All He Left Us Was A Loan

30 12 2010

The author of this video closes with the question:

This video, and my life’s work, is my answer to my child. What’s yours?”

The way it looks now, most children will be singing a variation of Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone:

Papa was a rollin’ stone,
Wherever he could sell debt was his home.
And when he died,
All he left us was a loan.

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While Survival Is Important, It Is Not Enough

25 12 2010

READ RUSHDOONY!

Thoughtful men will naturally seek to protect themselves by investing in land, gold, silver, and other historic hedges against inflation, but the counter-hedges of socialism against self-protection are greater than ever before. And, while survival is important, it is not enough. Socialism is finished: it is destroying itself, and although the worst lies ahead, the certainty of socialism’s collapse is nonetheless inescapable, and it must be a basic premise of all thinking concerning the future. The central concern even now must be reconstruction, the creation of new institutions dedicated to liberty, education to that end, and the assurance that the fresh air of liberty is ahead, past the days of chaos. The wise, therefore, will recognize that the breakdown of money, socialist money, is overtaking us, and that there is no security in counterfeit currency. Before they sit weeping, like the Chinese of Shanghai, surrounded with their worthless money, they had better dedicate themselves and their wealth to the cause of liberty before it is too late. As Sennholz has pointed out, our managed money today is the poorest form of investment for the future. In the long run, an investment in liberty offers better returns. 

These words from R.J. Rushdoony (read the whole essay here) are just as true and timely today as when he first wrote them in 1965.





The Real Truth About Money

23 12 2010

Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast has released a new book entitled The Real Truth About Money. After reading the booklet cover to cover, I have a few comments and observations. These are off-the-cuff remarks, not meant to be a comprehensive review.

First, the good.

Jack does a good job providing an explanation of our current debt-based monetary system in a way that most people should be able to understand. He also explains why it can never work – except insofar as it soon enslaves everyone to the FED and the Federal government.

Jack also does a good job of encouraging what he calls “individual sovereignty” – becoming less dependent upon the corporate/government fascists to sell us everything we need and want, and instead taking steps to begin to provide at least part of our own food and other needs.

Jack’s writing is fairly easy to read and also entertaining. If you’ve heard any of Jack’s podcasts, its quite easy to “hear” him as you read, and, if you’re a long-time listener from the days of the Jetta TDI mobile podcast studio, you half expect to hear him interject a play-by-play of a near-accident on the highway.

Secondly, the wrong.

One of the pervasive problems with the book is that Jack uses the terms “money” and “currency” interchangeably, without making the necessary distinction between money (gold, silver, and other commodities) and things which merely represent money, such as currency. This is not a finely nuanced theoretical quibble – it is a basic and foundational distinction which is necessary to understand in order to grasp what things need to change in our monetary system. Jack actually does an adequate job of attempting to define money at some points in the booklet, but then does not carry this through to his analysis of alternatives to debt-based currency. He seems to view money as merely something that would back currency, and thus makes a distinction between a barter economy and fiat currency. More on this in the next point, but the basic thrust in the book frames the question as an intramural debate between social credit and debt-based fiat currency, rather than where it should be, which is between fiat currency of any sort versus real money.

Thirdly, the misleading.

Throughout the book Jack claims to not be advocating any particular position on what our money should be, but merely attempting to educate the reader about the true nature of our current system, which is a debt-based sham whereby the FED/GOV beast enslaves us perpetually. However, the truth of the matter is that Jack is clearly advocating a type of social credit approach. He frames the entire question in a way that pits debt-based fiat currency against a currency based on “whatever the American people choose via their elected representatives to Congress”. He suggests a “cap” on the currency based on some type of mish-mash valuation of the country’s natural resources and other types of wealth, both real and imagined.

The result of this “framing of the question” is that the best solution – real money, and liberty to decide what one wants to accept as payment – is not even an option to be considered. While Jack couches his advocacy of a social credit fiat currency with the proviso that the American people may choose whatever cap or “backing” they prefer, he clearly implies that this currency will be subject to “legal tender” legislation. This is more clearly illustrated in his example of ammunition as a money source, when he suggests that the “people” could limit production to authorized “mints”. Furthermore, Jack selectively quotes the Constitution in promoting this idea, but the fact is that the Constitution allows for only gold and silver to be made legal tender in payment of debts, and expressly prohibited “bills of credit”, or fiat currency.

