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Who Is This Guy?

A couple of weeks ago my adult son returned to Louisiana from the UAE to participate in one of his friend’s wedding.  I invited him to lunch at the Downtown (KDTN) airport near my office.  Since the cooks had taken control of the thermostat in the little café the air conditioning was working overtime and it was uncomfortably cold.  We opted to sit outside on one of the picnic tables next to the parking ramp for the transit airplanes and enjoy the sun.


There on the ramp of the little commuter airport was a bright shinny Gulfstream G5 with USCG painted on the side and the engines idling.  Being inland about 260 miles from the Gulf of Mexico we don’t normally see too many USCG airplanes in our part of the world.  We certainly don’t see any G5’s at the downtown airport as the larger municipal airport has a much longer runway and BAFB is just across the river with an 11,000’ runway and is a military airbase more suitable for the USCG.  We asked our waitress who was visiting.  She said that she would ask and let us know when she brought our hamburgers in a few moments.


The Gulfstream G-V is no small business jet.  The price tag starts at $55M and goes up from there.  It carries 16 passengers with a crew of 3 on the flight deck and 2 stewards.  It travels at 600 mph and can travel about 7,000 statute miles (which is adequate for a transatlantic crossing).   We both wondered what the USCG who is tasked with protecting the US coastal regions needed such an airplane for in its mission.  This plane was suitable for the Sultan of Brunei or Prince Albert of Monaco. 



Just as our hamburgers arrived and we were informed that the plane was for Jeh Johnson a parade of sorts arrived.  We quickly googled Jeh Johnson and found out that he was the Secretary of Homeland Security and 18th in the presidential succession line.  We looked up and saw 6 motorcycle policemen, followed by 6 black SUVs with blacked out windows, followed by 4 white SUVs with blacked out windows (carrying LA State Police officers), followed by 2 airport security cars. The terminal doors flew open and a covey of security men in suits ran onto the ramp and all talked into their sleeves at once.  The white SUVs circled the plane and parked between the airplane and the terminal building.  LA State Troopers jumped out of the white SUVs in BDUs and took up positions. 


My son and I looked around at the sleepy little airport and it seemed that we were the only ones near the ramp sitting on the other side of the 3’ cyclone fence trying to eat our hamburgers.  Apparently one of the troopers thought we looked threatening with our hamburgers and while about 20 yards away from us, drew his weapon and placed it under his elbow in a strange sort of threatening way without pointing it directly at us and taking aim.  We stared back and VERY SLOWLY chewed our hamburgers.  Chris said he couldn’t wait to get back to the Middle East next week where he could feel safe again.  We both just sat there afraid to make a sudden moves that might earn us a bullet.  Secretary Johnson and an admiral (he looked like an admiral anyway) boarded the airplane and they spooled up the engines and taxied off in short order.  After they had taxied clear the troopers and the men in suits talking into their sleeves relaxed and left.  We finally breathed a sigh of relief and quickly ate our lunch and left before someone else showed up.


We both noticed that the Secretary of Homeland Security who is over the watchful TSA did not go through any type of airport security.  No metal detector or radiation machines for the Secretary.  We also commented that this guy was not even an elected official - just an appointed bureaucrat.  I looked up on the internet and saw that the USCG not only has one G-5 but TWO (designation C-37A).  It seems that the Secretary of Homeland Security has one and the Commandant of the Coast Guard has a second one.  (Apparently these guys don’t know how to share.)  And why do they need a $55 million dollar airplane.  The biggest Learjet can carry 8 passengers with a crew of two and travels just as fast.  The Learjet only costs $21M.  The new Honda business jet carries 5 passengers with a crew of two, travels 15% slower but only costs $4.5 million dollars.  But on second thought, since he is a public SERVANT, why couldn’t he fly commercial.  Heck, I would even pay for a couple of first class tickets so he and the admiral could get one of the big comfy chairs up front.  Of course he would then have to wait in line and be subject to all the TSA security checks that he is responsible for providing to keep the rest of us safe when we travel.  This is a picture that I would like to see - the Secretary himself getting groped by one of his blue-gloved men at a security checkpoint.


