If only the IRS’s threat to ‘shut down’ were a promise

This originally was published by The Dollar Vigilante.

The Internal Revenue Service has warned that it may have to shut down. The fact that this was not met by thunderous applause from the American sheeple only shows how communist and brainwashed they are today in the USSA!

In the recent $1.1 trillion spending bill monstrosity, Congress cut the IRS budget by $346 million to $10.9 billion.

Chief Extortion Officer of the IRS, John Koskinen, said a shutdown would mean the IRS would “close the agency for a day, two days, whatever days it would take to close the gap that we can’t otherwise close in a reasonable way.”

He went on to say that the agency estimates each closed day would save $29 million.

If closing it for a day saves $29 million, then why not close it for 365 days of the year?  That’d be a savings of $10.5 billion! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If the IRS were to close completely, it would mean that Americans would have an extra $2.9 trillion in their pockets… or about $9,000 per person… or $36,000 per family of four of extra cash.

Now that would stimulate the economy!

But, the indoctrinated tax slaves say, without income tax who would pay for the Department of Offense to attack, occupy and terrorize countless countries on Earth? And start World War III with Russia?

Or who would pay for Homeland InSecurity to molest, grope and assault people around the country?

Or the NSA to spy on every American citizen in a way that East Germany could only dream of?

Or who would pay for the Department of Injustice to kidnap and put millions of people into rape camps mostly for victimless crimes?

Or who would pay for the Department of Miseducation to indoctrinate children and dumb them down?

Or who would pay for the more than 100,000 employees and contractors for the Department of Energy to… what do they do, anyway?  They don’t actually produce energy.

Or who would pay for the Congress, with a single-digit approval rating, to create more regulations to stifle the economy?

Or who would pay for the White House to have secret kill lists?

Or the CIA to smuggle all the opium from Afghanistan?

DVchart

Or to infiltrate the Cuban hip hop scene to create youth unrest?

Or what about Socialist Insecurity or Medicare and Medicaid?  Well, sorry, if you bought into a communist-style Ponzi scheme and actually counted on it, then it’s your fault… silly commie.

Do you support being extorted?

If you happily pay taxes, then you are what we call a happy slave. Like Mark Cuban.

If you unhappily pay taxes to the world’s largest criminal and terrorist organization in the history of the world, then you are still a slave, but a fearful one who fears being kidnapped and put in a cage if you don’t. If that’s how you feel, then how could you possibly believe you are free or that you live in the “land of the free?”

And if you know you aren’t free, then why aren’t you doing something about it?

After all, it was once said, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

–Jeff Berwick

Who stole $2.5 billion from Americans? The answer might shock you

The criminals in federal and local government will steal your money, even if you’re a law-abiding citizen. Don’t believe it? Just ask Carole Hinders (and 62,000 others), who has run a “modest” cash-only Mexican restaurant for many years. Last year, two IRS agents came to her home to inform her they had stolen $33,000 from her because she deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which the IRS viewed as an attempt to not trigger government reporting by her bank. She thought she was just doing everybody a favor.

“How can this happen?” Hinders asked in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

If you’ve been reading Dollar Vigilante’s blog, you already know the answer to that question. It’s the U.S. government, and it is what the government does. And it is increasing at a frightening pace.

graphic102814The law permitting this was designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash. Of course, honest, hard-working people get caught up in the mix as the government targets business owners and wage earners without any criminal cases against them.

“They’re going after people who are really not criminals,” said former federal prosecutor David Smith, now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. “They’re middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.”

The New York Times reported:

The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by “exceptional circumstances.”

In a statement chief of Criminal Investigation at the IRS, Rich Weber, wrote:

This policy update will ensure that C.I. continues to focus our limited investigative resources on identifying and investigating violations within our jurisdiction that closely align with C.I.’s mission and key priorities.

The IRS isn’t the only government agency practicing theft of people’s money. Other agencies and local police forces have come under fire for the same practice.

The money is seized under a law known as civil asset forfeiture, which enables law enforcement agents to steal your things if you are a U.S. subject. No charges need to be filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of their booty, further incentivizing them to steal.

Weber also noted that Hinder’s practice of making deposits under $10,000 at a time to evade reporting is called structuring, and is illegal regardless of where the funds originated. Depositing $10,000 is not illegal, unless it is done for the specific purpose of avoiding reporting requirements. Apparently, the government doesn’t need to prove you were doing this, though.

All authorities need to steal your money is a bank statement. In a Long Island example of civil asset forfeiture, the police submitted a year’s worth of deposits, ranging from $5,500 to $9.910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that this pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government stole $447,000 from the cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that had been run by one family for 27 years.

“My mom had told me if you keep your deposits under $10,000, the bank avoids paperwork,” one business owner said. “I didn’t actually think it had anything to do with the IRS.”

The candy and cigarette distributor remains a business only thanks to longtime vendors’ extending credit; one has extended $300,000. The government has brought settlement offers to the family requiring the family to give up an “excessive” portion of their money.

“We’re just hanging on as a family here,” Mr. Hirsch said. “We weren’t going to take a settlement, because I was not guilty.”

Another victim of civil asset forfeiture, Army Sgt. Jeff Cortazzo of Arlington, Va., wanted to save money for his daughters’ college costs amid financial crisis. He stored cash in his basement and then in a safe deposit box.

The government seized $66,000. The settlement cost Cortazzo $21,000.

Investigations concerning the use of federal civil forfeiture law by local law enforcement agencies across the United States to raise cash has exposed problems with a routine but rarely discussed police tactic.

Washington Post journalists gathered 43,000 reports from agencies across the United States and wrote that the budgets of police departments and drug task forces are funded by stolen assets, including property and money never involved in a crime.

“Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear,” Robert O’Harrow and Steven Rich wrote for The Post. “They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.”

The WP journalists wrote that Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the paper provided them with a tome of documents that demonstrate police departments spend the stolen money liberally.

“The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program (the Program) is a nationwide law enforcement initiative that removes the tools of crime from criminal organizations, deprives wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes, recovers property that may be used to compensate victims and deters crime,” reads the official DOJ guidelines. “Federal law authorizes the attorney general to share federally forfeited property with participating state and local law enforcement agencies.”

Local and state police receive up to 80 percent of their stolen loot.

“Any state or local law enforcement agency that directly participates in an investigation or prosecution that results in a federal forfeiture may request an equitable share of the net proceeds of the forfeiture,” state the guidelines. “Department of Justice policy requires shared monies and property to be used for law enforcement purposes.”

The tome of documents makes the case clear: “Public servants” steal wantonly.

“The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across the country are benefiting from laws that allow them to take cash and property without proving a crime has occurred,” the journalists stated. “The law was meant to decimate drug organizations, but The Post found that it has been used as a routine source of funding for law enforcement at every level.”

But the money was never used for wrongdoing in the first place.

“Of the nearly $2.5 billion in spending reported in the forms, 81 percent came from cash and property seizures in which no indictment was filed, according to an analysis by The Post,” the paper reported. “Owners must prove that their money or property was acquired legally in order to get it back.”

The Washington Post investigation found that 61,998 cash seizures worth more than $2.5 billion have been made on U.S. highways and elsewhere since Sept. 11, 2001. The departments of Homeland Security and Justice received $880 million of that total, while state and local authorities got the rest. According to the Post investigation, approximately one-sixth of the seizures are challenged in a court of law. And in 41 percent of the challenged cases (more than 4,000 of them), the government agreed to return all or part of the money. The appeals process often took more than a year and required owners of the cash to sign agreements not to sue local police.

–Jeff Berwick

Note: In the TDV Newsletter learn ways around civil asset forfeiture. Put your money where local police thugs can’t find it.

Ben Bernanke is addicted to debt and gambling and he needs help

“I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful …” — Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke is addicted to a drug called credit and he can’t get enough.

The former Federal Reserve chairman disclosed this month that he was turned down when he tried to refinance his home. I had to double-check to make sure I was not reading The Onion. I was not. It was Bloomberg.

Bloomberg News reported that Bernanke, speaking to a crowd in Chicago, revealed, “I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so.”

After the audience laughed, Bernanke responded: “I’m not making that up.”

“I think it’s entirely possible” that lenders “may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions,” he said.

As head of the central banking mafia’s Federal Reserve System, Bernanke was publicly paid $199,750 per year and earned $250,000 in March for his first public speaking engagement since stepping down in January. Bernanke also apparently received $1 million to write his memoirs.

Bernanke has a $672,000 mortgage on a three-bedroom townhouse he owns near Capitol Hill, a mortgage he has refinanced two times, most recently last September. He and his wife bought it for $839,000 in 2004. That means that after 10 years Bernanke managed to pay down 24 percent of the total mortgage amount — meaning, if he kept up that pace, not including compound interest, it would take him more than 40 years to pay off his house.

Bernanke is now 60 years old, and he wants another 30 years to pay it off! That means he is hoping to pay it off by the time he is 90. It’s almost no wonder he got declined!

The failure to refinance his mortgage is just one part of the Bernanke family’s problem with debt, as he recently testified to Congress that his son, who is in medical school in New York, will likely rack up $400,000 worth of student loan debt to get his degree.

It appears he has enough money to pay off the mortgage given his book income and speaking fees (although after tax it may not be enough) and Bernanke may be just taking advantage of the tax deduction on mortgage payments as well as using his free cash to gamble in a stock market that is a pin prick away from a massive collapse.

If that is in fact the case, and the market does collapse by 30 percent to 50 percent (as many like Jim Rickards are expecting), then Bernanke will be wiped out. Which would be rather appropriate as so would tens or hundreds of millions of others!

So, in that respect you do have to give credit (no pun intended) to Bernanke. He is walking the talk. He believes everyone should go into massive debt and speculate in things like the wildly overvalued stock market and he is doing it himself. As we’ve said before, Keynesianism is a form of brain damage and Bernanke appears to have profound Keynesianism dementia.

He seems to believe that there should never be a limit to how much debt one should have. “I think it would be a good thing if we didn’t have it,” Bernanke once said of the debt ceiling.

His policies at the Fed have caused a large amount of the U.S. public to follow in his footsteps, unfortunately.

Overall borrowing by the U.S. consumer rose $13.5 billion in August following a revised $21.6 billion increase in July, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. The rise has pushed total consumer debt to a record level of $3.25 trillion.

consumer credit graphic

Contrast Bernanke’s and the American public’s position with that of Ron Paul, whose net worth was calculated at between $2.1 million and $5.2 million in 2012 and who has no debt that we can find. The former Texas congressmen has stakes in companies like Barrick Gold Corp, Newmont Mining Corp. and Pan American Silver Corp. He has done very well over the years. Paul started investing in the gold sector in the 1970s! The former congressman’s portfolio looks much more like our portfolio in the TDV Newsletter than Bernanke’s portfolio of debt. Knowing that helps me sleep at night.

And so, maybe it was a good thing Ben was turned down for yet another refi of his mortgage. He is a man suffering from the plague of two addictions. His addiction to debt which fuels his addiction to gambling.

Hopefully, one day soon he makes that call to deal with his problems. Unfortunately, the problems he has created for everyone else in the U.S. by creating easy money and the ability for the U.S. government to go into massive debt will not be so easily fixed. There is no hotline or remedy for that except what we prescribe here and to get into precious metals and expatriate as much of your wealth (and self) outside of the blast zone of the U.S. as possible.

When this debt-fueled gambling spree ends it will end in tears for all except those who prepared themselves for it and protected their wealth and self from its inevitable collapse.

–Jeff Berwick

Anarcho-Capitalist. Libertarian. Freedom fighter against mankind’s two biggest enemies, the state and the central banks. Jeff Berwick is the founder of The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of TDV Media & Services and host of the popular video podcast, Anarchast. Berwick is a prominent speaker at many of the world’s freedom, investment and gold conferences as well as regularly in the media including CNBC, CNN and Fox Business.

The terrorist flavor of the month

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting. — George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia”

President Obama has scammed the world into war again. He is unlikely to repeat the facilitating lie this time, however. It was too thoroughly and quickly debunked for him to take the risk. Besides, there is no need. Iraq and Syria are already being bombed. Instead, the lie is now forgotten, except by critics of Obama or of war.

The lie and why the liars told it

In early September, as he prepared to bomb Iraq and Syria without approval from Congress or the United Nations, Obama faced a dilemma. America had been actively at war for 13 years, ever since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. The public was war-weary. And the public would be voting Republican or Democrat in only two months’ time. How could he bomb with public support and without losing the election?

The situation was especially problematic for three reasons. There was general consensus that the new military front on terrorism would consume years and might require U.S. boots on the ground. Iraq and Syria posed no provable or imminent threat to the American homeland nor did they commit an act of war. And Obama had no constitutional, congressional, U.N. or other authority to launch yet another war.

In an article posted on Sept. 28 and titled “The fake terror threat used to justify bombing Syria,” journalists Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain explained how Obama solved his dilemma:

The solution to both problems was found in the wholesale concoction of a brand new terror threat that was branded “The Khorasan Group.” After spending weeks depicting ISIS as an unprecedented threat — too radical even for Al Qaeda! — administration officials suddenly began spoon-feeding their favorite media organizations and national security journalists tales of a secret group that was even scarier and more threatening than ISIS, one that posed a direct and immediate threat to the American Homeland. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new terror group was created in media lore.

(Note: Khorasan is a former province of Iran. The term is sometimes used to reference a more general Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran region.)

