Published August 03, 2012

Paying Lip Service to Liberty

Dear Reader,

We have a full issue today, including a guest essay by long-term friend and now business partner John Mauldin.

But before we get to that and more, I want to share some musings with you on a topic of no small interest to many of you – the topic of liberty.

I'm pretty sure I'm about to offend many dear readers, though that's definitely not my intention. Rather, I hope to provide fodder for reflecting on the nature of liberty and how to find it in a world that is increasingly coming under the thumb of totalitarians.

With that preface, we begin.

Paying Lip Service to Liberty

For some time now – years actually – I have pondered the nature of liberty. Or more specifically, what liberty actually means to me. And to be extra clear, I am not talking about the meaning in abstract or philosophical terms, but tangibly – in much the same way I might answer if asked what my wife means to me.

The trigger for this entirely personal discourse comes from reading various articles and viewing various YouTubes and speeches from self-styled champions of liberty (COL). There is even an entire conference, Mark Skousen's FreedomFest, dedicated to the topic.

Invariably, these well-meaning COL rail against "The Man" (something I do myself), accentuating their public angst by sharing stories of being molested by the TSA or otherwise inconvenienced by minions of the state. It is my contention that most of these individuals, and certainly the majority of "freedom-loving" Americans, don't actually understand the meaning of liberty, but rather give the matter little more than lip service.

And again, I don't mean liberty in an abstract way – like, say, "world peace" – but tangibly.

Now, before going on, tripping emotional wires as I do, I feel the need to quickly establish my bona fides on the topic. I start with the simple fact that with age, and 58 years old counts, comes perspective. In addition, unlike most of today's COL, I have actually been jailed for rioting against authority – at the naïve age of 14, as the result of actively participating in the toe-to-toe anti-war confrontations during the Oakland Induction Center Riots of the late 1960s.

In addition, as over-the-top as it now sounds, along with my now-departed friend and colleague of many years, Jim Blanchard, I spent many months assisting the RENAMO-led freedom fighters raise awareness in their fight against Mozambique's vicious dictatorship. The adventure ultimately ended up with us in a very tight spot under house arrest in neighboring Malawi, followed by a high-speed car chase with the Malawian secret police in hot pursuit.

I have been directly involved with prominent members of the freedom movement in the US as part and parcel of my business career since a very young age, including running the 1980 Libertarian Presidential Nominating Convention in Los Angeles at the request of my friend Ed Crane, the founder of the Cato Institute. Furthermore, I have been friends, business associates, or acquaintances with too many well-known COLs to recount here, starting with my business partner of many years Doug Casey, but also Harry Browne, Milton Friedman, and even Ayn Rand (I arranged for and hosted her at her last public appearance before she died.)

And finally, I would mention my involvement in helping to create La Estancia de Cafayate in a remote wine-growing region of Argentina, without question the largest and most successful community of largely libertarian-minded individuals on the planet.

All of which is to say that I'm not arriving to this discussion fresh off the back of a turnip truck.

So, what does liberty mean to me?

In the simplest and purest terms, it means being free to come and go as I please.

Of course it would be my strong preference to come and go without the charade and indignity of transportation security instituted by most nations these days (ironically, the land of the free being the worst of the lot). But, unlike some prominent COL, I don't make the mistake of conflating transiting airports with protesting against the inanity of transport security.

That's because if I wanted to mount a protest against TSA, I would do it in an organized fashion. Say, by arranging for a large and loud demonstration at whatever passes for TSA's headquarters, making sure that the media was there to provide coverage. I certainly wouldn't do it ad hoc without media present, on a day when I actually needed to travel from point A to point B.

After all, like trees falling in remote woods, if a protest happens and there's no media to record it, was there a protest?

The polar opposite to being free to come and go as one pleases, the essential tenet to my personal definition of liberty, is to be trapped in a jail cell. Been there, done that – and very much have no interest in doing it again.

Thus, I avoid engaging in activities where one of the possible outcomes is being arrested and jailed. For example, making angry displays when a TSA minion asks me to take off my shoes.

Now, I realize that the degradation of principles and justice in countries such as the US means that pretty much everyone breaks a law or three every day, but miscarriages of justice resulting in an innocent person being sentenced to jail (or gunned down) are statistically very rare. Yes, they happen – but so does getting struck by lightning. Thus, when I talk about acting in a fashion unlikely to lead to being locked up in a cage, I'm talking about playing simple odds.

