The Ultimate Minority

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform – Mark Twain

Browsing Posts published by Dave Martin

The more I study history and forms of government, the more I find myself asking: When will people learn? That is, after thousands of years of history, and hundreds and hundreds of examples of governments designed, instituted, gone awry, then collapsed – at some point, I would think that the people must realize the futility of this whole “government” strategy.

It’s a vicious cycle that goes something like this: People co-occupy a region, and the productive begin to trade with one another. The vast majority of the people will interact peacefully, while a few deviants prey on the productive, seeking to seize wealth from others instead of laboring to produce. To protect themselves from the bad element, and to delegate the use of force so that peaceful people need not take matters into their own hands, they establish governments and give them monopoly control over the legal use of violence.

The interesting dynamic is this: Now, that segment of the population that would rather seize wealth than create have an avenue for their aspirations – a position in government. They can now use the power of the state to steal from others.

Eric Hoffer said that those unfit for freedom seek power for the sake of power. He characterized them as the “have not” type of self. Free people, on the other hand, have a low need for power over others. “Leave me alone, and I shall create my place in the world and take care of myself and my family”, they say.

In establishing governments, the peaceful create an institution tailor made for those unfit for freedom, and the latter aspire to its ranks. Men write constitutions in the vain attempt to restrain government, but the government itself is responsible for overseeing the extent of its own power. The fleecers cooperate, uniting against the people, ignoring the restraints placed upon them; setting about a long, steady path of bleeding the productive sector in a continual transfer of power from individuals to the government.

In time, the government destroys the productive sector, the people give up all of their liberty for safety from government-created bogeymen, and the “planners” take over. Violence ensues, and hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, lose their lives. Eventually, the system collapses upon itself; government loses its legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and they are forced to deconstruct it and start all over again. This time, they say, we’ll build a better government – and the cycle begins again. It just never ends well.

I’m encouraged by the networking effect of the Internet and its ability to record history and disseminate information. There is great competition for ideas in the free exchange of the web. Greater interconnectivity changes the rate of change in systems. I imagine that the networking effect will serve to accelerate the government cycle – perhaps we’re witnessing the last government to exist for centuries.

On another note – As a thought experiment, assume that space travel becomes possible, even routine. One of the key pieces of the formation of a state is region – a land mass shared by a community of people. As space becomes infinite and mobility increases exponentially, are governments less likely to be formed?

The New York Times recently wrote about these “expert military analysts” so often called on by the government’s propaganda outlets to explain how well the occupation is going.

As it turns out, these retired military generals represent 150 companies in the Military Industrial Complex as lobbyists, senior executives, board members, or consultants. They are briefed by the Pentagon on their talking points so that the message the corrupt government wants delivered to the masses will be favorable.

Get this: “A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.”

And this gem: “Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Nothing to see here people. Let’s turn on the TV and find out what’s going on with Britney Spears.

What is Money?

No comments

Many people think of money as a creation of government, a system of managed value and legal tender for debts. An attempt to understand money by reading financial news will only serve to reinforce this view, portraying the idea of money as a lot of high-level decisions made by great planners, with a host of loathesome statistics to keep it out of the reach of the average person.

It is not difficult to understand money. In fact, it’s quite simple. Money is a good, just like cars, bread, and horses. Money is a creation of the free market, arising from the actions of individuals engaging in trade. Absent money, all trade is reduced to barter. If I am a shoe maker, certainly I do not wish to keep all of the shoes to myself; I have an interest in trading them for other things I need, like butter. If you are a farmer who produces butter, we may have an interest in trading with one another and we may arrive at a suitable trade agreement, say, one pair of shoes for five pounds of butter. But what if you have no need for a pair of shoes when I find myself in need of butter? Perhaps you are interested in trading your butter for a lantern. I may now seek out a lantern maker to see if he’s interested in a pair of shoes, and if I can complete a trade, I now possess a lantern that I may use to acquire butter.