The meticulous stripping of the lie came only 15 days after its debut. The debut: On Sept. 13, about a week before the bombing of Syria began, The Associated Press drew upon unnamed officials and classified (undisclosed) U.S. Intelligence assessments to warn of a new and deadlier terrorist threat:

At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.

In addition, according to classified U.S. intelligence assessments, the Khorasan militants have been working with bomb-makers from al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate to test new ways to slip explosives past airport security. The fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights.

The Obama administration has said that the Islamic State group, the target of more than 150 U.S. airstrikes in recent weeks, does not pose an imminent threat to the continental U.S. The Khorasan group, which has not been subject to American military action, is considered the more immediate threat.

In an Antiwar.com article posted on Sept. 28 and titled “They’re Making Up Stuff,” Justin Raimondo explained the new group’s importance to Obama:

What’s so fearsome about “Khorasan”? Well, they couldn’t care less about establishing a Caliphate, because, you know, that’s so 632, and as for overthrowing Assad, the Khorasanians won’t stoop to conquer. No, nothing less than an attack on America, preferably using an airliner as a weapon of choice, will do. What they lack in originality they more than make up for when it comes to the all-important Imminence Factor.

Problems 1 and 2 were diminished, if not entirely solved. Conveniently, the Khorasan group threatened the American homeland with violence, which is a traditional cause of war. The terrorists-on-steroids roused enough public rage and fear to justify an extended campaign against them — or, at least, to quiet or confuse most objections to it.

Still one stumbling block

But what of Problem 3: the lack of Congressional and U.N. approval?

The Congressional problem remains. Congress is not rushing back to vote on war; it will stay on hiatus until after the Nov. 4 election. For one thing, the Republicans who dominate the House are mostly hawkish and probably content enough with the status quo. They are also content to have Democrats absorb blow back or military disasters. Obama chose to bypass Congress so let the fallout land on his shoulders. No wonder Nancy Pelosi, the leading House Democrat, is calling for her colleagues to return early for a war vote. Their absence harms Democrats.

The U.N. problem remains. On Oct. 1, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “on all warring sides in this brutal and bloody conflict to stop the indiscriminate use of any weapons immediately.” He further appealed “to all Syrian, regional and international actors to redouble their efforts to bring this horrific conflict to an end and help reach a long-overdue political solution.”

In short, stop bombing.

Obama has tried to sidestep such criticism by organizing a coalition to support his Syrian policy; this gave the appearance of global consensus. The Daily Mail reported last week that “the U.S. is working with 60 other nations in these attacks against the terrorist group.”

Domestic acceptance is constructed

The path around political problems is to secure popular opinion. The corporate mainstream media lost no time in stirring the panic that promotes war. The airwaves, the Internet and print publications were filled with reports of the Khorasan’s threat to average Americans. On Sept. 20, a New York Times headline declared, “U.S. suspects more direct threats beyond ISIS.” While admitting “[t]here is almost no public information about the Khorasan group,” the article also reported: “American officials said that the group called Khorasan had emerged in the past year as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the United States or its installations overseas with a terror attack.”

On Sept. 23, the Defense of Department (DOD) announced:

Separately, the United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa’ida veterans — sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group — who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations.

Even then, however, voices of skepticism spoke in the background. On the same day as the DOD’s announcement, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace raised a red flag:

The “Khorasan Group” is a term that gained currency only in the past two weeks.

What is being discussed is not a “new terrorist group,” but rather a specialized cell that has gradually been established within, or on, the fringes of an already existing al-Qaeda franchise, the so-called Nusra Front.

The sudden flurry of revelations about the “Khorasan Group” in the past two weeks smacks of strategic leaks and political spin.

As skepticism grew, the corporate mainstream media began to backpedal. On Sept. 25, five days after pushing the Khorasan story, The New York Times questioned the group’s existence. It also observed that official accounts of the threat Khorasan posed “differed” and an attack on the American homeland was now being described as “aspirational” rather than “imminent.”

The pivotal point came on Sept. 28 when Greenwald and Hussain blew the lid off the lie. They did so with such force that even liberal, pro-Democrat outlets such as Democracy Now! began running headlines such as “How the U.S. concocted a terror threat to justify Syria strikes, and the corporate media went along.”

Conclusion

In record time, a lie was born and died. But does the truth matter? The bombing goes on. Perhaps the saga will convince some Americans to vote differently in November. Even if they do, will Republicans be any better on the war issue? Whatever happens in America, the Iraqis and Syrians murdered by bombing raids that were launched will never draw breath again.

–Wendy McElroy

Wendy McElroy is a regular contributor to the Dollar Vigilante and a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of 12 books, the latest of which is “The Art of Being Free”. Follow her work at www.wendymcelroy.com.

The Police State Versus The Market

This article was originally published by The Dollar Vigilante.

The police state has only grown worse in recent decades, and there is a nationwide cover-up of the true details about how many police officers kill people each year. Many newspapers have recently reported the number as 400. But I highly doubt this is accurate, and it seems to me to be grossly underreported. Of course, it is coming from the mainstream media.

A journalist has been attempting a nationwide database on police killings for some time, but the information is not readily available, which I myself have noticed as I have many times tried to find information to bring us such numbers. Journalist D. Brian Burghart wrote about this experience:

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government — not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force — wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

Killing citizens isn’t the only thing local police are good at. They’re great at theft, too.

Philadelphia Coming For Your Home

The city of Philadelphia is trying to steal Chris Sourovelis’ home and the homes of thousands of others in Philadelphia.

In March 2014, Sourovelis’ son was caught selling $40 worth of drugs outside of the family home. His son had no previous arrests or a prior record, but still he was ordered to attend rehab. On the day Sourovelis was driving his son to his first rehab, a frantic call from his wife came through. The police were evicting the family and seizing the house. How? A little-known clause known as “civil forfeiture.”

The family was locked out of their home for one week by law enforcement, and the family was allowed to return home only once they banned their son from visiting and gave up some of their human and constitutional rights. The son has since completed his court-ordered punishment of rehab.

“If this can happen to me and my family, it can happen to anybody,” Sourovelis said.

Civil-forfeiture laws make it so property owners can lose their property for no reason. That’s not hyperbole. No reason whatsoever. The government can steal your property if it says your home has “facilitated” a crime. The government doesn’t sue the owner, it sues the property itself. This leads to bizarre case names: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. The Real Property and Improvements Known as 2544 N. Colorado St.

Doila Welch, also of Philadelphia, faces the same thing as the Sourovelis family. Her family home of 17 years is under threat of state theft because her estranged husband, without her knowledge, sold negligible amounts of marijuana from the home. Welch has not been charged with any crime and her family has joined the Sourovelis family as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is collecting $6 million per year from forfeiture laws. Between 2002 and 2012, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office reportedly stole more than 3,000 vehicles, 1,200 homes and other real estate properties, and $44 million in cash.

Philadelphia is gangster. It’s also taken in $64 million in forfeiture proceedings, equaling one-fifth of the district attorney’s overall budget. Not only a problem in Philadelphia, civil forfeiture takes place across the country.

Cohabit, Go To Jail

The state doesn’t just steal property. It makes criminals out of peaceful people. Have you cohabited with a girlfriend or boyfriend? That is, have you lived with someone of the opposite sex? Well, that’s a crime in Florida.

Chapter 798 of the Florida Statutes states:

798.02 Lewd and lascivious behavior. — If any man and woman, not being married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or if any man or woman, married or unmarried, engages in open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

That means fine or imprisonment.

The ancient law dates back to more than a century ago when the state wanted to make sure people got permission to be together and marry from the government.  The law is still enforced. According to WCTV, almost 770 Florida residents were charged with misdemeanors for living together from 2007 to 2011. In an interesting twist, the law doesn’t apply to same-sex couples.

As the United States has become a police state, new technologies have appeared on the market that aim to help people survive life in the U.S. and western police states. Here is a list of apps at Cop Block. We highly recommend taking a look there to see if something fits your needs. They include apps that scan police radiosm alert you when a police unit is in your area and other innovative free-market uses.

Possibly the best of them all is just in the development stages. I interviewed the developer of the Sidekik App, which is a great tool to survive the police state. Imagine that when the police pull you over, you press a button on your phone and it instantly begins recording and streaming to numerous secure data banks; it records and announces your GPS coordinates; and it immediately pulls up a lawyer waiting on call who can immediately see what you are seeing and shows up live streaming in video on your phone. When the police officer approaches the car, you just hold up the phone and tell him: “I have nothing to say to you, please speak with my lawyer.”

Yes, this technology is almost here! If you or a family member of yours finds yourself in these sort of situations from time to time because the police in your region are extra aggressive, or maybe you have a skin tone other than pearly white, or maybe you are under 40 and wearing a baseball cap, you have to get this app as soon as it is available. It actually comes free on a pay-as-you-go service, or you can just pay a small annual charge if you find yourself in these situations more than once in a blue moon and want the security of knowing the service will be there when you need it.

This interview with the creator of the SideKik app is a must-see, if for no other reason than that it will give you a feeling there is some hope for freedom and humanity.

The government has created a problem: the police. The reaction has been mostly terror. And the private market is coming up with nonviolent, pre-emptive solutions.

If a few months from now you see a police officer looking disgruntled as he speaks into a mobile phone to a lawyer who informs him his search is illegal and then he walks away, you can thank apps like this and many more sure to come.

Of course, being videotaped, live streamed and facing a lawyer won’t stop the most bloodthirsty of cops. But even in that case it will be clear as the cop becomes aggressive and grabs the phone, and the last image is of a police-issue boot stomping on it. When they find the victim or body, the whole world will already know what happened.

Riots aren’t needed. Violence isn’t needed. Private enterprise and crypto-anarchists worldwide are finding solutions to peaceably sidestep state aggression.

Who are the bad guys again? Learn more in the TDV Newsletter.

–Jeff Berwick

Snowbirds Flying Into FATCA Trap

This article, by Chris Horlacher, was originally published by The Dollar Vigilante

Many Canadians, referred to as snowbirds, spend three to six months each year in the United States. If they think to consult a tax adviser at all, they’re usually told that as long as they spend less than 183 days per year in the U.S., they can rest assured that they will not be triggering any tax consequences. A brief reading of the U.S. tax code would appear to verify this statement; however, there is a nuance that threatens to trap snowbirds in the IRS’s web.

It’s called the substantial presence test, and it’s a second layer of the standard test performed by the IRS in order to determine residency. Not only can you not exceed 183 days in United States for the current year, but after adding in one-third of the prior year’s days and one-sixth of the second preceding year’s days that total is not allowed to exceed 183 either. What this means is that your annual day allowance is not 183, but 122.

Many snowbirds thinking they’re safe and not triggering any U.S. tax liabilities could be in for a rude awakening come March 2015 when Canadian banks send their first Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) reports to the Canada Revenue Agency for them to forward along to the IRS. Because of FATCA, Canadian banks will now report anyone with ties to the United States, and the likelihood of being deemed a U.S. taxpayer rises substantially.

Being deemed a U.S. taxpayer can quickly become a nightmare. Penalties, interest and professional fees come at a substantial cost; and the IRS is far more aggressive and unforgiving than the CRA. Furthermore, differences in how the two tax systems treat your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) and other tax-sheltered accounts in Canada can rob you of the advantages of using them. Foreign tax credits can be claimed to keep your overall tax liability close to what it has always been, but they’re typically a clumsy way to do this and don’t relieve you of the obligation and costs associated with filing.

How easily can you attract the evil gaze of the IRS? It’s getting quite easy with FATCA. If you have a U.S. address, phone number or any other U.S.-based information on your Canadian accounts, it could likely trigger a report and put you under greater scrutiny. A large number of transactions in the United States could also trigger a report. Once the IRS has you in its sights, your ability to enter and exit the U.S. can be complicated significantly. Through the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, IRS agents can put you on a DHS watch list. For the time being, you won’t be arrested at the border; but you will likely have an uninvited guest from the IRS show up during your stay in the United States.

Luckily, there’s a way to establish your ties to Canada (or any other country) and avoid being deemed a U.S. resident even if you breach the substantial presence test. You won’t have to file a return to the IRS and will get to stay relatively free of the U.S.-tax farm. For that to happen, you have to file an annual form establishing a closer connection to another country.

But what about all the past years where this was not done? Unfortunately, there is no clearly correct approach for all circumstances. You could choose to begin filing the form on a go-forward basis, or do nothing and hope you’re too small for the IRS to bother with. In the event that you do get caught up, there are still things you can do to avoid having to file; but these are very technical and legally complicated.

The best solution may be to simply stop going to the United States. With all that’s happening there, why go at all? The excise taxes you pay while there help subsidize the most evil and expansive criminal syndicate known to humanity. It’s a big world, and perhaps you should explore it more. This may be the easiest and most enjoyable solution of them all.

Chris Horlacher is a contributor to The Dollar Vigilante and a chartered accountant practicing in the Greater Toronto Area. Formerly an auditor to Fortune 500 companies with Deloitte & Touche, he now provides project management and consulting services to mid-sized to large enterprises, specializing in financial institutions. His work has included helping launch a successful stock brokerage, insurance and tech company. Chris is also the vice-chair of the Mises Institute of Canada and an adviser to the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada. His company website is www.mycfoweb.ca.

The Vigilante’s View On Ferguson And The U.S. Police State

Longtime readers of The Dollar Vigilante have probably noticed that TDV is rarely the first to report on non-financial current events. While many, including those in the alternative media, often jump right on a story and add their views to it, TDV tends to watch, analyze and do more research before putting our view on things out into the ether. This isn’t to say that those who jump immediately on a story aren’t doing good work or adding a lot of value, but you will always find a more tempered and more analytical view of things at TDV — often days or weeks after an event has begun, so that we can take in more of a bigger picture. Now, after a week of watching the events transpire in Ferguson, Missouri, TDV is prepared to give our view on what we have seen so far.

