This being the anniversary of the new Freegold Speakeasy, I wanted to write a post for both sites. And after taking stock of the current state of affairs, as well as the changes over the past year that led us to where we are today, an updated Debtors v. Savers post was the obvious choice.
What I'm talking about, well… there are a lot of things that happened over the past year, but I think the main ones are the European migrant crisis which is tearing Europe apart, at least on ideological grounds, and threatening to do so literally as well, and in the US, the election, in which we have on one side a very popular "free everything" (MMT-informed) Bernie Sanders, and on the other the unstoppable Trump Train. Can you see yet why The Debtors and the Savers was the obvious choice?
In the first Debtors and Savers back in 2010, I agreed with Karl Marx's statement that "the history of society is the history of class struggle," but I disagreed with his delineation of the classes as the workers versus the capitalists, the rich versus the poor, or the haves versus the have-nots. My delineation was "the easy money camp" or "the redistributors," which I dubbed the Debtors for short, versus "the hard money camp" or "the live within their means and take personal responsibility for their own future camp," which I dubbed the Savers for short.
Marx and I merely have two different perspectives on history. But Marx's perspective is wrong yet almost universally held, dangerous because it often leads to bloodshed, and politically expedient to the Left because it rousts envy in the have-nots. Meanwhile, my perspective, being the correct yet little known one, actually reveals how Freegold is the elegant solution to one of the oldest conflicts in the world. Instead of trying to force hard money on the easy money camp to keep their savings from devaluing, the Savers will simply stop saving in money, debt and financial instruments.
They will stop, because they will get burned in a way that will live in the collective memory forever, or at least for generations. Easy money systems, as I discussed in the post, have a typical profile of gradually transferring purchasing power from the Savers who save in money, debt and financial instruments, to the Debtors. Then, at the very end of the system, they have one final, very rapid wealth transfer, from paper's remaining purchasing power into real things, primarily real wealth items that can be possessed, because physical possession is wealth's defining attribute, especially at such times as the end of an easy money regime.
This change won't deprive the Debtors of money to borrow, because if there's one thing we know about easy money, it's that you can easily make more of it. What it will do, however, is to keep the Saver's savings from being disproportionately drained of value by an expandable monetary system. This will solve, once and for all, one of the oldest conflicts in the world, that of the Debtors and the Savers trying to use the same monetary unit, whether easy or hard, for both borrowing and saving, which has always ended in either bloodshed or tears for the Savers.
Hard money systems tend to end in violence, uprisings, bloodshed and even war, as I discussed in the post, while easy money systems tend to end in monetary collapse and financial devastation for unprepared Savers. Today we are at the end of the longest-running easy money system ever, so "Choose your camp wisely," as I said in the post, "and prepare to own the future." Because "it's not a matter of good versus evil at this point, it is a matter of survival!"
In Debtors v. Savers II - FOA Retro House Mix, I threw up a mix of FOA's comments about our tribal nature. Here's a sample:
Human society has from the very beginnings formed tribes and picked sides against each other. When we are not battling nation against nation, we jockey for position within our own groups. Right down to "me and my neighbour against the three houses down the street. As a tribe ,,, as a nation ,,,,,, as a group ,,,,,, our war is really a human problem with each other and always has been. In better context; the problems are in the way we use our laws and governments to gain advantage over the next in line.
Whether through force (war) or democratic means, we subject ourselves to the order of governments. We rightly perceive that,,,,,, the order gained from this action ,,,,,,, the security of a group, overcomes the rights and property lost on an individual level that living in a tribe requires. It's been this way through the ages. It's a political process that has always had its in-house battles ,,,,, namely portions of society try to circumvent their percentage of lost rights and property by maneuvering the rules (laws) in their favor. Yes,,,,,if I can gain the advantages of tribe life and still keep my "lost portions",,,,, I'm gaining wealth to the disadvantage of the group…
The "reality" of life on this earth is this: ,,,,,,Some portion of society will use their influence or control of the leaders to make their debts easier to pay…
Yes, we can break gold into many small parts,,,,, 'stamp it into coins and circulate gold certificates as money. We can borrow it, lend it and also circulate gold bonds as the economy grows. It is the perfect "weights and measures" monetary system. Exactly representing our productive efforts in every facet of human endeavour. But, when the losses mount, our tribal human tendencies will not allow us to support a government or banking system that forces these real losses on only a portion of the group. Never has,,,, and never will! Without this escape valve, we go to war ,,,,,, internally or on a world scale,,, so we all can share the loss,,,one way or another. As a human society of thousands of years,,, outside of war,,,,, we have learned to inflate our loses upon everyone as a whole,,,,,for the good of the keeping the whole from each others throats. Even to the point of a total loss of the current system,,,,, and all the destruction that entails for everyone.
Yes, indeed,,,,,,,we will transition to the next fiat system from the dollar, when the time comes. Believe it!
In Debtors v. Savers III - Back to "honest" gold money? Or forward on to Freegold?, I put up a post by Randy Strauss (TownCrier) from 2006, where he tackled a common myth in the hard money camp—that easy money causes wars while hard money is the key to peace:
"Attractive as it would be to simply take Rockwell at his word regarding his association between the making of fiat money and the making of war (essentially saying that war could be abolished if fiat currency were abolished), history begs us to identify that notion as a utopian falsehood. Two handy examples from very close to home (in space and time) provide the necessary instruction on this point.
