Source: The Market Oracle - January 5, 2012
(Doug Casey Interviewed by Louis James, Editor, International Speculator) : L: Doug, a lot of readers have been asking for guidance on how to know when it's time to exit center stage and hunker down in some safe place. Few people want to hide from the world in a cabin in the woods while life goes on in the mainstream, but nobody wants to get caught once the gates clang shut on the police state the US is becoming. How do you know when it's time to go?
Doug: Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that it's better to be a year too early than a minute too late. David Galland recently read They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, by Milton Mayer. He quoted a passage in his column of last Friday. It goes a long way in explaining why Americans appear to be such whipped dogs today. They're no different from the Germans of recent memory. For those who missed it, let me quote it:
"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' … In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'
"These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic… the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked… But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C?"
The fact is that the US has been on a slippery slope for decades, and it's about to go over a cliff. However, our standard of living, while declining, is still very high, both relatively and absolutely. But an American can enjoy a much higher standard of living abroad.
On the other hand, if I were some poor guy in a poverty-wracked country with few opportunities, I'd want to go where the action is, where the money is, now. Today, that means trying to get into the United States. The US is headed the wrong direction, but it's still a land of opportunity and a whole lot better than some flea-bitten village in Niger.
L: By the time things get worse than some Third-World dictatorship in the US, such a person could have remitted a whole lot of cash back home.
Doug: And you'd have a whole lot of experiences that would give you a competitive edge back where you came from, or in the next place you go to. The one-eyed man is king in the valley of the blind. People have to lose that backward, peasant mentality that ties them to the land of their birth. Sad to say, although the average American has somewhat more knowledge of the world – mainly due to television – his psychology is just as constrained as that of some serf from central Asia or some primitive village in Africa. It's all a matter of psychology.
But if you're not poor, you want to go someplace that is safe, nice – whatever that means to you – and with a lower cost of living. As most readers know, for me that's Cafayate, Argentina, but one size does not fit all. It needs to be a place you actually enjoy spending some time, with people whose company you enjoy.
L: Fair enough. But our readers want to know if your guru-sense is tingling yet, or how close you think we are to it being too late to leave – or at least too late to leave with any meaningful assets.
Doug: I'm a trend observer. This is one of the advantages of studying history, because it shows you that things like this rarely happen overnight. They are usually the result of trends that build over years and years, sometimes over generations. In the case of the US, I think the trend has been downhill, in many ways, for many years. Pick a time. You could make an argument, from a moral point of view, that things started heading downhill at the time of the Spanish-American War. That was when a previously peaceful and open country first started conquering overseas lands and staking colonies. America was still in the ascent towards its peak economically, but the seeds of its own demise were already sewn, and a libertarian watching the scene might have concluded that it was time to get out of Dodge –
L: [Laughs] That would have been a bit early…
Doug: [Chuckles] Yes, that would have been way too soon. As Adam Smith observed, there's a lot of ruin in a country.
L: On the other paw, it would have gotten you out before the War between the States, a disaster well worth avoiding.
Doug: No, the Spanish-American War was in 1898.
L: Oops! Sorry, I was thinking of what Americans call the Mexican-American War, but which Mexicans call the "American Invasion" –
L: I'm not joking. That's what they called it in the history books I was given in Mexican schools when I lived there in the '70s. It has long seemed to me that that was an ominous turn for the worse for the US and a clear example of conquering a weaker neighbor purely for pillage – not just Texas, but everything from there all the way to California.
Doug: That's right. Davey Crockett and the boys, we love them, but in many ways they were the equivalent of today's Mexicans who want to recolonize the southwest and turn it back into part of Mexico, in what they call the Reconquista.
L: Indeed, but this is ancient history to most US taxpayers today – I'm reminded that it's not correct in many cases to call them Americans.
Doug: Yes, just as it was a misnomer to call the people who lived in the Roman Empire after Diocletian Romans – because Roman citizens were once free men. After about 300 AD most of them were bound to the land or their occupations as serfs. But the slide for Rome started at least 120 years earlier, after the death of Marcus Aurelius. Politically, the decline started with the accession of Julius Caesar 240 years before that. So, when did the slide – politically, economically, and socially – really start for the US? When were there no more trends going up?
