I Am Not a Ferengi

ferengiCall me a businessman if you like; an entrepreneur, a capitalist even… but I am not a Ferengi, dedicated to grabbing as much of your money as I can, however I can.

If that was all I wanted, I’d be exploiting Washington and Wall Street, or maybe I’d see if I could wriggle my way into central banking.

And just in case some of you are not familiar with the term, the Ferengi are a fictional race of aliens in the Star Trek universe. They are characterized by a completely amoral obsession with profit. Here, to illustrate, are a few of their Rules of Acquisition:

The best deal is the one that makes the most profit.

Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.

A deal is a deal (is a deal)… until a better one comes along.

Expand or die.

Learn the customer’s weaknesses, so that you can better take advantage of him.

The reason I bring this up is that I have, for too many years, heard people repeating the slogan, “The job of a company’s management is to maximize profit for the stockholders.” If you want to define “profit” more broadly than currency units, the statement is okay, but I’ve very seldom heard it used that way.

If all that matters to you and your company are the Rules of Acquisition, you should be bribing politicians and marketing cocaine. And yes, sadly, there are companies whose managers believe in the Rules of Acquisition but are too slick to admit it.

I happen to think that business is much bigger and much better than that.

“Why Is the Hippie in Crypto?”

I manage a company called Cryptohippie, and this is a question I get from time to time, and I think the answer is illustrative:

The people who run our company decided on this name to make what we think is an important point. This is a humane mission for us and not about the maximization of profits. We all had other careers; we didn’t need to start the company. We did it because it needed to be done and because no one was doing it even remotely well.

We see profits as a tool, not as the sole purpose of our lives. And that’s my point today. There has to be something more to your business than profits alone, or else you may as well exploit human weaknesses, spread enough money around to secure profitable legislation, and pay off whatever enforcers you need to.

I believe the contrary: that business can be a great, creative venture, delivering real benefits to humanity. Businesses feed people; they move them effectively; they house them, clothe them, cure their diseases, and so on.

Businesses bless humanity.

Good businessmen and women are blessings to the world. They are not craven Ferengi, perpetually grasping at everyone else’s wallet.

Yes, Profits Are Important

Indeed they are. And in truth, profits are far more than important; they are no less than essential. And here’s how necessary I believe they are:

Without profits, we go back to slavery.

If you’d like support for that statement, you can find it here.

To portray profit as something dirty is immensely ignorant. Sure, some Ferengi-type operators may be dirty, but as an ancient prophet once wrote, “What is the chaff to the wheat?”

Why I Love Business

If you look carefully through history, one of the things that will jump out at you is that the real good of mankind doesn’t come from governments, but from business: from traders, from the financiers who make trade possible, from hustlers, smugglers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business people of all sorts. Governments and other hierarchies just get in the way to a greater or lesser extent. Commerce frees people from poverty and grim lives of bare subsistence.

Think of a poor boy growing up in a small village, living in the same primitive squalor that his great-great-great-grandfather did. Then he gets a chance to work in a condition of market-based trade. He works very hard, lives responsibly, and makes a beautiful life for himself, for his wife, and for his children.

It’s commerce that makes that possible, not rulers.

My Point…

My point is that “businessman” should be a term of honor.

Yes, I know, we’re coming out of a century where Marx ruled the university, ruled half the political dialog, and ruled over a goodly portion of the planet. And I know that even with the sickening death toll attributable to Marxist ideas (or at least Marxist-Leninist ideas), the slander on profit continues. Businesspeople and economists, however, should not be helping such ideas along.

Good businesses bless the world, and if that isn’t what we’re doing, what’s the point?

Business is not a competition to stack up the most game chips and to declare ourselves the monkey with the most… or at least I don’t think it is.

The point of business is to bless ourselves while blessing others. There is virtue and beauty and honor in that. To portray it as anything less is to devalue ourselves.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

They’re Coming for Your Accounts

debtNearly all of us grew up thinking that we registered ourselves to prove that we were safe and responsible. We advertised our services as “registered” or “licensed,” and we never thought about it beyond that point. After all, that was the way things were done, and we knew that it would help our customers trust us.