My son mentioned that while in Dubai last month he happened upon Sheikh Maktoum’s car in front of a hotel while he was in the hotel lobby.  He looked around and saw a mountain of a man in a white robe that could have been an NFL linebacker.  He asked him, “Is that the Sheik Mo’s car?”  To which he replied that it was.  He spoke briefly with the bodyguard who was very respectful and polite for a few minutes.  The guard asked my son where he was from and when he answered the United States he immediately stated that he had never been there and would not go there.  The guard said the US looked to be a very dangerous place.  My son assured him that it was just a matter of avoiding the bad parts and that by and large it was fairly safe.  He then told him he had to get ready for their departure.  The Sheik appeared from his appointment with a colleague at a public restaurant and then walked to his car with a small security team, waved to the people and drove off.  No fanfare, no drawn guns, no hugh security detail with 50 armed men; just the Prime Minister of the UAE, ruler of Dubai and one of the world’s wealthiest men at $14B who is well loved among his subjects walking to his car and going about his business in his own country.


We later talked about the contrast and how US presidents used to walk among the citizens and visit with them.  President Truman left office and went home to Missouri without benefit of any security detail.  He took his morning walks and would visit with anyone who stopped to say hello.  The secret service finally put one man with him when he went out in public after a couple of months.  When did our leaders become aloof rulers too good to mingle with the unwashed masses?  We certainly want to protect our president but God forbid that if something did happen to him we have a clear succession all the way down to Jeh Johnson (#18 in line) just in case.  We certainly would not be thrown into anarchy.  I understand that the president has a security detail and the vice president but when did everyone all the way down to the 18th in line get security details?  When did past presidents, their wives, their children, aunts, uncles and cousins get security details?    


Where does it all end?  We are in debt up to our eyeballs and borrowing more every second so we can go even deeper into debt.  Whenever anyone mentions cutting the budget we are told that we must cut tours to the White House, cut COLAs for social security, cut Veteran’s benefits.  Why don’t we ever talk about cutting personal jets (BIG EXPENSIVE ONES) for every cabinet member and brass hat in government service?  Why don’t we ask if we really need 6,500 employees in the Secret Service (3,200 special agents)?  This is not even counting the US Marines that also provide protection services to the President.  Why don’t we ask if the first Lady needs a personal staff of 26 people?  Mamie Eisenhower only had a single secretary and they had to deduct her pay from Ike’s salary.  Where did we get the idea that everyone in government was automatically royalty?


There will be an end one day, as things that cannot go on forever simply will not continue to do so.  But in the meantime Mr. Secretary, can’t you and the Commandant of the Coast Guard just agree to share the same jet?


by Larry LaBorde

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Secession and the Crimea

It seems that the last thing the internet needs right now is another story on the Crimea but this is an older story.


Doug Casey once said he thought there should be 7 billion independent countries in the world - one for every human being on the planet.  Just what is a country?  The first thing that comes to mind is a group of people with a common culture that live in the same place that voluntarily band together for their mutual benefit.  Sounds about right.  However, how can 300+ million people in the US have a common culture?  Can we even say that we all live in the “same” place?  We are arguing about if we even speak the same language and can talk to each other in English.   Cultural wars tear at the very fabric of our society.  Some claimed that NAFTA was an effort to join the US, Canada and Mexico into a super government.  Is this going in the right direction?  Should countries be bigger to form super powers so that they can project vast military power around the world for the sake of controlling others?  That seems to be the trend in the last 100 years or so.


Even in the United States, which was formerly known as the united States (lower case u), national power has trumped State sovereignty over the last 150 years.  After the War of Independence, England signed 13 separate peace treaties with the colonies.  The War Between the States was literally a war between independent sovereign states.  Visit the battlefields and you will see monuments that were erected to honor individual State armies. The war was fought with separate State armies under a unified command much like the UN today.  Each State had its own officers and chain of command.  They fought as individual armies and orders from the unified command were given and went down the chain of command in each State army.  At the beginning of the war General Lee was offered command of the united States unified command but turned it down because he could not fight against his native State of Virginia.  He considered himself a citizen of Virginia first.  So very different from today where individual states are mere political subdivisions of the United States Government.  Before the 17th amendment to the constitution Senators were appointed by the State governors to serve as the governor’s ambassadors to Washington.  Senators served at the pleasure of the governor and could be recalled.  The 17thamendment weakened the power of the individual State governors.


