“You’re Already Rich”

already richI got an email from my old friend Dick not too long ago – maybe the smartest guy I ever met, and I’ve known a lot of smart guys. He was coming through town and we decided to meet at our old hangout, Jay’s Bar.

Dick was from California, but he came through Chicago every now and then back in the 90s, and he often joined our cypherpunk hangout in the back room at Jay’s.

At the appointed time, I met him in front of Jay’s and we walked in together. It was still afternoon and there weren’t too many customers.

Jay was behind the bar, making sure everything was ready for the evening rush. His face lit up when he saw Dick. “Hey, mister Viking, I not see you for a long time!”

Jay always called Dick “the Viking,” which he really did resemble back then. I left Dick and Jay to talk for a few minutes and sat down at the other end of the bar and ordered a couple of drinks from Jamie, the daytime bartender.

After a couple minutes, some random guy (a business type) came up to me and said, “Hey, isn’t that the genius who used to be on the Donahue show way back when?”

“Sure is,” I said. “They found out that he knew just about everything, and so they put him on as a curiosity.”

In just a minute or two Dick walked over and the guy slid down to give Dick his stool. He talked about the TV shows for a minute, and looked like he was ready to get up and let the two of us talk (he must have seen us walk in together), but then he stopped and looked directly at Dick.

“Ya know,” he said, “you answered all those impossible science questions, which was really cool, but you never told us how to get rich.”

Dick looked the man over. “You’re already rich,” he said.

“Yeah, I wish.”

“Okay,” Dick said, “what do you make, sixty thousand a year?”

“Including my wife’s pay, almost a hundred.”

“Then you’re definitely rich.”

The guy looked some combination of angry and embarrassed. “We’re in debt up to our eyeballs! And not from buying crazy things. Between the cars, the house, schools and doctors for the kids, we’re losing money!”

Compassion didn’t always register on Dick’s face, but this time it did. And I knew him well enough to guess that this guy’s predicament got to him. He nodded his head silently for a few seconds, then swiveled slightly, hunched a bit, and spoke in a serious tone.

“You don’t understand me. You’re already rich. It’s just that you let other people take most of it away from you, before you can use it.”

The guy’s posture became soft and serious in response to Dick’s, but he didn’t get it.

“Look at it this way,” said Dick. “You get a hundred thousand per year, but your bosses also pay another seven or eight percent for social security, right?”

“Sure.”

“Okay, so you’re actually getting paid a hundred and seven thousand or so.”

“Okay.”

Dick reached into his shirt pocket for a pen and a small note pad. (Those old engineer habits die hard.) He handed them to the guy and said, “Here, make a quick list of all your expenses. Round up, ’cause you’ll probably miss a few.”

The guy said nothing, but complied. Dick and I sipped our drinks as he did. Then he handed Dick the list, which came to sixty thousand.

“You see,” said Dick, “You make enough to pay all your bills, with almost fifty thousand left over for investments or whatever. And you wouldn’t have to pay all the interest that you do either. The problem isn’t what you make – you’re already rich – the problem is what you let people take from you.”

The guy was actually appreciative, and didn’t speak for a moment, and then he said, “but the government takes all that money, what can I do about it?”

Dick turned directly at him and said, “First, stop saying that it’s okay. It isn’t. You’re rich, but they’re making you suffer at the edge of poverty. Start holding them accountable for what they do to you. Treat them like organized crime.”

With that, the guy had enough. He understood, and he truly appreciated what Dick had told him, but it was going to take him some time to digest it. He thanked us and left.

Jay came over. “So, you chase away my customer?”

“Sorry, Jay,” we both murmured like schoolboys. I said something about the other guy starting the conversation and Dick said something about just talking finance, but Jay just waived his hands at us and mixed a drink for another customer.

“Ah, I was right to put you all in the storage!” We said nothing. He was referring to the back room he used to give us. It was really a storeroom.

Then, he smiled. When it was over with, no matter how angry we had made him, Jay always smiled.

* All the stories that I set in Jay’s Bar are fictional. The characters are based on real people and the stories are often based on actual events, but the presentation is fictional.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The 2 Forces that Work Against You in a Jury Trial

juryA few years ago I received a jury summons. And while I detest the barbaric “show up or else” aspect of it, I do appreciate juries as a last ditch measure against tyranny. (In fact, years ago I spent some time with Larry Dodge, the founder of the Fully Informed Jury Association, and I’ve been a fan ever since.)

I was assigned to a slightly complicated drunk driving case, and since I have courtroom experience, the other jurors elected me Foreman. We heard the testimony in the case, which didn’t take long, and then retired to our jury room to deliberate.

Once we got going I realized, for the first time, what kind of pressures were placed on jurors. More importantly, I saw that in just an hour or two, I could have turned my jury in either direction. It wouldn’t have been hard.

I didn’t do that, of course. I oversaw the jury very loosely and was absolutely as fair as I knew how to be… without diminishing my own opinion, of course. It’s a sobering thing to decide whether a man goes free or is locked in a cage.

