We discuss some really horrible advice for Generation X about their impossible retirement as they try to repay their student loans designed to fail. In the second half Max interviews Chris Whalen, author of the new book, Ford Men: From Inspiration to Enterprise, about the myth that is the legend called Henry Ford.
While it’s certainly good sport to mock “snowflakes,” not all Millennials are snowflakes. Many are homesteading, buying affordable homes and building communities that get stuff done.
Although the mainstream media focuses on bubble-priced Left and Right coast homes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, there are perfectly serviceable houses that can be had for $50,000 or less elsewhere in America. Drew just bought one, and rather than go through a bank for the mortgage, he arranged (with the help of a real estate attorney) for a family member to put up the mortgage.
This arrangement is win-win: the family member earns a much higher return on the cash than a savings account or equivalent, the loan is secured by the property, and Drew cuts out the bank/lender.
It may surprise those who only read media accounts of Millennials living in their parents’ basement playing videogames, many of the Millennials in Drew’s “tribe” are growing food via homesteading. This is arguably a global trend, as the short video below from Japan reveals.
An increasing number of Japanese Millennials are abandoning the high-cost, long work hours life in big cities for a rural lifestyle that is described as “half farmer, half X,” with X being whatever part-time work generates the modest incomes needed to sustain the village lifestyle.
I recently watched a Japanese TV program (Soko ga Japan is the name of the series) profiling the young residents of a Japanese farming village. Each household pays $200 or $250 per month for a spacious old house and adjoining farm plot.
This is roughly 10% of what the households were paying for cramping flats in Tokyo. One of the homes is an expansive 200-year old farm house which the young tenant has fixed up to host informal gatherings for those interested in the village community.
Drew reports his mortgage is a bit over $300/month. Including property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, the basic cost of ownership is roughly half what neighboring homes are renting for.
So what is X, the other source of income? Raising animals and high-value vegetables that can be sold to restaurants is one source, but many of the young homesteaders continue to do the work they did in the city, only remotely: graphic design, illustration, IT (information technology), translation, etc.
This is an example of what I call the Mobile Creative class, the non-age specific class of people who have broken free of Corporate-State wage-slave serfdom by cobbling together multiple income streams doing work they care about, and radically slashing their cost of living to enable this freedom to do meaningful work.
America’s Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy (April 29, 2014)
The New Class: Mobile Creatives (May 1, 2014)
I describe how to fashion a mobile creative work life and income in my book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.
When people say they want solutions, they’re actually seeking only a specific kind of solution, one that leaves everything they have now intact but guarantees them more of something: more security, more healthcare, more education, more money, etc., but at no cost or inconvenience to themselves.
Anything that fits these parameters isn’t a solution; it’s magic. Magical thinking and magical fixes are endlessly appealing precisely because they don’t require us to change anything or work at anything outside our comfort zone.
In the real world, solutions change core values and processes. If they don’t, they’re not real solutions. Fake fixes come in various types: cosmetic band-aids, alleviation of the symptoms while the disease continues unchecked, public-relations relabeling of the problem so it appears to go away via semantic trickery, and so on.
The credit-card fueled shopping-spree of suburban malls is dying for a variety of structural/systemic reasons. Embracing that as the only model we have is to choose extinction.
Real solutions have two parts: changes in values and operational changes in habits and processes. This two-sided structure of solutions–values and operations–is scale invariant, meaning it works the same for individuals, households, neighborhoods, towns, cities, organizations, enterprises, nations and empires. Any solution that doesn’t change both values and operations in fundamental ways is just another magic trick, a simulacrum solution.
It requires this context of values and operations to understand how half-farmer, half-X is one spectrum of solutions for an over-indebted, dysfunctional economy of dead malls and dying models of debt-based “growth.”
The “De” Generation (DeGrowth) (8:26)
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We discuss #KushnerAtWar and whether or not President Trump has that 1000 yard stare now that MSNBC hails him as the dear leader finally willing to kill? In the second half, Max continues his previous interview with Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, about the latest in geopolitics from Rex Tillerson’s State Department and Trump’s chaotic White House.
– Perth Mint’s silver bullion sales rise 43% in March
– Perth Mint’s monthly gold coin, bars sales fall 12%
– Gold silver ratio of 32 – 32 times more silver ounces sold
– Gold: 22,232 oz and Silver: 716,283 oz – bullion coins and minted bars sold
– Gold is 2.6% higher and silver surged 3.1% in the shortened week with markets closed for Good Friday tomorrow
The Perth Mint’s silver bullion sales of coins and bars surged 43% in March. Silver sales climbed about 43 percent in March to 716,283 ounces from 502,353 ounces in February, according to a Perth Mint blog post.
Gold bullion coins and minted bars fell in March to the lowest since August last year. Sales of gold coins and minted bars slipped about 12 percent in March to 22,232 ounces from 25,257 ounces a month earlier, the mint said on its website.
Chart shows total monthly ounces of gold and silver shipped as minted products by The Perth Mint to wholesale and retail customers worldwide. It excludes sales of cast bars and other activities including sales of allocated/unallocated precious metal and Perth Mint Silver and Gold Certificates.