Most people know the general backstory, so we won’t rehash that too much. But from our perspective what has happened is that there was a particular event in which a lighter-skinned, armed individual wearing police gang colors got into an altercation and shot six times and killed a local man who had dark skin. Really, the color of the people’s skin is irrelevant for reasons I will explain below.

The evidence to date seems to indicate that the lighter-skinned individual may have been legitimately protecting himself. However, what isn’t discussed very much is that police, in and by themselves, are illegitimate and that they nearly always cause more trouble than they repress. In any case, this set off a wave of events that now have a life of their own, as members of the community in and around Ferguson — much like in many other parts of the United States — have nearly reached their limit with the amount of abuse, extortion and death caused by the police in the U.S.

To somebody who might not pay that much attention to world events, the gist of the situation goes something like this: The police killed a person in the U.S. (who just so happened to be black); people got angry; and so the government jailed many of them, shot them with rubber bullets, tear gassed them and imposed a curfew, taking away more rights of the people. That’s par for the course in “the land of the free.”

The teleprompter reader for the world’s largest and most dangerous terrorist organization, Barack Obama, said: “While I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving in to that anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions. It undermines rather than advancing justice.”

Notice the clever use of words. In his speech Obama lumped stealing (looting), attacking people maliciously and carrying an inanimate object (carrying guns) in the same category. In fact, it was because many people in the area owned guns that most of the looting was quelled.

Many people in the United States think the only reason they are “allowed” to own self-protection aids is because of the 2nd Amendment. That is an obfuscation. Humans have an inherent natural right to life and the right to defend that life. The U.S. Constitution is a piece of paper. If the U.S. Constitution didn’t exist, the rights expounded therein would still exist — although those natural rights are now actively suppressed by the federal government itself.

What is most interesting about the events in Ferguson is the number of true journalists bringing truth to the Internet with live stream broadcasts. This is world-changing. We have access to much more truth today than is normally available through mainstream television. In fact, there are so many independent journalists recording what is going on that one journalist pointed out in a live stream, “Most of the people here are journalists. Last night, for example, when the police began to get aggressive, the number of actual protesters was down to perhaps 15 to 20 people, while there were more than 50 journalists.”

Just some of the live, streaming feeds you can watch each night include Vice News, Infowars and Activist News.

The media — both independent and mainstream and including Al Jazeera America, Infowars, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post and others — have been flagrantly attacked by U.S. authorities.

In one example, an Al Jazeera America crew was setting up to report when police shot at them with rubber bullets, tear gassed them and tore down their equipment. So much for the 1st amendment and “freedom of the press” — another long-lost artifact of the U.S. Constitution.

In the following video, the police make it clear they have no problem beating you up and taking any evidence of it.

The media are not just getting caught up in the crosshairs, they are being systematically targeted. Free speech is dead in the United States. If reporters don’t comply with requests to “turn your cameras off,” they get fired upon with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The military police state has become so acknowledged now that The New York Times recently published an infographic showing which counties in the United States have received what military gear. (Nearly every county has, but click here to see what military equipment your local cops have received).

Even CNN is covering the militarized police state that The Dollar Vigilante has been talking about for years.

The media are quite shocked in some cases at the degree to which the police have been militarized. Mediaite pointed out that CNN’S Jake Tapper was totally floored by the scene in this video:

I want to show you this, okay? To give you an idea of what’s going on. The protesters have moved all the way down there… they’re all the way down there. Nobody is threatening anything. Nobody is doing anything. None of the stores here that I can see are being looted. There is no violence.

Now I want you to look at what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in downtown America, okay? These are armed police, with — not machine guns — semi-automatic rifles, with batons, with shields, many of them dressed for combat. Now why they’re doing this? I don’t know. Because there is no threat going on here. None that merits this. There is none, okay? Absolutely there have been looters, absolutely over the last nine days there’s been violence, but there is nothing going on on this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing.

So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson, Missouri are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn’t make any sense.

The situation has grown so dire that Amnesty International has sent human rights teams to the U.S. for the first time ever and China and Iran have stated their concerns about human rights violations.

The statists who constantly say we need police or there will be chaos and disorder are seeing that this particular chaos and disorder was caused initially by the actions of the police (the shooting of the man and a long period of anger about their actions). Then, there were peaceful protests met by very aggressive police which escalated the situation. There was some looting; but in this case, the police never responded. (This is where you would think they would respond if they really were there to protect life and property.) Then the police escalated even further on peaceful protesters trying to draw them into an all-out battle.

There is no reason to have high expectations of the police. After all, you can actually be too smart to be a cop. That’s right, departments all across the U.S. refuse to hire people who are too smart, presumably because they would question orders and think before shooting unarmed individuals. In other words, there is a maximum IQ to become a police officer. War gear has long been flowing to local police departments, and police in the U.S. have long been paramilitary and not public servants.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that Mike Brown was a person of color. It’s likely that the police officer is racist. But, ultimately, the truth of the matter is that police are killing people of all creed, colors and sexes in the U.S. They’re even burning faces off of babies. The police will kill your grandpa (in his bed), your wife, your mom, your grandma, your dog — it doesn’t matter what color. And they’re doing it with weapons of war. Meanwhile, they are trying to make sure your law-abiding neighbors have less access to guns.

Rob Hustle, who will be the headline musical act at the Anarchapulco freedom festival this coming February in Acapulco, Mexico, distilled the current U.S. police state into one excellent and eye-opening music video.

Sadly, many of the people in Ferguson don’t realize that government and the police are the problem. Countless interviews have been conducted with local activists who say that the way to fix the problem is to “register to vote.” Meanwhile, people are being attacked by the police and government while locals in the community help to quell violence and rioting on their own.

The Dollar Vigilante has been warning for a long time about police militarization, and we’ve been called tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists the whole time. When we said the government was watching and recording your every move, we were laughed at; but now that’s common knowledge. When we warned that police were turning into a Nazi-style Gestapo force, we were laughed at. Today, the government takes little issue with mainstream media showing such images and discussing these things semi-openly because it is likely to further divide the police from so-called “civilians” (everyday people) and continue the cycle of violence.

The only solution to ending this state-created chaos and insanity is to spread information like this as widely as possible so that people can see the real problem isn’t black versus white or Republican versus Democrat. It is people versus the government. And only one of those is an unnecessary evil.

–Jeff Berwick

The Walls Are Crumbling Down Around 9/11; Why?

An absolutely monumental shift is in process that most have not recognized yet. The truth, or at least some truth, is about to be shown to the American masses about 9/11. I say American masses because everywhere I’ve gone in the world outside of the United States, with few exceptions, almost everyone knows that the U.S. government conspiracy theory on 9/11 is for people with tinfoil hats who are either completely zombified or are under mass hypnosis. Most of the rest of the world looks on the U.S. like “The Truman Show” and can’t believe how many people in the show don’t realize it’s not real.

Before we delve into what is about to happen, let’s just take one last look at the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 by one of the great freedom-minded investigative journalists on the planet, James Corbett… because this theory is about to evaporate in front of our very eyes:

It’s hard to believe but there are still millions of people in the U.S. who believe that is what happened.

Two Major Events In Progress

The first event is a 40-minute broadcast that went out on C-SPAN on Aug. 1 with Richard Gage, founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 truth.

This is an absolute must-see interview for the reasons I will explain.

C-SPAN is operated by the National Cable Satellite Corporation, the board of directors of which consists primarily of representatives of the largest cable companies. While you can’t call it “mainstream media” per se, it is available in 100 million households in the United States. Therefore, this is significant.

For 40 minutes, the truth about 9/11 was represented as not being crazy. Instead, it was the exact opposite. It was positioned as highly credible, and six of the seven callers thanked both C-SPAN and Gage for finally bringing forward countless issues with 9/11 to the large segment of the U.S. populace that still thinks something isn’t real unless it is on their television programming.

This is the first time 9/11 has been presented in this way on a U.S.-based network with a significant reach. The only other time the truth about 9/11 has been presented on TV in the U.S. in this light was by RT (formerly known as Russia Today — a Russian government propaganda channel, which mostly distributes the truth about the U.S. but in a pro-Russian light, that is beamed into 644 million homes worldwide and about 85 million homes in the U.S. — when it broadcast the truth about 9/11 on Sept. 8, 2013.

Getting back to the C-SPAN broadcast, on its own it might not be incredibly significant. But when put into context of other events, there is clearly something going on. And we will discuss below what may be going on.

At the same time as this very blunt, pro-truth 9/11 broadcast aired in the U.S. — on the very same day, in fact — news broke that a “Former Senator Says Huge Breakthrough Is Coming With Classified 9/11 Information.”

Former Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who co-chaired a congressional inquiry into 9/11 (separate from the 9/11 Commission), stated, as though now it was obvious: “None of the people leading this investigation think it is credible that 19 people — most who could not speak English and did not have previous experience in the United States — could carry out such a complicated task without external assistance.”

Now, Graham says, a breakthrough may finally be around the corner with the upcoming declassification of 28 pages of the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Remember, as well, that Vladimir Putin threatened in May of this year that he had evidence that 9/11 was an “inside job” and was going to release it after NATO and the U.S. government staged a coup and false flag attack in the Ukraine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tVelO21F9w

This struggle continues on to this day with what appears to be another false flag attack by NATO and the U.S. government in concert with their puppet regime in the Ukraine to down a Malaysian airliner and blame it on Russia (as evidenced here “Evidence Is Now Conclusive: Two Ukrainian Government Fighter-Jets Shot Down Malaysian Airlines MH17″).

So what is really going on and why does there appear to be a sudden opening of the American public’s eyes to some new information on 9/11?

Theories

Of course, with this many things going on — so many covert operations, so much propaganda and misinformation, and so many actors involved — it is hard to say. But something definitely is going on.

These are the three theories that The Dollar Vigilante considers the main possibilities with the most likely being the final one.

But, to start, here is the most optimistic.

The Most Optimistic Theory

I have stated since the advent of the Internet circa 1993 that this would result in the end of all major wars on Earth. It took 20 years to begin to come into fruition — but, of course, most people really did not start using the full, modern capabilities of the Internet until the mid-2000s — but it is finally beginning.

As Arthur Ponsonby wrote in 1928, “When war is declared, truth is the first casualty.” But with the Internet the truth is not so easy to hide. With the global human populace becoming aware and having access to all human knowledge at their fingertips, the result, as summed up by John Kerry, is: “This little thing called the Internet makes it much harder to govern.”

It is clear that never before in recorded history have humans been able to so quickly transfer information, and it is reaching a point where it is going exponential. Quickly after most false flag attacks (within hours), private investigative journalists from around the world are dissecting the information and exposing the lies. This could be seen with the false flag attack in Syria, wherein Turkey, a member of NATO, staged gas attacks in Damascus in August 2013, killing more than 1,300 people. The U.S. quickly tried to pin the gas attacks on the Syrian government. But within days, the global populace was aware that this likely was not what the government said it was. And with a dearth of public opinion to retaliate, the U.S. government could not attack Syria per its plans as laid out by Gen. Wesley Clark shortly after 9/11.

So the most optimistic theory about what is going on right now with soon-to-be-revealed information on 9/11 is that humanity has awoken and the rise of this consciousness among a large part of the human populace is finally driving out the truth and shining the light on the powers that be. And the momentum is too big for even the powers that be to hold back now.

The Most Pessimistic Theory

The most pessimistic theory, or the closest DV can think up, is that this is all part of a greater script in which certain truths about 9/11 will be revealed. And then, quickly, a massive event will so engulf the world in chaos that it will be wiped down the memory hole, much like Donald Rumsfeld announcing that $2.3 trillion was missing from the U.S. Department of Defense on Sept. 10, 2001.

The next day, something blew up the accounting department of the Pentagon as well three towers in New York City; and few people spoke of Rumsfeld’s announcement again.

This time, who knows? All of a sudden, Ebola is the scare of the day. Perhaps Agenda 21’s population reduction is about to swing into full effect.

Or if you want to go down the most extreme road, maybe the rumored Project Blue Beam is about to be unleashed.

According to what some believe, the infamous NASA Blue Beam Project has four different steps in order to implement the new age religion with the Antichrist at its head. We’ll save you the gory details. But it results in a gigantic “space show” with sounds and 3-D holograms — laser projection of multiple holographic images to different parts of the world, each receiving a different image according to the region’s predominant national religious faith. This new “god’s” voice will be speaking in all languages, and the supposed purpose is to scare the world into a new world order.

DV doubts this one. But, as indicated, DV tried to think up the most pessimistic theory, and this is it. So if you see some new god talking to you from outer space in the coming days…

The Most Logical Theory

Given everything that is going on between Russia and the U.S. today, this could be a massive power struggle between the two governments in which Putin is threatening to expose certain aspects about 9/11 and the U.S. is attempting to front-run them with a more suitable version of events. In this theory, which is the most likely given evidence to date, it is a massive chess match.

The U.S. and NATO begins to surround Russia with military bases. Check. Putin threatens to release information that 9/11 is an inside job shaking the very foundation of many Americans’ beliefs in their own government. Check. NATO and the U.S. try to take over Ukraine in a coup. Check. Putin fights back. Check. NATO and the U.S. down a Malaysian airliner and try to blame it on Putin. Check. Putin doesn’t back down and world opinion sides with him, and the U.S. begins to release a version of 9/11 to discredit Putin’s information. Check.