But, I could have turned the jury either way, and not because they were weak, stupid people (they weren’t), or because I was overbearing. Rather, I could have manipulated them because they were in a position that lent itself to manipulation.

Why Some Juries Get It Wrong

Mine was composed of ordinary working people. Even the handful of grandpa/grandma types had important things to do, like babysitting those grandkids. That placed all of us in a pressure situation, with two things bearing down on us:

1.We were missing work.

Sure, we got paid for jury duty – a whole seventeen dollars and change per day – not remotely enough to cover our lost wages. All of us were getting hurt financially.

2.We couldn’t leave until we all agreed.

Jury verdicts in the US have to be unanimous. Either you all agree, or you stay for a long time. Sure, if you remain deadlocked for a long enough time, the judge will declare a mistrial, but that could be a few days. Most of us couldn’t afford to lose a few days of work.

So, the jurors had to all agree, and quickly. The pain would keep getting worse the longer they took.

In other words, pressure was on each juror to change their opinion and go along with the rest of the group – or else we’d all have to stay, and it would be their fault.

I’m sure you’ve seen crazy jury verdicts and wondered how sane people could vote for them. This is probably why.

If you put people under this kind of pressure, then give them some kind of half-rational reason to change their minds – without making them look like cowards – they’ll go with the crowd, just so the financial pain will stop.

That’s in direct opposition to the way it was originally “supposed” to be done.

A Lesson from the Founders

In Athens, jurors were paid just a bit less than a working man’s wage. You’d probably prefer to work your regular job, but the difference wasn’t great, and a juror’s pay made a very nice extra income for a retired man. This tended to fill juries with older and cooler heads.

Also, a unanimous verdict was not required, so there was no pressure on anyone to change their minds. Especially so, since no one knew your vote unless you decided to tell them. (Compared to our version, where everyone in the room knows your vote.)

You might think that a simple majority vote might be a questionable thing when deciding something important, but these were large juries, so a 5-to-4 or 4-3 decision would never happen. The minimum size of an Athenian jury was 501. Juries as large as 1,501 were used for the most serious cases.

(As we covered in the FMP Letter #32, governments are very rich, so paying for so many jurors like this was not a problem.)

And, it’s worth adding, juries in Greece were all-powerful. Once it was decided, your ordeal was pretty well over. You’d never have a case languishing in appeals for years.

So…

No matter how much you were taught that your country’s system was the greatest thing ever, don’t you believe it.

Rules – laws – have no magic in them. They do not supply automatic justice. That’s up to us.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Why the Real Founders of Democracy Would Be Pissed if They Saw What We Did…

democracyThe word democracy is held in awe these days. Mention it almost anywhere and you’ll get instant nods of approval.

People actually believe that democracy gives us harmony and peace, not to mention wealth. They are sure that it is the ultimate and inevitable end of human development, created by the wise and noble Greeks and given to us, the enlightened society that took it to the ends of the Earth!

But if the ancient Greeks could see what we call ‘democracy,’ they would spit at it. They’d probably want to burn it down.

As many problems as they had (and they had plenty), they were not fools, and it wouldn’t take them a day to condemn what the West now worships.

Why would the old Greeks be so upset? Let’s take a look at their (Athenian) system and see how our modern form stacks up:

#1: Greek citizen assemblies met 40 times per year in an open, public forum. Any citizen could speak and any citizen could vote. A vote of those present was final.

Contrast that with what passes for (American) democracy now: Only special people are allowed to attend the assemblies. On top of that, there are far, far more meetings than anyone could hope to follow: General sessions, meetings for dozens of committees, party caucuses and more, running at all hours. No one person can come remotely close to keeping up with it all.

The citizen is clearly unable to participate or even to understand what’s going on. Just this fact would cause the “fathers of civilization” to pronounce our system a fraud, and rightly so. The citizens are non-participants.

#2: Laws were inscribed on stone pillars (stelae) and posted in prominent locations so that everyone would see them.

Greek laws were accessible to every Greek. Not only were they required to be posted, but this requirement also guaranteed that there couldn’t be too many of them.

If you were to take an ancient Greek to see “our laws,” they’d be looking at more than 80,000 pages of almost indecipherable language. (And those would be only the Federal laws.)

Because of this, the Greeks would be insulted when you assured them that we have “the rule of law.” They would say that when people can’t know the law, they are living in a tyranny, and no amount of fancy argumentation would convince them otherwise.

And, again, they would be right. If you are ignorant of the law (80,000 pages of government-speak) but are still subject to punishment under the law, you are living in a tyranny. The founders would have no confusion about that.

#3: A Council oversaw the daily affairs of the democracy. Each of ten tribes provided 50 men. But, only one tribe’s men (50 of them) served at any one time, and only for one month. (The Greeks had ten months in their year.) And once any person served as a Councilor, they were forbidden from serving again for ten years.