Fourth, the omissions.

As mentioned above, legal tender issues are critical to this entire discussion. If the government were to issue this type of capped Greenback currency proposed by Jack, would anyone really prefer it to the actual resources which supposedly backed it? Not in a million years! The only way it would work is if the government pronounced it “legal tender” and required us to accept it as payment, as it does for FRN’s today. This would be WRONG. Let people decide what they want to accept for payment, and this will also solve all of the false dilemmas and strawmen erected by Jack concerning the gold standard. The state should be required to accept gold and silver, as the Constitution provides for, but the individual should be free to accept whatever he prefers.

Jack does a great job explaining how interest (or usury) charged on the money borrowed into circulation creates a debt that can never be repaid. However, even if we abolished the FED and went to a social credit currency via a capped Greenback approach, usury on loans between individuals and between businesses will create the same unpayable debt burden, albeit in a slower fashion. This is a very important point that must be addressed in any comprehensive monetary alternative.

Finally, some parting thoughts.

Its much easier to criticize a book than to write one. And it is not fun to write a book and then have people come along and poke holes in it. What I don’t want anyone to take away from this review is that Jack’s book isn’t worth reading. For a great many people, it would be well worth their time, and probably eye-opening to say the least. I appreciate the effort Jack has put into this book, and if nothing else I hope he will take some of my criticisms and answer them to help round the book out and cover all the bases. Jack has done what many others need to do – quit armchair quarterbacking and actually try to help people get in the game. And he did it with a free book. We need more of this!





Question From Anonymous

29 12 2008

Hello,

I’m a fellow survival-minded person, and considering your knowledge on this issue, I hope you don’t mind me asking your opinion on something I’ve been seriously mulling over for some time.

Due to the economic situation we now find ourselves in, I’ve been doing some serious thinking. We’ve watched the financial world crumble, and it concerns me. We’ve watched the stock market sputter to a halt, we’ve watched as bank after bank failed, we’ve watched as the realm of the loan and mortgage came upon rough waters. I left Washington Mutual when they began having trouble, seeing the possible outcome (which, as we witnessed, actually did occur). I moved over to Wells Fargo, feeling that that bank and Bank of America were the only two trustworthy banks. And now I see issues with Bank of America; bad loans from their Merril Lynch purchase and now the notice of layoffs. BofA may still stay alive, but in an extreme case WF may be the last man standing…. And then what if they go down, too? Yes, the government is propping these institutions up right and left, but what if they get in trouble financially? Yes, our own government, that’s what I’m saying. I’m not sure how sound my own thinking is here, but I raise the same issue many have: who’s gonna bail out Uncle Sam?

Extreme? Yes. But haven’t we been witnessing the extreme already? I do not share the tame projections of those who say next year, or maybe a year or two after that will see a return to normal. I’m afraid it will be much, much longer and much, much worse than we may yet be seeing.

I’ve wanted to invest in stocks before. I’ve wanted to “get smart” financially to earn my own living without having to answer to a boss or board. But, to be honest…I’ve lost my faith. In it all. In the stock market, in our financial system. Sure, this likely sounds completely crazy, but how can I help what I feel? I’ve simply lost faith in it.

I clearly don’t even trust my bank account anymore. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d be willing to bet that my hard-earned cash will be just fine, but what if it isn’t? Isn’t that what survivalism is all about, preparing for the worst but hoping for the best?

My point in all this? In short, I want to know what you’d suggest. I have very seriously considered pulling my cash out and storing it in a safe, but if things really go downhill that much, will the already weak dollar be worth anything? What would you recommend? Gold? What?

In closing I’d like to say that I appreciate your time. I wish to remain anonymous.