L: FDR? The New Deal was really a moral, economic, and political turning point.
Doug: You could make that argument, but the US still grew economically, despite the roadblocks FDR threw in its path. US military power and global prestige continued growing from that point, although, paradoxically, the accelerating growth of the US military was directly responsible for the decline of the US economically and in terms of personal freedom. One reason for the ascendancy of the US after World War II was that we were the only major country in the world not physically devastated by the war.
L: Ah. Right.
Doug: So it seems to me that the peak of American civilization was in the 1960s. As for evidence, well, I like to put my finger on the 1959 Cadillac. Those twin bullet taillights, the opulence of it… In terms of then-current technology, things couldn't get much better.
L: "Opulence. I has it."
Doug: [Laughs – a real belly laugh] That's my favorite TV commercial! Anyway, that was the peak, in my mind. Though things continued getting better for a while, the US started to live out of capital.
L: Had to pay for guns and butter.
Doug: That's right. The Johnson administration's so-called Great Society created vast new federal bureaucracies that promised Americans free food, shelter, medical care, education, and what-have-you. Americans became true wards of the state. But the real, final nail in the coffin for America was in 1971 –
L: Nixon taking the US off the gold standard.
Doug: Nixon taking the US off the gold standard – open devaluation of the dollar, combined with wage and price controls for some months. And that was not long after the so-called Bank Secrecy Act, which abolished bank secrecy, and required the reporting of all foreign financial accounts. Nixon was, in many ways, even more of a disaster than Johnson. Republicans are usually worse than Democrats when it comes to freedom, partly because they like to couch their depredations in the rhetoric of defending the free market. While everyone understands that Democrats are socialists just under the surface, Republicans actually give capitalism a bad name. Baby Bush is a perfect, recent example.
L: But don't you worry your pretty little head about devaluation – it's just a "bugaboo" – and as long as you're not one of those unpatriotic people wanting to buy imports or vacation abroad, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today. The scary thing is that the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko said almost the same thing when the Belarusian ruble lost two thirds of its forex value earlier this year, asking his countrymen why they need to go on vacation in Germany or buy German cars…
Doug: You see why I like to study history? It doesn't repeat, but it sure does rhyme…
L: With a vengeance.
Doug: So, anyway, since 1971, some things have improved largely due to technological advances, but the America That Was has been fading into the past. It was a decisive turning point. You can see that in the accelerated proliferation of undeclared wars we've had since then. I don't just mean the penny-ante invasions of Granada and Panama – the US has always lorded it over Caribbean and Central American banana republics; those are just sport wars. But Iraq and Afghanistan are alien cultures on the other side of the world – apart from never posing any threat to the US. Now it looks like Iran and Pakistan are on the dance card, and they're big game. The War Against Islam has started in earnest, and it's going to end badly for the US. I explained all this at great length in the white paper, Learn to Make Terror Your Friend, that I wrote for The Casey Report last month.
Domestically, saying that the US is turning into a police state when you started this conversation was quite accurate. You can see more and more videos spreading over the Internet, not just of police brutality, but demonstrating the militarization and federalization of police, who are being inculcated with both disdain for and paranoia about ordinary citizens.
In the old days, if you were stopped for speeding, the peace officer was polite – you could get out of your car, meet the cop on neutral ground, and chat with him. You didn't have a serious problem unless you were obviously drunk or combative. Now, you don't dare make a move. You better keep your hands in plain sight on the steering wheel and be ready for a Breathalyzer test without probable cause. The law enforcement officer will stand behind you with his hand on his gun. And you're the one who'd better be polite.
L: There has been a polar reversal. The cops used to address citizens as "sir" or "ma'am." Now, the correct response in a traffic stop is: "Yes, sir! I would love to inspect the bottom of your boot, sir!"
Doug: [Laughs] That's right. My friend Marc Victor gives out magnetized business cards. People ask, "Why?" He answers that it's so clients can put them on the bottom of their cars or refrigerators, so they can see it when the cops throw them to the ground.
