology, a solar flare, or even government action could wipe it out.

The bottom line? Bitcoin passes the medium of exchange test for the moment and store of value test for the moment. So you can definitely say it’s money – for the moment. But so does the Argentine peso – for the moment. I have little confidence, however, Bitcoin will be here, say, five years from now. Buying cryptos is not like socking away gold coins.

The $64 question is: Where are we in the market cycle for cryptos? Clearly, we’re no longer early in the game. It’s like getting into the Internet stocks back in 1998 – they weren’t cheap, but the bubble got much, much bigger. And the Internet – contrary to what people like Paul Krugman thought – was not itself a bubble. Up till now, the main way to play this has been tokens, like Bitcoin. There are perhaps two thousand of them out there now, and most of them are garbage.

Because I think the crypto bubble will be reinflated now that the crypto winter that started in December 2017 is over, I’m getting involved in these cryptocurrencies on several levels. I’m trying to make the trend my friend. But cautiously.

*  *  *

Our resident crypto expert, Marco Wutzer, has been following digital currencies for decades. He was an early investor in bitcoin. And like Doug, he’s truly an “international man.” He made so much money from cryptos, he dropped everything and traveled the world for five years. And now, he’s ready to share the details on his latest discovery... A new and exciting tech opportunity that could make early investors a fortune. You haven’t heard anything like this before. Marco just released an urgent video with all the details. Go here to get the full story.

Published:7/8/2019 6:37:44 PM
[Markets] Knitting Behemoth Ravelry Bans Pro-Trump Content Over 'White Supremacy' 

The bitter biddy brigade over at knitting super-site Ravelry.com have their pussy-hats in a twist over President Trump, and have taken action ahead of the 2020 election by banning all support for Trump and his administration from their platform.  

In a Saturday announcement, the "Facebook of knitting" said "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy," adding "Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

The site did not explain which Trump policies it believes signify white supremacist ideology, though the president was roundly criticized for not condemning white nationalist violence after Charlottesville’s 2017 Unite The Right rally. The white supremacist demonstration had “very fine people on both sides,” Trump said, after one counterprotester was killed.

The ban cuts across all aspects of the site, including “forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles” and anything else, the announcement said. -Washington Post

Stroking their many cats while their husbands suffer in silence, the site administrators claim that they aren't endorsing Democrats or shunning Republicans.

"We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions," said Ravelry, which warned users not to goad others into supporting the president. 

Ravelry founders Casey and Jessica Forbes (Screenshot: "Fruity Knitting")

Ravelry was launched in 2007 by husband and wife Casey and Jessica Forbes, and claims 8 million registered users. 

The company claims their anti-Trump policy was inspired by RPG.net, which banned public support of Trump in October. 

Published:6/24/2019 12:41:58 PM
[Markets] UK: A Clash Of Educations

Authored by Denis MacEoin via The Gatestone Institute,

  • While Britons are striving to promote British values, those increasingly appear not to be the values everyone here wants.

  • The No Outsiders curriculum... teaches acceptance of people different from oneself, which is what brings pupils into contact with mutual respect for Christians, Muslims and Jews, the disabled, gays and everyone who might be considered "other". "It should make absolutely clear that no group should be left out...."

  • There seems to be a broader agenda at work here: that is, to find ways in which to maintain British values when faced with people who in many instances seem to oppose them. One example might be a lesson summed up in the Anderton Park expressions about British values...: "Jewish people are equal to Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and people with no religion." Many might not agree to that sentiment, whether in primary or secondary education, and possibly many Muslim parents would wish their children not to be taught it....

  • The importance of teaching children about respect for other people cannot be exaggerated. In the light of this, can there be any question that the lessons at Anderton Park school are vital for the West?

What started as a small protest in the UK has taken on wider dimensions that are already spreading to other cities. For more than two months now, a primary school in Birmingham in the UK has been at the centre of a standoff between modern Western values and the concerns of a large group of Muslim parents. As early as April, reports said, leafleters were targeting schools in Birmingham, Manchester, Oldham, London, Blackburn and Bradford.

The almost daily protests outside the schools, although on a more muted scale, are the biggest since those against Salman Rushdie and his book, The Satanic Versesback in 1988 -- events that for some radicalized a generationAccording to the author Kenan Malik, those early protests sowed the seeds of rifts that have since become wider. Some form of clash between these two sets of values is taking place again.

Anderton Park Primary School is an outstanding place of education for children between the ages of five and eleven. Most of the children are Muslims, but that does not restrict the efforts to introduce them to being fully educated citizens in the country where most were born.

Pictured: Anderton Park Primary School. (Image source: Oosoom/Wikimedia Commons)

According to the UK's 2011 Census, Muslims, numbering 234,014, make up 21.6% of Birmingham's population, well above the average for England and Wales as a whole (4.8%). Birmingham is the largest city by population after London. Its Muslim population is almost as large, and the city itself is even more ethnically diverse than the capital. Muslims have arrived from Africa, Asia (mainly Bangladesh and Pakistan), and parts of eastern Europe.

"Islam is a growing social force in Britain's second city", according to The Economist, and its Central Mosque "has influence everywhere from the classroom to the bedroom".

Clearly, what is happening in Birmingham may have a disproportionate bearing on Muslims and others throughout the UK. The context within which social pressures are growing seems, first, that Muslims now make up one in every twenty people in the UK. Alongside that, there is the understanding, developed by Dame Louise Casey in her 2016 governmental review of opportunity and integration in the UK, that Muslim communities have been proving the hardest to assimilate within British society at large.

If some Muslims find it hard to integrate (whether of their own volition or because of lack of opportunity within the general public), they often run their own communities, and often seem to reject the opportunities Britain offers them. Many have also been given to what appears to some Britons as unneighbourly behaviourin a period when many in the UK have been striving to promote British values while enjoying and accommodating the diversity of its many new inhabitants. This is what Prime Minister Theresa May emphasized in her introduction to the government's 2018 Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, that while Britons are striving to promote British values, those increasingly appear not to be the values everyone here wants. She said:

Britain is one of the world's most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith societies. We can rightly be proud of this diversity, which has contributed so much to our culture and our economy, and has made us the strong, vibrant nation we are today. But we cannot ignore the challenges we face. We still have a long way to go to tackle the inequalities and injustices that hold people back. It is not right that where you are born, who your parents are, or where you went to school should determine your outcomes in life. The government's ground breaking Race Disparity Audit of public services reinforces the importance of addressing the inequalities that can act as barriers to integration and opportunity, barriers which prevent us from building a Britain where everyone has the chance to succeed. We must also do more to confront the segregation that can divide communities. This undermines our unity as a nation and prevents those in isolated communities from playing a full part in society and benefiting from the opportunities that living in Britain brings.

Let us take this for a broad context in which to look at Anderton Park Primary, after which we can examine the protests being made against it.

Anderton Park Primary stands out as one of several British schools that put special emphasis on teaching children the ways in which they can grow up to fulfil those hopes of Mrs May and all those in and outside government who work to bring about what they consider a good society for all citizens. Here are, first, Anderton Park's Equality Charter, and then its love for British Values. It is worth reading in some detail:

Anderton Park Equality Charter

  • In our school everyone is equal.

  • We treat everyone equally and fairly & challenge inequality & stereotypes

  • We cannot sparkle if we are not equal

  • We use positive, kind language to and about each other

  • We do not use the language of hate

  • We celebrate and protect differences

  • We fully uphold and believe in the Equality Act 2010 and do not discriminate against anyone because of gender, race and nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation (and gender identity, LGBT+), pregnancy, religion or beliefs or marital status

  • We actively promote equality and foster good relationships between people who share a characteristic and those who don't

  • We always challenge views or comments that are unacceptable.

  • Everyone is special. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is different.

We love Fundamental British values

By law this means we as staff, children, governors and families need to understand:

  • democracy

  • the rule of law

  • individual liberty

  • Mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith.

  • Our favourite law is the Equality Law 2010. We love it!

  • Girls are equal to boys. Gay people are equal to straight people. Disabled people are equal to able bodied people. Jewish people are equal to Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and people with no religion. You get the idea. This is so important.

  • We expect everyone to challenge any language or behaviour that is unequal.

  • We do not allow 'like a girl' to be used as an insult, just as we would not allow 'gay' or 'black' to be used as an insult. Boys play with dolls, dress up, girls are builders, pink is not for girls. Thus, we help students develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence, to distinguish right from wrong and to respect the civil and criminal law of England.

  • We encourage students to accept responsibility for their behaviour, show initiative, and to understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of those living and working in the locality of the school and to society more widely. We teach children they have choices. We reward what we value.

  • We will promote harmony & understanding between those with different cultural traditions by enabling students to acquire an appreciation for and respect for their own and other cultures.

  • Watch 'Like a Girl', 'Children See Children Do', 'Love has no labels' regularly to remember why this is important.

As a reflection of these values, Anderton Park is recognized by UNICEF as a Rights Respecting School, that is to say, a school that embeds the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in their practice and ethos. There are now more than 5,000 rights respecting schools in the UK, and all compete for awards that recognize how far they have developed.

The protests against the school are being led by a young man named Shakeel Afsar, about whom little else is known other than that he has a niece and nephew at the school. "Anti-LGBT protests" have been focusing on the claim that Anderton Park is teaching young children about LGBT issues that are inappropriate on the grounds that Islam opposes and punishes homosexuals, often executing them. Parents were reportedly told, "If you take your kids to school today, you're not a Muslim and you'll burn in hell."

"LGBT issues" are, of course, a gross exaggeration of what the school actually teaches. Its head teacher, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, has made it clear that, among other things, Anderton Park does not even teach sex lessons:

The suggestion that Hewitt-Clarkson and her dedicated team are somehow "sexualising" pupils at the school is popular among the protest's leaders. But unlike many other primary schools, Anderton Park doesn't actually teach sex education.

"We have never taught sex here," Hewitt-Clarkson says. "Some primary schools do, but we don't, and we never will."

Anderton Park also does not deliver specific lessons on LGBT rights. Instead, the idea of families with "two mummies or two daddies" is normalised through the books that children read and the discussions they have with teachers.

"When you read all these news reports or listen to these protesters, you'd think we talk about being gay the whole time," Hewitt-Clarkson says. "It's probably 0.5 per cent of the time, but because it's here there and everywhere, it's just normal.

She goes on later, in Human Rights News and Views, to discuss the school's No Outsiders curriculum, which teaches acceptance of people different from oneself, which is what brings pupils into contact with mutual respect for Christians, Muslims and Jews, the disabled, gays and everyone who might be considered "other". "It should make absolutely clear that no group should be left out...."

These lessons are based on the No Outsiders lessons programme developed in Birmingham itself:

The No Outsiders programme was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, the assistant head teacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham.

The programme aims to teach children about the characteristics protected by the Equality Act -- such as sexual orientation and religion.

Books used in programme include stories about a dog that doesn't feel like it fits in, two male penguins that raise a chick together and a boy who likes to dress up like a mermaid.

Regrettably, the protestors' emphasis on LGBT has forced schools emphasis on are forcing schools to cancel a wider programme, No Outsiders , which teaches diversity of all sorts. Next year the government might make lessons based on it compulsory.

Since the protests, several schools – Parkview Community School, and four primaries: Leigh Primary School, Alston Primary School, Marlborough Junior and Infants School and Wyndcliff Primary School – have stopped teaching "No Outsiders" altogether, even though lessons in diversity of all sorts do indeed provide the most important lesson for all children – a lesson that will be present, one hopes, throughout their lives.