It is clear that a barter system makes trade difficult compared to our modern experience with money. If you want a lantern, a pound of butter, or a pair of shoes you can easily find a seller and purchase the item with dollars. But how did the concept of money come about?

It is feasible to imagine that in one community, butter itself was recognized as money. People would hold butter not only for consumption, but as a medium of exchange that they know will be accepted by most other traders in their community. This allows them to sell their goods on the market in exchange for butter, and to then use that butter to buy whatever they needed for themselves. Butter still holds its value for cooking and other household uses, but it would also have a new value as a facilitator of trade.

If this example seems a bit of a stretch, it can be explained by noting that we’re not all on the “butter standard” today – over the centuries the market found the best solution, with gold emerging as the preferred medium of exchange, hence the term “gold standard.”

There are several key factors that make a commodity desirable as money:

Divisibility – It should be easy to trade in varying quantities. Both butter and gold meet this requirement. On a smaller scale, I may trade an ounce of gold or a pat of butter. On a larger scale, I may trade a gold nugget, or a wheelbarrow load of butter. But as the scale grows larger, we see value in…

Portability – It should have a relatively high value in proportion to its mass. Here, butter fails the test. Imagine trying to buy a car with butter; how much would it take, and how are you going to transport it to the car dealer? At today’s rate, you could buy a decent car with 20 ounces of gold.

Scarcity – If butter were money, anyone who became a dairy farmer could produce their own supply of wealth. Gold, on the other hand, is relatively scarce. Few of us have the means or desire to take up gold mining to amass our fortunes.

Durability – Butter doesn’t keep forever, so it would not be in your best interest to put 100 lbs of it under your bed as retirement savings. And if it’s too warm outside when you go to make a trade, it’ll melt in your pocket. Gold is very durable and highly resistant to corrosion.

Uniformity – It must be clear that one unit of money is similar to another. In the case of butter, it may vary in quality and ingredients to a large degree. Gold, especially when minted into coin or bullion stamped and assured of purity, meets this test.

Lastly, a commodity used as money must have some inherent value of its own, even if it were not money. Butter, of course, has value as food. Gold, on the other hand, is prized for its ornamental value in jewelry, as well as a conductor in electronics.

Butter did, in fact, serve as a medium of exchange in the barter system of Norway during World War II. However, reviewing the criteria for good money, we see that it falls short in the areas of portability, durability, scarcity, and uniformity. Try a few examples for yourself – pick any commodity, perhaps one that you remember has served as money in history, such as wampum shells. As you go through the list, you’ll find a test that it doesn’t satisfy as well as gold.

So why has the concept of money become so complicated and difficult to understand? Because throughout history, governments have sought to seize control of money from the marketplace, manipulating its value and monopolizing its production to finance government’s growth and war making power.

Next entry:Fiat Money

This is one of the most annoying things I hear – “you’re not voting for <insert establishment candidate here>? Aren’t you aware that you’re wasting your vote?

The title of the post is my standard response. A vote of your conscience is never wasted.

Just the other day, I was talking to someone who is voting for John McCain, and I asked him what he thought of his candidate. His response was “lesser of two evils.”

News flash: When you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still wind up with evil.

I poked around on the web one day trying to further understand this phenomena. Why do people vote for a candidate they don’t believe in? I came across an interesting perspective at a blog called The Spin Factor, that what people are engaging in is a game of “predict the winner” – a form of gambling, actually. Then there’s the explanation that people want to be on the winning team to fulfill their ego needs.

I don’t know the answer, all I know is that its wrong. When the establishment props up before you two candidates who will continue to destroy what’s left of the constitution, I say “none of the above.”

I’ll be writing in Ron Paul. And I’ll sleep well with my decision.

In the world of publicly traded corporations, if one company finds itself failing to appeal to investors by creating natural growth – by adding value in the marketplace and continuously reducing its cost of operations, there is a short-term fix: Mergers and acquisition.

Wall Street loves merger and acquisition activity. There is speculative buzz over “synergies” and “diversification.” Stock prices jump, and shareholders reap short term rewards.