L: Marc's a good man. There's a handy video on Marc's website, offering advice on what to do if you're pulled over by the police in a traffic stop.
Doug: A good public service announcement. At any rate, I think there's no question that the US has turned the corner on every basis: politically, socially, morally, and now, economically…
L: Okay, but, Doug, you said that in 1979 too. The question is, how do we know when the door is going to close?
Doug: [Laughs.] Well, sometimes I feel a little like the boy who cried wolf. But Roman writers like Tacitus and Sallust saw where Rome was going before it got completely out of control. Should they have said nothing, for fear of being too early? Here in the US, it should have gone over the edge back in the 1980s, but we got lucky. There was still a lot of forward momentum, which can last for decades when you're speaking of civilizations. There was the computer productivity boom. The Soviet Union collapsed, China liberalized, and Communism was discredited everywhere except on US college campuses. The end of the Cold War opened up vast areas of the world to the global market. And most surprising of all, Volker tightened up the money supply and interest rates went high, causing people to save money and stop borrowing to consume.
L: That's not happening this time.
Doug: No. We got lucky back then. Since the '90s we've had a long and totally phony, debt-driven boom that's now come to an end. I feel very confident that there's no way out this time. There are huge distortions and misallocations of capital that have been cranked into the system for two decades. And not just in the US this time, but in Europe, China, Japan, and elsewhere.
The US is very clearly on the decline. The fact that in spite of bankrupting military expenditures to no gain for the American people, those in power are talking overtly and aggressively about attacking more countries – Iran and Pakistan in particular – is extremely grave. The fact that they attacked Libya – which, incidentally, is going to turn into a total disaster, a civil war that will last for years – shows it's not stopping. Sure, Obama brought troops home from Iraq – another disaster that's going to remain a disaster for years to come – but at the same time he put a company of combat troops in Uganda, of all places and Marines in Australia, to provoke the Chinese.
Back home, I've read reports that people are being stopped for carrying gold coins out of the US, in Houston in particular. Now we have authorization of the military to detain US citizens, on US soil, with no trail, and indefinitely, on the verge of becoming law. And Predator Drones have been used to hunt down farmers on their own ranches.
I could go on and on. This is not like spotting early signs of decay in America's expansionist wars of the 19th century or things getting worse with FDR. Most people can't see it with all the noise and confusion, but we've reached the edge of the precipice.
L: Don't worry about exactly where the edge is, just assume it's there and take appropriate action?
Doug: Yes. It really is there. It's a clear and present danger. But most Americans are as oblivious as most Germans were in the '30s. In fact, most of them support what's going on, just as most Germans supported their government in the '30s and '40s.
L: So… don't worry about figuring out exactly when the gates will shut. Assume they are shutting now?
Doug: That's right. One should be actively and vigorously looking to expatriate assets, cash, and even one's self. A prudent person will always be diversified politically and internationally.
L: What about people who have jobs they can't continue doing from abroad and who need the income?
Doug: They should still prepare, as best they can, to be ready to go on a vacation when things get hot – a vacation from which they might not return for a long time. All that needs happen, with the hysteria that's building in the US, is for a major terrorist incident – real or imagined – to occur. Homeland Security will lock the country down. I hate to admit it, but I'm almost starting to credit the stories about those FEMA camps.
Look, I know it sounds extreme, and the comparison to pre-WWII Germany has been made many times, but it bears repeating. Germany was the most literate, civilized, and even mellow, in some ways, country in Europe. It was much admired all around the world – a nation of shopkeepers, small farmers, and scholars. But the whole character of the place started changing in 1933, and it just got worse and worse. By the end of 1939, if you weren't out, you were done.
L: [Pauses] Well, not a cheerful thought. Actions to take?
Doug: Things we've said before: Set up foreign bank accounts in places you like to travel, while you can. Set up vault arrangements for physical precious metals outside the US. Buy foreign real estate that you'd like to own, because it can't be forcibly repatriated. Offshore asset protection trusts are a good idea too. Become an International Man. Let me emphasize that US taxpayers should stay within all US laws, because the consequences of breaking them are unbelievably draconian.
