What America Forgot

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
What America Forgot

June 14, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Think about this, Frances: For the past several thousand years of recorded history, humans lived at the edge of starvation, usually in abject poverty, perpetually at risk. But in just the past few centuries, and primarily in only one or two parts of the world, we suddenly develop medical science, cars, telephones, airplanes, refrigeration, central heating, electrical power, computers, and spaceships. Why here? And why now?” – James Farber, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men

The S&P closed out Monday at $2,079. Gold closed at $1,286 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $48.56 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.61%. Bitcoin is trading around $705 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

As I mentioned in last week’s entry, wife Rachel and I just celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and this one may have been the best yet. There were no gifts, no fancy dinners, no nights out… Rachel didn’t even get me a card! I was so proud of her!

It reminded me of the Christmas following our engagement a number of years ago. With the wedding looming, we agreed not to give each other gifts for just one Christmas holiday in the interest of saving money.

Believing very strongly in contractual agreements, I followed through diligently on my end of the deal… Rachel did not. I found myself receiving several gifts from her on that Christmas morning, and I didn’t have even the tiniest trinket to offer in return. She was devastated!

I tried to plead my case: But I thought we agreed not to give each other gifts!? Continue reading “What America Forgot”

The Emerging Cultural Shift

submitted by jwithrow.cultural shift

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Emerging Cultural Shift

January 23, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,056 today. Gold is still at $1,296 per ounce. Oil is back down to $46 per barrel. Bitcoin is hanging around $233 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 1.82% today.

Yesterday we examined the cultural shift towards top-down authoritarianism that occurred in America during the 20th century. We also observed a promising new cultural shift beginning to emerge; this time away from politics and towards non-coercion and free markets.

Mind you, the emerging cultural shift is still quiet and small so few people are aware of it at this time. It is also non-uniform in nature which is somewhat foreign to our way of thinking about culture in modern times. We are accustomed to thinking along the lines of hard-coded doctrine that must be accepted, believed, and adhered to. Everyone must agree on the specific bullet points handed down to them: If you are “conservative” then you must agree on these issues; if you are “liberal” then you must agree on these other issues; if you are “green” then you must agree on these issues, and so forth.

The emerging cultural shift does not fit into that top-down paradigm – it is more holographic in nature. The shift is comprised of many different ideas, views, and philosophies that sometimes overlap in certain places and other times overlap in different places. The hologram is held together by one underlying sentiment: non-coercion. The individuals who make up this emerging shift share the understanding that it is neither right nor necessary to force your ideas upon others. The old “Do unto others…” philosophy is making a comeback. With this mindset firmly in place, individuals are free to come together in those places where they overlap and they are free to diverge in those places where they do not overlap.

Everyone wins.

R. Buckminster Fuller once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Guess what? The emerging cultural shift renders the current paradigm based on politics obsolete. Politics is nothing but a tool used by one group to force other groups to conform against their will. This is a win-lose model; politically connected groups win and all others lose. Politics is the almighty dragon within a top-down societal model; it is the shunned cockroach within a decentralized holographic model.

To some the holographic model sounds unrealistic. They just can’t fathom a community without a leader or a November without an election. They are like the Israelites in the book of Samuel who asked for a king to rule over them – they just couldn’t envision a better way. And who’s to blame them? For most of recorded human history people have identified with hierarchal institutional structures.

But the highest ‘entity’ in society is not the institution, it is the individual. All humans operate individually; there is no getting around that fact. Humans can choose to cooperate with one another but that is always an individual choice. All individuals are endowed with an indomitable will and they are left with the decision to either use their will or to subvert it. Institutions specialize in convincing individuals to subvert their own will for the benefit of the institution.

The emerging cultural shift is gaining steam for two reasons: ethics and economics.

Most of us are taught some variation of “love your neighbor as yourself” in our youth but we can very clearly see that this ideal is at odds with our authoritarian societal model. Political institutions litter the face of the Earth and they each subject individuals to all manner of taxes, regulations, mandates, restrictions, licenses, tags, identifying documents and they back these edicts with the threat of force and imprisonment. Sometimes these political institutions compete with each other and resort to violence as a resolution. Other times these institutions collude with each other to further enrich the ruling class at the expense of the public. It’s very difficult to expect individuals in society to exhibit a sound code of ethics when political aggression rules the day.

Further, most of us fundamentally understand we must produce before we can consume; there is no such thing as a free lunch as the old cliché goes. We also understand that if we consume less than we produce in the present then we have a surplus. That surplus can either be saved for future consumption, invested to increase future production, or it can be given to a neighbor in need. Each of these surplus scenarios is a win for both the individual and for society.

