Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Plunge Protection Team - Commentary by Ellen Brown

Ellen Brown is author of "Web of Debt", an expose on the financial system running the United States of American. She has an excellent web site:

But back around election time she posted a couple of commentaries on the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, more commonly known as the Plunge Protection Team. The gist of these commentaries is that the financial markets in the US are all rigged - including stock and commodity markets. She includes comments from a wide range of financial observers, and descriptions of how the manipulations work, always to the enormous financial benefit of the elite banks. Here are the links:

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lawsuits Coming Against Banks - Jim Willie Commentaries

There are some big lawsuits already underway, and more coming, against the big banks, including the Federal Reserve. These may bring out into public scrutiny some of the shennanigans that have been going on in the banking system.

Written Commentary:

Audio Interview

But it all makes you wonder whether Our Masters will really let these lawsuits come to fruition.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Late Great USA by Jerome R. Corsi - Excerpts

The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada. Jerome R. Corsi. 2007. ISBN 978-0-079045-14-1


The argument made in The Late Great USA is that policy makers in the three nations and multinational corporations have placed the United States, Mexico, and Canada on a fast track to merge together economically and politically.

Our national sovereignty is in danger of being compromised in favor of an emerging regional government, designed of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite, who are working to achieve global ambitions in the pursuit of wealth and power for themselves

On December 18, 1951, “the Six” – a group of European nations consisting of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands – signed the Treaty of Paris, formally establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Then, on March 25, 1957, the Six signed the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EED), commonly referred to in the United Kingdom as the European Common Market. From here, a series of incremental steps can be traced that moved a European common market into a European regional government. Once Europe started taking steps toward economic unity, political unity followed.

The Treaty of the European Union, signed in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on February 7, 1992, formed a full-fledged regional government … On January 1, 2002, the euro was introduced and the traditional national currencies of the participating EU countries were phased out. Today, some 70 to 80 percent of the laws passed in Europe involve nothing more than rubber stamping regulations already written by nameless “working group” bureaucrats in Brussels, Luxembourg. Virtually gone is the ability of the European countries to set their own policy direction and the ultimate arbiter of justice is he European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, not the highest national court in each country.

This book will demonstrate that disturbing parallels exist between the stealth process that resulted in the EU, and the incremental actions being taken by the governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to unite our nations into an emerging regional configuration.

North America has its own version of the ECSC in NAFTA and in the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership), put into place by an informal agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States in 2005. A North American Union is even advocated by America’s own Jean Monnet – Professor Robert Pastor, who has proposed a North American currency call the “amero”, and who has played a significant role in a number of meetings and conferences, closed to the public, between top American, Canadian, and Mexican officials.

In March 2005, the [Council on Foreign Relations] task force issued its first report, a chairmen’s summary entitled “Creating a North American Community.

… the CFR task force suggested that the borders between the United States and Mexico and between the United States and Canada be largely opened in the pursuit of regional economic prosperity. The task force clearly pushed for a North American common market: “We focus our recommendations on the creation of a single economic space that expands the economic opportunities of a security zone that protects the region from external threats while facilitating the legitimate passage of goods, people, and capital.” Open borders with Mexico and Canada would allow “migration” of “North Americans” (the citizens of the United States, Mexico, and Canada) relatively free passage across North American borders, provided the travelers presented the proper “North American” documents. The task force supported their North American focus with the following three specific recommendations:
• To adopt a common North American external tariff by “harmonizing” tariffs to the lowest possible rate between Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
• To develop a North American Border Pass with biometric identifiers to expedite passage through customs, immigration, and airport security throughout North America.
• To establish a North American Investment Fund to stimulate infrastructure development in Mexico.
The goal was to transform NAFTA into a European Union-type customs union.

To implement the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), the three [national] leaders decided that bureaucrats from the three nations would create “working groups” tasked with “integrating” and “harmonizing” the administrative law and regulatory structures of the three nations in a broad range of public policy areas. “Working groups” is a term commonly used in the European Union to describe the bureaucratic entities that run the EU from behind closed doors in Brussels and Luxembourg. Working groups were constituted at the Waco summit [2005] to put in motion the creation of a continental set of administrative rules and regulations the bureaucrats in the three nations would use to set continental public policy within the legal structure of their three countries, a feat to be achieved by “memoranda of understanding”, not laws or treaties.

This Security and Prosperity Partnership of North American (SPP) was never submitted to Congress for debate and decision. There was no law passed by Congress, no law signed by the president, and no treated ratified by the Senate.

The CFR Independent Task force on the Future of North America [2005] repeated the earlier statement of the CFR Chairman’s Statement that 2010 was an important date: “The Task Force’s central recommendation is the establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimenter.

Like [Jean Monnet], [Robert] Pastor rejects traditional notions of American sovereignty. In a 2004 article in CFR’s Foreign Affairs entitle “North America’s Second Decade,” Pastor argued that the United States would gain by ceding U.S. national sovereignty. “Countries are benefited,” he wrote, “when they change these [national sovereignty] policies, and evidence suggests that North Americans are ready for a new relationship that renders this old definition of sovereignty obsolete.”

In his 2001 book Toward a North American Community, Pastor never used the phrase “North American Union,” but he devoted an entire chapter to asking: “Is a North American Community Feasible? Can Sovereignty Be Transcended?” Here Pastor argued that trilateral thinking is “contrary to habit, but essential.” Carefully, Pastor follows the lead of Jean Monnet, who learned to suppress any reference to his desire to create a “European union” … What is needed, he concluded, to establish this community “is the nurturing of a regional identity and small steps that would help the peoples of the three countries understand the need for deeper integration.

Pastor has also argued that we should expand the NAFTA visa program into a North American passport, an idea SPP advanced as biometric “trusted traveler” border passes. He recommended the formation of a single North American Customs and Immigration Force, an idea the CFR task force report in May 2005 advanced as developing a North American security perimeter.

… on October 7, 2004 Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 2491) that authorized the president “to negotiate the creation of a North American Investment Fund that was distinct from the North American Development fund. The move did not escape Pastor’s attention. He called S. 2491 “a far-reaching bill that incorporates lessons from Europe and proposes to channel funds from all three governments toward infrastructure and education in Mexico.” He was pleased to see his pet project introduced to Congress, especially since a conservative Republican Party senator from a state adjoining Mexico introduced the bill. The language of Cornyn’s bill was so close to Pastor’s own writings that many suspected Pastor had worked directly with Senator Cornyn in developing the proposed legislation.

Among Pastor’s key recommendations is that we establish the amero. The amero is a regional currency designed to replace the U.S. dollar, the Canadian dollar, and the Mexican peso, much as the euro has replaced the currencies of the participating European Union nations.

In a 1999 paper entitled, “The Case for the Amero: The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union,” [Herbert] Grubel explained his plans for creating the amero. He took pains to argue that the innovation would not necessarily erode national sovereignty … Grubel proposed, as an example, a plan to convert to the amero in 2010 … Ironically, this coincides with the Council on Foreign Relations task force’s report “building a North American Community,” which suggests that same date as a target for putting in place the basic institutions required for a new regional government. At the same time, Grubel proposed a North American central bank that would replace the national central banks of the three countries and a board of governors that would be chosen the economic importance and the population of the three countries.

Pastor openly acknowledges that the idea of abandoning the dollar will be unpopular in the United States. He also understands that the United States economy dominates the North American market and, as such, the United States has less to gain by abandoning the dollar to a new currency that would incorporate Canada and Mexico in a monetary union. Still, Pastor argues that in the long run the concept is “fair” in that the introduction of the amero “does not alter the relative power equation in North America, but it provides space for our neighbors to participate in decision making. Pastor compares “the essence of the idea” with how Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D Roosevelt envisioned international organizations that allowed decision-making space for all participating nations on an equal basis, regardless of their relative strength or size. For this reason, Pastor urged readers not to dismiss the idea, but to consider that “in the long term, the amero is in the best interests of all three countries.”

The arguments to implement the amero gain strength as the dollar continues to weaken. With our large trade and federal budget deficits, a fiscal crisis is building for the dollar.

The winners in free trade have been multinational corporations, who already operate across countries to such an extent that they view borders as anachronistic, if not an impediment to their business expansion and profit potential.

The introduction of the amero would entail the same loss of sovereignty that the introduction of the euro has caused in Europe. Today, the central banks of the European Union countries using the euro are no longer in control of their own national destinies.

A move to the amero as a unitary North American currency would entail a similar move to a North American Central Bank, which would have similar supremacy over the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

Multinational corporations feel they have the right to set the rules, since their economic activity produces the wealth and employment individual nation-states rely upon for taxation and revenue. Without multinational corporations, the United States, Canada, and Mexico would become economic basket cases. Or so leaders of such companies claim.

The North American Competitiveness Council, a public group consisting of businesspeople and formed under the SPP, has been created to allow multinational corporations to advise the three governments on the future progress and direction of SPP. These big business-influenced working groups are hard at work attempting to integrate North America.

Chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement allows a private NAFTA foreign investor to sue the U.S. government if the investor believes a state or federal law damages the investor’s NAFTA business. Under Chapter 11, NAFTA established a tribunal that may conduct a trial to decide the case according to the legal principals established by either the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes or the UN’s Commission for International Trade Law. If the decision is adverse to the United States, the NAFTA tribunal can impose its decision as final, trumping U.S. law, even as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As the SPP advances, will the U.S. Bill of Rights be among the laws that have to be “integrated” and “harmonized” with Mexico’s and Canada’s?

Robert Pastor has repeatedly argued for the creation of a North American Union “Permanent Tribual on Trade and Investment.” He understands that a “permanent court would permit the accumulation of precedent and lay the groundwork for North American business law.

If a NAFTA Chapter 11 tribunal can overturn even Supreme Court decisions, we have already entered the era where a regional judicial structure created under a trade law has power over the highest court in the land. The movement toward a North American Union begins with the economy, moves to the courts, and ends with political union.

Mexico has placed the SPP within the office of the secretaria de economia and created an extensive website for the Alianza Para La Securidad Y La Prosperidad de America del Norte (ASPAN). The Mexican website describes ASPAN as “a permanent trilateral process to create a major integration of North America.”

While the SPP has worked to ease border restrictions by implementing trusted traveler and trusted trader programs, the Bush administration through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has supported plans in the state of Texas to build a huge NAFTA superhighway, four football fields wide, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas, to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minnesota. The moment the Texas Legislature suggested imposing a two-year moratorium on the construction of TTC-35 parallel to Interstate 35, the chief counsel for FHWA sent a letter to the executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) threatening a loss of federal highway funds should the legislature move ahead.

Construction began on the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) following the reelection of Governor [Rick] Perry in November 2006. In a four-way race in which a plurality of the vote was sufficient to win, Perry was reelected with less than 40 percent of the vote. All three of his opponents campaigned against the Trans-Texas Corridor. Despite receiving less than a majority vote, Perry has been determined to proceed with the TTC-35 project. Plans to build TTC-35 are fully disclosed on, and official Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) website.

Texas will make use of the recent Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London (545 U.S. 469 [2005]). In this case, the Supreme Court decided that eminent domain could be used to seize private property from U.S. citizens even though the purpose of the land seizure was to benefit a private corporation. The Supreme Court case said nothing that would imply the private corporation involved would have to be a U.S. corporation, which allows the Spanish-owned group backing the TTC to operate.

The Council of Kansas City voted on May 18,2006, to name the Mexican customs facility the “Kansas City Customs Port,” despite the fact that it is actually a Mexican possession, staffed by Mexican government customs officials. The $3 million facility will be paid for by Kansas City taxpayers, not by the Mexican government.

CANAMEX is a proposed NAFTA superhighway that would extend from Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, to Mexico City. The route would connect Salt Lake City and Las Vegas on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. On the eastern slope, a superhighway called “Camino Real” would connect Billings, Montaa; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Denver, Colorado; and El Paso, Texas. Both routes would connect in Canada, extending to Fairbanks, Alaska, and in Mexico where they would terminate at Mexico City. In 1995, CANAMEX Corridor ( was founded as a trade organization. The FHWA identifies CANAMEX and the Camino Real routes as High Priority Corridors under federal highway law.

In order to solidify its economic superiority over North America, Red China is working to restructure the North American transportation infrastructure. To that end, they are investing heavily in developing deep water ports in Mexico in order to bring an unprecedented volume of containers into the United States along the emerging NAFTA super corridor. Hutchison Ports Holdings (HPH), a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s giant Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL), is investing millions to expand the deep water ports on Mexico’s Pacific coast at Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo. Now Hutchison Ports is pledging millions more to develop Punta Colonet, a desolate Mexican Bay in Baja California. Mexico plans over the next seven years to dredge and convert Punta Colonet into a ten- to twenty-berth-deep water port capable of processing some six million standard Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).

The Port Authority of San Antonio has been working actively with the Chinese to open and develop the Mexican coast to more Chinese shipments. In April 2006, officials of the Port Authority of San Antonio traveled to China with representatives of the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio, the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, and Hutchison Port Holdings to develop the Mexican ports … The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio is self-described as a “public-private” organization created in 1994 to lead the development of San Antonio as a competitive “inland port and international trade center.

In a letter included in the 2006 Financial Report of the United States Government, David M. Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States, clarified the $53 trillion negative net worth; “This translates to a current burden of about $170,000 per American or approximately $440,000 per American household.”

The United States currently has totalization agreements with twenty-one countries. The agreements allow workers to combine earnings from foreign countries with earnings in the United States to qualify for Social Security benefits. The agreement with Mexico would allow a Mexican worker to quality for Social Security benefits after only six quarters (eighteen months) of employment in the United States. A U.S. worker typically needs forty calendar quarters (120 months) to receive U.S. Social Security benefits. The agreement reveals the Bush administration’s determination to incorporate illegal workers from Mexico into the U.S. economy. Furthermore, keeping the U.S.-Mexico Totalization Agreement from the public suggests the Bush administration has something to hide.


Robert L. Bartley
Reformist Mexican President Vincente Fox raises eyebrows with his suggestion that over a decade or two NAFTA should evolve into something like the European Union, with open borders for not only goods and investment but also people. He can rest assured that there is one voice north of the Rio Grande that supports his vision. To wit, this newspaper [Wall Street Journal].

Robert N. Gardner
In short the case-by-case approach can produce some remarkable concessions of “sovereignty” that could not be achieved on an across-the-board basis

Herbert G. Grubel
[in 1999] On the day the North American Monetary Union is created – perhaps on January 1, 2010 – Canada, the United States and Mexico will replace their national currencies with the amero.

Jean Monnet
The sovereign nations of the past could no longer solve the problems of the present; they cannot ensure their own progress or control their own future. And the [European] Community is only a stage on the way to the organized world of tomorrow.

Thomas A. Shannon
What we are doing in North America today is consolidating democratic states, integrating them economically but then providing a security overlay and a level of cooperation and dialogue that will strengthen the economic institutions, strengthen our ability to protect and promote our prosperity, and enhance our ability to create the opportunity that people can … take advantage of.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn - Excerpts

[Quinn develops the idea of tribal forms of making a living, as opposed to hierarchical civilizations. Mostly a theoretical discussion rather than a pragmatic how-to on how to pull off a transformation of work environments - except for why and how to be successfully homeless.]

Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure. Daniel Quinn. 1999. ISBN 0609604902


Making food a commodity to be owned was one of the great innovations of our culture. No other culture in history has ever put food under lock and key – and putting it there is the cornerstone of our economy, for if the food wasn’t under lock and key, who would work?

“If the world is saved, it will not be by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.”

Programs never stop the things they’re launched to stop. No program has ever stopped poverty, drug abuse, or crime, and no program ever will stop them.

Old minds think: How do we stop these bad things from happening?
New minds think: How do we make things the way we want them to be?

Old minds think: If it didn’t work last year, let’s do MORE of it this year.
New minds think: If it didn’t work last year, let’s do something ELSE this year.

“What works so well that programs are superfluous? What works so well that it never occurs to anyone to create programs to make it work?”

Tribal humans were successful on this planet for three million years before our agricultural revolution, and they’re no less successful today wherever they manage to survive untouched, but many people of our culture don’t want to hear about it. In fact, they’ll vigorously deny it.

Clearly all spreading mechanisms have one thing in common: they confer benefits on those who do the spreading … The benefit conferred shouldn’t, however, be confused with the mechanism itself.

Most programs take this form: Outlaw the thing that’s bothering you, catch people who do it, and put them in jail.
Old minds think: We have to write tougher and more comprehensive laws.
New minds think: No unwanted behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it.
The fact that programs of this sort invariable fail doesn’t trouble most people.

It’s been established beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an exact correlation between how hard you have to work to stay alive and how great your dependence on agriculture is. Those who grow the least also work the least, and those who grow the most also work the most.

One can imagine how desperately the pontiffs, potentates, dynasts, princes, pendragons, princelings, rajahs, hierophants, priests, priestesses, and palace guards of all these tottering civilizations must have desired to implant in the minds of their vacillating subjects this very simple concept: Civilization must continue at ANY cost and must not be abandoned under ANY circumstance.

Our history is full of underclass insurrections, revolts, rebellions, riots, and revolutions, but not a single one has ever ended with people just walking away. This is because our citizens know that civilization must continue at any cost and not be abandoned under any circumstance. So they will go berserk, will destroy everything in sight, will slaughter all the elite they can get their hands on, will burn, rape, and pillage – but they will never just walk away.

This is an example of the Cultural Fallacy, which is: The memes of our culture arise from the very structure of the human mind itself, and if you don’t have them, there must be something wrong with you.

I visit many classrooms, and the students one way or another always bring me around to a point where I ask how many of them are champing at the bit to get out there and start working on the pyramids their parents worked on throughout their lives and their parents before them. The question makes them uneasy, because they they’re supposed to be absolutely thrilled at the prospect of going out there to flip burgers and pump gas and stock shelves in the real world. Everyone’s told them they’re the luckiest kids on earth – parents, teachers, textbooks – and they feel disloyal not waving their hands at me. But they don’t.

