The Only Debate Topic That Matters

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Only Debate Topic That Matters

September 29, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Loading up the nation with debt and leaving it for the following generations to pay is morally irresponsible. Excessive debt is a means by which governments oppress the people and waste their substance. No nation has a right to contract debt for periods longer than the majority contracting it can expect to live. ” – Thomas Jefferson

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,171. Gold closed at $1,327 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $47.12 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.57%. Bitcoin is trading around $605 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Nearly one-third of all Americans – almost 100 million people – tuned in to watch the first presidential debate earlier this week. This represents an increase in viewership by nearly 40% from the 2012 presidential debates, and it almost rivaled television’s biggest draw – the Super Bowl – which received 112 million viewers last year. Apparently the debate was aired on television throughout Europe as well.

I see these numbers and the first thing that pops into my head is a question: how in the world do the ratings agencies know how many people are sitting on the couch in front of a given television?

I didn’t spend too much time with this, but all of the numbers I have seen reference “viewers” and “people”, not “households”. They are very specific about this.

I can’t help but think about poor Winston in George Orwell’s 1984 – he sits down in front of his telescreen and while he is watching it, it is also watching him… Continue reading “The Only Debate Topic That Matters”

Individualist Capitalism

submitted by jwithrow.individualist capitalism

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Individualist Capitalism

December 14, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Friday at $2,012. Gold closed at $1,074 per ounce. Oil closed at $35.35 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.14%. Bitcoin is trading around $443 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The U.S. equity markets plummeted by nearly 2% on Friday. Searching for a specific explanation, the financial press blamed the big drop in the equity markets on oil falling in price to multi-year lows. Of course just a few months ago the financial press was hailing falling oil prices as a great economic stimulus. So which is it?

The truth is markets are a confluence of many individual actors, each operating in his or her perceived best interests. Markets go up and markets go down according to individual human action. There can never be a single simple explanation for market activity because there can never be a single explanation for the actions of millions of people. Continue reading “Individualist Capitalism”

Why the U.S. Faces a Currency Crisis

submitted by jwithrow.currency crisis

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Why the U.S. Faces a Currency Crisis

September 11, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Thursday at $1,952. Gold closed at $1,109 per ounce. Oil closed at $45.92 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.22%. Bitcoin is trading around $239 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Little Maddie is now on the verge of becoming a toddler. She has mastered the art of the crawl and the leveraged stand-up. Walking is the next frontier, and she knows it. To aid Madison in her quest, wife Rachel bought her a plastic toy that doubles as an obnoxious farm animal noise making machine and a child’s walker. Somewhat to my surprise, Madison instantly knew what to do – she pulled herself up on the handles and walked six steps using the contraption to achieve balance.

It was an exciting moment for a first-time dad, but the philosopher’s mind has a tendency to wander and I couldn’t help but envision the future. What happens when, in fifty years perhaps, little Madison buys her mother a walker? Will Rachel instantly understand the intricacies of its function as her daughter once did fifty years prior? Time shall tell.

Moving on to the wonderful world of finance and economics… all of the focus is currently on the Federal Reserve. Having beaten interest rates down to zero and left them for dead for six years in an effort to prevent the market economy from liquidating the cronies, the Fed has recently been talking tough about raising rates. Some say the Fed will follow-through and raise rates next week. Others say by the end of the year. Still others say they can’t raise rates without torpedoing the debt markets. My suspicion is that the economy has become so dependent upon low interest rates that any interest rate hike would be minuscule and nothing but an effort to save face. Continue reading “Why the U.S. Faces a Currency Crisis”

The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition

submitted by jwithrow.The Individual is Rising

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition

September 4, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Thursday at $1,946. Gold closed at $1,124 per ounce. Oil closed up at $46.75 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.19%. Bitcoin is trading around $230 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Wife Rachel took it upon herself to berate me for my past few journal entries. She said they were too gloomy. She also berated me for failing to provide any light-hearted family updates. As any good husband would, I flipped the selective hearing switch on and pretended not to hear her.

After a couple years of marriage I have learned that there are times to trust her judgment and times to ignore it. Choosing what to order from a restaurant is a good time to discount her judgment, for example. Despite my unwelcomed reminders, she has a tendency to order a meal completely unrelated to the theme of the restaurant. I am quite sure the chef is shaking his head when her order comes in. “Hamburger and french fries, are you kidding me? This is an authentic Italian joint!”, he exclaims in the kitchen. I just chuckle to myself: At least she ordered a glass of Chianti.