Further, when a company in a sector of industry finds its competitors on an M&A spree, there is often pressure to join in, lest they be left behind. The competition is growing faster, their presence on the stage has been enhanced; they are attracting investment.

But if the company was failing to increase their value naturally in the marketplace prior to engaging in M&A activity, the underlying systemic weaknesses will not been fixed by merger and acquisition.

In fact, these structural weaknesses are compounded as the company attempts to integrate the disparate business systems, practices, and cultures of the organizations. Through forced growth, the acquiring company has further taxed its already troubled core operation system. Administrative costs begin to outpace growth in sales. The system begins to collapse upon itself. As the company struggles and its stock price once again declines, the quick fix solution is found in selling, or spinning off, companies that were previously acquired.

It is often revealed, then, that M&A activity is a shell game designed to prop up an underperforming company’s image in the market, hiding their ineffectiveness while encouraging investment in their operations.

The international currency markets are a speculative in their nature. What makes one fiat currency more valuable than another? Economic strength, military strength, and national credibility on the world stage are some the drivers of strength in currency.

The United States and its Federal Reserve System have benefited for decades as issuer of the worlds reserve fiat money. A once great productive economy, coupled with our status as the worlds largest market, US military superpower status, and even our image as a champion of freedom on the world stage has propped up the dollar and the US government.

Inevitably, this power to print fiat money, accepted around the world, would lead to accelerating destructive inflationary policy. And the Federal Reserve has not disappointed. What are the results?

Like Aesop’s Goose, the vast natural resources and creative force of US industry produced golden eggs in the form of productivity and an ever expanding economy. And the Federal Reserve, not unlike the farmer, has slaughtered the goose to get the rewards, wiping out productivity with inflation. Consumption based on debt has diminished our status as the world’s largest market. Our military might, imposed on the rest of the world through imperialism and interventionism, is increasingly viewed with scorn. Our image as a champion of freedom, while installing and supporting dictatorships that are puppets to the Empire; while our government destroys liberty at home at an unprecedented rate, is revealed as hypocrisy.

Enter the European Union, a merger on a grand scale. Suddenly, a competing fiat currency has gained esteem by increasing its base of operations: The productivity that it relies on, the expanded base of taxation that it acquired. The Euro has stolen the thunder from the US dollar, and has gained strength on world currency markets.

And now, the dollar is slipping. Oil producing nations seek to disassociate their product from the dollar. A mercantilist US government responds in desperation by placing military and political pressure on their regimes, and worse yet, by printing more of the declining currency and sending it to them to buy their support.

The US government and its central bank are desperate to prop up the value of their fiat currency. Without the dollar’s perceived value, the world will not accept it and finance the government’s debt. They have destroyed the very foundation of its prestige.

The pressure is on, others are propping up the value of their currency through mergers. Isn’t it the US Governments turn to get in on the action?

The Federal Reserve System is the master of all shell games, ever generating new schemes to inflate the currency and expand government. Is it foolish or conspiratorial to think the merger tool is not in their bag of tricks?

The natural course of action would be to expand its base of operations through merger and acquisition. A North American Union would add people and industry (read: A much larger tax base from which to sop up productivity) and a larger regional influence to the fiat money. Speculators would see the larger asset base as representing value. The counterfeiters would buy more time for their useless paper.

Viewed from this perspective, one can see where a North American Union, and an “Amero” replacing the dollar would not only be beneficial to the central bank, but may be their only conceivable course of action to save themselves. Consider this when you read mainstream media reports that this is all a conspiracy.

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation then by deflation, the banks and the corporations will grow up around them, will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. – Thomas Jefferson

Previous entries:
Part 1
Part 2

It’s a situation I think that the American people will understand if it’s ever brought to them, except there’s just no politician out there who’s going to do it, as far as I can tell.Michael Scheuer, October 22, 2005.

Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we’ve been over there, we’ve been bombing Iraq for ten years. – Ron Paul, May 15, 2007

I just had to post that Scheuer statement and the subsequent Ron Paul statement because when I heard the Dr. Scheuer interview just a few months ago, it was funny to note that history had proven him wrong – Ron Paul stepped up to the plate and delivered the information to the people.

So let’s address Dr. Paul’s key question. Could it really be that simple?

Going back to my statement that for any set of circumstances, there are many answers provided for the problem – many conflicting answers – but there is always one key question: From the perspective of root cause analysis, the key question is the one that leads to and addresses the root cause. All of the proposed “solutions” are varied and conflicting because they address symptoms, which are the many outcomes of the root cause. They are not causes in and of themselves, but are the systemic effects of the root cause. Working on the symptoms does not fix the problem, in fact, it often makes it worse. Statistically speaking, this is known as tampering with the system. It confuses and distracts us from the root cause with a tangled web of cause and effect created by the tampering. I’ll work on root cause analysis and tampering further in another post, but for now, suffice it to say that discovering and working on the root cause is the key to solving a problem, while working on the symptoms does not improve the system, and usually only makes it worse.

Ron Paul’s question cuts to the heart of the problem:

The problem is a foreign policy of interventionism.

What motivates someone to give their own life in a suicide attack? Do they hate us because we’re rich and free, because our women wear skirts, because of our movies? And if they did, would that be sufficient to motivate them to carry out a suicide attack? A partial answer can be found in the observation that the Ayatollah Khomeini tried for two decades to motivate people to hate Americans for these reasons. It didn’t work.

A more concise answer is provided by Dr. Robert Pape, who is considered the world’s foremost authority on suicide terrorism. Dr. Pape has cataloged all of the suicide attacks in the world, going back to 1980. He researches the motives behind each of them, as stated by the groups sponsoring the attack. His data is conclusive: The motivation for 95% of all suicide attacks has been military occupation – especially when it is an occupation by a people of a different religion. Al Qaeda recruits suicide attackers from volunteers, not its long-time members. These are people who feel their backs have been pushed against the wall. Perhaps they’ve lost a family member to war or occupation, or perhaps they are Islamic fundamentalists with a belief that the US has launched a war against their religion. Either way, they are willing to give their lives to stop it.

Michael Scheuer, the former 14-year head of the CIAs Bin Laden unit, explains that Al Qaeda lured the US government into war in the Middle East with the attacks of 9/11 because of its interventionist foreign policy; citing US support for Israel, occupation of the Arabian peninsula, occupation of Muslim countries, mercantilist oil policy, alliances with governments that oppress Muslims, and support for Arab tyrannies and police states.

With a clear understanding of the problem, we see that the solution is simple: An immediate and full scale withdrawal from Iraq. An example of working on the symptoms is the escalation (aka “the surge.”) It is an attempt to gain control by pushing harder, with the belief that the problem is internal violence, and the solution is more control. Internal violence is a symptom, a result of a foreign policy of intervention and its concomitant manipulation, war, and military occupation. Escalation, then, does not solve the problem, it makes it worse. Withdrawal addresses the root cause and solves the problem.

What is the best way to protect American citizens? To put a halt to the activities of the US government that generate hatred and violence toward us. This means minding our own business, ending the policy of foreign intervention. The people of other countries that are having problems with their own governments will focus there efforts where they belong: Fighting their own government’s oppression. The US, minding its own business and promoting liberty at home, can serve as the example; the shining beacon of freedom to which others aspire. This is a policy of non-interventionism, and it is distinctly different from isolationism. Isolationists want to cut ties with the rest of the world, withdraw, and raise the barriers. Non-interventionists encourage trade and practice diplomacy, but do not engage in entangling alliances.

