Off the Deep End
I just looked at the charts here at 6am Pacific time. I shouldn't be surpised... Here, have a cup of coffee. I sure needed one.
I thought you might have friends or relatives who could use a bit of perspective--from reasonable ground that can bear scrutiny. And for this blog, I suspect this is another sermon for the choir, for most.
In late October of 2016, I foolishly posted my reasons for voting for Trump on Facebook for all my friends & family to read. They did. And they proceeded to beat the hell out of me, or stand by and watch. No doubt most thought, “Don’t know what’s wrong with that boy.” “He’s gone off the deep end”
Private conversations with a few have smoothed over some differences. Others have been silent, showing civility and restraint, but still perhaps wondering what went wrong with me. “Civility” of course is simply not telling others what you really think about them, choosing instead to focus on shared interests, like the weather. But going off the deep end can certainly lead the wrong direction—drowning in a dark pool of the unknown where things lurk, and long tentacles rise to wrap around your ankle and quickly pull you under. So I read the objections of my friends and relatives as a well-intentioned effort to help me back to rationality.
Most lakes have a slope down to the deep end—and this is one of them.
I was thirty-two years old when I started back to college in 1990 after 12 years in the electrical trade, with union membership, a solid democrat perspective on politics, and a union-inspired socialistic preference for economics. Liberal progressivism had not developed to today’s level by the time I graduated for the 3rd time ten years later. I had earned a PhD and changed careers to become a college teacher. Repulsed by the Clinton scandals and opposing the drain of our government budgets by social programs (as championed by democrats), I started voting for republicans. My socialistic views softened, giving way to a rational capitalism, although I still favor taking care of folks in a bind through job training and employment assistance. I landed a position teaching in college, earning tenure, advancing toward full professorship, beginning to publish articles in our discipline's top journals.
Then 2008 happenend.
I was not sure what exactly happened, in fact I had no clue. But I knew that 2/3 of my retirement fund was wiped out in a day and that the University began to pile more duties on my desk and stuff more students into my bulging classrooms and that teaching wasn’t fun anymore. My weight and blood pressure began to rise with my responsibility. One morning I walked into a meeting with a batch of top level university execs gathered to discuss money, and my nose began to bleed as I entered the door. I knew I had a problem. I knew it was all traceable to my stress and my employers adjustments due to the financial crisis.
I had a choice: investigate and learn something, or pretend that everything was going to go back to normal. I sensed that our previous normal was gone, so I began to ask some questions that perhaps I shouldn’t have asked…
As a member of the University’s finance committee I questioned why we had to “persuade” our 150K employees that it was OK to raise their insurance premiums and made a suggestion: “Why not stop self-insuring and purchase a group policy for 30% less per employee?” (I had done my homework). They did not like that question, scoffed, and dodged the answer in our big video conference. My face was virtually slapped and I began to realize that somebody upstairs was lining their pockets: business execs really can be unethical . My admiration for my employer had been shattered.
At the time, my uncle was president of a regional bank. He invited me up to his mountain cabin to ride 4-wheelers for a couple of days and I had the perfect opportunity to get a good explanation of what happened. I asked and he replied, “I don’t know…that kind of banking is way over my head.” I was surprised to hear that any sort of banking was over the head of a bank president. I better start studying our banking system if I really wanted to understand what happened. The answers I eventually found have disgusted me.
Finally, my wife and I were shopping in an antique store and I noticed a Walking Liberty half dollar smoothie for sale for six bucks. Damn that coin! It was my red pill.
I thought “No way ... silver has to be worth more than that.” I collected coins as a kid and knew a few things. I purchased $130 worth of the coins at that price and went home to see what they were really worth. I found a numismatic website with calculators and chortled with my delight at my successful arbitrage. But most fortuitously, that coin website had links to relevant stories that discussed precious metals.
I am a researcher at heart. Mostly, in my career, I have studied and written about methods of persuasion—the field of “Rhetoric”—third oldest profession in the world behind prostitution & priesthood, though both of those employ quite a bit of “rhetoric” to persuade & hook their customers. And I’d also taken a class in stock investing in 2007 (what a sucker) and had learned the vocabulary of the investing world in part—just enough to make sense of just enough economic articles to learn that my gut was right: something was still terribly wrong with the world financial markets and our banking systems.
I really had started off the deep end, way over my head.
I began to read voraciously, sharing startling discoveries with my wife. She began to read and study also, finding a documentary about sociopaths and how they operate in the business and political world. Wow—that documentary described some of the university administrators I had been working with. She also found a sensible documentary about 911 that asked troubling questions. With my background, I could see that the documentary presented a case, backed by solid evidence that argued (with high probability) that the standard 911 story was highly improbable.
