Bitcoin Is a Revolution, Not an Investment

bitcoin revolutionIt has been interesting to see large numbers of people pay attention to Bitcoin in the past year or so. The reason for that attention was the exchange price of Bitcoin, which made a lot of early adopters wealthy. (One of the few times when the right guys got rich.)

The idea of getting rich quick always sells, and it did this time too. Along with it came a lot of investment talk, complaints about volatility, well-publicized government raids, central bank reports, and threats from tax men.

What most of these people missed was that Bitcoin is not a traditional financial instrument and doesn’t fit into the categories of traditional finance. Bitcoin – cryptocurrency – is a new thing. It’s a radical, revolutionary thing. As long as you try to categorize Bitcoin with traditional financial tools, you’ll never really understand it.

Bitcoin Comes From Outside

Lots of people talk about “outside the box,” but many of them would run from anything that was truly outside of the box. Such people may be interested in Bitcoin because of price gains, but only because they don’t understand how radical it really is.

Bitcoin, you see, is not an adaptation based on existing currencies, nor can it be understood that way. Bitcoin is from outside – from the realm of anti-establishment radicals.

In particular, Bitcoin comes from the cypherpunks, a group of crypto-anarchists and anarco-capitalists. They began to flourish in the early 1990s, as cryptography merged with the new Internet and they realized they could “wall-off” areas of cyberspace from the coercive intrusions of governments. Here are a few quotes from these folks:

We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us.

Encryption, digital money, anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero knowledge, reputations, information markets, black markets, collapse of governments.

A specter is haunting the modern world, the specter of crypto anarchy.

Arise, you have nothing to lose but your barbed wire fences!

These are not financial people trying to invent a new kind of currency that’s going to make them rich – these are radicals who want to build a new world. And that’s exactly what Bitcoin is: a radical tool for building a new world.

Bitcoin was birthed on the cypherpunk mailing list, by the way. One of the list members, someone named Wei Dai, outlined the structure of cryptocurrencies in 1998, ten years before Satoshi Nakamoto wrote his program.

What’s so interesting about the current moment is that the concept of cryptocurrency is challenging people to think about what they truly believe. Do they really love the status quo? Or is it just something they accepted because they saw no alternative?

Because once people really understand Bitcoin, they also understand that it is built on the opposite principle of the status quo. Bitcoin has no place for a central controller, no tool allowing an enforcer to override anyone’s transactions, no mechanism of coercion at all. That makes cryptocurrency anathema to the current monetary regime and to every ruling regime.

People who come to understand Bitcoin also learn this, and it can be a real challenge for them.

And What Now?

Well, several things are going on now, all at the same time. Here’s my list:

  • The old regime – banking, law enforcement, tax-gatherers – are trying to harness Bitcoin and build tools of control into or around it.
  • Military and intel agencies are figuring out how to shut down Bitcoin traffic without killing the Internet altogether. The big tech companies have become their sycophants and are following their masters’ will.
  • Certain financial operators (“reasonable” types) are trying to subvert Bitcoin and make it acceptable to the powers-that-be.
  • People outside the G20 financial monolith are beginning to see the utility of Bitcoin. It is much cheaper, easier, and faster than Western Union, bank wires, or credit cards. It’s also far easier to transmit over distance than cash. A cab driver in Zaire doesn’t give a hoot whether the Western banking cartel hates Bitcoin; if it works for his customers, he’ll use it.
  • New projects like Ethereum, Dark Wallet, BitWasp and many others are popping up regularly. The innovations are not stopping.

What comes of this is anyone’s guess, but one thing is clear: The genie is out of the bottle;  everyone knows that cryptocurrencies work, and work well. Even if Bitcoin is brought down, new adaptations will follow it in a steady stream.

The revolution is here, now. Fight it, join it, dance, mourn, or just play dumb; it’s your choice.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Earth Belongs to the Living, Not to the Dead

government debt wake upWhat if your grandfather had gone on a wild spending binge, long before you were born, and put himself millions of dollars in debt to people who knew he could never pay? Would it be your obligation to work double-shifts all your life to pay that debt back? And if you died before paying it off, would it become your baby’s obligation?

I think most of us would answer those questions with a resounding “No way!” As well we should. We are not and should not be slaves to the past – slaves to actions we never took and for which we had no possible means of consent.

