The Plight of the Founder

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Plight of the Founder

August 10, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” – Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 12:57

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,181. Gold closed at $1,338 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $42.69 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.545%. Bitcoin is trading around $590 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

My mind wanders off of the beaten path once again this week as I finish up A Lodging of Wayfaring Men by Paul Rosenberg for the second time. As I read this book, I can almost ‘see’ the plight of the founder as it has played out over and over again throughout human history.

In order to understand the plight of the founder, we must first understand a key function of life… all life. The basic laws of thermodynamics tell us that closed systems naturally evolve towards a state of maximum entropy; entropy being the amount of energy not available for work.

Life systematically reverses entropy. Continue reading “The Plight of the Founder”

Non-intervention is Comprehensive

submitted by jwithrow.non-intervention

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Non-intervention is Comprehensive

February 27, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,110 today. Gold is checking in at $1,216 per ounce. Oil is floating around $49 per barrel. Bitcoin is up to $253 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 2.02% today.

Yesterday we discussed the merits of the non-intervention philosophy specifically as it relates to natural childbirth. We realized what is true about non-intervention in childbirth is just a true about non-intervention in the rest of health care. Non-intervention is just as applicable to the fields of personal finance, economics, education, and the role of government as well. Let’s examine this in a little more detail today.

To start with, think long and hard about what you value in this life. Clear your mind and think about what’s important to you.

Notice the clutter and the conflict?

We are constantly assaulted with polarized messages on a daily basis competing for our support. Every single advertisement you see or read is designed by very skilled people to convince you that you want that particular product or service. The corporate media constantly inundates you with messages designed to drum up your support for a particular idea, policy, or position. The various institutions you are a part of (school/work/church/community service/political party/etc.) all convey different expectations for how you should live and what you should spend your time doing.

When we accept and identify with these external expectations we shift away from self-reference and end up with a piecemeal system of values and a hodgepodge of beliefs. Then we say things like:

-This religion is absolutely right and that religion is absolutely evil.

-People should spend their time doing these things but they shouldn’t be allowed to do those other things.

-Government should force everyone to comply with these policies and it should stop people from engaging in alternatives.

Why do we say these things? Because that’s what our institutions say; we substitute our own values for the values of our chosen institutions when we identify with external expectations.

The non-intervention philosophy is about getting back to what’s best for you. It’s about a self-referential reawakening. Modern society tells us that self-reference is selfish but nothing could be further from the truth. If we look within and decide it is acceptable to stand on our own values and pursue our own wants regardless of what modern culture says then we necessarily recognize that others are free to do the same. This understanding sparks a respect for non-aggression and tolerance in a world that has seemingly forgotten these ideals.

”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Hurt not others.” “Live and let live.” “Laissez-faire.” Moral thinkers have come and gone throughout history and they each arrived at some variation of this same message. Let’s apply this message to our world today.

Non-intervention in personal finance is about thinking a lot but doing very little. Contrast this with mainstream personal finance which is frantic and disorganized. Jim Cramer epitomizes this on his television show where he runs around screaming “buy, buy, buy” or “sell, sell, sell”. We are sold the idea that a sophisticated financial portfolio involves moving in and out of the right stocks and that this is the key to reaching a retirement “number”. If we don’t want to do the stock picking for ourselves then we can purchase target date mutual funds that are actively managed by professionals who move in and out of stocks for us.

All of this buying and selling churns up commissions and fees and, if we follow mainstream analysis, likely gets us into stocks when they are popular and expensive and out of stocks when they are unpopular and cheap. That is to say we buy high and sell low. The rationale behind this is simple – if a stock is popular enough to warrant coverage on CNBC or in the Wall Street Journal then it is popular enough to draw a lot of attention. It would be far better to buy the stock when it is obscure, hated, and cheap then sell it to someone else if it becomes popular enough for mainstream financial publications.

When it comes to investing in equities, studies suggest it is the beta – the big picture idea – that is more important than the alpha – the individual security. In other words identifying sectors that have been beaten up but are beginning to trend higher, buying those sectors while they are cheap, and then sitting on your hands until the trend changes is the application of non-intervention in personal finance. Of course, stocks should only make up a small percentage of your asset allocation model as we have touched on numerous times here at Zenconomics.

We have also harped on the importance of non-intervention in economics on many occasions. The ‘free market’ is an incredibly complex web of exchanges created by individuals who, by acting of their own free will, engage in production and commerce. The free market sets price levels based on individual activity and these prices fluctuate in response to continued individual activity. This economic system is self-regulating and to intervene in any capacity is to distort the entire free market system.

