Money Issues in the US: Why Can’t We Party Like It’s 1905?

money issues in the USWhen writing historical things, I try to include perspective from people who actually lived through the events. And for money issues in the US, I’m able to do that back to about 1905.

So, do you think life was nasty, brutish, and short in 1905? That there were poor and starving people falling dead on every street corner?

Hardly.

The Wright brothers were flying for 30 minutes at a crack; Einstein was upgrading the laws of physics; telephones and electric lights were being installed all across America; Henry Ford was getting the final pieces in place for his moving assembly line and Model T; radio was being developed; art was flourishing; and the world was more or less at peace.

Sure, we have far more tech and better medicine now, but mostly because the people of earlier times (like the 1905 era) gifted it to us.

People in 1905 lived in heated homes, refrigerated their food, had access to professional physicians, traveled the world (mostly on trains and ships), read daily newspapers (there were many more of them in those days), watched movies, and ate just about the same foods we eat.

So, was it really that bad a time?

No, it wasn’t. In fact, it was better in important ways.

Money Issues in the US: The Facts Don’t Lie

Consider this:

The working person of 1905 kept his or her money. They ended up saving somewhere between a quarter and a half of everything they made – after living expenses.

It’s hard to be completely precise when reconstructing the budgets of average people in 1905 (records are hard to find), but we do have enough for a good, close guess.

Here’s how finance worked for a working family man of 1905:

Annual income:           $700.00
Annual expenses:      ($350.00)
Annual savings:           $350.00

If you’re thinking that I’m taking liberties with these numbers, let me assure you that I’m not – I’m being conservative. For example:

  • The income figure should probably be higher. I’ve found figures of well over $800 for construction workers.
  • As for expenses, I rounded up from a New York Times article, dated 29 September, 1907. It specified $325 per year.
  • Added to that is the fact that many people grew their own food during that time, which would skew the figures further.
  • As noted initially, I compared these numbers with stories I heard from relatives who lived through the time. My uncle Dave, for example, used to tell me how he got a job paying $390 per year sweeping floors as an unskilled immigrant (who spoke almost no English) in 1903.

The next time you drive through an old part of town and see the grand old houses, remember that people were able to build and buy them because their paychecks weren’t stripped bare. There were no income taxes in 1905, no sales taxes, no state taxes, and not much in the way of property taxes.

There was also no such thing as a military-industrial complex in those days, and – miracle of miracles – the rest of the world survived!

And Now…

Today, the situation is much, much different. The average working family pays about half their income in combined taxes: income taxes (to the state and the Feds), payroll taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, utility bill taxes, sales tax, local taxes, and on and on.

So, figuring an average income of just over $50,000 (the 2011 figure). And combined taxes of about $25,000, the average American family is left to pay bills like these:

Mortgage                     11,000
Car payments              6,000
Gas, repairs, etc.         2,500
Property taxes             2,500
Food                              3,000
Total                          $25,000

That leaves people zeroed-out. And again, I’m being conservative, and I haven’t included a number of smaller expenses.

And if you think I’m going overboard, look at this graph of the savings rate from between 1947 (as far back as I could find) and 2009. This graph covers more than families, but it paints a clear enough picture:

money issues in the US

Great Grandpa Did It, So Why Not Us?

Your great grandfathers faced very few of the taxes that we face. (The government survived on tariffs.) There was no social security either, and – believe it or not – the streets were never full of starving old people. Families were able to take care of their own – it’s not that hard when you’re saving half of your income!

We have forgotten that it was once possible for an average person to accumulate money. The truth is that productive people should be comfortable. Well-off, as they used to say.

So, why can’t we party like it’s 1905?

You might want to think about that question. Here’s a thought that may be useful:

You can complain about abusers all you like, but the people who obey the abusers are also to blame.

Paul Rosenberg
“Money Issues in the US: Why Can’t We Party Like It’s 1905?”
FreemansPerspective.com

Liberty And Art: How And Why Libertarians Have Failed

liberty artAs I have noted in my “Failure of the Libertarian Movement article,” libertarians have generally limited their activities to marginally useful areas like politics and economics but have seldom used them to illuminate and free the human spirit. Liberty is ideal for freeing the human spirit, but we really haven’t used it very well.

In fairness to the economic and political folks (and I’d have to include myself as one of the guilty), a lot of analytic ability was required to push through the thick web of statism that we grew up with in the 50s and 60s. Often, highly analytical people were the only ones who could push through it all without serious emotional damage. As a result, most of the early libertarians were moved, by both their skills and the situations they faced, into economics and politics.

But regardless of libertarianism’s unique past, politics and economics are not rich fields – they certainly matter, but they leave huge sections of the human experience unaddressed.

Music, on the other hand, is a much richer field, as are painting, sculpture, and a dozen other artistic endeavors.

Doing Art, Not Politics

There have been a few libertarians pursuing art (God bless them), but they have often felt a need to use the early libertarian model of political and economic analysis as fodder for their art. The results were not as good as they could have been.

Let me be clear about this: Mixing politics with art demeans the art. Actually politics plus art more or less equals propaganda. And it is not beautiful.

Mixing philosophy and art can be done, but it can’t be preachy, doctrinal philosophy. It needs to be immediate and real – the fruit of life lessons that you personally experienced – not someone else’s ready-made doctrine.