On September 6th, 1789, in the very first year of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson endorsed precisely this conclusion in a letter he wrote to James Madison:

I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and encumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on.

For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation.

He wrote the same thing to John Wayles Eppes twenty-four years later, in June of 1813:

The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead.

To lay debt upon the unborn is thoroughly immoral. To try to enforce such a debt is thoroughly criminal.

Your Child or Grandchild

This conversation is critically important, because each child born in the US is born massively indebted. Using $200 trillion to represent the promises already made to people now living (some estimates are higher) and assuming a population of 310 million, that comes to $645,161 of debt, by the time your child reaches his cradle. If you expect your child to become a productive person, his or her share will be roughly twice that amount, or approximately $1.3 million.

(The US government is not unique in this regard, by the way. I use the US example, because it’s easier and because most of my readers seem to be Americans.)

Would you sign papers loading your baby with such a debt?

I am stating these facts in personal terms to cut through the usual BS that passes for public discourse. I am also using the voices of “founding fathers,” partly because it undercuts the fraudulent government story that “we’re following the wisdom of the founders.” Beside, we’re talking about real persons here. Making it personal is not manipulative, but accurate. To make it amorphous would be manipulative.

And while I’m on the subject of founding fathers, here’s something George Washington wrote in a letter to James Madison, also in 1789:

No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence.

I think that’s a very clear and very moral expression. It is not, however, what has been done.

A group formed recently under the phrase, “Not our debt.” I know nothing about the group, but their phrase is entirely correct. The debt of the US government does not belong to us, and we have no moral obligation to repay it.

Most of us do pay something toward that debt (which grows exponentially, just the same), but we should stay very clear as to why we pay. That reason, of course, is naked force, as in coercion and violence. There is no morality to it, except the morality that some people might invent, either to salve their consciences or as sycophants to power. (Though most  just do what everyone else does, never considering why.)

My advice is this: Do whatever you want as far as paying under threat, but don’t ever be confused about the morality of this situation. This is a swindle of gargantuan proportions. And that’s precisely what Thomas Jefferson believed. You can see this in a letter he wrote to John Taylor, dated May 28, 1816:

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling posterity on a large scale.

Do what you need to do, but don’t ever think you have a moral responsibility to pay that kind of debt.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Your Relationships Have Been Defiled

relationshipsRelationships matter, a lot. We are formed by relationships with other people: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, spouses, children, business associates, and more. The impact of relationships in our lives is profound.

But there is a factor in most of our relationships that sullies them – that warps and dirties them: the peremptory intrusion by enforcers and mediators.

The most vulgar images we have of this are the prima nocte stories – the ruler’s right of the first night with any bride – as seen in Braveheart and other pieces of fiction. (There is little or no evidence that such things ever really happened in the West.)

On a less vulgar and far more widespread scale, however, violations of our relationships are not fiction; they are all too real.

Who do you think has a right to take over your relationships with your children? What about your relationships with your spouse?

In fact, your government claims precisely those rights. They have forcibly set themselves as the arbiter of your marriage; they have the right to steal your children and to force you to do business (or not do business) with whomever they specify.

This may not be as horrific as prima nocte, but it functions on precisely the same principles of dominance and force. The claim of the intruders that “We’re doing this for your own good” in no way changes the fact that they are taking over your relationships by force.

Familiarity Breeds Slavery

Before I get to the heart of this issue, I should probably devote a section to the internal issues that it triggers.

It’s crazy to imagine that outsiders have any right to control our relationships with our families, yet that is precisely what is done to us. The reason we allow this is familiarity. Once people see abuse as normal, their examination of it ceases. Everyone around them accepts the crime, so they do too.

Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery then made dozens of trips back into slave territory and freed hundreds more, wrote this:

If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.

So, if it was hard to convince slaves in the old American South that they were indeed enslaved, this problem is significant. People can come to see nearly any type of abuse as normal. And once they do, they tend to defend their previous choices.

The way out is to examine the morality of these things, then to accept the conclusions of that examination. Agents of the status quo always resort to intimidation and confusion. The answer to these abuses is moral clarity.

The other problem with a discussion like this isn’t whether or not it is true – it is perfectly clear that the state inserts itself into our relationships by force. What holds people back from facing this obvious conclusion is fear. Not so much fear of punishment, but a fear of facing the truth within ourselves.