1) We launched into the U.S. Civil War despite our being on a bi-metallic (gold and silver) currency system.
2) We launched into World War I despite many of the participants being on a gold standard.
Sure, paper greenbacks and confederate currency came along to prominence in the Civil War, as did the abandonment of the gold standard and implementation of fiat currency in WWI, but this development misses a most important point.
That point being, if the metallic monetary standard fails to prevent the war in the first place, then all subsequent arguments about the nature of money go out the window. Because once a nation deems itself engaged in a struggle for its very survival, there is no power on Earth that can compel such a nation to cling fast to its metallic currency standard if the legislators deem that a fiat currency would be expedient to facilitate the war effort...
Because of this difficult truth, "Your wealth is not what your money say it is," as Another used to say. Instead, your wealth, properly measured, is the tangibles you've accumulated, the store of resources you've saved. And among the world of tangibles, gold is globally the most liquid -- the most universally recognized, honored, and accepted.
In time of war, governments may (and history has shown they often do) recognize and declare that gold is too valuable to be wasted underutilized (undervalued) in the representational coinage of national currency. Therefore, fiat currency is adopted, and gold is instead mobilized in its fully-valued form -- a tangible resource uniquely and reliably suitable for any and all international settlements."
And in The Debtors and the Savers 2012, I took a closer look at the value theories of Marx, Munger, and even MMT:
"You could say, the sovereign borrowed from the rich (those with surplus wealth which will otherwise perish) and redistributed the wealth according to the needs of the community. Since everybody received something, including the ‘rich’, a tax (cancellation of debts outstanding) kept the system in balance. Very MMT."
What she's saying here is that too much savings is a burden on the system and the government provides the valuable service of debasing burdensome levels of savings down to a socially healthy level. How does that make you feel? And yeah, Izabella is apparently quite fond of MMT, which is why this part reminded me of someone else who once said that savings above "a certain level" are a "burden". I'm talking about our very own MMT Greg:
"I don't disagree with your idea of saving but it cannot be done to much of a degree on a macro level. There must be someone to consume your oversupply after a certain level. Savings is a burden when excessive..."
In part 2 of her bug schooling affectionately titled "Gold’s Anti-Social Behaviour Order", here is Izabella expressing the same sentiment as MMT Greg regarding excessive savings being a burden on the system:
"The problem with promissory notes from a goldbug’s point of view, however, is that a sovereign always has the means to “manipulate” supply so as to regulate the system’s excesses and deficits for the benefit of the group: bringing the purchasing power of the notes down when there is an abundance of goods to notes “by printing more” […]
In a perfect system the sovereign should provide for you, once you’re no longer productive anyway."
In other words, it is good that the government can reduce "excessive savings" through debasement. In fact it is the government's job to do that, just like it is the government's job to take care of you when you get old according to Izabella. And here is "gold's anti-social behavior" in a nutshell:
"Since gold can’t be “debased”, it begins to attract investment from those who would rather not consume today’s overproduction (and via that sharing wealth and ‘favours’) but continue to hoard these for the purpose of individual wealth accumulation.
Gold in this way symbolises humanity’s selfish streak.
What’s more, while gold encourages anti-social behaviour and hoarding in individuals, a fiat-based system encourages the very opposite: sharing, distribution, collaboration and cooperation.
Which leaves two possible plans [to get us] out of the crisis:
1) The goldbug plan: based on encouraging everyone to hoard ever greater amounts of natural wealth for themselves and themselves in what is ultimately a commodity you might never be able to eat.
2) The fiat plan: based on encouraging society to trust each other again, and via that storing, redeeming and returning favours until the system’s ails are eliminated."
Freegold is not about making easy money a little bit harder. On the contrary, it is about the debtors and the savers coexisting without the perpetual monetary conflict embedded in all prior systems…
Izabella has probably never heard of FOFOA's dilemma. Here it is:
FOFOA's dilemma: "When a single medium is used as both store of value and medium of exchange it leads to a conflict between debtors and savers. FOFOA's dilemma holds true for both gold and fiat, the solution being Freegold, which incidentally also resolves Triffin's dilemma."
And from that same post, here's my definition of Honest Money: "My definition is that honest money is simply money that does not purport to be something it is not." As I explained in that post, money's two main functions, medium of exchange and store of value, are actually fulfilled by two different media, even today: a primary and a secondary medium of exchange. Today (and in Izabella's ideal world) that secondary medium of exchange is debt denominated in the primary medium.
Now would probably be a good time to restate that "the debtors and the savers" is a dichotomy, not a moral judgment. It is a way of viewing the world in two camps that corrects Karl Marx's most enduring (and harmful) legacy. Neither camp is better than the other any more than women are better than men. It is simply a model for understanding how two groups with apparently different innate tendencies have always been placed in conflict with each other throughout history due to the emergence of monetary systems."
That was from 2012. In February of 2015, Yanis Varoufakis stepped into the global limelight through Greek politics, and I made two posts about him: Yanis! and Confessions of an Erratic Marxist, which was what Yanis himself titled a speech he gave at the Subversive Festival in 2013, an annual Marxist convention in Croatia.