Our authoritarian society makes it extremely difficult for individuals to create a surplus, however, because it skims roughly 50% of individual production off the top via taxation. We are taxed on all income earned, all investment gains, all real estate owned, all vehicles owned, all gas purchased for those vehicles, all food and goods purchased, and any inheritance received. The political institutions then destroy all of the surplus skimmed from individual production on warfare, welfare, political favors, and unsustainable public works projects. This is why government buildings are always and everywhere the most prestigious buildings in existence – they are built with stolen money! To add insult to injury, the most powerful of our political institutions have not been content with their portion of the skim so they have borrowed massively against the production of future generations to enhance their spree of warfare, welfare, political favors, and public works. Such economic activity destroys capital and creates a net deficit which is a tremendous loss for both individuals and for society.

Free, innovative, entrepreneurial commerce creates an economic surplus while political intervention, aggression, and redistribution creates an economic deficit. Surpluses enrich while deficits impoverish. Factor in the ethical implications and the choice is clear, is it not?

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 http://www.theindividualisrising.com/. The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Capitalism and Creditism and Corporatism, Oh My!

submitted by jwithrow.The Fed

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Capitalism and Creditism and Corporatism, Oh My!

December 26, 2014
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P opened at $2,084 today. Gold is flat around $1,198 per ounce. Oil is still checking in at $56 per barrel. Bitcoin is at $326 per BTC, and the 10-year Treasury rate opened at 2.24% today.

All is quiet in the markets this holiday season. We may look back on this time period in a few years and say that we were presented with a tremendous opportunity to buy beaten down energy and commodity stocks during the tax-loss selling season of 2014. We probably will say that we had a great opportunity to accumulate some gold throughout 2014 as well. Just be sure to follow your asset allocation model if you decide to capitalize on these opportunities.

Yesterday we examined our current economic circumstances and realized that we were employing capitalism but we had no capital! Today we must ask the question: How can you have capitalism without any capital?

The obvious answer is you can’t. It’s like making potato soup without potatoes – try as you might it just won’t work.

So if we don’t have capitalism then what do we have? My answer is that we have some weird blend of creditism and corporatism. Governments have colluded with large corporate interests, especially in the commercial banking sector, to rig the economy in their favor.

Though we could go back further, let’s start our story (from the American perspective) at the end of World War II. Prior to the war governments didn’t think they could do everything they wanted due to financial constraints. That didn’t stop them from doing half of what they wanted to do but it forced them to make a choice. Did they want guns (warfare) or butter (welfare)?

The U.S. came out of WWII looking like gold… literally. The U.S. economy was the least damaged by the war which ravaged Europe and it came out holding the world’s largest stash of gold reserves. This relative economic strength gave U.S. politicians the wrong idea: they started to think they might not need to make any choices. Then President Lyndon Johnson came along and he wasn’t shy about it – guns and butter it will be!

So we got the Vietnam War and the Great Society together! And gold steadily flowed out of the U.S. Treasury until President Nixon pulled the switch-a-roo in 1971 and closed the gold window. All of a sudden the international monetary system became elastic. With no more gold restraint, dollars and yen and pounds started to pile up as central banks and commercial banks discovered they could conjure money into existence largely at will. But this was a different kind of money than the gold-backed variety – it was credit-based.

This credit-based money was extremely popular and the money supply grew 50-fold between World War II and 2008. Everyone got used to a constantly expanding money supply and now both the economy and asset prices are dependent upon it. It is the expansion of credit, not real capital, that supports all of the federal spending programs, all of the wars in the Middle East, the mass imports from China and Vietnam, the new housing developments and shopping malls in Middle America, the massive car lots across the country, most of the skyscrapers dotting the city skies, and current real estate and stock market valuations.

Here’s a fun example: do you know how much debt is still owed on the tax-funded Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey? I’ll tell you: more than $100 million is still owed on the facility. Oh, and I am talking about the old Meadowlands Stadium that was closed and demolished in 2009 to make way for a new $1.6 billion facility now known as MetLife Stadium. New Jersey taxpayers are still on the hook for $100 million on a sports complex that no longer exists! New Jersey built the stadium, used the stadium, and demolished the stadium but never bothered to pay for it.

Such nonsense can only occur in a world of ever-expanding credit-based funny money.

This applies to the massive bank bailouts and banker bonuses that one side of the fictitious aisle rails against just as it applies to the massive welfare programs that the other side of the false political-divide takes issue with. None of it exists without perpetual credit expansion; none of it exists without creditism and corporatism.

Capitalism would have nothing to do with any of it.

It is important to understand that we have only seen one side of the credit cycle within the current monetary system. Credit has been expanding constantly for more than forty years now. But if we look around our world we can clearly see that nothing expands forever. Waves rise then fall. Trees grow then mature. Balloons inflate then pop.

One day credit will have to contract; it is inevitable. What happens when that day comes? Ludwig von Mises, the late Austrian School economist, offered some insight:

“There is no means of avoiding a final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”

Was he right? Time will tell.

More to come,






Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and the fiat monetary system please read “The Individual is Rising” which is available at http://www.theindividualisrising.com/. The book is also available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.