Secession: The Reasonable Option Everyone Resists by Tom Woods

Secession: The Reasonable Option Everyone Resists by Tom Woods

 

Tom Woods is very well-known in libertarian circles and here he is giving a speech at the Mises Institute recently about secession, where he lays out a mile-high but convincing case for secession.   Maybe more than that he talks about “going off the card” of acceptable opinion, where it seems like there’s only some issues on the table in national discourse and only two acceptable opinions on each one – anything outside of those parameters isn’t up for discussion and is crazy.   I guess the idea of secession falls in that category.   Woods makes the case that it shouldn’t be considered outlandish to discuss it.

He makes the case that large states are unresponsive to the populace, political boundaries aren’t set in stone, large doesn’t always mean prosperous (i.e. look at Singapore) and minority rights are best preserved within the smallest political unit.
I’ve heard interviews with him here and there, but I’ve never checked out his podcast.   I think I’ll give it a shot…

Secession and Liberty: Ron Paul’s Speech at the Mises Institute

Secession and Liberty

 

I’ve been a Ron Paul fan since I first caught wind of him sometime before the 2008 election.  I’ve gone to a handful of his speeches and shook his hand a time or two.   I think he’s gotten a little more interesting since he dropped out of politics, it seems like he’s less likely to temper his speech.   He does a short podcast with Charles Goyette that I recommend, but it looks like they’ve been on hiatus for over a month and I have no idea what’s going on with it because it was coming out weekly.

Anyways, this is a speech Paul did recently at the Mises Institute where he covered his usual territory and even brought up….secession….as he has a time or two in the past few years.   It didn’t get a lot of play in the mainstream media, but it did get some mileage in the “can you believe those crazy Republicans?!?!?”second-string clickbait media.    I thought it was a pretty good one and worth sharing for fans of Dr. Paul.

 

Apple To Buy One Third of World’s Gold Production for iWatch?

Apple Buying A Third of World’s Gold To Meet Demand for iWatch

How Much Gold Will The Apple Watch Consume

I think this one is a little misleading in the way that it makes it sound like Apple is going to grab up 1/3 of ALL the gold, instead of 1/3 of the annual production…which is still nothing to scoff at.   It’s maybe also misleading on how much gold will go into an iWatch and how many gold ones they expect to sell.

What we see in the mining.com article is that it might be around two ounces of gold per watch and they’re expecting to sell about a million of the gold iWatches.

I think this is kind of interesting…   Apple pretty much killed the wristwatch among the hoi polloi and now they’re going to bring it back with the iWatch to a generation who has largely gotten out of the wristwatch paradigm.   Most people just look at their phones these days.    Will adding some bells and whistles change things?   I don’t know, Apple knows more about these things than I do and I think most people are willing to give their products a shot, considering their track record.

I have a female relative who is in her early/mid 20’s who said something about how she likes guys with wristwatches, like it makes them look sophisticated with that “classy cool” look.   I think with men my age or maybe a little bit older, watches have been more or less a given, rather than a notable feature.     I feel naked if I’m not wearing mine, with the exception of work or the gym.

Anyways, if the gold iWatch does take off, I see it creating a larger luxury watch market rather than competing with the current (Rolex, Movado, etc) cast of characters.    Although I doubt Apple is going to grab up THAT much of the world’s gold production, it may make a notable dent in it.  The article says that they expect Asia to be the big market for these watches, and I can totally see that given their love of gold, gadgets and the prestige that something like this would carry.   What young hot-shot in Singapore, Shanghai or Taipei wouldn’t want one of these???   They’re more likely to be a hit with affluent younger people that have the money but don’t have the generational affinity for the luxury watch.

The world’s gold supply is still fairly consistent, and the bottom line is that a product like this would cause a spike in demand for gold while Apple ramps up production on these bad boys and send the price of gold up with it.   I guess we’ll wait and see if Apple makes a move into gold right now while the prices have been beat up.

As far as me, I’m curious to see the iWatch but I don’t see myself getting one.   I have a 15 year old Seiko that I’ve been wearing and that’s good enough for me.    Hell, I don’t even have a smart phone so I figure I’d jump that hurdle first before I worry about a space-age watch, gold or otherwise.