Simply put, free markets require absolute non-intervention by definition. The moment you intervene is the moment the market ceases to be free. Somehow, however, we have accepted the idea that Ivy League graduates should be pulling strings and pushing levers to manage the economy. We put these “experts” in front of expensive computers in big government buildings and tell them to keep unemployment low and prices stable as if the economy were a simple child’s game of connect the dots. And we pretend like this is still a capitalist system.

I suspect we put up with intervention in our economy largely because our educational system conditions us to accept intervention every step of the way. Public education in the United States very clearly emphasizes invasive authoritarianism. Instead of allowing children to learn naturally by pursuing their interests, discovering their passions, and cooperating with one another, the public school system segregates children by age and lumps them into a classroom where they are told to be quiet and listen to the teacher. In school students are told what they will learn, when they will learn it, and they are permitted very little free time during the day. Then they are loaded with homework that eats up their free time after school and prevents them from pursuing their own interests. Their textbooks are homogenous, boring, and designed to be read and memorized unquestioningly. The textbooks have also been scrubbed by the Department of Education to ensure no politically incorrect material can be found on the pages. In this environment learning is seen as something to be forced on students – such is the interventionist approach.

Intervention in education promotes group-think and dependency. Non-intervention promotes self-education and self-responsibility. There is a reason why many wise and ‘successful’ people prior to the 20th century never went to school at all and it is the same reason that numerous prominent people since the 20th century dropped out of school before becoming ‘successful’ in their own way. Even Albert Einstein loathed the interventionist approach to education: ”Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school”, said he.

Which brings us to the role of government. Regulatory democracy works hand in hand with coerced collectivism to convince people that government is some type of benevolent service organization. People have been sold the notion that the U.S. government should take care of everyone from cradle to grave, regulate all aspects of the economy, prohibit immoral or unhealthy behavior, maintain a military empire with 300 bases in 170 countries, and fight wars on poverty, drugs, and terror.

Government is more than happy to oblige by intervening in virtually every aspect of your life and the lives of those living in foreign nations that become a “strategic interest” for the military-industrial complex. The corporate news stations (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) work diligently to promote public support for all of this government intervention and their success is nothing short of amazing. The corporate media’s marketing genius is the promotion of the left-right paradigm. These stations divide the public into a “blue” team and a “red” team and they promote the idea that the other team is the enemy. The fact is each “team” supports government intervention on a massive scale; they differ only in the prescription and distribution of this intervention.

The predictable result of all this government intervention is poverty and misery as the economy is wrecked and the currency is destroyed. F.A. Hayek pointed this out way back in 1944 in ”The Road to Serfdom” as central planning and government intervention really began to rise in popularity.

How different is this from that which is truly American? The American vision was a divergence from the mercantilist statism and bureaucratic despotism of the ancien régime. The best of the American revolutionaries envisioned a society free from politics and indeed free from any visible signs of government. They called this Liberty.

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force”, said Washington. “Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

Sure the American experiment wasn’t perfect – there were prejudices and inconsistencies – but there was a vibrant and healthy respect for non-intervention. We would be wise to rekindle this understanding and respect.

More to come,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and the paradigm shift underway please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Underneath the Noise

by Madisyn Taylor – the noise

The whisper that reassures us everything is okay delivers its message with quiet confidence. Once we hear it, we know it speaks the truth.

You may have noticed that if you want to speak to someone in a noisy, crowded room, the best thing to do is lean close and whisper. Yelling in an attempt to be louder than the room’s noise generally only hurts your throat and adds to the chaos. Similarly, that still, small voice within each of us does not try to compete with the mental chatter on the surface of our minds, nor does it attempt to overpower the volume of the raucous world outside. If we want to hear it, no matter what is going on around us, or even inside us, we can always tune in to that soft voice underneath the surrounding noise.

It is generally true that the more insistent voices in our heads, delivering messages that make us feel panicky or afraid, are of questionable authority. They may be voices we have internalized from childhood or from the culture, and as such they possess only half-truths. Their urgency stems from their disconnectedness from the center of our being, and their urgency is what catches our attention. The other voice, which whispers reassurances that everything is fundamentally okay, simply delivers its message with quiet confidence. Once we hear it, we know it speaks the truth. Generally, once we’ve heard what it has to say, a powerful sense of calm settles over our entire being. The other voices and sounds, once so dominant, fade into the background, suddenly seeming small and far away.

We may find that our own communications in the world begin to be influenced by the quiet certainty of this voice. We may be less inclined to indulge in idle chatter as we become more interested in maintaining our connection to the whisper of truth, which broadcasts its message like the sound of the wind shaking the leaves of a tree. As we align ourselves more with this quiet confidence, we become an extension of the whisper, penetrating the noise of the world and creating more peace, trust and confidence.