We’ve Been Robbed of Intimacy

It’s easy (and correct) to take offense at these intrusions, but, as I say, that’s not really my point. The far more important issue is this:

Our relationships have been stripped of their intimacy and purity.

Neither our marriages nor our families (not to mention business relationships) are really our own. An armed mediator stands above them, carrying a permanent threat of force.

How well could you raise your children with an armed neighbor following you around and enforcing their will?

This is not a wild example, by the way. It differs from reality only in that the enforcer’s presence is in your mind, rather than in physical form. And if the enforcer is notified, he will show up in physical form.

Children are stolen from parents nearly every day, and not just when the parents are monsters. We all know this, and fear of the enforcer is very real to us.

We have not known real, unmediated marriages. Nor have we enjoyed unmediated relationships with our children.

There are dozens of ways of excusing these intrusions; we’ve been surrounded by them all our lives. We all know the long lists of “Well, what if…?”

What follows those lists, however – what is excused by those fears – are permanent intrusions into our most intimate relationships.

We’ve been robbed of pure, unmediated relationships. We have been trained to see this as normal, but it isn’t, and it has both cheapened and degraded all of those relationships. How could it not?

Our most intimate relationships have been prima notced. It’s time to face that fact and to start doing something about it.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Why the Founding Fathers Made Their Own Money

rebellion moneyIt is an interesting historical fact that people who take part in rebellions tend to coin their own money – not when the rebellion concludes, but as it starts.

There is good evidence that silver half shekels, like the one pictured above, were actually minted on the Temple Mount during the Jewish Rebellion against Rome in 66-70 AD. (The wonderful Biblical Archaeology Review ran an article on the subject.)

And this case is hardly unique; there have been many rebellions that promptly issued their own currency. Here is Massachusetts currency from 1776, issued early in the American Revolutionary War:

rebellion money

The primary reason that rebels create their own currency is that monetary control is far more of a force than people realize. Baron Rothschild was not being overly flamboyant when he said, “Give me control over a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.” Being able to manipulate a money supply is a fantastic power, affecting every part of an economy. If you know in advance that the money supply will go up (diluting its value) or contract (concentrating its value), you immediately gain a massive advantage over everyone else – and you can target this advantage to help or hurt almost any group you choose.

Because of this, a rebel group that is tied to their opponent’s money has nearly lost before the battles begin. Serious rebels learn this quickly.

The Modern Rebellion

The rebellion that we’re all part of is not an armed rebellion, but a moral rebellion. And, interestingly enough, our rebellion understood very early on that money was a primary factor in our enslavement.

The roots of our rebellion go back as far as the first oppressed man or woman who thought clearly about morality, whenever that was. In modern times, however, we can trace our rebellion back to the 1940s – a time in which Mises had already been examining the foundations of money, Hayek was interested in competing currencies, and Rand was examining the morality of money.

(I’m passing over very many good people in the above paragraph. May they forgive my brevity.)

In our lifetimes, we’ve had David Chaum’s work on digital cash, Orlin Grabbe’s work (both theoretical and practical), e-gold, Pecunix, networks of exchangers, subsidiary services, and, most recently, crypto-currencies, beginning with Bitcoin. Our moral rebellion is not slowing down.

What matters about all of these currencies (and many more I haven’t mentioned) is that they are all rebel currencies. Sure, a few criminals and Ponzi operators have made use of our technologies, but that’s simply unavoidable. How many crooks use government money? (Answer: all of them.)

Rebel Morality

I think it’s important to make a few points about this moral rebellion of ours:

  1. This is not about attacking anyone or even attacking the current systems of oppression. Yes, every individual has the right to self-defense, but what we’re after here is not to lord it over anyone else, but being left alone to live as we wish.
  2. We must treat our fellow men and women with respect, even if they are wrong. If they want to be ruled by a state, that’s their choice, and we have no right to rip it away from them. (If it crashes without our coerced “support,” that’s not our problem.) If we think that people are being stupid to choose state serfdom, we should convince them that other ways are better, but we cannot force them to live our way and still call ourselves moral.

Our rebellion money has actually done a fine job of supporting these two moral points. The supposed failures of these currencies were primarily that they couldn’t withstand coercive and violent attacks. In other words, they worked very well; their “problems” were attacks from the status quo: a system of coercion and violence, masquerading as justice.

