Big Brother Is in High Gear

bigbroSocial media and smart phones don’t have to be evil – there’s nothing bad about talking to your friends, after all – but right now social media and “Big Brother in your pocket” phones are very clearly servicing evil. It wouldn’t be hard to build non-evil alternatives, but for the moment, the evil versions enjoy a monopoly. (At least with search engines, there are non-evil alternatives.)

However we choose to look at it, Big Brother is on the greatest roll in all of history. No Pharaoh, no Caesar, no commissar ever had anything approaching the surveillance and manipulation capacities of modern rulers. And in support of it all stand Jane and Joe Average, ever-compliant, who simply don’t want to know. Give them the slightest excuse to close their eyes, and they will.

This kind of thing doesn’t often end well.

Two Recent Outrages

Not that many people will actually be outraged, of course; there won’t be a great deal of that so long as ignorance remains possible. Joe and Jane have already forgotten about Snowden, after all. Still, I will continue to do my part.

One of the hundreds of US government offices, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently announced that they developed a system to predict the psychological status of smartphone users. They’re in the process of farming this out to businesses now.

This system tracks your location, tracks your psychological state, and when necessary, will “deliver an automated intervention.” In the NIH’s typical gov-speak, it sounds like this:

Continuously collected ambulatory psychological data are fused with data on location and responses to questions. The mobile data are combined with geospatial risk maps to quantify exposure to risk and predict a future psychological state. The future predictions are used to warn the user when he or she is at especially high risk of experiencing a negative event that might lead to an unwanted outcome…

This is all couched as “help for drug addicts,” of course. (Is “do it for the children” already out of the rotation?) No thinking person, of course, believes that this system will be used only “for good” and by beneficent angelic beings. And if not, then how shall it be used?

The second recent outrage was a long list of manipulations that were cataloged by The Washington Post. They make it very clear that the US government is actively manipulating its populace. Their list is only a small fraction of the whole, of course, but I was grateful to see it.

And from the Glorious United Nations…

Yes, the shining white knights at the UN are chiming in with their new plans to protect us from all evil.

As Mike Krieger reports, the UN (to protect women from harassment, of course),

proposes both that social networks proactively police every profile and post, and that government agencies only ‘license’ those who agree to do so.

So, if you wish to run any kind of “social” network (do comment boards count?), you’d have to be licensed. And if not, you’ll be a law-breaker. Granted, the UN pushes out destructive ideas all the time, and many are never implemented but some of them are. And this isn’t the first idea like this I’ve seen.

From Here, It Gets Ugly

A few months ago, I devoted an entire issue of my subscription newsletter (#59) to the subject of what’s coming next from the Big Brother crew, and it’s not comforting.

Do you remember old episodes of Star Trek where a civilization became controlled by computers and eventually no one moved without the system moving them? Well, that’s where Big Brother is headed, and their new Big Data systems are capable of reaching that kind of result.

Yes, I know it sounds farfetched. So did the lectures I was giving in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and even earlier. And then came Snowden, and it didn’t sound so farfetched anymore.

My job is to deliver information. What you do with it is up to you. Still, to provide some backup, here’s a reminder of the infamous Facebook experiment that came and went from the newsfeed in early 2012:

Facebook ran a troubling set of experiments on 689,000 of its users, to determine if they could tweak their news feeds and purposely change their users’ emotions. And it turned out that they could… and that those emotions spread to their friends.

What they’ve been doing along these lines since then, we don’t know. We learned about this experiment more or less by accident.

So…

And so, I’ll close here. I feel I have discharged my duties. Make of it what you will.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

How to Speak to the Brainwashed

brainwashedLast week, I posted an article entitled “Man Is Not Always Blind.” And quite understandably, I received comments from readers who disagreed. After all, when you are surrounded by people who wish to not see – who hate you for trying to make them see – it is natural to take that opinion.

(And since the word is so often fitting, I will go with “brainwashed” to describe those who wish not to see.)

But rather than debating “Is it getting any better?” I’d like to move on to actually making things better. And that means talking to people.

So, since there is something of an art to speaking to the brainwashed, I will direct the rest of this article to that art.

To Begin

Let’s start by removing the divide: You and I have made the same mistakes these people are making. We may be a few steps ahead of them in leaving the swamp, but we started in the same swamp with them.

In all of human history, there may be no greater conditioning system than our modern government schools (including all the private schools that follow the same pattern). From infancy to adulthood, it affects most human minds in the West. And I dare guess that 98% of my readers bear its scars.

So, you must start by understanding that these “brainwashed” people have spent a huge portion of their lives inside a massive mind-warp. Don’t be too quick to toss them aside. Learn patience. Breaking out of their mold is scary, and it takes time.

The Roots

The roots are deep and old; they are backed up with violence and fear. It comes down to this:

The very existence of the state requires you to be brainwashed.