It seems that the Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from the Ukraine.  The big question is, “Can they do that?”.  It is indeed a big question.  It is the same question that is on the tip of millions of tongues around the world.  In Europe there are dozens of major secession movements and hundreds of smaller ones.  In the UK, Scotland is voting to break free soon.  Will they be allowed to go peacefully?  In Spain the Catalonia region with its different culture wants to be self-governing.  In Turkey the Kurds want their right to self-determination.  Venice wants to break away from Italy.  Across the Atlantic in Canada the Quebec region has wanted independence for years.  In the United States there are several current movements for independence.  In Texas, which was a sovereign country prior to joining the union, there is a growing movement to secede. In New Hampshire the freestate project has been slowly gaining momentum for a few years.  In Alaska, Sarah Palin’s husband has been active in their independence organization.  In Colorado there is currently a push for several counties to break away and form their own state.  California is just a matter of time.  There is also a movement to form a new country out of Washington State, Oregon and BC.  The list goes on and on.


What is the correct size for a country?  Why is Costa Rica or Switzerland a good size and Texas or California is not? 


Is it the business of Washington DC to hold onto a state such as Texas that wants to leave?  Better yet, is it the business of Washington DC to order the Crimea not to leave the Ukraine on the other side of the world?  Perhaps it is time to remove the log from our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from our brother’s eye.  Oftentimes it is so much easier to fix someone else than to take a hard look at our own situation.


What really holds us together as a country?  Some say the main glue that has subverted the individual State sovereignty is federal revenue sharing - money.  If so, what happens when the checks from Washington DC stop coming?  Or if the checks continue to come but they no longer buy anything?  How long would it take more prosperous states to unhitch their wagons from a culture they no longer felt they were a part of anymore?


If you think countries are forever or that borders never change go for a few minutes and watch the old world change before your eyes.


What is our US culture that holds us together?  Is it a belief in God?  Is it a common language?  Is it a belief in rugged individualism and self-determination?  A belief that we can create a better life for our self and our family if we work hard and do the right thing?  It seems that these beliefs are rapidly polarizing the country.  Are we a Godly nation that believes in common law based on the Ten Commandments anymore?  Or does whatever the majority happen to vote upon become the new law regardless of our rights?  Do we have a sense of shared values?  Do we have a national moral compass?  Do we have morals at all?  Are we givers or takers?  Do we look within and to God for solutions or do we look to the State?  Is one world government the answer or is it something smaller and more representative.  If so, how much smaller? 


Is the State the servant of the people (who have banded together for mutual benefit) or just “raw force” required to keep the peace between different cultures like Tito did in Yugoslavia for decades after WWII?  What is a country?  It is a serious question that requires serious thought.  Once the bribes from Washington DC stop how long will ours survive?  Will we be allowed to peacefully organize according to culture and beliefs in smaller groups or will the answer be raw power and force?  Heaven help us all (all 7 billion of us).


by Larry LaBorde

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Pray for $500/oz Gold

Most responsible adult Dads buy life insurance to protect their loved ones. It is a strange bet we make on our own life.  We bet we die young to win but hope and pray we die old and lose our bet.


Gold is somewhat the same financial bet.  No one really wants to see gold hit $10,000/oz next year because of what it would take to get there.  We would be rich but live in a poor world surrounded by misery. 


So we place our bet and hope we lose.  In other words, we buy gold and pray it goes to $500/oz.  We pray for a long, happy, healthy financial world to live and raise our children.


What would a world with $500/oz gold look like?


It would be a world with a strong USD brought about by a surplus in federal / state / local government budgets across the country.  Where the government debt is slowly shrinking instead of growing by leaps and bounds.


It would look like a country with full employment in good manufacturing, mining & agricultural jobs that create wealth for everyone.