Yanis is an interesting Marxist to me, because for one thing, he's really smart, and he comes so close to Freegold you almost can't resist reaching out to him, yet I don't and I won't. In a paper in 2011, he wrote an interesting section which caught my attention, titled Conflating wealth with capital (secton 2, pages 2 & 3). And the following paragraph from a 2013 post on his blog also caught my eye:
"But there is no such thing as the Germans. Or the Greeks. Or the French for that matter. “We are all individuals” as Monty Python have taught us. Or Europeans, as many of us would like to think. And, yes, some Europeans are grasshoppers whereas others are ants. But the notion that the ants all live in the North and the grasshoppers have all congregated in the South, plus in Ireland, is absurd. There are ants and there are grasshoppers in each of our nations. During the ‘good’ times of the Eurozone, the grasshoppers of the North and the grasshoppers of the South went on a frenzy. And when their feeding frenzy led to the crisis, it was the ants of the North and the ants of the South that were made to foot the bill. Tragically, our leaders’ espousal of the grasshoppers’ agenda, everywhere in Europe, ended up turning the ants of the North against the ants of the South in a Europe that is losing its soul because of stereotyping, denial and because of the ironclad determination of grubby so-called elites not to let go of the levers of ill-gotten power."
I mention this stuff about Yanis as a preface to an email I want to share with you. I wrote it in early February, 2015, while emailing with someone about Yanis:
Don't you think his [Yanis'] false premise is the same one I identified in Debtors and Savers?...
"Karl Marx predicted the breakdown of capitalism as a result of class struggle, followed by the establishment of a grand commune in which all the means of production would become publicly owned and used only for the public good."
Yanis sees the breakdown of (his idea of) capitalism happening right now.
"Marx writes, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle." He got this part right! What he got wrong was his delineation of the classes."
So Marx thought that the history of all society is the history of the struggle between the haves and the have-nots, and that this struggle would lead to the breakdown of (his idea of) capitalism.
I bet this is what Yanis thinks too. In this case, the Germans are the haves and the Greeks are the have-nots, and (his idea of) capitalism is collapsing because of it.
Well, first of all, I don't really think of the $IMFS and Wall Street as true capitalism. A lot of phony "wealth" is accumulating on Wall Street, but that's because of this "global surplus recycling" (as Yanis calls it) that has been funneling through Wall Street for at least 40 years now.
People view the Wall Street bankers as the haves and hate them because of envy. But if you shift your perspective a little bit you can see that the Wall Street bankers are actually in the same camp as Yanis and the Greeks, the debtor camp or the easy money camp.
Envy is a derivative of pride which I think is the "Original Sin". Pride is the root of this "we are all equal" ideology that says "I am just as deserving as those who have lots, therefore we should all have the same." See how "I am just as good as you" is a symptom of pride? And envy flows from that.
So, what you are calling a false premise, I would call a sin. Not in a religious sense (the seven deadly sins are not biblical in origin, but an ethical tradition that grew out of the Renaissance period in Europe), but more in the sense that it is an ethical misstep that, on a big enough scale, leads to really bad things happening (like the French Revolution or 150 million deaths attributed to Marx and Communism).
Remember that the Debtors and the Savers dichotomy is not meant as a value judgment that one of the camps is better or more ethical than the other. It is simply a better description of reality and history. And because it is correct while Marx's dichotomy is false, it is a premise on which a real solution can be found, unlike Marx's false premise which usually leads to bloodshed or tears.
Here's a little more on the seven deadly sins which I wrote in an email a few years ago:
The seven deadly sins, also known as the "capital vices" or "cardinal sins", are not discrete from other sins, but are instead the origin ("capital" comes from the Latin caput, head) of all other sins. Sins are traditionally divided into two categories; lesser sins which do not break one's friendship with God but injure it, and mortal or deadly sins which, if unforgiven upon death, are said to result in a complete separation from God. "Capital vices" is probably a better term for the seven than "deadly" because each of them can be either venial (lesser) or mortal (deadly) depending on the situation, but they are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices. The seven are:
These are said to be the root sins, the underlying cause of all other sins, and each is a form of Idolatry-of-Self wherein the subjective reigns over the objective.
Of the seven, pride is considered the original and most serious, and the source of the others. Pride is generally identified as believing that one is essentially better than others. It may be true in certain contexts (e.g., Kenyans/Ethiopians are better runners and therefore win marathons), but pride itself is considered the original sin and the source of all others.
Private property (aka wealth) is sacrosanct, good, and a God-given right. Even in prison, where we strip inmates of everything, they still manage to accumulate private property. And as FOA clearly stated, the identifying mark of wealth, throughout all of history, is possession. The only way to truly do away with private property is to kill a man. There's a great Clint Eastwood line in the Unforgiven: "It's a hell of a thing killing a man, you take away all he's got, and all he's ever gonna have."
I think that envy is the root of all Communist thought. Perhaps pride goes even deeper, as the have-nots mob up and truly believe they are better (as individuals and as a group) than those who have accumulated wealth. Wrath, which is the most obvious sin of Islamic jihadists, is a derivative of envy and pride.
I think that Progressivism is a prideful reaction to envy (kind of a sinful feedback loop). Progressives are full of pride, greed, sloth, gluttony, lust and wrath, but they take prideful solace in fanning the flames of envy so that they can play the prideful role of Robin Hood (a blatant thief) to the envious sinners they create but cannot control. That's just who they are. They have always been with us, but they stumbled into a global monetary system in the 20s and 30s which enabled their proliferation and all but disabled any opposition.
We all work within the given system. Even Freegolders are doing so by buying physical gold right now. Fortunes are made through genius, hard work and deliberate underconsumption. But truly immense fortunes are made mostly through making the most of the present system and a large helping of luck. Of course you've got to be capable and intelligent to do so, but first-generation billion dollar fortunes come from a lot of luck combined with working with (not against) the present system.