What on earth, we may ask, can there be to prompt months of protest in which so many people have become incensed? In March, just before the Anderton Park School protests began, Afsar had led similar cries of outrage against another primary school not far away, Parkfield School. On that occasion, the school backed down and agreed to suspend all LGBT lessons until they came to an agreement with parents –- an agreement Afsar and others might again try to prevent.

There seems to be a broader agenda at work here: that is, to find ways in which to maintain British values when faced with people who in many instances seem to oppose them. One example might be a lesson summed up in the Anderton Park expressions about British values, which underpin so much of the school's ethos: "Jewish people are equal to Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and people with no religion."

Many might not agree to that sentiment, whether in primary or secondary education, and possibly many Muslim parents would wish their children not to be taught it as it contradicts one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Islamic faith: that in God's eyes Islam and Islam alone is the true religion. Unfortunately, however, that doctrine contravenes the law against religious discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act. Here again:

Anderton Park's approach to equalities education, which weaves teaching about equal rights and the challenging of stereotypes into the wider curriculum and has the 2010 Equality Act at its core, is nothing new. (Italics added).

Hewitt-Clarkson has for many years devoted 0.5% of her annual timetable to teaching the characteristics of the Equality Act, which underlies her school's Equality statement above. Half of the school's staff are themselves Muslim. But everyone is expected to be proactive against discrimination:

As public sector workers, teachers have a duty to eliminate discrimination, tackle prejudice and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who don't. You don't just sit back and wait until a racist or homophobic thing happens to deal with it – you go out of your way to promote good relationships.

The headmistress's concern to meet the requirements of the Equality Act is endorsed by Amanda Spielman, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted, the government's Office for Standards in Education, which monitors, evaluates and grades all schools in the country.

With direct reference to the crisis facing Anderton Park and remarks by MP Esther McVey that parents know best and should be able to withdraw their children from relationship education until they are as old as 16, Spielman rebutted the idea forcefully:

"To be clear, this is about the Equality Act, which says children must be taught respect for the protected characteristics and to the extent we have got a case where it says this isn't a pick and choose whichever one's parents feel like."

The Equality Act is aimed at protecting people from discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, sexual orientation and age.

Spielman said the new relationships education lessons were "age appropriate" and not to be confused with sex education, which is not mandatory until secondary school.

But she added that opt-outs would undermine the National Curriculum:

"The idea that, on the one hand, children need to be prepared for life in modern Britain and this is an obligation for all schools, yet at the same time parents can opt out completely ... well, what would you do if parents could opt out of biology, could opt out of geography, because they didn't want their children knowing about evolution or reproduction? Where would it end?

"At the point you start saying every parent can choose which topics, we have completely lost sight of a national curriculum, of a national education system that prepares all children in this country."

The matter will have to be concluded soon. In September 2020, RSE lessons will become statutory [relationships and sex education] for all state-funded schools. The RSE curriculum lasts to age 16 and teaches children necessary information about family and friend relationships, and in later stages about sexual matters. Many faith schools are included in the statutory requirements. To refuse to teach such classes will mean breaking the law, and parents who withdraw their children for reasons that contradict those legal requirements may well face charges of denying them an education.

The importance of teaching children about respect for other people, including people with different sexual orientations, cannot be exaggerated. In the light of this, can there be any question that the lessons at Anderton Park school are vital for the West?

Published:6/23/2019 6:35:17 AM
[Entertainment] How David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Patti Smith and other musicians fell for William S. Burroughs Casey Rae’s book looks back at the big-name rockers the beat writer influenced. Published:6/21/2019 1:24:00 PM
[Markets] 8 Reasons A Huge Gold-Mania Is About To Begin

Via InternationalMan.com,

An epic gold bull market is on the menu for 2019.

I’m not talking about a garden-variety cyclical gold bull market, but rather one of the biggest gold manias in history.

This gold mania will be riding the wave of an incredibly powerful trend… the re-monetization of gold.

The last time the international monetary system experienced a paradigm shift of this magnitude was in 1971.

Then, the dollar price of gold skyrocketed over 2,300%.

It shot from $35 per ounce to a high of $850 in 1980. Gold mining stocks did even better.

Today, gold is still bouncing around its lows. Gold mining stocks are still very cheap. I expect returns to be at least as great as they were during the last paradigm shift.

So let’s get right into it, starting with the first four catalysts that will send gold prices higher…

No. 1: Basel III Moves Gold Closer to Officially Being Money Again

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is located in Basel, Switzerland. It’s often referred to as “the bank of central banks.” Its members consist of 60 central banks from the world’s largest economies.

It facilitates transactions – notably gold transactions – between central banks, the biggest players in the gold market.

The BIS also issues Basel Accords, or a set of recommendations for regulations that set the standards for the global banking industry.

On April 1, 2019, Basel III went into effect around the world.

Buried among what was mostly confusing jargon was something of huge significance for gold:

A 0% risk weight will apply to (i) cash owned and held at the bank or in transit; and (ii) gold bullion held at the bank or held in another bank on an allocated basis, to the extent the gold bullion assets are backed by gold bullion liabilities.

What this means in plain English is that gold’s official role in the international monetary system has been upgraded for the first time in decades.

Banks can now consider physical gold they hold, in certain circumstances, as a 0% risk asset. Previously, gold was considered riskier and most of the time could not be classified in this way. Basel III rules are making gold more attractive.

Central bankers and mainstream economists have ridiculed gold for going on 50 years now.

They’ve tried to downplay its role in favor of fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar. They’ve tried to trick people into believing it isn’t important.

The fact is gold is real money… a form of money that is far superior to rapidly depreciating paper currencies. This is why central bankers don’t want to acknowledge how important it is.

And this is precisely why Basel III is important. It signifies the start of a reversal in attitude and policy.

Basel III is giving gold more official recognition in the international financial system. It represents a step towards the re-monetization of gold… and the recognition of this powerful trend in motion.

No. 2: Central Banks Are Buying Record Amounts of Gold

Countries are treating gold as money for the first time in generations…

In 2010, something remarkable happened. Central banks changed from being net sellers of gold to net buyers of gold. Remember, central banks are by far the biggest actors in the global gold market.

This trend has only accelerated since…

The World Gold Council reports that in 2018, central banks bought a record 651 tonnes of gold. This is the highest level of net purchases since 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window. And it’s a 75% increase from 2017.

Russia Was the Biggest Buyer

Russia’s gold reserves have quadrupled in the last decade, making it the fifth-largest holder of gold in the world.

Last year, Russia notably dumped nearly $100 billion worth of U.S. Treasuries, and, according to the World Gold Council, replaced much of it with gold.

If this trend continues, and I expect that it will, Russia will soon become the third-largest gold holder in the world.

A major reason for Russia’s gold purchases is to reduce its reliance on the U.S. dollar and exposure to U.S. financial sanctions.

It is providing a template for others to do the same, using gold as money.

For example, in 2016, news broke that Turkey and Iran were engaged in a “gas for gold” plan. Iran is under U.S. sanctions. Through the plan, Turkey can pay for gas imported from Iran with gold.

Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and others are proving they don’t need the U.S. dollar. They are conducting business and settling trade with gold shipments, which aren’t under the control of the U.S. government.

This is how gold will benefit from the U.S. government using the dollar as a financial weapon.

No. 3: Oil for Gold – China’s Golden Alternative

In 2017, when tensions with North Korea were rising, Trump’s Treasury secretary threatened to kick China out of the U.S. dollar system if it didn’t crack down on North Korea.

If the threat had been carried out, it would have been the financial equivalent of dropping a nuclear bomb on Beijing.

Without access to dollars, China would struggle to import oil and engage in international trade. Its economy would come to a grinding halt.

China would rather not depend on an adversary like this. This is one of the main reasons it created what I call the “Golden Alternative.”

Last year, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange launched a crude oil futures contract denominated in Chinese yuan. For the first time in the post-World War II era, it will allow for large oil transactions outside of the U.S. dollar.

Of course, most oil producers don’t want a large reserve of yuan.

That’s why China has explicitly linked the crude futures contract with the ability to convert yuan into physical gold – without touching the Chinese government’s official reserves – through gold exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong. (Shanghai is already the world’s largest physical gold market.)

Bottom line, China’s Golden Alternative will allow oil producers to sell oil for gold and completely bypass any restrictions, regulations, or sanctions of the U.S. financial system.

With China’s Golden Alternative, a lot of oil money is going to flow into yuan and gold instead of dollars and Treasuries.

CNBC estimates that the amount of redirected oil money will eventually hit $600-$800 billion. Much of this will flow into the gold market, which itself is only $170 billion.

Consider this…

China is the world’s largest importer of oil.

So far this year, China has imported an average of around 9.8 million barrels of oil per day. This number is expected to grow at least 10% per year.

Right now, oil is hovering around $60 per barrel. That means China is spending around $588 million per day to import oil.

Gold is currently priced around $1,330 an ounce.

That means every day, China is importing oil worth over 442,105 ounces of gold.

If we’re conservative and assume that just half of Chinese imports will be purchased in gold soon, it translates into increased demand of more than 80 million ounces per year – or more than 70% of gold’s annual production.

This shift hasn’t been priced into the gold price. When it happens, the increased demand for gold from China’s Golden Alternative is going to shock the gold market.

The bottom line is, China’s Golden Alternative is a big step towards gold’s re-monetization.

No. 4: The Fed’s Dramatic Capitulation

In the wake of the 2008 crash, the Federal Reserve instituted several emergency measures. The chairman at the time, Bernanke, promised Congress they would be temporary.

This included money-printing programs euphemistically called “quantitative easing” (QE). Through QE, the Fed created $3.7 trillion out of thin air.

That newly created money was used to buy mainly government bonds, which sat on the Fed’s bloated balance sheet.

The Fed also brought interest rates to the lowest levels in U.S. history. The Fed artificially brought rates down to 0% and kept them there for over six years.

Capitalism’s Most Important Price

Remember, interest rates are simply the price of borrowing money (debt). They have an enormous impact on banks, the real estate market, and the auto industry, among others.

In 2016, the Fed began its attempt to “normalize” its monetary policy by raising interest rates and reducing the size of its balance sheet to more historically normal levels. By doing so, the Fed was reversing the emergency measures put in place after the 2008 crisis.

Interest rates have risen from 0% to around 2.5%, and the Fed has drained over $500 billion from its balance sheet, or about 11% from its peak.

But then, the stock market tanked…

The S&P 500 peaked at 2,930 in late September 2018. By late December, it had crashed over 19% and appeared to be headed sharply lower.

It was the worst December in stock market history, except for December 1931, which was during the Great Depression.

That spooked the Fed into its most abrupt change in monetary policy in recent history.

Instead of normalizing monetary policy and removing the so-called “temporary” and “emergency” measures in place since 2008 – as it had long planned to do – the Fed capitulated.

Earlier this year, the Fed announced it would not raise interest rates in 2019.

The Fed also announced it would phase out its balance sheet reduction program in the fall.

Previously, the Fed was slowly winding down its balance sheet by about $30 billion a month. At such a snail’s pace, it would have taken the Fed over 10 years to drain its balance sheet back to its pre-crisis normal level.

Hooked on Easy Money

This whole charade is indicative of how utterly dependent the U.S. economy has become on artificially low interest rates and easy money.