Relating to and connecting with other people is her forte, however, so despite outward appearances I listen carefully when she advises me on such matters. Her emotional intelligence never ceases to amaze me. Maybe it’s just a woman thing, but I suspect years of studying finance and economics hasn’t help improve my own EI much, either. So if Rachel says I should incorporate more light-hearted matters into my writing then I feel compelled to talk about her poor menu choices. Thanks honey!

Moving on to another fun topic; I launched the second edition of The Individual is Rising this week. The Kindle format will be free on Amazon all day today, and then will be discounted at $2.99 all next week. Continue reading “The Individual is Rising: 2nd Edition”

The Great Opportunity for Free Markets

submitted by jwithrow.Free Market

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Great Opportunity

August 26, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $1,873. Gold closed at $1,138 per ounce. Oil closed out at $39.31 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.00%. Bitcoin is trading around $229 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

My last entry suggested that the centralized nation-state model looks to have peaked in the 20th century. I speculated that troubling macroeconomic trends related to government interventions will lead to a “Great Reset” sooner or later – probably sooner – as these massive nation-states are forced to ramp up the printing presses in attempts to service all of their debt and unfunded liabilities.

Today I would like to point out that we are approaching a crossroads and there is a tremendous opportunity for the growth of free markets and prosperity if we can shed the 20th century paradigm of centralization. A great golden age for civilization is staring us right in the face, but few have noticed. Why? Because we have placed too much emphasis on politicians, presidents, elections, and democracy and too little emphasis on individual self-empowerment.

For starters, consider the following advancements: indoor plumbing and electricity, refrigeration, cooking appliances, heating & air systems, local and long-distance transportation, local and long-distance communication, and access to information. Each of these items were non-existent, scarce, or unreliable just one hundred short years ago. Additionally, roughly 40% of the U.S. population was involved in agriculture in the year 1900 in order to produce enough food to meet demand. Today that number is around 2% and food is more available than ever. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available at the grocery store year-round. Also, thanks to technological development, oil and gas are now more abundant and cheaper than ever. This has reduced the costs of production and distribution significantly, and it has created competition for the oil cartels and monopolies that have had a strangle-hold on the industry for decades. Continue reading “The Great Opportunity for Free Markets”

The Coming College Collapse

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Coming College Collapse

March 19, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,093 today. Gold is checking in at $1,166 per ounce. Oil is floating around $46 per barrel. Bitcoin is down to $262 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 1.94% today.

Big news this month… two colleges died! Sweet Briar College in rural Virginia recently announced its own funeral scheduled for the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga also pronounced its coming death scheduled for May 1, 2015.

Sweet Briar is a small liberal arts women’s college with less than 750 students and Tennessee Temple is a small Christian university with less than 500 students so these are certainly niche schools that faced challenges not yet encountered by their larger peers. I think it would be unwise to dismiss these closures at outliers, however. Instead, this may be foreshadowing the coming student loan bubble collapse and the growing obsolescence of traditional higher education. Beware bubble, the needle approacheth.

Indeed, the Obama administration is now pushing a “student aid bill of rights” chock full of government regulations, controls, and oversight… what could be a better sign of the impending college collapse than that? And the federal government already finances or guarantees ninety-some percent of all student loans as it is.

College is still the holy grail of success in many American minds but that sentiment is gradually changing. Colleges, in most cases (specialized fields of study being the exception), are little more than glorified diploma mills. Everyone goes to college primarily to receive a degree that is seen as a ‘certification’ of sorts to work a corporate job. That’s why college graduates list their degree at the top of their resume and they mention it first thing in job interviews – having a degree demonstrates that they are qualified to hold a job.

So the system works like this:

1. Kids are told to get good grades in high school so they can get into college.

2. As high school graduation approaches, kids are hustled through the college application process. They are encouraged to apply early to as many schools as possible to give themselves the best chance of getting in. Critical thinking and introspection can wait.

3. Once accepted into college, the kids are walked through the student loan process. It is understood that they don’t have enough money to pay for tuition so someone else must lend it to them. And that someone else is probably the federal government.

4. Colleges raise tuition each year because the federal government is willing to finance or guarantee nearly all student loans sans sound underwriting guidelines.