Generally, one simply must internationalize one's assets. The biggest danger investors face, by far, is not market risk – huge as that will be – but political risk. The only way to insulate yourself from such risk is to diversify yourself politically and geographically.
L: Right then… words to the wise. Thanks for your insight.
Doug: You're welcome. Most won't, but I just hope readers listen.
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Source: The Daily Mail - August 9, 2011
Police today admitted they were prepared to use plastic bullets against rioters if a fourth night of lawlessness sees gangs of youths marauding across London and looting businesses.
With an 'unprecedented' 16,000 police officers due on the streets of London tonight, answers were today being demanded over the failure of police to bring last night's riots under control.
Just hours after David Cameron warned rioters they would face the 'full force of the law' shops were boarding up their windows across the capital amid fears of more violence across the capital. Businesses, pubs, schools and even medical centres were sending staff home early.
The army of police officers on duty in London will swell to 16,000 tonight - compared with just 6,000 last night - as reinforcements are drafted in from 26 forces across the country.
Mr Kavanagh said he was sorry 'that London has got to wake up to these scenes'.
'We need to do better for London because those images last night were shocking for everyone,' Mr Kavanagh told reporters.
Every police cell in the capital was full today, forcing officers to transport suspects outside the city.
Huge swathes of the capital woke up to the charred debris of burned out buildings and streets littered with waste. David Cameron has recalled Parliament for the day on Thursday as he pledged to bring the situation under control
After cutting short his Tuscany holiday to deal with the worsening public disorder crisis, the Prime Minister said today: 'We will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and to make them safe for the law-abiding.
'Let me, first of all, completely condemn the scenes that we have seen on our television screens and people have witnessed in their communities.
'These are sickening scenes - scenes of people looting, vandalising, thieving, robbing, scenes of people attacking police officers and even attacking fire crews as they're trying to put out fires. This is criminality, pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated.
Last night 44 police officers were injured - four of them seriously - as the capital endured the worst night of violence it has seen for decades.
..... the well-known Reeves furniture store in Croydon, south London, which first opened in 1867, was completely destroyed by a huge fire.
Owner Trevor Reeves told Sky News: 'It has just provided my family and the 15 or 20 staff and families that were supported, it's just completely destroyed.
'Words fail me. It's just gone, it's five generations. My father is distraught at the moment. It's just mindless thuggery.'
In Clapham youths went on the rampage trashing dozens of shops and walking out with plundered products.
Residents complained that police were very slow to respond as a huge Debenhams store was ransacked. This morning the whole high street was cordoned off as a major investigation and clear-up got underway.
Rioting began in Hackney shortly after 4pm yesterday when a mob of hooded youths began hurling missiles at officers and setting fire to bins and cars. Masked rioters on BMX bicycles armed with batons attacked a crowded London bus during the evening rush-hour, chasing terrified commuters as they tried to escape.
The thugs, some as young as eight, forced the driver to stop the double-decker by pelting it with champagne bottles stolen from a nearby Tesco. About 40 passengers – some carrying screaming toddlers – burst out of the exits and sprinted away.
Within hours similar scenes erupted in Lewisham, spreading to Peckham, Deptford and Croydon in south-east London.
Hundreds of fires were started all over the capital, from Camden in the north, Woolwich in the south-east, Ealing in west London and then, more worryingly as police lost control of the streets last night, locals were forced to take the law into their own hands to protect their homes and businesses.
In Dalston and Hackney, north-east London, shopkeepers and their families fought back against looting youths and forced them from the streets. As surrounding areas were pillaged members of the town's large Turkish community stood firm outside their homes and businesses.
Mr Kavanagh said it was 'a shocking and appalling morning for London to wake up to' and he was struck by the 'sheer scale and speed with which the attacks took place across London last night'. It 'was truly unprecedented' he said.
He said there was a 'changing nature' in the make-up of the rioters, with the profile changing 'dramatically' last night from 14 to 17-year-olds to 'older groups in cars doing organised looting'.
He added: 'And there was the far more focused attempt at injuring London Ambulance staff, there to help the community, trying to injure Fire Brigade officers and, of course, police officers.'