What we are now seeing is a moral awakening. Young people are questioning the systems that supposedly sustain them but actually use them as slaves.

When people begin to see the world in moral terms, they quickly perceive the deep immorality of the status quo – a system that is utterly dependent upon coercion and deception. If there is a root to the continuance and success of honest, rebel money, this is it.

In the end, our battle is this: morality versus coercion and deception.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Secret Appeal of Politics

politiciansThe Internet is full of stories about politicians acting badly and doing the opposite of what they promised. Talk radio is full of the same things, all day, every day. Even around office water coolers, almost everyone will admit that politicians are liars and thieves.

Given all of this, it’s rather bizarre that people still believe and obey the bums. If we knew such things about a neighbor, would we continue to take them seriously?

Yet, for some reason, politicians get a permanent pass on anything stupid they do.

The first reason for this is simply that most people have been bamboozled. They were taught that government is necessary and that without it, we’d all be ignorant savages, eating whatever few berries and roots we could scrounge… that without government nothing would be built, nothing invented, and nothing taught.

That’s all propaganda, of course, paid for by the people it praises. But, it’s what we were all taught and it’s hard for people to let it go, no matter how stupid it is.

The second reason is that people are afraid. We all know why.

None of that, however, is what I want to cover today. Instead, I want to look at the subtle reasons why people can’t let go of “politics.” These reasons are very powerful, but they lie beneath the surface and are harder to identify than self-serving, government-funded BS.

Reason #1: I Can Blame Anyone but Me

Somehow, people all across the West have become pathologically afraid of blame. It probably began as a corrosive fear of hell: If I’m to blame for anything, I’ll go to hell, and that must be avoided.

But be that as it may, this fear of blame allows political parties to provide a highly desirable service: They help you assign all blame to others. If you like the Red party, you can always affix blame to the Blues and not to yourself. If you’re in the Blue party, you can lay all blame onto the Reds.

It’s actually an elegant scam. The Blue v. Red show lets everyone avoid taking any blame onto themselves, while the big machine keeps right on running.

This fear of blame is ridiculous, of course: We’ve all made mistakes. What matters is correcting them and not repeating them. But if we pretend we never make mistakes, nothing gets fixed and the problems continue.

This neurotic avoidance of blame puts politicians in wonderful position – they don’t actually have to solve anything, and any blame is deflected to their evil opposition.

Reason #2: It Makes Me Feel Brave at No Expense

Politics lets us pretend that we’re fixing problems at no expense, save talking. Actually doing something is not required. Politics empowers our mere words to generate powerful results.

At least that’s what people want to believe. It’s the easy way out. You never have to get up and act. You never have to take a real risk. No blood, no sweat, no tears.

This is just another scam, of course: The politicians continue do what they want, and the people keep right on believing, even though their words seldom generate any real results.

All they need to do is keep you in the game. So long as you keep hoping that your words will affect the future, they can do whatever they please.

The alternative would be taking responsibility onto yourself and acting on your own. Gain would require pain… precisely the thing that people want to avoid.

So, instead, they keep believing that politics will magically turn complaints into results, and they remain tied into the system, no matter how badly it fails them.

Reason #3: It Makes Me Feel Noble at No Expense

Politics lets you pour charity onto the targets of your choice, without any personal expense. The magical money pot in the capital city dispenses it, and you feel no pain.

It doesn’t matter what your target of choice is, by the way. For some, it’s “the less fortunate,” to others, it’s people on another continent. It really doesn’t matter, aside from the fact that it makes you feel good to help people and that you never have to put your hand into your own pocket.

Again, this is clearly a scam: The money comes from ourselves (in ways we don’t think about), from others (those super-rich people), or, primarily these days, from generations yet unborn in the form of state debt.

But, those are things that can be ignored, and politicians are always quick to help us ignore them.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

A Report from Middle America

middle americaI was recently involved in a day of meetings with small business owners in the American Midwest. It was both encouraging and sad at the same time.

What I Found First

Overall, I found a large room full of productive human beings. It was uplifting. Most of these people were between thirty and seventy years old, more men than women, and they were all productive people, the kind who get up early every day, make sure that complex systems are producing properly, fix anything that is broken or near breaking, plan for the future, cooperate with large numbers of other people, and then go home at the end of the day and love their families.

