You must remember this.
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.
– Dooley Wilson, “As Time Goes By”
PORTLAW, IRELAND – Poor Florence Newton.
The young woman was tried as a witch in Youghal, Ireland in 1661. It was alleged that she kissed another woman “violently” and that the victim experienced fits, cramps, and visions.
In another instance, she kissed the hand of an imprisoned man who subsequently died.
Today, we think of “witchcraft” as hocus-pocus. We deny any cause-and-effect relationship between Ms. Newton’s kiss and the prisoner’s death.
Myth, in other words.
Myths Rule the World
Yes, Dear Reader, we continue to explore how myths rule the world. We have looked at helpful myths: A penny saved is still a penny earned. A fool and his money are still soon parted. And nobody wants to eat at a restaurant with a skinny chef.
But now we turn to the unhelpful sort of myths: “fake news” and lies.
Making the world “safe for democracy” was a monumental lie when President Woodrow Wilson used it as an excuse to drag the U.S. into World War I.
Sorcery had no more truth in it than an act of Congress. And stimulating the economy with fake money was a scam from the get-go.
Some myths are useful. Others are lies. And today we pose the critical question: How can you tell the difference?
End of The World
This is probably the most important question ever posed: How do we know if a public policy makes the world better… or worse?
How do we know if what we are doing is good… or bad? How do we know if our actions will get us to Heaven… or Hell?
A question of that magnitude is going to take some time… Give us another 24 hours, please!
In the meantime, we turn to the end of the world.
Mr. BJ Campbell, writing on an open-source publishing platform called Medium, pens an essay and uses statistical analysis to calculate the odds of a society-altering event like a flood or armed revolution.
Illustrating his approach – and keeping in mind that there are relatively few data points – he figures, for example, that the odds of a New Orleans-style flood disaster during the life of a typical 30-year mortgage is about one-in-four.
That, of course, will only affect people who live in or near the flooded area.
But what about the kind of upheaval that will affect nearly everyone – a revolution or a civil war, for example?
There have been two in the U.S. since it was colonized by Europeans (not to mention Indian wars… fights with the French and Spanish… and even a battle fought between Catholics and Protestants near Annapolis, Maryland in 1655).
Mr. Campbell uses 1678 as his start date, avoiding some of this confusion.
Calculating the odds based on just two events (the American Revolution and the War Between the States), he concludes that you have about a one-in-three chance of experiencing a major insurrection during your lifetime.
But those odds are probably far too low. Just look around, says Campbell:
Since our 1678 benchmark, Russia has had two world wars, a civil war, a revolution, and at least half a dozen uprisings, depending on how you want to count them. Depending on when you start the clock, France had a 30-year war, a 7-year war, a particularly nasty revolution, a counter-revolution, this Napoleon thing, and a couple of world wars tacked on the end. China, North Korea, Vietnam, and basically most of the Pacific Rim has had some flavor of violent revolution in the last 100 years, sometimes more than one.
But even those “facts” don’t do justice to the risk you face. Campbell goes on:
Since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, there have been 465 sovereign nations which no longer exist, and that doesn’t even count colonies, secessionist states, or annexed countries. Even if we presume that half of these nation state transitions were peaceful, which is probably a vast overestimation, that’s still an average of one violent state transition every 2.43 years.
If we just look at raw dialectic alone we reach dismal conclusions. “Do you think the United States will exist forever and until the end of time?” Clearly any reasonable answer must be “no.” So at that point, we’re not talking “if,” but “when.”
Based on his numbers, Mr. Campbell believes you should prepare – by stocking, food, water, and firearms.
But the disasters that he imagines are only a small part of the dangers you face. There are also risks of bugs, mutant viruses, crop failures, solar flares, electronic meltdowns, volcanic eruptions, years without summers, and, of course, nuclear wars.
Any one of those things could bring chaos, looting, and death. (Imagine West Baltimore when the power goes off.)
But the most likely threat comes from neither rising water, nor war, nor zombie apocalypse. Instead, the main risk is financial. And it too is not a question of “if” but “when.”
And here we find our question, laying on the treacherous ground in front of us, like an unexploded bomb in a playground. Sayeth Proverbs 21:6:
Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.
Because the fundamentals still apply; actions still have consequences. You never know exactly what those consequences will be or when and how they will show up. (This isn’t science!)
But when you spend too much money you don’t have… and go too far into debt… you eventually find out.
NOTES FROM THE ROAD: THE FREE MARKET ROAD SHOW
Editor’s Note: Readers regularly report that they enjoy Bill’s stories from his travels. But Bill isn’t the only member of the Bonner & Partners team hitting the road. Dan Denning, Bill’s coauthor on The Bill Bonner Letter, is on a mission in Central and Eastern Europe. In lieu of our usual market insight, we asked Dan to share a few details from his trip.
By Dan Denning, Coauthor, The Bill Bonner Letter
Hello to all the Diary readers…
I’m currently on a six-week trip through Central and Eastern Europe. “The Free Market Road Show” is what they call it.
The purpose of the trip is to promote the cause of limited government, sound money, and individual liberty. A noble task, I know. I’ve been practicing my stump speech.
Below, I share a few pictures and stories from my travels.
The first picture is from Greece at Porto Carras. It’s where the Liberty Fund event was held.