Gangs of looters - who appeared to be teenagers and young adults from a range of different backgrounds - raided hundreds of shops and businesses across London, making off with TVs and other electrical goods, cigarettes, clothes and alcohol.
Staff at Birmingham Children's Hospital formed a 'human shield' as they barricaded themselves inside after rioters threatened to set it on fire - in an evil bid to 'win respect' from fellow thugs.
Police ordered an immediate lock-down of the hospital after rioters used Twitter to spread the word and encourage thugs to storm the wards just after 9pm last night. Gangs of rioters rounded on the hospital - which cares for some of Britain's sickest children - armed with broken bottles and knives hoping to 'out-riot' yobs running amok in London.
A hospital spokesman said: 'We were told by police to lock the hospital down. They asked us not to let anyone in or out until it was safe to do so. 'It is extremely dangerous and our main concern is for the welfare of our patients and staff.'
In Medway, Kent, a group of around 15 youths arrived by train and went on the rampage, while violence was also reported in Chatham, Rainham and Gillingham.
Yobs also went on the rampage in Nottingham where up to 40 cars were damaged, there were attempts to loot shops and a container of 200 tyres was set on fire.
Cars and wheelie bins were torched during five hours of violence across Liverpool. A Tesco store in Myrtle Street was looted and police came under attack in Admiral Street with some of the rioters aged as young as 10.
Related - Mob Attacks Outside Wis. State Fair
Source: The Australian - June 15, 2011
AN eruption of protests throughout China has sent armoured vehicles into town centres, prompted an internet blackout by the government and left thousands across the country blogging about "crazy" violence on the streets.
The summer surge of protests, which flared in the southern industrial hub of Zengcheng over the weekend, has been linked to a range of frustrations with modern China - furies that have drawn the government into crackdowns on activism and massive increases in the domestic security budget.
More than 1000 migrant workers went on the rampage in Zengcheng after a pregnant street vendor in her 20s was roughed up by security guards. Such incidents, while distressing, are not uncommon. Witnesses said that the centre of town was bedlam, with smashed windows, blazing police vehicles and teargas explosions as rioters hurled missiles at an official building. One bank worker blogged that the Bank of China had ordered an immediate halt to all ATM transactions.
In central Hubei province armoured cars were used last week to quell a riot over the death of Ran Jianxin, an official who had led the fight against corruption in the town of Lichuan but died mysteriously in police custody.
The protests followed bomb attacks on government facilities in two other cities in the past three weeks, and ethnic unrest in the northern region of Inner Mongolia last month.
Although few see China as a likely arena for uprisings in the style of the Arab Spring, Beijing remains terrified that the fast-rising tally of localised protests could be linked via mobile social networking and Twitter-style websites.
Some Chinese academics believe that the true number of protests in the country last year was more than 180,000. After several big clashes in recent weeks the names of half a dozen big towns have been eradicated from the search engines of the country's most popular microblogging sites.
One of the "disappeared" cities, Dongguan, is the fourth-largest producer of exports in the country and has a population only slightly smaller than London's.
The recent violence, however, has exposed the limits of the government's ability to control the urban population using internet censorship what party leaders refer to as "social management".
Authorities have turned to displays of raw power, deploying paramilitary police and armoured vehicles in at least three cities in as many weeks to prevent violence from spiralling further as protesters have repeatedly directed their anger at government buildings, often ostentatious symbols of power. What connects the violence is the way a flashpoint - in Inner Mongolia, the death of a Mongol at the hands of a Han Chinese truck driver, and in southern China, the assault by security personnel on a pregnant migrant worker - sets off much wider conflagrations.
Ordinance #2740 (An unfunded city-wide mandate) was passed with a resounding 6 to 1 vote, and it allows for the citizens of Cedar Falls to forcefully give the government keys to their comercial properties through universal 'lock boxes'. The intent of the program is to provide increased safety and protection to personal, private property which include businesses, apartments and some rental houses-- which by the way-- comes at the expense of furthering wayward erosion of fundamental constitutional rights.
Related Story - Introducing iCensor: Apple Is Patenting Technology That Will Cripple Its Devices When They Are In the Proximity of ‘A Concert or a Classified Facility’
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