Every state (communist, fascist, theocratic, whatever) rests on the concept of legitimacy:

It is right that one group of men take everyone else’s money by force and tell them what to do.

It is right that they punish or kill anyone who doesn’t obey them.

It is right that they send your children to die fighting their competitors.

If I wanted to apply this to Marvin and Bob who live down the street, you’d tell me I was crazy, and you would be right.

Why, then, is this same idea holy and glorious when applied to brigands and deceivers, as it has been for some 6,000 years?

The usual response to such a question, by the way, is this:

<sound of crickets>

And please notice that this is precisely the way to phrase things to the brainwashed. You have to create moments of clarity.

Sometimes it will work, and a seed will be planted. Other times, they’ll hate your guts for forcing them into punishable thoughts.

The One-Size-Fits-All Answer

I don’t care how trite this may sound, but the right way to get through to the brainwashed is simply to love them.

Loving them means that you have to get over the need to win, to prove yourself right. Get clear on the facts: If you are promoting personal liberty, true free will, true free speech, and so on, you are already right. You don’t have to prove anything. When you try to “prove” your rightness, you get dragged into their “winning” game, and you slide into their pit.

The people who fight you are trying to keep their mental universes free of contradiction. They haven’t the courage to see past their fences; they are defending their dogma from your heresy.

Your job is to speak the truth, to take their shots, and to smile. It doesn’t matter that they are flat wrong; so were you at one time.

Love them. Help them see. Don’t rush them. Let them come to you.

And when the loudmouth plays his game, tell him he’s an attack artist, substituting gorilla-style dominance for human understanding. Then smile and walk away.

We Are the Heretics

I dedicated a full issue of my monthly newsletter (FMP #58) to the subject of successful heresy, and I certainly can’t go through much of it here, but I would like you to understand that we are heretics to the majority culture, to the brainwashed culture. We cannot expect them to simply come along at our first statement of truth. Agreeing with us is far more than an act of reason; it is an act of courage… and people require time to work up to that.

So, don’t get sucked into heated debates. You’re the outsider, and you shouldn’t argue inside their frameworks. When they hit you with a barrage or with a “gotcha” question, step back, slow down, and examine what they’re actually saying. You don’t have to respond in 14 milliseconds. That’s a trap.

As the outsider, you should be addressing their root premises, not the political argument de jour. Such arguments seldom accomplish anything. Let them jump into their political furors while you keep addressing deep principles and things that “are not to be questioned.”

In other words, go ahead and be the heretic – they’re going to punish you for it anyway.

In the End…

In the end, we don’t speak to other people so we can convert them, and certainly not to prove we’re right, or (God forbid) to assemble a movement.

And, honestly, talking to people isn’t even about freeing life to flourish on this planet, as right a goal as that may be. When we talk to people, we are already expressing life… presentlynow… not “after we win.”

When you speak to people with love – in honest concern for their wellbeing – you are directly creating a better world, right now, word by word.

Do it.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Man Is Not Always Blind

manblindThese words (which I picked up from Abraham Joshua Heschel) are true, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Humanity may be blind – willingly blind – for sickening lengths of time, but mankind is not always blind.

Our present government/corporate culture – the loud, flashing, vapid cloud of distraction and fear that surrounds us – not only promotes blindness toward anything outside of itself, but requires this blindness for its very continuance; this is true.

Still, man is not always blind.

Back Then

I will begin making my point with an old example:

Would you expect thousands of peasants, in deepest medieval France, to walk for scores or even hundreds of miles, through early 12th century mud and wilderness, and to sleep outdoors, just to hear a philosopher teach? A man who was rejected by Church and secular authorities, and who was mutilated beside?

Regardless of how implausible that may sound, it happened. The teacher’s name was Peter Abelard, this is how he described these events:

Forthwith I sought out a lonely spot known to me of old in the region of Troyes [in north-central France], and there, on a bit of land which had been given to me… I built with reeds and stalks my first oratory.

No sooner had students learned of my retreat than they began to flock there from all sides, leaving their towns and castles to dwell in the wilderness. In place of their spacious houses, they built themselves huts; instead of dainty fare, they lived on the herbs of the field and coarse bread; their soft beds they exchanged for heaps of straw and rushes, and their tables were piles of turf.

This happened. These people grew tired of being blind. Then they did something about it.

And Now

And even in our age, which beats out the 1950s as an age of abject conformity, thousands of good people are breaking away from it.

There are people who can see and feel and think independently – or, even more horrifying to the overlords of the age – people who can and do act on their heretical beliefs. These people don’t show up on TV, of course, and seldom on radio, but they exist all the same.

New branches of civilization are sprouting, and the people of these branches care about seeing. Voluntaryists, Bitcoiners, homeschoolers, cryptoanarchists, hackers, makers, religious non-conformists… Such people are sick of being blind; are sick of living a hypnotized, acquiescent life of chasing symbols and illusions, while being systematically reaped by a corrupt system.