Under this arrangement, playing tricks became almost impossible: as soon as the first of the month came along, the next tribe could turn your tricks around and do worse to you.

Contrast this with senators and congressmen who stay in office for decades on end, selling all sorts of favors, amassing multi-million dollar campaign funds, and making themselves rich in the process. Most of them never really go away.

At this point, our philosophical forefathers would be looking for places to buy torches… and they would be ready to beat anyone who called a system that supports such shenanigans a democracy.

#4: Citizens chosen for positions like overseer of the marketplace were chosen completely at random.

Imagine choosing the boss of the IRS at random. We all know what would happen: You’d get a housewife from Portland one year and a plumber from Topeka the next. And they’d act like humans, rather than unfeeling automatons. The sanctimonious abuser state would crumble.

#5: At the beginning of their democracy, the citizens of Athens were divided into ten tribes (and NOT along regional or family lines). This was done specifically to break the power of the aristocratic families.

Have you paid attention to the DC crowd lately? Have you noticed that they never leave? Instead, they slide back and forth between congress, commissions, agencies, lobbying firms, mega-corps and media. Have you noticed how often their children marry each other?

Look at the Presidential lineup: Bush – Clinton – Bush – Obama – Clinton? – Bush?

That’s called “aristocracy.” However, people who are emotionally bound to the system can’t see it. The Greeks certainly wouldn’t be fooled.

Losing Our Religion

Do you remember a haunting song from the ’90s called “Losing My Religion“? If so, cue that up in the back of your mind, because that’s what stands in front of the people of the West.

The majestic “Democracy” that was supposed to be our savior is actually an abusive fraud. It’s time to let it go. That’s not easy, I know, but it needs to be done.

Will you take the first step?

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Blow That Killed America 100 Years Ago

1913“There is a lot of ruin in a nation,” wrote Adam Smith. His point was that it takes a long time for nations to fall, even when they’re dead on their feet. And he was certainly right.

America took its fatal blow in 1913, one hundred years ago; it just hasn’t hit the ground yet. This is a slow process, but it’s actually fast compared to the Romans. It took them several centuries to collapse.

The confusing thing about our current situation is that America – and by that I mean the noble America that so many of us grew up believing was real – has long been poisoned. Its liver, kidneys, and spleen have all stopped functioning. Its heart beats slowly and irregularly. But it still stands on its feet and presents itself as alive to all those who would let their eyes fool them.

And I’m not without sympathy for those who want to believe. They find themselves in a world where politics is almighty, and where their comfort, prosperity, and perhaps their survival all hang in a delicate balance. They don’t want to upset anything, and questioning the bosses is a good way to get yelled at.

But just because someone wants to believe doesn’t make it so. We are not children and we are not powerless. We Producers should never be intimidated by those who live at our expense. So let’s start looking at the facts.

1913: The Horrible Year

For all the problems America had prior to 1913 (including the unnecessary and horrifying Civil War), nothing spelled the death of the nation like the horrors of 1913.

Here are the key dates:

February 3rd:

The 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, authorizing the Federal government to impose income taxes on individuals. An amendment to a tariff act in 1894 had attempted to do this, but since it was clearly unconstitutional, the Supreme Court struck it down. As a result – and mostly under the banner of bleeding the rich – the 16th amendment was promoted and passed.

As a result, the Revenue Act of 1913 was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in October. Income taxes began in 1914, with the government swearing (as in, “only a crazy person would say otherwise!”) that the rate would never, ever go higher than one or two percent.

And, by the way, the amendment was introduced by Senator Aldrich of Rhode Island, to whom we’ll come again shortly.

April 8th:

The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, taking the powers of the states and transferring them to Washington, by mandating the popular election of senators.

Previously, senators were appointed by state legislatures, restraining the power of the national government. This change gave political parties immediate and massive power, nearly all of which was consolidated in the city of Washington.

The amendment was ratified in the name of restraining the rich and making government into a force for good. It was true that state governments were often corrupt, but the implied idea that Washington was pristine was and remains a bad joke. A structure featuring small, separate pockets of corruption is far less dangerous than one featuring a single, large seat of corruption, to which oceans of money are gathered. As Thomas Jefferson wrote:

It is not by the consolidation or concentration of powers, but by their distribution that good government is effected.

December 23rd:

Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act, which had passed Congress just the previous day. This system – called the Aldrich Plan, and promoted by Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island – gave a monopoly on the creation of dollars to a consortium of large banks.

The Act was passed, by the way, in the name of financial stability.

And Senator Aldrich? Wikipedia says this about him:

He… dominated all tariff and monetary policies in the first decade of the 20th century… Aldrich helped to create an extensive system of tariffs that protected American factories and farms from foreign competition, while driving the price of consumer goods artificially high… Aldrich became wealthy with insider investments in streets, railroads, sugar, rubber and banking… His daughter, Abby, married John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the only son of John D. Rockefeller.