When I say luck, I'm talking about the "tournament effect". It applies to the Rothschilds and the "robber barons" of the 19th century as well as to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. There are plenty of really smart, hard-working people out there, but the tournament effect rewards just a few of them in REALLY big ways. The "tournament effect" is an analogy of life to things like the WSOP, or American Idol, or beauty pageants. Pro sports are a good example. The teams are relatively evenly matched in talent, so you only have to be a hair's breadth better than the second best (or have a little luck) to win the whole thing. Life is a tournament too, and that luck-based prize is not a bad thing, it is the carrot that brings so many into the big game!
But envy views the tournament effect as a bad thing. It correctly observes that the big winners are not necessarily better than itself, at least not in proportion to their oversized winnings. So it tries to take those oversized winnings away and do away with the (quite natural) tournament effect, not realizing the unintended consequence of removing the carrot that brings so many into the game in the first place.
While we're thinking about oversized fortunes, it should be observed that they are all won while working within the system at that time. Sometimes that system included slavery. Sometimes it included child labor. Sometimes it included war and brutality like in the French Revolution and WWII. And lately it includes high frequency trading, complex mathematical algorithms and derivatives, and the "magic" of Wall Street in general, which is a result of all of the savings of the largest population the world has ever seen (7bn people, it was half that in 1970) sloshing around, ripe for the skimming, in one centralized mega financial industry.
If you feel a twinge of envy toward those rich bankers, I suppose the silver lining is that most of their "wealth" will vanish in a flash. And then someone else will be quite envious of you, since you bought gold before the big revaluation. Just remember that and let it help you keep your mouth shut about your gold when the time comes!
There are a few readers with whom I email regularly, and I shared that particular email with three people in addition to the person who emailed me. That was more than a year ago like I said, and here were their four responses:
Holy shit, bro. This analysis is just genius on so many levels. I can see why this might not end up as a post on the blog, but if it does I think a lot of people would benefit from this lens beyond what they've read in Debtors vs. Savers.
I had never heard of the tournament effect, but I find it very interesting using that lens to see why common folk might react with disdain towards others that won big within the current economic system simply by employing the rules of the game. I can also see how that might extend to a, "Hey! He's no smarter than me. That big CEO is just an asshole because he chose to use the rules to his advantage in a way I wouldn't have done. I also could have done that so we should all have an equal share of the total pie" mentality.
I'll tell you what. I didn't spend a few thousands hours behind a computer studying the history of our international monetary and financial system so I could shuttle my wealth through a crash to feed the dregs that hang out by the convenient store around the corner.
Thanks for sharing. This is really good stuff you should try to work into a future post when the time is right.
Ha ha, he beat me to “holy shit, bro.”
Mine went, “Holy shit I finally understand the universe past present and future!”
I find myself getting jealous of guys that grew up with money, went to school with money, golfed with money and now do business with money. I think to myself, “their wealth doesn’t count because they were given advantages I wasn’t and on an even playing field we would still be even.”
But then I always remember the first time I heard “living well is the best revenge” from one of your comments and I think, “those rich guys don’t give a shit where I grew up, all they know is they’re living well.” I’m not living well because I didn’t make the right moves at the right time. The moves were there for the taking, I just made different ones.
But this new language of yours makes it clearer. I’m still in the tournament and even though I haven’t won yet, I might be just a hair’s breadth away. Ha ha.
thank you very much for forwarding this. It is so much up my alley, so much like how I think about communism, jihadists and progressives just to name a few, it's downright scary to see it verbalized. ;D In a good way that is.
But then again The Debtors and the Savers is one of my all time favorites that made me realize your blog was something very different....
Oooo I liked that! Deadly sins, Yanis, and the hints of a debtors and savers 2 post. Who could ask for more! Since he is obviously going to read it the part I think yanis would like, a point often forgotten or glossed over as maybe opinion, is that savers aren't superior to debtors. Greece isn't bad and Germany isn't good. Yanis is right that if you shrink the purchasing power of the net importers it would damage the economies of the net exporters. Greece simply IS a debtor and Germany simply IS a saver. From a "think like a CB" perspective both should try to push themselves towards balance (preferably via automatic adjustment mechanisms) in order to accomplish a maximized standard of living.
And I should also include this limerick, written by the Speakeasy’s very own poet laureate, Edwardo:
Jealousy, vanity, greed
Those are some sins you don't need
And anger's a curse
Though pride may be worse
I envy all those who take heed
Which brings us back to Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Angela Merkel and Viktor Orbán. For those living under a rock, Trump wants to build a border barrier to ensure border security by preventing immigrants from entering illegally, and Orbán actually did build one last year, on the border between Hungary and Serbia, in response to the migrant crisis. Meanwhile, Angela Merkel has made it clear that there is no limit to how many asylum-seekers Germany will take. This is a very divisive issue, for many reasons and on many levels.
In general, I try to avoid politics as much as possible on my blog. But as you will see, the two main political sides in the world align much better with my delineation of the camps or "classes" than with Marx's. And because most gold bugs come out of the hard money camp, my readers tend toward the conservative side of the political spectrum. So it may seem to the reader, because of his own bias, that this discussion is a moral indictment of the political left, when it is more fundamentally about how things are unfolding, how they will ultimately end, and how the two sides will then be able to live together, each being their natural self, without monetary conflict.