The Perth Mint is the largest gold refinery in Australia, the world’s No. 2 gold producer after China. It is one of the largest gold and silver refineries in the world.
Gold and silver prices have surged this week on a weaker dollar and as appetite for risky assets such as equities waned due to geo-political concerns in the Middle East and Asia and deepening tensions between the U.S. and Russia.Read full story here…
If anything defined the postwar economy between 1946 and 1999, it was the exodus of the middle class from cities to suburbs and the glorification of what Jim Kunstler calls Happy Motoring: freeways, cars and trucks, ten lanes of private vehicles, the vast majority of which are transporting one person.
Ol’ 55 (freeway cars and trucks) (written by Tom Waits, performed by The Eagles)
The build-out of suburbia drove growth for decades: millions of new suburban homes, miles of new freeways, sprawling shopping malls, and tens of millions of new autos, trucks, and SUVs, transforming one-car households into three vehicle households. Then there was all the furnishings for those expansive new homes, and the credit necessary to fund the homes, vehicles, furnishings, etc.
Now the Millennial generation is turning its back on both of these bedrock engines of growth. As various metrics reveal, the Millennials are fine with taking Uber to work, buying their shoes from Zappos (return them if they don’t fit, no problem), and making whatever tradeoffs are necessary to live in urban cores.
Simply put, the natural progression of this generation is away from suburban malls, suburban home ownership and the car-centric commuter lifestyle that goes with suburban homeownership.
Saddled with insanely high student debt loads imposed by the rapaciously predatory higher education cartel, Millennials avoid additional debt like the plague. Millennials have relatively high savings rates. As for a lifetime of penury to service debt–hey, they already have that, thanks to their “I borrowed $100,000 and all I got was this worthless college degree” student loans.
Consider the secondary effects of these trend changes. If Millennials are earning less and already carrying heavy debt loads, who is going to buy the Baby Boom’s millions of pricey suburban McMansions. The answer might be “no one.”
If vehicle sales decline, all the secondary auto-related sales decline, too. Auto insurance, for example.
Furnishing a small expensive urban flat requires a lot less furnishings than a 3,000 square foot suburban house. What happens to sales of big dining sets and backyard furniture?
As retail malls die, property taxes, sales taxes and payroll taxes decline, too.Many cheerlead the notion of repurposed commercial space, but uses such as community college classes pay a lot less per square foot than retail did, and generate little in the way of sales and payroll taxes.
Financial losses will also mount. Valuations and property taxes will decline, and commercial real estate loans based on nose-bleed valuations and high retail lease rates will go south, triggering significant financial-sector losses.
Retail is already shrinking fast. Look at the store closings–the 2017 number already exceeds the post-financial crisis surge in 2008:
Where’s the growth going to come from as the dominant generation makes less, borrows less, spends less, saves more and turns away from long commutes, malls and suburban living and abandons the worship of private vehicles? Toss in the convergence of technology (i.e. a mobile phone does everything) and the answer is growth is being replaced by DeGrowth.
Gordon Long and I explore these topics in our latest video program, MILLENNIALS: A Menacing Metamorphosis:
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– Gold price breaks above key 200-day moving average
– Gold hits 5-month high on back of investor nervousness
– Safe haven has 10% gains in 2017 after 9% gains in 2016
– Gold options signal more gains as ETF buying increases
– Geopolitical uncertainty over North Korea & Middle East
– Tensions high -World awaits US move & Russia response
– Russia says chemical attack was terrorist “false flag”
– Poor March jobs report shows US economy vulnerable
– French elections still tight and Le Pen still has chance
Gold prices surged another 2% to a five-month high above $1,270 amidst geopolitical uncertainty and weak US economic data.
The break above the 200-day moving average has cleared the way for a run towards $1,300/oz. It means that gold continues to be one of the best performing assets in 2017 with gains of 10.3% year to date building on the 9% gains in 2016.
Gold’s move was a traditional flight to safety following the US’ missile attack on Syria and Trump making aggressive sounds regarding intervention against North Korea including tweets.
The weak jobs report also prompted fears that future Fed interest rate hikes could be delayed or slowed and this has provided further support for the price of gold.
Tensions between Syria, Russia, North Korea and the US underline the serious geo-political risks. There is the real risk of a serious military confrontation. This is creating uncertainty which is an environment that serves gold best.
These risks have led to very bullish activity in the options market with a surge in call option gold buying and gold ETF buying.Read full story here…
When we speak of The Long Game, we speak of national/alliance policies that continue on regardless of what political party or individual is in office. The Long Game is always about the basics of national survival: control of and access to resources, and jockeying to diminish the power and influence of potential adversaries while strengthening one’s own power and influence.
As I have been discussing for years, there are inevitable conflicts within the inner circle that executes The Long Game within each nation/alliance. In periods of active confrontation, the various factions tend to rally round the core game plan–for example, in the Cold War with the USSR, the U.S. Long Game was containment. Anyone arguing for all-out war or appeasement was quickly marginalized.