I’ll leave you to connect the dots on Aldrich, his family, the Rockefeller banking empire (Chase Manhattan and others), high political offices (such as Governor and Vice President Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller) and so on.

The Combination

Here is why I say that these three changes of 1913 killed America:

They robbed every producer in America of their money and handed it to politicians.

Until 1913, ordinary people kept their money. Carpenters, grocers, and repair men were able to make business loans and to retire on stock dividends. Once the income tax came in, however, politicians were empowered to skim off more and more of their money, which is precisely what happened. While the modern skim is multi-faceted, the average producer is now stripped of half his or her earnings every year, leaving politicians to spend it.

They consolidated all power in Washington DC.

This is precisely what James Madison wished to avoid when writing the US Constitution. (Again, note the Jefferson quote above.) By depriving the states of their remaining power, the City of Washington had no opposition. Since then, the Washington government has taken over practically everything on the continent and is choking it to death… a lot like the city and empire of Rome before it.

They created a money empire that took over almost everything.

When you start talking about the immense power of central banking, people generally turn away from it, because it’s just too much to take. So, let me say it this way:

How much money could you make, if you knew precisely when interest rates would go up or down?

A lot, right? Well, that’s exactly the power that these bankers have – because they’re the ones who set the rates.

Then, with that money, and with that foreknowledge, how many politicians could you pay off? How many pieces of legislation could you buy? Through all the financial problems of the past few years, which is the one group that has been protected at every step? Ever wonder why?

I could add more, but I think my point is made. America, as we grew up thinking of it, is dead. Whether the carcass hits the ground in days or decades is almost irrelevant; it’s over.

The question that remains is what we’ll do about it.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Fascist’s Guide to Business Success

business successI was downtown last Thursday and ended up with an hour to kill before my train home, so I went down the station’s back stairs and around the corner to Jay’s Bar. It was almost six o’clock, so the crowd was a mix of corporate suits buying expensive vodka, tradesmen enjoying decent beer, and jobless neighborhood guys drinking cheap beer. I ordered something inoffensive and watched to see if any of my old Cypherpunk pals would show up.

But instead, my oldest nemesis showed up, whom I’ll call Jerry. I went to school with Jerry, and whatever I did, he was always desperate to do better. The crazy thing was that we were almost the same guy: We played the same positions in sports; we were both crossing guards; and we were equally skilled at almost everything we did. We should have been buddies, but instead, Jerry was my permanent opponent. I never hated him and he never really hated me, but whatever I did, he had to do better.

I hadn’t run into Jerry in ten years, and the last time I saw him, he was trading coffee futures. We greeted each other; then, he sat down and ordered a better drink than mine. He asked what I was doing lately. I did not mention that I was writing – this job is strange enough without Jerry turning it into a win-lose game. Instead, I said that I was managing a few companies.

“Are they big companies?” he asked.

“Nah, they’re small start-ups.”

He got a disgusted look on his face, and I knew immediately what it was – he was disappointed that beating me wasn’t going to be a challenge.

“That’s for suckers, Paul. You’re smart enough to know that!” He was legitimately disappointed.

“It isn’t just about money, Jerry.”

He looked double-disgusted. And then he looked sympathetic. He was actually sorry that I had lost my edge, and wanted to help me get it back.

“Look, Paul, all that ‘how to get ahead’ stuff we used to read is ancient history. That world ended in 1980. If you want to get ahead now, you have to play the new game.”

I knew what he meant; the old ideal of “work hard, follow the rules, and prosper” is indeed dead. But I said nothing and waited for him to continue.

“You can’t outsmart people anymore; information gets around too fast. They’ll copy what you’re doing in a week. If you want to make real money, you have to have an advantage that will last. And that means you have to get some kind of law or regulation. Then you can rake it in.”

At this point I couldn’t help myself. “I don’t want to whore myself out to politicians, Jerry.” And again he got the disgusted look.

“It’s not whoring, Paul, it’s business. This is how it is now. And the politicians are always looking for smart guys who know how to make money. They’ll be thrilled to write regulations for you! You just have to tell them how, and then take care of them. They’re business expenses, Paul, nothing more!”

At this point I needed to change the subject, at least a little.

“So, is that what you’ve been doing lately?”

“Yes. I work deals between boards of directors and government officials, mostly between New York and DC. I put the deals together and get a piece of the action. I have four homes now Paul, and a fifty four foot boat. And you know what else? I’ve got a dozen ‘get out of jail free cards.’ This is the perfect game for a smart guy, Paul. You need to get busy playing it!”

In his own, thoroughly amoral way, Jerry was looking out for me.

“But what about the people who get screwed on this stuff, Jerry? All those regulations force people to buy things they don’t want.”

“C’mon, Paul, you’re fantasizing that they’re moral, like you. They want laws and regulations. They beg for them! They need politicians to order them around, and they need someone to blame. Otherwise, things might be their own fault.

“The extra money they pay is just a service fee. They want to be ordered around, and they pay the price without complaining. When was the last time you saw someone disobey a government?”