No special control is needed to make people into pyramid builders – if they see themselves as having no choice but to build pyramids. They’ll build whatever they’re told to build, whether it’s pyramids, parking garages, or computer programs.. Karl Marx recognized that workers without a choice are workers in chains. But his idea of breaking chains was for us to depose the pharaohs and then build the pyramids for ourselves, as if building pyramids is something we just can’t stop doing, we love it so much.

We can walk away from the pyramid, but we can’t melt away into the jungle. The Mayan solution is utterly gone for us, for the simple reason that the jungle itself is gone and there are six billion of us. Forget about going back. There is no back. Back is gone. But we can still walk away from the pyramid.

… in our meme about civilization there’s another meme that is implicit: Civilization is humanity’s ULTIMATE invention and can never be surpassed. That’s precisely why it must be carried forward at any cost, because there cannot possibly be any invention beyond it. If we were to abandon civilization (gulp!), then we’d be finished! If there’s going to be any future for us, our first invention must be a meme-killer.

Something BETTER than civilization is waiting for us. Something much better – unless you’re one of those rare individuals who just loves dragging stones.

Our cultural vision was shaped by people who were perfectly satisfied with the notion that the universe they saw was in its final form, and had come into being in that form – in a single stroke, so to speak. The Genesis tale of creation didn’t originate this notion; it merely affirmed it: God did his work, saw it was in no need of improvement, and that was that.

People will (ordinarily) put up with being miserable for only so long. It’s not the quitters who are extraordinary and mysterious, it’s we, who have somehow managed to persuade ourselves that we must persist in our misery whatever the cost and not abandon it even in the face of calamity.

Before becoming full-time farmers, the Maya, the Olmec, and all the rest practiced hunting and gathering or some combination of farming and foraging. Doesn’t the fact that they eventually became full-time farmers indicate they were less than perfectly satisfied with these lifestyles? That’s exactly what it indicates … But doesn’t this indicate that their traditional lifestyles were less than perfect? Certainly it does. Natural selection is a process that separates the workable from the unworkable, not the perfect from the imperfect.

The tribal life doesn’t turn people into saints; it enables ordinary people to make a living together with a minimum of stress year after year, generation after generation.

The tribal life isn’t about spears and caves or about hunting and gathering. Hunting and gathering is a lifestyle, an occupation, a way of making a living. A tribe isn’t a particular occupation; it’s a social organization that facilitates making a living.

… there’s a difference between painting in order to make money and making money in order to paint.

Many small businesses start in a very tribal way, with a few partners pouring in all their resources and taking out only what’s needed to survive, but this tribal character quickly disappears if the company becomes a conventional hierarchy.

The rough outlines of this social organization are familiar to everyone through the Egyptian model. You have a highly centralized state organization that consolidates in itself all economic, military, political, and religious power. The ruling caste, headed by a living deity in the shape of a pharaoh, Inca, or other divine monarch, is supported by a priestly bureaucracy that regulates and supervises the labor force conscripted for (among other things) the construction of palace and ceremonial complexes, temples, and pyramids.

The way rulers benefit from the success of the society is vastly different from the way the masses benefit, and the pyramids and the temples testify to the importance of the rulers, not to the masses who build them.

Kids of all ages run off to join the circus. No one runs off to join Disney World.

Wherever civilization emerges, tribalism withers and is replaced by hierarchalism. Hierarchalism works very well for the rulers but much less well for the ruled, who make up the mass of the society. For this reason, the few at the top like it very well and the masses at the bottom like it very much less well.

Every civilization brought forth in the course of human history has been a hierarchical affair. The thing we call civilization goes hand in hand with hierarchy – means hierarchy, requires hierarchy … You can have hierarchy without civilization, but you can’t have civilization without hierarchy … All dedicated pyramid-builders should stick with civilization. The rest of us just want something else, and it’s high time we had it.

Spending more will certainly get you more, but it won’t necessarily get you more of what you want.

To overthrow the hierarchy is pointless; we just want to leave it behind. As everyone knows (especially revolutionaries), hierarchy maintains formidable defenses against attack from the lower orders. It has none, however, against abandonment. This is in part because it can imagine revolution, but it can’t imagine abandonment. But even if it could imagine abandonment, it couldn’t defend against it, because abandonment isn’t an attack, it’s just a discontinuance of support.

I wasn’t surprised to hear from many youngsters … who know the world is full of things they should want to do – and who imagine that there must be something dreadfully wrong for them for failing to want it.

Well-intentioned people often want to feel they’re giving up something, which is only to be expected in a culture where all ethical and religious systems commend self-denial. In hierarchical societies it’s always a good idea to make poverty sound like a blessing (and the rich are always especially vain about their austerities).

Civilization isn’t a geographical territory, it’s a social and economic territory where pharaohs reign and pyramids are built by the masses. Similarly, beyond civilization isn’t a geographical territory, it’s a social and economic territory where people in open tribes pursue goals that may or may not be recognizably “civilized”. You don’t have to “go someplace” to get beyond civilization. You have to make your living a different way.

Above all, nothing must be done that would encourage the homeless to remain homeless. In short, homelessness must be made as unremittingly difficult, degrading, and painful as possible, and you may be sure that our public guardians know well how to accomplish this.

Making and keeping the homeless as miserable as possible is cherished as a sort of tough love, the very best and kindest thing we can do for them. The only trouble is, for some strange reason, it doesn’t work worth a damn.

Every year we pass more laws, hire more police, build more prisons, and sentence more offenders for longer periods – all without moving one inch closer to “ending” crime. It didn’t work last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Every year we spend more money on our schools, hoping to “fix” whatever’s wrong with them, and every year the schools remain stubbornly unfixed. Spending money didn’t work last year or the year before that, or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Every year we try to make the homeless go away, and every year the homeless remain with us. We couldn’t shoehorn them back into “the mainstream” last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either.

We deeply believe in taking a military approach to problems. We proclaim a “war” on poverty. When that fails, we proclaim a “war” on drugs. We “fight” crime. We “combat” homelessness. We “battle” hunger. WE vow to “defeat” AIDS.

One element of acceding to homelessness is accepting the fact that the poor will consistently choose the least worst alternative available to them. If you find them living under a bridge instead of in a nice, clean municipal shelter just a block away, you can be absolutely sure they haven’t made a mistake – from their point of view. The shelter’s admittance procedures may be intolerably invasive, arbitrary, or humiliating, or its rules may be Draconian. Whatever, the discomforts of sheltering under the bridge are more endurable.

Acceding to homelessness would look like helping the homeless succeed WHILE being homeless. What an idea! I can almost hear the howls of outrage from both liberals and conservatives that must greet such a concept. Help people succeed at being homeless? We want them to fail at being homeless! (So they’ll return to the mainstream.)

Don’t try to drive the homeless into places we find suitable. Help them survive in places they find suitable.

The important thing to see is that we were not “giving up” something by being tribal. We were getting something by being tribal –something that would have been out of reach otherwise. We weren’t tribal because we were noble and altruistic; we were tribal because we were greedy and selfish.

I think what’s needed at a minimum is a group of people (1) who, among them, have all the competencies needed to start and run a given business, (2) who are content with a modest standard of living, and (3) who are willing to “think tribally” – that is, to take what they need out of the business rather than to expect set wages.

The fact that ethnic tribes can provide their members with cradle-to-grave security is a true measure of their wealth.

In a famous interchange at Columbia University, a faculty member who asserted that the faculty is the university was immediately told by the president of the university (former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower) that the faculty are employees of the university. Mr. Eisenhower isn’t on hand to contradict me when I say that the members of the tribe aren’t employees of the tribe, they are the tribe. Indeed, that’s the whole difference. Because the tribe is its members, the tribe is what its members want it to be – nothing more and nothing less.

The tribe, in fact, is just a wonderfully efficient social organization that renders making a living easy for all – unlike civilization, which renders it easy for a privileged few and hard for the rest.

Communes never begin in this haphazard way. They’re “intentional” communities, originating among people who want to live together in pursuit of common ideals, usually in relative isolation. Communes are about living together and may or may not involve working together. Tribes (and I speak here of “new” tribes, of course) originate among people who want to pool their energies and skills to make a living together. Tribes are about working together and may or may not involve living together.

It’s a fundamental tenet of our cultural mythology that the only thing wrong with us is that humans are not made well enough. We need to be made of finer materials, to some set of better specifications (provided, perhaps, by greened-up versions of our traditional religions). We just need to be made kinder, gentler, sweeter, more loving, less selfish, more far-sighted, and so on, then everything will be fine. Of course, no one succeeded in making us better last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that – but maybe this year we’ll get lucky … or next year or the year after that.

If you can only be free living on a mountaintop or a desert island, then clearly you’re something less than free.

Whether by intention or not, suicides often reveal themselves in their choice of means. The guilty hang themselves. Sacrificial victims slash their throats. The discarded throw themselves off buildings or bridges. Tormented minds blow their brains out.