Of course, in scientific research you cannot prove a thing to be true, only that a thing is false (falsification of a hypothesis). And that documentary proved that what I had believed, the story the mainstream news had told me, was false. One rarely enjoys certainties n this life. The world I knew was not what it seemed to be.
My wife and I were both off the deep end, trying to swim to the surface, seeking footing. Everything we believed to be true had been undermined or shattered. We both entered a crisis of faith in our government, the economy, and the future. We needed something solid and tangible to stand on.
And why was silver still so damned cheap and rising nicely up past $20 per ounce? I scoured the antique stores for 30 miles around, buying every under-priced silver coin I could find. Soon I had a couple thousand invested.
Looking for websites that discussed silver prices in depth, I stumbled across a “Watchtower” site maintained by this guy named Turd. The site was loaded with fecal-humor and some very reasonable explanations about metal price movement. So I bought more silver, started reading all the comments, following the internet links provided by the other readers, and began learning some important things about how the financial system really operates in this world. I was getting in deep! But finally I was also finding some footing, beginning in precious metals. Here is what I learned:
- Nearly every country in the world had established a “central bank” nearly all of which were linked together in a network belonging to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. This banking “cartel” controls the value of “money” and answers to no elected government. Seems like some banker once said, “Let me control a nation’s money and I care not who makes it laws.” The few countries without an IMF linked central bank were either being pressured to join, invaded by US military, or demonized by the mainstream media.
- I learned that the currencies these central banks create is called “fiat” and is both printed on paper and created digitally with no tangible backing whatsoever. We the people simply “trust” that the money is valuable and agree to use it to settle debts. In fact, these papers are called “notes” and “legal tender” for the payment of debts. But they claim no monetary value in and of themselves. Banks have magically created this currency, freely loaning it to multiple world governments to be repaid with interest, so they can continue to borrow and run up a debt that can never be repaid, a debt that will bankrupt them if interest rates are raised back to normal.
- I learned (by late 2011) that the “fiat currency” exchange rates for physical silver and gold are managed and controlled, illegally, by this banking cartel, with Wall Street and other international investment banks doing most of the dirty work. The past 6 years, the price of precious metals has been capped and gradually managed lower on average. That’s why silver is so cheap! And that’s why I have bought a bunch.
- I learned that in 1988 Reagan, by executive order, set up the “Working Group on Financial markets” more commonly referred to as the “Plunge Protection Team” (PPT) to artificially boost the stock markets anytime they threatened to fall too far. I was taught that stock pullbacks kept markets healthy by washing out the over-zealous investors?
- I learned that the central banks all lowered interest rates to near zero after 08, to keep governments from becoming insolvent, and that the largest of the banks, the European Union, the Bank of Japan and the FED began “Quantitative Easing” programs to provide “liquidity” (lots and lots of cash) to bail out key institutions and keep the world economy from completely collapsing, and that they are still quietly creating more money for the same purposes.
- I learned that the 2008 crisis was caused by absurd lending practices in the US housing markets, loaning large amounts to high risk people (Watch the movie, The Big Short. A dark comedy but very accurate, based on real people from Wall Street). This was exacerbated by multiple illegal schemes of the big investment banks so as to profit whether the economy was doing well or poorly. It did poorly and most of the banks profited. The PPT couldn’t handle things this time.
- I learned that just a few bankers responsible for the crisis went to jail for their illegal investing, in contrast to the 1980 savings & loan crisis where over 1000 bankers were jailed.* Why didn’t they go to jail—especially the HSBC bankers who admitted to money laundering (in the billions) for drug cartels while James Comey was on their board of directors?
- I learned that political lobbying by corporations (like investment banks) has far more influence on our political systems than the desires of the voters and citizens who elect the leaders, and whom they represent.
- I learned that investment banks, specifically Goldman Sachs, provides a steady stream of top level leadership and cabinet members to both democrat and republican administrations. Maybe that is why Comey advanced to head the FBI?
- I learned that the United States has the largest military in the world and has either been at war, or as been active somewhere, bringing “democracy” since the end of WW2. In the process, we take over key resources, like Iraqi oil, and provide humongous construction contracts to insider US companies to rebuild the infrastructure our military bombs into dust.
I’ll stop with those ten revelations. But I have been reading much more about politics, the economy, and social movements,--what some would call “conspiracy theories.” Some theories are rather wild, --like the one which says that the Rothchilds and Rockefeller banking families run the whole world and occasionally make financial and territorial deals with one another, deals that require the sacrifice (death) of a family member. Really? I can’t find even one good article claiming this. And I need not mention the green lizard men aliens that live under the Denver airport—yes, these are 3rd standard deviation conspiracy theories –way out there in the deep end with little footing underneath.
That is not where we are at, though my friends in the kiddie pool think we are.