If this is the case, then our theory on what Congress is about to release about 9/11 will show a mostly fake Saudi Arabia connection with a few fall guys in the George W. Bush Administration, orchestrated as a semi-inside job that will so infuriate and obsess the U.S. populace that any evidence Putin releases will be lost in the noise as the U.S. begins to go on war footing against Saudi Arabia, creating another war and further distracting the public and furthering the tentacles of the U.S. empire in the Mideast. Check.

What is the checkmate of this game? We’ll have to wait and see. With this many pieces on the board, anything can happen.

Conclusion

Something big is about to happen — perhaps not in days and maybe not weeks, but almost certainly in months. Whether it is the most optimistic scenario, the most pessimistic, the most logical, something in between or something completely unexpected is unclear.

No matter what happens, there is going to be a definite period of chaos and uncomfortableness… to put it lightly. Even in the most optimistic scenario, there will be chaos, especially in the U.S., as the U.S. empire collapses, the dollar collapses and the world begins to pick up the pieces while tens of millions of brainwashed slaves, full of mind-altering pharmaceuticals and completely dependent on the government for survival roam the streets like zombies. In the most pessimistic, well, let’s not even go there.

And in the most logical scenario we are looking at continued global turmoil and more war, which will further bankrupt the U.S. government and destroy the U.S. dollar. Shorting the dollar by going long on precious metals and bitcoin would be the play.

Buckle up. Here we go.

What are your thoughts on 9/11 and what may be about to happen? Join us at The Dollar Vigilante.

The NSA Nation Moves To The Next Level

This article by Wendy McElroy was published on The Dollar Vigilante.

The social sciences in America have been militarized to produce tools that assist the government in understanding and suppressing dissent. Anthropology, linguistic analysis and sociology now serve the police state.

One program is called the Minerva Initiative after the Roman goddess of war. A June 12 article in The Guardian explained, “A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies.” [Note: Minerva funding is typically channeled through less controversial agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.] Established in 2008, Minerva was budgeted to fund approximately $75 million worth of behavioral research over a five-year period. It is now six years later. In 2014 to date, Minerva has distributed approximately $17.8 million.

A typical project: Over the next three years, Cornell University will model “the dynamics of social movement mobilisation and contagions.” The university will locate the tipping point in uprisings such as the revolution in Egypt of 2011. Then the data can be extrapolated to make observations about uprisings in general. The Minerva site states:

The Department of Defense is interested in better understanding what drives individuals and groups to mobilize to institute change. In particular, models that explain and explore factors that motivate or inhibit groups to adopt political violence as a tactic will help inform understanding of where organized violence is likely to erupt, what factors might explain its contagion, and how one might circumvent its spread.

In practice, Minerva makes little distinction between violent and nonviolent dissent. In 2013, one of the funded projects asked and answered the question: “Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?” The primary researcher, associate professor Maria Rasmussen of the Naval Postgraduate School, described the project’s mission: “In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.”

In other words, a person who is sympathetic to the justice of a violent group’s goals is an integral part of terrorism even if he is a pacifist. A belief, not an action, is what makes him a terrorist supporter. For example, a weaponless writer could sympathize with gun owners who defend the 2nd Amendment by drawing weapons on their own property. A commentator might argue for the release of free speech activists who are imprisoned for resisting arrest. To sympathize with dissent and to argue against authority suddenly become part of political violence.

Nafeez Ahmed, a journalist on international security, wrote the June 12 article in The Guardian. He asked Rasmussen why nonviolent activists were lumped together with violent ones and precisely which people were investigated. One of his questions: “Does the US Department of Defense consider political movements aiming for large scale political and economic change as a national security matter? If so, why?”

No reply. Finally, the programming director of Minerva sent what amounted to a form letter from the press office that used many words to say nothing.

Minerva is not the first program to militarize social scientists. The Human Terrain System (HTS), for example, was launched in 2005. Through it, social scientists provide the military with an understanding of a population and culture with which they are interacting. Roberto J. Gonzalez, an associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University, is a prominent critic of HTS. He traced the origins of the project back to “the perceived threat of the Black Panthers and other militant groups.” In short, it sprang up from a perceived need for domestic social control.

Last month, Ars Technica reported on the Social Media in Strategic Communications project run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which seeks to chart how ideas spread in social media. Another project went further. Funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the study “Containment Control for a Social Network with State-Dependent Connectivity” explicitly aimed at manipulating the “end” toward which ideas flow electronically. Ars Technica explained, “The research demonstrates that the mathematical principles used to control groups of autonomous robots can be applied to social networks in order to control human behavior. If properly calibrated, the mathematical models developed by Dixon and his fellow researchers could be used to sway the opinion of social networks toward a desired set of behaviors…”

These and other programs will almost certainly be applied domestically, if that is not happening already. On the Civil Arab site (June 18), human rights lawyer Zaha Hassan commented: “This research is unlikely to be limited to understanding uprisings and large-scale protests overseas, in some distant corner of the planet. In a post-9/11 world, the borders and contours of US national security are more fuzzy and fluid. Activists in the US, or those who support progressive change, ought to expect that they will fall under Minerva’s radar whenever they share a Facebook posting on Palestine or tweet a catchy little diddy on Twitter supporting other political activists in Syria, Egypt, or Iraq.”

The drift toward social and ideological control is inevitable. In fact, that has been a key goal of Minerva since it was first established. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates signaled it in an April 2008 speech in which he announced Minerva. “[E]ventual success in the conflict against jihadist extremism will depend less on the results of individual military engagements and more on the overall ideological climate within the world of Islam. Understanding how this climate is likely to evolve over time, and what factors — including US actions — will affect it thus becomes one of the most significant intellectual challenge [sic] we face.”

Minerva will also be used to impose unpopular political agendas against which the public might revolt. For example, in 2013, a three-year $1.9 million project with the University of Maryland was tasked to assess the risk of civil unrest in the event of climate change. People do not rebel because of a rise in temperature; they rebel against government measures that “respond” to climate change.

surveillance graphic
The Verge

Government officials will never admit Minerva is being used or will be used domestically and for social control; they will deny it, as the NSA did with its mass recording of average Americans. They will do so until denial is no longer possible. And, even then, they will continue to hide the scope of their attempt at thought control. They will do so because their fear is mounting.

On July 18, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a conference in Detroit about the social crisis sparked by the Barack Obama Administration’s cynical use of illegal immigrants, especially children. (That wasn’t Biden’s take on the situation, of course.) Addressing the perceived problem of immigrants stealing jobs, he paid faux homage to the middle class, which was “the glue that has enabled us to be the most stable political and stable social system in the world.” From praising social stability, Biden immediately pivoted toward the possibility of civil unrest in America. “When that [the middle class] begins to fray, much more will fray than the loss of economic opportunity.”

Biden is correct to fear. Americans are increasingly aware that politicians are the enemy and widespread revolt is becoming more likely. But rather than change their own behavior, the rulers want to change how and what people think… one dissident at a time.

Wendy McElroy is a regular contributor to The Dollar Vigilante and a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder, along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith, of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and she is the author/editor of 12 books, the latest of which is The Art of Being Free. Follow her work at www.wendymcelroy.com.

The Two Faces Of Gun Confiscation: Both Bite

This article, by Wendy McElroy, was originally published on The Dollar Vigilante

At a town hall event with CNN on June 17, Hillary Clinton attacked opponents of stricter gun control. She stated, “We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.” [Emphasis added.] She distorted her opponents as terrorists.

She was also wrong about opponents being in the minority. A Gallup poll from early October 2013 found that 49 percent of Americans wanted “laws covering the sale of firearms to be more strict,” 13 percent favored less strict laws, 37 percent wanted them kept the same and 1 percent had no opinion. Otherwise stated, 49 percent were for and 50 percent were against increased gun control.

Perhaps Clinton is hoping for a good crisis to swing public opinion her way. In 2009, at the European Parliament in Brussels, she paraphrased a statement first uttered by Barack Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Clinton said, “Never waste a good crisis,” and explained that the economic crisis should be used but used to achieve “very positive” political goals on climate change. Similarly, tragedies such as the school shooting at Sandy Hook (December 2012) should not be “wasted” but be used to push the further nationalization of gun ownership.

In fact, Clinton’s anti-gun tirade at the town hall was prompted by a question from a Maryland teacher. The questioner asked if “reinstating the ban on assault weapons and banning high capacity magazines would do any good” to halt school shootings? Clinton’s answer dove right into not wasting Sandy Hook. She said, “I was disappointed that the Congress did not pass universal background checks after the horrors of the shootings at Sandy Hook.”

Of course, the controls suggested are “for the children” and ones to which only the terrorist minority could object.

The Myth Of Benign Regulation

Regulation of gun ownership is confiscation by another name. It victimizes people who do not even own guns because what is being confiscated is their right to do so. There nothing benign, nothing protective about taking away an individual’s right to self-defense.

But overt confiscation of weapons is unlikely to occur — at least, not immediately — because it is not politically expedient. Gun control advocates have learned lessons from episodes such as Connecticut’s recent weapon revolt. In the wake of Sandy Hook, the State banned ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. Residents who had purchased such magazines prior to the law’s enforcement were required to register them with the police by Jan. 1. Assault rifles manufactured after 1994 also required registration.

Reported Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars: “Weeks after the January 1 deadline expired, authorities revealed that just 50,016 assault weapons and 38,290 ammunition magazines had been registered by Connecticut gun owners, meaning that some 320,000 assault rifles and around 2.4 million high capacity magazines were not declared.”

Second Amendment groups vigorously challenged the law. Gun owners and protesters called out the increasingly popular slogan “molon labe.” The term allegedly comes from the Spartan king and general Leonidas, whose vastly outnumbered soldiers off held a Persian invasion for days; the Battle of Thermopylae is world renowned as a famous last stand. The Persian Emperor Xerxes demanded the surrender of the Spartans’ weapons. Leonidas replied “molon labe” or “Come and get them!” His response has gone viral throughout the gun rights movement.

As a result of backlash, the Connecticut police offered public assurances that there would be no door-to-door confiscation, no arrests for noncompliance. They backed away, for the time being.

Gun control zealots will not give up; they will become more subtle. Four tactics that are already evident will rise in prominence.

  1. Chipping away at the vulnerable aspects of gun ownership: Rather than imposing an outright ban, gun controllers will attack the most vulnerable areas of gun ownership, such as assault weapons or the “need” to store guns in locked cases, which renders them inaccessible for self-defense. Hundreds of reasonably phrased restrictions have been and will be passed by State legislatures; massive anti-gun campaigns will be funded by taxpayers; vendors will confront increasing paperwork, fees and obstructive requirements; waiting periods will extend; prices and taxes will hike; background checks will eliminate ownership for more and more categories of people… At some point, gun rights and gun ownership become so minimized that a de facto confiscation has occurred.
  2. Divide and align tactics: This strategy is related to “chipping away,” but it does not aim at laws and regulations. It uses threats and alliances in order to weaken an opponent. An example of a threat is the extreme militarization of law enforcement, which eloquently conveys, “We are an overpowering force against which you have no chance.” An example of an alliance is joining ranks with the American Medical Association to have the AMA conduct studies on gun violence which are invariably pro-regulation. Or the executive order Obama signed to “release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”
  3. Stigmatizing the opponent: Gun owners are caricatured as rednecks, unintelligent, politically dangerous, immoral, discontented, mentally challenged, angry misfits. In an unguarded moment during Obama’s first Presidential campaign, he was asked why working-class voters in industrial towns were difficult for him to win over. Referring to high unemployment, he replied, “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” A difference in opinion and attitude will be explained in terms of your emotional problems. Or specific types of gun owners will be stigmatized. For example, the gun controller will ask: “Why would anyone need an assault weapon?” The clear implication is that something is wrong with the owner.
  4. Reframing the context of the debate: Private gun ownership is one of the most powerful barriers to a total police state, but this fact will be underplayed. Instead, with loud public rhetoric, gun controllers will preach child safety and resurrect corpses from school shootings. Gun control will be linked to public safety and the need to reduce crime, especially among minorities or inner cities. Gun ownership will be blamed for the deaths of women in domestic violence. The real reason 300 law enforcement men surrounded Cliven Bundy’s ranch for the sin of not paying a grazing license will never be named. The state is terrified of a man who says “no, I will not obey,” and means it.

Some advocates believe gun ownership is a 2nd Amendment right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. But it should be obvious by now how dangerous it is to base a human right upon a government document. Governments change. They brim with politicians. And documents can be reinterpreted. The right to gun ownership resides in the jurisdiction that each human being rightfully has over his own body and over peaceful enjoyment of it. This jurisdiction does not come from a document but from the basic human right to defend what is yours, what is you: your body, the property that results from your labor and those you love who are peacefully living their lives. These are what the state wishes to confiscate.

But Who Will Neglect The Roads?

This story originally appeared on The Dollar Vigilante.

Those who believe in a need for government for certain roles in society almost always bring up the roads. Here is an example of happy taxslaves who believe that without government and taxation there would be no roads.

Demonstrating for taxes

In the image above they also make the correct statement that without governments and taxation there would be no wars. Why they say that like it is a bad thing I have no idea.

However, getting back to “muh roads,” this argument for government and taxation for roads happens so often that countless memes have been created to show how ridiculous the idea is that roads could not exist with government and taxation.