The extent to which such people have broken out of the Western Autopilot Life is greater – far greater – than any I’ve seen over my lifetime. Furthermore, the very number of them is greater than any I’ve ever seen.

And not only that, but to a larger extent than most of us realize, this is flowing into the low spots of mainstream culture. During my youth, politicians were held to be important men; wise and virtuous men. And that is simply no longer true. I don’t think there is any place left in the West where the phrase, “Politicians are liars and thieves” would fail to garner general agreement at a bus stop. That is a big, serious change.

For all of our lifetimes, we’ve been living through a perfect storm of authority. Authority has benefited from a group of temporary conditions and has gone, in stock market terms, through the roof. But this will not last forever, and it is thinning as we speak.

Authority has become brittle and fragile. It remains in place, but the people who still believe in it are those who are least-informed, least-awake and least-alive. The more informed the individual, the more likely it is that they hold authority to be stupid and abusive.

I haven’t space to go through this in length here, but those so inclined can find it in issue #40 of my subscription newsletter.

What Fuller Knew

Among the people who I’m sorry to have missed in his lifetime was Buckminster Fuller. So, I’d like to conclude by quoting a few passages from Fuller’s last book, Cosmography, published nine years after his death:

The dark ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear.

I find it very interesting that Fuller says that the depth and persistence of life’s domination on Earth is “only now becoming clear.” And he is entirely correct – it is only now becoming clear to us. Why that should be is a question I will not touch today, but the statement is both true and important. Domination is abuse, and its vileness is only now becoming clear to us… but it IS becoming clear to us.

Man is not forever blind.

This Dark Ages prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built of misinformation… We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.

And that’s really what all our efforts are about: Changing our minds and seeing the vile conditioning that has been imposed upon us; cutting life free of its constraints and letting it flourish, unhindered. Once we do that – and ignore the medieval thugs who seek to keep us chained to their chariots – our dark ages will end.

Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete.

It’s hard to add much to this passage, aside from a hearty “amen” and “we’re not nearly as far from it as we may think.”

Press forward and savor every bit of progress you see.

Darkness will not reign forever.

Man is not always blind.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The Price of Freedom™

freedomSomehow, and I had no idea how, I found myself face to face with a man I first mistook as a mobile home salesman. But he wasn’t trying to sell me a double-wide; he was trying to sell me a gaudy package labeled Freedom™. He stood in front of me, smiling too much and waiting for me to comment on the beauty of his product.

“Tell me about this Freedom of yours,” I finally squeezed out. “And why does it have the trademark symbol on it?”

“That’s because our freedom is the best kind.”

“So, freedom isn’t just freedom?”

“Heavens no,” he assured me. “Those other freedoms are poor, poor imitations.” Then he leaned in toward me and spoke in a lower voice, slyly. “You know what I mean, don’t ya?” He elbowed me in the ribs.

“I’m not sure I do.”

He leaned very close now. “You know. We’re kind of too humble to say it outright, but we’re…” He wanted me to complete the sentence, but I didn’t know how. He looked at me like a schoolboy who couldn’t come up with the answer to two plus two. “You know… we’re God’s favorite.”

“Are we?”

He pulled back, incredulous at my ignorance. “But of course!” Then he gave me a good looking over. “Ah, I can tell, you’re from one of those northern, liberal places, aren’t you?”

“Well, I’m from the north, yes, but no, sir, I’m definitely not a liberal. Actually, I’m—”

“Listen son, we’re the one indispensable provider of freedom. Without us, the world would have been a cinder a long time ago; and nothing can live on a cinder, can it?”

“No, I wouldn’t think it could.”

“Darned right, it couldn’t. Now, you just talk to any preacher south of your northern city and he’ll confirm that I’m telling you the truth!”

“Well, I—”

“You listen to talk radio, son?”

“Not in a long time, but I used to like certain interview shows, and when I used to drive a lot, I listened to Rush Limbaugh.”

“Ah, did you pay attention to him?”

“Sure, he said some things I really liked, and he was fun.”

“Well then, you have your answer!”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but rather than climbing further into his rabbit hole, I decided to move along to the price of this trademarked freedom. “And what, sir, does this finely wrapped package cost?”

“Well, it’s not a fixed-price thing.”

“Very well, but it must have some cost, no?”

“Certainly. Freedom isn’t free!”

“Okay then, what exactly is the cost?”

“Well, it’s whatever the government says it is.”

“The government?”

“Sure.”

“Look mister,” I said, “It was tax season recently, and I counted up everything they take away from me, and it’s a hell of a lot of money.” The salesman stood stone faced. But he had hit a sore spot in me, so I went on.

“The Feds take income taxes, payroll taxes, and Medicare taxes, which I don’t even use. And then I get hit for property taxes, state income tax, sales taxes, taxes on electricity, on gas, on telephones, gasoline taxes, and taxes on watching television. That accounts for more than half the money I work for… not to mention all the taxes paid by the people who make my bread, cars, computers, and clothes – all of which are rolled into the price I have to pay.”