… the “story” we’re enacting in our culture is this: The world was made for Man to conquer and rule, and Man was made to conquer and rule it; and under Man’s rule the world might have become a paradise except for the fact that he’s fundamentally and irremediably flawed.

Old minds think: How do we solve these problems?
New minds think: How do we make happen what we want to happen?

Focus instead on what you want to happen and how to make it happen, rather than on all the things that might keep it from happening.

Most people formulate their own questions. Don’t take on the responsibility of figuring out what their difficulty is. Never try to answer a question you don’t understand. Make the askers explain it; keep on insisting until it’s clear, and nine times out of ten they’ll supply the answer themselves.


Jacques Attali
Machines are the new proletariat. The working class is being given its walking papers.

Jospeh Chassler
Yeah, well, it’s pretty lonely at the bottom, too.

Buckminster Fuller
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Marshall Sahlins
The world’s most primitive people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization.

Marshall Sahlins
We are inclined to think of hunters and gatherers as poor because they don’t have anything; perhaps better to think of them for that reason as free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Food Crisis? Jennifer Barry Commentary

On top of all the other problems in the world, how about a food crisis? Here is a quick summary of the food availability and agricultural finances:

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jim Willie Audio Commentaries

Here are a couple of audio commentaries from Jim Willie on the current financial crisis. He is quite entertaining, but pretty dour.

There are other interviews and commentaries at the Contrary Investors Cafe, too, so check it out.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Friday, December 5, 2008

What Really Happened in Asian Georgia? - Engdahl

What really happened in the Georgia-Russia conflict a couple of months ago? Here's the lowdown from William Engdahl:

U.S. is involved, again - like Britain of old, playing one side off against another.

Key your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Fix the US Financial System - Deepcaster

Here is a long commentary with ideas on how to fix the US financial system, which, as every reasonably intelligent person knows, is now falling over the precipice:

Actually, there is probably no way that Our Masters would ever let go of their controls over all us peons - and unfortunately that means that a serious war is very likely to be their last resort.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Check out Engdahl's take on what is really going on with the Citigroup "bail out", which is really a nationalization of the country's biggest bank:

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Collapse of COMEX Futures Market? Jim Willie Commentary

Jim Willie and others are anticipating a collapse in the COMEX commodities future exchange in December. This will be caused by a failure to deliver on gold and silver contracts - revealing price fixing shenanigans by COMEX, NYMEX, Big Banks, and Federal Government. Here's the latest commentary:

According to Jim Willie, first notices to COMEX on taking delivery will appear on 28 November, the day after Thanksgiving. There MAY be some reporting on this in your local paper, but it is more likely that the US propaganda machine will suppress all mention of it. If I can find anything on this, I will provide links.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Crack Up Boom - Ty Andros at Financial

For a quick overview of what's going on lately, and where it is going, read this remarkable summary by Ty Andros, posted at

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ten "Cannots" by W.J.H. Boetcker

Reverend William John Henry Boetcker (1873-1962)

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.

You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling down the wage payer.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Ready for Banking Holiday

I don't know how many readers I have out there now, but for those of you who occasionally check out this blog, here is some of the best advice I can give you for these troubled times:

One of the first acts of Mr. Roosevelt after his inauguration in 1933 (of which 2009 looks to be a replay) was to declare a week long banking holiday. This allowed the bean counters to freeze all banking assets for inventories and bargaining and negotiations. Then after the holiday, about half of the banks in the country did not open their doors, and it was a while before folks could get ANY cash out of their accounts from those banks.

Because the 2008 election is so eerily similar to that of 1932, it is pretty safe to assume that 2009 will also strongly rhyme with 1933, and that banking holiday and other unexpected government measures will be forthcoming.

If you are not ready to have NO access at all to your bank accounts for a week, I strongly suggest that you build up a stock of cash in your home before the inauguration in the latter half of January. In fact, it would be a good idea to start building up some cash at home NOW, in case the stresses of poor spending during the upcoming holiday shopping season precipitates things even faster.

How much will you need? Well, if the holiday is for a week, then you need a week's worth of total spending. This includes groceries, gasoline, and anything else for which you might ordinarily write a check or use a debit card. It is also likely that if the banks are locked down, then they wouldn't be able to process any credit card transactions, either. This means you will need cash to cover typical credit card purchases as well. And keep in mind that the 1933 holiday was a week. It could be longer this time around. AND you may find that your particular bank may not re-open again, meaning you will have to wait until the FDIC gets around to your account insurance before you will get your assets out, and no telling how long that will take. So stash appropriately for this contingency, too, if you can afford it.

And, of course, all this assumes that retail outlets like grocery stores and gas stations will still be open during the holiday, which may NOT be the case. If so, then you will need to have some food stashed as well for the duration. Dry goods like beans and rice, canned veggies and meats, and even packaged goods like potato chips and popcorn are good to stock up on now. Frozen foods are also a good idea, if you have the freezer space. Remember, your neighborhood McDonald's and Starbucks may not be open for business after a couple of days of frozen assets.

Am I fear-mongering here? Not at all, just being prudent, just in case 2009 really does come off like 1933. And if it does, then you will have a historical road map to follow to survive the next 10-20 years. If it doesn't, then you won't have lost much interest on the cash you pulled out, and you can just re-deposit it when you feel comfortable.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conquer the Crash by Robert Prechter - Excerpts

Conquer the Crash: You can SURVIVE and PROSPER in a Deflationary Depression. Robert R. Prechter, Jr. 2002. ISBN 0-470-84982-7


If you follow the advice in this book and no financial crisis occurs, you cannot get hurt. In fact, you should profit nicely form most of these suggestions. Even if my outlook proves incorrect, the worst case is that your money will earn less than it otherwise may have.

… the largest stock-market collapses appear not after lengthy periods of market deterioration indicating a slow process of long-term change but quite suddenly after long periods of rising stock prices and economic expansion. A depression begins, then, with the seemingly unpredictable reversal of a persistently, indeed often rapidly, rising stock market. The abrupt change from increasing optimism to increasing pessimism initiates the economic contraction.

A bull market that has endured since the time of the Great Depression is definitely ending, and its termination could well mark the end of an uptrend of one degree larger, which has endured since the founding of the Republic.

… stock market advances and economic cycles must get weaker before they reverse. The final rise is where that weakness must be evident. Advances come in five waves, so the fifth wave is where the relative weakness manifests. The mechanism of that difference, I believe, is the immense optimism of major fifth waves, which encourages the populace to engage in financial speculation. Third waves are built upon muscle and brains. Fifth waves are built upon cleverness and dreams. During third waves, people focus on production to get rich. During fifth waves, they focus on finance to get rich.

A prime symbol of the deterioration … is the Federal Reserve System. Its manipulation of money and credit for the past 89 years … has been so destabilizing that it has transformed America from a production powerhouse into a society obsessed with dodging inflation and manipulating money and credit. A prime symbol of the deterioration in wave V … is General Electric, the oldest name in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Through wave III ending in 1966, GE was one of the finest engineering and manufacturing concerns in the world. Its goods lasted for decades. In wave V, accountants took over the company and transformed it from a manufacturing concern into a financial concern. Today, its manufactured goods are mediocre and its vaunted company a cardboard edifice of credit services. It is the United States in microcosm.

If no dividend is ever paid, of what value is a share of stock? Do you really want to own a share of a super-successful enterprise that handsomely pays everyone involved in it except you, an owner?

Corporate earnings cycle with the stock market but with a 2-month to 2-year lag. Earnings do not begin to rise until well after stock prices have turned up from a bottom, and they do not begin to fall until well after stock prices turn down from a top. For this reason, the two trends often oppose each other. In contrast, book values and dividend payouts tend to be much steadier, cycling only on a very long-term basis with the largest economic trends, therefore providing a steady benchmark against which to compare stock prices to obtain a reliable relative valuation measure.

As I write this chapter, the “watchdog” of earnings, Standard & Poor’s, has just bowed to pressure to change the basis of its earnings reports to “operating earnings” rather than total company earnings so that the reported P/E ratio will henceforth be about half of what it really is.

The engine of high stock market valuation is widely shared optimism. The greater the degree of the advance that is to ending, the greater the optimism at its peak. Optimism also tends to remain strong in the early stages of a bear market … Bull markets, they say, climb a “Wall of Worry.” I like to add, “and bear markets slide down a Slope of Hope.”

To summarize, though my outlook may sound impossible, I am quite comfortable saying that the DJIA will fall from quintuple digits, where it is today, to triple digits, an unprecedented amount.

A pertinent observation with respect to our current concern is that a mania is always followed by a collapse so severe that it brings values to below where they were when the mania began.

Deflation requires a precondition: a major societal buildup in the extension of credit (and its flip side, the assumption of debt).

Self-liquidating credit is a loan that is paid back, with interest, in a moderately short time from production. Production facilitated by the loan generates the financial return that makes repayment possible. The full transaction adds value to the economy.

Near the end of a major expansion, few creditors expect default, which why they lend freely to weak borrowers. Few borrowers expect their fortunes to change, which is why they borrow freely. Deflation involves a substantial amount of involuntary debt liquidation because almost no one expects deflation before it starts.