Like this:

road meme

Or this:

road meme

Or this:

road meme

But with most governments in the world today nearly bankrupt after years of waste on centrally planned projects and wars, the private market has popped up in numerous areas and has actually begun to take it into their own hands to fix neglected roads and other public areas that the government neglected. And, in every case, you won’t believe the government’s response to private individuals fixing the problems.

Rogue Crosswalks

citizen-made crosswalk

The first story comes from the City of Tacoma, Wash., which will persecute you if you make a “rogue crosswalk.” These “rogue crosswalks” are popping up throughout the city, and local bureaucrats have cooked up some stiff penalties in order for those caught red-handed.

The group behind the rogue crosswalks is Citizens for a Safer Tacoma, which believes the crosswalks save lives. Tacoma police admit traffic incidents have increased in the area in recent years, and at least 15 members of the group have been hit by cars. Meaning well, individuals went to the city for help; but the city didn’t listen. Like many across the world, they took the project into their own hands.

“If the city does nothing, we will,” said a spokesman, who wouldn’t go on camera because he didn’t want to be targeted. “None of us want to go to jail, but we’re more dedicated to the safety of citizens than we are to the law,” he added. Unfortunately for the citizens, they will likely learn that police are more beholden to the law than they are to the citizen. Each rogue crosswalk costs the city $1,000 to clean up. The city did note, however, that the crosswalks were quite creative.

“They’re different colors, some of them were circles; they weren’t really a crosswalk,” said a city spokesperson. In other words, they didn’t meet Federal guidelines so that the City of Tacoma can continue receiving Federal grants and loans.

Pothole Robin Hood

citizen-fixed pothole

Similar to the individuals in Tacoma, a Jackson, Miss., couple chose to fill potholes they believed the city was neglecting.

“Our biggest issue is that the issue has been somewhat lackadaisically handled or ignored for way too long, and our infrastructure is weak because of that,” says Don Chane, the rogue potholer. They found the asphalt one day and thought it would do.

“We thought ‘you know what, this may belong to the city, it may belong to the state, it may belong to Jesus, but at any rate, it’s not being used right now and there is grass growing out of it, so let’s just stick this back in the holes.'”

The couple was very efficient, fixing 33 potholes on their first night out. They circled the holes and spray painted “citizen fixed” next to the hole, and they left a flower in the ring of the repaired pothole.

With media attention piling on, the couple called it quits at 101 potholes, not wanting to get arrested for showing how poor centrally planned road repair is.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation, the “rightful” owners, did not wish to press charges.

Man Fined For Driving Around Pothole

Although the government won’t fix the potholes, it will fine you for driving around them.

That is exactly what happened to a Minneapolis man who was given a $128 fine because he swerved to avoid a pothole.

He says the officer thought he was on his cellphone and cited him for failing to stay in his lane. The driver plans to fight the ticket. What’s funny, the road he was driving on is scheduled to be resurfaced in just a few weeks. But knowing government, that likely won’t happen on schedule or within the budget.

Rainbow Staircase In Instanbul

rainbow stairwell

When one man painted a public staircase rainbow colors, the community loved it. But when city workers of Istanbul, Turkey covered the brightly colored street art with dull gray paint, people repainted the staircase swiftly. A battle of sorts had broken out.

A retired engineer named Huseyin Cetinel reportedly spent $800 on paint to make the steps in his area more attractive. He said that nature is colorful and he believes cities can be as well. His work went viral. Many saw the paint job as a call for equal rights. The artist said he wasn’t trying to promote any group, but simply add color.

But when the city painted over the staircase, the people of Turkey were outraged. At first, the government denied doing so, but ultimately fessed up like a child under the pressure of a knowing parent.

A quiet war was waged as guerrilla artists painted the city with color while the city covered it up with gray. Gray seems to be the color of choice for unimaginative, communist-style central planners.

Ultimately, the city let the citizens have their colorful way.

Anarchast

The idea of central planning (akin to communism), which is government, is an anachronism, a thing of the past. Not only are governments not providing these “services” adequately anymore, but they are now impeding the free market’s attempt to fix the problems. More people wake up every day to this realization.

That’s why I started not only The Dollar Vigilante, but also Anarchast, to spread information on how all things currently done by government can not only be dramatically improved by private enterprise, but that government itself is an unneccesary evil in all its forms. Here is an Anarchast interview with Walter Block, also known as “Mr. Libertarian” and author of The Privatization of Roads and Highways.

To learn more about a much more peaceful, prosperous, creative and colorful world without government, subscribe to Anarchast’s YouTube channel here or Anarchast on Facebook.

–Jeff Berwick

Have a story about your inept local government? Share it at The Dollar Vigilante.

Breaking FATCA News: A Semi-Stay Of Execution For Americans’ Assets And The Dollar

The Illegitimate Revenue Agency (IRS) has just announced that the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has been postponed from July 1 until Jan. 1, 2016.

This is good news in many ways for both those with assets they wish to internationalize as well as for the dollar and the U.S. banking system itself, but in many ways the damage has already been done.

FATCA, signed into law in 2010, ensures that if you don’t tell the U.S. government where your assets are and how much is there, your bank will — no matter where that bank exists. FATCA has been acknowledged as the death of the dollar by many experts, including our own FATCA expert, Jim Karger, who recently stated such at our recent TDV Wealth Management Crisis Conference in both Panama and Mexico. Many foreign banks simply won’t comply. The cost and risk of complying outweighs the benefit of accepting American clients.

By requiring banks all over the world to become unpaid employees of the IRS and keep tabs on American citizens, FATCA is perhaps the most egregious, overarching and draconian “law” put into effect by the U.S. government crime organization to date.

We’ve heard story after story of banks all over the globe that are simply not taking on American clients. In many cases, they are telling their current American clients their accounts will soon be closed. The account holder’s crime? Being American.

But there has been some temporary reprieve for those who will be affected by the law.

The recent IRS guidelines regarding FATCA give many of the companies and financial institutions implementing FATCA another 18 months to be in compliance. Of course, as with all government laws, it will be selectively enforced. Any banks not appearing to be doing their best to comply will likely find themselves in contention with the IRS. At any rate, what this effectively means is that if Uncle Sam doesn’t like you or wants your money, he might come after you. Nothing new here…

A recent Thomson Reuters survey of 500 European and U.S. tax professionals showed 74 percent believed there to be a lack of clarity in the IRS regulations for FATCA. This would impede compliance, they predicted.

The notice from the IRS states:

Calendar years 2014 and 2015 will be regarded as a transition period for purposes of IRS enforcement and administration of the due diligence, reporting, and withholding provisions…

With respect to this transition period, the IRS will take into account the extent to which a participating or deemed-compliant FFI, direct reporting NFFE, sponsoring entity, sponsored FFI, sponsored direct reporting NFFE, or withholding agent has made good faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the chapter 4 regulations and the temporary coordination regulations.

For example, the IRS will take into account whether a withholding agent has made reasonable efforts during the transition period to modify its account opening practices and procedures to document the chapter 4 status of payees, apply the standards of knowledge provided in chapter 4, and, in the absence of reliable documentation, apply the presumption rules of §1.1471-3(f).

Causing Chaos Worldwide For Americans

FATCA has already affected many Americans with accounts abroad. They have seen their accounts closed at a moment’s notice and have been unable to open accounts. Perhaps even worse, hardly anyone knows how to deal with the FATCA regulations even if they did want to deal with it.

I have just returned from the Cayman Islands, where lawyers and accountants are running scared. They are slowly figuring out what FATCA means to their American clients, many of whom have a large amount of assets in the Cayman Islands that they do not want to repatriate to the U.S. or be reported to the IRS. And even if they wanted to adhere to all the rules under FATCA, it is nearly impossible to understand and fraught with risk.

The lawyers in the Cayman Islands told me that company incorporation in the Cayman Islands is rock-solid in terms of privacy and ease of setup (we will have more on that to subscribers soon), but the problem is banking in the Cayman Island. They told me that if an American is even involved, in any way, with a company that has a bank account in the Cayman Islands, they will report all information on that account to the IRS.

I informed them of a few things.

First, any American with substantial assets should be running, not walking, to get a second passport to protect against all of the capital controls coming out against Americans. We have heard of some companies that have stopped working with Americans at all just because of the problems it causes them with their bank accounts.

Secondly, there are ways for Americans to have international structures and banking without falling under the FATCA legislation. We enlightened dozens of people recently at our Crisis Conference on how to do this. You can find out more by contacting TDV Wealth Management.

Conclusion

As you can see, the law will still go into effect — and Jan. 1, 2016 is right around the corner. The IRS fines for FATCA noncompliance could result in fines or jail time for individuals who fail to report. Already, on July 1, foreign financial institutions risk being fined.

The next 18 months are merely a reprieve. Already, foreigners are moving away from the dollar. The facade of the U.S. government has fallen, and the entire world recognizes that the U.S. and the dollar are about to collapse because it cannot pay off its debts and printing money is the only way the game can continue on much longer. Countless movements are ongoing in Russia, China, the Mideast and more — all moving away from the dollar and the U.S. banking system. And this is exacerbated by FATCA.

If you were caught on your heels in the lead up to July 1, then don’t be in the lead up to the next FATCA deadline. The folks at TDV Wealth Management are ready to help you today with any questions you might have.

–Jeff Berwick

The Beginning Of The End For The Leaders Of The ‘Free World’… Humanity Awakens!

The leaders of the “free world” are on the run. In many cases, they can’t go out and travel due to the risk of being arrested, protested or even having a shoe thrown at them.

In just the past few weeks, first lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder have had to cancel appearances due to protests.

They’re just the latest in a long line.

Obama canceled the commencement speech she was scheduled to give at a Kansas high school after nearly 2,000 people signed a petition protesting her appearance.

Over the weekend, we learned that Rice cancelled her appearance at Rutgers University due to protests.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Ms. Rice wrote in a Facebook post. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

Rutgers faculty and anti-war activists berated the university administration for offering Rice the speaking slot, citing her “efforts to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

That cancellation came only one week after Holder’s last-minute cancellation of his speech at a police academy graduation for 42 cadets. Holder’s cancellation comes on the heels of the House holding him in contempt for road-blocking an investigation into a covert gun-running sting called Fast and Furious. His appearances prompted threats of protests, with opponents noting that Holder was an “ironic” choice of speaker because of his “tactics of obfuscation and redirection of blame” as attorney general.

The recent cancellations come after many U.S. leaders have had to cancel appearances as people all over the world wake up to their violent and criminal ways. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has had to cancel multiple appearances, for example, in Canada because it was “too dangerous” for him, a former leader of the “free world.”

“Basically they felt that it would be a major security issue if Vice President Cheney came back to Canada,” said Ryan Ruppert, president of Spectre Live Corp, which was promoting Cheney’s speech.

The first time, in 2011, Cheney’s appearance at a $500-a-plate book club dinner in Vancouver had a shadow cast over it by protesters who blocked the entrance to the venue and were beat by police. Cheney had to stay inside while police dispersed the crowd.

The protesters were calling for Cheney’s arrest over war crimes.

George W. Bush had to cancel a visit to Switzerland where he was to address a Jewish charity gala. He was worried about possible legal action against him for alleged torture, as pressure has been mounting on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters into the country. Swiss judicial officials have said that Bush would still enjoy a certain diplomatic immunity as a former head of state.

In 2002, Henry Kissinger cancelled a trip to Brazil because of human rights protests. Kissinger was even sought by French police during a visit to Paris in a case involving a French citizen murdered by the U.S.-backed military dictatorship in Chile.

The state as a façade is fading as the Internet helps people wake up to the true terrorists and criminals. We expect more of these types of protests to cancel future events in the United States and elsewhere, and many of the top criminals in the U.S. government will continue to have a hard time traveling internationally without being arrested for their crimes.

Millennials Distrust Government

A new poll surveying young Americans’ political attitudes released by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found millennials have less trust in government than ever before — that includes the Presidency, the military, Congress, the Supreme Court and the Federal government as a whole. The President and the military lost the most trust among young Americans, with a seven-point drop. The pollsters said the level of trust millennials have in “most American institutions tested in our survey” had dropped below even “last year’s historically low numbers.” Look at this dramatic drop:

trust index graphic

The pollsters also created this chart showing young peoples’ levels of trust in almost every public institution. Across the board, the “commanding heights” of society are not trusted.

trust index graphic

“Currently, less than one-in-four (24%) young Americans under the age of 30 say that they will  ‘definitely be voting,’ in the upcoming midterm elections for Congress, a sharp decrease of 10 percentage points since the Fall,” the pollsters said. “During a similar time of the year in 2010, 31 percent of 18- to 29- year olds reported that they would definitely vote.”

The people are awakening, and it is beautiful to watch.

Join the discussion at The Dollar Vigilante Blog by clicking here.

–Jeff Berwick

DOJ Uses Capital Controls To Go After Guns, Other ‘Risky’ Business That Are Lawful

The U.S. government is attempting every possible angle to ensure Americans don’t have access to guns. The latest is a new twist on capital controls being instituted by the Department of Justice.

The DOJ is why financial institutions are refusing services to companies as diverse as gun shops, bitcoin businesses, marijuana dispensaries and even the porn industry.

Just last week a gun shop in Florida had an old bank account closed after their local bank was bought out by Wall Street interests.

The Miami News Times writes:

The Libertis’ battle with BankUnited began last month. For seven years, they say, they had no problem with the Miami Lakes-based bank. T.R. had run a gun store in the Garden State, and when he opened Top-Gun Firearms on Calle Ocho, BankUnited operated the account.