In eras in which everything is up for grabs, these internecine conflicts broaden and intensify. We are in just such an era. This is why I have consistently claimed that the group responsible for playing America’s Long Game–the Deep State–is now splitting into two main camps:
1. The dominant Neocon camp that seeks to actively intervene on a global basis (mostly civilian).
2. The “rogue progressive” camp that views the Neocon strategy as a disaster for America’s long-term interests, i.e. The Long Game (mostly military or military-related).
Whatever you think of President Trump–pawn, buffoon, loose cannon, evil incarnate, whatever–please understand that his administration is viewed as a potentially disruptive threat to the dominant Neocon camp, which expected a seamless transition in the Executive branch from President Obama to Hillary Clinton, echoing the seamless transition from G.W. Bush to President Obama.
The camp that sees the Neocon strategy as failed and dangerous to the interests of the American people and the nation’s Long Game had essentially zero leverage in the presidencies of Bill Clinton, G.W. Bush and Barack Obama. After 24 years of unchallenged power, the Neocons are understandably going into attack mode against anything and everything that poses the slightest risk to their grasp on power.
The possibility that the anti-Neocon camp might gain a foothold in the Trump administration has caused the Neocon camp to launch an all-out war against anyone and anything that could offer the “rogue” insiders a toehold.
Hillary Clinton neatly summarized the Neocon mindset on how to deal with potential threats when she asked (regarding WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange): “Can’t we just drone this guy?”
Since the Neocons have assembled the greatest Murder, Inc. machine in world history, this obsession with killing anyone who poses the slightest threat to Neocon hegemony is understandable. But it’s tricky to liquidate Americans without questions being asked (all those suspicious “suicides”–hmm).
So the Neocon tactic of late is to sift through the NSA and CIA’s voluminous surveillance data and fish out something damaging to their targets.
The Neocon camp has also ordered its media arm–the corporate-owned mainstream media– to go into full attack mode. Bernie Sanders got a small taste of the MSM’s one-sided, negative coverage, but that was merely a training exercise for the main war against any and all potential threats to the Neocon camp’s total dominance.
It’s helpful to position this discussion of the warring camps in America’s Deep State in a larger context of The Long Game.
Let’s start with Russia, and recall that the Western Neoliberals (do-gooders one and all, of course–we only have your best interests at heart, really really really) forcefed a “market economy” (i.e. rigged to benefit banks and cronies) to Russia in the early 1990s.
The net result was a Cronyist-Mafia-Racket economy, a disaster for progressives within Russia. The inevitable blowback was a re-energized central state, which generated another set of difficulties.
Then the Neocon-led NATO expansion into Russia’s historical buffer zones triggered alarm. Recall that Russia has centuries of experience dealing with invading hordes from the East and the West.
It’s not too difficult to see why Russia isn’t feeling particularly warm and fuzzy about the Neoliberal-Neocon Long Game.
As for China–China has one client state: North Korea. Talk about a client state from Heck. There aren’t any good solutions in China’s view to North Korea: if it collapses from internal disorder, a humanitarian crisis quickly moves across the border into China.
A nuclear exchange between North Korea and the U.S. is not a desirable outcome, nor is a conventional war with South Korea.
China’s unprecedented economic advance depended on two drivers: trade and credit. Trade is now facing a potentially disruptive global shift against globalism, and credit is yielding diminishing returns: China’s $30 trillion in additional debt is basically keeping the debt bubble from popping, not generating organic, sustainable expansion:
China’s debt expansion: China’s GDP up 3-fold since 2006, but debt is up 6-fold–and still ramping up fast.
For context– snapshots of global GDP and global debt. As I noted yesterday in The Media’s Missing the Point: Syria, Empire and the Power of Signaling, power is a function of a nation’s total output, not just its military capabilities.
Here is a look at America’s rapidly expanding debt load: the acme of “unsustainable.” This is the disastrous harvest of Neoliberal financialization on a global scale.
Though this chart is of U.S. energy, with a few minor modifications the mix reflects global energy. Fossil fuels still dominate energy production and consumption. Energy is the master resource–little else can be extracted, processed or transported without fossil fuel energy.
Is it any wonder that a mad scramble is on in the mideast? Consider that Russia and the U.S. are (for the time being) both major global producers of fossil fuels.
Take a moment to consider the Neocon camp’s over-reaction to the inchoate challenge to its dominance posed by the Trump administration. What does their frantic over-reaction and full-court press by the media signal about their grasp on history and power?
What it signals to me is 1) they know they’re losing the consent of the American public and are frightened of losing power 2) they’ve lost the judgment of history–their strategy has been an unmitigated disaster on all fronts: their Neoliberal strategy has weakened every nation that has embraced it (including the U.S.) and their interventionist Neocon strategy has failed in its objectives, generated uncontrollable blowback and unintended consequences and weakened America’s position and power.
The Neocon behavior is that of a cornered beast. Every potential adversary is deemed a potentially mortal threat, generating a ceaseless flow of self-destructive over-reaction.