A high-debt situation becomes unsustainable when the rate of economic growth falls beneath the prevailing rate of interest on money owed and creditors refuse to underwrite the interest payments with more credit.

A deflationary crash is characterized in part by a persistent, sustained, deep, general decline in people’s desire and ability to lend and borrow. A depression is characterized in part by a persistent, sustained, deep, general decline in production.

Governments have often outlawed free-market determinations of what constitutes money and imposed their own versions upon society by law, but earlier schemes usually involved coinage. Under central banking, a government forces its citizens to accept its debt as the only form of legal tender. The Federal Reserve System assumed this monopoly role in the United States in 1913.

In 1933, President Roosevelt and Congress outlawed U.S. gold ownership and nullified and prohibited all domestic contracts denoted in gold, making Federal Reserve notes the legal tender of the land. In 1971, President Nixon halted gold payments from the U.S. Treasury to foreigners in exchange for dollars. Today, the Treasury will not give anyone anything tangible in exchange for a dollar. Even though Federal Reserve notes are defined as “obligations of the United States,” they are no obligations to do anything. Although a dollar is labeled as a “note,” which means a debt contract, it is not a note for anything.

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and similar institutions, funded mostly by the U.S. taxpayer, have extended immense credit around the globe. Their policies have supported nearly continuous worldwide inflation, particularly over the past thirty years. As a result, the global financial system is gorged with non-self-liquidating credit.

If the duration of recent past cycles is to repeat, then the falling portion of the current economic cycle would last another two years, and the depression would reach bottom in 2004.

The primary basis for today’s belief in perpetual prosperity and inflation with perhaps an occasional recession is what I call the “potent directors” fallacy. It is nearly impossible to find a treatise on macroeconomics today that does not assert or assume that the Federal Reserve Board has learned to control both our money and our economy. Many believe that it also possesses immense power to manipulate the stock market.

For many people, the single biggest financial shock and surprise over the next decade will be the revelation that the Fed has never really known what on earth it was doing. The spectacle of U.S. officials in recent weeks lecturing Japan on how to contain deflation will be revealed as the grossest hubris.

If people and corporations are unwilling to borrow or unable to finance debt, and if banks and investors are disinclined to lend, central banks cannot force them to do so. During deflation, they cannot even induce them to do so with a zero interest rate.

One example of action impelled by defensive psychology is governments’ recurring drive toward protectionism during deflationary periods. Protection is correctly recognized among economists of all stripes as destructive, yet there is always a call for it when people’s mental state changes to a defensive psychology.

The ultimate effect of deflation is to reduce the supply of money and credit. Your goal is to make sure that it doesn’t reduce the supply of your money and credit.

The ultimate effect of depression is financial ruin. Your goal is to make sure that it doesn’t ruin you.

The main goal of investing in a crash environment is safety. When deflation looms, almost every investment category is associated with immense risks. Most investors have no idea of these risks and will think you are a fool for taking precautions.

An added problem with owning government bonds is the political risk. Governments have a long record of stiffing their creditors in a crisis, and no government is immune from adopting that solution to its financial problems. A new regime especially may have little regard for previously squandered credit.

In the initial stages of a depression, sellers remain under an illusion about what their property is really worth. They keep a high list price on their house, reflecting what it was worth last year. I know people who are doing that now. This stubbornness leads to a drop in sales volume. At some point, a few owners cave in and sell at much lower prices. Then others are forced to drop their prices, too. What is the potential buyer’s psychology at that point? “Well, gee, property prices have been coming down. Why should I rush? I’ll wait till they come down further.” The further they come down, the more the buyer wants to wait. It’s a downward spiral.

Taking out a home equity loan is nothing but turning ownership of your home over to your bank in exchange for whatever other items you would like to own. It’s a reckless course, and it stems from the extreme confidence that accompanies a major top in social mood.

Owning an array of investments is financial suicide during deflation. They all go down, and the logistics of getting out of them can be a nightmare. There can be weird exceptions to this rule, such as gold in the early 1930s when the government fixed the price, or perhaps some commodity that is crucial in a war, but otherwise, all assets go down in price during deflation except one: cash.

Why do banks fail? For nearly 200 years, the courts have sanctioned an interpretation of the term “deposits” to mean not funds that you deliver for safekeeping but a loan to your bank. Your bank balance, then, is an IOU from the bank to you, even though there is no loan contract and no required interest payment. Thus, legally speaking, you have a claim on your money deposited in a bank, but practically speaking, you have a claim only on the loans that the bank makes with your money.

Some states in the U.S., in a fit of deadly “compassion,” have made it illegal for a bank to seize the home of someone who has declared bankruptcy. In such situations, the bank and its depositors are on the hook indefinitely for a borrower’s unthrift.

The estimated representative value of all derivatives in the world today is $90 trillion, over half of which is held by U.S. banks. Many banks use derivatives to hedge against investment exposure, but that strategy works only if the speculator on the other side of the trade can pay off if he’s wrong.

If the authorities in your country decide to disallow short selling, the bad news is that this option will be closed to you. The good news is that they usually take such actions near the major bottoms, so it will probably be about the proper time to cover shorts and start composing your “buy” list anyway.

If your government decides to confiscate gold, your country’s banks will be recruited in the operation. If it happens sometime in the coming crash, the reason will probably be “fighting terrorism.”

With the retirement setup in the U.S., the government need not be as direct as Argentina’s. It need merely assert, after a stock market fall decimates many people’s savings, that stocks are too risky to hold for retirement purposes. Under the guise of protecting you, it could ban stocks and perhaps other investments in tax-exempt pension plans and restrict assets to one category: “safe” long-term U.S. Treasury bonds. Then it could raise the penalty of early withdrawal to 100 percent. Bingo. The government will have seized the entire $2 trillion held in government-sponsored, tax-deferred 401K private pension plans. I’m not saying it will happen, but it could, and wouldn’t you rather have your money safely under your own discretion?

Bear markets engender labor strikes, racial conflict, religious persecution, political unrest, trade protectionism, coups and wars. In the area of personal behavior, part of the population gets more conservative, and part gets more hedonistic, and each side describes the other as something that needs reform. One reason that conflicts gain such scope in depressions is that much of the middle class gets wiped out by the financial debacle, increasing the number of people with little or nothing to lose and anger to spare.

Usually in a major bear market, you are less likely to encounter a mob, a criminal or a terrorist than to face state-sponsored controls within your own country or military attack from without, and there may be little that a retreat or karate can do for you in those situations.

You cannot anticipate every possible law, regulation or political event that will be implemented to thwart your attempt at safety, liquidity and solvency. This is why you must plan ahead and pay attention. As you do, think about these issues so that when political forces troll for victims, you are legally outside the scope of the danger.

Far more people in the past century had their lives wrecked or terminated by domestic implosions that by war. Whether you lived in Russia in the 1920s, Germany in the 1930s, Europe in the 1940s, China in the late 1940s, Cuba in 1959 or Cambodia in the 1970s, the smart thing to do early was to get out of Dodge.

People and institutions that best weather the system-wide debt liquidation of a deflationary crash and depression are those that take on no debt and extend no risky credit. This is the ideal situation for most people most of the time, anyway.

If you are entrepreneurial, start thinking of ways to serve people in a depression so that you will prosper in it. For example, I am writing this book. Think about what people will need when times get hard.

Don’t rely on government programs for your old age. Retirement programs such as Social Security in the U.S. are wealth-transfer schemes, not funded insurance, so they rely upon the government’s tax receipts.

Government surpluses generated by something other than a permanent policy of thrift are the product of exceptionally high tax receipts during boom times and therefore signal major tops. They’re not bullish; they’re bearish and ironically portend huge deficits directly around the corner.

Don’t expect government services to remain at their current levels. The ocean of money required to run the union-bloated, administration-stultified public school systems will be unavailable in a depression. School districts will have to adopt cost-cutting measures, and most of them will result in even worse service. Encourage low-cost free-market solutions, which will benefit both children and teachers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook by Claire Wolfe - EXCERPTS

The Freedom Outlaw’s Handbook: 179 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution. Claire Wolfe. 2007 ISBN 978-1581605785


When freedom is illegal, criminals make laws and Outlaws make freedom.

America is at that awkward stage: It’s too late to work within the system but too early to shoot the bastards.

Don’t vote; it only encourages them.

Get your private information out of the public eye
· Get a PO box or private mail box (Mail Boxes, Etc. or some such)
· Never put your home address on applications or order forms
· Don’t use credit cards if you can avoid it.
· Be self-employed or work underground

Don’t pay more taxes than you must
When George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, Dave Gross went on strike. He quit his job, lowered his income to a level at which he shouldn’t have to pay any income taxes – and began detailing the entire experiment on his Web site ( as a guide for others. His is a safe but adamant form of tax resistance- and he’s discovered that not only are there fewer problems than he anticipated, there are surprising lifestyle blessings, as well.