But when T.R. decided to retire and let Elizabeth take the store online — under the new name Discount Ammo-N-Guns — the Libertis found themselves suddenly under fire.

A March 12 letter mysteriously informed them that BankUnited was closing their checking account “pursuant to the terms and conditions listed in our Depositor’s Agreement.” It gave the Libertis three days to transfer their cash elsewhere. When the Libertis called BankUnited for an explanation, they were politely informed that none would be forthcoming.

“I was very angry,” Elizabeth says. “They were very inconsiderate. We had all our credit cards going through that bank. All of a sudden, we had to run and find another bank to keep our business going. We shut down for two weeks, and they wouldn’t even tell us why.”

This is normal operating procedures for banks in the United States, according to news of a secretive DOJ operation which broke last week in The Wall Street Journal and American Banker.

It is called Operation Chokepoint. It appears as reports of credit card processors, banks, and lending institutions refuse to do business with any business that is legally buying and selling guns.

Smaller financial institutions are unable to cater to these owners, under pressure of penalty by the DOJ.

Ironically, Bank of America has led the charge against the gun industry. General Electric Capital began cutting of lending to the gun industry around a year ago. Wells Fargo is being sued by a bank manager for being fired for bringing her gun to work in Tampa, Florida. In the card processing industry, a Visa owned subsidiary cut off service to a gun shop.

BITCOIN BUSINESS ARE TARGETS

Bitcoin businesses have had their accounts shut down by major banking institutions merely for their involvement in bitcoin. Banks which at one time marketed themselves as bitcoin friendly had to go back on that sentiment, and shut down bitcoin accounts, such as what happened to the Internet Credit Union.

Our recommendation to gun owners and bitcoin advocates is to get together now to transact all firearms transactions in bitcoin before the U.S. government shuts down all retail firearm firms’ bank accounts.

MARIJUANA BUSINESSES TOO

Marijuana businesses have also been targeted. These small businesses have been forced in Washington and Colorado to deal in cash, a much riskier and expensive form of handling money than credit or even check for a business like a marijuana dispensary.

This has created dangerous obstacles for workers and owners, who must transport the cash they’ve been forced to handle. Sure, they might be saving out on certain fees, but sometimes, if you’re handling enough money, cash is not perfect. That is why bitcoin makes much sense for this industry as well.

AND THE PORN INDUSTRY…

And yes, the U.S. government is even going after the porn industry!

Last week, when porn star Teagan Presley arrived at her Las Vegas home from an extensive strip club tour, she found an unsettling letter from her bank. Chase was closing her account, which was listed under her legal name, as well as her husband’s account. And so Presley went to the bank to get to the bottom of this. She was told, like many bitcoiners have been told, that her bank account was considered “high risk.” High risk? What is she, a terrorist? If she is considered such, then you best believe so too are gun shop owners, bitcoiners, and marijuana dispensaries. Presley explains further:

“And then they told me that they canceled my husband’s account too, because our social security numbers are linked,” Presley told VICE. “They told him that it was because I’m a notorious adult star. Which is funny, because I’m kind of a goody-goody in the business, and I’m not even doing porn anymore.” Presley is not alone. Many adult entertainers have experienced the same discrimination.

CNBC wrote in 2013 of actress Chanel Preston, whose bank account was terminated at Los Angeles City National Bank, and porn studio head Marc Greenberg’s lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase for violation of fair lending laws. Greenberg wanted to refinance his longstanding home loan, but a JP Morgan vice president told him he was being declined on moral grounds.

A Chase representative had no comment for VICE.

PAYDAY LENDERS ALSO A TARGET

At a March hearing before a Senate Banking subcommittee, according to The Washington Post, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) said “there is a determined effort, from [the Justice Department] to the regulators… to cut off credit and use other tactics to force [payday lenders] out of business. I find that deeply troubling because it has no statutory basis, no statutory authority.”

IS THE US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FORCING BANKS TO BAN 30 INDUSTRIES, INCLUDING GUNS, BITCOIN, MARIJUANA, PAYDAY LENDERS…AND EVEN PORN?

Operation Choke Point is a targeted effort to shut down as many as 30 separate industries by making it impossible for them to access the banking system.

The Wall Street Journal published a recent op-ed by American Banking Association CEO Frank Keating, who wrote that the Justice Department tells “bankers to behave like policemen and judges.”

“Operation Choke Point is asking banks to identify customers who may be breaking the law or simply doing something government officials don’t like,” Keating wrote. “Banks must then ‘choke off’ those customers’ access to financial services, shutting down their accounts.”

Keating calls the operation highly secretive, pinpointing it to early 2013, just as porn stars began to complain to the media that their banks were being shut down.

The banks are beholden to the Feds. This is what fascism is – the merger between states and corporations. So, basically, government and corporations are not separate entities. At the top, they are all one. What Noam Chomsky terms the “state-enterprise apparatus.” Or, what we call, Crapitalism.

“If a bank doesn’t shut down a questionable account when directed to do so, Justice slaps the institution with a penalty for wrongdoing that may or may not have happened,” Keating wrote.

Bureaucrats are also dismayed by the behavior of the DOJ!

Former chairman of the FDIC, William Isaac, wrote in American Banker magazine last week that Operation Choke Point is “way out of control,” continuing that 23 bipartisan members of Congress authored a letter to the DOJ explicating that the operation is putting legal industries out of business…including banks.

The president of the Independent Community Bankers of America penned a letter to the Justice Department earlier this month, writing that Operation Chokepoint prevents small community banks from competing with the major chains.

Spanish-Style Riots Coming To A Country Near You

Screams and sirens pierce the air as rocks, firecrackers and sharp glass go flying in every direction. Police try to beat back the hordes of protesters by smashing indiscriminately into the crowd with their billy clubs.

This was the scene recently in Madrid, Spain, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets to fight against the budget cuts and tax increases put into place by Mariano Rajoy, the current Prime Minister of Spain. The protesters chanted “no more cuts” as they demolished storefronts and threw firecrackers at police.

The march was organized by the group Marcha de la Dignidad (M-22), which also had the support of the labor unions. You can read the demands of this organization on its own website. They consist of:

  • A law establishing a basic income for every citizen.
  • Universal, free and high-quality public services for all.
  • Making eviction illegal and establishing water and energy as a human right.
  • Nationalization of all banks along with all “strategic” sectors.

As you can see from these demands, the M-22, along with their labor union allies, are outright communists. They block public venues to voice their impossible demands. Once the demands are not met, violence and destruction of private property ensue. The results are realized the next day when those who live in or are visiting the historic city wake up to the formerly beautiful streets being littered with piles of trash and graffiti; others who are not so lucky wake up in a jail cell or hospital gurney.

Some of the protesters’ complaints are well-taken. They point out that the euro was forced upon them without their consent, which has now resulted in their country’s loss of economic competitiveness. The euro has indeed caused disruptions that have been thoroughly analyzed in books such as The Tragedy of the Euro by economist Philip Bagus.

He shows how the Spanish have been able to borrow at the same rate as the more thrifty cultures such as Germany. This has created a free-for-all, where countries with less overall saved capital are incentivized to take advantage of the low interest rate provided by the saved capital of individuals in the core. This has created a spending binge in peripheral countries that is now coming to a head.

The answer to this problem given by the M-22 crowd is that the debt is not legitimate and should be defaulted on. They claim that the debt is being forced upon them and that they should not have to suffer for the government’s mismanagement of the economy. I find this argument to be sound overall. From an ethical standpoint, individuals should not be born into the world with a giant albatross of debt piled up by past generations.

These arguments become disingenuous, however, if you are then out of the other side of your mouth demanding higher government spending for public services. These protesters are not adverse to government debt; in fact, the foundation of their entire platform is government debt. They have been the ones screaming for higher government spending, which has now put the government in this precarious position. Now the bills have come due, and they are accusing the ones who’s saving they have squandered of predatory lending.

This leads to the false communist/fascist dichotomy, which the world has been plagued with for the past century. As a private business owner, you have no choice but to hope that the police will protect you from the mass of lunatics who have no respect for property rights or the operation of your business. Many pray for a strong man to come in and bring back order with an iron fist. They reminisce of the 1960s and the dictatorial rule of Francisco Franco, when Spain had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

spain unemployment graphic

Although this is a temping trap to fall into, it is only one of many choices that there are. In fact, both sides of this struggle are collectivist in nature and based on one group’s forcing its opinion on the other. They are both culpable for the current mess that the country is in, and it is dangerous for citizens to feel obliged to pledge allegiance to either side.

The current turmoil is much like what was predicted in Atlas Shrugged: the world’s economy in shambles, as the citizenry clamor for more and more control by the government. The difference is that in reality there is no Galt’s Gulch to escape to, as each economy comes apart at the seams.

The global economy is now so intertwined that disruptions in one part of the world inevitably affect us all. What many people think of as “sustainable” or “living off the grid” is in fact just a justification for lowering your standard of living. Our current luxurious way of life is impossible without free international trade.

While many in the United States see this as a far-off country without much in common with the U.S., I would beg to differ. Union power is growing in the United States, and their demands are getting more and more ludicrous. We have recently seen the union backed “fight for 15″ rallies harassing fast food chains and other major U.S. employers. And the United States has not yet seen the budget cuts that other countries have been forced to endure, but it will.

What will happen on the inevitable day that the government is forced to announce cuts to Social Security or food stamps?

What will the people do as medical costs continue to spiral out of control and the Affordable Care Act turns out not to provide the cornucopia of medical services they were promised?

If you really want to know the answer to that question, take a look at the riots in Spain.

Join the discussion at The Dollar Vigilante.

–James Guzman

James Guzman is the manager of TDV Groups and a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, Smart based out of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. He specializes in helping international clients buy and sell property in all of Mexico. 

Note: The Dollar Vigilante will be hosting The TDV Wealth Management Crisis Conference in Cabo San Lucas later this month. Click here to find out more.

Obama’s U.S. Is Starting To Look Like The Early Days Of Mao’s Communist China

Many people like to watch movies or read novels as a way to relax and get away from work and other stresses of day-to-day life. I, on the other hand, find nonfiction to be much more interesting than almost anything dreamed up by a fiction writer. So when I want to relax and get away from things, I like to read nonfiction books and documentaries.

Given what is going on in China lately, I have been nearly obsessed with learning about China’s history. It is easily one of the most interesting cultures on Earth, with thousands of years of dynasties, warlords, communism, capitalism, wars and atrocities.

Of all the atrocities, the worst by far was committed during Mao Zedong’s Communist China revolution and the typically Orwellian-named, “The Great Leap Forward.”

That leap eventually ended up with the deaths and starvation of somewhere between 20 million and 45 million people. Despite this devastation, American oligarch David Rockefeller said this of the period: “Whatever the price of the Chinese revolution, it has obviously succeeded not only in producing more efficient and dedicated administration, but also in fostering high morale and community of purpose. The social experiment in China under Chairman Mao’s leadership is one of the most important and successful in human history.”

As I watched a recent documentary on this period, it struck me how eerily similar the early years of Mao, leading to those deaths, were to today’s United States and Obama.

The Similarities

Hope and change: As with Obama, Mao was swept into power under great fanfare as a savior by a society of people who had been so impoverished and war-torn that they put their faith in this man with his ideas. As with Obama, the first few years didn’t go too terribly, giving some people hope. But soon after taking power in 1950, Mao quickly got China involved in the Korean War.

Land reform: During that same period, Mao went to work on taking land away from landowners and giving it to the people. Done differently, but with the same end goal, the U.S. has been decimating small-farm owners through regulations, taxes and even armed raids, ending up with large corporations owning more and more of the productive land. The large corporations, through the U.S. blend of fascism and socialism, end up owning more and more of the land. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farms in the United States has fallen from about 6.8 million in 1935 to only about 2 million today. According to Farm Aid, every week some 330 farmers leave their land for good. This isn’t done as overtly as it was during Mao’s time of just killing landowners, as the U.S. government has perfected propaganda; but the end result is essentially the same.

Suicides: In Shanghai during that time, suicide by jumping from tall buildings became so commonplace that residents avoided walking on the pavement near skyscrapers for fear that suicides might land on them. In the U.S. today, even The New Yorker writes about the “suicide epidemic.” Between 1999 and 2010, the number of Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 who took their own lives rose by almost 30 percent. Among young people in the United States, suicide is the third most common cause of death; among all Americans, suicide claims more lives than car accidents, which were previously the leading cause of injury-related death.

Media suppression and targeting: Mao launched the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” urging all those with different opinions to express themselves. It was a ruse, however; and he used this to target opponents, eventually killing 500,000 landowners. In the United States it is done differently; but groups, like the Tea Party, have been targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for having opposing views. And it is well known in the mainstream media that you cannot speak out against the current regime. Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye was imprisoned under Obama’s orders for speaking out about U.S. involvement in the Mideast. And, currently, according to Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. stands at No. 46 on the World Press Freedom Index, just after Romania and one ahead of Haiti.

Only those in government prospered: During Mao’s time, it was said that only those in government and those in the capital cities connected to the government prospered. This is very similar to what is happening today in the United States. Government workers currently get paid 45 percent more than their counterparts in the private market. And while most of the country languishes in depression-level conditions, Washington, D.C., is flourishing. The Washington metro area includes a whopping six of the 10 most affluent counties in the Nation.