Progressivism is a name adopted by the political left in its endless push to "progress" toward a world without a political right, without opposition to progressivism. Progressivism generally traces back to the 18th century period leading up to the French Revolution, in which "progressives" eliminated some 50,000 opponents.
Progressives are very good with words, as evidenced by the name itself. What could possibly be wrong with progress? And if you aren't for progress, then you must be a bad person. It's an almost indisputably-positive word, right? Kind of like "social justice". If you're not for social justice, then you must be for social injustice, which would obviously make you an evil person, right? And then they have a whole list of made-up phobias and misused "isms" with which to label and brand their opponents.
In fact, the French Revolution gave the English language three politically descriptive words denoting anti-progressive politics: reactionary, conservative and right. "Reactionary" came from the French, réactionnaire, meaning "a movement towards the reversal of an existing tendency, and a return to a previous state of affairs," and was a pejorative label given to those supposedly opposed to modernity and progress. So they were doing it even back then!
Here's a comment I wrote back in 2010, shortly after The Debtors and the Savers:
Desperado wrote: "Gary North has an interesting look at "Greenbackism" in Cheerleader for Hitler's Economics. He has researched Ellen Brown extensively. He discusses her and the Greenbacker links to the tea party, and I would think they would fit together like a hand and glove. The Greenbackers have historically been against gold based money and they could easily help push the teaparty into being swept up in an anti-gold and anti-hoarder populism.
It seems that we are having more than a currency war, we are having a struggle between monetary philosophies at a very base level as gold reasserts itself and the $IMFS breaks apart. This is something that has not happened for over 100 years when the Greenbackers, the Silverites, and others struggled against the gold standard.
I would love to hear anything you (and anyone else) might be able to add concerning this re-emerging conflict."
Certainly! First let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed that Gary North piece. Bravo to him! As always, I only have minor differences with him.
I have been writing about this "re-emerging conflict" a lot lately, but you simply cannot see it, Desperado. Politically I am firmly on your side. Monetarily, you are blinded by your intense political focus, in my opinion.
You say, "It seems that we are having more than a currency war, we are having a struggle between monetary philosophies at a very base level..."
Yes, absolutely. Go reread my post about the Debtors and the Savers. You can think of them as the "easy money camp" and the "hard money camp" if you like. And "hard" means "difficult to obtain" not "metal" in this case. That's why I used "easy" and not "soft" for the other camp.
Ellen Brown is in the "easy money camp," as are many others who are unfortunately frequented by our online peers, like the AMI, Freedom's Vision, Bill Still, this guy, this guy, this guy, the entire MMT blogging crowd, and many more, including a lot of deflationist and silverbug names you would recognize but I'm not going to list.
Hopefully you can tell these people by those they associate with. It is basically everyone on the left that is anti-Fed and anti-"banksters," including Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich. These people, and the "greenback historians" that North so brilliantly illuminates have contributed most of the "anti-bankster" myths that have lasted 150 years. Just watch the Secret of Oz to see them all laid out.
The "NWO Socialist Welfare State" (or whatever you want to call it) is completely dependent on the US dollar's global use in the store of value role. Something that cannot be controlled. It can only be earned through confidence. And most simply stated, that's ending. Look no farther than how the creep of progressivism has paralleled the creep of the US dollar, and then you will see how far this movement is about to be set back.
They can try a welfare state with an "easy medium of exchange," but it won't get very far in Freegold. There will be an uncontrollable transition whereby the "free stuff crowd" goes back to work out of necessity.
There is a fatal flaw in the reasoning of "easy money" thinkers like Ellen Brown. The flaw is in the cause and effect blame game they play. Their disdain is directed at the wrong cause.
I dislike debt as much as the next guy… But debt itself is not the cause of our problems today. Today we have a situation where the vast majority of surplus production value (surplus capital) is enabling massive amounts of global malinvestment through new debt creation. That has peaked and is now contracting. But the problem is not the debt itself. The problem is the enabling effect of surplus capital not having a viable alternative that floats against the currency. The problem is the lack of the adjustment mechanism of Freegold. There is no viable counterbalance against uncontrolled debt growth today. So we are only left with credit collapse and hyperinflation of the monetary base to clear the malinvestment from the system.
It is easy to blame this on debt as a principle, but unless you don't mind being wrong, there are some deeper explanations out there. Debt under Freegold will not reach such destructive levels. "Easy money" thinkers may or may not get their debt-free money, but if they do they will suddenly realize the flaw in their reasoning. Oops! That it can only have expandable value (needed for the welfare state) if producers are willing to hold it while it expands. Without that, socialist welfare expansion will simply dilute the value of the currency and be as limp as a eunuch.
And this fatal flaw in the "greenbackers'" reasoning is, for all practical purposes, written into their Western genetic code. They won't see the flaw until it finally fails them. It comes back to the concept of money. Ever since the Dark Ages, money has been both a medium of exchange and store of value, for better or worse. They can't even conceptualize the separating of functions, so they don't bother considering the consequences. They think "all we need is free money and it will be a wellspring of value, because money is always valuable." How wrong they are.
If you want a glimpse at how things will actually play out monetarily, it can be most clearly seen in the structure of the euro. As Wim Duisenberg said in his famous speech, "It is the first currency that has not only severed its link to gold, but also its link to the nation-state." Here, the euro solved TWO problems. 1. It severed its link to the wealth reserve function of money. And 2. it severed its link to the Triffin Paradox.