If all the world lived like these people, we’d be halfway to a paradise by now. And that was a thought that made me sad.

Why? Because these people – by any standard of decency – should be left alone to create their better world. But instead, they are forcibly tied to wasteful, parasitic, and destructive systems. Half or more of their earnings are taken from them every year. Their actions are restricted by their moral inferiors. They live less than half the rewarding lives they should be enjoying, and for no defensible reason.

The Other Things

Beyond my overall happy/sad impressions, I found quite a few particular things:

  • These people would have preferred to discuss the practical particulars of their businesses – tools, materials, technical obstacles and solutions, and so on. But instead, they were forced to discuss government compliance. Almost every subject discussed from the front of the room dealt with government regulations. Most of the subjects discussed on the sides involved tools, equipment, business strategies and so on.
  • Dealing with employees is a major issue, especially involving the immigration police. These people are justifiably concerned with fines and indictments, just from hiring employees who are clearly long-time Americans. (That is, not Hispanics or other recent immigrants.) A few of the comments I heard:

“Good luck trying to explain that to an ICE agent.”

“Do NOT waive the 72 hour waiting period.”

“Do NOT allow them to enter your facility or inspect anything without authorization from counsel.”

  • Nearly all of these people agreed that government in America is out of control, abusive, and oppositional to their happiness. I think that’s a positive opinion, since it reflects reality, meaning that they have stopped looking at the world through myth-colored glasses. The sad part of that is…
  • These (good) people don’t know what to do about it. The system they grew up believing was their friend has turned against them. They’ve gathered the considerable courage required to face that, but they don’t know what to do next. They are working within the system as they can, trying to avoid its hazards, but don’t see any clear alternative – and no path of escape. They’d like to do other things, but they also need to feed their kids, and don’t know what to do about it all.
  • Bitcoin is spreading everywhere. One of these business owners, in a very rural area, has built a Bitcoin mining operation. And not only Bitcoin, he is also mining for the other cryptocurrencies. And, he’s telling everyone else about it. I was surprised (and pleased) by this, since this meeting had absolutely nothing to do with computers, economics, or anything else that usually connects to cryptocurrencies. This man simply saw a great opportunity and jumped on it.

All In All

All in all, I came away from the day more confident in the future than I had been the day before.

We are exposed to so many horror stories every day. The images thrust upon us show a world filled with danger and discouragement. The reality, however – once you remove yourself from the newsfeed – is that there are a lot of very decent people who are generally doing the right things.

Our job now is to define newer and better ways to live and to spread that information to as many good people as we can. And to remind them they DO have the right to live good, happy, prosperous lives.

Please do everything you can along these lines. Thanks.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

A Frank Letter to the Homeless Man Under the Bridge

letter-to-homelessI see you standing here, asking for help, about once a week. You are always polite, and I respect that. I’d like to do something for you… something that would matter long-term. Giving you a few notes or coins now and then may be fine, but I’d really like to improve your situation more permanently.

In other words, I’d like to give you a job.

I used to hire people, and I especially liked hiring people who had been denied breaks. I did that whenever I could. If you and I could be transported back in time, I’d hire you. And I’d feel good about it, because I think having a job would do you a lot of good.

That fact is, however, that I can’t hire you, and I’d like you to know why.

I used to run my own contracting firm. I enjoyed the work and I liked being able to drive past a building and say, “I made that.” Having employees, however, was torture. I liked having them in some ways, of course – I liked the guys and it made me happy to see them take care of their families with paychecks that I signed. That was very gratifying. But it wasn’t enough, and there are three reasons why:

#1: Making Payroll

My first problem was simply cash flow. I was solely responsible for having enough money in the bank every week, and that could be nerve-wracking, especially when customers weren’t paying their bills on time. It’s not fun to think that a family won’t be able to buy groceries if you can’t collect your invoices.

Still, that part didn’t cause me to give up on employees. It was hard, but so long as my employees were working, we were making money, so there was always something coming in at some point. Somehow, I was able to pull it off.

#2: Being Hated

Over time, some of my employees became jerks. This seemed to grow from envy and from stupid ideas about labor versus management. These guys decided that I was getting rich off of them, and demanded I pay them more – more than they deserved and more than the company could afford.