5. Students apply for new student loans at the higher tuition rate for each subsequent year in college.

6. Students graduate with massive student loan debt and face a competitive job market because nearly all of their peers have a bachelor’s degree as well.

As you can see, the student loan racket is perpetuated by cheap money supplied by the Feds. The only reason colleges can raise tuitions significantly each and every year is because a very large percentage of the population attends college. The only reason a very large percentage of the population attends college is because the Feds supply them with cheap money to do so with few questions asked.

But there’s a catch. When we talk about this cheap “money” supplied by the Feds we are really talking about credit. This credit is created ex nihilo (out of nothing) – it only exists as an electronic record on a computer network somewhere in the “cloud”. Unlike real money, credit can vanish just as quickly as it appeared in the first place. You can’t put it in a safe. You can’t put it under your mattress for a rainy day. Credit is intangible.

The current model of higher education depends on constant credit expansion. Students don’t pay for college up front; they finance it as they go by obtaining multiple loans over time. Their continued enrollment depends upon their ability to get the next loan. It is assumed by pretty much everyone – parents, students, guidance counselors, professors, university presidents, Wall Street CEOs, government officials – that this system of constant credit expansion can continue into the future.

The word credit is derived from the Latin credere which means “to believe”. Credit depends on trust; it’s all a confidence game. And we are starting to see the trust in American higher education teeter. This trust will continue to degenerate as student loan debt continues to pile up and the job market continues to be flooded with bachelor’s degrees. This process is accentuated by the mountain of debt being accumulated by the federal government – the same group that finances the student loan bubble.

When the trust disappears, so does the credit… probably to the tune of trillions of dollars overnight. What happens then? Common sense suggests that colleges would be forced to reduce tuition drastically if students actually had to pay for college themselves. But have you been to a college campus recently? The campuses are pristine, the buildings are luxurious, and the amenities are plentiful. Have you looked at your alma mater’s annual financial statements recently? What does its long-term debt look like? How about its pension liabilities?

The fact is most American colleges would be insolvent if it weren’t for the Fed’s exponential credit expansion. If you think the credit can expand forever then this fact doesn’t really matter. But if you think the credit will eventually dry up then we are likely to see many more Sweet Briars and Tennessee Temple’s to come.

So do not despair, dear Vixens and Crusaders, you will not be the only alma mater-less Americans for long.

Until the morrow,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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

Don’t Be Fooled by the Federal Reserve’s Anti-Audit Propaganda

by Ron Paul – Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:Ron Paul

In recent weeks, the Federal Reserve and its apologists in Congress and the media have launched numerous attacks on the Audit the Fed legislation. These attacks amount to nothing more than distortions about the effects and intent of the audit bill.

Fed apologists continue to claim that the Audit the Fed bill will somehow limit the Federal Reserve’s independence. Yet neither Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen nor any other opponent of the audit bill has ever been able to identify any provision of the bill giving Congress power to dictate monetary policy. The only way this argument makes sense is if the simple act of increasing transparency somehow infringes on the Fed’s independence.

This argument is also flawed since the Federal Reserve has never been independent from political pressure. As economists Daniel Smith and Peter Boettke put it in their paper “An Episodic History of Modern Fed Independence,” the Federal Reserve “regularly accommodates debt, succumbs to political pressures, and follows bureaucratic tendencies, compromising the Fed’s operational independence.”

The most infamous example of a Federal Reserve chair bowing to political pressure is the way Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns tailored monetary policy to accommodate President Richard Nixon’s demands for low interest rates. Nixon and Burns were even recorded mocking the idea of Federal Reserve independence.

Nixon is not the only president to pressure a Federal Reserve chair to tailor monetary policy to the president’s political needs. In the fifties, President Dwight Eisenhower pressured Fed Chairman William Martin to either resign or increase the money supply. Martin eventually gave in to Ike’s wishes for cheap money. During the nineties, Alan Greenspan was accused by many political and financial experts — including then-Federal Reserve Board Member Alan Blinder — of tailoring Federal Reserve policies to help President Bill Clinton.

Some Federal Reserve apologists make the contradictory claim that the audit bill is not only dangerous, but it is also unnecessary since the Fed is already audited. It is true that the Federal Reserve is subject to some limited financial audits, but these audits only reveal the amount of assets on the Fed’s balance sheets. The Audit the Fed bill will reveal what was purchased, when it was acquired, and why it was acquired.