“Look,” he said, putting his arm around my shoulders, soothing me and walking me across the display case so I’d see his package from a different angle. “Everyone pays that, son.”

But I wasn’t done. “The government also claims ownership of my children, you know!”

“Ah, son, don’t be silly. Why would the government want to hurt your children?”

“I don’t know or care, but if their agents decide to take an interest in them, they are authorized to take them away!”

“That only happens to bad people, son, and you’re obviously educated. You don’t have to worry about things like that.”

“And if their armed men tell me to fall down on the ground in front of them, are you saying that I don’t have to prostrate myself?”

“Well, of course you do, son. But it’s always for your own safety. And like I say, they only do that to really bad people.”

“And how can they be so good at telling the difference between me and a less ‘educated’ guy?”

“They know, son, they know. It’s in their training.”

And then, I must admit, my mind fell blank. What kind of magic training could they have?

Quickly, he put his arm around my shoulder again and walked me back toward my first position, stopping me where the lighting was perfect.

“You’re looking at this all wrong, son. You need to forget those details.”

“They seem like rather large details to forget.”

“That’s because you don’t know what’s packaged in with the deal. That’ll make you forget ’em!”

“Really?”

“Of course! Guaranteed!”

“Then what’s in the package deal?”

“Ah, the best, son… the very best!”

“Which is?”

He leaned close again. “Have you ever felt insecure, son?”

“Sure. Hasn’t everyone?”

“Indeed, son, indeed. And have you ever felt small, afraid, confused, and powerless?”

“Well, yeah, though not so much since—”

“Things of the past! All things of the past!”

I was incredulous. I worked long and hard to grow out of those things, and I couldn’t see how there could be such a fast, easy fix. Still, I had to ask. “And how’s that?”

“When you buy this here package, young man, you join yourself, heart and soul, to something larger than yourself! You make yourself part of the Jolly Red, White, and Blue Giant! He’s got the ass-whoopingest department of kill-people-and-break-things on the planet, and you get to become part of it!

“After that, the next time you feel afraid or small, just wrap yourself in his colors. Proclaim your allegiance and you become part of him, son, and you’ll never feel weak or vulnerable again. Just pull out your colors and sing his song. You’ll feel it, son, you’ll feel it! After that, you’ll pay the cost over and over and over.”

Maybe I’ve read too much history, but I can recall too many people who fell for that line and ended up squirming in an ash heap. I started looking at the other display cases, then down the aisle.

“Listen, sir,” I finally said, “this Freedom™ seems awfully expensive. Is there another brand I can look at?”

And then… for a horrifying quarter second or so… I thought I saw the salesman turn into Agent Smith.

And then, finally and gratefully, I woke up, and swore off holiday barbeques forever. Next time I think I’ll stay home and read.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Can Any Government Be Moral?

BeMoral

Please understand that I am not setting out to prove my pet doctrine in this column. Furthermore, I do not think that people who disagree with me are stupid. I’m taking this question seriously and I intend to examine it in an honest way.

The Morality Confusion

There must be dozens of definitions for “what is moral” and a sea of confusion surrounding the entire conversation. But it’s really not that hard.

I can trace what we call “the Golden Rule” back to about 580 BC, when the Greek philosopher Thales said this:

That for which we blame others, let us not do ourselves.

There are records of other Greek philosophers saying the same thing at almost the same time, Confucius saying it a century or two later, and a stream of people saying it ever since. I can furthermore guarantee that people whose names we don’t know said the same thing thousands of years prior.

The Golden Rule has been with us for a long, long time, and it has worked better than anything else throughout all those years. Sure, human life is complicated, and sometimes applying the Golden Rule takes some judgment, but the principle itself stands.

And yes, I know that a motivated philosopher can come up with an impossible test case, but that’s not a serious concern. Send the one-in-a-million scenario to a specialist and get busy with the other 999,999.

Statements like, “We can’t really know right from wrong,” or “You only see that as right or wrong because of your culture,” are silly at a minimum and are more commonly brain poison. I can promise you that if you act according to the Golden Rule, you’ll do the right thing 99.9% of the time. Do you think any academic system of ethics could touch that success rate?

Why should we complicate this? Integrity (which is what the Golden Rule boils down to) is a simple concept that can be understood by any functional adult. And this means that moral clarity is not only possible, but universally accessible.

Morality, in the end, is simple: What you don’t like, don’t do to others. This stands upon self-reference, something that is built into us and operates effortlessly within us.

Morality is a bit like a BIOS for human life (BIOS being a set of basic commands that control a computer). As such, it is of tremendous importance.