There is, however, another side to registration, one that’s about to bite a lot of decent people… and hard.

What Is Registration, Really?

What did we do when we registered with a government agency? We gave them our name, address, birthdate, and so on. If we thought about it at all, we thought that they were acting as some kind of guarantor of our services. But what really happened was that we told them how to find us and hurt us.

Registration involves making ourselves easy to find by enforcers, and placing ourselves at their mercy. Yes, I know that we did it ignorantly (I know I certainly did) and out of necessity, but we did hand our best “how to find me” information to enforcement agencies.

Now, what I’ve described above involves commercial and professional registrations. Unfortunately, the same thing applies to bank accounts and retirement accounts. When you register those with a government, you are telling them where your money is and making it very easy for them to seize it.

Trillion Dollar Deficits

In recent years, the US government has been spending a trillion dollars per year more than it takes in. (And there are many additional factors at play.) The European situation is different, but not particularly better.

These situations can only last so long. At some point, the governments will need more money, especially as banks are ready to fail.

Governments will protect the big banks, at the expense of the citizens. You should take this seriously, and now.

Warning Shots

Just a week or two ago, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a horrifying paper, called The Fund’s Lending Framework and Sovereign Debt. That paper, in turn, was based on one from December 2013, called Financial and Sovereign Debt Crises: Some Lessons Learned and Those Forgotten.

Major media ignored all of this, of course.

The December 2013 document, right at the start, says that “financial repression” is necessary. Here’s what it says (underlining mine):

The claim is that advanced countries do not need to resort to the standard toolkit of emerging markets, including debt restructurings and conversions, higher inflation, capital controls and other forms of financial repression.

It continues:

As we document, this claim is at odds with the historical track record of most advanced economies, where debt restructuring or conversions, financial repression, and a tolerance for higher inflation, or a combination of these were an integral part of the resolution of significant past debt overhangs.

So, in order to fix debt overhangs – currently at horrifying levels – financial repression is not just an option, but required.

That’s not my interpretation; those are their words.

And, of course, they’ve already had a trial run, when they stole funds directly from individual bank accounts in Cyprus, just last year. Here’s how that went down:

  • March 16, 2013: Cyprus announces a bank holiday and sets the terms of a “bail-in” to save the banks: 6.75% of all bank balances under €100,000 and 9.9% of balances larger than €100,000 will be confiscated. In honest language, the word for that is “theft.”
  • People screamed, and the government hemmed and hawed for a number of days.
  • March 24, 2013: People are permitted to withdraw €100 at a time from their bank accounts.
  • March 25, 2013: A bail-in deal is announced. Accounts with over €100,000 lose either 40% of their money (Bank of Cyprus) or 60% of their money (Laiki bank).

And, as it happened, a number of very rich people and companies were permitted to withdraw their money in full, regardless of the “bail-in.”

The IMF report goes on to say:

Governments can stuff debt into local pension funds and insurance companies, forcing them through regulation to accept far lower rates of return than they might otherwise demand.

… Domestic defaults, restructurings, or conversions are particularly difficult to document and can sometimes be disguised as “voluntary.”

The paper that they slipped out three weeks ago adds this:

The Fund would be able to provide exceptional access on the basis of a debt operation that involves an extension of maturities.

That means that 30-day notes can be instantly turned into 30-year bonds.

The US Treasury Is Already on the Job

It’s not just the IMF, of course. The US Treasury has had a group working on these ideas since the Bush administration.

And in August 2010, the US Departments of Labor and the Treasury held joint hearings, deciding how best they could take control of all assets in IRAs and 401(k) accounts. The decision was that they’d replace them with “Treasury Retirement Bonds.”

More Examples

  • In 2009, the government of Ireland swiped €4 billion from their National Pensions Reserve Fund in order to prop up their insolvent banks. The following March, they stole the remaining €2.5 billion for another bail-out.
  • In November 2010, the French parliament took €36 billion from a reserve pension fund, to pay the debts of a “social” fund.
  • Also in November 2010, the government of Hungary effectively took 2.7 trillion forints ($13.5 billion) from 3 million retirement accounts.
  • The government of Poland nationalized one-third of future contributions to individual retirement accounts. That money will almost certainly disappear into the state treasury, robbing savers of some $2.3 billion per year.