Art has to be fresh and exciting: authentic, soul-birthed emanations of light and love and passion. It can be wise passion, even intelligent passion, but it may NOT be formulaic or analytical.

There is nothing wrong with analysis, but it is not soul-breathed like good art. As much as I love passages from Rand, Rothbard, and Mises, they cannot be simply set to music and expected to take on a life-giving beauty.

Politics is external and economics is external; art is primarily about internal experiences and visions. Art is not at all mechanical; it is organic.

The Fields Are White for Harvest

The truth is that we libertarians hold the answer to the world’s problems in our hands, but we’ve never spread it beyond a few small and contained areas. There are vast areas lying open before us, and it is time for us to go out into them.

Liberty is the great handmaid of life and beauty on the earth. It is the great catalyst of new visions, the key that unlocks the barriers between people and their impossible dreams. Liberty empowers the life-force inside a billion individuals, and when touched by it they find new ways to release hidden talents, to remember lost epiphanies, and to reanimate their crushed spirits.

I am not trying to be poetic here – I am trying to describe the real situation that sits in front of us.

Let me say this again, in a slightly different way:

Liberty is really about life. The purpose of liberty is to allow human life to flourish. And it is art that reaches inside of people and touches the frustrated life inside of them, that draws it out of them and makes them believe that it can thrive in the world. Economics and politics, however necessary they may be, cannot do this.

What Now?

Here’s the great thing about art: There is – and can be – no plan.

Art is an expression of life. It must be planted and nourished separately in each of us. It grows differently in each of us, and it emerges differently from each of us and thus enters the world. We are each a unique womb of sorts, in which our art grows and matures.

It is our job as artists to take in the best seeds, to nourish them as best we can, and to be as purely honest with what we produce as possible.

When we create, we should not be focused on external things like approval, style or reward. (Though we must seriously develop our skills; they are essential to expression, after all.)

To create great art, we must focus on the thing itself: this new expression that is growing inside of us, the people we will give it to, and most of all, the unique nature of what we are producing.

Life improves every living thing it touches, and our job as artists is to birth these emanations of life into the world and to love the people we hope it will reach.

Each creation of yours will have its own nature and should be used in its own way, not according to anyone’s expectations. Plant and nourish the best seeds you can find, but let each thing that grows inside of you choose its own direction and nature.

But, most of all, go out and create. Don’t wait. Start small if you must, develop your skills at whatever pace you can, but do NOT sit still and wait for some magic day when “it happens.” Make passable art at first if you must start there, because passable art has a way of developing into good art, and that often becomes great art. But it will never develop at all until you are in motion.

And by all means, cooperate with other artists. Learn from them, teach them, collaborate. Think of this as cross-pollination: We are all unique, and we can pass those unique characteristics from one to another, and all benefit from the experience. To borrow a phrase from my economic training: Creation is positive sum game.

Creating art can be hard, frustrating and even disappointing. But if you give honest expressions to the things that really matter to you, to the things that mature within you, the effort will enrich you for life, and many others with you.

I wish you all the best.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Collapse of Capitalism: The 9 Plagues

collapse of capitalismLet me be blunt: The collapse of capitalism is approaching.

Or, perhaps better said: Our marginally capitalist, partly-free market systems are approaching a massive collapse.

Not because of what capitalism is, mind you, but because the powers that be have bastardized it.

Capitalism can bear many distortions and abuses, but it is not indestructible.

And, make no mistake, the ‘capitalist’ system we have today has been massively corrupted, so much so that it’s sagging under the load… and will continue to do so until the proverbial straw breaks its back.

Collapse of Capitalism: The 9 Plagues

  1. The average producer is being stripped bare. In the US, for example, the total take of taxes has not risen dramatically, but fewer and fewer people actually pay them. There was a big uproar during the last election cycle over the fact that 47% of working-aged Americans paid no income tax. That means that the half who do work (read suckers) are paying the whole. And more than that, they are also paying for the many millions who are on food stamps and disability. Producers are being punished and abused, made into chumps.
  2. Thrift is essentially impossible. I’ve explained this in detail previously, but a hundred years ago, it was possible for an average person to accumulate money. Mechanics, carpenters, and shop owners slowly filled their bank accounts with gold and silver. It was common for them to make business loans and to retire comfortably. But now, all of our surplus is drained away to capital cities, where it is poured down the drains of welfare, warfare, and political lunacy. Money has been removed from the hands that made it, and moved into the hands of non-producers, liars, and destroyers.
  3. In 2008, US federal government regulations cost an estimated $1.75 trillion, an amount equal to 14 percent of US national income. Let me restate: Simply complying with regulations costs American businesses more than $1,750,000,000,000 (that’s $1.75 Trillion) every year. This, again, is money taken out of production and wasted on political lunacy.
  4. Small businesses are being squeezed out. Take a look at the two graphs below, and understand that as small businesses are squeezed out, only the large corporations remain. These days, only the largest and best-connected entities are able to get their concerns dealt with (by the politicians they fund). Small operations are cut off from the redress of their grievances and are crushed by taxes and regulation. And don’t forget the comments of Mussolini:

    Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.

    While there may be no dictator, state/corporate partnerships are taking over commerce in the West.