Can this have the potential to be a “black swan” if Apple really flops on this?  I don’t know.   I guess we’ll see how this all pans out…

The Greater Implications of Bolivian Sea Access

Uruguay Signs Deal With Bolivia Granting it Access to the Sea

 

First, Jose Mujica of Uruguay is one of my favorite world leaders.  I can’t say I agree with him on everything, but I think it’s cool that he’s one of few politicians that can actually claim to be “one of the people”.   This guy cusses in public speeches, doesn’t pull punches, dresses in worn old clothes, lives on a ramshackle homestead outside Montevideo and drives an old VW bug.   Oh yeah, he also got into politics as a radical left-wing guerrilla, throwing molotov cocktails and kidnapping bankers.   It’s hard not to pull for the guy when you compare him to the cast of characters we get in the US.

In the Spanish speaking international media they bring this guy up more often than they do in the Anglosphere (makes sense) and the rumblings around South America for Chile to give Bolivia back access to the Pacific Ocean.    Mujica has been outspoken over the need for Chile to give them back a corridor to the ocean and just gave them (and Paraguay) open access to Uruguay’s ports to lessen Bolivia’s reliance on Chile.

A lot of South America’s recent growth has come from demand for agricultural and mineral products in China, so access to the Pacific or at the very least good ports has been crucial for the region.   I believe Bolivia and Paraguay are the two poorest countries in South America and I suppose more difficult foreign trade has helped put them in that situation.

I can see how this looks like an unimportant story, but to me it’s another sign of increasing solidarity among South American nations (well, ok, Chile is apparently being difficult) and increasing ties between South/Latin America and China.   Traditionally this has been our “back yard” and currently our approval ratings are about as low in South America as it is in the Middle East (which is low) and the Chinese have already put tentacles well into the continent and her resources.    Just another sign of the coming multipolar world, with increased Chinese influence abroad and Latin America clicking together as a populist-left alternative to neoliberalism with guys like Mujica, Morales, Correa and Maduro as heads of state and center-left Brazil kind of anchoring things for them.

Also, Montevideo has a nice, underused port.    I remember the main building being really cool.   Great architecture in that city.

The Iraqi Dinar Scam Revisited

I think this subject gets brought up to me about once every six months or so.    Not too long ago I heard about an acquaintance in a financial rut who put more money than she should’ve into the Iraqi Dinar, hoping to ride the meteoric rise of the currency that should be coming any day now.   Sounds like she did it several years after the initial rumblings of this “opportunity” started making the rounds after the fall of Saddam’s government too.    Apparently she felt really stupid for putting money she didn’t really have to blow into dinars and it wasn’t panning out as they hoped.   I’m sure there’s a ton of people with similar stories out there.   I remember hearing quite a few people talk about investing in the dinar, either stating intent or that they already had purchased them.   Now I don’t hear many people talk about holding on to them, getting out of them, etc.

Looks like today it’s at 1200 or so dinars to the dollar right now.    When I was there in 2004-5, it was somewhere around 1400 and the last time I wrote about it exactly three years ago it was at 1300.   (The Iraqi Dinar Scam)   Everything is still the same with the currency though – you can’t really exchange it in any serious venue, only find some other sucker to buy them.    I think you’d be hard pressed to say that any fundamentals of the Iraqi economy have improved since then.   The Shiites ran it into the dirt again, the Kurds are about as close as they’ve ever been to jumping ship and ISIS is running around doing the things they do throughout much of the country side.     One guy I knew told me that Iraq’s ace-in-the-hole was a budding mercury industry, and to my knowledge that hasn’t panned out.    I don’t mean to talk down on the poor Iraqis, I’m just saying they haven’t become the economic miracle that was sold to potential dinar investors in the beginning.

The Iraqi Central Bank is worried about “dollarization” of the economy, a situation where the US dollar becomes the de facto or official currency of a country.   In this case, people don’t trust the dinar and would prefer the dollar or other currencies over Iraqi money.    I suppose this is probably part of the reason why you can’t exchange Iraqi dinars – because damn near everyone locally would try to GTFO and into pretty much anything else.   A bit of currency protectionism.