What does an opponent do in this circumstance, against an enraged, hyper-reactive foe who senses its own erosion of control? You play along, at least publicly. You bide your time, keeping secret communication lines open with allies and potential adversaries. You stage the Kabuki theater publicly, and communicate about real issues in private.
You give the hyper-reactive Neocons a sense they’ve regained the upper hand; you placate them in small, meaningless ways to boost their wounded egos, and seek to reassure them that their power is still absolute.
Then you begin chipping away at the foundations of their grasp on power. Two can play at the damaging-secrets-released-to-the-public game, so you play that, releasing the goods to WikiLeaks and other sources.
When a key Neocon player becomes vulnerable, you cashier them under the guise of “moving on to other opportunities.”
You plant articles undermining the core Neocon narratives in influential journals such as Foreign Affairs.
You hold private meetings with private-sector and public-sector movers and shakers, letting them know that the winds have shifted against globalization, Neoliberalism and Neocon narratives. You let them know that hedging their bets by advancing anti-Neocon people and narratives would be smart–very smart.
This is how The Long Game is played. For crying out loud, people, the political threat to the Neocon Empire hasn’t even been around for three months, and it’s already been declared dead on arrival.
Put yourself in the shoes of a patriotic insider who understands the Neoliberals/Neocons are a mortal threat to America’s interests. If you go public with your views, you’ll get your head handed to you. The only way to play The Long Gamein an internecine war is with great patience, and out of the public gaze.
Let’s see how things play out over the next few years before we declare the insider opponents of the Neocons have already lost.
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– Bank of England implicated in LIBOR scandal by BBC
– “We’ve had some very serious pressure from the UK government and the Bank of England about pushing our Libors lower.”
– “This goes much much higher than me” -UBS’ Tom Hayes
– Libor distraction as all markets are manipulated today
– Central bank’s “rigging” bond markets and likely gold
– Risks of bank ‘holidays’, capital controls and of course bail-ins remains
The LIBOR scandal reemerged yesterday as the BBC’s Panorama uncovered a secret recording implicating the Bank of England in the interest rate manipulation saga.
According to the BBC the central bank pressured commercial banks during the 2008 financial crisis to lower their settings for LIBOR.
In a telephone recording, aired last night in the UK, a senior Barclays manager, Mark Dearlove, can be heard instructing Libor submitter Peter Johnson, to lower his rates.
Mr Johnson: “So I’ll push them below a realistic level of where I think I can get money?”
Every Epic Ponzi Scheme Ends the Same Way:
Fast and Ugly…
The poster child for the Neo Con/Lib EU austerity agenda Ireland is a deeply unequal society and that’s a continuing trend. More people in Ireland have committed suicide since 2008 via financial terrorist acts than died in the Northern Irish conflict. However, Irish politicians are posturing, jamming the Irish state broadcaster and commercial airways with the crony capitalist mantras demanded by their future corporate employers. The echo chamber is turned to full volume as no dissenting voice is heard on panel discussions or news bulletins. It’s the, ‘ this is how nice, respectable people think’, approach.
They are still aiming to jam through privatisation friendly legislation relating to water supply,our last people owned resource . Irish Water staff continue to enjoy large bonuses. De-funding health care to please private insurers continues apace, Closures of rural police stations, post offices and public transport routes are de rigeur in the minority Fianna Gael/Independent Alliance ruling coalition. They have the assent of the Fianna Fail opposition party in the austerity terror they are continuing to wield across the country. A whole generation of farmers are set to loose their farms held for generations to vulture funds invited in by this government. The knock on effect is closures of local businesses and dying rural communities.
Elder / Senior voters are gossiping. The post office closures affect them directly. They get their pensions and pay their bills there. They don’t do on line banking. They can’t get the bus to their local towns for hospital appointments while local G.P.s are also abandoning the sinking ship . The Elders are deeply discommoded! They and other rural voters are conflating it all and if the gossip is true, the sycophantic Fianna Fail opposition are set to loose big time at the next general election. A General Election is always in the offing due to the flimsy nature of the current government.
Again thousands of people, from across the country, were out on the streets of Dublin yesterday reminding the politicians that they are being watched closely.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” , is often quoted at these gatherings.
Finally the penny is dropping across the population that the of Ireland, who are still in the majority.
We discuss the KeiserPepe market and “our man in Mexico.” In the second half, Max interviews Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, about the latest in geopolitics at Rex Tillerson’s State Department.
A flurry of recent headlines has highlighted the financial elites’ interest in secure retreats (a.k.a. bug-out locations) should the trucks stop rolling. That those with the most money and access to expertise are preparing safe havens has moved the conversation about bug-out plans from the alt-media to the mainstream, however briefly.
The basic idea is to develop some measure of security in an increasingly insecure world, and pursue some measure of independence in an increasingly fragile system of global supply chains.
The intuitive solution to many, from the super-wealthy on down, is some version of a hideaway in the woods: a remote locale known only to the owner, where the owner can burrow safely away until the storm passes.