“Not in a while.”

“Right, because they don’t actually mind paying. We’re giving the average schmuck exactly what he wants: orders to follow and someone to blame. And we get paid a lot of money for it.”

Then Jerry looked at his watch and tossed a twenty on the bar.

“Look, I hafta go, but think about what I told you, Paul. You should be doing better.”

And with that, Jerry walked away, probably for another ten years… though more would probably be better. But as unpleasant as the conversation was, he was right. The current situation is that way.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a better argument for an alternative economy.

Paul Rosenberg
www.FreemansPerspective.com

The Beauty and Dignity of the Productive Class

dignityAt one time I lived very close to the Field Museum of Chicago; I had a membership and spent a good deal of time there. One evening, about ten minutes before closing, I noticed that workmen had begun preparing the first floor for an evening event. I had a panoramic view from where I stood at the second floor balcony, and what I saw has stuck with me ever since.

What I saw was a lone man setting up tables and chairs – simple work, the kind that any teenager could do. But what I watched this man do was every bit as beautiful as dance. He moved with integrity, with precision, and with intent. He carefully spaced the tables in a precise geometry, he moved every chair with efficiency. This was more than just work; it was also art. This man knew that he was doing his job well, and, perhaps most importantly, he enjoyed doing it well.

I was transfixed by it all, and I stood there until the guards asked me to leave. And even then, I moved very slowly until I lost sight of him.

There is real beauty in doing a job well, even a simple job. It is our great loss that this form of beauty is never mentioned in public these days – double-sad, because at one time, such beauty was acknowledged.

This brings us to an obvious question: What happened? How did we lose the beauty and dignity of work? I’ll answer that in a moment, but first I want to explain what I mean by “the productive class.”

What Is the Productive Class?

The productive class includes all those people who are engaged in improving life upon Earth: The people who build and repair our cars, our houses, and our computers. The people who provide us with air conditioning, electricity, plumbing, and food. The people who make, clean, and repair our clothing. The people who treat our sicknesses and wounds.

If you can drive around town and point out places where you repaired things, or delivered things, or fed people, or made human life better in any of a thousand ways, you are a producer.

If you survive and persist at the expense of others, on the other hand, you are not a producer.

But if you are a producer, there is an inherent dignity in what you do. You are actively making the world better. You are directly creating benefit for yourself and for other human beings. What you do every day is morally virtuous and worthy of respect. And you should never let anyone tell you otherwise.

And, it’s worth pointing out: Money is not a measure of your worth. In a perfect world, that might be true, but this isn’t a perfect world. In our time, morality and money don’t always travel together.

Money is certainly useful, and getting it should matter to you, but merely having money is no measure of your dignity or your value as a producer. Actively improving the world, however – producing – is a proper measure of dignity.

What Happened?

So, how were the beauty and dignity of work ruined?

The short answer: They were killed by hierarchy and status. I’ll explain briefly:

Humans have been carefully taught to accept, respect, and respond to hierarchy for thousands of years. As a result, we respond emotionally to images of kings, ‘great leaders,’ and so on. But it was the industrial era that finally did in the respect for work. After all, this was a time when millions of people accepted deathly boring jobs simply for better pay. The meaning of their work became a paycheck and nothing more.

And in the industrial setting, there was one clear marker of status: the position of ordering other people around.

The bosses got status and the workers got checks, and both lost meaning and satisfaction from their work. The assumption that was planted in us over the industrial era was this:

Only people who order others around matter. Everyone else should feel shame in their presence.

This, of course, played perfectly into the hands of politicians. This can be seen in the plague of “great leaders” and world wars that erupted at the height of the industrial era, in the first half of the 20th century.

In any event, status is gorilla-level garbage; what matters is what you are, not which position you hold within some kind of hierarchy. By believing in hierarchy and status, we lost the satisfaction of work.

What, Really, Is Work?

It’s important to look at things directly; to focus and see them for what they really are, not just by what other people say about them.

This is what I see when I focus on work itself:

Productive work is the insertion of creativity into the world. It is the birthing of benefit into the world. People who do this should be deeply satisfied by what they do.

Compared to productive work, status is merely ornamental puffery, a shiny coat with the word “Important” emblazoned upon it, and worn by a sad little man.

If you are a member of the productive class, you should re-arrange your mind and stop responding to the demands of hierarchy and status. Instead, pay attention to things that really improve human life in the world.

Creating things, improving things, or making it possible for other people to create… these are noble, beautiful, and important things. We should gain a deep and enduring satisfaction from doing them.

And, indeed, when we put our minds and efforts to it, that’s exactly what we will gain.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

How to Fix Detroit in 6 Easy Steps

detroit
Abandoned automobile factory in Detroit.

The news is full of stories of Detroit, and understandably so. It’s an unmitigated disaster. But I know how to fix it.

Seriously, I do!

I have a plan that would cost the state of Michigan nothing – not a cent. It wouldn’t cost DC anything either, and it would turn Detroit into the most thriving city in North America. As a bonus, it would give the remaining property owners in Detroit a financial windfall.