Article originally posted at

The Ills of Compulsory Schooling Continued

submitted by jwithrow.compulsory schooling

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Ills of Compulsory Schooling Continued

January 30, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,019 today. Gold is down to $1,263 per ounce. Oil is still floating around $44 per barrel. Bitcoin is up slightly at $230 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 1.70% today.

Yesterday we discussed the majesty that is childhood and we opined that compulsory schooling severely curtails the childhood experience and sets children up to struggle in adulthood. Today we will expand upon this and try to present a positive alternative.

First we must ask a question: why do we send our children to school?

Is it because we went to school when we were a child? Is it because we don’t have time to watch them during the day? Is it because we think they won’t learn unless they go to school? Is it because we think they must go to school in order to get into college? Is it because we think they need to go to school to learn social skills? Do we know?

Let’s glance back in time a little bit to the formative years of the modern school system:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.” – William Torrey Harris, United States Commissioner of Education from 1889-1906

Fitche laid it down that education should aim at destroying free will, so that, after pupils have left school, they shall be incapable, throughout the rest of their lives, of thinking or acting otherwise than as their schoolmasters would have wished.” – Bertrand Russel, British philosopher

Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society…” – John Dewey, “father of modern education”

Eww. The school’s history textbooks left those little tidbits out.

We are on the record saying the public school system fails but that’s not entirely true. The public school system certainly fails to foster critical thinking and self-reference but that’s by design. The public school system has actually been wildly successful when judged by its original mission.

What compulsory education really does is prepare our children for an institutionalized life of subordination. We send our children to school not so they can flower into beautiful individuals capable of accessing their infinite potential but rather to mold them into obedient worker bees that will willingly assimilate into the status-quo as maintained by the establishment (governments/central banks/Wall Street/multi-nationals/Big-Agra/Big-Pharma/Big-Insurance/Big-Science/mega non-profits). This is why the public school system exists. As we’ve mentioned many times, this is not an indictment of teachers and local school employees – most of them work diligently to improve their school. But how do you reform an institution that already wildly succeeds at doing what it was created to do?

In school our children learn to hide their true self by putting on a mask and conforming to whatever is popular. They learn to follow arbitrary rules and to unquestioningly obey the “authorities”. They learn to uncritically memorize whatever information is presented to them and to regurgitate that information back in a way that is pleasing to the teacher. They learn that their job is to sit quietly and listen to the teacher without interrupting; anything else requires explicit permission. They learn that grades are the sole measurement of success thus they are conditioned to constantly seek external confirmation. They learn that life is a series of hoops to be struggled through because their educational curriculum consists of a tiered system whereby students advance to the next “grade” year after year. Children are constantly told that getting good grades is necessary to get into a good college so it is implied that the purpose of life is to successfully navigate the current system in order to make it to the next system.

So after they have successfully navigated the public school system for twelve consecutive years our children are told to mindlessly rush off to whatever college will accept them. The school system has taught them absolutely nothing about money and finance but nevertheless our children are told to take on massive student loans to pay for the next step. Some public school guidance offices will even walk children through the student loan application process. “Don’t worry”, they are told, “you won’t have to start making payments until a few years after you graduate.”

So they get to college and most students view it in the same light – as a series of hoops to jump through to get to the next level. Now the goal is to maintain a good G.P.A. so they can get a good job. A few frat parties later they find themselves completing college and going to university sponsored job fairs.

What comes next? The 8-5, new suits, public transportation, parking passes, a promotion, a new car, a mortgage, a promotion, marriage, children, a new mini-van, a promotion, a home equity line to renovate the kitchen and the next thing you know our children are middle aged, stuck in a mindless career, deep in debt, and stressed to the max. They have spent the vast majority of their time working a desk job to pay for their car, their house, their vacations, and their weekend entertainment because that is what they were conditioned to do. Sure, there are plenty of people who have found fulfillment following this path but there are far more who have not.

Suppose we changed the script? What if our children were provided the time and freedom to discover and pursue their passion at a young age? What if they were not herded into school for twelve years but instead spent that time learning about themselves and the world around them? What if they developed useful skills instead of mindless dogma?

What if they then deemed college to be a waste of time and money and instead crafted a superior higher-education curriculum. The possibilities for this are endless!

Maybe they spend one year traveling the world to learn about other cultures first hand. Maybe they find a compelling opportunity during their travels and set up an international business or charity dedicated to meeting real needs and demand. Maybe they come back and seek out an internship with a master in a field they are passionate about. Maybe they skip the internship and start their own business in their chosen field. Maybe they set out to build multiple microbusinesses designed to provide diverse income streams. Maybe they decide to pursue a specialized career and seek out additional education in that field. Maybe they decide to purchase an old neglected farm and spend their days healing the land and producing superior food products.