It turns out security and independence are tricky qualities, and surprising reversals are not just possible but likely: what appears to be secure at first glance might be highly insecure, and independence turns out to be highly relative.
The Remote Cabin in the Woods: the Perfect Target for Theft
The first problem with the remote cabin in the woods (RCITW) bug-out hideaway is that “remote” and “secret” are two different things. As I explained in my 2008 essay The Art of Survival, Taoism and the Warring States, the local residents have a much different view of what’s remote and secret than outsiders.
Simply put, if humans are settled anywhere nearby, nothing is remote or secret. I have come across guys on foot in extremely remote logging roads miles from any paved road, much less a settlement. I’ve been startled by hunters on family-owned wooded acreage far from neighbors or towns.
Throw in drones, Internet access to detailed terrain photography that was once the domain of spy satellites and humans’ healthy curiosity, and “remote” and “secret” just got even scarcer.
A local news story some years ago illustrated the point: some luckless outsider’s entire bug-out cabin was stolen: not the contents, the entire cabin. The “owner” returned to a bare concrete slab.
“Remote and secret” means “easy to steal”: nobody around, plenty of time to take the whole darn thing.
I put quotations around “owner” because “owner,” “possessor” and “occupant” are different things.
Consider the broken window problem. A kid tosses a rock through the window of an unoccupied house, and people notice the window doesn’t get fixed. So somebody has the bright idea of breaking in and looking around. Next, some unsavory characters discover the back door’s open, and they start using the place as a crash pad and drug haven. Now the property is occupied–by squatters.
“Squatter’s rights” have a long history, and the rights of possession could once be transformed into outright ownership back in the day. Evicting squatters can require quite a bit of legal work and money, and of course squatters being evicted tend not to be overly respectful of the house or its contents.
Lest you reckon this possibility is out of the question: a surprising number of abandoned homes in middle-class neighborhoods slide into becoming squatters’ druggie havens.
It turns out security is less a function of “remote and secret” and more a function of eyes on the street community and full-time occupancy.
About that “Rugged Individualism”….
There’s a whole other set of problems with the remote cabin in the woods (RCITW) bug-out hideaway: the owner of the RCITW is typically as dependent on the fragile supply chain as any urban dweller.
The proud “rugged individual” on the remote homestead may have his own well, a solar panel and a garden, but if we observe him closely we find he drives his hugely inefficient truck into town weekly to fuel up at the gas station, fill his propane tank, pick up his medications, cash his government/ institutional check (Social Security, SSI, pension, etc.), buy 98% of his food calories, get spare parts for his water pump, and so on.
This “rugged individual” is as dependent on the trucks rolling as any city dweller. He is dead in the water without abundant cheap fossil fuels, functioning supply chains for industrial-manufactured parts, constant delivery of cheap food calories, and money from the state or some financial institution.
If the homestead is remote, he’s actually more dependent than the city dweller, because he absolutely needs abundant, affordable, consistently available fuel for his private vehicle to get the essentials of life. The town dweller is just as dependent on the global supply chain, but at least he can walk to the store.
Does a remote rural location add to one’s independence from the global supply chain? Not necessarily. It can actually increase dependency and fragility by increasing consumption of fossil fuels (both to drive into town and also to transport goods to distant rural stores) and by positioning oneself at the most costly and least profitable end of already long supply chains.
The idea that Nature is bountiful is largely illusory. Most woods and untilled fields are food deserts to humans. A normal person can walk all day and find nothing remotely edible—and even foragers would be hard-pressed to locate 2,000 calories a day, day after day, week and after week, month after month.
As for growing one’s own food: it’s remarkably difficult to raise tons of calorie-dense food on a small plot of land. The ground water might be deep, or taste bad; the soil might be depleted or rocky, and the weather might not cooperate at all times. One storm at the wrong moment can decimate a crop that’s been carefully tended for months.
It turns out “independence” is relative, and may well decrease the farther one gets from agriculture, energy sources and communities.
Dependence and independence are not just measured by reliance on global supply chains of food, energy and manufactured goods. Consider the “rugged individual” who keeps himself to himself, holed up in his hideaway. How likely are you to ask him for help? How likely are you to offer him some share of your bounty?
Or would you rather ask the friendly fellow who is out in his garden, who drops by to share some fresh produce or baked goods, a person you see at church or in town chatting with friends?
The productive relationship is the one with a productive person. Not only is the remote “rugged individual” unlikely to offer anyone help, he may have little in the way of resources to offer.
“Independence” of the completely self-sufficient sort is relative: most homesteaders still depend on the global supply chain for fossil fuels, manufactured parts, bulk food calories, and so on. Independence may be more properly defined as inter-dependence: the greater the reliance on local interdependent productive networks of makers/growers/doers, the greater the independence.
It isn’t just where the goods and services come from, and from how far away; the level of consumption is the critical factor. The lower the consumption of fossil fuels, manufactured goods and bulk food calories shipped from far away, the greater the relative independence. The household that only consumes a gallon of fuel a week (i.e. 35 miles driven in a compact car) is considerably less dependent than the household that consumes 30 gallons of fuel a week.