Lies and statistics: As things got worse in Mao’s China, the government took to overtly lying about nearly every statistic. It lied egregiously about crop production and the number of deaths due to starvation. Doctors were not allowed to list “starvation” as a cause of death. In the United States it is similar in that nearly all government statistics are heavily manipulated to paint a better picture of what is really going on. Unemployment figures, for one, are adjusted so that if people give up looking for work they are not counted as being “unemployed” anymore. The U.S. government currently says that the rate of unemployment is 7.3 percent. However, the percentage of the population that is employed is at lows not seen in 40 years. And computing the unemployment numbers the way they were computed prior to 1994 (before they took out “long-term discouraged workers” from the figures), as computed by Shadowstats.com, shows an unemployment rate of 23 percent.

Famine and starvation: As things got worse, by the end of the 1950s, tens of millions of Chinese died of starvation. The United States has much more past wealth to live upon and still has the printing of the U.S. dollar to keep things more afloat temporarily; but even with these advantages, one in six Americans is on food stamps. And 1 in 4 children in the United States is on food stamps. In other words, already, a very large percentage of the population cannot even afford food to eat without assistance. Without government assistance, they would starve.

The Differences

It should be said that China in the mid-20th century and the United States in the early 21st century are two very different places. China, at that time, was a very poor and backward place, whereas the United States — due to semi-free markets for centuries — is incredibly advanced and has built up a lot of wealth.

As well, communication technologies such as the Internet do not allow most government’s today to wholesale slaughter people. In the United States today, these same goals are undertaken through fines, taxation, regulation, inflation and criminalizing nearly every human activity. Nearly half of all people under the age of 23 in the United States today have been arrested, and the U.S. has the world’s largest prison population (25 percent of the prisoners, yet only 5 percent of the world population). Through these means, the U.S. government can look to be less heinous than it would by outright murdering thousands or millions of people but essentially with the same results.

Because of these differences, we should not expect to see the United States follow the exact same path of Mao’s China. But the similarities of the two times are striking.

The Dollar Vigilante has published this cartoon from the Chicago Tribune in 1934 on numerous occasions because it so perfectly explains what is going on in the U.S. today.

1934 Chicago Tribune cartoon

Spend! Spend! Spend!: The U.S. government has been spending and going into deficits at rates that would have shocked people even 15 years ago. The debt of the U.S. government has increased $6.666 trillion since Obama took office. When Obama was first inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the debt of the U.S. government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt. As of Jan. 31, the latest day reported, the debt was $17,293,019,654,983.61 — an increase of $6,666,142,606,070.53. The total debt of the United States did not exceed $6.666 trillion until July 2003. In the little more than five years of the Obama Presidency, the U.S. has accumulated as much new debt as it did in its first 227 years.

Blame the capitalists: Fomenting a class war, the heavily socialist-indoctrinated youth and poor are constantly told “greedy corporations” are causing their problems. This can be seen clearly in all the recent minimum wage rhetoric.

Junk the constitution: The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been all but ransacked in recent years — specifically since 9/11 and the Patriot Act. People collecting rainwater or building a pond on their own property or living sustainably off the grid have been deluged by Federal agencies threatening them with massive fines or jail time. And the rising police state and the endless accounts of police brutality are just other examples of this.

Declare a dictatorship: Obama continues to wage wars without approval from Congress, issue executive order edicts and create kill lists. And in his most recent State of the Union address, he even went so far as to say that he was going to go around Congress to get things done… all to wild applause. That is a dictatorship.

The Fall Of America

Those plans, as laid out in the Chicago Tribune cartoon from 1934 are falling exactly into place. That, combined with the fact that Obama’s U.S. is following a very similar path to Mao’s China should be enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Unfortunately, it only keeps getting worse. Capital controls are coming into effect in July under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA); so if you don’t have yourself or your wealth well outside of the United States by this point, your time is running out.

For this reason, The Dollar Vigilante has set up an urgent conference called the Crisis Conference, scheduled for April 30  to May 4 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. If you still have significant assets inside the United States, I urge you to seriously considering attending.

The U.S. is currently similar to the early days of Mao. How it ends up is anyone’s guess, but it isn’t going to be pretty.

– Jeff Berwick

30 Predictions For 2014 You Must Know About… And What You Can Do To Prepare

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I cannot shake a sticky feeling of optimism about 2014.

It rose in me for the strangest reason yesterday. CNN was providing background noise when a term caught my ear: “bug out bag.” This is a portable kit of the items you need to survive for 72 hours. The Red Cross suggests keeping one on hand in case it is necessary to quickly evacuate your home due to a disaster. But the term “bug out bag” is most often associated with survivalist “cranks” who are prepping for when TSHTF (the sh** hits the fan). That is, they are preparing for an economic and social collapse.

CNN was discussing bug out bags because respected financial guru David John Marotta had advised his wealthy clients to prepare one against “the possibility of a precipitous decline.” In short, he warned against a collapse from which city-dwelling clients should flee. Marotta wrote, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list.” The broadcasters seemed dumbfounded by the words coming out of their own mouths. They hastily assured listeners that Marotta was not predicting a financial apocalypse. Rather he thought a slow European-style decline was more likely. That’s the reassuring news?

Well, actually it is. “Slow” means there is still time to make preparations. And if figures like Marotta are recommending “prepping,” then the reality of the economic situation is going mainstream.

To make preparations, however, it is useful to have a sense of what to expect. This leads directly to my predictions for 2014, which I introduce by three caveats. First, predictions are a territory into which financial guru Doug Casey says people should not wander if they intend to include an event and a time; I recklessly include both. Second, predictions should be made vague in a manner perfected by psychics who proclaim “you will meet a stranger…”; I offer specifics. Third, the next year will be volatile and largely defined by unintended consequences and unexpected reactions; 2014 is not the raw material required for accurate predictions.

Yet there are specific events that I think are more likely than not to occur within the next 12 months. The year 2014 is likely to resemble the opening sentence of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. It will be a wild mixture of both the best and the worst of times. The ratio of good to bad that impacts people’s lives depends largely on whether they are ready to embrace the best and marginalize the worst. Happiness and liberty are similar to luck; they tend to favor the prepared.

30 Possibilities For 2014

Here are some of the “best of times” that I expect in 2014:

  1. More individuals wake up and take control of their lives. (A large rise in subscribers recently at The Dollar Vigilante shows this.)
  2. Edward Snowden continues to make opposing the state look trendy.
  3. Libertarianism swells in popularity, as evidenced by media attacks.
  4. Biotech “miracles,” including the reversal of aging, edge toward being real.
  5. Ditto on tech breakthroughs, including robots and self-driving cars.
  6. 3-D printing creates a cornucopia of cheap and accessible goods.
  7. The correction in gold prices ends.
  8. More States legalize marijuana; a crack in the drug war spreads.
  9. Bitcoins stabilize and are more accepted by the mainstream.
  10. Republicans win the House but not the Senate; bipartanship deepens.
  11. Virgin Galactic begins space tourism flights in August, on schedule.
  12. The dollar fades as the world’s reserve currency; the Yuan fills the void.
  13. The use of cash increases due to concern over ID theft and privacy.
  14. The Supreme Court rules against Obamacare in at least one key case.
  15. The backlash against “global warming” grows, led by Canada and Australia.

Here are some of the “worst of times” that I expect in 2014:

  1. True U.S. unemployment rises, despite what is officially reported. The housing market crashes again, especially in Canada.
  2. Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, perhaps covertly.
  3. New minimum wage laws sweep America, driven by Democrats.
  4. The 29-hour week is standard for most new employees due to Obamacare.
  5. The American economy lumbers into zombie mode, similar to that of Japan.
  6. The 1 percent is richer; the middle class is poorer; the poor… don’t go there!
  7. A terrorist attack occurs somewhere in Russia during Olympics.
  8. The prices of food and energy soar.
  9. A series of American cities declare bankruptcy.
  10. Snowden is still in Russia; Julian Assange is still at Ecuadorian embassy.
  11. Social unrest grows worldwide, including racial unrest in America.
  12. Obamacare is a train wreck; insurance companies balk at paying claims.
  13. Quantitative easing continues worldwide.
  14. The Taliban control most of Afghanistan; the United States does not remove all troops.
  15. “Lone shooter” events occur increasingly throughout the United States.

My synopsis for optimism ensues:

  • In terms of prosperity: The innovation and energy of individuals is driving the economy, despite the desperate effort of governments to clamp down and to control. We live in an age of miracles, wrought not by religion but by science and technology — that is to say, by the mind of man. Our species deserves a standing ovation.
  • In terms of politics: Decent and productive people are waking up to the corruption and thievery that is the state. They are becoming independent enough to weather economic and social hardships that could otherwise break them in two.
  • In terms of liberty: The key factor in how freely people live is how thoroughly they reject the state from their lives and deal with it only under duress. I see this happening everywhere. It is in the air, like ozone before a storm.

Your personal choices have never been more important. And there is still time, but time is shrinking.

Every day you’re alive to fight the good fight is a good day. But time is of the essence if you’re going to continue leading a semi-free life. With mainstream financial advisers now telling clients to organize “bug out bags” in case major cities become uninhabitable, there can be little doubt in the thinking man’s mind that these might just be the worst of times. When you realize that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local news channels are beginning to parrot the same theme, you might begin to wonder: “Why is it exactly that I am still here?”

As you can see, as Jeff Berwick often says, things are moving quickly. The worst thing we could do as individuals is panic. Remember: It is also the best of times. By figuring out and focusing on clear goals designed to protect ourselves and our families financially (and physically, etc.), we can lead the happy and secure lives we deserve.

The Dollar Vigilante offers a range of services to help individuals survive The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It, such as the weekly paid newsletter and above-board second citizenship programs.

For TDV’s high-net-worth clients, the TDV Wealth Management Crisis Conference — to be held Feb. 5-9 in Panama — will place participants on a clear footing towards financial independence. Not your typical conference, the Crisis Conference will give you the tools you need to benefit from a common-sense international strategy tailored to your needs.

For 2014, it simply makes sense to ensure your future today.

–Wendy McElroy

Wendy McElroy is a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist (not the kind of feminist you are used to) and now a staple at The Dollar Vigilante. She was a co-founder of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of 12 books, the latest of which is The Art of Being Free. Follow her work at http://www.wendymcelroy.com.

Is The NSA Changing Bank Accounts?

Has the National Security Administration (NSA) been changing the amounts held in the financial accounts of people it targets?

The question would seem absurd if it were not for a 308-page report on the NSA that was released on Dec. 12 by an official White House panel. Recommendation 31, “Institutional Measures for Cyberspace,” on page 37 and repeated on page 221 reads:

(1) Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry;

(2) Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.

Upon reading the panels’ report, Trevor Timm (a surveillance expert from the Electronic Frontier Foundation) sent a tweet; it was retweeted by Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who originally leaked documents from Edward Snowden.

Does it imply that the NSA is or has been altering the financial data of targeted individuals or agencies?

The NSA certainly has the ability to do so, because it has the information to do so. The German news source Der Spiegel reported Sept. 15 on an internal NSA branch known as “Follow the Money” (FTM). The branch monitors “international payments, banking and credit card transactions.” In a responsive statement, the NSA admitted to tracking financial information but only as it related to terrorist financing and terror networks. It states, “This information is collected through regulatory, law enforcement, diplomatic, and intelligence channels, as well as through undertakings with cooperating foreign allies and partners.”

One “cooperating” ally is apparently the international bank messaging system Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT. The system promotes itself as a financial service “with speed, certainty and confidence.” More than 10,000 banking organizations in 212 countries use SWIFT. In a carefully worded statement, SWIFT’s chief information officer Mike Fish indicated that the agency had “no evidence to suggest” there had been “any unauthorized access.” The key word is, of course, “unauthorized.”

The NSA stores the financial information in a databank called Tracfin. (An identically named database was created in France in 1990 with the stated goal of tracking illegal financial transactions; it is not clear if the database used by the NSA is somehow connected.) According to Der Spiegel, Tracfin “in 2011 contained 180 million records. Some 84 percent of the data is from credit card transactions.”

If the NSA is monitoring transactions in the Mideast and Germany, then how likely is it to be tracking money within U.S. borders? This is especially likely given that leaked documents from Snowden indicate the NSA has been tracking the Visa credit card system. Visa offered a carefully worded response in which it claimed not to know of any “unauthorized” access to its database. As for other large U.S. financial institutions, it would be surprising if they refused to share information with a government responsible for their economic dominance.

The only assurance of financial privacy is the NSA’s claim that it is not monitoring American transactions. There are at least three reasons why the assurance is not credible:

  1. The tracking of financial transactions within America has been documented for years. In 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported on “so-called ‘black programs’ whose existence is undisclosed.” Many of them “began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach. Among them, current and former intelligence officials say, is a longstanding Treasury Department program to collect individual financial data including wire transfers and credit-card transactions.” If one government agency has the data, then they all do.
  2. In 2006, when NSA was discovered using SWIFT data, there was a political uproar in the EU; the U.S. agreed to safeguards and to limit its surveillance in exchange for access. Agreements from the NSA are apparently worthless, as the backdoor access continues.
  3. What the NSA says varies from moment to moment, person to person. For example, the agency has repeatedly denied that its surveillance is conducted to commercially benefit American companies. Nevertheless, Bloomberg on Sept. 9 reported on the NSA surveillance of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras. Documents released by Snowden included a 2012 NSA slide show presentation “that explained the agency’s capability to penetrate private networks of companies such as Petrobras. … One slide in the presentation listed “economic” as an intention for spying.”