Here’s the plan:

  • The federal government (in writing) forbears taxes, regulations, laws, and impositions for a hundred years to the area of the current municipality of Detroit and to all persons and commercial entities resident there.
  • The government of the state of Michigan forbears taxes, regulations, laws, and impositions for a hundred years to the area of the current municipality of Detroit and to all persons and commercial entities resident there.
  • All municipal government agencies within Detroit are disbanded.
  • All state and federal offices within the city of Detroit are disbanded.
  • The federal government guarantees that entry and exit to/from Detroit will remain unchanged from the current conditions, and that no obligations will be placed upon residents of Detroit in any other place.
  • Federal and state governments immediately cease all payments to residents of Detroit. (They may resume payment to those persons if and when they are no longer resident in Detroit.)

The final legal document would be more complex than this, but those are all  the main points necessary.

What this plan does is to return Detroit to its natural state – to the way it was managed when the first settlers arrived. (In other words, not managed at all.)

And think of the money that will be saved by Michigan and the feds. Billions per year.

And Then…

And then we have a free for all… and a good one. Think of Hong Kong, but easy to get to.

Businesses would begin to relocate the next morning. Hundreds of them, thousands of them. The people who still owned and lived in their homes would be offered lots of money for their properties.

Libertarians and conservatives, disgusted by the gang in DC, would load up and drive to Detroit. Productive former residents would return. Thousands of opportunity-seekers, anarcho-capitalists, and pot-smoking hippies would be gathering their money and buying property.

Detroit would, within only a few years, become the coolest city on the planet – by FAR.

But, But…

“But there won’t be any police!”

“There won’t be any courts!”

“It will be non-stop murder, death, and mayhem!”

You wanna bet? Do ya? (And you don’t think Detroit has non-stop mayhem already?)

The people who come to Detroit would be coming to escape from their chains and to be productive. These are precisely the kinds of people who clean up a town. And with no taxes to pay for a hundred years, they’d have plenty of extra money to spend on whatever services (security or otherwise) that they wanted.

The Truth

The truth, of course, is that the state and fed guvs will never agree to a plan like this one, for a single reason:

Because they fear it would succeed.

They’ll let every last person in Detroit rot before they’ll let a group of producers live free of their chains.

Detroit returned to its natural state would expose the great lie of the government game – that we can’t survive without them.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Featured image courtesy of Albert duce, wikipedia.org

Thomas Jefferson: “We Failed”

Thomas Jefferson failedThomas Jefferson – one of my long-time heroes – was convinced that he and his friends blew the chance they had to establish true freedom in America. I know that a hundred thousand self-praising textbooks, speeches, pundits and songs claim that Jefferson and the rest established freedom, but that’s NOT what Jefferson thought, and that is NOT what he said. (You can choose whom to believe for yourself.)

Nearly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence, he was of the opinion that the founders did not fully live up to the moment presented to them.

Here is a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Cartwright on June 5th, 1824. Jefferson’s words are in plain text and my modern paraphrasing of the lines are in italics:

Our Revolution presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position.

The Revolution gave us a shot at real liberty, but we blew it.

We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had little entered into our former education. We established, however, some (but not all) of its important principles…

We weren’t prepared for what we had to do.

We think experience has proved the benefit of subjecting questions to two separate bodies of deliberants. But in constituting these bodies, [we have] been mistaken, making one of these bodies, and in some cases both, the representatives of property instead of persons.

We thought our legislative structure would protect us, but they were bought-off right away.

This double deliberation might be obtained just as well without any violation of true principle, either by requiring a greater age in one of the bodies, or by electing a proper number of representatives of persons, or by dividing them by lots into two chambers, and renewing the division at frequent intervals, in order to break up all cabals.

What we really needed was something that would break up parties and factions.

George Washington said almost the same thing about parties, by the way. Here is a section from his Farewell Address of September 17, 1796, with my paraphrasing again:

All combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character…are of a fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give them an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party.

All political groups are fatally dangerous. They gain inappropriate force and displace the will of the people.

A small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

Small groups of clever and dedicated men will corrupt the actions of government, making it serve their own ends.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then address popular ends, they are likely to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to usurp for themselves the reins of government.

No matter if these groups do some good things, they will still take over government.

I think history says that Washington was right; parties did destroy the public good, and continue to do so.

And here’s what Samuel Adams thought about the citizens allowing small groups of men (like parties) to choose candidates for them:

I hope the great Business of Elections will never be left by the many, to be done by the few; for before we are aware of it, that few may become the Engine of Corruption–the Tool of a Junta.–Heaven forbid!

And to confirm the corruption of Congress that Thomas Jefferson mentioned, here is a letter that Samuel Adams wrote to his friend Richard Henry Lee on January 15th, 1781:

Is there not Reason to think that even those who are opposed to our Cause may steal into Places of the highest Trust? I need not remind you that Men of this Character have had Seats in Congress from the beginning.