If the Fed couldn’t normalize interest rates when the debt was $22 trillion, how is it ever going to raise rates when the debt is $30 trillion or higher?

The Fed couldn’t shrink a $4.5 trillion balance sheet. How is it going to shrink, say, a $10 trillion balance sheet or higher?

The answer is it can’t and won’t. It’s impossible for the U.S. government to normalize interest rates with an abnormal amount of debt. The Fed is trapped.

After nearly six years of 0% interest rates, the U.S. economy is hooked on the heroin of easy money. It can’t even tolerate a modest reduction in the Fed’s balance sheet and 2.5% interest rates, still far below historical averages.

In other words, this monetary tightening cycle is over. The next move is a return to QE and 0%, and perhaps negative, interest rates. These moves would, of course, weaken the dollar and be good for gold.

By flipping from tightening to signaling future easing, the Fed has turned a major headwind for the gold market into a tailwind.

Now, let's dive deeper into what’s going to trigger this revival…

No. 5: Takeover Frenzy in the Gold Mining Industry

2019 is on track to be a record-breaking year for gold mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

The world’s largest mining companies are pouring billions of dollars into mergers and acquisitions.

Three blockbuster deals contributed to this result:

  • Newmont Mining completed a $10 billion takeover of Goldcorp on April 18.

  • Barrick Gold acquired Randgold Resources in a $6 billion transaction that closed on January 1.

  • Barrick Gold has also announced a joint venture with Newmont after a hostile bid from Barrick failed. (Barrick and Newmont are the top two gold-producing companies in the world.) The joint venture in Nevada will create the largest gold-producing complex in the world.

What these mega deals prove is that the biggest companies in gold mining think gold and gold stocks are cheap.

They show a preference to grow by buying out other companies rather than discovering and developing new resources.

If this trend continues, 2019 will go down as a record-breaking year for gold M&As.

It’s another major tailwind for gold.

No. 6: President Trump Is Pro-Gold

President Trump is a big fan of gold.

For one, he’s made a killing as a gold investor. He’s called investing in gold “easier than the construction business.”

But Trump’s affinity for gold goes much deeper. He once said:

The legacy of gold as a precious commodity has transcended to become a viable currency and an accepted universal monetary standard. Central Banks around the world are holding gold as a reserve asset.

And Trump is a fan of the gold standard… in other words, the re-monetization of gold.

While running for president, he said:

Bringing back the gold standard would be very hard to do, but boy, would it be wonderful. We’d have a standard on which to base our money.

And he’s acting on his pro-gold instincts in a big way. Let me explain…

Trump has been able to wield more influence over the Federal Reserve than any other president since the Fed was created in 1913.

He’s had the chance to fill five out of the seven seats on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

In other words, Trump gets to stack over 70% of the whole Fed board with people of his choosing.

And so far, he’s nominated several pro-gold candidates, including Herman Cain and Stephen Moore. They’re both on record as supporting a gold standard.

For example, in 2012, when Cain was running for president, he wrote an editorial for The Wall Street Journal titled “We Need a Dollar as Good as Gold.” He wrote:

Gold is kryptonite to big-spending politicians. It is to the moochers and looters in government what sunlight and garlic are to vampires.

Cain and Moore have since withdrawn their nominations, but one replacement is widely suspected to be Judy Shelton, who is also an advocate of the gold standard.

Regardless, the fact that Trump nominated them in the first place shows he is willing to act on his pro-gold instincts.

Here’s the bottom line…

Having a U.S. president who favors gold and is looking to stack the Fed with pro-gold people is unprecedented in recent history. It’s a positive development for gold – and the trend of gold’s re-monetization.

But gold is going to get a boost, no matter which party is in power…

No. 7: Socialism Is on the Rise

Socialism is on the rise in the U.S. And it’s about to be entrenched in U.S. politics.

A recent poll from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit, showed that one in two millennials now favors socialism and communism over capitalism.

It’s why Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and other socialists are skyrocketing in popularity.

This is no small problem.

Millennials are now the largest demographic group in America. And sometime this year, they are expected to surpass baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation.

In other words, demographics alone guarantee more socialism ahead. And as we’ve seen again and again, when asked, “How are you going to pay for this?” socialists have the same answer: “Tax the rich!”

Simple arithmetic shows that even if the rich were taxed to the limit, it wouldn’t put a dent in the bills for the socialists’ government programs. But to this, the socialists respond: “We’ll just print money!”

In comes Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It’s the latest buzzword coming out of Washington, D.C.

Contrary to its name, MMT is neither new nor “modern.” And adding the word “theory” to something doesn’t make it scientific or credible.

MMT is the same economic quackery that’s brought misery to Argentina, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and countless other places. Now, left-leaning U.S. economists, politicians, and policy wonks are taking it seriously, too. They see it as a sort of “QE for the people.”

For example, AOC and Stephanie Kelton, Bernie Sanders’ former chief economic adviser, are leading advocates of MMT.

In short, America’s embrace of socialism will lead to more money-printing and currency debasement, just as it has everywhere else it’s been tried.

But this time, it won’t be the Argentine peso or the Venezuelan bolívar that is debased. It will be the U.S. dollar… the world’s premier reserve currency.

Gold is the primary competitor for the U.S. dollar’s top role. And as the American socialists inflate the value of the dollar away, it will make gold all that more attractive.

That’s why this trend will be a big positive for the re-monetization of gold.

No. 8: Gold-Backed Cryptos – A Monetary Revolution

The last catalyst for gold is cryptocurrencies backed by gold.

There are dozens of gold-backed cryptos sprouting up.

Peter Grosskopf, the CEO of Sprott, recently called gold-backed cryptocurrencies “the most important thing to happen to the gold market in the last several decades.”

Soon after, Sprott launched a gold-backed crypto it developed with its partners.

When Sprott – a leader in the natural resources industry – makes a big move into the gold-backed crypto space, it’s a definitive sign of where things are headed.

Gold-backed cryptos combine the best attributes of gold and cryptos. I can’t think of two other asset classes that have as many synergies. In other words, the whole is worth much more than the sum of the parts.

With cryptos redeemable for gold, we can now instantly send anyone anywhere in the world small or large amounts of gold – reliably and without interference. It’s nothing short of a monetary revolution.

Gold-backed cryptos are going to make using gold as money even more convenient for the average person and business. Anyone with a cell phone now can use gold in a way that was not possible before.

This is another big reason why I think gold is coming back as money.

Putting It All Together…

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, the implications for gold are clear:

  • Basel III moves gold toward officially being money again.

  • Central banks are buying record amounts of gold.

  • Excessive U.S. sanctions have pushed countries to use gold.

  • China’s “Golden Alternative” allows for large-scale, oil-for-gold trades.

  • The Fed’s dramatic reversal and the return of easy money bode well for gold’s strength against the dollar.

  • The takeover frenzy in the gold mining industry is bullish for the price of gold.

  • President Trump favors returning to the gold standard and is stacking the Fed with pro-gold people.

  • The Democrats’ embrace of socialism guarantees more currency debasement.

  • Gold-backed cryptos make owning and using gold easier than ever.

Any one of these catalysts alone would be great news for gold.

But the fact they are all converging at the same time means an epic gold bull market is on the menu for 2019. And the time to get positioned is now…

*  *  *

There's a revolutionary new way to profit from the coming gold rush. Doug Casey and his team have outlined exactly how you could get in on the action at the ground level. They've created this urgent video explaining this golden opportunity and how you could take advantage of it. Click here to watch it now.

Published:6/19/2019 4:11:51 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey Debunks Four Myths About Trump, Taxes, & The Economy

Via InternationalMan.com,

International Man: For many years, President Trump has made no apologies for trying to pay the least amount of taxes possible. He’s clearly stated this in many interviews.

His desire to minimize his taxes has brought scorn from many in the mainstream media, and politicians from both sides of the aisle. These people are of the opinion that paying taxes is an honorable and necessary responsibility. It brings to mind the wrongheaded saying “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society”, which came from US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Many people believe this.

But if that’s true, how come low tax locales like Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Monaco aren’t backward hell holes, but rather sophisticated and civilized?

Doug Casey: Almost any lie can be accepted as truth if it’s said often enough and with enough certainty. That absolutely applies to what Holmes said. It’s shameful how people don’t think about its meaning, but slavishly repeat it.

Taxes aren’t the price we pay for civilized society. They’re a sign of the fact that society is becoming uncivilized. A civilized society is based on voluntarism. Taxes are all about coercion.

People don’t seem to recognize or remember that before 1913 there was no income tax in the US. There was no reporting of any kind to the US government. It was a much more civilized and far freer country then.

As far as Trump minimizing his taxes, congratulations to him. The object should be to cut the size of the US government in half, and cut it in half again, and again. And along with it, cut the tax burden that it imposes on the average American.

Trump should be proud of himself for cutting his taxes. It's your patriotic duty as an American citizen to deny revenue to the State and the kind of people that are drawn to it and populate it.

The fact that some people resent others for not paying taxes is just evidence that they’ve been consumed by the vice of envy, which is one of the worst of the vices. Jealousy says “if you have something that I want, I’ll try to take it from you, just because I want it." Envy says “if you have something that I want, and I can’t take it from you, I’ll destroy it and hurt you."

It’s speaks poorly of the ethics of the average American, that they’ll self-righteously shame their neighbors for not paying “enough” taxes to the State.

International Man: We often hear from politicians and the media that some people aren’t paying their “fair share” in taxes. Who gets to define what “fair” is, and based on what justifications?

Doug Casey: Whenever you hear the word fair, start running the other way. Everybody has a different idea of what’s “fair”— it’s an arbitrary concept. People manipulate its definition to their advantage. The only way to determine what might be fair is voluntary mutual agreement. That’s not possible with taxes—there’s no voluntarism involved. They are, in fact, a levy enforced at the point of a gun.

The most creative and productive people tend to have the highest incomes—unless they’re crony capitalists, which means they’re basically using the government to steal from everybody else.

Productive people shouldn’t be penalized for supplying more goods and services to their neighbors—to the market. The money they give to the government in taxes would have otherwise been used to create more wealth for the whole world. When it’s taken from them by taxes it’s mostly squandered on welfare and warfare.

The bottom half of the US really doesn’t pay any income tax. They only pay Social Security taxes, roughly a flat 15%. It’s theoretically a pension program, although in fact it’s a Ponzi scheme. Social Security is bankrupt. If anyone gets it in the years to come it will be at the expense of future taxpayers—not because any capital has been set aside.

Social Security is, and always has been, a swindle. It makes it harder for people to save on their own. And makes them feel they don’t have to. But it’s not a real pension plan; it’s a highly politicized welfare program. People have been propagandized into believing not just what isn’t true, but actually believing the opposite of the truth. The situation is actually pretty hopeless from a philosophical point of view and it’s getting worse. The average American believes Social Security and the income tax are both moral and necessary.

International Man: Doesn’t this system—which diverts wealth from productive use into government, which is naturally unproductive—make everyone worse off? You would think the lower and middle classes would be clamoring for more wealth creation that would also benefit them. Instead, many are asking for more wealth to be destroyed.

It seems this sort of thinking helps solidify a backwards system.

Doug Casey: Absolutely. The US government and its welfare programs are actually cementing the lower classes to the bottom of society.