    The Collapse of Capitalism
    The Collapse of Capitalism

  5. The military industrial complex is out of control. Their lobbying, fear-mongering, and spending can only be characterized as obscene. Dwight Eisenhower was right when he warned us about this in 1960. It is sad beyond measure that so few Americans took him seriously. Trillions of dollars and millions of productive lives are being spent on the war machines of the West. Never forget that wars destroy massively and produce nothing.
  6. All the Western nations now feature large enforcer classes, composed of bureaucrats, law enforcement units, inspectors, and so on. In the US alone this amounts to several million people – none of whom produce anything, and all of whom restrain producers from producing. Millions of people are paid to restrain commerce.
  7. We now have a very large financial class in which blindly aggressive people make millions of dollars. The problem is that finance is not productive. It may allocate money in beneficial ways (though it often allocates mainly to itself), but it doesn’t actually produce anything. At present, the allocators get the big bucks, and the producers get scraps.
  8. The modern business ethic has become about acquisition only. In more enlightened times, it was also about creating benefit in the world, or at least creating newer and better things. Mere grasping is an insufficient philosophy for capitalism; it leads to dark places.
  9. Every nation on the planet is using play money and forcing their inhabitants to use their play money. Moreover, they have super-empowered a small class of Central Banking Elites, who make fortunes on their currency monopolies, and who are entirely unknown to the producers who unwillingly (and unknowingly) purchase jets and yachts for them. Our money systems have brought back aristocracies; a class that is both hidden and immensely powerful.

I think the point about the collapse of capitalism has been made with these nine points: The West has built a hyper-political culture built on lies, misdirection, fear, avarice, envy, and sloth. (Avarice, by the way, is a mindless craving for gain.)

So What’s Next?

That’s up to the producers. Everything hinges upon them. The game, as it is, depends entirely on them being willing to accept abuse.

All that is necessary to fix this is for the producers to stop being willing victims. Simple, I know, but there is a problem with such a sensible idea:

The producers are convinced that their role in life is only to struggle and obey.

Modern producers believe that the ruling classes have a legitimate right to tell them how much of their money they are entitled to keep, which charity causes they’ll be forced to contribute to, which features their car is required to have, and much, much more. Why? Simply because those other people are in “high positions,” and they (the producers) are in “low positions.” An evil assumption has been planted in their minds:

It is right for important people to order me around.

The productive class holds all the real power, but they are nearly devoid of moral confidence. So, they are abused without end.

Right now, a parasitic ethic rules the West and will continue to rule so long as producers play the part of the suckers. If this continues, what remains of capitalism will grind to a halt and will be overrun by a Neo-Fascist arrangement – not the dictator and swastika variety – but one where the state and powerful business interests merge into one unstoppable and insatiable force.

On the other hand, if ever the producers wake up from their moral coma and reject the role of doormat, they will build a society embodying the ethics of production. It almost sounds impossible, I know. But it is has happened before and could happen again.

It’s up to us.

Paul Rosenberg
Collapse of Capitalism: The 9 Plagues
FreemansPerspective.com

The Systemic Abuse of the Productive Class: It Ends When We Say it Ends

productive classThe productive people of this world are being abused. We all know it and we all complain about it. And most of the things we complain about (taxes, stupid laws, politicians and bureaucrats doing ridiculous things) are backed by large, powerful systems. That is why I chose “systemic abuse” for this article’s title.

The idea of a system being abusive by nature often bothers people in a deep and obscure way, but that characterization is true. If we try to blame “one bad actor,” we are lying and we know it.

I’m not going to waste time on the abuses of the current world systems. You must be aware of them, and you can get lists of complaints from many other sources.

Instead, I want to explain how we producers are really the controlling group in the world, even though most of us don’t know it. We as a group can end our abuse whenever we change our minds about it, and we as individuals can do a lot to bring that about.

But in order to face a life without abuse, each producer will have to do some serious soul searching and adjustment. That sounds strange, I know, but it is true. It will become clearer as we proceed.

Knowing Ourselves

Let me begin with this: You don’t have to be a superstar to count yourself among the producers. In fact, you don’t even need to have a job. What matters is that, given a choice, you would rather create than live off of the production of others.

If you feel good coming home from an honest day of work; if you like pointing at something and saying “I made that;” if you care about your work as a carpenter, trucker, housewife, nurse, welder, shopkeeper, clerk, farmer, rancher, engineer, or any of a hundred other professions, you are a producer.

This desire for production is in us from childhood and perhaps from birth. It is natural to beings who have the ability to perceive, to will, and to compare before/after results. Even infants get satisfaction from willing and succeeding. Buckminster Fuller said it well: Every child has an enormous drive to demonstrate competence.

With these being the essential characteristics of producers, it would seem natural for them to generally feel good about themselves and to be generally confident. You would expect them to be proud of being the source of all the products and wealth in the world.

This, however, is not what we see. Rather, we see producers who are morally timid, who shrink when someone accuses them of being offensive, who fear being envied. Most modern producers don’t feel they have full rights over their own lives. They believe it in measure, of course, but they also believe that other people (namely the operators of institutions) have a legitimate right to tell them how to drive, educate their children, spend their money, ingest substances, report their business dealings, and on and on and on.

As we’ve said a lot recently, this comes back to a perverse root assumption:

It is right for other people to order me around.

It is easy to see that so long as producers keep believing this, those who order them around will abuse them without end.

On the other hand, if the producers ever stop believing that their role in life is to be ordered around, the world changes in an instant – radically and dramatically for the better. The values of production, if ever dominant in the world or any section of it, generate not only prosperity, but morality.