What passes for educated discourse in the modern world often passes off morality as silly old superstitions, but the same people who make these statements deny them by their actions every day. When any of us complain about the jerk who cuts into the Starbucks line, the cruel parent, or the lying colleague, we are accusing them of being immoral, and we are confirming that morality matters to us.

So, it is very important for us to ask questions about morality, but we should ask them sincerely, not as a tool for winning some kind of debate. Debating is a poor substitute for understanding, and word fights are primarily an exercise in entropy.

What Is Government?

If we are to ask whether governments are or can be moral, we must begin by answering this question: What really is government?

In plain terms, government is a group of humans that rules over other humans.

Formal definitions stay close to “an organization that maintains a monopoly on force in a fixed geographic area.” In actual practice, that’s all but identical to “a group of humans that rules over other humans.”

In simple terms, government is the organization that tells us what we can or cannot do. And if we disobey it, it claims the right to punish us, and quite often does punish us.

As the formal definition says, government is an organization built upon force. Without force, it ceases being “government.”

Government is not a productive organization like a commercial business or a family farm. The people who form a government live off the wealth of others, which the government system removes from those others. This is beyond dispute.

We’ll address the “Is this necessary?” question later. For now, we are merely trying to understand the nature of government. And the fact is that government survives by taking the wealth of others, by force.

We all know this, of course. Taxes are taken from us every day, under heavy and credible threats: If you don’t pay, bad things happen to you. That’s not a function of persuasion; it’s a function of force… of violence. Behind every process of taxation stand armed men.

This “money-gathering under violent threat” is the central function of government. Without it, the people who make up the government would starve. Before soldiers can be armed, before roads can be built, before anything can be done, government must take money from people by force.

Like government, businesses also take money from other people. Businesses, however, get other people’s money by persuasion: If you give me some of your money, I’ll give you these groceries. That’s a voluntary trade.

The use of force is what sets government apart from other human organizations.

Let me repeat: This is not a setup to win an argument. Nor is it an effort to sanctify my personal dogma. I’m trying to find real, honest answers here. I am certainly streamlining a bit, but not, I think, unfairly: I am using the largest factors here—things that we all experience on a continual basis.

Complication very often serves to prevent conclusions. There is a whole set of academic philosophies dedicated to the proposition that you can never know anything denominated in words. If you let those people dominate your discussions, you’ll never reach any conclusion at all.

Is It Moral?

The question here is a simple one: Is it moral for one group of men to take money by force from everyone else?

Obviously, no one likes having their money being taken by force, including tax-gatherers. Any of them would call the burglary of their home a bad thing.

So, the conclusion here has to be that taking money by force is immoral: The people who do it to others wouldn’t like it done to them. And since government can survive only by taking money forcibly, we have to conclude that government is not, and cannot be, moral.

This is not a political conclusion; it is a moral conclusion. And morality remains a primary factor in human existence.

Regardless of the fact that many people, Americans in particular, like to think that their government is an agent of good upon Earth, we cannot call any government moral. A particular government may be “less bad” than another government, even far less bad, but it can never be “good.”

Whether that conclusion troubles us is a secondary issue. The conclusion stands: If the Golden Rule has validity, then government is immoral.

For a government to be moral, it would have to stop taking money by force and start gathering it by persuasion alone.

“Are You Saying That…?”

No, I’m not saying anything beyond the fact that government cannot be moral.

If you feel like jumping to a political conclusion, let me warn you that going about to “get rid of government” is about the worst thing you could do. First of all, it would be immoral and cruel to take government away from people who desperately want it to run their lives. Second, that strategy doesn’t work.

If you’d still like a political conclusion, please print this quotation from Buckminster Fuller in large letters and hang it over your desk:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing obsolete.

“But It’s Necessary!”

Many people have a hard time thinking of government as anything less than “that which was, is, and ever shall be.” And I understand why; we are all trained in that thinking from cradle to grave. So, here’s a scenario that accepts the truth that government is immoral but still supports it as a necessity:

Government, even though immoral, is still necessary, if every other choice would be worse.

If all other choices lead to more than 260 million deaths per century (as government caused in the 20th century); if all other choices result in the loss of more than half of a productive person’s wages; if all other choices squash independent thought worse and submerge human thinking even further into rank obedience… then government is the best choice and should remain in control of the world.

But if not, government should be abandoned as a concept.

Some experiments would clearly be in order. Too bad they’re forbidden under threat of force.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

This article was originally published by Casey Research.

Coming for Your Accounts: Solutions

planBAfter running last week’s article (They’re Coming for Your Accounts), we received a number of questions about how to actually protect oneself. So, this week I’d like to address that subject.

First Words

I need to make an important point before I proceed, however: I am not involved in the financial industry, and I do not know the many rules that apply to IRAs, 401(k)s, and so on.

So, please understand that I’m speaking in rough terms and that you’ll need to apply all my suggestions to your own situation intelligently. I simply do not have precise advice to give you.