The point is this script would allow our children to make mindful decisions about how to spend their time free from modern society’s incessant dogma aimed at guilting people into feeling the need to fit in. This script would also allow for much greater flexibility if our children decided to change careers or lifestyles at a later time – which would be extremely common. The notion of working one job for forty years and then retiring is an unnatural New Deal relic that will soon be extinct. This model is simply not viable in any capacity; the economics just do not work.

Life is not a series of rigid systems to struggle through until retirement; it is a robust opportunity for temporal exploration and spiritual growth. It would be a shame to waste such an opportunity.

More to come,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and the paradigm shift underway please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

The Majesty of Childhood

submitted by jwithrow.majesty of childhood

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Majesty of Childhood

January 29, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $1,993 today. Gold is down to $1,271 per ounce. Oil is back down to $44 per barrel. Bitcoin has drifted to $225 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 1.75% today.

Systemic risk in the global economy seems to be growing. The Swiss National Bank recently announced a target interest rate range of -1.25% to -0.25%. The Gnomes of Zurich must have gone into hiding. Now Singapore has announced its intent to pursue a form of easing (money-printing) in order to slow the appreciation of the Singapore dollar. No one seems to want a currency that maintains purchasing power anymore – welcome to fiat bizarro world! It would be wise to have at least 10% of your capital in physical gold and silver bullion at this point.

Moving on…

Childhood is a magical experience full of awe, wonder, excitement, and purity. Children have no paychecks to earn or mortgage payments to make. They have no investment portfolios to monitor or insurance policies to structure. They may find it to be pretty, but children could not care less about what’s happening in the gold market. With no degrees, certifications, specializations, or political experience to speak of children are completely tuned out to any implication of status; they seem to understand innately that all people are endowed with individual rights that should not be violated. Children naturally expect to be treated with honesty and dignity which is why they so often use phrases like “But you said…” or “But that’s not fair…”.

Free from these trappings, children are able to live wholly in the moment. Several Eastern philosophies hold up that very state – living wholly in the present – as the highest ideal and many hours are devoted to meditation, yoga, and other techniques designed to train the mind to be still in the present. Children are able to perfectly achieve this present mindfulness without expending any effort or energy whatsoever. This is why children will enthusiastically collect pebbles and sea shells. Adults deem these objects worthless but children are able to appreciate them for their own natural beauty and uniqueness.

Children are almost entirely self-referential until we train them to submit to arbitrary rules and restrictions. Children gain fulfillment and satisfaction from their own accomplishments, no matter how minor, with little need for external incentives and motivations. I suspect this is what Jesus of Nazareth meant when he said “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The truth is all children are born with an inner brilliance and an indomitable will. Children are natural-born learners and their thirst for understanding is unquenchable. Childhood curiosity is unmatched as children want to know the ‘why’ for everything. A child’s mental activity is through the roof!

As we discussed last month in our entry about raising children in the modern world, modern society extinguishes curiosity and subverts individual will by institutionalizing learning and imposing harsh external expectations upon children. Simply put, hierarchy is not natural to children. By enforcing a strict hierarchal structure chock full of arbitrary rules and regulations, modern schools drown the majesty of childhood in wave after wave of contradictory authoritarianism.

On the one hand we talk endlessly about freedom and independence but then we herd our children into compulsory schools that regiment their entire day with mandatory classes and their evening with mindless homework. How can the child be free and independent if he has no time for his own interests? We tell our children that every individual is special but then we tell them they must raise their hand and ask for permission to go to the restroom. That doesn’t make the kid feel particularly special. We encourage our children to play together in cooperation but then we punish them if they try to communicate with their neighbor in the classroom. What’s the kid to make of this?

Of course we justify all of this by saying the children need to learn to follow the rules and obey authority. We never make the distinction between natural rules such as “do not steal” and arbitrary rules such as “do not go to the bathroom without a hall pass”. Likewise we never make the distinction between “respect your parents” and “do not question your teachers”. This breeds a passive populace that will unquestioningly submit to all manner of arbitrary rules, regulations, licenses, restrictions, mandates, and taxes in adulthood as long as someone in “authority” issues them. Then you end up with dishonest money and a parasitic society.

I just can’t help but wonder… what if individuals with infinite potential were not automatically plugged in to institutionalized systems of compulsory education? What if more children were left free to learn in their own way on their own schedule? What if the majesty of childhood was not crushed by a regimented schedule and arbitrary rules as soon as the child reached a particular age? What if, instead of learning to hide their brilliance and subvert their will, children learned to be self-governing and self-driven?

Until the morrow,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and the paradigm shift underway please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.