The System and the Productive Class

As long as the productive class think it’s right for systems to order them around and siphon off their production, the producers will be abused forever. It is as simple as that. So, let me say something clearly and even with indignation, which I think is warranted:

We build the system’s roads, we build their monuments, we supply their banquets, we build and drive their limousines, we build their governor’s mansions, and we cut their grass and install their air conditioning and repair their roofs. We pay their policemen and their firemen and their tax men. We pay for their cars and their gas and their guns and their bullets and their uniforms.

Without us, they have nothing but words. If we ever decide not to play their game, they are done. It doesn’t matter how many enforcers they have on their payrolls – the moment we stop complying, those enforcers will see the end of their paychecks and will return home at night to face strong questions from us, their neighbors.

We producers are manifestly unhappy about what the systems of the world are doing to us, but most of us don’t think we have any right to dictate to them. The truth, however, is this:

Without us, they are destitute, and we don’t need them.

How This Happened to Us

What has happened is that we’ve been demoralized. We understand quite well that our wealth has been damaged; we understand much less well that our souls have been damaged.

In all of our lifetimes, the inherent dignity of work has been absent. Since the industrial revolution, when people took boring jobs simply for better pay, work has become something that most people try to escape. This has been a mistake.

Work is the insertion of creativity into the world. Creating things, improving things, or making it possible for other people to create is rewarding and important. Work is good, noble, and deserving of respect.

In our times, however, work has been replaced as something to respect by status, a gorilla-level instinct. It was a devolution.

We all learn about status at an early age, hearing stories about the rich, handsome prince and the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. We are told that only the exceptional few count.

All through our lives we are shown images of the unique and the few. For example, fashion models are not chosen merely for beauty, but for exclusivity. There are plenty of short, beautiful women, but they never show up in the ads, for the simple reason that they are many. Only the 1/50th of 1% who are exceptionally tall and good-looking are shown. The rest of us are then provided with products to make us feel we are approaching their exclusive level.

We have been living through a period dominated by hierarchy – where people who order other people around are important, and all others are an undifferentiated mass.

All of this is fraudulent and manipulative. Worse, it has left most of us with an inferiority complex. We are the unnamed peasants, the mundanes, the “workers.”

There are many types of beauty in the world, many types of greatness, many reasons for respect. We can all partake, not just the rarest among us.

The importance of work should be judged by its creativity and by the benefit it brings, not by how much it controls. People should esteem others because of their virtues, not because of their positions. People should do good deeds based on their personal sense of benevolence, and this should not be limited to things that are chosen by ‘leaders’ in high positions.

What the productive class needs most is to have their confidence restored. They need to see status and exclusivity as the barbaric and manipulative ideas that they are.

We can be much more than we have been, and we would enjoy it a great deal. The problem is that we haven’t considered ourselves worthy. After all, we’re not the people in high places who get to order everyone else around.

We need to get over this.

[Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our flagship newsletter Freeman’s Perspective – Issue #14: “The Systemic Abuse of the Productive Class: It Ends when We Say it Ends.” If you liked it, consider taking a risk-free test drive. Not only will you gain immediate access to the rest of the issue (which includes 3 ways in which you can just “opt out”), but you’ll also be able to enjoy the entire archive – more than 520 pages of research on topics of importance and inspiration to those looking for freedom in an unfree world. Plus valuable bonus reports and all new issues as well. Click here to learn more.]

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Top 5 Reasons I Stopped Caring About Politics

stop caring about politicsWhen I was young, I felt a need to understand politics, and I spent time studying. But as time progressed, I received diminishing returns on that investment. And in the past few years, I have given it up altogether.

These days, my concern with politics is limited to things like these:

  • Who is making war, and where?
  • Where is the crime occurring in my area?
  • Are there laws that will force me to move my businesses offshore?

Beyond that, I’m really not interested. I see the headlines, but I seldom read the stories. And I’m very happy saying, “I haven’t looked into it,” when people ask my opinion on the day’s ‘news.’

Here’s why:

#5: It eats up a horrifying amount of time and energy

Seriously, start counting the number of hours you spend on this stuff. How many hours listening to political radio, watching political TV, and reading political newspapers?

Then start thinking about the intense energy you spend on it. We all have limited reserves of energy; do you really believe that politics is the highest and best use for yours? What about using your energy to build your business? Or to nurture your children? Or to help a neighbor? There must be a dozen things that are more important than obsessing over the votes of congressmen or Supreme Court judges.

#4: It’s an addiction

If imagining yourself dumping politics makes you feel bad, you probably should dump it.

Try it: Imagine your life, devoid of all politics. How does it make you feel? Empty? Forsaken?

The truth is that millions of us are addicted to politics. People can’t pull themselves away from it – it’s the script that runs in the back of their minds 24/7.

The political addiction is so bad that even strongly religious people spend more time on politics than they do on God. Politics is the obsession of the age.

#3: It doesn’t change anything

There was a popular bumper sticker in the 60s that read: If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.

Let’s be honest and admit that the bumper sticker was true. Even the best examples – such as Reagan on the right or Obama on the left – have failed to change much. Government is bigger than ever, the US government is involved in more wars than ever, and the Constitution is being trashed in more ways than ever before. This is progress?