But with that said, here are some suggestions:

Partial, Multiple, and Incremental Solutions

Solutions to financial problems do not have to be all or nothing. If you think that IRAs are ripe for picking (as I do), then you can begin by ceasing to fund them. Take your money as regular income, pay taxes on it if you must, and put it to use as you see fit. That money will no longer be in the “first grab” pile.

If you do something like this, you will be slowly moving your assets out of easy government control. And if you hold your earnings in the form of cash, rather than in a bank account, it becomes very difficult for a government to seize.

Everyone will have their own opinions and risk estimates, but in my opinion, money left in registered accounts is becoming riskier than cash that is thoughtfully stored.

There is also the common issue of spouses disagreeing on what to do: One thinks registered accounts are a risk; the other doesn’t. While these situations are difficult, they don’t have to be as dramatic as we make them. We can simply do several things at once: Leave the 401(k) as it is, but start putting new money into silver and gold. Or create an offshore structure and fund it bit by bit, instead of continually funding the government retirement account.

There’s no reason we have to go 100% in any single direction; We can go several ways at once. Better to do this than to fight and make our lives miserable; money should make our lives better, not worse. It is useful and important, but not that important.

Warning Bells

Whatever your plans may be, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan: “If they do X, we’ll do Z.” What you’d like to do ideally is to not get hurt too badly when the alarm bell is rung.

So, I’d suggest that you keep the least money in the place that’s likely to be hit first. And in my opinion, that will be the place that’s easiest for a desperate government to loot.

I gave several examples last week of what has been happening, so that would be a good place to begin your analysis. And remember that predators always hit the softest target first.

Specific Options

Here are several options for keeping your money under your own, personal control:

Cash: Still easy enough to get, and easy to store. Theft is always a concern, but when governments start stealing directly from bank accounts – as they did last year in Cyrpus – which is the lesser risk?

Gold and silver: Very similar to cash, but with two differences: During normal times, it may need to be exchanged for local currency, which is an added expense. In bad times, however, local currency becomes worthless, and the metals retain their full value. There are many local coin dealers that make purchasing silver and gold easy.

Bitcoin: While new, sometimes volatile (though not recently), and not universally accepted, Bitcoin is easy to get, easy to use, and easy to secure. And it remains solely under your control. In addition, cryptocurrencies can be used internationally without expense or permission.

Invest in local businesses: We covered the specifics of this in FMP #19, but investing locally diversifies your risk, while still giving you the ability to oversee your investment. And it helps your neighbors directly, rather than giving Washington and Wall Street a skim on all your investments.

Offshore structures: Holding your money in another country is a very large speed bump to your local government. Yes, if you’re a real criminal, the other country will give up your money promptly, but such places are dependent upon foreign bank accounts, and they will not want to scare their customers away by giving up their money without a fight.

Furthermore, offshore structures are not terribly expensive to obtain. You’ll want to use a professional to do the work for you (it’s too hard to do yourself), but the expense is not as bad as you may think.

Offshore real estate: Offshore real estate, I am told (please verify for yourself), does not have to be declared to the US government.

Breaking Inertia

The most fundamental need in situations like this is to break the inertia that entangles us. That inertia moves always in the direction of compliance with authority and a mute servility.

What matters most to us is that we leave the camp of the perpetually obedient and start acting in the world according to our own judgment. In the end, that’s the only way to live our own lives (financial and otherwise), rather than “being lived” by outside forces.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

An Update on Ross Ulbricht, Allegedly the Dread Pirate Roberts

Ross Ulbricht

In 1998, Virginia Postrel wrote a book called The Future and Its Enemies. I’d be hard-pressed to find a better description for the current legal battle between the young man pictured above and the US government. That young man is Ross Ulbricht, and he seems to have been the agent of the future who created the Silk Road free market.

I say “seems to,” because the people who are saying so are the US government, which has a checkered record as regards truth-telling. (And that’s being kind.) But circumstances seem to agree that Ross was the famed Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) of Silk Road. So, while I have no special knowledge on this subject, I’ll presume for the moment that the allegation is true, and that Ross really was DPR.

The Flamboyant Accusation that Vanished

When Ross was arrested last fall, the FBI immediately publicized accusations that Ross was hiring hit men and had paid them to kill people. Millions of people heard this, and, understandably, thought it was a bad thing.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to court: Those charges vanished. In the final New York indictment, no such charges were included. The murder-for-hire allegation is now an “uncharged crime.” It is mentioned in the indictment, but it is not a formal charge and (conveniently) requires no proof.

So, did Ross really do all the very, very bad things the FBI reported through its ever-friendly news corps? I don’t know, but according to their initial story, they should have had clear and unmitigated evidence. Something doesn’t fit here, and I’ve learned not to give “law enforcement” the benefit of the doubt.

And if you haven’t heard about those charges being dropped, I suggest that you withdraw any trust you’ve had in the news corps.