About Those Wealthy Islands of Security….
The financial elites who reckon they can buy everything they want, including security and independence, might be in for some surprises. Those private security details might be fine for dodging kidnappers, but how about dealing with dozens of hungry squatters? How long will the jet fuel last if you’re flying in literally everything? An island built on the promise of unlimited supply of distant goodies is actually an island of fragile dependence, an artificial construct built on shifting sand.
Doing ‘Retreat’ Right
But all the above warnings notwithstanding, it is possible to develop a retreat that’s far more sustainable (and likely more enjoyable) than the costly islands of financial elites.
In Part 2: Doing ‘Retreat’ Right, we lay out the core strategies of developing a retreat that takes into consideration the realities of security, fragility and dependence.
Community and regional resources are key to the selection process of a workable retreat location. Learning what to look for in each is essential to making the right decision for your needs.
This essay was first published on peakprosperity.com, where I am a contributing writer, under the title “Having a ‘Retreat’ Property Comes With Real Challenges”.
Check out both of my new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print). For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.
Technically Bitcoin has been in a trend as discussed earlier and has fallen into a temporary sideways pattern. While the market players are testing the $1200 psychological barrier (at the time of writing this article), the Bollinger bands suggest that a breakout can be …
The purpose of today’s post is not to discuss what happened last night. All of you have read the news by now. My intent today is to explain what I think this means for the years ahead. I believe last night’s strike represents the beginning of the end for U.S. empire. Although the U.S. has been declining domestically for this entire century, America has still been calling all the shots on the international front. This makes sense in late-stage empire, as the focus of the fat and happy “elite” becomes singularly obsessed with domination and power, while the situation back home festers and rots.
Trump won on an “America first” platform that promised to emphasize the well-being of American citizens over geopolitical adventurism. We now know for certain he’s been manipulated into the imperial mindset, and his recklessness will merely accelerate U.S. decline on the world stage, and in turn, back home.
Read the rest here.
We discuss killing internet privacy for a measly million dollars. In the second half, Max continues his interview with Jaromil of Dyne.org about the latest in the bitcoin melodrama as Bitcoin Unlimited vs Bitcoin Core war rages on and it’s all about blocksize.
A limited government is concerned with proscribing the exploitation of citizens by elites and criminals. A Totalitarian State seeks control of everything–including what goes on in the bedrooms, living rooms and minds of its citizens.
A recent conversation with my longtime friend G.F.B. clarified a key distinction between the public and private spheres.
G.F.B.’s example of the state exerting control over its citizens’ private choices and behaviors in their own homes was the Prohibition of alcohol which was the federal law of the land in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933.
Though alcohol consumption in the home was not banned outright at the federal level, the net result of banning the manufacture and distribution of alcohol was the criminalization of everyday citizens’ attempts to purchase alcohol for their home consumption.
A limited government’s purview is actions taken in public that could harm other citizens. Drunken drivers, for example, end up killing innocent citizens. Limiting the “freedom” to drive drunk is a state action that is limited to the public sphere: if a citizen chooses to get drunk in the privacy of his own home, that’s different from driving on public streets while drunk.
In the good old days of the early Republic, the government was focused on matters of sovereignty and defense, not what citizens were doing in their own homes or communicating in private letters. Enforcement of federal laws was largely limited to collecting tariffs and other revenues and adjudicating property disputes.
Central states have long had an interest in control and adjudicating property disputes.ling every aspect of their citizens’ private lives, beliefs and choices.What separated these total-control autocracies and totalitarian states from governments “of the people, by the people, for the people” was the sacrosanct civil liberties that protected the privacy and private choices of the citizens from state control.
The unholy alliance of “progressive” do-gooders and let-me-tell-you-how-to-live religious zealots delivered Prohibition, and a host of other “we want control of your bedroom and living room” regulations. This moral superiority was of course the height of hubris and hypocrisy, as the zealots and “progressives” were just as sinful, petty and venal as any “unenlightened” non-believer.
The separation of church and state was dissolved by the moral crusades in which the “morally superior” wielded the brute power of the state to punish anyone who didn’t live according to the demands of the “morally superior.”
Look, if a private citizen wants to shoot up smack in the privacy of his own home, and perhaps end his life in an overdose, that should be his right. Who authorized the state to intercede in private choices and behaviors?
The state may limit the “freedom” to inject others with smack, or promote the injection of smack publicly, but it has no right to impose its view of “rightness” on the choices made in the bedrooms and living rooms of private citizens.
The Prohibition of drugs has been an unmitigated catastrophe for those ensnared in the War on Drugs gulag and for the nation. The state has the option of educating the citizenry about the potential dangers of drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes, and limiting the sale of these drugs to minors, but its prohibitions should be limited to the public sphere.
Yesterday, I described how the state can steal money from your bank account before informing you that the state suspects you may owe taxes, but with no actual evidence to support this suspicion. First they steal your money, and the bank deducts an additional $100 for the hard work of digitally transferring your money to the state, then they notify you of their suspicions.