It would look like balanced trade with the rest of the world instead of a staggering trade deficit that keeps getting larger.


It would look like a Federal Reserve with a much lower profile that doesn’t conjure up $1 trillion / year out of thin air.  (Maybe no Federal Reserve at all?)


It would look like a much smaller government in general with much lower taxes and no income tax on labor.


It would look like a world where the government did not spy on its own citizens and make numerous laws that made criminals of us all.


It would look like locally owned healthy banks on Main Street and much smaller investment banks on Wall Street.


It would look like personal responsibility with medical savings accounts instead of Obama-care.


It would look like our troops at home defending our shores from foreign invaders instead of our government using them to fulfill its lust for money and power under the guise of chasing boogey men around the world.


It would look like a stable monetary system that held its value that allowed citizens to save without fear of inflation stealing their savings.


It would look like more privately owned small business owners who invest their profits at home and less multi-national corporations moving capital and factories offshore.


It would look like a country filled with Christian men and women who love God and care about one another.  With capable leaders of high moral values that put their country’s welfare above their own.


That’s what a world with $500/oz gold would look like.  So don’t worry about the short-term volatility.  Just place your bet.  Buy gold at whatever price you can while you can.  Then pray for it to please drop to $500/oz.  I wouldn’t mind losing that bet at all.


Larry LaBorde

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Cry for Argentina

Cry for Argentina

In 2002, my wife Puddy and I traveled to Argentina for a business trip. We traveled south a few days early and toured Buenos Aires before our conference. We found Argentina a delightful tourist destination. The beautiful city of Buenos Aires compares favorably to other cosmopolitan cities that we have visited. We found the people polite, well-dressed, prosperous and friendly.

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Detroit; Suicide or Murder?

The lovely Miss Puddy once again accompanied me on another trip.  This time the destination was Detroit.  I wanted to see the famous Detroit Institute of Art before the bankruptcy judge ordered all the pieces to be sold.  There has been a lot of ink spilled on Detroit recently.  While visiting the city I read Charlie LeDuff’s new book, “Detroit, an American Autopsy” which I highly recommend.

Many people feel Detroit did itself in with unions, municipal corruption and incompetent industrial leadership.  In other words, a death by its own hand.  It is comforting to sit at a distance and say Detroit was a suicide and therefore it cannot happen here.  But be careful for as LeDuff writes, “Go ahead and laugh at Detroit.  Because you are laughing at yourself.”

A closer inspection reveals the problem in one small word – JOBS or lack thereof.  The deindustrialization of the country and especially Detroit is really the heart of all its troubles.  Since Detroit was the biggest industrialized city in the country it only makes sense that Detroit was hit hardest and hit first.

No amount of government bailouts, downtown revitalization, reform governments or bankruptcy courts will fix this problem.  There is only one solution – JOBS.

It seems that they moved the factories overseas or south of the border but forgot to take the workers with them.  Now the city is filled with empty houses and idle hands.  Less than half the adult population works at a steady job.  With joblessness comes the desperate feeling that all hope is lost.

LeDuff talks about the hard dollar and the easy dollar.  No one wanted to work for the hard dollar – those guys were chumps.  Everyone wanted the easy dollar – the hustler.  Detroit was built on the hard work of men that wore white socks, looked at the pictures of their grandchildren and worked “one more day” in horrible conditions for 30+ years.  The new generation wants to hustle for the easy dollar.

It seems that everyone from the boardroom to city hall to the scrap dealers want to make one last big score on their way out of town because they all realize this is the end of the line.  That is why CEOs of dying corporations get their $10,000,000 bonus checks even when the company is losing money.  Why City Hall is a feeder program for the prison system.  Why the fire department has a strange symbiotic relationship with midnight scrap dealers.  (They scrappers burn the buildings partially to expose the copper wiring and plumbing making it easier to steal.)

Trying to fix Detroit by fixing these problems is like cutting at the branches.  To fix the problem you have to hack at the root – JOBS.  The deindustrialization of the country and Detroit in particular is what has caused this nightmare.