The resolution of these two problems with the dollar (1. trying to be everything to everyone, and 2. suffering the Triffin Paradox) is the inevitable shakeout of this crisis. This is the final point you should internalize.
Now, I fully realize that this is the point of the conversation where you glaze over and start foaming at the mouth with hatred for the NWO Socialist elites that forced the euro on Europe. So I'll just stop here and not waste any more of our time.
Progressives, “enlightened” academics, the media, and the mainstream political establishment all seem confounded by Trump’s popularity, but it’s really quite simple. It’s not because his supporters are all dumb racists and xenophobic rednecks living in trailer parks scattered across the fly-over states. Nor is it because Trump is so smart, articulate, and never says anything regrettable. It is quite simply because:
1. People are tired of being lied to by the “progressive” media under the banner of political correctness, and are encouraged by a candidate who is not afraid to stand up to the media…
2. People are tired of being labeled with fake phobias and misused “isms” as an intimidation tactic, and are encouraged by a candidate who is not afraid to be labeled and branded by the imbeciles who buy into that BS…
3. People are tired of blatant discrimination, like affirmative action, and the entitlement attitude of those on the public dole, and are heartened by a candidate who isn’t afraid to talk about hot-button issues…
4. People who had all but given up on the political process are encouraged by a “self-funding” outsider who has the courage to say the things that got his momentum going in the first place…
5. And a whole lot of people are tired of the muzzling effect of utterly absurd political correctness, and for this reason most of all, Trump is still gaining momentum!
And by the way, if you think Trump is a racist, you are part of the problem, and you are wrong:
Back in November, someone sent me an article titled Sorry, Social Justice Warriors: Political Correctness Has Peaked. The article began like this:
"If you’re Social Justice Warrior, you’re a liar. You actively spread absurd falsehoods about the nature of men, women, sex, and culture that can’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny. You change history and conceal facts to fit preferred narratives, even when it costs human lives. You claim the best of intentions yet achieve the worst of outcomes…"
The author pegged October 31, 2015 as "peak PC":
"When universities actually post flow charts to keep your Halloween party from being offensive, humorlessness is redefined. When students are so fragile that the very thought of ethnic-themed Halloween costumes leads to much-mocked YouTube “guides,” then political correctness is losing its punch:
If you disagree — if you think that political correctness is gaining momentum — then consider a few facts. First, the top two candidates in the Republican race for president of the United States attained their front-runner status by willfully, gleefully defying political correctness at every turn. Ben Carson shot to the top of the polls when he did the unthinkable — told the truth about guns, about Islam, about resistance to mass shooters, and about abortion — without flinching. It’s old news by now that Donald Trump’s supporters love him for his anti-PC stands…
If there is one thing that’s predictable in this otherwise unpredictable GOP cycle, it’s that defying the PC police is the path to prominence."
Of course, even if PC has peaked, that doesn't mean it's gone. Just this past Easter, a UK paper reported that Cadbury was no longer prominently displaying the word Easter on the front of its Easter egg packaging.
There are too many examples of peak absurdity to list. Just do a Google search of "absurd examples of political correctness" if you'd like to see more. The same author who wrote the peak PC article above had a new one out just last week, which started with "the utterly absurd bathroom wars":
"One of his New York City readers wrote in to say that her 14-year-old daughter had just finished dressing in a city locker room when a grown man stepped from the showers wearing only a towel. Girls as young as seven were present, and they were staring at the man with “concerned expressions.” The reader ends her e-mail with, “It sucks to be a parent these days."
For anyone living under a rock, "transphobia" is one of the new front lines in this progressive push to absurdity. Just last month, Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in North Carolina to protest against a "transphobic" bathroom law, saying, "Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards."
I couldn't care less about the law in NC, so don't get mad at me if you're in favor of Bruce Jenner using the same restroom as your wife and daughter (even though he still has his man parts and is still sexually attracted to women). I'm not taking sides here, I'm simply pointing out the absurdity of it, and yes, I am aware that Trump said Jenner is welcome to use the ladies' room in Trump Tower. ;D
As I'm writing this, Donald Trump has just won the Indiana primary, Ted Cruz just dropped out of the race, and Trump just became the presumptive nominee, saying in his speech that soon we'll be allowed to say Merry Christmas again, instead of the PC Happy Holidays. Over on the Democrat side, however, the race is still too close to call, with Bernie and Hillary neck and neck. But as I watch the precincts slowly rolling in, I've seen Bernie rise from 49.5% with Hillary at 50.5%, up to Bernie at 52.8% and Hillary at 47.2% with 72% of the precincts reporting. And with that, CNN just called it for Bernie Sanders.
Bernie is especially popular among young people because of his "free stuff" approach to government. Take college tuition for example. I don't think I need to tell you how expensive college has gotten, and the student loan debt these kids face who are just turning old enough to vote. So of course Sanders' promise of tuition-free college is going to be hugely popular.