And what of the vaunted elections that they always promote? Personally, I think Alvin Toffler was right when he called them “reassurance rituals.” But, that aside, it is certain that elections are tightly controlled. In the US, two parties firmly control who gets on a ballot and who doesn’t. Everything is scripted; everything requires approval of the party. (The situation is slightly less bad in Europe.)

And please understand that ‘the government’ is far more than 600 faces in DC – it is millions of people in thousands of offices, all pulling together to get more of your money and to spend it upon themselves and their departments.

But even while politics doesn’t actually change much, it does keep everyone locked inside the system and servicing it. To illustrate, here’s a quote I never could forget, and that I hope you’ll never forget either:

Let them march all they want, so long as they continue to pay their taxes.

– Alexander Haig, 1982

So long as everyone obeys the government, why should it care about their complaints? Americans are nearly 100% obedient, so why should the government bother changing anything at all? There is no need.

Politics doesn’t change anything, because its actual goal is to keep the populace reassured and compliant. And in this it has succeeded brilliantly.

#2: In the end, it’s about violence

Here’s a passage from my novel, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, that expressed this idea:

Coercion is the sine qua non of politics; the thing, without which, politics would not be politics. Indeed, if you remove coercion, politics becomes something else – economics.

Politics cannot exist without force. In the end, it rests on violence. No matter how much they color everything red, white, and blue, violence or the threat of violence underpins it all. As Jim Rogers once wrote, “Somewhere in every process of taxation, a pistol is involved.

Politics – government – is based upon a single transaction: Taking money from people against their will. Everything else they do falls apart without that.

You may think me rude for pointing this out, or you may come up with justifications for it, but the statement stands: Governments take money that they didn’t earn, by one type of coercion or another. If not, taxation would be voluntary and government would be just another business.

I don’t like dealing with violent enterprises.

#1: Politics is a relic of a barbaric past

Being that I study the ancient past, I can trace men ruling over men back to about 6400 BC. I can trace a government that resembles ours back to about 5000 BC.

So, what else from two thousand years before the Pyramids still rules the lives of men?

If there is any example on Earth of humans failing to evolve, this has to be it.

Men no longer pull plows. They no longer start fires with flint. Nor do they pull sleds or wooden-wheeled carts or rely upon animals for power. We have learned to write, to invent, to navigate, to cover immense distances, to drive, to fly, to reach into the heavens…

And yet this one relic of a primitive past remains. And please don’t tell me that it remains because it is good – people complain about government more than they complain about cancer.

To illustrate government’s barbaric nature, consider this: Thousands of people like me would like to experiment with different ways of living, but we are forbidden. No one is permitted to leave the game. If you try, large armed men will assault you and lock you in a cage, or perhaps they will merely steal your money from the bank you entrusted it to. But in either case, government sycophants will solemnly inform the world that you are an evil-doer.

No exit is permitted and all escape attempts are met with violence. How is this not primitive barbarity?

IT’S YOUR CHOICE.

So, there you have it. You’re big boys and girls and you can make your own decisions, but I have to tell you: I am ever so happy with mine. I am less stressed, more productive, and a clearer thinker.

Every so often, a friend asks me to examine a political issue. And, nearly always, I politely decline; it makes me feel the same as when my mother wanted me to eat liver.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Other (Worse) Side of the PRISM Scandal

prism online surveillanceThe fallout from the PRISM scandal has reached Stage Two, where faces in front of television cameras promote memorable slogans to give people reasons to accept their abuse and to pretend that everything is okay. And, overall, these slogans and their promoters break down into to two primary models –  predators and battered women.

Let’s start with the predators.

These abusers –  who are building the largest blackmail archive in all of human history – keep coming back with the same old hateful slogan:

If you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.

Understand this clearly: these are the words of a predator speaking to his hostages.

As you sit, his gun pointed at your chest, he says, “As long as you keep the rules, I won’t shoot.” This phrase is intended to hold you in that position, under the complete control of the gunman.

The trick of this evil phrase is that it takes the first position – with you as a hostage – as a given; as an assumed starting point. The phrase allows no possibility of you existing without a gun pointed at you.

Your captor says, “Don’t transgress me and I won’t kill you.” But all the while he maintains that it is righteous for him to keep you in permanent fear of the SWAT team breaking down your door at 3 am and sticking their automatic weapons in your face.

But, of course, it’s never “terror” when they do it, and you can be sure that, after you’re taken in, their friends at the TV stations will call you “suspected terrorists.”

Never accept a predator’s right to say this to you. Don’t accept his right to hold such a position over you. Instead, say something like:

I don’t grant you that position.

You’re not my master.

Why would I want you (or your bosses) to hold such a position over me?

Whoever throws this phrase at you is justifying your position as a hostage and is locking you into it.

Now, let’s move on to the equally disturbing issue of battered women.

The sad truth is that quite a few women have been beaten by their boyfriends or husbands, and they stay, rather than leave. Instead, they find ways of justifying their abusers, saying things like:

We’re working it out.

It wasn’t like it seems.

If I just ease up a little on him, it’ll be alright.

It’s not that bad. At least he doesn’t…

He said he’s sorry.

I can’t manage without him.

This is ugly stuff, but spousal abuse is, sadly, not uncommon.

But notice that people routinely use variations of the same “it’s not so bad” slogans to justify government abuse:

Mass surveillance is good because it also collects the data to prove people to be innocent!