And the really nasty part was this: It was always the guys I had done the most for who hated me most. And as soon as I sat down with them and explained why I couldn’t pay them more, they started stealing from me.

I fired the thieves, of course, but these experiences really soured me on employees. I had not only given these guys a job, but I had legitimately felt good about helping to feed their families. In return, they hated me, called me names, and stole from me.

By itself, that was almost enough to make me swear off employing people, but not quite.

#3: The IRS

What really drove me over the edge was dealing with the government and the IRS in particular. They were abominable.

I had to file forms with every payroll, and if anything on them was wrong, they penalized me – heavily. And if I paid them a single day late, they penalized me – heavily. And if they said I did something wrong – even if I didn’t – there was no way to change their verdict. Reason and evidence simply didn’t matter.

I eventually talked to a tax lawyer who explained the situation to me. He said:

Forget about fighting, Paul. There is no ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in tax court. You’re automatically guilty, and you have to try to prove yourself innocent… which is very hard and very expensive. Just pay them. I know you hate that, but you have no other choice. Fighting them would ruin you.

It wasn’t just the money that got me about this – it was that they were nasty, arrogant, heartless tyrants. Having the facts on my side didn’t matter. Intelligent arguments didn’t matter. Either I paid what they demanded or they would hurt me worse.

In many ways, it wasn’t much different than the local gang of street thugs demanding protection money.

So, that’s why I can’t hire you: Having employees locked me into a single role in life, that of a despised slave. When I finally realized that, I walked away.

I was lucky that I had the ability to move into specialties and to thrive in difficult niches; other guys probably couldn’t have.

So…

What I really want you to know is this:

I’d like to help you. You deserve a chance at a decent job. I’d like to be the guy who gave it to you, but the system demands that I must live as a slave in order to do so. And I won’t do that.

I very much wish that things were different, and I feel sorry every time I drive by that I can’t hire you. But I would never ask anyone to live as a slave, and I won’t live that way myself.

I wish you well, and if life in these parts should ever pull back from the present reign of oppression, I hope to run into you. And on that day, I hope to either hire you or do business with you.

We would both have much to gain from it.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

If You Spend 30 Minutes a Day Just Doing This…

legitimate expertEarl Nightingale researched and taught about success for decades, and he took his job seriously. His work is often forgotten now, but if you can find it, it is definitely worth your time. It was very helpful to me.

One of Earl’s more interesting lessons was this:

If you spend 30 minutes – every day – learning about one specific subject, you’ll become a legitimate expert in six months.

This is true. And I know it’s true because I took Earl’s advice and became an expert.

Perhaps it will take longer than six months for a difficult subject, but 30 minutes per day – if you actually use the time for serious study every day – is a LOT of focused time.

How to Do It

This is far easier than you might think, as long as you can make hard decisions and run your own life… and refuse to live by the expectations of others.

That means that you have to be able to say “no.” That means that you can accept the fact that others will be disappointed in you. You must be able to do what you think is right, regardless of their repeated objections.

When I first did this, it involved NOT having lunch with the people I worked with. I went off on my own and read while eating. Some of my colleagues thought I was being rude or weird, but I did it anyway.

Then, when my co-workers went out after work, I went home. I smiled, explained that I didn’t like drinking and that I had too much to do at home. And then I went home and read. They shook their heads but soon stopped asking.

So, when the other guys go out to lunch, sit by yourself and read. When they go out after work, go home and study. If friends or family don’t like it, do it anyway. Be different. Assure them that there is no insult intended, but take whatever heat is required and do what’s best for you.

You probably won’t lose many friends over this, but if you do, so be it. Any friend who requires that you not change and grow is not a friend you need to keep.

How to Read

Here are a few tips:

Go for quality, not quantity. Forget about reading a certain number of pages per day. That’s a mistake. Make sure that you understand what you read – that’s the only thing that matters.

Don’t just go through the motions. Stop and back up whenever you must. If you don’t understand something, circle it and look it up at your first opportunity. Don’t leave anything out; if you do, you’re subverting your future learning. Fill in the gaps as you go, not later.

You must understand WHY things work as they do. It is not enough to understand HOW they work. You must know why… you must know what interacts with the things you study and makes them act as they do. Once you understand that, you’ll start becoming a real expert.

Always keep paper and a pen next to your book. Write down things you need to check. Write down other ideas that come up while reading. Write down ideas for using the things you are reading about.