Stephanie Kelton is an economics professor at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. She is also an economic advisor to Sanders' presidential campaign. Her economic school is Post-Keynesian economics and Modern Monetary Theory, also known as MMT. MMT is kind of like the monetary equivalent—in terms of jumping the shark—of humorless Halloween costume flow charts. Here she is talking about how giving away free stuff really is the secret to Bernie Sanders' success:
If you don't know what MMT is, I'm not going to explain it here, but I did explain it in this post back in 2011. Just scroll down to the section titled "MMT". Suffice it to say that MMTers love to say the government can't run out of money, and that government spending grows the economy. Unbelievable? Just listen to MMT Mike explain it in 7 minutes:
And just in case you were wondering, yes, he "feels the Bern" too:
That's right, the other side not only believes their own nonsense, they think you're the idiot for not believing it, or worse… maybe you're just evil! >:D
By the way, I'm not suggesting that Bernie Sanders will win. The Democratic primary is less democratic and more corrupt (i.e., rigged) than the Republican one, so he will most likely lose. I'm simply pointing out that his popularity is another sign of peak absurdity.
Over in Europe, the migrant crisis is the front line of "Progress" versus push-back. Of course Europe doesn't have the same idea of free speech as we do in America, so we don't get to hear as much from the conservative resistance as we do from the Progressives, who label anyone opposed to massive immigration from the Arab world, North Africa and the Middle East, as xenophobic, racist or worse. In some places, you can be arrested for simply saying the wrong thing about the crisis, or even just tweeting it.
We do get a glimpse, though, at what is developing over there. In Sweden, anti-immigration groups are labeled as Nazis, yet we continue to hear stories about these "no-go" zones which are essentially Muslim slums where even the police don't go. Such stories are considered racist and routinely suppressed inside Sweden, but just a few weeks ago, an Australian 60 Minutes crew was attacked in one of these areas, and published the video saying there are now 55 such no-go zones in Sweden. So apparently there are reasons other than being a Nazi to hold an anti-immigration stance in Sweden.
In Germany, just days ago, hundreds of "left-wing protestors" clashed with thousands of members of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party who were meeting in Stuttgart. The protestors chanted "Keep refugees, drive Nazis away!" But I looked into this group, and they appear to not be as "far-right" as some. They are actively trying not to attract more radical ultra-nationalists, they are fearful of being labeled "xenophobic or even racist," and have shied away from supporting similar groups as a result. They have, however, labeled Merkel's decision to accept a million migrants in 2015 as "catastrophic," they would like to ban the burqa and outlaw minarets (the towers from which Muslims announce obligatory prayer time five times a day) in Germany, and they are also opposed to gay marriage. Freakin' "Nazis" (yeah, right).
Stories like these just keep on coming, and one might say that peak Progressive nonsense has awakened the sleeping giant of the European Right. In France it's Marine Le Pen's National Front party. In Austria it's the Freedom Party. In Sweden, the conservative party is called the Swedish Democrats. And in Britain, the Conservative victory last year has led to a public vote next month on whether or not to leave the EU.
Many people around the internet see these various political conflicts peaking, becoming the absurdities that they are, and then feel compelled to predict how it's all going to end. I have even seen it predicted that WWIII may break out between Islam and the West, as a guerilla-style urban warfare scenario in Europe, in an attempt to evict those now being welcomed into the warm embrace of the leftist welfare state. But that's not how I see it ending.
No one is on a hard money system today. The entire world is on easy money, so there will be monetary appeasement, not war, right up until the end. And that end will be the collapse of the international monetary and financial system (the $IMFS), not WWIII, because that is what history has taught us.
I agree that it is frightful to have foreign cultures flooding into your backyard. And it can seem like much of the damage that has already been done is irreversible, short of war. But you need to understand that it is happening because it has been financially incentivized, encouraged and even facilitated by that which has peaked or is peaking. And without the $IMFS, the incentives, encouragement and facilitation will reverse direction. It won't happen all at once, but I recommend that you "prepare to own the future" (as I said in the first Debtors and Savers post), because happen it will.
The euro as a currency is separate from Europe's political division. That's not to say the ECB isn't susceptible to political influence. Of course it is! That is one of its strengths, which I will get to in a moment. And as I said above, the two political camps generally align with the two monetary camps in the title of this post. So the Debtors, the "easy money camp" or "the redistributors" are generally the Progressives on the left, and the Savers, or the "live within their means and personal responsibility camp" are generally the conservatives on the right.
The EU, as a superfluous layer of big government, is very much Progressive. And people who hate this Leftist umbrella of Socialist welfare state that now covers most of Europe, tend to project that same hatred onto an inanimate object, the euro, as if it is somehow the linchpin of Europe's absurdity. Unfortunately, they also tend to hate me, Freegold and A/FOA, because they perceive anything positive said about the euro as support for their political enemy.
As I say, this is unfortunate, because it prevents them from both understanding what is actually unfolding, and from seeing the tremendous wealth opportunity it brings with it. Hopefully this post will make it obvious that I hail from the right side of the political spectrum (pun intended), and that I also understand the Leftist nature of Europe. So, with that in mind, perhaps you (if you are one of "them") should take another look at why I have positive things to say about the euro.
The euro is, of course, easy money. It is a fiat currency that can be printed at will by its central bank. So why, if I hail essentially from the hard money camp, would I have anything positive to say about the euro? The answer is up in my 2010 comment to Desperado. He was one of those "right-wingers" in Europe who ultimately wrote me off because he couldn't get past projecting his hatred for the EU welfare state onto a symbolic token unit of account.