I’d rather trust a computer and algorithm to spy on me than a human.

The primary job of the state is providing security for its citizens.

Surveillance on financial data is a whole different subject. That is about taxes, not free communication.

And there are many other variations.

So, we have hit the season of a two-fold attack on reason:

  • First, we have the predators trying to lock everyone into place in front of their guns.
  • Second, we have the sycophants trying to convince us that it’s okay – that we really do need our abusers.

This is the other side of the PRISM scandal, the one that most people don’t (or don’t want to) see: the subtle manipulation of our minds to ultimately turn us into sheep… those that will accept the role of the abused without question or complaint.

And to me, that’s the most disturbing side of all.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Paul Rosenberg on Legalise Freedom

legalise freedomIn this interview, outside-the-Matrix author Paul Rosenberg discusses the rise and subsequent fall of civilizations throughout history. As from the interview’s introduction:

The Seasons of Empire

Over the ages, great civilizations and mighty empires have come and gone in a remarkably similar pattern. From Sumer to Egypt, from Greece to Rome, all have crashed from triumph to tragedy. The British built the largest empire in history, only to see it disintegrate in the aftermath of war. Since then, the USA has assumed the mantle of the World’s dominant power, winning a war of attrition against the former Soviet Union whilst waging real and increasingly bloody wars for resources across the globe.

But are the days of the American Empire numbered? Has it fallen prey to corruption, greed, hubris and arrogance like so many before it? Is a new power waiting in the wings to take its place, or does the decline of US hegemony mark the beginning of the end of industrial civilization as we know it? If so, what – if anything – can we do about it?

Decide for yourself.

To listen to the interview, click here. (opens in a new window on the Legalise Freedom site)

[Legalise Freedom radio online is hosted by independent UK writer and journalist Greg Moffitt and features interviews with some of the World’s foremost alternative thinkers and researchers.]

The Era of Fiat Currency Capitalism

fiat currencyI have worked long and hard to gather a broad perspective on history. I don’t doubt that there is value in specialization. In fact, I would have great difficulty doing what I do without good specialists.

Nonetheless, my particular set of abilities suits me to play specialist for short, intense periods, and then to integrate my gleanings into a larger whole.

One of my general conclusions has been that if we were to give a name to the last 40 years of Western history, we’d have to call it the era of fiat currency capitalism. There is a contradiction built into this term, of course, since fiat currencies and capitalism are oppositional, but such an inherent contradiction is also highly representative of this period.

Having been inside of this contradiction most or all of our lives, it can seem almost permanent and inevitable to us. Nonetheless, it will end, and probably before terribly long. As Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote:

Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.

For the last 40 years, things that should have crashed and burned have not crashed and burned, and it was fiat currency that permitted the consequences to be scorned. Western culture and millions of minds have been bent in the process.

Fiat versus Reality

Fiat currency is money based upon nothing at all. The Monopoly money shown above has the same actual value as the Dollars, Euros or Pounds in your pocket. For the moment, the paper in your pocket will buy you food and furniture, but not because it has any real value.

Our daily money is created by politically-favored groups who have been granted monopolies on the creation of currency. (They are referred to in polite company as central bankers.) They create our money, from nothing, and all others are forbidden from doing so. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is.

The only people with any authority over these currency monopolists are politicians, and that isn’t terribly strong. (In the case of Great Britain, the monarch has some control as well.)

I won’t bother trying to list the ways this astonishing privilege could be abused. Feel free to play with the possibilities on your own. And do remember that more or less every dirty trick that people could get away with, they have eventually used… and bankers have never been exceptions.

This new era began in 1971, when the previous international monetary arrangements, the Bretton Woods system, fell apart. On May 5th 1971, US dollars flooded the European currency markets and threatened the Deutsche Mark. The central banks of Austria, Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland stopped all dollar trades. Who was behind this flood of trades is unknown to me but it was apparently someone with inside knowledge. At about the same time, the French were, via complex arrangements, redeeming their dollars for gold from the US Treasury, as Bretton Woods allowed. (It was gold that kept the system honest. If you thought games were being played, you could turn in your paper for actual gold.)

If the US had allowed redemptions to continue, they would have lost all their gold reserves. So, on August 15th 1971, the US pulled out of their monetary agreements and refused to redeem any more dollars for gold. (This was called closing the gold window.) Bretton Woods fell apart and, very shortly, no major currencies were redeemable; everything became fiat currency, based on government edicts alone.

This change from redeemable money to fiat currency has affected Western life immensely. For more than 40 years, life in the West has been based on money with no value, which has spawned a lot of other things that have no value.

Quigley’s Chart

The chart below is my modernization of a chart used by Carroll Quigley, one of the best generalist historians of the 20th Century. The chart displays his seven primary factors of Western Civilization, and how they have varied over the last thousand years or so. You’ll notice that I’ve circled our era in red and called attention to the form of economic organization with blue.

fiat currency

As I’ll illustrate below, fiat currency has had significant influence, not only within the ‘Economic Organization’ category I have highlighted, but also over ‘Political’, ‘Economic Control’, ‘Dominant Group’, and even ‘Intellectual’. It has more or less defined our era. So, if I am correct that the reign of fiat currencies is ready to end… big, big changes lie in our future.