In order for a society to have wealth it must create wealth.  There are only 3 main ways to do this:  manufacturing, mining and farming.  Service industry jobs are great but an economy cannot be built on doing each other’s laundry and cutting each other’s hair.  Someone must make something, grow something or dig something out of the ground.  It is just that simple.  Mining, manufacturing and agriculture are what create wealth.  The service industry is where we spend our wealth.  All “jobs” are not the same.  It is critical that we have more jobs in the wealth creation sector.

Many new economists of the last couple of decades talk of our consumption economy.  Talk about rubbish!  What family ever spent themselves into prosperity?  President GW Bush even mailed out $600 cash to families after 911 to stimulate our economy.  He said to be patriotic and go buy that new SUV.  Well if $600 per family was good for the economy why not $6,000, why not $6,000,000 per family?  Because spending our wealth will not make us prosperous.  Only jobs that lead to the creation of wealth will ultimately raise the standard of living.  The only businesses storefronts that seemed to be open in Detroit are tattoo parlors, liquor stores, hair/nail salons and a few convenience stores with bars on the windows.  These are hardly wealth generating industries.

Our balance of trade shows that we used to export goods all over the world.  The wealth of the world flowed into our cities as we provided food, manufactured goods and mined products for ourselves and sent the excess to others.  The bottom chart shows that after WWII our trade surplus skyrocketed.  At that time we had virtually the only major economy that was not bombed into oblivion.  As the world rebuilt we still exported our surplus until a funny thing happened.


In 1971 President Nixon took us off the gold standard.  Now we no longer had to balance our books or pay the price of our gold reserves going overseas.  We could just print money at no cost and buy things from around the world.  We could write IOUs and spend them everywhere.  It was good to have the world reserve currency along with the largest military in the world.  After Nixon came the OPEC oil shocks where oil jumped up 70%.  Again in 1979 OPEC hiked prices.  The chart clearly shows that we started importing more and more than we exported.  Our IOU’s made up the difference.  Our national debt, corporate debt and personal debt grew.

The chart below shows the number of manufacturing jobs in the US.  Note that the number peaked around 1979 and has been slowly dropping ever since.   The last time the number of manufacturing jobs was this low was the mid 1940’s.  At that time our population was less than half of its present size so manufacturing jobs as a percentage of the workforce is much worse than this chart reflects.

There is a slight bump in the numbers at the right hand side of the chart but only because the government BLS has played with the numbers.  Now they consider “building a hamburger” at McDonalds to be “manufacturing”.  It is clear that the number of true manufacturing jobs is going down even while the population is growing.

It is no coincidence that the middle class has been losing ground.  The middle class has lost purchasing power and its standard of living since it peaked in 1979 (the same year that manufacturing jobs peaked).  You just cannot equate a job building a refrigerator with a job serving ice cream.  One creates wealth and the other is a luxury as a result of that wealth.  The jobs are not the same and yet both figure into the employment number the same.

When we drove through Detroit inside the city limits there were places that looked like Beirut after it was bombed.  We saw houses and buildings crying out to be demolished but no money to do so.  Some homeowners have tried to take matters into their own hands and have burned down crack houses and blocked the streets so the fire department could not put them out.  But once outside of the city limits the suburbs looked like most suburbs all around the US.  A surreal contrast to what was going on just a few blocks away.  However, if I am right, those suburbs may not be as safe as they seem now.

The only thing that can save Detroit and the rest of the country from what is coming is JOBS.  Not just jobs at McDonalds or the dry cleaners but manufacturing jobs, mining jobs and farming jobs.  It is too easy to say that we cannot complete with China or India or whomever because of low wages but what about Germany?  They seem to be exporting more than they import.  We have to have modern factories with the most productive equipment in the world for our workers.  The only way we can pay more to our workers than Chinese workers are paid is to out produce them.  It is going to take a lot of capital to rebuild the US industrial base.  Many factories are just hanging on and not reinvesting in more competitive machines because of fear and uncertainty.  It is going to take real leadership and a realization that things cannot continue as they are now.  We are going to have to look down on the hustler and glorify the worker that actually produces wealth in this country.  But first, we must stop the deindustrialization that is still taking place at a record rate in the US.