You get what you encourage. When you give people free money for doing nothing, that’s what they’ll do. Take personal responsibility away from a man, and he’ll tend to act irresponsibly. The next step seems to be a guaranteed annual income for everybody where—presumably—where everybody can just sit around Starbucks all day sipping latte and playing with their iPhones, and be paid for it.

This trend has been building almost 100 years, and the curve is starting to go parabolic. To use a fashionable word, it’s “unsustainable” for everyone to try living at the expense of everyone else.

International Man: Another misnomer we often hear is that “deficits don’t matter”, a saying popularized by Dick Cheney, an ostensible fiscal conservative.

Doug Casey: Well, deficits do matter. In order to become wealthy you have to produce more than you consume and save the difference. Saving the difference builds capital. And you need capital to create more wealth.

Countries without capital are poor. Places like Zimbabwe, Cuba, and Mauritania. The only capital they have is sticks and stones.

The US government is in effect training people to consume more than they produce. Now, you can do that in basically two ways. One, by borrowing capital that’s been saved and created in the past, and consuming it. Or, two, you can do it by mortgaging your future.

It's not a pro-survival policy to consume more than you produce. It’s possible for a while, of course, but will wind up in disaster. The US government is encouraging people to do just that, however, directly and indirectly.

International Man: Yet another misguided, yet popular, saying is that we shouldn’t worry about the national debt because “we owe it to ourselves.” What’s your take Doug?

Doug Casey: It's another glib, gigantic, lie. “We” don’t owe it to ourselves. Some people owe it to some other people. If it’s not paid back somebody is going to walk away disappointed.

In fact, most of the debt is owed to non-Americans. Directly, in the form of the national debt. And indirectly, in the form of US dollars outside the US. For many years the major export of the US hasn’t been Boeings, or IBMs, or wheat. It’s been US dollars. We run a trade deficit of about $800 billion every year. In exchange, foreigners send us electronics, Mercedes, cocaine, and other real goods. This has artificially propped up the average American’s standard of living.

Those dollars circulate in other countries; the US dollar is the de facto currency of 50 other countries around the world.

At some point—since the US dollar is backed by nothing—if confidence goes away, those foreigners are going to want to get rid of their dollars. They’ll necessarily come back to the US where legal tender laws force Americans to accept them.

There are many trillions of dollars that are now abroad are a liability. Someday they’re going to be traded for US shares of stock, US real estate, US technology, and US labor.

Americans, who have grown accustomed to an artificially high standard of living for many years, are going to have a very real drop in their standard of living when those dollars come home.

We’re sending dollars to the Chinese and other foreigners. We’re also selling US government debt to the Federal Reserve, which then credits the government’s accounts at commercial banks with dollars. But that’s another story. It’s all a moving paper fantasy. It’s going to end badly, and end soon.

It could easily destroy everybody’s savings. And that, in turn, could destroy the very basis of society.

*  *  *

The days of the US Dollar as the reserve currency are numbered. When that happens, the US will experience an economic crisis unlike we’ve seen before. The window to prepare yourself is still open. That’s why Doug’s Casey and his team have created this urgent video on what to expect and how to protect yourself. Click here to watch it now.

Published:6/16/2019 2:25:13 PM
[Markets] All Americans Have Blood On Their Hands

Authored by Robert Scheer via TruthDig.com,

Shortly after Truthdig columnist Danny Sjursen left the Army, where he spent 18 years on active duty and rose to the rank of major, he sat down with Editor in Chief Robert Scheer for an interview about life after the military and a discussion about the conclusions he drew throughout his military career. Sjursen, who attended West Point and did several tours in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, opened up to Scheer about how leaving the institution where he spent most of his adult life has allowed him to finally be completely frank about his experiences, in his columns as well as in his recent book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.”

“I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty,” Sjursen tells Scheer in the latest installment of 'Scheer Intelligence', “but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But the book was a labor of love [that] tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.”

Now, as Sjursen pursues a Ph.D and a career as a writer while adapting to his new life and grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder, the former soldier is still profoundly troubled by his experiences at war, not only as he led soldiers to their deaths, but also as he watched U.S. forces devastate Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he went to Iraq thinking the trouble with the war was the way it was being fought, he left with a very different impression of the conflict.

“What I saw happen to the Iraqi people [haunted me more] than what happened to my soldiers,” Sjursen says.

“Not only the bodies in the street, not only the civil war that was being waged, but I found that more than 90% of the very friendly Iraqis... Sunni and Shia, they all told me that life was better under Saddam. ... That was a big turning point, when I started to say, ‘Wait a second. You know, forget about fighting the war poorly; we shouldn’t be fighting this war at all.’ ”

Recounting the many ways the U.S. created worse conditions for Iraqis after the death of Saddam, Sjursen explains that the nearly half a million Iraqis who have died since the early 2000s were not killed directly by American soldiers, but by the unleashing of a “Pandora’s box of sectarian civil war in what was once a secular society.” The war in Afghanistan, while fought under different pretenses, was no less brutal or foolish than the Iraq War, in Sjursen’s eyes.

The reality is, any chance of victory in Afghanistan was over the minute - and this only took weeks - the minute after we switched from a counterterrorism strategy, a surgical, law enforcement-type attack on the al-Qaida system - the minute we switched from that to nation-building, counterinsurgency and occupation, the war was already lost.

But the blood on Sjursen’s hands, which he remains conscious of long after his last deployment, is on all Americans’ hands, as the Truthdig columnist points out. And with no end in sight to what have been dubbed our “forever wars,” it’s unlikely we’ll be able to wash our hands clean of these ongoing tragedies any time soon.

Listen to Sjursen and Scheer as they talk about everything from WikiLeaks to the accumulating failures of America’s leaders, at home and abroad. You can also read a transcript of the interview below the media player and find past episodes of “Scheer Intelligence” here.

-Introduction by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of “Scheer Intelligence,” where the intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s someone–this is sort of the second part of an interview that began, oh, months ago, when Major Danny Sjursen was active duty in the Army. And he had spent 18 years of his life, ever since signing up at West Point–being admitted at West Point, a kid from Staten Island, a basically poor, working-class background. A lot of firemen and cops in his community and family. And affected by 9/11, the attack on the World Trade Center. But he went to West Point before 9/11. And people just thought, well, you know, god, they’re letting poor kids in there now, because the congressmen and the bankers, they don’t want their children to grow up to be lieutenants or even majors; he became a major eventually. So the military academy is actually more merit-based now than it might have once been. And so welcome, Major Sjursen. How are you?

Danny Sjursen: Oh, I’m great. Thanks for having me again, Bob.

RS: OK. And the reason I wanted to talk to you today is that, first of all, it’s two months now since you’ve been an active duty major. It’s something you’ve done, I’m sure, your whole life, adult life. And you were a lieutenant, you were in Iraq for a year and a half or so; you were in Afghanistan, and you were deployed other times. How many times were you deployed?

DS: Ah, just two combat deployments and then some short tours for–

RS: Yeah, but in many other countries and so forth–

DS: Of course, yeah, absolutely.

RS: And you’re a father of two children; you’ve had an interesting life. And you wrote a book about the surge in Iraq called “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” And it’s a really terrific book that people can get, if they want to go online or find some bookstore that has it. And what it really—you know, I was going to start with something from the book, and you can help me here. It was a quote from Graham Greene: “Innocence is a kind of insanity.” Graham Greene, the great writer, great novelist. And he wrote “The Quiet American,” which is about innocence as a form of [insanity], how we got involved in Vietnam. And your book is really an unmasking of the conceit of innocence. Somehow Americans go off to war, they’re always intending to do good, they’re always going to make it a better world. And generally, they screw it up horribly, with very few rare exceptions. And that’s really the thesis here, isn’t it? And so why don’t you give us that overall view. And are you bolder in that view now that you’re not active duty, that you’re out of the military for the first time in 18 years? How does it feel?

DS: It feels good. I’d like to think that I was always bold on active duty, but the reality is that I was censoring myself. You know, there is a degree of fear and harassment, you know, and it’s very passive-aggressive stuff. But you know, the book was a labor of love. It started out as an essay, an angry essay that I wrote to Senator Lindsey Graham because I didn’t like something he said on C-SPAN, and it became a book. But you’re right that there are sort of the—the theme of innocence runs through it. And it’s two tracks; it’s my own innocence as someone who was, you know, naive enough to believe not only that the Iraq War might be valuable and necessary, but also that the military was just ultimately a force for good in the world. But the other innocence is a collective, national innocence. Only such a collective, national innocence that borders on insanity, as the quote says, could have allowed us to invade Iraq. Probably the catastrophic blunder of the 21st century, if not even larger than that. And I don’t even think we understand the scale of what a disaster we’ve created, because the aftershocks are–they’re sometimes worse than the initial earthquake. And we haven’t seen the last of it. So the book is an unmasking of my own innocence, which very quickly was rattled. By my third or fourth month in Iraq, I was anti-war. I mean, I was posting anti-war poems from World War I on the door to my room in Iraq, you know, provocatively. My little protest, you know, before I was told to pull them down. But you know, that’s what the book does. It tears apart the notion of American exceptionalism that brought us to Iraq, to a folly.

RS: The day that Julian Assange was arrested, you know, in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and they hauled him out of there. And you know, he’s been charged, and the charge is conspiring to commit computer intrusion. And what they’re doing is basically getting him on something they think they can nail him on; they don’t want to, this is his helping Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea Manning, and be able to crack a computer code preventing entry into some data trove. But they didn’t—but at that moment in time, Bradley Manning had already released a million documents. They were fairly low-level secrecy; you can discuss that. But really, very revealing information, unquestionably, in my mind, that the public had a right to know, and a need—a need to know. Including how we shot up civilians, and so forth. And one reason why I wanted particularly to do this interview with you today is, you know, when people release these secrets, they’re always told they’re putting the troops in harm’s way. And you’re not, you’re dishonoring and threatening the troops. Well, you were a young lieutenant at that point, or had been a few years before. You were involved in the surge. And the documents that Chelsea Manning released really affected the kinds of activities you were in. You were in constant patrol in Baghdad, one end to the other, with your unit of what, 20 soldiers?

DS: Yeah, give or take, 20 soldiers.

RS: Half of whom ended up being killed or seriously injured, some of whom committed suicide. And I want to ask you, as the grunt on the ground—now, you were a lieutenant; you were a West Point graduate. You end up later in life teaching at West Point; you end up being a major before your retirement two months ago. But what did you think about that release of documents by Manning through WikiLeaks?

DS: You know, I had a very provocative view of it, in the sense that I thought it was a national service that he’d, you know, that he’d committed. My peers were horrified. They believed the myth that the troops were put in harm’s way by what he released, which was patently false. The people who were doing harm to the troops were the people who were lying, the people who were creating the secrecy. That’s what damaged the troops: the people that brought us to Iraq. One of the things that was most staggering for me was, in that million documents that then-Bradley Manning released, what there was was this evidence that we, the soldiers on the ground, knew that we were policing an internal, sectarian civil war. So in 2006 and ’07, dozens and sometimes hundreds of civilians would kill one another, right? Sunni versus Shia, in the middle of the night. And in the morning, we would gather the bodies and count them and report them. But that was all classified, at a low level; just secret, not top secret or anything. But at the same time that was going on, when we were using the words “civil war,” when we were witnessing a civil war, our leaders–General Casey, who was at the time the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and senior defense officials, Rumsfeld, et cetera—they were telling the press, no, it’s not a civil war. We won’t use the words “civil war.” And I think largely that’s because they did not want to admit to the chaos that had broken out, that we had lost control, if we ever had it. That we had patently, forever, lost control of Baghdad. And of, really, the whole country, but especially the capital city. And you know, I was offended by that lie, because I lived the civil war. You know, I lived the multipronged war, where they were both attacking us and attacking each other. And that the country was both literally and figuratively on fire in late 2006, and I was offended by the lie. And I thought it was a brave decision. And, of course, whistleblowers were out of fashion, as you said earlier today, Bob. And obviously, he was crucified–she–and was given a 30-year sentence. And my peers thought that was just about right. Some of them thought, you know, she should have been executed.