If this isn’t Kafkaesque, then what is?
A limited government would be required to go through public, judicial processes to gain the authority to take money from your account. But the state doesn’t need any judicial process or review; a nameless bureaucrat (and his/her computer program) simply enters your name and bank account in a “suspicious” list and the machinery of the state steals your money and then informs you after the fact of your presumed guilt.
There’s a word to describe a state with unlimited power over the private lives, spaces, choices, behaviors, communications and accounts of its citizens: totalitarian.
Smith’s Neofeudalism Principle #1: If the citizenry cannot replace a kleptocratic authoritarian government and/or limit the power of the financial Aristocracy at the ballot box, the nation is a democracy in name only.
Is your “democracy” (or republic) actually a Totalitarian State? That is, is it a “democracy” or “republic” in name only? To find out, take this quick quiz.
1. Does your government (federal, state and local) seize citizens’ assets without due process? In other words, the rule of law is dead; the state is the law. If the answer is yes, Your “democracy” is already a Totalitarian State. The answer in the USA is a definitive “yes.”
2. Does your government impose tyranny by complexity? If so, the average citizen lacks the wealth and connections needed to fight the seizure of private property without due process or recourse.
In the USA, the answer is “yes,” the government is a tyranny by complexity.
3. Is your government essentially “for sale” to wealthy elites? If the answer is yes, Your “democracy” is already a Totalitarian State–or more accurately, a fascist Totalitarian State.
4. Does your government spy on its entire citizenry? If the answer is yes, Your “Democracy” is already a Totalitarian State. The answer in the USA is a definitive “yes.”
Well, you have your answer: the USA is already a Totalitarian State with a Ministry of Propaganda that works overtime to generate a flimsy illusion of “democracy.” Please read the following links if you seek documentation of these systemic abuses of centralized power.
Government in the USA is expropriating the private property of its citizenry without due process on a vast scale. I have provided documentation of this extraordinary reality many times over the years.
The various levels of government have a variety of “legal” (haha) means to steal your property without due process or recourse: civil forfeiture, absurdly expensive traffic fines that lead to jail sentences in the local debtors prison-gulag, forfeiture of assets, including land, should government agents find the marijuana plants they planted on your property (surprise!), the state steals your money in a bank account and notifies you after the fact that the state suspects you owe it taxes, though they have zero evidence of that claim–and on and on.
The courts place no limits on the central state’s power, for they are simply one side of the same statist coin, and so we have a totalitarian kleptocracy that in true Orwellian fashion claims it is a functioning “democracy”:
Criminalizing Poverty For Profit: Local Government’s New Debtors Prisons (October 20, 2009)
“Upholding the Law” or Simply Theft by Other Means? (October 26, 2009)
Theft By Other Means II: When the State Steals Property, Is It Not Theft? (November 10, 2009
State Over-Reach: Stripmining the Citizenry for Fun and Profit (November 13, 2009)
Death of Donald P. Scott (Wikipedia); (source):
“In October of 1992, millionaire recluse Donald Scott and his bride of two months, Frances Plante Scott, lived in a storybook wooded valley in the mountains high above Malibu, Calif. Trails End Ranch is almost completely surrounded by state and Federal park land, and the neighboring government entities had made numerous attempts to buy out Scott and annex his property.
Stymied in their attempt to buy the Scott ranch, government officials hit on an alternative plan. Contending an officer had seen “marijuana plants growing under the trees” during a drug-seeking overflight, agents from various jurisdictions gathered quietly outside the locked gate to the ranch in the morning mists of Oct. 2, 1992.
After greedily studying the maps of the 200 acres of prime land they were told they’d be able to grab under federal asset seizure laws should they find as few as 14 marijuana plants, they cut the chain on the gate with bolt-cutters and raced a mile up the dirt drive to the ranch, complete with police dogs.
Frances Scott was in the kitchen, brewing her morning coffee, when dozens of men in plainclothes and brandishing guns — no badges or warrants in evidence — came swarming in. Understandably, she screamed for her husband, still asleep upstairs.
Donald Scott, 63, came hurrying down the stairs, a handgun held over his head. The officers shouted for him to lower his weapon. He did. They shot him dead.”
Your government in action–completely legally, of course. I hope you approve.The irony of tragedies like this is that when young Americans faced similar “law enforcement” tactics in the late 1960s and early 1970s via COINTELPRO and other blatant violations of constitutional rights, we were written off as radical hippies who were a threat to something (certainly not democracy, but “something.” Like perhaps an illegal war and an out-of-control secret government?)
Now that average citizens are facing similar tactics, they might find it interesting to study the COINTELPRO campaign of the FBI and other “law enforcement” officials against the anti-Vietnam War movement three decades ago.
According to attorney Brian Glick in his book War at Home, the FBI used four main methods during COINTELPRO:
1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents.
2. Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used a myriad of other “dirty tricks” to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.
3. Harassment Through the Legal System: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, “investigative” interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters.
4. Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI conspired with local police departments to threaten dissidents; to conduct illegal break-ins in order to search dissident homes; and to commit vandalism, assaults, beatings and assassinations. The object was to frighten, or eliminate, dissidents and disrupt their movements.
I’ve published many first-hand accounts of the kleptocratic predation of the state of California. I invite you to read this carefully:
First the state steals the $1,343 and authorizes its parasitic predatory bag-“person” Wells Fargo Bank to steal another $100 for handling the state’s theft.
A week or two later the citizen is notified of the theft as a fait accompli. Now the onus is on the law-abiding citizen to attempt to reclaim his own money from a distant, all-powerful Kafkaesque state agency. How can this be legal in a nation supposedly operating under rule of law?
Let’s be very clear about what happens here in America on a daily basis:
1. The state (or other agency of government) steals citizen’s money without due process.
2. Then, in a move akin to the executioner making the condemned buy his own death bullet, the state authorizes the “too big to fail” corporate bank which received billions in taxpayer bailouts to steal $100 from the citizen for the digital theft of his money by the state.
3. If the citizen needed that money to pay rent, buy medication to stay alive, etc., tough luck, Buckwheat, the state of California has your money before they notify you of the purported tax liability and now you enter the Kafkaesque insanity of pleading for a “refund” of your own money from an agency designed to thwart transparency and the reclamation of your own money.
So if you get evicted and are living in a cardboard box and pass away due to inability to buy your meds, hey, the State of California’s political class and special interests could care less: they want your money and the rule of law doesn’t apply to them.
If you understand that a purported tax liability is one issue and due process is another far more important issue, then you understand that we now live in an totalitarian nation where “rule of law” is only invoked at the convenience of the political and financial Elites for propaganda purposes.
The state of California has three basic methods of looting law-abiding citizens:
1. The old “you didn’t pay a $25 filing fee, the fine is now $499 which we took from your bank account.” Never mind you have the cancelled check endorsed by the state, proving they received it and cashed it; the Board of Kafkaesque Authority claims “we didn’t get the check” and loots your account for the $499 (true story.)
2. “Fishing expeditions” where companies and citizens are dunned for taxes and fees they might owe, though there is no evidence they do in fact owe fees and taxes. I received many emails describing these fishing expeditions, for example, merely having a license is “evidence” that you must have unreported income.
3. Enforce all sorts of dubious claims, most importantly:
A. That anyone collecting a pension from work performed while residing in California is liable for California taxes on that pension, regardless of where they live;
B. Any income resulting from something invented in California must be reported as income in California, regardless of where the income is derived from or where the inventor now lives.
In other words, residency has no meaning. Any income remotely connected to California–for example, you had the idea while residing in the state–obligates you to pay California income tax on that idea in perpetuity.
You know the dominant emotion that the government at every level generates in law-abiding, taxpaying citizens? Fear. And for good reason.
“I received a letter last year that we owed the state of California’s Franchise Tax Board $90,000 for taxes in the year 2008. We replied to the Franchise Tax board in a similar manner as RT stating that:
— Did not reside in California in 2008
— Did not file a State income tax return in California in 2008
— Did not have any outstanding tax issues with California in 2008
— Did no business in California in 2008
— Owned no property in California in 2008
The CA Franchise Tax board responded by putting a lien on us in the state – fortunately, our banks and assets have no business in CA or I am certain our accounts would have been robbed as well.
After a great deal of uncertainty and angst, I found an accountant in CA who advised us that we needed to file a complete CA tax return for 2008 even though we did not owe any tax. We filed the return and received a response that we owed the state $625 to cover the State’s collection fees. We paid the fee and within two weeks received a “refund” check for the $625.
On reflection, we felt as if we had been “held up” by some powerful gangsters and if it had not been for an honest tax accountant we would have suffered much financial damage.”
The Dodd-Frank bill, like Obamacare, is tyranny by complexity. Consider the Glass-Steagall Act, at 37 pages in length, and the 2,319-page monstrosity of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
If you still doubt the government is the tool of elites, please read this:
The Purchase of Our Republic (by Y. Falkson) (June 5, 2014)
Centralization and sociopathology are two sides of one coin: the central state:
Centralization and Sociopathology (May 21, 2013)
At the lower levels of the kleptocracy, employees of the government enrich themselves by legalizing their own looting.
“Improving Public Safety” and Theft By Other Means (January 15, 2010)
What happens to once-legitimate governments that devolve into totalitarian kleptocracies? They lose their legitimacy (“the Mandate of Heaven”) and fall.
Smith’s Neofeudalism Principle #1: If the citizenry cannot replace a kleptocratic authoritarian government and/or limit the power of the financial Aristocracy at the ballot box, the nation is a democracy in name only.
With plans to bring some oil trading to the blockchain, will the increased transparency in an otherwise opaque, cartel controlled market loosen Saudi control over oil prices? Chris Cook believes the fact that Saudi Arabia is about to float part of Aramco suggests that they believe the oil age is over but, in the meantime, who had more unlimited funds to manipulate prices? Saudi Arabia or banks with access to the central banks’ ‘free money?’