I spent three days discussing the history and future of European federalism and the cause of liberty in general with journalists and academics. Sadly, I don’t believe we advanced it too much. Europe has too much past, and is too preoccupied with that past, to worry about its future.
The resort was nice though, save for an earthquake at 3:45 a.m. on a Saturday. The whole building shook for four or five seconds. There are several automatic feeds linked to seismic monitoring services. The epicenter was only about 20 kilometers away. I looked out the window to see if the water was rushing away from the marina. It wasn’t. No tsunami.
Incidentally, this place used to be very posh in the 1970s apparently, and popular with former French president François Mitterrand.
It was also popular with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the bloke who is credited with producing the first draft of the ill-fated European Constitution (it was signed by representatives of the 25 countries in the Union at the time, but rejected in two referendums, one by the Dutch and one by the French, in 2005).
There’s even a picture of Putin with hair living it up in the casino downstairs!
By the way, the conference made no stirring conclusions about the fate of limited government and sound money. There were lots of questions about how the “everything bubble” would end.
“Not well,” is what I said. I privately concluded that we live in an age where some people value security a lot more than freedom. And that won’t change any time soon. Maybe it’s cyclical.
Warsaw Big Mac
A Big Mac meal in Warsaw costs just over 16 złoty – about five bucks. I took a picture. Even in Poland, automation is rampant. I ordered at the kiosk and picked up my food. The burger wasn’t bad… It pretty much tasted like a Big Mac.
On a serious note, the Free Market Road Show happened to be in Warsaw on the anniversary of the final uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto in April 1943. The Nazis were in the process of rounding up the last Jews in the ghetto to send them to Treblinka. The Jews revolted. In response, the SS burned the ghetto block by block, destroying everything, and killing some 13,000 Jews.
Anti-Semitism is still a sensitive issue in Eastern Europe. On the day I was there, volunteers were handing out little paper flowers to commemorate the uprising. Meanwhile, I walked into an old, used knick-knacks shop and saw some Nazi memorabilia, and what I assume was some old, communist-era money.
I’m reminded again of what a black scourge communism and totalitarianism was. But Warsaw – home to Chopin, Copernicus, and Marie Curie – still has a lot of monuments to this pre-communist history and culture (including the pictured Palace of Culture and Science, which may actually be a communist-era construction).
Below, you’ll find a few more pictures. I hope you enjoy them.
Readers of The Bill Bonner Letter can expect to hear from me again at the end of this month. We’ll continue our discussion from April and I’ll give you an update on my trip.
Dan explores ancient ruins during his travels
The Statue of Giordano Bruno in Campo de’ Fiori
The White Tower of Thessaloniki
A modern Athenian Agora with a church, playground, and restaurant
Dan’s view of the Colosseum
– Dan Denning
P.S. Giving readers updates from the road is enjoyable. But it’s not the mission of The Bill Bonner Letter. Every month, Bill and I write to readers to show them how to protect their wealth and freedoms from an encroaching Deep State and a financial system vulnerable to collapse. With this in mind, I need to alert you to something…
The next stock market crash is looming. But I believe this next crash won’t be an accident. It will be planned by a group right here in America. You may not want to believe that. I didn’t want to believe it. But if you have any money in U.S. stocks, then you need to read this warning.
A Billionaire Bets Big on Gold
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And read also…
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In the mailbag, readers consider the importance, and danger, of tradition…
You are becoming more insightful by the day. The following is almost breathtaking in its eternal truth: “Aren’t they smart enough to figure things out for themselves, they ask? In a word: No.” The evil human resources manager Catbert from the cartoon Dilbert said some time ago, “Here’s an important trend: People aren’t getting any smarter.” Also, I intend to use the following recent insight whenever I can: “If you want a real catastrophe, you need the government.” Without attribution, of course. Thank you.
– Mark H.
In your recent Diary, you fail to see how tradition alone can be hazardous to the well-being of anyone advocating its authority without the mindfulness of discernment. Reductionist thinking is also a dangerous pursuit when it fails to see the error of its ways. To transcend and include tradition, while at the same time reviewing and excluding that which no longer serves one’s wholehearted interest and well-being, requires not only a truly individuated thinking mind, but also an integrated body-mind.
Only ultra-right-wing ideologues are in danger of accepting tradition as the sole authority for determining how life is to be lived. Don’t toss the babies out with the bathwater. Just toss the toxic water and refresh.
– John D.
Meanwhile, Dan Denning’s most recent edition of The Bill Bonner Letter receives praise…
I found Dan Denning’s article very interesting today, partly because of having read and reread Sir John Glubb’s The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, and partly because of having secured a Hungarian passport in the recent past. I’ve felt for some time now that ’Murica has been involved in keeping competitors on their heels and has not been, as the media would have you believe, “promoting democracy and freedom to the oppressed.”
I also think that ’Murica’s “leaders” have been strip-mining the economy at the expense of future generations. I feel that both Russia and China are in the “commerce” stage of Glubb’s six ages of empire and that both have come to the realization that trade makes nations wealthy and that warfare bankrupts them. And while Western media likes to portray Viktor Orbán as a “strongman” and Hungary as the next possible Ukraine, Hungary has been quietly making trade agreements with damn near everyone on the planet, except the U.S. How about an expert’s review of Hungary and its possible future? Thanks for producing great material.
– Bob B.
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