A concerned survivalist citizen





Let’s Be Realistic

19 11 2008

Interesting article in the LA Times about adult children moving their families back in with their parents due to job loss and or/foreclosure. Some typical examples:

Donald Garcia, 35, and his wife, Augustine, were living in a Burbank apartment when Augustine’s mother approached them for help. She had refinanced her three-bedroom Tujunga home a year and a half earlier with an interest-only loan, and what had been a $900 monthly house payment had doubled.

“Her mortgage company told her she couldn’t refinance for seven years, so we moved in to help out,” says Garcia, who added that a change in his apartment’s pet policy would have forced a move anyway.

Then, a few months ago, more change: Augustine lost her $60,000-a-year job as a manager at a hardware store. Garcia, trained as an electrician’s assistant, could find no such work following the collapse of the housing market, so he started driving a tow truck. Now he and Augustine, he says, owe money to her mother because they haven’t been able to help much with household expenses.

…29-year-old Ondor Ozer of West L.A. In 2006, Ozer was working in retail when he decided to buy a 3,500-square-foot house in Hemet with plans to find a new job nearby. After a year without success, he realized he’d have to lose the house to foreclosure or rent it out and move back in with his parents. He chose the latter.

“I’m upside-down in my mortgage quite a bit — about $1,300,” he says, citing the difference between what he pays on the loan each month and what he’s able to collect in rent. “I’m almost 30, and I really don’t want to be here, in my parents’ house. But I have a nearly 2-year-old son to worry about.”

Ozer says his sister and her two kids have also moved back into his parents’ 1,300-square-foot home. She’s renting out her house to cover that mortgage — and coming up short about $200 to $300 each month, he says.

I had a few thoughts after reading this article. First is that I see and hear of many people that haven’t really accepted their own personal “worst-case scenario”. They’ll be discussing their need to float two mortgages, and explain that “Worst-case scenario, I can rent the old one out (or pay both monthly bills, etc.)”

In the worst-case scenario, though, you might not have a job. You also might need to support more than your own immediate family! And renting out the house may be a proposition which loses money! We need to be realistic about the future, and not adjust the frame so that it only shows the palatable outcomes.

Second is that there is a sense in which financial hard-times are good because they force people to become less independent, and more interdependent with family, church, and community. It is a mixed blessing, but there really is a silver lining there.





Are You Preparing To Feed Others?

11 11 2008

This week’s Question of the Week is:

Are you preparing to feed others?

Some time ago I read George Grant’s book called Bringing In The Sheaves: Replacing Government Welfare with Biblical Charity. It contains a number of helpful ideas. He pointed out that, to our shame, some non-Christian groups like the Mormons have a much more comprehensive plan for feeding their own than we do. Mormon families are taught to store food, and so if they should happen to lose their job they often still have enough food for a year and don’t need to go begging. Most Christians, however, live paycheck to paycheck and so when a small church has one or more members that lose their job it becomes a major issue right away.

While not wanting to get carried away or losing focus, I’ve been wondering about whether the diaconal ministry should include teaching and challenging families to recover the lost arts of food storage. To many moderns the very idea sounds a bit crazy and reactionary, but to past generations it was just common sense and the way you made it through winters and lean years. If all the members of the church were in the habit of storing food, then even if everyone in the church lost their job, they could still feed their own families, as well as their elders, their widows, and their orphans. And thinking outwardly, it seems like if the members of our churches each had a one-year supply of basic food items (as well as the know-how to produce food, another lost art), then it would be in a great position as far as being able to help those in need that came along.

It seems like extra cash is often hard to come by for many people. But – if we had plenty of food in our pantries, we could at least very easily offer food to those in need (in exchange for work). I know some people may already do this, but in the churches I’ve been a part of this has never been identified as something that would be good for everybody to do as a covenantal strategy for feeding the poor.

What do you think? Are you (or perhaps your church) involved in anything like this?





Free yourself from slavery!

10 11 2008

At the risk of “going off half cocked” I wanted to shoot out a link to an article posted over at The War on Guns. I advocate being armed as much as the next guy, maybe more, but the word of caution here is… do not go into debt to purchase firearms. Free yourself from (economic) slavery!

I believe we should keep this in mind, not going into debt, as we consider the numerous areas of preparedness.

I’m getting close to finishing another post on purchasing firearms on a budget

Jed








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