So…

Understand that the financial powers that be – the IMF, World Bank, Bank for International Settlements (BIS), assorted central banks, and your local government – are ready to rob you.

When the time comes, all their usual sucker-bait will be pulled out: “It only hits the rich,” “We have to trash the economy to save it,” “We must all sacrifice,” “It’s for the children,” and so on.

All the right-thinking people on television will wring their hands and say it’s the only way out. Perhaps they’ll even let a bank or two crash for good effect.

But in the end, they aim to steal your money. Government and the big banks will continue unharmed.

If you want to protect yourself, you need to get your wealth out of registered accounts, because that’s where they’ll grab first.

Understand that these people have only two real choices:

  1. Reform their system, close the central banks, and give up their power.
  2. Start grabbing the only big pile of portable wealth remaining: your retirement money.

I don’t think any of us believe they’ll take option number one.

It’s your money. Act.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

 

Why the Banksters Don’t Care About Your Gold

bankstersI regularly hear how important it is to hold silver and gold and how dangerous the central banks and their banksters (a combination of bankers and gangsters) really are. I’m sympathetic, of course, since I don’t like central banks and I do like silver and gold.

But these folks have a problem: Their plans never seem to bear any fruit. Mostly, they are waiting for the banksters to lose control, for the financial system to fall down, and for their silver and gold to save them from an apocalypse.

But it has been a lot of years now, and the banksters seem to have no concern about precious metals in the hands of average folks. In short, they don’t fear your silver and gold at all, and I think it’s important to examine why.

The Obvious Reasons

There are several obvious reasons why the banksters don’t fear metals in private hands, and then there’s a much bigger reason. Let’s start with the easy ones:

  1. The banksters already hold most the world’s silver and gold and control its pricing. The ‘official’ price of gold is set every day by a group of bankers in London.
  2. They lease it to each other and their friends.
  3. The largest bankers more or less control the gold futures markets. At last count, the big commodities market had 102 times more gold under contract than they had physical gold. Since this “paper gold” passes for real gold, manipulations can abound.
  4. Governments are very good at stealing gold from a populace. The US government did precisely that in 1933, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t try again when they want. Taking money is what governments do.

The Big Reason

All the reasons above are significant, of course, but there remains a vast amount of gold and silver in private hands. And this could present a serious problem to the banking monopolies, except for one thing:

The people who hold these metals never use them.

I regularly hear people asking, “How do we destroy the banks?” And the answer is obvious: Stop using their products.

That, of course, is where the inquiry usually ends.

The “gold bug” crowd already has the tool of victory in their hands – but they don’t use it. There is more than enough gold, silver, and copper in free circulation to conduct a great deal of commerce. And if they were serious about ending the reign of central banks, that would be the way to do it. (Bitcoin would more than suffice for international transactions.)

But they almost never use their metals. Rather, they hold them in safes, in drawers, and on shelves, treating them like little idols. Every so often they pull out their stacks, dust them off, appreciate them for a moment, then put them back into storage. Then they wait for the apocalypse to come, when they’ll finally do something with them.

Again, I like silver and gold; I think they are honest money and a good store of wealth. But if you want to great rid of central banking tyranny, you’ll have to USE your silver and gold. That’s the choice: Treat it like an idol or treat it like money.

As long as your coins remain static, they remain powerless. If you use them like money, big things can happen.

The Bitcoin Kids Have It Right

A lot of silver and gold people hate Bitcoin. But regardless of Bitcoin’s features or flaws, the Bitcoin community is doing one thing very well: They are using their currency, rather than merely admiring it.

This is why the banksters and governments are freaked out about Bitcoin and not about silver and gold. By using their currency, the Bitcoin kids are chipping away at the banksters. If left unmolested, these young people would seriously weaken the banksters and eventually render them obsolete.

  • The banksters fear Bitcoin, because people are using it in daily commerce.
  • The banksters don’t fear precious metals, because they are not used in daily commerce.

Silver and gold will start chipping away at the banksters when people pull their metals off their shelves and use them… and not before.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com