The reason I have positive things to say about the euro is because, no matter how it's being used today, it was conceived and constructed to bridge the end of the dollar reserve system to the next one. Its design, its architecture, will not only allow it to survive the transition, but also to flourish within the next system. That design is what I wrote about in the Desperado comment:
"'It is the first currency that has not only severed its link to gold, but also its link to the nation-state.' Here, the euro solved TWO problems. 1. It severed its link to the wealth reserve function of money. And 2. it severed its link to the Triffin Paradox. The resolution of these two problems with the dollar (1. trying to be everything to everyone, and 2. suffering the Triffin Paradox) is the inevitable shakeout of this crisis."
And it is the currency of many different countries, which is why its susceptibility to political influence is actually a strength, not a weakness. FOA:
"The dollar is ruled by one country and one country only. This implies that only one Economy is taken into consideration when policy is discussed, the USA. The management of interest rates, inflation, dollar value and crisis intervention, are therefore politically motivated to benefit one world group, again, Americans. We have seen the news events of how this tramples upon the needs of other geopolitical groups (countries).
On the other hand, the Euro will utilize a totally different structure of consensus management. It will be governed by many nations of obvious conflicting needs. This very weakness, that is so well documented by analysts, is the "major" strength that will contribute to the popularity of the Euro. In time, it will be governed by many cultures, including an "open market" valuation of gold."
So the euro is the "easy money" that the Debtor camp wants, but it has also severed the long-standing monetary link between transactional currency and "the wealth reserve function" which the Savers' camp needs. Each camp gets what it needs monetarily, without fundamentally infringing on the other camp's needs. A win-win! :D
On top of that, it has further resolved Triffin's paradox or dilemma by not being beholden to one part of its constituency (the US) at the expense of the rest (the rest of the world). (If you aren't familiar with the Triffin dilemma, I explained it in my Dilemma post.) It's a multinational, purely fiat currency, with an economic zone as big as the dollar's, that doesn't need foreign exchange rate manipulation or foreign financial use to survive.
It also has 348 million ounces, or 10,825 tonnes of gold in reserve. So it doesn't really matter how much "QE" or "helicopter money" they have to print to keep the peace until the $IMFS finally ends. The euro won't have the same "denouement" as the dollar. It's the dollar's system that is ending, the euro is the bridge to the next system, and whatever it ends up being called, you here today will always know it as "Freegold".
Freegold is kind of like the middle ground, or center, between the two camps. It is the compromise, the obvious solution, but that doesn't mean that I'm a centrist when it comes to politics. I can see that, as Ari said, we need our money to be "easy" in order to set gold free to be the "hard" wealth reserve par excellence that is needed to keep the peace. We get our "hard" secondary money, let them have their "easy" primary money, and learn to appreciate the elegance of the arrangement!
In fact, since most of us intuitively hail from the hard money camp, it's a healthy exercise to embrace the idea of money being even "easier" in Freegold than it is today. Easy money saps value from every monetary unit on record, so today that disproportionately taxes the savers through the financial system, but in Freegold it won't. So I don't expect money to be any "harder" in Freegold. Since it will have a smaller pool of value to sap from, it may even be "easier" than today's money.
As FOA said, we have always formed "tribes" or groups, in which we trade some measure of our personal freedom of choice for the security of being part of a larger group. Within that group, subgroups tend to jockey for control in order to bend the rules in their favor, in order to regain some of what they perceive they have lost by being part of the group, at the expense of other subgroups. It's just the way we are as a species, and understanding human nature and how to work within it, rather than forever struggling to change it, is really what Freegold is all about.
As for the two most general subgroups, most would agree they are the political Left and Right. But from a monetary, economic and financial perspective, we always see the divide framed as the rich versus the poor. Yet there are rich and poor on both sides of the political spectrum, or ants and grasshoppers in each of our nations as Yanis said, so obviously we need a better framework of understanding if we are to comprehend what is actually unfolding.
That framework is the Debtors and the Savers, as I have defined them in terms of easy versus hard money preference, and in terms of social versus personal responsibility being primary. This understanding also blends extremely well with the history of the political Left and Right, revealing an undeniable connection between political and monetary evolution and change.
With this view, we can see how the rise of Progressivism to absurd levels has paralleled the rise of the dollar-based international monetary and financial system to its own absurd levels. It's easy to see what constitutes Progressivism, but if you are willing to buy the idea that both have peaked, then it's important to also understand what constitutes the $IMFS. Because while Conservatism stands ready to take control back from Progressivism, there's no way in hell that we're going back to hard money.
What most fundamentally constitutes the $IMFS is simply the idea that money, debt and financial instruments constitute wealth. As Randy said in Debtors v. Savers III, "Instead, your wealth, properly measured, is the tangibles you’ve accumulated, the store of resources you’ve saved. And among the world of tangibles, gold is globally the most liquid — the most universally recognized, honored, and accepted." This is what will change monetarily: the simple idea of what constitutes wealth.
If you are still struggling with this concept, just think about what it actually is that makes the $IMFS seem so absurd today, not just in the US, but all around the world. It is the perception of wealth held in money, debt and financial instruments that is so disproportionate to the real economy. And not just the size, but the rate and direction of change. The perception of wealth can expand in the $IMFS even while the real economy is shrinking. This is why Another always said, "Your wealth is not what your money say it is."
So, basically, Freegold is not about us versus them, it’s about living together without monetary conflict. And because of pride, envy and the lot of them, monetary conflict is indeed at the heart of these political conflicts. So while it might be a bit much to say Freegold will solve every problem, I think it’s fair to say it will at least reverse the incentives and send us “progressing” in a better direction. :D
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