The Pioneering Silk Road

Silk Road was a true free market. And since free markets are illegal these days (no matter how much political types pretend otherwise), it is no surprise that the first people to use it were selling illegal goods, in this case, drugs. If you’re already on the bad side of the law, you have nothing more to lose by using an “illegal” market.

Interestingly enough, what appears to have been the most popular product on Silk Road was marijuana, which is now being legalized in state after state.

And even in the cases of harder drugs, such as cocaine and Ecstasy (products that I personally wouldn’t recommend), are the drugs the biggest problem here? Or is it kids being forced to buy them from violent drug dealers on ghetto street corners? Silk Road gave people the opportunity to buy through rated vendors, safely. Was that so terrible? People on every continent used Silk Road and received excellent service.

What people don’t understand – and what I’ve picked up from several DPR quotes that people passed to me – is that this was never about drugs; it was about free minds and free markets. THAT is the future I’m talking about. Drugs are merely a side issue. If governments stopped their “war” on drugs, prices would fall and violent thugs would no longer be getting rich on them… and Silk Road would have been selling other things.

Evidently the lessons of Prohibition don’t matter nearly as much as state propaganda.

What Now?

Today, Ross sits in a jail cell in New York. (There are different charges pending against him in Maryland.) And a criminal defense is not cheap, especially when the prosecution can simply dip their hand into a stream of tax dollars and finance their legal games.

This case may matter as a legal precedent, and some people are donating to the Ross Ulbricht Legal Defense Fund for that reason. But I don’t think that’s the primary reason we should be giving.

Those of us who really care about justice and truth and liberty stand on a mutual frontier. The sad fact is that the more you care about morality, life, and goodness, the more of a threat you become to those in power. I won’t take time to explain that today, but you’ve probably had some experience with it already.

Out here on the frontier, we have to look after each other. As Saul of Tarsus once said in a similar situation,

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.

That’s what it’s like to stand on a frontier, proclaiming a new truth that threatens immoral powers. And that’s why we must help each other.

If you believe that Ross was DPR, or if you believe he created a truly free market, or if you believe that he put himself at risk to further truth and liberty, you must help him now.

If you can’t do something big, then do something small. But don’t sit on your hands, make excuses, and do nothing. There’s no one out here on the frontier but us. We have to look out for each other.

Details

Here’s the Free Ross website that (I believe) is run by his parents:

http://freeross.org/

Here’s the Bitcoin address for donations:

1Ross5Np5doy4ajF9iGXzgKaC2Q3Pwwxv

If you want to send a check, make it to the Ross Ulbricht Legal Defense Fund and mail it to:

The Ulbricht Family
P.O. Box 163602
Austin, TX 78716

If you want to send Ross a letter, his address is:

ROSS WILLIAM ULBRICHT
#18870-111
MDC BROOKLYN
P.O. BOX 329002
BROOKLYN, NY 11232

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Bribery in America

bribery-handsI know something about bribery. When I was a teenager, my dad was in the construction business in Chicago. So, as soon as I got my driver’s license (at 16), I was sent out delivering bribes. That’s just the way things were done, and my dad let me drive a fancy car (with an FM radio!) to make the deliveries.

I delivered leather coats to wives, envelopes to government offices, other envelopes to politicians at their fundraisers, booze to lots of people, and in one case, the answers to the state driver’s exam to a guy in… um… a different line of work.

I extricated myself from these chores fairly quickly. Aside from the cool car, it made me uncomfortable. These escapades did, however, give me a fairly good understanding of how bribery in America works.

Big League Bribery

Most of the bribery I did as a kid was fairly mundane – minor league stuff. The one exception was the political fundraiser. That was big league bribery. Following explicit orders, I dressed up and stood in a greeting line for as long as it took to come face to face with the politician. I handed him the envelope and told him precisely who it was from. I shook his hand and he told me to please enjoy the buffet. I thanked him, then stepped away.

This was done in a gala ballroom, with hundreds of people in the meet-and-greet line. Almost every man was in a suit, and the women were in fancy dresses. Everything was pristine. That’s the way bribery is done in the big leagues.

I know there are people who will say, “Campaign donations are legal, so they can’t be considered bribery,” but I know precisely why all these people were standing in line to give the politician money. I lived this for a period of time and watched it for a much longer period of time. All of these people wanted something and expected to get it in return for their “donation.”

“Legal” or not, in honest words this is called bribery. Approved bribery, polished bribery, but bribery just the same.

It’s Big Business

The national election of 2012 brought in over six billion dollars of donations, and that was just for a few hundred races. I can’t find figures on all the state and local elections, but since they include many thousands of races, I have to assume that they involve even larger amounts of money.

So, I think it’s probably safe to say that a minimum of twelve billion dollars are spent as campaign contributions each year. That’s a fairly large business, and the vast majority of it – everything beyond the “hopeful granny” money – is donated on a quid pro quo basis. People donate so they can get more back.