Horrific Debt

Fiat currencies allowed politicians to spend money without raising taxes. They did this by creating debt. I won’t spend time on the complex process involved, but every new Dollar, Pound or Euro that is created also creates more than its own value in debt. The currency is spent immediately but the associated debt can be pushed back indefinitely.

Faced with this situation, politicians asked their central bankers to create more and more money, which they quickly spent. Whether on social programs or wars, sensible or not, politicians spent money like there were no consequences attached.

But by spending in this way, the politicians also spent the tax receipts of future generations. Every new dollar requires the central bankers to sell more than a dollar’s worth of bonds, which are debt. This debt has been pushed endlessly toward the future… to the point where American children are now born $70,000 in debt, with five times that much promised.

All bonds are claims against future earnings. The children of the West have had decades of taxes pledged to bondholders they will never know, for money that was spent years before they were born. And, yes, it really is that bad.

The Welfare State

The debt of the Western states was spent on something, obviously, and the most notable destinations for that money were “welfare state” programs. This worked in the favor of politicians in the old, reliable way: by promising voters free stuff. And, more importantly, fiat currency allowed them to make good on those promises without raising taxes.

The most crucial fact about debt-funded welfare, however, is that it made it seem that politics could produce magic. Government was able to give massive streams of money to groups that placed ideals above reality. “Wishing makes it so” seemed to work. This corrupted the reasoning of millions of people and punished those who did hold doggedly to reason. And, this corrupting influence has continued for a long, long time.

Wall Street Contributed to the Damage

The people who work on Wall Street, and in the other financial capitals like London, tend to be aggressive and competitive. On top of that, the big financial firms place them into highly competitive situations like “the top producer gets a double bonus.” It should then be no surprise that such people would want to get in on the central banking game, and to create their own money from scratch.

Central banking need not be the only way to create money; any trusted debt can be used. Here is what Alexander Hamilton (who created central banking in the United States) had to say about this in his Report on Public Credit in 1790:

It is a well known fact, that in countries in which the national debt is properly funded, and an object of established confidence, it answers most of the purposes of money. Transfers of stock or public debt are therefore equivalent to payments in specie. [“Specie” was silver or gold.] In other words, stock, in the principal transactions of business, passes current as specie.

Hamilton’s formulation in plain words is this: Debt can be used as money, and people will accept it as money.

So, if the clever boys of Wall Street and Fleet Street couldn’t get in on the central banking game, they could nonetheless create a new version of it, by using new types of debt as money. (Though this was probably the result of many small decisions rather than one large one.)

What most people don’t know about Alexander Hamilton is that it wasn’t only American central banking that he created; he also created Wall Street. That his securities dealer descendants pursued an alternate way to create money seems almost fitting.

Wall Street’s new debt money is called derivatives. A derivative is a contract whose value is derived from other quantities. Derivatives have existed for a long time, but in the past dozen or so years the financial centers of the world have pumped out stunning amounts of them in a wide array of new configurations. All of these derivatives have their own value. It was one particular type of these financial products that seems to have started the crash of 2008.

I am not expert enough to reach any conclusion as to what specific fallout can be expected from this but $600 trillion dollars of synthetic monetary instruments have to be significant.

Indeed, it goes far beyond just money. The era of fiat currency capitalism has changed who we are in broad and disturbing ways.

[Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our flagship newsletter Freeman’s Perspective – Issue #07: The Era of Fiat Currency Capitalism. If you liked it, consider taking a risk-free test drive. Not only will you gain immediate access to the rest of the issue (which shares 5 ways in which fiat currency has changed us for the worse), but you’ll also be able to enjoy the entire archive – more than 520 pages of research on topics of importance and inspiration to those looking for freedom in an unfree world. Plus valuable bonus reports and all new issues as well. Click here to learn more.]

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Turn On Tune In Drop Out – A Modern Interpretation

turn on tune in drop outThis was a big phrase in the 1960s, as young people turned away from the corporate conformity of the 1950s and decided that they wanted more out of life than being an adequately-fed cog in a big machine.

Let’s be honest and admit that the modern corporate script involves selling your own wishes and dreams for paychecks. I know that a lot of us have played along with it because of necessity, but this is not a way of life to cling to, it’s a way of life to escape.

You are meant to live your life. Yes, I know it can seem hard, but it’s the only life that’s really worth living. You have to give meaning to your life, and you’ll never get it by following the televised script and hoping for pats on the back from the people who are playing along with you.

This life you have is precious. Human beings are engines of creation; we are able to imagine and to turn our imaginations into reality. And we are capable of supercharging our creative abilities by sharing our lives and loves with other people. We are astonishingly capable creatures.

Don’t waste all your life’s abilities in a corporate cubicle. You’ve already seen how that goes: Work excessive hours, go home tired, watch TV, sleep, and start over. Your kids end up in mini corporate worlds called “schools,” where they are taught to sit, be quiet, obey, and turn off their internal desires and loves. If you play that game you’ll miss most of your life in the process, as well as most of your children’s lives.

Once you get some corporate inertia going, it is all too easy to get sucked into it permanently. Don’t let that happen to you.

So, here’s my modern (and slightly adjusted) interpretation – Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out:

Tune In

Wake up and see the world as it is. Turn off the talking heads on TV and get to know the real world. Stop spending all your brain cycles on celebrities, sports heroes and gossip hounds – get to know your neighbor and the old woman who lives around the corner, strike up a friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Travel. Spend your time with real people; get to know them, and reveal yourself to them. It only seems weird because the people who programmed you didn’t want you to think freely.