Perhaps the real reason the Federal Reserve fears a full audit can be revealed by examining the one-time audit of the Federal Reserve’s response to the financial crisis authorized by the Dodd-Frank law. This audit found that between 2007 and 2010 the Federal Reserve committed over $16 trillion — more than four times the annual budget of the United States — to foreign central banks and politically influential private companies. Can anyone doubt a full audit would show similar instances of the Fed acting to benefit the political and economic elites?

Some fed apologists are claiming that the audit bill is part of a conspiracy to end the Fed. As the author of a book called End the Fed, I find it laughable to suggest that I, and other audit supporters, are hiding our true agenda. Besides, how could an audit advance efforts to end the Fed unless the audit would prove that the American people would be better off without the Fed? And don’t the people have a right to know if they are being harmed by the current monetary system?

For over a century, the Federal Reserve has operated in secrecy, to the benefit of the elites and the detriment of the people. It is time to finally bring transparency to monetary policy by auditing the Federal Reserve.

Article originally posted at The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

Risk Update: Belief That Stock Markets Will Rise Indefinitely

Another risk is a significant stock market correction (or crash).

This chart from Frank Holmes at US Global Investors points out that the S&P 500 is at an extreme.

stock markets rise












The longest consecutive annual rise in US equities is six years. And since 1874, it’s happened only twice—from 1898 to 1903, and the six years through 2014. If the market ends higher this year, we will have entered uncharted territory—and increased the risk of a more serious correction or crash.

When the inevitable occurs, how will investors respond? Will they remember the scare in 2008 and sell? How will the Fed and global central bankers respond to a falling stock market? Whatever happens, the odds are high that gold will be sought by investors in that scenario.

Article originally posted in the February issue of Smart Metals Investor at


submitted by jwithrow.fed-speak

The following is a brief retrospective of the Fed’s promises about how long the fed funds rate would stay near zero, otherwise known as fed-speak.

Starting six years ago, the Fed promised rates would remain “exceptionally low”…

• … first “for some time” (December 2008)
• … then “for an extended period” (March 2009)
• … which morphed into a target date of “at least through mid-2013” (August 2011)
• … stretching to “at least through mid-2015” (September 2012).

Only three months after that last revision, the Fed threw out the chronological playbook and opted for numerical targets…

• … “as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5%” (December 2012)
• … “well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6.5%” (December 2013).

When Janet Yellen took over from Ben Bernanke, the targets became based on the anticipated wind-down of quantitative easing (QE)…

• … “for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends” (March 2014)
• … “for a considerable time following the end of its asset purchase program this month” (October 2014).

What’s going on here?

Individual Solutions: Building Financial Resiliency

submitted by resiliency - individual solutions

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Individual Solutions: Building Financial Resiliency

February 12, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,071 today. Gold is down to $1,226 per ounce. Oil is floating around $49 per barrel. Bitcoin is hanging around $221 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 2.03% today.

Ten central banks have cut interest rates so far in 2015. The list includes: Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, and Turkey. Additionally, both the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank are actively buying sovereign debt… with counterfeited currency created from thin air. The Federal Reserve is taking a break from this exercise after nearly six years of creating currency to shop at the U.S. Treasury and go yard-saling on Wall Street. Of course the $4.5 trillion worth of sovereign debt and mortgage-backed securities still sits on the Fed’s balance sheet in the interim.

All of this economic intervention is a concerted effort to stave off a major credit contraction. The central bankers talk about hitting certain GDP and unemployment rate metrics but that is all part of their dog and pony show. If creating currency out of thin air could actually grow an economy and create jobs then we would already live in a utopian paradise. But that’s just not how the world works.

Try as they may to avoid it, the coming credit contraction is inevitable. You see, the global monetary system has been fraudulent for a little more than four decades now. Gold officially anchored the global monetary system for two centuries prior to 1971. Then, in 1971, President Nixon’s administration acted to break away from two hundred years of tradition and the U.S. ended direct convertibility of the dollar to gold. Of course the “Great Society” welfare programs and the Vietnam War had a lot to do with this decision.

“Your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today,” Nixon proclaimed on television with a straight face. “The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.”

Of course the exact opposite happened: the U.S. dollar fell off a cliff. Anyone living during the 70’s can attest to this. What was the price of a new home back then? A new car? A hamburger? The difference between what those items cost in 1971 and what they cost today represents how far the U.S. dollar has fallen in purchasing power.