Intervention doesn’t only mean war and occupation. It also encompasses manipulation of foreign governments, taking sides in conflicts, and subsidizing or sanctioning other nations. Notwithstanding the unconstitutionality of using American taxpayer’s hard earned money to send to foreign governments, the money finances violence against the peoples of other nations. The money always goes to the dictators and tyrants, fueling anger toward the US by the oppressed. Economic sanctions don’t hurt governments; in fact, they assist them by redirecting anger from local government to the oppressive empire. The world of Islam is quite divided in terms of sectarianism, different theological interpretations of Islam, ethnically and linguistically – but mutual hatred for US foreign policy helps them paper over their differences and unite against a common enemy.

Let us return to Randolph Bourne’s statement: War is the Health of the State. What is government’s interest in war?

Thomas Jefferson noted that it is the natural course of things for governments to grow in power and for the people to yield liberty. This process is accelerated in times of war. The people, desperate for safety, willingly cede their liberties to the government for more protection. The opportunistic government, always seeking to expand its power and control over the people, generates a constant stream of bogeymen to keep the people in fear. There’s always another Hitler. The so-called “war on terrorism” is perfect for government because the enemy can never be defined or eliminated. It is a perpetual war.

War rallies the people around their government. With the puppet media as its propaganda horn, jingoism and belligerent nationalism are the order of the day. Flags fly and “support the troops” magnets adorn vehicles. French Fries become “Freedom Fries.” George W. Bush’s approval rating dropped as low as 51% before 9/11. Immediately after 9/11, it skyrocketed to 90%, the highest approval rating ever seen in a Gallup poll. The worst despots in history have always been able gain the support of the people when they’re at war.

The Military Industrial Complex benefits from interventionism. War, of course, is profitable for the MIC. When the US government is at war, or when it is subsidizing foreign militaries; guns, bombs, and war machines are in demand. Times of peace are times of doom and gloom in the MIC. Destruction of infrastructure generates rebuilding contracts for favored contractors. The MIC looms large over Washington with powerful lobbying interests, constantly pushing for more intervention. When the MIC benefits, elected and unelected officials benefit. Big money awaits those moving through the revolving door of politics, executive positions in the MIC, and lobbying firms representing their interests.

And so there you have a vicious cycle: Government intervention begets violence against US citizens, the government responds with war, the people rally around the government, give up liberty for safety and lose both, government grows in size and power and steps up its intervention. War is indeed the Health of the State.

I might add “until the state has destroyed the wealth that created it and implodes.” History has shown time and time again that this does not end well.


I am not a pacifist. I believe in self defense, I will fight when threatened, and I believe that there are some people who could use a good killin’. My views expressed here represent a personal awakening – to understanding that the US government is not protecting us, and that in fact, it is our biggest threat. Once again, we have seen the enemy and it is us.

Looking back, it would be easy to feel guilty about being a war supporter and a fool for government propaganda, but my view is that free people don’t want to be involved in government and world affairs. They are busy providing for their families, worrying about their day-to-day business, seeking their own goals. Most people simply want government to do its job; give them what they expect from government when they want it, and leave them alone the rest of the time. But as the vicious cycle repeats itself, the situation for the people worsens. There comes a time when enough is enough, each of us has our own limits. I only hope the American people wake up before it goes too much further; this loss of freedom and the rise of tyranny. I’m encouraged by the words of Samuel Adams, who said that it does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds. That is my purpose in these posts.

If there is to be a Second American Revolution, let it happen in my lifetime. I would rather be part of the fight than to be responsible for passing the burden to future generations.

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.
-Charles Mackay

I wish to extend a debt of gratitude to Ron Paul, the late Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute for helping me recover my senses.

I have the login / commenting issues worked out (at least, to the best I could tell through my testing.) Sorry about the frustration some of you have experienced. I’m just getting used to this software.

I hope it’s not like my old 1970 Ski-Doo Olympique 300 – I spent more time working on that sucker than riding it…

This will be a good piece to listen to before (or after) I write part 3 of War is the Health of the State.

Dr. Michael Scheuer was the head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit for 14 years. He has authored several books on US foreign policy, imperialism, and terrorism. While I disagree with Scheuer on his solutions, and even find some of his CIA-brand commentary shocking (yet interesting,) his analysis of the problem is spot-on.