While looking up news on the dinar, I found this article from April Fool’s Day last year that I thought was kind of funny.    Some of the writing is a little cliche, but it’s still good:
APRIL FOOL:   Worldwide Celebrations as Iraqi Dinar Revalues

I like the snippet of the Iraqi Dinar dealer crying that he should’ve held on to his dinars instead of trading them for dollars.   Ha ha.

Iran’s Navy Sinks Mock US Carrier

Iran’s Navy Blasts Away at Mock US Carrier

This week the Iranian Revolutionary Guard staged war games where they sank a model of a US Nimitz class aircraft carrier.    They basically swarmed it with about 50 missile-bearing patrol boats, helicopters and land-based missiles.

Some of the articles/comments I’ve read laugh off Iran’s military capabilities, but they actually have a decent navy and some fairly impressive home-grown technology.   They’re not as backwards as some people like to make them out.   Are they *on par* with the US Navy?   Definitely not…but do they have to have the same kind of numbers and technology to strike a serious blow against us?

I would imagine that in a real life scenario if the Iranians threw 50 of the fast moving patrol boats, helicopters and fired a few missiles at a single carrier, SOMETHING would get through, even if most of it was swatted down.   One Nimitz class carrier equals a couple thousand sailors and several billions of dollars at the bottom of the ocean.     So far a little over 2,000 US servicemen have been KIA in Afghanistan, so one carrier attack has the potential to trump that in terms of body count in a day.

I know the US Navy has contingency plans for lone fast-moving patrol boats, not sure if they’ve taken seriously the idea of a whole shitload of them coming at them.    We’re really bad at taking these kinds of things seriously.

Oh, and about 20% of the world’s oil gets shipped through the narrow Straits of Hormuz, where Iran always threatens to take their stand.   Impeding access means that we’re going to feel it back home and the Saudis aren’t going to be very happy, either.   Neither will the Kuwaitis or Iraq.

I was curious to see *how* they made the ship, because even if they made it out of paper mache it’s pretty big undertaking to just build it and blow it up.    Looks like it’s an old barge for the base and I’m not sure what else.   I’m sure the Iranian taxpayers are thrilled though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UpKq9kCHbE

New York Towns Looking to Secede to Pennsylvania

New York Towns Are Plotting to Secede to Pennsylvania

 

This story caught my eye today.   I’ve talked before about some states and nations having political borders that don’t make sense and the state of New York is one of the first to come to mind with the divide between the rural/rust belt upstate and Long Island.    Here’s one factor I never thought of:  Fracking!   Right now 15 towns along the Pennsylvania border are talking about jumping ship and joining more conservative Pennsylvania over a recent fracking ban…and high taxes, of course.

Although I know there’s reservations about fracking, I get what they’re trying to say.  We’re talking about a rural and economically depressed area without many options and they get some dollars flowing in through fracking.   Then the wealthy liberals in NYC and the greenie-weenies in the Hudson Valley tell them they can’t.   I’m not necessarily saying fracking is a good idea, but I get the sentiments.

I’m sure nothing will come out of this in the immediate future, but I think this is the kind of social/economic divide that will end up causing big political problems in states like New York, Illinois, Michigan, Colorado and California.

Twilight’s Last Gleaming by John Michael Greer

 

I absolutely loved this book. Over the past six months or so I think I’ve read four or five of John Michael Greer’s books, both fiction and non-fiction and have been impressed with all of them to varying degrees and for different reasons. This one stood out to me because it covered some of my pet-topics (secession, resource wars, military spending and American exceptionalism) and also because Greer did a great job covering the military, geopolitical and geographical aspects of the story – not too shabby for a bearded druid that rides the bus and writes about peak oil.
It’s been two months since I read it, so some of the details are fuzzy but here’s the general story: In the year 2025 (or something) the United States is a little beyond her prime and starts a war with Uganda – where coincidentally they had just discovered massive oil deposits offshore. The Chinese have been involved in Africa and US and Chinese interest bump noses with disasterous results for the US. The Russians get involved at some level too. When Uncle Sam tucks his tail and heads home, it leads to political and economic trouble back home.
This one is a real page-turner and I think it took me no more than two days to get through it just because it was so interesting.
So here’s a few of the strong points…
– Well written and plausible enough to make you think.
– I liked how under-developed the characters were. Yes, that’s right. They were pretty much just personal enough to tell the story. All the substance is in the ideas and facts intertwined into an interesting story.
– I believe the “fuck it, we’re America and invincible” attitude gets us into a lot of trouble and will get us into even more in the future and Greer does a good job tearing this sentiment apart. When everything is going to hell in Africa, take notice of how often the political/military folks say things like “once we regain air superiority” while they’re getting their asses handed to them. We don’t believe we can lose….and we can, or at least pay too high of a price.
– Great job describing Chinese, American and Russian national pysches.