Do you think I am being dramatic by referring to “the people who programmed you”? If so, read this:

Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished.

That was from the highly esteemed Bertrand Russel, by the way, and I’ve got plenty more of them. Take this seriously, because your programmers have been.

Tune in to yourself rather than your programming: What do you really want? Most people can list a dozen things that bother them, but not a single thing that they really want. This is a problem. Find out what you want. What do you love? What do you want to work for?

Do you remember all those times in the Bible where Jesus berates people for being “hypocrites”? Well, the real word he used was actors – as in stage actors. And whether you are religious or not, this is crucial: Stop acting in someone else’s play. Take off all the masks and find yourself.

Turn On

Start doing what you love. Don’t wait for someone else, do it yourself. Start helping your friends and neighbors, spend serious time with your children – not at a game or a party, but just you and them, talking. Find out what they love. Tell them what you love, what you are proud of, what you regret. Tell them you love them. Tell them things you don’t tell your friends. Let them know you.

Start living, not merely existing. DO the things you feel an urge to do. And don’t fall into the usual trap of “what if I make a mistake?” That’s simply fear-based conditioning. Resist it. Do what you love, and in so doing, you will turn yourself on.

Are you going to go through your whole life and never follow your own wishes, always sacrificing them to the tyranny of other peoples’ opinions? Please don’t do that to yourself – you’ll suffer greatly for it when you’re old.

Screw all the expectations and turn on – act on your own will.

Drop Out

Stop wasting your time and energy on governments and arguments and politics. Drop out of their mindset and start reclaiming all those wasted hours. Lying politicians are simply not worth your devotion. Drop the endless party fights and stop arguing about them. Politics is ugly, and politics on the brain makes us ugly.

Stop paying attention to the hundreds of ads you see every day – they are scientifically designed to grab your thoughts. Turn away. Stop buying trendy things, and definitely stop buying things for the purpose of impressing other people.

Stop trying to fit in, and stop living according to other people’s expectations. Let them call you weird. Let them talk about you. Stop caring about it. If they were real friends, they wouldn’t treat you like that. So if they are willing to call you names, you’re better off dropping them now.

Don’t fight the system – that just keeps all of your energy and attention focused on them. Forsake the system and start creating a better life for yourself, the people you love and the people you respect. Stop giving all your life’s energy to a barbaric system of force and manipulation.

Let the system go; all of it. Move on and let it rot where it sits.

But We Need A Plan!

No, you don’t. You need a life!

Let go of the plan addiction. Life is organic, not mechanical.

First of all, you need to identify what you want to create with the precious life you’ve been given. Not what you want to stop, but what you want to make.

If you’ve never been told to do this before it may seem hard, but you can do it if you try.

Don’t sit and wait. Stop talking and start doing.

ACT!  NOW!

Paul Rosenberg
Turn On Tune In Drop Out – A Modern Interpretation
www.FreemansPerspective.com

The Dangers of Telling the Truth: Snowden, Assange, and Manning

dangers of telling the truthOne of them has been tortured; another is surrounded by armed men and trapped; and the third is hiding ten thousand miles away, in fear of his life. And what were their crimes? Telling the truth.

Talk about a sick commentary on the modern world.

For those who didn’t know, Ed Snowden is the young man who released evidence of the US government purposely trashing the Constitution that they swore to protect. Coming on the heels of the press surveillance, Verizon, IRS, and Boundless Informant scandals, his information on project Prism has capped off quite a run. Whether Americans still have the emotional strength to give a damn, or they are simply looking for reasons to believe, is another question, but this young man is a hero of the highest order.

So is Julian Assange and so is Bradley Manning. They released the truth about what they saw happening. And the gigantic operations are threatening their lives because they do not want you to know the truth.

Let me quote Jesus here:

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

So, who’s on which side of this issue?

The haters of light proclaim that they see more than you do, know more than you do, and are wiser than you. And they go further: first demanding that you give them your money, and then that you thank them for keeping you in the dark.

What would you think if someone who proposed that to you as a business deal?

Yet, these people proclaim that they are empowered to do dark deeds by the great LAW. When questioned, they quote dozens of statutes and rulings and regulations. Yet, it all crumbles as soon as anyone refers to the original and paramount law. That “supreme law” reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

That paramount law does not say, “unless you have appropriate statutes, or rulings, or executive orders, or international treaties, or other impressive scraps of paper.” It says shall not be violated.

In response, they call you stupid, uneducated, and deceived. Then they will threaten you.

Their threats, of course, have to be taken seriously. After all, they’ve purchased how many billion bullets in the past couple of years? And how many people have they tortured in Cuba? And how many violent, international kidnappings have they undertaken under the more pleasant term of “rendition”?

And they claim to be righteous. Don’t you believe it.

When Snowden, Assange, and Manning walk free, you can reconsider. But until these three truth-tellers are publicly thanked, these agencies – no matter how many dollars and guns and agents they have – are the enemies of light and truth.

[A note to my religious friends: Don’t you dare try to say that these agencies are agents of God’s will. By doing so, you are calling Jesus a liar.]

Paul Rosenberg
The Dangers of Telling the Truth: Snowden, Assange, and Manning
FreemansPerspective.com