NEVER talk with the feds.
Title 18 USC 1001 makes it a federal crime to lie to any federal investigator. As former Domestic Diva and federal prisoner Martha Stewart found out so painfully in 2004 – the smallest lie you utter in talking with a fed can put you behind bars. Ooops – poor Martha never got charged for the “crime” they were allegedly investigating her for (insider trading). She mainly got charged for being foolish enough to talk with them at all.

Don’t let the government control your kids
As of this writing, one state, Michigan, has even announced that every parent of a newborn (that is, every parent it knows of) will be automatically subjected to a criminal background check from now on. This is supposed to identify child abusers who’ve lost their parental rights. As with state schooling, SSNs, compulsory vaccines for minor childhood illnesses, and DNA collection, everything done to your children is done in the name of being for the children.

Get started with PGP
If you’re not already encrypting your e-mail: TIME TO START.

Surf anonymously
Both marketers and gov-o-snoops just love to track your movements around the Internet.

Shunning does work better in small communities than in big cities where the target of the shunning has many other options. But make no mistake; it does work. Citizens of northern California’s cannabis-growing counties have used it for years to make drug-prohibition agents unwelcome. And U.S. Forest Service bureaucrat Gloria Flora resigned during a long, heated dispute over public access to land in Elko County, Nevada – driven out by local residents who refused Forest Service employees service in restaurants and otherwise shunned them.

Check your computer for keystroke loggers
Most loggers are made for windows.
General information and help:
Extra help for Mac users:

Use Linux
SuSE Linux from Novell
Mandrake Linux

Getting a drivers license without a Social Security number
Since there’s still no legal requirement that any American actually have a Social Security number … and since a variety of religious denominations vehemently oppose the SSN (usually on the basis of it being the Mark of the Beast described in Revelation 13:15-18) … most states will still issue you a drivers license if you submit an affidavit stating that you have no SSN.

Follow your bliss
You “know” you couldn’t make a living as an artist, hitchhike around the world, build a better mousetrap, live off the land, build a cabin in the woods, invent cold fusion, write the Great American Novel, raise sheep for a living, move to a mountaintop, be self-employed, live in a hamlet in Vermont, join a monastery, lead an insurgency movement, or build wooden clocks for a living. But you only “know” because other people told you so.

Maybe you’re already a “terrorist”
Remember, this is not the America we learned about in school. The federal government can declare any organization to be “terrorist”, for any reason – and can thereafter confiscate its resources and persecute its contributors.

Cultivate some Mormon friends
There is a really bad joke that goes like this:
“Do you know what’s in the most basic disaster survival kit?”
“A rifle and a directory of the local Mormon ward” …
Whether you agree with their teachings or not, the Saints have other valuable lessons to teach us all. They are one of the most cohesive social groups in the world. Their church-run welfare system – based on the dignity of work, voluntary contributions and mutual aid – is more effective and more truly humane than any government system ever devised.

End the Drug War
The government doesn’t need the Drug War anymore. It’s now got the War on Terrorism as an excuse to spy on, arrest, terrorize, detain, and cow us. Not to mention all those other wars on everything from poverty to “obesity”. Not to mention “wars” on half the oil-producing nations of the globe. So what the heck, surely the gummint should be willing to give up one little tiny war, right? The Drug War, as we know from decades of bitter experience and thousands of analytical books and articles, has done absolutely nada, zip, zero, nothing to “get drugs off the street.”

The Free State Project (and its wild west cousins)
The Free State Project is a plan to get 20,000 freedom-loving activists to move to New Hampshire and work to deeply reduce the size, scope and coercive power of government. The idea is that, in a state with a small population, 20,000 activists (as opposed to 20,000 couch potatoes) can have a disproportionate voice in both government and culture.

Government supremacist: the power of words
It’s not “public schools”. It’s government schools.
The government isn’t “us”. It’s them.
They aren’t our “representatives”. They are “politicians” – which everyone knows is a dirty word.
We don’t obey laws. We’re subject to edicts.
They aren’t peace officers any more. They’re enforcers or law enforcers.
It’s not “taxation”. It’s confiscation.
It’s not an entitlement. It’s a giveaway.

Demilitarize the cops
If there’s one trend that’s become dangerously pervasive across the police departments of America, it’s militarization. Tempted by free or cheap military equipment and federal training, besotted with the “glamour” of Hollywood cops kicking down doors and roughing up suspects, cops from New York City to Mayberry have gotten into machine guns, midnight raids, camo outfits, black facemasks, and other accoutrements of terrorist death squads.

There’s a difference between police and soldiers, and it’s an important one. Police are supposed to protect the public against a minority of violent or thieving people. Soldiers are supposed to kill the enemy. You don’t want that latter mentality distorting your local “thin blue line”.

Fly the Gadsden flag
You’ve seen it – the bright yellow flag with its coiled rattlesnake and the words, “Don’t Tread On Me.” That’s the Gadsden flag, designed during the American Revolution and once a candidate for the role now played by the Stars & Stripes.

Know your rights as a juror – and promote everybody’s rights
FIJA, the Fully Informed Jury Association, needs everybody’s support. It has one, clear, simple, beautiful purpose: to tell jurors and prospective jurors what modern judges will not – that they have the right to judge the laws as well as the facts. If you’re on a jury and you think a law is stupid or unfair, you have every right to find the defendant not guilt on that basis. It’s an ancient right, and it’s one juries have often exercised by default anyway. (One reason prohibition ended was that juries were refusing to convict people who violated it. But judges – with no basis in law or tradition – usually tell jurors the exact opposite.)

Put some teeth into the Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution as a condition of ratification. Its aim: to ensure that a strong central government would never overrun the powers of the states and the rights of the individual.

Another worthy organization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee ( is dedicated to getting cities and states to pass resolutions declaring that they won’t enforce those aspects of the Patriot Act that violate the Bill of Rights.

Create a one-person “organization”
How many big-government-promoting organizations, widely quoted and taken extremely seriously by the media, are not much more than one or two people with a good sense of PR and the sympathies of the press? It’s harder to be taken seriously if you are libertarian or “right-wing”, but not impossible if you are persistent and professional in your approach, or if you live in an area small enough for the media to be desperate for stories.

Learn to disappear in a crowd
Here’s something fun to try that could also save your life. Practice invisibility. That is, practice being in various kinds of crowds and public settings and blending in so perfectly that no one really sees you. Try being the perfect fan at a football game, even if you detest the sport. Try being the tweedy professor on a college campus, even if you didn’t make it past high school. Be the tired mother at the grocery store, the sharp reporter at the crime scene, the business executive at the airport, the street person in the plaza.

Guerrilla gun tactics
Until recently, the “moderates” in the gun-rights movement argued that confiscation would never happen in the U.S. Even after Australians and Britons lined up like sheep in 1997 to turn in their firearms, some said it couldn’t happen here. Then California Attorney General Dan Lundgren announced a confiscation of SKS rifles with detachable magazines. That was a fiat decision, later fortunately overturned. However, in 1998, Massachusetts passed a draconian gun law that required – among other monstrosities – confiscation of many types of firearms from anyone failing to get a state license to own their own existing, legally possessed property.

Cellphones and checkpoints
It’s a good idea to carry a cellphone in your vehicle. You already know that. But here’s another good use for it. If you’re stopped at a checkpoint, you can call a friend, relative, or prearranged contact … and report on your location, what agencies are conducting the checkpoint, and what exactly is being done to the stopped motorists.

Don’t be a terrorist
Terrorism is properly defined as organized, systematic violence carried out against non-government targets for the purpose of producing fear and submission. Despite all the blather in the media and on the floor of Congress, an act has to have all those elements to be true terrorism. Therefore, people who attach only government agents and property aren’t terrorists. They’re guerilla fighters. Whether they are fighting in a good cause or not is up to history – and each of us individuals – to judge. But terrorists they ain’t.

Someday, it will be time
Few things are more painful and depressing than watching freedom be legislated, regulated, and decreed away. It’s even harder when Our Glorious Leaders assure us they’re destroying freedom for the sole purpose of saving freedom, and it’s worse yet when the vast majority of our fellow citizens merely not their heads in response like dashboard doggies.


Edward Abbey
Let us hope our weapons are never needed – but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government – and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws.

Samuel Adams
If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.

General Elias Alias
Whoever owns one’s debt owns one’s ass.

Truth is stranger than fiction and also harder to make up.

Charles Bradlaugh
If special honor is claimed for any, then heresy should have it as the truest servitor of human kind.

Charles Bukowski
The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship don’t have to waste your time voting.

Albert Camus
Integrity has no need of rules.

Albert Camus
The future is the only kind of property that the masters willingly concede to slaves.

Douglas Casey
Inventions like gunpowder, the printing press, and the computer have done far more to overpower oppression than every volume of political thought ever written.

Benjamin Disraeli
Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.

Max DePree
We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.

Alan Dershowitz
Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the constitution by claiming it’s not an individual right or that it’s too much of a safety hazard don’t see the danger of the big picture. They’re courting disaster by encouraging others to use this same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don’t like.

Albert Einstein
Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.

Padraig Flynn
Fate is an open road, and all you can do is put your foot on the gas and Drive, Baby, Drive.