RS: “She” being Chelsea Manning. And Julian Assange published these documents. And Washington Post, The Guardian, the British paper, papers all over the world, printed them. And interestingly enough, Julian Assange is not in the position that Daniel Ellsberg was in when he released the Pentagon Papers, a trove of—a history study, really; you’re a historian, I should point out you’re about to get your doctorate. The military sent you to graduate school in preparation of being an instructor at West Point. And now you’re at the end of your dissertation, and will be doctor, Dr. Danny Sjursen, in a couple of months. And the really interesting thing here is who controls history, who controls knowledge, who controls truth and true news? And fake news is really, in a way, the norm, it seems to me, if we talk about Vietnam, we talk about Iraq, and so forth. And without the whistleblowers, we don’t even get a crack—a crack there where the light can come through. But you were on the ground, and when you talk about it being—I mean, look, after all, we had supposedly gone to Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction; that was a lie. And it was a lie that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11; he didn’t. You know, and another lie is that somehow this was a backward country with no redeeming virtue–well, we managed to make it a far more unlivable, miserable country than it had ever been. Why don’t you talk—you got an education there. And now you’re in this, even though you’re going to be Dr. Danny Sjursen, you hopefully will be successful as a writer about history and a professor. And you, you know, you’re honorably discharged as a major from the military. But you’re a deeply troubled person by what you saw and experienced. Why don’t you—I mean, tell us the consequence, not just for you, but also for the Iraqi people.

DS: You know, I got there with just a little bit of idealism left. I had read Thomas Ricks’ “Fiasco,” so I was aware of the failures early in the war. But I think, at the time, I was in the mainstream of military officers, in the sense that I thought the war was being fought poorly, but I did not necessarily think that the war was wrong in itself. And, of course, I quickly came to believe that it was. And the best way, Bob, to talk about it is, you know, what I saw happen to the Iraqi people. Because more, believe it or not, than what happened to my soldiers, that haunted me. Not only the bodies in the street, not only the civil war that was being waged, but I found that more than 90% of the very friendly Iraqis–not attacking us, as far as I knew, you know; talking to me, drinking chai with me, thousands of them. And they all started telling me—Sunni and Shia, OK, and Saddam had been pretty brutal to the Shia—but Sunni and Shia, they all told me that life was better under Saddam. And they would say, we like you just fine; you’re a nice guy. But we want you out of here. I mean, look what you’ve done. You know, this is why we can’t have nice things. I mean, they really thought we had destroyed their country. Because we had. We had. So for me, that was a big turning point, when I started to say, “Wait a second. You know, forget about fighting the war poorly; we shouldn’t be fighting this war at all.” We’ve brought disaster–to the tune, now, most estimates, half a million dead, right. Mostly civilians, in Iraq. Did we—you know, we didn’t directly kill all of them. But we unleashed the Pandora’s box of sectarian civil war in what was once a secular society. Men and women holding hands, drinking in cafes—that’s all over with now. People get their heads cut off for less. That really shocked me. And then, of course, there was the idealism of my soldiers, who, you know, they were just fighting for each other, as the cliché goes. But it’s true.

RS: A serious student of the course—are we not up against the incompatibility of empire and republic? We were founded as a republic. As a historian, you know, we began to betray that promise from the day of our founding, or even before, when we were striving to be an independent country. What about this tension? Where are we now in empire land? And isn’t, really, this what the whistleblowers have been revealing, the consequence of empire?

DS: There are precious few whistleblowers about military issues, as you mentioned. And that is a shame, because what Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Chelsea Manning should be is a splash of cold water, a bucket of cold water, on the face of the collective American people. And yet it’s not, for the most part. We’re willing to accept what our military does in our name. We’re willing to accept that the United States has a system where the president is essentially a dictator in foreign policy. You’re right that it’s the only institution where we do not, you know, expect whistleblowers to provide that check, that truth that you mentioned. And it’s very, very disturbing. The bottom line is, you know, from a historical perspective, to answer your question, we are—we are long, long down the road of this empire. I mean, absolutely, far down that road. The republic, the ostensible republic, is dying. And empires tend, not only does it not end well when the empire comes home—as it always does; the empire always comes home, Britain, Rome, you name it. These countries on the way out, on the decline, that’s when they act the most absurd. Things go really poorly. They do not behave well. And what you’re looking at today is a United States of America that is not behaving well in the world, because it is in, you know, the twilight of its empire. And it may take a long time before the empire collapses, but in the interim, we are going to act poorly. And as long as we have an all-volunteer force, as long as a, you know, a select half of a percent—the other 1%, as I like to call them. As long as we give it out to a military caste, and it doesn’t Main Street, especially in the wealthy communities, then this will continue indefinitely, and America will continue to behave badly, as the empires often historically do.

RS: In what sense are we an empire? Because some people think, “Oh, you’re just throwing around rhetoric.” Now, we do happen to live in a time when more people are open to the possibility that something has gone awry, because Donald Trump is president, and he has the aura of an emperor. And, you know, the whole notion of, his notion of American greatness is a notion of power over others, and being able to dictate and fire lesser people, and dictate the terms of agreements, and they’ll do this, they’ll pay for the wall, these Mexicans, and the Chinese will bow to our will, and et cetera, et cetera. So we actually have an [emperor], but most people blame that on Julian Assange, or many people do, or on WikiLeaks, or something. They don’t seem to want to come to grips with the idea that maybe, maybe Trump is the man for the time of empire. And this is what emperors do, and sometimes they’re a little bit wacky, and sometimes they’re a little bit out of control, or more so. In what sense are we—you’re a historian; in what sense is this accurate labeling?

DS: You know, we—we are an empire. And I’m going to explain why, and then I’m going to talk about Trump a little. I have a complex relationship with my old commander in chief, my old chum. You know, we have 800 military bases in 80 countries; on any given day, we are bombing at least seven countries, some days more, if there’s something going on in Africa. We have a defense budget as large as the next seven countries’ combined. We have, you know, the majority of the world’s aircraft carriers, 10 times more than the Russians and the Chinese. We have divided the planet into regional commands—CENTCOM, Northcom, Southcom—where our four-star generals in charge of these commands are essentially Roman proconsuls, right? Ruling over—and much more powerful than our diplomats. Our diplomats are not taken seriously anymore; it’s the military that gets the business done. And you know, finally, we are unique. We are exceptional. Exceptional in the sense that we are the most imperial of all the places on the planet. Because there are 77 total foreign bases split between all the other 200 countries of the world, and we have some 800. So yes, certainly, we’re are an empire, by any stretch of the imagination. Now, our people, ironically, like to think we’re not. But you’re right that people are becoming a little more open to that. Now, Trump is—I think you’re correct—the reason why people are starting to accept that we might be an empire. But I would argue that Trump is not such an anomaly. He is a man for his times. You know, the question you have to ask in America, when it comes to the popularity contest that we call the presidential election every four years—that entertaining bit, right, of the blue team and the red team–you have two choices. And you will always have two choices. And the choice in the two major parties is between, do you like coarse emperors? Do you want your empire to be coarse and absurd and a little bit buffoonish? Or do you like your empire and your emperors to be polite? Because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would have been polite emperors. But the reality is, if anything, Donald Trump questions the empire at times—doesn’t always follow through—more than a Barack Obama, more than a Hillary Clinton or a George W. Bush or a Bill Clinton, for that matter. I mean, the question is not whether we’re an empire; it’s how do you like your imperialism? And you have two choices. Well, “liberal,” in quotes, society prefers polite emperors. And so they try to get them elected, and they can’t accept that a coarse emperor, like Donald Trump, is currently in charge.

RS: Well, one of those polite emperors was Lyndon Johnson. In fact, most of the more aggressive emperors have been Democrats, but put that aside for a minute. And then you’re raising an interesting question: Is this debate really over manners? Because, after all, Lyndon Johnson—and then came Richard Nixon—but together, I think a conservative figure would be that 4 or 5 million people lost their lives. Maybe more, certainly whole societies were disrupted. Certainly Barack Obama, to take the most pleasant of our emperors, if we’re going to use that language, you know, every morning would decide who to fire a drone attack on. Maybe it’s a wedding, maybe it’s a family living somewhere. And you served, in your 18 years in the military, under mild-mannered emperors and under more aggressive and buffoonish emperors. What was the difference on the ground?

DS: There was almost none. Certainly under George W. Bush we pursued more conventional military means. So there were more soldiers on the ground; there were more tours, right. Because there was more people there, therefore you deployed slightly more often. But what we were doing—

RS: But not as much as under Lyndon Johnson.

DS: No, no. By no means as much as under Lyndon Johnson. And of course, in reality, what we were doing on the ground was precisely the same. I mean, we were bringing instability, and we were dealing death. Usually from above, with the polite people like, you know, Barack Obama. He preferred the, you know, that killing. And it’s a myth. I mean, the myth that this is somehow a controlled killing, it’s precision-guided—of course, it’s not, it never is, and it probably never will be. But the big answer to your question is, very little changed on the ground for those of us carrying water for the empire, whether we had George W. Bush or Barack Obama or even Donald Trump.

RS: Well, spell that out, because most of us are not on the ground. In my own situation as a journalist, I’ve been parachuted into a few war zones, and can sense the mayhem. And some of my colleagues stayed much longer; I’m not going to take that away from them. But still, we are voyeurs to violence. You were dealing violence, right? And you were receiving, on the receiving end of violence. You know, this is not a video game. Most of us accept war as a video game now. The [thing] about the drone attacks, we see somebody in Omaha killing somebody in Baghdad or someplace, and we assume they’re accurate, we assume they know what they’re doing. That’s what Barack Obama did, right? He approved every one of those. What’s the reality on the ground?

DS: The reality on the ground is much different. It’s much more brutal, it’s much more of what you’d expect of a conventional war. I’ll give you one really good example that I think demonstrates this. During the, quote, surge in Iraq of 2007, when we put all these extra soldiers on the ground, and we flooded the neighborhoods, and we lived among the Iraqis, and we fought every day, and we received and dealt violence—you know, that was a George W. Bush thing. And many of us, like myself, were naive enough to believe that when a Democrat won—and I liked Obama at the time—that it would change. That we would no longer think that we can fix these societies, and unzip the American inside every Arab, or inside every Afghan–that that would change. But it did not. Because Barack Obama applied that very same model to Afghanistan, and we had ourselves a surge there. This was the Obama surge. And the reality is, the figures leading these surges didn’t change at all. Because Petraeus was the commander of both surges, at least after Stanley McChrystal was fired. So it’s the same folks doing the same things, going on the same inane patrols, trying to secure or pacify or win the hearts and minds–you pick. But it usually means use violence in order to convert them to our way of life, or whatever we perceive to be our way of life. And unlock the American inside each of them. So no, it didn’t change very much at all. Barack Obama’s surge in Afghanistan was equally as brutal and equally as wasteful as George W. Bush’s. And if we are to have another surge, and it’s the favorite tool now of generals, you can be sure that under Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton, if she had won, it’ll be largely the same.