How did this happen?

Well, with all ties to gold removed governments and central banks discovered they could conjure currency into existence to pay for anything they wanted. Tanks, fighter jets, food stamps, Medicare part D, $800 trash cans… no problem! So they embarked upon this historic credit expansion armed with a magical monetary system that provided them with money for nothing.

But governments weren’t the only beneficiaries. The companies making the tanks and the bombs made out like bandits. So did all of the bureaucrats who were hired as government expanded. And the people receiving welfare benefits found the system quite palatable as well. Pretty soon smart people learned that the best business in the world was to sell something to the U.S. government because it had unlimited money to spend. So they descended upon K Street like buzzards on road-kill and pretty soon the suburbs surrounding D.C. claimed home to six of the wealthiest ten counties in the U.S.

The champagne has been flowing up on the Hill and in the lobbyist offices on K Street for four decades now thanks mostly to the fraudulent fiat monetary system in place since 1971. The establishment hails their elastic currency system as a major success but theirs is a self-serving and short term view. Credit has been constantly expanding since 1971 but do we really think this can go on forever? Can we continue to run up debt, print money to pay interest on that debt, and then buy all of the fighter jets, disability checks, politicians, and cheap junk from China without ever having to think twice about it? If not, what happens when the credit contracts and we can no longer afford all of these expenditures?

The Austrian School of Economics tells us what the result of this madness will be: a “crack-up boom” followed by a monstrous bust as all of the bad debt and malinvestments are finally liquidated.

The crack-up boom occurs as the prices of assets and real goods are driven up to the moon by enormous amounts of excess currency conjured into existence in an attempt to perpetuate the credit expansion. After all, that new currency has to go somewhere. This scheme will work to stave off the credit contraction… until it doesn’t. Then cometh the bust.

While Austrian Economics can make the diagnosis, the timing of the bust cannot be predicted. There are too many interconnected factors at play. What’s important is that there is still time to build financial resiliency in advance. The cornerstone of financial resiliency is knowledge and understanding. Understand fiat money is an illusion. Understand the difference between money and wealth. Study Austrian Economics to get a feel for what’s really going on in the economy.

Once you understand how the monetary system actually works you can formulate a customized asset allocation model based upon your personal circumstances.

A resilient asset allocation model will consist of cash (20-30%), precious metals (10-30%), real estate (30-60%), and strategic equities (10-15%).

At minimum you should carry enough cash to cover at least 6-12 months of expenses. Distressed assets will go on sale when then bust hits so any cash in excess of your reserve fund can be used to acquire these distressed assets (real estate, stocks, businesses, etc.) when they are cheap.

Your precious metals allocation should consist of physical gold and silver bullion stored at home or in a legal segregated account overseas. Never store precious metals in a domestic bank vault – Americans learned this the hard way back in the 30’s when the banks closed and FDR raided the vaults to confiscate gold. Remember, precious metals are insurance not speculation. The price of gold (and silver) will skyrocket in terms of fiat currency, but its purchasing power will remain relatively constant just as it has for thousands of years. Those who save in fiat currency will see their wealth evaporate as the credit contraction unfolds while those who hold precious metals will weather the storm. J.P Morgan testified before Congress in 1912: “Gold is money. Everything else is credit.” Don’t be fooled.

Real estate presents a unique opportunity currently as we are living during a period of historically low interest rates and lenders are willing to offer long term mortgages at these low rates. This provides a tremendous opportunity to lock in these low rates on real estate for thirty years during which time interest rates will inevitably rise significantly.

We firmly believe stocks should make up the smallest percentage of a resilient portfolio under current economic conditions. Stockholders have been the primary beneficiaries of the massive credit expansion and all of the easy-money chicanery over the past several years. Financial institutions have poured new money into the equities markets and publicly-traded companies have used a ton of excess cash to buy back shares of their own stock. As a result current stock valuations do not reflect the underlying health of the economy. Though stocks will run for a bit longer, we are closer to the end than the beginning of the bull cycle. We think the exception is in the resource and commodity sector, however. The stocks of well-managed companies in this sector could do extremely well over the next few years as the global financial system continues to falter.

Nobody can control macroeconomic conditions but we can each control our individual response to them. Building financial resiliency by constructing a diversified portfolio across several asset classes is an individual solution to a collective problem. Financial resiliency is just half of the picture, however. Tomorrow we will look at what we call home resiliency.

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.