There is room for a sequel here and I’d like to see it…

 

Drastic Times Call For Semi-Drastic Measures in Greece

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30481307

If I remember right, Greece, like a lot of Europe, has four or five significant political parties.   There’s the two major center-right/center-left parties more or less similar to our Republicans and Democrats, a far-right party (Golden Dawn) and a conglomerate of leftists (think communists, Marxists, greens, etc.) , Syriza.

This week Syriza won an impromptu election in the Greek parliament and they’re now the majority party (not *the* majority), beating out the more “mainstream” parties.   It should also be noted that Golden Dawn didn’t do too bad in this election, considering some of the opposition they faced from the establishment in Greece and the rest of Europe over the past two years, ranging from media smears to jailing party leaders.

Although Syriza is several shades left of the center-left party (New Democracy? I can’t remember their name), they have rounded their edges off a little bit to be more populist.   Despite toning it down a notch, Syriza’s victory wasn’t exactly well-received in the rest of the European Union.   The Greek stock market dropped, more capital fled Greece, one of the big shots in Germany made a statement about how the Greeks could vote for whoever they wanted, but Germans shouldn’t have to pay for it (ok he’s got a point) and the media has been treating this like a bunch of bratty children with a list of impossible demands (ok, I’m skeptical of Syriza’s ability to deliver free lunches again too).   Of course there’s been lots of panic that this will lead towards Greece leaving the EU and bring on the economic apocalypse everyone has been fearing.

I think the victory of a party like Syriza (or Golden Dawn, for that matter) is only possible when the current paradigm is failing…and it sure is in Greece.   There’s 50% youth unemployment (I also think it’s interesting that Alexis Tsipras, HMFIC, is only 40), social services getting slashed, prices up and grim prospects of ever getting back to the “good ol’ days”.   No one seems to have a palatable plan to solve Greece’s problems, as many Greeks feel they’re getting shafted by austerity measures at the time they need it the most and the other Europeans aren’t happy about footing the bill for it.    Both sides have valid points, I believe.

At any rate, I thought this was a notable development in the world, starting to see the status quo crack a bit on the fringes of the western world.   If you would’ve asked me before this I would’ve figured that one of Europe’s far right parties would’ve been the first to really break through and I didn’t think about Syriza, even though I’ve been following the situation in Greece.

Secession: The Storm by Joe Nobody

This is the first Joe Nobody book I’ve ever read.   Although I’m not exactly uninterested in the tactical/self-defense world, it’s not the first thing I gravitate towards and that’s how I have Joe Nobody pegged.   The concept of secession is a preoccupation of mine, so I figured I’d give him a shot with this one.

First, I think he did a much better job of “showing” over “telling” than most authors in the genre.   I think a lot of them get hung up on telling a story and can’t give it the punch it needs by making the reader feel the emotions/sensations that go along with the story.   In other words, he’s a pretty good writer.    Overall, it’s a good story and the dialogue is much more natural than others in the genre.

The story flashes between a disenchanted Texas Ranger, a presidential candidate (Hilary Clinton with her name tweaked a bit) and a small business owner who feels he’s been pushed around too much by the federal government after an incident in Hurricane Katrina and of course all of these stories intertwine during a period of political gridlock in the United States that brings the idea of Texas secession into public debate.

One of the major themes in the book is the role of law enforcement and some of the ethical debates that can come up, especially in a crisis and Nobody does a good job of addressing these dilemmas from all angles.   It’s easy to make up a constitution-loving friendly police officer character and paint everything black or white, but there’s a lot of gray in the real world.

Not exactly a spoiler, but the book leaves room for a sequel or two.   Texas does secede and Nobody lays out some of the arguments in favor and against it, but Texas as an independent nation really doesn’t factor into the story much at this point.   I am looking forward to this sequel when it comes.

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