Once you finish a book (or magazine or whatever), review your notes and put everything of value into a file. (I suggest you use your computer for this.)

And If You Do…

… you’ll become a legitimate expert at whatever you study. Special talents are not required for any of this. Genius is not required. You must first make your decision, then act and stay with it under pressure.

Or, in the words of Calvin Coolidge:

Press on.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Make good choices, hold to them regardless of pressure, and press on.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Destroying the Myth That Military Power Equals Freedom

military power equals freedomAs I was finishing up my liberty entertainment article a few weeks ago, I checked lists that other people had made, just to see if I had forgotten something. As I did, I was dismayed to find that in most of these lists, pro-liberty really meant pro-military.

So I think it’s time to take a quick look at the myth that military power gives us liberty.

The Fantasy of the Foreign Oppressor

There is a plot that lies behind this “military power equals freedom” belief. It says that the enemy of liberty is a foreign invader. So, if the outsider is afraid to approach, we are free.

It implies that “local rule equals freedom.”

This is simply a lie. But it’s a lie that works very well in fiction.

Back in the real world, the hometown of an oppressor – whether it be near or far – makes him no better or worse.

Are we free because the people who rule us reside within local borders? Does that remain true even when it’s the “inside our lines” people who oppress us?

May only foreigners be oppressors?

Consider these recent cases:

  • No people suffered more to defeat Hitler than the Russians. So did killing the foreign invader make them free? Hardly – it kept Stalin, who killed far more people than Hitler ever did, in power.
  • What about Southern blacks in 1950? Almost everything done to them was “under the law,” and they were protected by a massive military and a nuclear arsenal capable of reducing any invader to ashes. Were they free?
  • And what about their great-grandparents who were slaves? They were militarily protected, after all. And their local oppressors operated fully under the rule of law. The  Supreme Court approved. Did that make them free?
  • The people of Eastern Europe were protected by a Soviet arsenal that included thousands of atomic bombs. They were further protected by constitutions and courts, all of which were locally administered. Were they free?

I could go on, but I think the point is made: The vast majority of human oppression comes at the hands of locals, not foreigners.

That’s a fact, whether or not it works as a movie plot.

I know that many good men and women have spent time in various military capacities, but the fact is this:

Foreign invaders abuse far, far fewer people than do local bosses.

And here’s another fact: Once a foreign invader takes control of a new place, he usually tries very hard to keep the populace happy. The foreigner does not murder civilians by the millions… but local rulers do. (Think of Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc. They each killed millions of locals.)

The Flip Side of Xenophobia

Xenophobia is fear of the foreigner and usually applies to things like hating immigrants. But it’s not always “fear.” It’s more often a need to keep the foreigner beneath us.

In any case, classic expressions of xenophobia involve punishing immigrants, Jews, or some other outsiders (justified by whatever facts can be conveniently assembled).

It seems to me that the myth we mentioned above, “military power equals freedom,” is the flip side of this xenophobia phenomenon:

  • On one side of this “xenophobia coin,” we have outsiders whom we need to keep beneath us.
  • On the other side, we have outsiders whom we must prevent from putting us beneath them.

Both of these fears come from a dominance instinct:

We must allow no one above us.

We must keep those below us in place.

Both of these impulses are irrational, and they tend to travel together.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but my experience tells me this:

The people who love the “military equals freedom” fantasy are the same people who oppose immigrants.

That’s not just an American thing, by the way. You see it more or less everywhere.

I know that there are many exceptions to this statement (we’re talking about millions of individuals, after all, many of whom DO analyze their own minds), but I think this statement holds up:

“Military equals freedom” grows from the same impulse as xenophobia.

The Case of America

Since the majority of my readers seem to be Americans, I’ll devote a minute to the US’s fear of the “foreign devil.”

Should Americans really take an “alien invasion” seriously? Even when surrounded by two huge oceans and friendly people to the north and south? (The trouble in Mexico exists largely because the US government created it.)

There is no potential invader who takes invasion seriously. Here’s what Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto said during the hostilities of World War II:

You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.

No foreign power would seriously consider invading America, where there are 270 million guns in the hands of ordinary people. Everyone, not just boys in uniforms, would be a deadly threat.

The US can be taken by stealth, but not by an open invasion. If the American people ever paid attention to what was being done to them, no oppressor would survive it.