And just to add one more voice, here is what Benjamin Franklin said to the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787:

I believe, farther, that this [constitution] is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.

There is more that could be said on this subject, but it is almost superfluous. What matters is that we get the primary point:

The best of the American Founders were fully convinced
that their shot at freedom would fail or had failed.

So, what does this say about all those fancy speeches and songs about “the land of the free“?

And if we don’t have freedom, what is it that we do have?

Paul Rosenberg
Thomas Jefferson: “We Failed”
FreemansPerspective.com

Bitcoin Should Get Ready For an Attack

bitcoinBitcoin – poorly understood and frequently talked about ignorantly – is a wonderful new financial tool… and a very timely one. But because of its virtues, it is about to be attacked.

But before I explain how, why, and my recommended responses, let me get everyone up to speed on what this stuff really is:

  • Bitcoin is digital cash. You do not get an account, you get a wallet. Holding Bitcoin on a computer is the same as holding government money in your wallet.
  • Bitcoin is distributed. There is no central office and no central computer… anywhere.
  • Bitcoin can’t be printed up, like national currencies. It has to be ‘mined’, and this requires special computers, lots of calculations, electricity and a bit of luck. It’s neither free nor easy.
  • Bitcoin is limited. Only 21 million of these things can ever exist, and they can only be mined on a very specific schedule. (About 11 million exist now.)
  • Bitcoin can’t be changed. Bitcoin is a specific computer program and cannot be changed by any single party. It is a specific set of rules cast into a computer program, and since that program is open source, it can be checked by anyone to assure that there are no secret back doors.
  • Bitcoin is pseudonymous. Every transaction is recorded, but real names are not. While it is not properly anonymous, it can be used anonymously if you do simple things like never using the same address twice. (There are even ‘laundries’.)
  • Bitcoins are oblivious to borders, laws or rules. This is simply computer code – nothing else matters.

Why The Fiat Masters Must Attack Bitcoin

I say that Bitcoin will be attacked for the simple reason that it is the anti-fiat currency… and a lot of very powerful people have their entire kingdoms built upon fiat currency and its central banking game.

It is actually very similar to gold and silver in its overall effect: If Bitcoin, or gold, or silver – or any combination thereof – ever became dominant, no one could play games with the world’s money and skim from millions of people at once… or run welfare states in defiance of economic reality.

The bankers do not want to lose their positions, and if they let this alternative currency take over, they will. So, they will have to attack. In fact, I am sure as I can be that they are doing it already.

I should add that there are socialist types who love this development because it could destroy the greedy bankers, but I don’t expect them to deter the attacks to any significant extent.

The Attacks

It is important to understand that the system is not invulnerable. It’s certainly not easy to attack (like a Cyprus bank account), but attacks both small and large are possible.

I’m not going to describe large attacks, as I don’t want to give anyone ideas. You can either believe me that they are possible, or not. These big attacks, however, would not be easy, and would have side-effects. So, I don’t expect to see them first. First, Bitcoin’s enemies have to win the PR war.

There was a great line in the movie Gladiator that applies right now:

You have a great name. Before they destroy you, they will have to destroy your name.

I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Bitcoin has a great name among the general populace, but it certainly does among the best and brightest of the younger generations. And this great name is spreading rapidly in places like Cyprus, and among people who fear a Cyprus-style mass theft coming to their area.

Gold and silver are the traditional ways of avoiding predation, but trying to cross a national border with precious metals these days is to invite theft and punishment. (This was not much of a problem before the 20th century.) Bitcoin, on the other hand, can be moved world-wide, instantly, from the comfort of your chair.

So, the first attacks will be combined with a PR war. The point will be to scare people away. “You’ll get ripped-off!” will be their emphatic meme.

Do not underestimate fear, by the way: Humans are hard-wired to over-respond to it. Fear works, which is why power-mongers always use it. And these people also own, influence or control the broadcasting systems that consume nearly all of the Western world’s attention.

So, the first attacks will be those that we are already seeing: Malicious hackers breaking into whatever clustered systems they can and stealing. (Or running Distributed Denial of Service [DDoS] attacks.) They are attacking exchangers, wallet hosting services, and so on – anything largish that can be hit. They are already publicizing these attacks, but I expect more and better.

The coming attacks will be publicized rapidly – with stories and releases prepared ahead of time – and will paint the worst possible picture. Afterwards it will be seen that the first loss estimates were wildly high, but that won’t matter to the people who see the headlines on the evening news. Joe and Jane Obedient will believe the worst.

This is all manipulation, obviously, since people are being ripped-off in government money, on gigantic scales: millions of thefts at once. Heck, every productive person in the West has about half their earnings taken from them every year in the form of taxes, not to mention the 5-10% they lose every year in the form of inflation. To compare these things to a few stolen wallets is a sick joke. But, such is the state of the West at this sad moment: The large abusers are sanctified and the innovators are demonized.