RS: So you—we haven’t talked much about Afghanistan. Iraq made no sense whatsoever. But the argument somehow, because we—9/11 had been launched at least logistically from Afghanistan, the planes that flew into the World Trade Center—that that was defensible. And we have an image—in order to do all this, the mannered style requires, you know, that the enemy be defined as thoroughly loathsome. Another Hitler, in the case of Saddam Hussein; the analogies have to be there so there’s no possibility of negotiation. The irony in Afghanistan, where you spent quite a bit of time in a very dangerous situation, is we’re actually now—Donald Trump, amazingly, is accepting, negotiating with the Taliban. Something that could have been done, you know, weeks after 9/11. I mean, you know, who are these Taliban? What was the—how did they get there, how did fanaticism come to Afghanistan, which was not a center of Islamic fanaticism? Mostly paid for by Saudi Arabia; 15 of the hijackers were traveling on legal papers from Saudi Arabia. You know, so suddenly—wait a minute, we can talk to the Taliban? You had a lot of familiarity. What was Afghanistan all about?

DS: Well, Afghanistan is, you know, what Barack Obama called the “good” war. Remember, he was selling us the idea during the campaign in 2007 and ’08, that there’s a bad war—the stupid war, in Iraq—and then there’s the good war, the one that we have to win. The reality is any chance of victory in Afghanistan was over the minute—and this only took weeks—the minute after we switched from a counterterrorism strategy, a surgical, law enforcement-type attack on the al-Qaida system—the minute we switched from that to nation-building, counterinsurgency and occupation, the war was already lost. And you’re right that it’s going to end—I promise you, it is going to end with a negotiated settlement, and the Taliban will still have their guns and will still be a force of essentially militiamen. And they might take over half the country, or maybe the whole thing. And you’re right that that could have, that negotiation could have been done from a position of more strength, mind you, in December of ’01, or in February of ’02. And we would have had the same thing. And you know, this happened in Vietnam as well; Richard Nixon prolongs the war for four or five years, and then he actually accepts terms that are about the same that were on offer from the North Vietnamese, you know, in January of 1969. Now, in the interim, I think the number, if I’m not mistaken, is 20,532 American soldiers died, more than a third of our casualties coming after it was no longer necessary, if it ever was. The same has happened in Afghanistan. In this case, 95 to 98% of the Americans who died, and an equal number of Afghans, who we often forget about, died after that moment when the war was no longer winnable. And the war will end with those same terms that would have been on offer, maybe even better terms would have been on offer when the Taliban had first been knocked out of power. And that’s the ultimate tragedy of this, is that everyone who died in the interim, that blood is very specifically on our hands.

RS: I want to end this on a point you may not agree with. But it’s I guess sort of the main, [Laughs] maybe the only significant—and I don’t know why I’m laughing, because I took some risks to learn this; I went to some dangerous areas. Not like you, for 18 years, but. And what came to me was an overwhelming sense of the stupidity of the very smart people who were in charge. Whether I was sitting at some high-ranking diplomat’s house; whether I was talking to a general who had also, not always had a Ph.D, but a good education. Basically, I was talking to people—Halberstam captured it with the title, “The Best and the Brightest”—who could present well. Again, manners; they weren’t buffoons, they were reasonable, and so forth. And yet, when I would have these conversations, it was informed by an idiocy, an unawareness. So, for example, in Vietnam, they would talk about the people, and I would say, “But the guy you put in power here–it wasn’t just ’69 they could have had peace.” They could have had peace with Ho Chi Minh after the Second World War, when he quoted the U.S. Declaration of Independence and was a nationalist who wanted—they could have had peace when he defeated the French. No! We picked a Roman Catholic from New York state, who was in a monastery in New York state, Vietnamese refugee, and we said he’s going to be the George Washington of his country. Ignoring the fact that the Catholics, who had been brought in by French colonial education, represented only 10% of the country. This is what Graham Greene wrote about. So, stupidity, you know. And then you look at the whole course of it, and a myth that somehow this is an extension of communism and China and—it wasn’t anything of the sort. We lose the war, and the Vietnamese communists and Chinese communists go to war with each other. OK? And now they’re going to war to fill the shelves of Costco or Walmart with different products. And something very similar happened in Iraq, happened in Afghanistan. It’s the same kind of, you know—we honor these leaders of our military as—and you taught at West Point. That’s why I’m putting the question to you. And you’re a very smart guy, you know, and yet, why don’t they learn from this? And my own explanation is because they’re not subject to a critical environment. And they’re not held accountable. And I’m bringing it back to Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. When we get these documents, like the Pentagon Papers that Daniel Ellsberg released, we realize if they only read their own memos, if they only talked honestly to each other, they would know this. There wasn’t—everything they had to know was in the Pentagon Papers. Their own document. Right? And what we’ve learned from the WikiLeaks—if they would just have studied what Chelsea Manning, Bradley Manning released through Julian Assange, and just read those things—that were published in newspapers, Washington Post, The Guardian—they would have known, they would know how idiotic the whole enterprise is. So when you were brought back to West Point, and when you were sent by the Army to go get your doctorate, you’re an intelligent guy, you’ve paid your dues, they had you marked to be a general, you made it up to be a major. What happened when you tried to speak in reasonable terms to these fellow officers? And I know you just came from a conference a few weeks ago where there were some at least two-star generals, and important colonels. What is it like talking to them?

DS: You know, the best and the brightest have failed us again. And I’m glad that you used that term. The reality is that most of the general officers and most of the colonels are not in a critical environment; they’re not in an environment that, you know, wants dissent or wants critical thinking. I mean, they’re surrounded in a bubble by sycophants. I mean, that’s how they are raised up through the ranks in the Army; they don’t get a lot of criticism from above, below or laterally. It’s a very hierarchical structure. And it is stupidity. I mean, flat-out. The truncated nature of their thinking, I mean, it’s so narrow. And it is almost childish. I mean, their view of Islamism as the new communism, which is the new Nazism—I mean, that sort of thinking, it’s absolutely, it’s ludicrous. And yet it’s the, it’s the norm, right, it’s the consensus among the people that I served with, and among the policymakers, who are often worse, often more hawkish. You know, the “chicken hawks” like John Bolton. But they have failed you again, and they will fail you in the future. And there are very, very few critical-thinking officers who are able to get outside of that box and say, “The question isn’t are we doing this well, the question is should it be done at all—can it be done at all?” And if the answer is no, it’s time to speak up. And it’s time to give your military advice, and if necessary, resign.

RS: And, well, you’re no longer in the military. I don’t know where the next Danny Sjursen’s going to come from. But if you want to really have a sense of what it’s like to be on the ground in one of these wars that we treat as video games—and most of us, because we don’t have a draft, don’t really have to think about it, even though the country is being bankrupted by it. And we often commit genocide, war crimes and what have you. That’s what Julian Assange, for my money, revealed, and Bradley Manning. Check out the book, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” Because the surge is held up, and will be held up in Afghanistan and so forth, as the saving grace. And then people like Barack Obama were criticized because they didn’t have another surge, or didn’t do more killing on that level. And check it out. Danny Sjursen, I want to thank you for doing this. It’s—it’s just so, to me, so depressing that there’s like 15 truth-tellers that we’ve had about our wars, from Daniel Ellsberg up to Danny Sjursen. You got to ask yourself some tough questions about why we, the citizens of this modern Rome, with a great deal of freedom and a great deal of arrogance about our power as individuals, are letting the empire drag us into these disasters and ultimately destroy the republic. But that’s it for this edition of “Scheer Intelligence.” Our engineers at KCRW in Santa Monica are Mario Diaz and Kat Yore. Joshua Scheer is the producer of this show. And a special shout-out to Sebastian Grubaugh, the brilliant sound engineer here at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who holds this whole thing together. And you know, yes, we have General Petraeus on the faculty, but we also heard from [Major] Danny Sjursen, presenting a very different view than that of Petraeus. So let it go at that, see you next week.

Published:6/10/2019 11:12:57 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey: Stupidity, Evil, & The Decline Of The US

Via InternationalMan.com,

(Today’s article is an adaptation from one of Doug’s speeches.)

It used to be that America was a country of free thinkers.

"Say what you think, and think what you say." That’s an expression you don't hear much anymore.

It’s much more like the world of 1984 where everything is “double think.” You need to think twice before you say something in public. You think three times before you say something when you're standing in an airport line.

Regrettably, the US is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s become the land of whipped and whimpering dogs that roll over on their backs and wet themselves when confronted with authority.

Now, why are Americans this way? Let me give you two reasons - though there are many more.

First, there's a simple absence of virtue. Let’s look at the word virtue. It comes from the Latin vir, which means manly, even heroic. To the Romans, virtues were things like fortitude, nobility and courage. Those virtues are true to the root of the word.

When people think of virtues today they think of faith, hope, charity—which are not related to the word’s root meaning. These may pass as virtues in a religious sense. But, outside a Sunday school, they’re actually actually vices. This deserves a discussion, because I know it will shock many. But I’ll save that for another time.

An absence of virtues and the presence of subtle vices is insinuated throughout society. Worse, overt vices like avarice and especially envy are encouraged. Envy, in particular will become a big vice in the years to come. It’s similar to jealousy, but worse. Jealousy says “You have something I want; I’ll try to take it from you”. Envy says “You have something I want. If I can’t take it from you, I’ll destroy it, and hurt you if I can.” Jealousy and envy seem to motivate most Democratic Party presidential candidates. No wonder America is in rapid decline.

A second reason is unsound philosophy. The reigning philosophy in the US used to be based on individualism and personal freedom. It's now statism and collectivism. But most people don’t think about philosophy—or even have a consistent worldview. More than ever, they do what seems like a good idea at the time.

The average American has problems. But his rulers are something else again. Most of the people running the US are either knaves or fools. How do we know if we are dealing with a knave or a fool? In other words, are you dealing with somebody who is evil or just stupid? To give a recent, but classic, example, are you dealing with a Dick Cheney or a George W. Bush? Do you prefer the knavish Obama, or the knavish Biden? The foolish Trump, or the foolish Pence. Not much of a real choice anywhere…

At this point, the US resembles the planet Mars, which is circled by two moons, Phobos and Deimos, fear and terror in Greek. The US is also being circled by two moons, Kakos and Chazos, evil and stupidity in Greek. It’s hard to imagine the Founding Fathers having seen that as a possibility.

One of the relatively few laws I believe in is Pareto’s Law. Most people are familiar with it as the 80-20 rule—20% of the people do 80% of the work, 20% commit 80% of the crime, and so forth. It also applies to character and ethics. Most people—80%—are basically decent. What about that other 20%? Let's call them potential trouble sources because they can go either way. But 20% of that 20%—4%—are the sociopaths; they consistently have bad intentions. They’re usually hiding under rocks. But they like to emerge at election time.

In normal times when everything's going along well, they can look normal. They'll deliver the mail, or sell shoes or stocks. They’ll pet the dog, and play softball on weekends. But when circumstances in society get ugly, and reach a certain point, they start evidencing themselves. The rest of the 20% start swinging along with them. That's the place where we are right now in the US. It’s Pareto’s Law in operation. You can see it in basically all the Democratic Party’s candidates—Bernie, Pocahontas, AOC, and two dozen others.