To close this discussion, here’s a quote from General Douglas MacArthur, who knew something about America and war:

Our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.

We need to let go of fear and think rationally.

Very seldom do foreigners oppress us. The vast majority of oppression comes from within.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Unstable Element that Messes Up the Inflation/Deflation Debate

inflation/deflationI was recently asked to sit on an expert panel, analyzing an inflation/deflation debate between Harry Dent and Peter Schiff. Sitting with me on the panel were Doug Casey, Chris Mayer, and Karim Rahemtulla, as well as Messrs Dent and Schiff.

All of these guys spend prodigious amounts of time on financial analysis, and I don’t, so I wondered what I could bring to the party.

As I ran the subject through my mind, however, I realized something important had been left out of the analysis – something that I added to the panel and which I’d like to explain here. It was…

The Black Box

Without question, the central player in US markets (even world markets) is the Federal Reserve Bank. Every serious financial analysis concerns itself with Ben Bernanke and his successor Janet Yellen; indeed they have to, as the Federal Reserve single-handedly holds up the US stock and housing markets.

But when we talk about the Federal Reserve (or “the Fed,” for short), we are overlooking something very important:

Bernanke and Yellen are mere employees of the Federal Reserve, not the owners. And we don’t know who the owners are.

If you’re new to this subject, that may sound ridiculous, and I can’t blame you for thinking so. But, the fact is, we really don’t know. The US government doesn’t own it and isn’t telling who does.

We do know that the Fed is a private banking group that has been given a monopoly on the creation of US currency, and the list of its owners is a closely held secret.

The true owners are almost certainly reflected in the roster of Primary Dealers who skim from US dollars (actually Federal Reserve Notes) as they are being made, but we really don’t know much more than that. There was a list that circulated in about 1930, but that was a long time ago.

So…

Who are the people that Bernanke and Yellen take orders from? We don’t know.

What do these people want? We don’t know.

What are their long-term asset positions? We don’t know.

Who might they protect, aside from themselves? We don’t know.

If things get rough, will they obey politicians? Probably not, but we don’t know.

Our closest view of these people came from Professor Carroll Quigley, who said that he was given access to their records in the early 1960s. This is what he wrote in his book, Tragedy & Hope:

It must not be felt that the heads of the world’s chief central banks were themselves substantive powers in world finance. They were not. Rather they were the technicians and agents of the dominant investment bankers of their own countries, who had raised them up, and who were perfectly capable of throwing them down. The substantive financial powers of the world were in the hands of these investment bankers who remained largely behind the scenes in their own unincorporated private banks. These formed a system of international cooperation and national dominance which was more private, more powerful, and more secret than that of their agents in the central banks.

In another passage, he writes:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole… Each central bank sought to dominate its government by its ability to control treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence co-operative politicians by subsequent rewards in the business world.

So, was Quigley telling the truth? I don’t really know, but Quigley maintained an excellent reputation. This wasn’t a man given to wild stories.

And if Quigley did tell the truth in 1966, is it still true?

I don’t know that either, and that’s the point!

There’s a fundamental factor in our financial analysis that is completely unknown to us.

Presuming…

Okay, presuming that Quigley was telling the truth and that his information remains close to true… and presuming that when push comes to shove, the Fed will ignore politicians… it seems likely that the Fed (who is buying up the rights to lots of real estate at the moment) will pull the plug at some point.

The purpose of pulling the plug will be two-fold: To reset an untenable economic system and to consolidate their position in a deflation. (Deflation, with its flood of loan defaults, transfers assets from borrowers to lenders.)

After that, and with some friendly legislation, they can print with abandon (“$10,000 checks for everyone!”) and reset their system.

Presuming, of course, that the suckers (that’s you and me) keep obeying the rules of their rigged game.

So…

This was my contribution to the great inflation/deflation debate.

There is excellent financial analysis being done by bright, competent, and brave men and women. But we must also remember that a large black box sits in the center of our analysis, and we don’t know what’s happening inside of it.

The people who can see inside of that black box – and there are some, whose secrecy is protected at the highest levels – have a gigantic advantage over all other investors and analysts. And so long as the inside of that box cannot be seen, the insiders will maintain that advantage.

This doesn’t make financial analysis pointless, of course, but it does leave it with a large “unknown” factor.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com