Mohandas K. Gandhi
The first principle of non-violence is the non-compliance with everything that is humiliating.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

Robert D. Graham
Once you stop fearing government, the government fears you.

General Alexander Haig
Let them march all they want, so long as they continue to pay their taxes.

Robert A. Heinlein
Secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy … censorship. When any government, or any church, for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, “This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,” the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything. You cannot conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.

W.G. Hill
The threat of people acting in their own enlightened and rational self-interest strikes bureaucrats, politicians, and social workers as ominous and dangerous.

Adolph Hitler
The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms.

Mary McCarthy
Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

Kinsey Millhone
Once people think you’re bad, you might as well be bad. It’s more fun than being good.

Benito Mussolini
Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.

P.J. O’Rourke
This country was founded by religious nuts with guns.

William Pitt the Younger
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

Terry Pratchett
“But look,” said Ponder, “The graveyards are full of people who rushed in bravely but unwisely.”
“Ook.” [said the orangutan]
“What’d he say?” said the Bursar …
“I think he said, ‘Sooner or later the graveyards are full of everybody,” said Ponder. “Oh blast. Come on.”

Ayn Rand
The man who produces while others dispose of his product is a slave.

George Bernard Shaw
The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.

Henry David Thoreau
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.

Henry David Thoreau
The authority of government … can have no pure right over my person and my property but what I concede to it.

Alan Watts
But when no risk is taken there is no freedom. It is thus that, in an industrial society, the plethora of laws made for our personal safety convert the land into a nursery, and policemen hired to protect us become self-serving busybodies.

Walt Whitman
The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint. The wise see in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of Laws.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jim Willie Interview – Contrarian Investor Café

Old Jim Willie has a very dour view of things. Unfortunately, a lot of it makes too much sense to consider his perspective as simply ludicrous. In the meantime, the looting of the system by the financial powers that be continues. One of his key predictions: Another huge chunk of money requested by the banks in the next few weeks.

Here’s the link for the recorded interview:

Also note Jim Willie thinks that the US $ will soon be essentially worthless. This is in contrast to predictions by Robert Prechter, whose book Conquer the Crash will be excerpted on Sunday, October 26 here. Prechter thinks only cash will survive these financial times, and that even precious metals will decline in value, along with everything else. We will soon see who is right.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson - Repeat Excerpts

This is a repeat from an April 2008 posting. There will be more like this coming up. Pick and choose whatever suits your needs.

The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste. Tom Hodgkinson. 2006. Harper Perennial, New York. ISBN 978-0060823221


I have tried to bring together three strands of thought into a philosophy for everyday life; these are freedom, merriment and responsibility, or anarchy, medievalism and existentialism. It’s an approach to life that is also known as having a laugh, doing what you want.

In seeking freedom, I would define myself as an anarchist. In anarchy, contracts are made between individuals, not between citizen and state.

How to be free? Well, like it or not, you are free. The real question is whether you choose to exercise that freedom …

Anxiety suits the status quo very well. Anxious people make good consumers and good workers. Governments and big business, therefore, love terrorism – they adore it, it’s good for business.

Anxiety is the sacrifice of creativity in the service of security. It is the giving up of personal freedoms in return for the promise, never fulfilled, of comfort, cotton wool, air-conditioned shopping centers. Security is a myth; it simply doesn’t exist. This does not stop us, however, from constantly chasing it.

Belief in the abstract invention ‘career’ is a middle-class affliction. The lower orders, wisely, don’t quite have the same faith in progress and self-betterment as the bourgeois classes and neither do members of the aristocracy.

And now more than ever before, the middle classes attempt to impose their career ethic on everyone else. This is called ‘government’.

Governments sell themselves by promoting the idea of ‘equal opportunities for everyone to make the best of themselves’ when really what they mean is ‘equal opportunities for every slimebag to rat on his friends and colleagues in order to worship the false god of career advancement.’

Career is just posh slavery. And career is an institutionalized putting-off a paradise deferred.

Career, then, is a Protestant invention and an ideal for living that would have been impossible in the more fatalistic Catholic medieval society.

‘Learn a craft’ is what I suggest to young writers who contact the Idler: carpentry or blacksmithing or gardening or upholstery; such pursuits sit alongside the life of the mind very well.

Clearly we need to find a town of 50,000 people, 50,000 freedom-seekers, put a wall around it, declare it an independent republic and get on with things on our own. The medieval cities demonstrated to [Prince] Kropotkin that, left to our own devices, we can do a much better job of organizing our affairs than any government.

Solar panels are anarchy in action.

And as for your plans for the future? Well: we all know the Jewish joke: How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

… our resentment makes it hard for us to escape. Resentment can be a barrier to freedom.

Resentment of others – ‘It’s all right for you,’ the feeling that life is just that little bit easier for everyone else around you – is the first manacle that must be cast off in the quest for freedom.

The problem is not that people are different, but that they do not respect differences.

For some unfathomable reason, everyone seems to want an expensive watch. But isn’t it mighty peculiar that what is in actual fact a symbol of slavery should also have become a status symbol? Wearing a watch indicates to others that you have bound yourself to the modern industrial tempo.

It is one of the triumphs of the capitalist project that the slave-driver is now inside us, which saves an enormous amount on the wage bill.

We should abandon the expression ‘free time’, because it implies its opposite, ‘slave time’.

As the unusual German historian Johan Huizinga says in The Waning of the Middle Ages, modern man sees himself primarily as a worker, and this is the great change. No praying, no fighting, no working the land. Just work, hard work.

Competition is a slave’s creed. We think that by beating up the other guy we elevate ourselves, but, in fact, we are debasing ourselves to the level of a slave. To be competitive is a sign of submission as, really, it just means that we are carrying out the master’s wishes.

… ‘financial services’ – and there’s a euphemism for usury if ever I heard one …

… debt has been compared by many to a modern form of indentured labour. You get into debt, and then you are stuck in a job you hate in order to pay off the debt. This helps the system, as it means that most of us are more or less kept quiet and toiling.

It is credit, not cash, that makes wealth: apparently, rich people are often simply more spectacularly in debt than the rest of us.

To free yourself from the cycle of work-spend-debt-work, simply stop consuming and start creating.

Don’t make luxury into a meaning.

We desire things, we are attached to things, we believe that things will make us better. This process serves the postponement of desire which is one of the characteristic features, indeed a motor, of large-scale capitalism. The desire for things produces a restless craving, and this restless craving leads us into the world and into our schemes for betterment.

This is how capitalism works: through a constant stream of disappointments which encourages the spending of more and more money.

To work hard to produce useless items of nothing and then to make that the sole purpose of living – this is the insanity of desire.

So, put simply, if you have somewhere to live, enough money to buy or produce good food, friends, books and plenty of booze and cigarettes, then how bad can life be?

Desire and modern capitalism preach that means are unimportant and that ends are all: ‘I’m only doing my job.’

… fear is actually rather convenient to the smooth functioning of an orderly society. A docile population which is terrified of the authorities in their various forms, whether supermarket, bank, school or boss, and afraid of other human beings, will more likely depend on objects and institutions to give them guidance, solidity, security and a sense of meaning.

Fear keeps us observing life rather than living it. We are spectators rather than participators.

Fear is a tool of control. It is fear of punishment that will keep a classroom quiet and make the teacher’s job easier; it is fear of the sack that will keep the grumbling workers quiet. Fear is also an efficient controlling device. It also helps us to fulfill our roles as consumers. It is fear of life itself that keeps us spending in the arcades and typing our credit-card numbers into websites.

One source of fear is certainly the education system. Little children are fearless, imperious anarchists, and the education system works and works on them over a period of fifteen years to instill docility so that they won’t complain too much when they end up with a boring job.

Life is about nothingness, so go and create your own life and enjoy it. Everything is vanity, fiction, conditioning, self-created, mind-forg’d.

Vanity and absurdity are the same thing – mere creations of man’s imagination, utterly without meaning.

Governments do too much and they do most of it badly.

Politics is not the art of running a country, it is the art of persuading the people that they need a set of paid politicians to run the country.

… the final insult is that we pay the government between a quarter and a half of our income for the privilege of being patronized and bossed around.

There is a real alternative to elected governments. It is self-government, or anarchy, or running one’s own affairs without relying on external authority.

Anarchy is about the creative spirit fighting the cowed spirit, and the battle has to start within ourselves.

What can we do to be ourselves, rather than trying to conform and contort ourselves into a uniform model? Well, we can start simply by ignoring government. The best way to smash the state is to take no notice of it and hope it goes away.

An important mental step in escaping the power of government is to understand that to some degree, we ourselves are complicit with the problem. By not acting for ourselves, we allow others to act for us.

In the existential world, where life is absurd, you may as well create your own life.

In order to keep bureaucracy and taxes to a minimum, we will earn small amounts of money and instead do favours for each other. We don’t want affordable housing, jobs and shopping centers. Those are slave’s perks, handed down by authority, which may be more or less lenient according to whichever government fate has installed. What we want is to create our own little aristocracies, as D.H. Lawrence has it. We want soil, caravans and trees, smallholdings, vegetable patches, art and crafts. And beer and books. That’s all.