A lot of people believe in American Exceptionalism. A good argument can be made for America having been exceptional in the past. It’s factually correct that America is the only country founded on the principles of individualism and personal freedom. It was actually different. It was special, even unique. But I don't think it's true anymore.

Of course all the world’s countries like to believe they're special or better than the rest. But they’re only different on the surface, in trivial ways. None—other than America—value individualism and personal freedom as founding virtues. Look at Russia throughout the 20th century. It was a phenomenal nightmarish disaster in Soviet times.

Look at Germany during the ‘30s and ‘40s. China, under Mao for 30 years, was the home of institutionalized, industrial scale mass murder. The same is true in lots of other countries… Cambodia, Rwanda, the Congo. There are dozens of other countries where bloody chaos reigned over the last century. But not the US. It was different.

But what if America has ceased to exist? What if it’s been transformed into just another nation state called the United States, with very different ideals and values? Why should it have a different fate than those other countries? I don't see any reason why that would be the case.

But if 80% of Americans are basically decent, well-intentioned people, what is going wrong and why?

Let me give you three reasons... although there are many others.

Number one, as I indicated earlier, Americans no longer have any philosophical anchor. They no longer share a national mythos—individualism, personal freedom, free minds, and free markets are now mocked. They may have some nebulous ideas about ethics that they picked up from the Boy Scouts. But they think all political and economic systems—and certainly all cultures—are equally good. The reigning philosophy is a mixture of cultural Marxism, identity politics, anti-male feminism, and anti-white racism.

I suppose it was inevitable in a country where a large plurality of people are dumb enough to spend four years and several hundred thousand dollars to be indoctrinated with those values.

The second thing is fear. It’s a reigning emotion in this country among the diminishing middle class.

Desperation and apathy characterize the growing lower classes. No wonder they're cemented to the bottom of society. It's a rare person that rises from the lower class because of those attitudes.

How about the upper classes? Their dominant emotions are avarice and arrogance; they think they're superior because they have more money. In many cases they’re rich not because they produce anything. But because they’re cronies, benefiting from the flood of money coming from the Fed, or the avalanche of laws and regulations coming from the Congress and the President.

America is still basically a middle-class country, although becoming less and less that way almost daily. And fear is the dominant emotion of the middle class. Fear of losing everything they have. Fear of losing their jobs. Fear they won’t be able to meet the credit card payments, the car payments, the mortgage payment. Fear they can't afford to send their kids to college—which is a mistake incidentally. But that’s another story.

The whole country is driven by fear… and it’s not a good thing. Deimos and Phobos, those two moons circling Mars are now circling the US, along with Kakos and Chazos.

The third, and perhaps most critical reason the US is going downhill—beyond a lack of a philosophical anchor and an atmosphere of fear—is a reflexive belief in government.

The United States used to be more like Switzerland, which is by far the most prosperous country in Europe. When you ask the Swiss, "Who's the president of Switzerland?", It's rare that anyone can tell you. It's academic. However, nobody cares. He doesn't do anything. Politics aren’t a big part of their lives.

But today in the US, people have come to view the government as a cornucopia. People expect it to solve all their problems. And that’s a real problem. Government is a genuine growth industry, and it attracts the worst type of people. Government is inevitably where sociopaths—the 4% and the 20%—are drawn. Washington draws sociopaths like a pile of dog droppings draws flies.

It's perfectly predictable. And why is that? Mao said it best, "The power of the state comes out the barrel of a gun." Government is about some people controlling other people. That's what attracts sociopaths, and that's why they go to Washington.

But enough bad news… what is it that makes things better in the world? Well, there are two things.

One is technology. The good news is there are more scientists and engineers alive today than have lived in all of earth's history previously combined. And they're continually increasing our control of nature. For most people, life is no longer “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”, as Hobbes said. Technology is advancing at the rate of Moore’s law. And that improves the standard of living.

The second thing is savings. Individuals, like squirrels, are genetically wired to produce more than they consume. The difference between production and consumption can be saved. That creates capital. And capital enables technology. That creation of wealth should continue, barring a world war. Or most of the world’s governments acting more like Venezuela or Zimbabwe…. Which is quite possible.

So, in conclusion, I have some good news, and some bad news.

In the looming Greater Depression, most of the real wealth in the world will still exist. It's just going to change ownership.

Hopefully, you’ll be among those who aren’t adversely affected.

*  *  *

Unfortunately most people have no idea what really happens when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare… The coming economic and political crisis is going to be much worse, much longer, and very different than what we’ve seen in the past. That’s exactly why New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video. Click here to watch it now.

Published:6/9/2019 8:37:55 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey On What Happens After The Next War

Via InternationalMan.com,

International Man: The US government is actively at war in about half a dozen countries. It’s eyeing new conflicts all the time.

On the topic of getting involved in another war… President Trump was reported to have said this about his National Security Advisor John Bolton: “If it was up to John, we'd be in four wars now.”

What do you make of all this?

Doug Casey: Where to start?

Well, first of all, things are out of control. The US Government has become so big, so dysfunctional, and with its fingers in so many pies that anything can happen, unpredictably. Secondly, it’s extremely dangerous. Prodding lots of hornet’s nests guarantees you’ll be stung—perhaps enough to put you in the hospital. Third, it’s extraordinarily expensive. And the US Government is already bankrupt.

As you pointed out, the US is actively at war in right now in who knows how many countries - including at least a half a dozen in Africa that nobody can find on a map. There are combat troops in probably 100 countries around the world. There are probably 800 bases around the world. These things are all just trip wires waiting for an accident or an incident to draw the country into a real war. So far—at least since the misadventure in Vietnam - the US has just engaged in trouble-making exercises and sport wars. But the big thing on the horizon right now is Iran. This is hunting big game.

One of the things that I most regret not having done in recent years was taking advantage of an all-expense paid junket, courtesy of the Iranian Ambassadors’ Polo Club, for the New Zealand Ambassadors’ Polo Club, of which I was member. It would have been wonderful to have seen three of the major Iranian cities and met some of the top people in the country while playing polo. I couldn’t do it though, because I was injured at the time.

The Iranian people have no negative animus towards the American people. The average Iranian likes the average American. He likes American cars, American music, American movies, American culture. He likes California girls. He likes everything about America.

The way to change that and turn the average Iranian into an enemy is to send uniformed American teenagers there to destroy property and kill people. That’s exactly what morons like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are talking about. It could be a real catastrophe, because Iran is big game. It's not like hunting small game, like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria—which themselves were terrible catastrophes.

If this gets out of control - accidentally, or through a false flag incident, or simply because Bolton decides it’s a good idea - you could be looking at the start of World War III.

The “powers that be” think that war stimulates the economy. But the idea is complete nonsense. These fools actually believe turning lots of cities into smoking ruins would stimulate the economy.

International Man: The US government and mainstream media often justify these wars on the need to “spread democracy.” What do you make of that?

Doug Casey: The idea of spreading democracy is a snare and a delusion. Democracy has become the new societal god. In fact—and I know most readers will be appalled to hear this—democracy is a bad idea. At least for anything larger than a city-state with a small, cohesive population.

First of all, democracy is simply mob rule dressed up in a coat and tie. It’s where a bunch of people—who are marginally competent at running their own individual lives—go to a voting booth to have what H.L. Mencken termed “an advance auction on stolen goods.” Democracy usually winds up turning the State into a vehicle for theft, and making that seem like a good and moral thing...

Democracy—a gentler form of mob rule—is not a good thing. It politicizes the average person and distracts him from running his own life. It focuses his attention on trying to run other people’s lives through elected representatives. Worse, the elected representatives aren’t the best and the brightest. They’re generally sociopaths who are drawn to power. They’re the worst kind of people, the kind that want to rule other people by winning a popularity contest. This is true in the US and every other place where ballot boxes are used to determine the new ruler.

The winner of an election is typically the most skilled liar. Look at what president Wilson did by pointlessly drawing the US into WWI, while claiming to do the opposite. He said it was all about making the world safe for democracy. In fact, he initiated the long decline of Western Civilization. The French Revolution was based on democracy. It didn’t work out very well. It had a lot to do with democracy—but had nothing to do with freedom. Democracy and freedom are typically at odds with each other.

International Man: Aside from the claim of promoting democracy, the US government and mainstream media also use alleged human rights abuses as a justification for war. The term “human rights” seems to be vaguely defined and inconsistently applied. It seems like more sophistry. What’s really going on here?

Doug Casey: Let me first say, the most important “human right” is simply to be left alone by other people, to be left in peace. Whenever a government gets involved in people’s private affairs it makes things worse. The US government is actually the greatest danger to both world peace and human rights today. It’s quite Orwellian the way most Americans have been propagandized into believing the opposite, like the citizens of Oceania in 1984.

The best thing to do with foreign countries is leave them alone to work things out themselves. You cannot change a culture. When you try to change a culture, you generally wind up with chaos. That’s what the US government has created in Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and everywhere else it sticks its nose.

International Man: So, do these wars provide a net benefit to the average American?

Doug Casey: No. There’s no benefit at all. The correct U.S. foreign policy is to withdraw all the troops from everywhere in the world. Foreigners don’t want to see American troops on their land any more than Americans would like to see Iranian, or African, or Korean troops parading through the streets and maybe breaking down doors at 3:00 AM. That’s the first thing. If you want to “support the troops” bring all the troops home.

The next step is to cut off all foreign aid, which is really just a transfer program of about $50 billion per year from poor people in the US to rich people in poor countries. It’s almost all skimmed by cronies.

People forget that Osama bin Laden said that he only wanted three things.

First, he wanted infidel soldiers out of the homeland of the prophet, a reasonable request.

Second, he wanted the US to stop replacing Middle Eastern leaders with quislings, and interfering with local politics. Another reasonable request. The US has no more right to interfere in the politics of Middle Eastern countries than Mohammedans would interfering in US politics.

Third, he wanted the US to stop supporting Israel. Once again, a very reasonable request. We should be friendly towards all, but shouldn’t get involved in other people’s local squabbles, regardless of who we think is the good guy or the bad guy at the moment.

Of course, my saying something Osama bin Laden said was reasonable is like saying something that Hitler said was reasonable. But it doesn’t matter who says something. The facts should speak for themselves. And—just to head off hysterics—no, I neither like nor support either Osama or Adolf.

International Man: US foreign policy has serious domestic consequences. After all, “War is the health of the State" as Randolph Bourne said.

Specifically, the rapid rise of the domestic surveillance apparatus, the curtailments of civil liberties, and the turbocharging of militarized local police forces… they’re all connected to US foreign policy.

Related to all this is the inane expression “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” What do you make of all of this?

Doug Casey: Well, if that’s true then John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and the rest of the apparatchiks around the DC Beltway should be happy to post their tax returns on the internet, and have microphones and cameras in every room of their houses. They ought to be perfectly happy when they’re having a private conversation in their living room to have it available to anybody that wants to listen.

The ability to maintain privacy is one thing that separates civilized men from primitives living in mud huts. In a primitive society you have zero privacy, because your neighbors can see and hear absolutely everything that goes on through the paper-thin walls of your hut. Privacy is something that grows with civilization. These people have everything exactly backwards. They’re not just anti-freedom. They’re anti-civilization. They’re the same basic personality type as Stalin, or Ceausescu, or Pol Pot.