Maybe the best solution for Detroit was proposed by the Free-Man’s Perspective in the following article from July 2013.  In the article the author proposes that the City of Detroit be declared a tax free zone and to close down the government and privatize everything.  Manufacturing inside Detroit would be free of all taxes.

It would be the best way to bring real jobs back into the city that I can imagine.  Of course what if it did work?  Why not extend the solution to all of our troubled cities?  Why stop there?


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The Prozac Gold Market and the Government Shutdown

iStock_000020597445_ExtraSmallWhy aren’t we seeing more volatility in the metals markets? A couple of months ago, Cyprus (Russia’s anointed “Switzerland-lite”), proved that first world banking systems aren’t completely against confiscation or “one-time taxes.” It’s also been reported that Russia and China are “stacking” metals to strengthen their own currencies and perhaps to make a play at some form of alternate reserve currency basket. The U.S. “petrol dollar” is also being threatened by Russia as the U.S. and Russia fight for who gets to control potential future Syrian pipelines. FInally, the U.S. government is currently shut down.

In the case of the shutdown, it’s not an extremely difficult logic train to see that the U.S. dollar is headed for disaster:  Wall Street is at the mercy of the Fed...which is at the mercy of the Treasury Department ...which is at the mercy of the kindergarten Congress...which is has shut down most of the government and is full of people who are not capable of compromise. All of this serves as the backdrop to metals markets that appear to be in suspended animation compared to the looming level of instability in the financial world.  So the question is, why is the gold/dollar relationship so stable? Continue Reading

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Lessons from the Mother Country

Hot Air Balloon image for Lessons from the Mother Country article_Silver Trading CompanyLast month, the lovely Miss Puddy once again accompanied me on a trip back to the mother country.

As some of you know, I am a seventh generation French colonist living in Louisiana. I was the first generation in my family not to learn French as my primary language. Although I speak very little French even to this day, the mere sound of it reminds me of my long-gone grandmother and numerous aunts and uncles. I can remember my father enjoying visiting with his family when I was a child just so he could once again talk the language that he first learned as a child. (My mother never spoke French, so it was never spoken in our home as I grew up.) My father only learned English when he began primary school. He said he got in trouble many times for not knowing how to speak English, but he caught on quickly because he was punished at school for speaking French. My grandmother, however, struggled with English and was always more comfortable speaking French. Continue Reading

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Sixty-fifth Wedding Anniversary

Mr. and Mrs. O.C. LaBorde as newlyweds.

Mr. and Mrs. O.C. LaBorde as newlyweds.

The author offered these remarks on the occasion of his parents’ sixty-fifth wedding anniversary in 2010 before a large contingent of LaBordes.

We are here tonight to honor our parents’ love and commitment to each other for the past 65 years.  Their dedication to each other and their family is rare today.

Modern popular culture seems to appeal to mankind’s worst impulses through profanity and obscenity in the arts, literature and modern media.  It has depicted decadence and debauchery as normal and desirable.

Here tonight are two people who have bestowed upon us a cultural inheritance of the permanent things that order and sustain a Christian life: faith, family, traditions, community, loyalty, courage and honor.

If the opposite of love is not hate, but power (an insight variously attributed to Carl Jung and C.S. Lewis), to truly love someone you must empower him or her.  Not hold power over him.  In this regard, I can certainly say that I have been truly loved by both my parents.

But what exactly did happen 65 years ago in that church in Alexandria?  It was a union of two families and two cultures.  Who were those families?

The LaBorde family originated in France, first appearing in southeastern France near Forez and Lyon then migrating over to southwestern France near Bordeaux.  Dr. Pierre LaBorde, my fourth great-grandfather, came to Louisiana with about 50 other French families when it was still a French colony.  They landed in New Orleans then went upriver to Point Coupee Parish, where they settled for a few years.  After a great flood, they all relocated to Avoyelles Parish where they remained for several generations.  My father was the first of his lineage to leave the old French outpost and once again travel to a foreign land.  He moved to North Louisiana. Continue Reading

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Richard Feynman: Nuclear Physicist and Safe Cracker

Safe with Open Door_Silver Trading Company_iStock_000016460757_ExtraSmallMany years ago, my father was the part owner of a local bank. When I would accompany him to the bank as a young boy, the big vault door always fascinated me. I would stand next to the open door and study the lock workings through the glass panel on the back of the door, hoping eventually to figure out how to crack its secrets. Years later, I purchased the old cash safe out of that same vault and now have it on display in my office as an antique.