Many economic and political theories meet the solid evidence threshold to the point they have to be considered by any thinking person. Some achieve a high probability of being accurate, like the LIBOR interest rate rigging that proved to be true in court. Only one person was convicted… sounds like a scapegoat to me. Would a banker give that much control to one person over their money?
I have not heard any argument against the ten points above.
Ultimately, I have discovered that the deep end is not as deep as you think, that there is solid footing on rocks of truth where I can keep my head & shoulders above the water. I now have a very different perspective on the world than I did in 2007.
In 2007 I believed that…
- my vote made a difference.
- elected officials carried out the will of the people.
- the Mideast wars were nearly over.
- all our foreign wars and actions were necessary.
- inflation of 2% is normal and unavoidable.
- paying 30% of my income to banks for interest on my home, car, & other debts was necessary.
- paying another 40% of my income for various taxes was necessary and fair (I suspect my estimate may be low, all taxes considered).
- the economy would get better and my kids would have the same opportunities I did in 1980.
Yes, the deep end has given a perspective I could not have imagined before. My eyes are open to how the powerful entities in this world use money and influence politics—by war if necessary. And it has shown me that the world I knew in 2007 consisted of fictional stories promoted by people with an agenda through a mainstream media already shown to favor some news stories over others, and simply keep some out of the news altogether. Moreover, I became convinced that the world economies really did collapse in 2008 and have NEVER recovered, though all the QE money creation allows governments and banks to continue their business as usual—at a great cost to a future which is rapidly approaching.
Yes, I am guilty, I voted for Trump. But from my “deep end” perspective, developed before 2016, this past election, for me, was not about social agendas, or making America great. Mostly I voted against the corrupt politicians who served to put us in this economic mess and assuredly would continue to keep us on the road to central bank indebtedness and slavery.
I suspect no leader can save this Titanic of an economy. Hard times are on the way for all, except for the uber-wealthy of course who have prepared underground mansions around the world while “news” propagandists ridicule “Prepper Bob” for building a cabin in the woods with a greenhouse.
We cannot go back to the shallow end and pretend. The things we have learned to be facts, and the mechanisms by which the world economies operate, are NOT fantasies of my imagination. But we will wade about half way back, keeping our feet on these rocks back because we don’t want to drown in pessimism and hopelessness. The water does get deeper further out and it is filled with the tentacles of conspiracies—true ones as well as false—all of which can drag a person into despair. We plan to stay about half way in and simply warn people to take heed of our uncertain future and to take steps to dissolve any dependencies you may have on an economic system which has failed us.
Get out of debt. Somehow, obtain a debt free home, if possible, in a neighborhood where you will feel safe living when Detroit & Baltimore economics show up in your town. Oh, did you see in the news that the state of Illinois is bankrupt? Some services are already now being suspended? This is real shit!
Do you believe things will get better? I am all ears. Let’s hear your arguments. Build a probable case, founded on good research, facts, and presented with reasonable arguments. Convince me that everything is going to be OK, that rising healthcare costs are acceptable, that two part time jobs is as good as one full time job, that machines which replace workers will give us all a higher standard of living. I dare you!
- When we see Congress agree on a balanced budget and stick to it, and even begin paying down the national debt like we did after WW2, I’ll rekindle my hope that we can repair our existing system without an economic collapse.
- When we see fiat currency abolished and our money return to a standard backed by commodities (like gold), I’ll rekindle hope.
- When we see interest rates rise to the point that your IRA will sustain you on interest alone without touching your principle, like retirees had up until 2008, I’ll rekindle hope.
- Yes, when we see the central bank cartel dissolved, and their investment bank henchmen jailed, I’ll rekindle hope.
- When we see our military bring all our young people home and stop being the police of the world, I’ll rekindle hope.
- When we see the swamp drained, the lobbying industry halted, and integrity and real representation return to Congress, then I’ll rekindle hope.
We may be waiting a very long time for that rekindling.
Personally, I am not yet ready for a third world economy here in the US. If you press me to predict how long until unemployment, poverty and hard times arrive here nationwide, I’ll give us three more years. Yet for many people hard times have already arrived. But my family is closer to ready now than last year, and we are working towards being able to survive it, and also to be in a position to help others, when hard times hit my street.
And I never would have understood the times, or the challenges we face, or what could be done about it, if I’d stayed in the shallow end.
C’mon in. The water is fine. Start getting educated about economics. There is hope that citizens like us can rebuild after all the turmoil is settled, if we stay involved. But stay in the middle here on the solid rocks where we can see what is really happening in this world and let’s continue planning how we can face it together.
* Iceland is the exception, which after jailing their investment bankers have experienced the strongest economic recovery of any nation since the 08 crisis.