But this is only part of the whole. Many more billions are given to politicians each year in back-door payoffs. These bribes come in forms like these:

  • Safe government jobs for friends and family.
  • Sweetheart real estate deals: properties sold to the politician for far less than they are worth, with a loan just waiting for their signature.
  • A swimming pool for their yard, after giving a construction project to the right person.
  • Free dinners and hookers.
  • Envelopes of cash to local officials in return for building permits, liquor licenses, etc.
  • Ownership shares of local businesses.

Not only could I add to this list, but all of these are real examples, from my personal observations. And they include American politicians in the highest offices.

Measuring Status Inside Government

Have you ever noticed that the resumes of government managers always tell you how many millions (or billions) of dollars their office handled every year? (“Our department had an annual budget of $400 million.”) That’s how things are measured in capital cities.

Interestingly enough, that’s also how bribes are doled out. The department that handles the most money can skim off the most to you. For example, the best donations in the US House of Representatives always went to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Why? Because that committee put together the budget for the whole US government. Own some of that man, and you can dip your hand into the money stream at the headwaters.

And so it goes, throughout the entire government structure. Those who control the money sell access, and buyers are easy to find.

Bribery Central

The treasures of a continent flow through Washington DC. Where else would we expect the thieves to be gathered?

But DC is not rustic like Chicago; it’s a well-polished town. The deals look pretty and they are sanctified by law. But if it weren’t for the sale of government favors, DC would be a fraction of its glittering self.

Visit some time and hang out for a while on K Street. Most of the lobbyists moved to the suburbs years ago, but there is still enough activity to give you a feel for what goes on. Then spend a few days at Tyson’s Corner Center around lunchtime. You’ll see lots of very fine clothing and very fine deals being handled in pristine ways. It’s easy to miss the fact that lobbying is little more than bribery in tailored suits.

I leave you with a quote from Frederick Bastiat :

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.

The old Frenchman nailed it.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Get Ready for the Next Terror

terrifying eventIf I had to bet, I think I’d put my money on some type of “cyberwar” event coming in the not-too-distant future. But whether it’s that or something else, a new terror will be coming. That much is more or less inevitable.

The reason is easy: We have people with control-biased minds in positions to create such events, or at least to make the most of them when they do occur.

The Problem

Put bluntly, our problem is that our current world systems place people with dominator minds into power over everyone else. We can call this the “alpha gorilla” model. These people need power over others. They get comfort and/or a thrill from dominance. And they certainly get rewards from it.

To illustrate, here’s an image I pulled from the newsfeed just this morning:

terrifying event

The faces and the slogans change, but the need to dominate drives such people into positions of power, whether it be in national governments, police enforcement, or bureaucracies that control other people’s movements. As Robert Heinlein wrote:

Political tags, such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth, are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

Those who desire to control others, however, have a problem: In order to accomplish their “great ends,” they need the peaceful people – those who have no desire to dominate others – to obey them and to pay for their plans.

The problem with humans, however, is that they can think. Such beings don’t follow orders from random people; they must be convinced. And convincing free people to be subservient is hard. In order to dominate them, their ability to think must be overcome.

Once you have them obeying you, they’ll keep it up, no matter how silly, for a shockingly long period of time. But to get them to give up autonomy in the first place, or in some new way, is hard. Something that bypasses reason is required.

That thing, as you may have guessed, is fear.

We all saw this very clearly in 2001: Terrified people let the alpha gorillas take away their rights in the name of saving them from crazies. Some people objected, but not enough to sway events. Fear was in the air, the dominators promised safety, and most people either agreed or were too confused to object.

So, the structures of dominance became bigger and reached farther than ever before. This would not have happened without fear. Fear works.

The Great Enemy

Fear stands above all the other tools of human domination, even above legitimacy. That’s because fear overrides reason. Fear focuses our thoughts only on the object of terror. Then the alpha gorillas step in and promise to protect us, if only we will _____________ (fill-in the blank).

This game has been running for thousands of years, and it will be used again soon enough. There’s always a need for people to suspend thought and acquiesce to domination. And so long as life on Earth features structures of dominance, alpha-gorilla types will use them.

Even in daily life, the imposition of fear upon us is thick. Robert Ringer, commenting on getting ahead financially, correctly hit on this point when he said:

The results you produce in life are inversely proportional to the degree to which you are intimidated.

The Bible tells us that people are “all their lifetimes subject to bondage” because of fear.

Our great enemy is fear, and, unfortunately, systems for harnessing fear currently dominate life on this planet.

What Will Happen?

I don’t know which terrifying event will take place next, and whether this event will be staged or authentic matters very little. All that matters is that people are terrified, which gets their reasoning out of the way and gives the dominator types what they crave.

The antidote for this is for people to understand the con and to overcome their fear. Then to act rationally.

This might be a good thing to discuss with your neighbors, before the next terror hits… because it will.

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