That old safe frequently comes to mind because one decision that a gold and silver investor has to make is where to keep the darn stuff. There are several options. You can put your cache in a bank safe deposit box, you can leave it on deposit with your broker, you can bring it home and lock it up in your own safe, you can hide it, you can invest in a fund that sells shares of gold stored in a bonded vault, you can buy mining shares, you can buy futures and so forth. The list is almost endless.

If you are investing for security, however, there is nothing like having a little gold and silver at home in a safe so that you can always get to it regardless of what happens. I am not talking about having large portions of metals stored at home, but modest amounts. If that thought makes you jittery, just think of what you have stored in your garage in “rolling stock.” Most people do not think twice about leaving their $40,000 car outside in the driveway. You need only simply take reasonable precautions with a reasonable amount of metals, beyond that you move on to other investing venues. Continue Reading

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Anarchists are bad guys?

My wife, the lovely Miss Puddy, accompanied me to the latest Sherlock Holmes movie last night.  In the movie, a series of bombings, supposedly perpetrated by anarchist, was terrorizing Europe.  It got me thinking, what is an anarchist?


Dictionaries define anarchists as people who rebel against government or other authorities or “powers that be,” especially by using violent actions to overthrow the government.  I don’t agree with an individual’s using violence to get rid of a Senator or mayor or President he doesn’t care for (much less the whole government!), but I do support the idea of resisting too much government intervention in our lives.


If anarchists are people who want no government at all, it follows that the opposite of communism (the 100% control of society by government) is anarchy (the 0% control of society by government).  Jefferson envisioned a society in which freedom would flourish to be somewhere around 10% control of society by government.  In his model, government would act as a referee to arbitrate contracts in the courts and to provide for mutual defense as well as to secure private property rights.  This is an oversimplification of his aims, but it does reflect what I see as the amount of government that is appropriate for enabling freedom to exist.


Socialism, on the other hand, probably sees somewhere between 50% to 90% government control of society.  In my estimation, under Obama’s governing philosophy, government organizations bumped control of our society to about 65%. In the past year alone, thousands of new laws were passed that further restricted society.


Every time our lawmakers pass a new law or a new rule, we relinquish a little more freedom and march a little closer to 100% government control.  God gave Moses only 10 Commandments to follow.  Jesus simplified these to just one law, the Golden Rule.  Somehow government feels the need to expand these with tens of thousands of laws each year!


In the movie V for Vendetta, the main character wears a Guy Fawkes mask and overthrows a future fictional totalitarian government in the UK that controls every aspect of daily life. V tells the people they can manage their own affairs without the help of such an all-controlling government. Admittedly, Guy Fawkes himself was not an anarchist, and most likely the character of “V” was not either, but both represent a move away from oppressive governments.


Perhaps anarchists (people who believe in 0% government control) are not that bad if they can pull us back down the scale closer to Jefferson’s 10% government.


I’ve identified several functions of government that are being done or could be done by the private sector.  Collection of trash is already done privately in many parts of the country.  Many water, gas and other utilities are privatized.  There are private toll roads in some states.  Insurance investigators could look into property crimes.  On a larger scale, the government hires private companies to handle many messy details of the wars it fights.  Money itself could easily be privatized if legal tender laws were abolished; private firms that use digital gold banking accounts could easily facilitate trade without the use of government central banks.  Even space travel is now being privatized.


While extremism is usually bad on both ends of the spectrum, and I don’t endorse the violence some anarchists employ, I do find myself aligned closer to the 10% government envisioned by Jefferson and, therefore, closer to anarchy than the present administration’s 65% control of society, which is closer to communism.  Maybe anarchists aren’t all bad?


“More law, less justice.” — Cicero


“Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves.”  — Unknown

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