In his recent “open letter to the people of Brazil,” Snowden asked that government for political asylum. Of the NSA surveillance, he stated: “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”

The foregoing is not surprising or even new, except for one detail. No government body has previously implied that the NSA might be now or in the future altering the information stored by financial institutions. No official has previously suggested that the NSA could bankrupt or lock up the finances of targeted individuals. It is a haunting question: Why would the panel explicitly tell the NSA, “Don’t do this!” if the agency weren’t doing it already or planning to do so?

The panels’ recommendations are heartening because they are overwhelmingly critical of the NSA; the panel went so far as to unanimously call for splitting up the agency and for safeguards such as transparency. This is another surprise because the panel was handpicked by Obama and included the die-hard loyalist Cass Sunstein and former CIA deputy director Michael J. Morell.

Obama quickly indicated his rejection of some of the panels’ recommendations. Watching him deal with the rest of them will make for entertaining popcorn moments.

Meanwhile, everyone should make sure they have a print copy and a screenshot of their latest financial statements on hand. People should consider holding assets in a less conventional place than large and “trusted” financial institutions. The advice sounds paranoid. But as paranoid as you get, it is difficult to keep up with the U.S. government.

–Wendy McElroy

Wendy McElroy is a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist (not the kind of feminist you are used to) and now a staple at The Dollar Vigilante. She was a co-founder of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of 12 books, the latest of which is “The Art of Being Free.”  Follow her work at http://www.wendymcelroy.com.

Lies, Damned Lies And Government Statistics

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” — Mark Twain

With all due respect to Twain, he did not extend the thought far enough; government statistics trump all lies. But then again, the government’s role as both pre-eminent statistics gatherer and manipulator is a phenomenon more applicable to our time. Today, various U.S. bureaus and agencies monkey with every key macroeconomic indicator: most notably, inflation, production (gross domestic product) and unemployment.

Inflation

Since the early 1980s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has engineered a lower “inflation” rate in the consumer price index (CPI) with such maneuvers as:

  • Accounting for “quality” improvements in goods (“hedonic adjustments”),
  • Replacing items in the basket of goods measured with lower-price items (“substitution”),
  • Decreasing the impact of rising prices by any particular good within the basket (“geometric weighting”),
  • And changing how rents are measured (“imputation”).

The results? According to ShadowStats, which calculates inflation with the previous CPI methodology, inflation has been understated by 5 to 6 percentage points over recent years.

Gross Domestic Product

GDP, to the extent it is relevant at all, must be assessed in real terms (discounting the effects of inflation). Otherwise, how else could you discern economic growth from a mere rise in prices? Therefore, economists “deflate” GDP statistics by the rate of inflation to determine real changes in economic output. Curiously, instead of using the CPI in such calculations, the government uses a different price index, entitled personal consumption expenditures (PCE). Why? As the PCE index is chronically lower than the CPI, real economic growth appears higher than if the CPI were used. Not content with just this trick, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (there are a number of U.S. agencies which compile economic statistics) rolled out new guidelines for GDP calculation on July 31: Henceforth, expenses paid for research and development will be included to “capture” the benefits of intangible assets. GDP jumped 2.7 percent with the addition (every little bit helps), and future growth is projected to be higher with the change.

Unemployment

As of October, unemployment stood at 7.3 percent. Notwithstanding the previous month’s rate of 7.2 percent, this represented its lowest level since December 2008 (7.3 percent), which appears an impressive rebound given its peak of 10 percent (October 2009). But the labor force participation rate, the statistic that measures the actively employed percentage of an economy’s workforce, stands at a mere 62.8 percent (October) — a level not observed since 1978. The discrepancy? Literally millions of discouraged unemployed workers having ceased looking for work. In BLS calculations, if you do not have a job, you are unemployed. If you have been looking for years and have become so disillusioned as to end your efforts, you are no longer unemployed — but you still do not have a job.

We understand that many areas of the economy cannot be measured with any precision. In fact, the Austrian school of economics, to which we subscribe, was the first to point out the difficulties of measuring something as seemingly innocuous as the price level.

Because of such difficulties, it is reasonable to believe economists seek to improve their accuracy and worth. But when do refinement and improvement become, not a purpose, but a pretense for goosing the numbers? The aforementioned machinations prove we are already there.

However, worse than the manipulation of statistics to placate the populace and the financial markets is the reason the government is so interested in statistics. In his book Statistics: Achilles’ Heel of Government, noted economist Murray Rothbard explained:

Statistics are the eyes and ears of the bureaucrat, the politician, the socialistic reformer. Only by statistics can they know, or at least have any idea about, what is going on in the economy. Only by statistics can they find out . . . who “needs” what throughout the economy, and how much federal money should be channeled in what directions.

Statistics are the critical tools of the central planners. Their growth in usage tracks the retrenchment of free markets from the economic landscape. Their manipulation reflects the deterioration of an economy.

Twain may have been a great author of fiction, but the U.S. government wins the Pulitzer.

–Christopher P. Casey

Christopher P. Casey, CFA®, CPA is a Managing Director at WindRock Wealth Management (www.windrockwealth.com). Using Austrian economic theory, Mr. Casey advises wealthy individuals on their investment portfolios to maximize their returns and minimize risk in today’s world of significant government intervention. Mr. Casey can be reached at 312-650-9602 or at chris.casey@windrockwealth.com.

The Alarming Lack Of Pretense In Politics

One of the most alarming trends in American politics is the lack of pretense being displayed by authority. Like a ravening beast that loses its fear of humans, government becomes more dangerous when it loses the need to pose as a public servant that performs legitimate tasks. In short, government becomes more dangerous when it doesn’t care what you think of it. The sentence-long version of the argument for pretense is this: The need to pretend is a restraint upon authority.

Libertarian icon Murray Rothbard used to chuckle gleefully over the statements and antics of the notoriously corrupt politician Boss Tweed (1823-1878) of Tammany Hall. Murray loved the blatant quality of the man’s corruption. “Those were the days before politicians had PR agents, and a crook was a crook,” Murray would declare. He found the transparent corruption to be charming because it was non-hypocritical and it publicly revealed the ugly face of politics.

I disagree.

The government is a band of organized thugs who steal wealth and impose social control. Every “legitimate” function government provides — such as the construction of roads — would be better provided by a free market that does not steal and does not control behavior. But if there must be a government, then I want it filled with pretense.

Modern politics is the art of PR or smoke and mirrors. Politicians steal a fortune in salaries, hidden perks, pensions and benefits. This is on top of the ego-bulging power they enjoy. But politicians also want the populace to believe they are public servants who are humbled by power. They deny praxeology. This Misesean theory states that human beings act to achieve goals that benefit them. “Not so!” claim politicians. “Our actions are for the greater good, from pure altruism, for the children, an expression of public service, to stave off climate warming, for global peace, to advance women’s rights.”

The mask is falling. America is returning to the Boss Tweed approach in which blatantly self-serving motives are hardly concealed.

I remember vividly a news item from December 2012. It was the moment at which I realized the police in the United States no longer feel any need to pretend. They have become blatant thugs who will brutalize or kill anyone who defies or annoys them.

The news item? A Texas high school student was arrested; the arrest was allegedly to prevent the boy from harming himself due to depression. He was searched, his hands were cuffed behind his back, and he was placed into a police vehicle. The official version of what happened next: He shot himself to death with a hidden gun. Police claimed the T-shirted teen must have hidden the gun “really well,” and investigators backed up their account. No explanation of how the handcuffed teen retrieved a weapon was offered. The underlying message is that the police no longer need to pretend that they protect rather than victimize people.

Imagine an associate who has the goal of victimizing you at every turn while, at the same time, he deceives you into calling him a friend. As long as the pretense is in place, he cannot commit acts that are glaringly antithetical to friendship. If he beats you up in an alley, you will compare his actions to his words and conclude he is an enemy. The need to float an illusion of friendship is a restraint upon his actions. He needs to maintain the illusion because it is your belief in the friendship that gives him access to your life. He wants you to cooperate in your own victimization.

Government is that associate. The American government has pretended to be a friend and partner of “the people” since its inception. “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” were words spoken by President Abraham Lincoln at a time when he presided over the greatest slaughter of Americans in history: the Civil War. The President uttered noble words and young men died in fields filled with corpses rather than grain. Such is the way of government “for the people.”

Nevertheless, the need for pretense generally restrains government in much the same manner as it used to restrain the police. Before the militarization of the police in the wake of 9-11, officers perpetuated the lie of “to serve and protect” by presenting a comparatively benign face to the public. This required some level of good behavior. Brutality occurred behind closed doors and it was largely inflicted on those who had no voice in society. Today, the police no longer close the door. They police use SWAT teams to raid organic farms, holding residents at gun point while they destroy okra plants. They kill harmless family pets as a routine part of intimidating harmless people. The mask has fallen.

The war against Syria that wasn’t is instructive. When Syria allegedly crossed an arbitrary “red line” that had been defined by Barack Obama, the President was unilaterally ready to attack, without diplomatic foreplay, without Congressional approval, without U.N. support, with nothing but his signature on a piece of paper. It would have been a war for one man’s credibility. The legacy of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President required the murder of Syrians.

Then a series of PR setbacks occurred: The British parliament prevented the U.K. from joining in, the American public rebelled, international opinion backfired and Congress demanded a voice. Suddenly, Obama began to pretend. “I honor the opinion of the American people,” he claimed. “I will ask Congress,” he vowed. “I will consult with international powers,” he announced. And so war with Syria was prevented by the need for pretense.

When a government no longer cares how people view it, what results is the Soviet Union of the 1980s. A government that does not seek your consent to being victimized is a transparently totalitarian one that uses brutality as a default policy. People in the Soviet Union did not have the illusion of “we are the government” or “the police are there to help you.” They knew government was the enemy and the police were its agents.

The American government is abandoning pretense. Murray would applaud. I see it as a final sign to either get out or prepare to seriously shelter in place. A government that is indifferent to public good will is openly hostile to human survival. A government that does not pretend is terrifying.

–Wendy McElroy

Wendy McElroy is a renowned individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist in 1982, and is the author/editor of 12 books, the latest of which is “The Art of Being Free”. Follow her work at www.wendymcelroy.com.

The Federal Reserve’s War On Seniors

The Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) of the past half dozen years or so has been a financial act of war on the country’s seniors and, for that matter, on all savers. Under ZIRP, interest rates are artificially lowered through the Fed’s monetary policy popularly known as “QE,” quantitative easing.

The primary reason for this is twofold: first, to allow the Federal government to borrow money at next to nothing in order to maintain its current gargantuan level of spending; and, second, to prop up the Nation’s insolvent banking system, which can continue to engage in all sorts of reckless speculations.

ZIRP is extremely hard on seniors who, for the most part, can no longer rely on earnings through employment income, but have to live on their accumulated wealth. Instead of reaping the rewards for a lifetime of frugal behavior, seniors are being systematically fleeced by the Fed’s action.

ZIRP is actually “class warfare” — not in the Marxist/socialist sense of “labor versus capital,” but in its surreptitious redistribution of wealth from savers (retirees) to the government and politically well-connected financial elites. Moreover, the Fed’s action is turning seniors into a dependent class whose members are no longer able to sustain a reasonable standard of living.

Not only are retirees and savers punished by ZIRP, but the policy is quite destructive to the entire economy since low interest rates discourage savings, which are key to economic growth. Savings provide the means (capital) for production. Without savings, lengthier and more complex production processes will not take place. The personal saving rate in the United States has plummeted for years, with the current level at about 4 percent of disposable income.

The amount of savings is also crucial for the level of employment and wage rates. Greater savings allows entrepreneurs to hire additional labor plus offer higher wage rates. Policies such as ZIRP have destroyed the savings pool not only in the United States but throughout the Western world, which explains, in part, the persistent high levels of unemployment and stagnating wages. Organized labor should be at the forefront in opposing ZIRP.

ZIRP reduces seniors’ standard of living in another devastating sense. To keep interest rates below market levels, the Fed has to purchase larger and larger amounts of U.S. government bonds. Since the Fed has no assets of its own, it must create money to buy the debt (“monetizing the debt”). This, of course, is inflation, the nasty consequence of which is a rise in the price of consumer goods.

For seniors, not only are they receiving little reward for saving which diminishes their capacity to remain self-sufficient, but the money they do have, because of the Fed’s policy, is worth less and less. John Williams of Shadow Statistics has shown that consumer price inflation over the past year has ranged between 5 percent and 10 percent, far above the government’s estimates.

ZIRP and other such measures are the reasons for the creation of a dependent society where reward for hard work and thrift is being systematically undermined for the benefit of a Leviathan state and the financially privileged. The policy has other societal repercussions as younger generations are coming to realize that since prudent behavior will not be rewarded, they will engage in more present-oriented lifestyles. Can there be any doubt that contemporary America’s hedonistic society has resulted, in part, from the punishment of future-oriented behavior.

Less than the abolition of the Fed and a return to a commodity-based monetary order, the solution to the current financial plight of seniors and the economy in general is for the Fed to immediately suspend ZIRP, which would allow interest rates to rise to “normal levels.” Not only would retirees benefit, but the higher rates would induce greater savings, which would eventually spur real and sustainable economic growth.

Unfortunately for seniors, until the Fed’s interest rate policy is reversed, their retirement will be a lot less prosperous than anticipated, as the years of toil and sacrifice will have been for naught. As with so many aspects of the American dream, the golden years are becoming a thing of the past.

–Antonius J. Patrick

Antonius J. Patrick is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who reports on culture- and religion-related issues for American Free Press.

Editor’s note: For help in building a new dream even as the old one dies, click here.