International Man: Another arena that has been drastically affected is the airports and the creation of a new federal bureaucracy, the TSA. Thanks to the TSA, everyone knows that “if you see something say something.” That saying is actually a registered trademark of the Department of Homeland Security.

Doug Casey: It's Orwellian. It's the type of thing Big Brother would advise you to do… to report your neighbors to the State for any real or imagined offense.

One time I was in a line that was snaking back and forth at immigration. My briefcase weighed about 25 pounds, so I put it down and left it for about 15 feet so I could pick it up when the line snaked back.

Not once, but twice, somebody looked around like a righteous busybody citizen and said, "Unattended baggage! Unattended baggage!"

These people are really just chimpanzees. They picked up this behavior from the government… monkey see, monkey do. I said to them sarcastically "See something, say something", but they didn't think I was kidding. They thought I approved of what they were doing.

International Man: Do you see this degraded behavior in other places?

Doug Casey: Of all the countries in the world that I’ve traveled to—including backwards hell holes in Africa, Russia, China, it doesn’t matter—going through the US immigration, customs, and TSA, probably provides the most degrading experience. None of these other countries ask you the kinds of questions or seem so anxious to go through your laundry. Although Canada and Australia in particular are closely following the US lead.

The average American has been propagandized into thinking that he lives in the land of the free. As a matter of fact, that’s no longer true.

The US has descended from being a shining beacon—that really was exceptional and different from every other country in the world—to being just another nation state. But, perversely, one that thinks it’s still exceptional. It’s paranoid. It thinks it’s under attack, when actually it’s the attacker.

The whole thing is upside-down, and the average American has absolutely no clue.

It's really shameful that the US has turned into both a welfare state—with about 50% of the population reliant upon the government—and a warfare state. We’re getting the worst of both worlds.

The problem is that when the economy turns down—and it will before Trump leaves office—it’s going to go from being depressing to scary. And if they start a major war, it’s going to go all the way to terrifying, because at that point you won’t have any rights. The average American will approve of it, however. Your life and property are be

*  *  *

Many people don’t realize that the US is on the precipice of a major war in the Middle East. It’s a conflict that could see oil prices skyrocket overnight… and the return of gas lines to America. It wouldn’t be the first or even second time an oil shock like this has happened. It would have profound economic consequences.

This is one reason why a financial crisis far greater than any crisis America has seen could soon strike. For some it could completely wipe out their savings… and for others it could be the fortune-building opportunity of a lifetime. Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video on surviving and thriving during an economic collapse. Click here to watch it now.

Published:6/8/2019 8:00:43 PM
[4b3e2415-d726-51ae-a85d-677950c1abcb] ‘Racy’ Casey Anthony biopic reportedly in the works Casey Anthony, the Florida woman acquitted in 2011 of killing her daughter, is reportedly working on an autobiographical film that will tell her side of the story. Published:6/6/2019 11:13:45 PM
[Privacy] Security startup Bugcrowd on crowdsourcing bug bounties: ‘Cybersecurity is a people problem’ For a cybersecurity company, Bugcrowd relies much more on people than it does on technology. For as long as humans are writing software, developers and programmers are going to make mistakes, said Casey Ellis, the company’s founder and chief technology officer in an interview TechCrunch from his San Francisco headquarters. “Cybersecurity is fundamentally a people […] Published:5/31/2019 10:03:35 AM
[Markets] Eliminating Free Speech The Smart Way

Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,

Left-wing activists have recently been increasingly active in seeking to limit opposing political viewpoints, in order to create a more ubiquitous “groupthink.” One effort in accomplishing this has been to propose the creation of a “Human Rights Committee” in order to monitor the economic transactions of “white supremacist groups and anti-Islam activists.”

This should not be surprising, as, throughout the former Free World, collectivists are, increasingly, coming out of the closet and seeking to eliminate any and all opposition to their cause.

And this should not, in itself, be alarming, as it should be both predictable and understandable that any politically driven group, be it left-leaning or right-leaning, would seek to gain an advantage over its opposite number.

What may be a real cause for alarm, however, is that those whom they are trying to rope into their effort are banks and corporations… and that they’re succeeding without a shot being fired.

It might be hoped that those champions of industry and commerce would at least put up a perfunctory fight, but clearly, this is not the case. They’re not only caving in; they’re entirely on board.

As an example, MasterCard is considering the selective restriction of individuals from their services and funds. Those individuals would be the ones that held unacceptable political views.

But they’re not the first in the queue to economically force people to have “correct” views. PayPal and Patreon have barred selected individuals from receiving payments through their services when those individuals have been identified as holding “extreme views.” More alarmingly, they’ve been supported in this decision by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Journalist Ben Swann has commented that this means that the US government has granted “big corporations the ability to control what voices are heard.”

The reader will already be familiar with the fact that major corporations that are led by liberally aligned executives, such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, have already proudly stated that they wish to do their part to freeze out those whose opinions they disagree with.

Of course, in a free world, the head of a privately held corporation should be free to do business with only those individuals he approves of. Although that might make him discriminating, he should have the right to be discriminating.

The concern here, though, is that there’s nothing on the horizon that’s aimed at limiting collectivist notions. All the restrictions are being applied to those who are conservative, libertarian, or in fact, anything but collectivist.

There’s clearly an all-encompassing effort to not only silence non-collectivists in the media (including social media), but to silence them through the loss of economic freedom.

And the campaign is unfolding dramatically, on many fronts, at the same time. It would not be rash to suggest that, by 2020, it may not be safe for an individual to express any non-collectivist position by that time, for fear of being cut out of the economic structure.

Back in the early part of the twentieth century, the Bolsheviks did a wonderful job of eliminating the existence of views that opposed collectivism, through the use of concentration camps and execution. Later in the century, the Nazi (abbreviation for Nationalsozialistische, or National Socialist Party) also did a bang-up job of disappearing dissent against their rhetoric.

But Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and Goebbels would all have their hats off to the new American version of collectivist propaganda, which is not only attacking freedom of speech in the media, but using economic warfare to ensure that, in the future, the only propaganda will be collectivist propaganda.

This is a tactic these past collectivist leaders would have envied, as the results of economic pressure can be so immediate and permanent.

And clearly, large banks, corporations and the US government are fully on board.

This latter fact informs us that the move to a collectivist society in the US is not merely the work of some extremist groups; it is, indeed, the intended “New America.”

One hundred years ago, the US began a decline into corporatism, with the introduction of the Federal Reserve as the overlord of US banking. Since that time, there has been a steady decline in freedoms in the US, interrupted only by the capitalist boom years that were brought on by World War II.

And we now see the culmination of that long-sought-after objective. The American public are not only being phased into the fuller conversion to a collectivist society; they’re being forced into it through economic punishment, should they take any other view.

There can be no question that virtually all of the restrictions of free speech are intended to limit any thought other than collectivist thought.

But the more important take-away here is that this is not a mere ploy by a political group. It has the support of the financial industry, corporate America and the government (through the US Securities and Exchange Commission).

This tells us that the Deep State – that collective body that actually rules the US above the political structure – is on board for a conversion of the US into a fully collectivist state.

This objective should not be surprising, as rulers always wish, first and foremost, to rule. And as such, they will always seek to obtain total control, if possible. Collectivism is the key to that goal. The greater the degree of collectivism, the greater the level of totalitarianism.

In limiting free speech through economics, they’re now going about it the smart way. But this in itself should not be too surprising. What may be surprising is that the changes necessary to bring that about are happening so quickly.

For the US, this is much like Russia, circa 1917, or Germany, circa 1937. The question is no longer whether the government intends to institute totalitarianism. The question is how much time remains before the transition is complete.

This question should give us pause. Its answer would define the remaining shelf-life of the US, as a country that’s desirable as a place to reside.

*  *  *

The wave of political correctness and liberal group-think has taken the US by storm. The effort to silence opposing viewpoints and free speech will continue to accelerate. That’s why Doug Casey has prepared a timely video on surviving this modern American trend. In it Doug exposes the lies and mainstream bias that’s poisoning America… Click here to watch it now.

Published:5/28/2019 10:48:50 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey: "This Is Going To Be One For The Record Books"

Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

Just because society experiences turmoil doesn't mean your personal life has to. And a depression doesn't have to be depressing. Most of the real wealth in the world will still exist - it will just change ownership.

What is a depression?

We’re now at the tail end of a very long, but in many ways a very weak and artificial, economic expansion. At the same time we’ve had one of the strongest securities bull markets in history. Both are the result of trillions of new dollars created over the last decade. Right now very few people are willing to consider the possibility of tough times—let alone The Greater Depression.

But, perverse though it may seem, this is the very best time to think about it. The U.S. economy is a house of cards, built on quicksand, with a tsunami on the way. I urge everyone to read up on the topic. For now, I'll only briefly touch on the nature of depressions. There are at least three good definitions of the term:

  1. A period of time when most people's standard of living drops significantly.

  2. A period of time when distortions and misallocations of capital are liquidated.

  3. A period of time when the business cycle climaxes.

Using the first definition, any natural disaster can cause a depression. So can living above your means for long enough. But the worst kind of depression has not just economic effects, but economic causes. That's where definitions 2 and 3 come in.

What can cause distortions in the way the market operates, causing people to do things they'd otherwise consider unreasonable or uneconomic? Only government action, i.e., coercion. This takes the form of regulation, taxes, and currency inflation.

Always under noble pretexts, government is constantly directly and indirectly inducing people to buy and sell things they otherwise wouldn't, to do things they'd prefer not to, and to invest in things that make no sense.

These misallocations of capital subtly reduce a society's general standard of living, but the serious trouble happens when such misallocations build up to an unsustainable degree and reality forces them into liquidation. The result is bankrupted companies, defaulted debt, and unemployed workers.

The business cycle is caused mainly by currency inflation, which is accomplished today by the monetization of government debt through the banking system; essentially, when the government runs a deficit, the Federal Reserve buys its debt, and credits the government’s account at a commercial bank with dollars. Using the printing press to create new money is largely passé in today's electronic world.

Either way, inflation sends false signals to businessmen (especially those who get the money early on, as it filters through the economy), making them overestimate demand for their products. That causes them to hire more workers and make capital investments—often with borrowed money. This is called "stimulating the economy."

Inflating the currency can actually drive down interest rates for a while, because the price of money (interest) is lowered by the increased supply of money. This causes people to save less and borrow more, just as Americans have been doing for years. A lot of that newly created money goes into the stock market, driving it higher.

It all looks pretty good, until retail prices start rising as a delayed consequence of the increased money supply, and interest rates skyrocket to reflect the depreciation of the currency.

That's when businesses start failing. Stocks fall. Bond prices collapse. Large numbers of workers lose employment.

Rather than let the market adjust itself, government typically starts the process all over again with a new and larger "stimulus package." The more often this happens, the more ingrained become the distortions in the way people consume and invest, and the nastier the eventual depression.

This is why I predict the Greater Depression will be ... well ... greater. This is going to be one for the record books. Much different, much longer lasting, and much worse than the unpleasantness of 1929-1946.

*  *  *

A financial depression far greater than any crisis America has seen could soon strike. For some it could completely wipe out their savings… and for others it could be the fortune-building opportunity of a lifetime. Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent video on surviving and thriving during an economic collapse. Click here to watch it now.

Published:5/25/2019 8:31:02 PM
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