What to Do About It

Here’s my list:

  1. Be prepared. Don’t let it shake you. Don’t compromise your beliefs.
  2. Tell others to prepare. Tell people to expect attacks and a PR war. Tell them to upgrade their security and to be personally ready. Bitcoin will be called all sorts of things: A Ponzi, a fraud, a tool for terrorists, a threat to civilization, and so on. It’s not fun to have those accusations hurled in your face, so expect it and get ready for it.
  3. Prepare for the worst. At some point we may need an alternative to the government-owned Internet. Setting up our own systems will not be hard or expensive, but it will require action on our parts. Learn about mesh networks (PDF) and packet radio. Those who can code should think about writing new high-latency protocols, or reviving old ones like FidoNet.
  4. Do not rely on Internet exchangers. We should all be grateful to Bitcoin Exchange Mt. Gox and the others, but they are vulnerable and will soon enough be compromised or shut. The future lies with over the counter (OTC) exchangers.
  5. Keep having fun! Bitcoin has been a gas – don’t let go of that. Adapt, improvise, overcome! Yes, there will be more bad days from here on, but don’t let them steal your joy for any length of time. Hold to the good, reject the fear. Do what resonates within you; do what makes you feel good and creative and productive.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Death by Government 20x More Common than Death by Criminal…

Death by Government 20x More Common than Death by Criminal - Freeman's PerspectiveBefore I shock you with disturbing “Death by Government” facts, let me ask you a question: How important is reality to you? That’s a strange question, I know, but think about it for a second. If reality makes you uncomfortable, what should you do?

Should you ignore it? Should you face it anyway? Should you find reasons to get rid of it? Should you attack the person who showed it to you?

You will find nothing in this article about amendments, laws and judges. What you will find here is a fact that has been passed-over by the entire gun control argument.

Here it is; it’s really simple, so think about it for a few seconds:

The anti-gun arguments presume that the state is morally superior to individuals.

Even though they seldom say it explicitly, the gun control proponents believe that average people are too violent and erratic to hold guns. They want the government – the state – to take our guns away  because only the state is responsible enough to handle serious weapons.

There is, however, a gigantic problem with this: States are far more dangerous than individuals.

20x more dangerous…

That’s a demonstrable fact, by the way, not merely an opinion. I ran the numbers, and it isn’t even close.

According to the UN’s statistics, total number homicides in which guns were involved in 2010 (or the most recent year reported) were 93,414.

I am as sure as I can be that those numbers are juiced – I have too much experience with the UN (another set of stories, for another day) to think that they left their agendas outside as they crunched these numbers – and I am going to ignore the inclusion of thousands of deaths in Mexico and other places that should be attributed to the US War on Drugs. I’ll accept the numbers as they are.

So, let’s say that guns are legitimately and primarily involved in all of these 93,414 cases. Maybe you think that’s a pretty bad argument for the moral superiority of individuals. But if so, take a deep breath and gather your moral courage. You ready?

The death rate for states is more than 20 times as high.

This figure has been well-documented, by the way. If you want to check it, start with political scientist R.J. Rummel’s Book, Death By Government.  (The actual figure may be higher than 200 million.)

So, 93,414 x 100 = 9,341,400 people killed with guns over a century. That’s a bad number, but it’s less than 1/20th of the 200 million who were killed by governments.

Not possible, you say? Sorry, your beliefs are clashing with reality, and your devotion to reality is at risk.

Also, the 200 million deaths attributable to governments were over the course of the entire 20th century, when the average population was far less than what it is now. Population-adjusted, states are probably at least 30 times more deadly than individuals.

If you think I’m misstating this, run the numbers yourself! The fact is…

Death by government is far more likely than dying during a criminal attack

You know this from your personal experience too:

How many fistfights have you seen among the 200 people who live closest to you in the past couple of years? Maybe one? Maybe none?

Among the 200 or so states in this world, there have been at least 30 fights over the same time.

The numbers say that states fight much, much more frequently than do individuals. And they certainly kill far more people when they do fight.

By any objective standard, states have to be considered far more aggressive and violent than individuals. So, who is it that should be really holding the weapons?

The usual argument to the contrary, by the way, goes like this:

GuvBoy: Okay, maybe lots of people were killed by governments, but there were different leaders then!
Freethinkin’Boy: And the morals of politicians have improved? Have their operations substantially changed? They still have the same capital city, right? And they still have a small group of men gathering up all the taxes and ordering everyone else around, right?
GuvBoy: Yeah, but now we have modern, enlightened democracies!
Freethinkin’Boy: I see… please tell me this: Precisely how and when did they become enlightened?
GuvBoy: <Silence>

Such arguments, of course, actually have to do with people being irrationally devoted to governments and too afraid to consider otherwise.

The fact is, most people don’t want to hear that the powers in charge are violent – no matter how well documented death by government really is. If reality were ever to matter, it would be the flawed individuals who got the guns, not the mega-flawed states.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com