This is also a great introduction to the Scott Horton interviews. His irreverent style, great quips and a tendency to go on rants are well represented in this bit. I don’t miss a single one: Scott Horton interviews Michael Scheuer – May 19, 2007

As a follow-up to Part 2 of “War is the Health of the State – A Personal Evolution”, I present the May 15, 2007 Republican debate, where the heroic Ron Paul asks the key question and Rudy 9ui11iani responds with his museum-quality brand of jingoism.

Previous entry: Part 1

Somewhere between the first gulf war and until the past few years, I became withdrawn from news and world events. Much of it was due to my contempt for television news and mass media (the last straw for me was when television crews were on the scene to show us Tonya Harding running down the street crying after her car had been towed, shortly after the whole Nancy Kerrigan affair.) I had also entered into a new phase of reading and learning, and chose the study of ideas and theory over the discussion of – and reaction to – events.

9/11 shook me out of my theory tree house for a while, and brought me back to watching television news and discussing current events. Like everyone I knew, I struggled with the questions: Why do they hate us? What motivates these people to hijack planes and fly them into buildings? I was angry and did not know how to react to what appeared to be a new paradigm of threat to our safety. I remember posting on a web forum some inane, propagandistic comment that I had probably picked up from some talking head in the news: This is a new kind of war, our enemies could be living among us. We must be diligent, they are attacking our way of life.

Soon, the President was on our television screen proclaiming that we would scour the ends of the earth, find those responsible, and bring them to justice. I’ll always remember where I was – at a pub in Memphis. The music was playing, we were all enjoying our beer and conversation. Suddenly, the music stopped and the TV was patched in to the audio system. The crowd watched and listened as George W. Bush made his announcement. As he concluded, the crowd cheered. We were going to war against terrorism. We would get our revenge.

I paid attention to the news as we quickly routed Afghanistan, listening and waiting for the news of Osama Bin Laden’s capture. In the ensuing year or so, my interest waned as the conflict went on. Then the drums of war started beating to invade Iraq. I started watching again, listening to the claims of Sadaam’s involvement in 9/11, his support for Al Qaeda, and his weapons of mass destruction. By this time, I was beginning to ask more questions and not feeling so comfortable with government claims, as I read conflicting opinions on the threat posed by Iraq. When the invasion of Iraq commenced, I tuned in and watched, but I remember feeling much different than I did in the first Gulf War. As the Iraqi invasion and occupation wore on, I once again withdrew from participation in the debate.

Looking back, I realize that the with all the complexity of the events, the claims and counter-claims, all of it was just too much to digest. I listened to the talking heads and how they would criticize the American people for their lack of understanding of geography and world events, how we are all ignorant about the cultures and histories of other countries until we’re at war with them. I watched as the talking heads themselves scrambled to pose as experts on the Iraqi culture and politics – the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds, the Ba’athists…At some point, I think the average Joe simply goes along, willing to leave the complexity to the experts. My own reaction was to feel that something was going wrong, but I didn’t feel I had any control. Once again, I withdrew interest. My personal life was filled with complexity, buying a business and building it. I had plenty to keep me busy.

My aforementioned phase of deep study in theory led to one of my guiding principles in life: That for any set of circumstances, there is no shortage of answers. Everyone has a solution, they are many and conflicting. But there is usually only one key question.

Sometime in June, 2007, I decided to look up the 2004 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik. I had voted for him in 2004, election politics (from which I had traditionally distanced myself) was stirring again, and I wondered if Badnarik was going to run in 2008. I found his website, where I read that he was putting all of his efforts into seeing that Ron Paul was elected President. My first question was “who is Ron Paul?” I searched the web, and was led to a YouTube video of the May 15th Republican debate.

Ron Paul addressed the one key question: Why do they hate us? This began a whole new phase in my understanding of government and war.

Next entry: Part 3