Government is a license for people to kill and rape each other; government creates the killing and raping while pretending to prevent it.

Machines have never liberated us from toil, due to the fact that they need minding by a human being and are owned by the capitalists, in whose hands they become instruments of enslavement and prolonged boredom.

The accusation ‘unprofessional’ means ‘You did not behave like a machine today.’

Digital technology may supply you with what you want, but it won’t supply you with what you need.

The future is always about machines. But I don’t think about the future; I think about the present. The future is a capitalist construct. The past teaches us that the future has let us down, and let us down many, many times. Dreaming of some kind of technological utopia in which the machines will do all the work has failed us before, and it is failing us now, with our new faith in digital technology.

… the fact is, the past is a great treasure store of good ideas for living, ideas that were actually applied and whose results we can see. The problem with ideas of the future is that they are untested; they are all speculation, fantasy.

The very thing that we take on board in order to provide us with security – a home – seems to offer instead only anxiety and a feeling of being trapped.

The mortgage, which puts all the burden of buying a house on the individual, is the logical outcome of the individualization of ownership. But the reality is that in being sold the idea that we should all own our own house, we have simply given into a giant usury con.

We need to diffuse land ownership, ban usurious mortgages, stabilize rents and bring house prices right down. We could perhaps do this by simply losing interest in money-making.

The problem with vagabondage is that big governments can’t stand it. They hate the chaos, the unruly elements, the sense that people are wandering around the country doing what they like. When governments increase in power, they all have a resentful way of cracking down on vagabonds.

Putting a lot of time and money into mortgages and the ‘dream home’ is never going to be more than a distraction from the real issue, which is you, and your state of mind.

The family, which should be a source of pleasure, fun, cosiness and nourishment, seems everywhere to produce misery, anger, door-slamming, shouting, cruelty, fighting, death and abuse.

The modern family merely represents a financial burden – in other words, an inducement to take jobs you don’t like.

The commodification of childcare is another of the unhelpful effects of capitalism. You earn money doing something you don’t like in order to pay someone else to ‘do the childcare’, i.e., look after your children.

By confirming the existence of a problem, you create a market. That is why the pharmaceutical industry is forever creating new illnesses; that is why the insurance industry is forever creating new fears; that is why the government is forever creating new enemies.

The wonderful thing about children is not their so-called innocence but their passion, their passion for life and living. This can take the form of tears or laughter, and we need to get it into our heads that tears and laughter are both to be welcomed. You can’t have one without the other. They may even enjoy it – like the medievals, who seemed to embrace all extremes of passion. It is this passion that we need to find in ourselves.

We are fatally over-scheduling our children and creating a nation of useless dependents unable to do anything for themselves apart from the spectacularly useless and costly occupations of computer games, tennis and ballet. We are creating a generation of children who don’t know how to play.

Quality of life has been sacrificed to quantity of life. Living as long as possible rather than living as well as possible – that seems to have become the goal.

Fear of pain, indeed, might be seen as fear of life, since life is pain.

Pain will never leave us. Live with it. Instead of putting energy into destroying pain, we need to put energy into creating pleasure. Pleasure for yourself and pleasure for those around you. Sex, music, dancing, beer and wine, good company, good work, merry cheer: these are the antidotes to pain, and they are of course only pleasures because we know pain. Without pain, there would be no pleasure.

Private pension plans claim to sell you ‘peace of mind’, i.e., freedom from fear, but the reality is the opposite: they sell us fear and then sell the apparent solution to that fear – money.

So, when it comes to pensions, I am firmly of the ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die’ school. Belief in pensions produces a kind of slavery. If you don’t believe in pensions, then you believe in yourself and you believe in looking after yourself. This makes you free.

Funnily enough, the people who encourage others to worry about the future are those who want your money now.

It makes perfectly logical sense that in societies based on a collective ideal, manners and rituals are of the highest importance, whereas in societies based on a competitive ideal, manners are useful only as a means of getting what you want.

Disintegrating manners are a sign of a disintegrating society.

Don’t bother setting up free republics or moving to a country which offers more liberties. Simply declare yourself to be an independent state. Do not involve and coerce others. This is the only way we will effect a proper revolution.

Self-importance is a trap, because the moment we start to think that we actually matter is the moment when things start to go wrong. The truth is that you are supremely unimportant, and that nothing matters. All of man’s striving is for nothing; all effort is wasted. To realize that everything is meaningless is tremendously liberating, since it then leaves us completely free to create our own lives and ignore the plans that others have for us.

So we can see why artists and writers traditionally tend towards Roman Catholicism, while Protestantism is the religion for the serious man of business, the practical man.

We are all supposed to want to become rich. Wanting to be rich is one of the motors of a competitive world. Wanting to be rich is what keeps us striving, working, fighting, struggling, competing, conning and abandoning morals. And wanting to be rich is the precise impulse that is exploited by the people who actually do become rich, the usurers and the investors, the market manipulators, because they exploit our greed for their own ends. Wanting more money removes us from enjoying the present; it is therefore a Puritan trait. We should celebrate what we have. Wanting to be rich is actually the first desire that must be cast off in the pursuit of freedom.

Do it now. Give things away for free and money will lose its power over you.

… since shopping is today seen as our patriotic duty, to be thrifty is actually to be unpatriotic, and therefore it gives one a pleasant sense of rebelling against the state.

It is not thrift as self-denial and the preaching of sobriety, industry, frugality and virtue to the lower orders that I am recommending; it is more a spirited reclaiming of one’s own finances.

We should also be thrifty with our time, and that means not rushing through things and not wasting our time by giving it to an employer.

The tragedy of the nineteenth century was that Western man came to see himself, first and foremost, as a worker. Life became a serious business. Frivolity, mirth, play, ritual, dance, music, merriment, dressing up: those childish pleasures, all central parts of life for the nobles, priests and peasants of old, had been under constant attack since the middle of the sixteenth century.

Make money out of what you are doing anyway. In my case, I spend each morning writing and reading, and the rest of the day is given up to household work: gardening, cleaning, baking … The evenings are for drinking, eating and talking.

Education itself is a putting-off, a postponement: we are told to work hard to get good results. Why? So we can get a good job. What is a good job? One that pays well. Oh. And that’s it? All this suffering, merely so that we can earn a lot of money, which, even if we manage it, will not solve our problems anyway? It’s a tragically limited idea of what life is all about.

If the mortgage company owns 90 per cent of it, how can this be said to be owning your own house? Instead, you are in slavery to two authorities, the employer and the mortgage company. Fall behind on these payments, and the mortgage company will literally take your home from you. Therefore, you will subject yourself to all sorts of humiliations at work out of fear of losing your job.

Relaxing the hold that work has over your life and replacing it with play can be a slow and gradual process. The key to enjoying a life beyond full-time employment is to realize that, once you stop working full time, you start to become a producer, a creative person, rather than a consumer.

Be a jack of all trades; abandon perfectionism. Embrace the creed of the amateur. Do it for love, not money.

If you enjoy your work, then it’s not work. As my friend Sarah says, the trick to living free is to wake up every morning and screech: ‘Morning, Lord, what have you got for me today?’


Matthew de Abaitua
[Retirement:] secular afterlife.

St. Thomas Aquinas
Abstinence in eating and drinking has no essential bearing on salvation: The kingdom of God is not meat and drink … the holy apostles understood that the kingdom of God does not consist in eating and drinking but in resignation to either lot, for they are neither elated by abundance, nor distressed by want.

Simone de Beauvoir
Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.

Aldous Huxley
There will never be enduring peace unless and until human beings come to accept a philosophy of life more adequate to the cosmic and psychological facts than the insane idolatries of nationalism and the advertising man’s apocalyptic faith in Progress towards a mechanized New Jerusalem.

John of Brunn
A man who has conscience is himself the Devil and hell and purgatory, tormenting himself. He who is free in spirit escapes all these things.

E.M. Forster
Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.

Masanobu Fukuoka
Humanity knows nothing at all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a futile, meaningless effort.

John Keats
Beauty is truth and truth beauty,
That is all ye know and all ye need to know.

C.S. Lewis
I believe a man is happier and happy in a richer way, if he has ‘the freeborn mind’ … and in adult life it is the man who needs, and asks, nothing of the Government who can criticize its acts and snap his fingers at its ideology.

Penny Rimbaud
Our lives are uniquely and intrinsically our own. It is a responsibility that few seem willing to bear.

Bertrand Russell
Democracy, as conceived by politicians, is a form of government, that is to say, it is a method of making people do what their leaders wish under the impression that they are doing what they themselves wish.

Jean-Paul Sartre
It is … senseless to think of complaining since nothing foreign has decided what we feel, what we live, or what we are.

Henry Suso
…Untrammeled freedom … When a man lives according to all his caprices without distinguishing between God and himself, and without looking before or after.

Leo Tolstoy
… even if the absence of government really meant anarchy in the negative disorderly sense of that word – which is far from being the case – even then no anarchical disorder could be worse that the position to which governments have already led their peoples, and to which they are leading them.

Raoul Vaneigem
The consumer cannot and must not ever attain satisfaction.