And no, I don't need to be a cowering sheep to keep the odds of my being jailed near zero. Rather, I just need to take note of the laws of whatever land my feet are currently planted on and avoid tripping over the big stuff.

In the US, for example, walking around with a bag of pot in your pocket could lead to jail time. In Uruguay or Amsterdam or dozens of other countries, it's legal. So, when in the US – again, ironically still called "the Land of the Free" – I can manage without the pot. (Actually, I've done without pot for many decades; I'm just using this as an illustration).

Failing to pay the legally proscribed amount of taxes is another easy way to end up in jail. As a US citizen, there's no denying I'm trapped in a tax regime I find abhorrent and counterproductive to the building of capital. That's a big disadvantage compared to many countries.

But am I willing to trade my liberty for the money I might be able to hide from the IRS? Not hardly. That would be the equivalent of choosing the latter when confronted by a gun-wielding thug demanding my money or my life.

Does this mean I'm powerless against the institutionalized theft of taxation? Not at all.

It just means I have to work harder to uncover legal ways to minimize the tax bite, starting by hiring good counsel. And let's not forget, for the citizens of most countries, minimizing the tax burden is as simple as getting on a plane, as – unlike the Land of the Free – they don't tax non-resident citizens on worldwide income.

As for US citizens, if the issue is important enough to you, there are specific steps you can take to legally avoid the taxes altogether, by replacing the passport you carry in your pocket. It's not particularly quick or easy, but if paying less (no?) taxes is that important to you, then there are clear paths to accomplishing just that objective without risking the loss of your liberty.

I'm not making these comments cavalierly, but rather to point out hard facts about the world we live in.

So, freedom to come and go freely is the core principle of my personal liberty. What else?

Well, part of that freedom has to do with personal finances. Namely, you can have all the liberty in the world, but if you don't have the money necessary to actually travel, you probably aren't going to get very far… at least not in a fashion you might enjoy.

While there are countries such as North Korea where the government makes accumulating any wealth almost impossible (unless you are part of the dictator's inner circle), in most of the world, this aspect of life – call it "financial freedom" – has far more to do with a person's willingness to work hard than anything else.

That said, I readily acknowledge that governments everywhere are a constant weight on the entrepreneur's back. Yet, simply looking at the facts as they are, I personally know dozens of people, here in the US – and in places like Argentina, where the government makes doing business an order of magnitude more difficult – who, through their own creativity and exertions, are fabulously successful.

As something of a tangent, while generalizations are rarely useful, in my direct experience many individuals who paint themselves as libertarians have trouble coming up with the proverbial two nickels to rub together. Doug Casey and I have discussed this on more than one occasion, and I don't think either of us has a good answer. If pressed to it, I would hypothesize that it has to do with a latent inability to work as part of a team, something libertarians tend not to be very good at but which is often required to launch a successful career. In support of that hypothesis, look no further than the reality that the Libertarian party has never been able to mount an effective national political campaign.

Back to the point, despite the government's meddling, financial freedom is imminently attainable for individuals who focus on their work and who put in steady efforts at increasingly their personal knowledge (including learning how to handle your money, once you have some). Of course, succeeding may not be easy... it rarely is, though it can be.

While I'm sure there are additional nuances to my personal definition of liberty that I could mention, the big point is that as long as I am free to come and go as I please and have the capability to build the wealth I need to do so, then I have pretty much all the liberty I need to enjoy my limited lifetime on this planet. After all, with those two conditions in place, if one place becomes too unfree for my taste, I can move on.

"Wait a second!" some of you may find yourselves thinking indignantly.

What about the wholesale trampling of the US Constitution in recent decades? What about the militarization of the domestic police force here in the US? What about the loss of freedom in the Land of the Free?

I might respond with a sad shake of the head and by mouthing words such as "tragic," or "damn shame," or even "it's outrageous, criminal even." And there's no question it's all of those things and more. The idea of America in its youth was amazing, especially considering the era in which it was birthed. But that idea has been so diluted at this point to be almost meaningless… here in the United States.

And therein lies the importance of being able to travel freely. You see, unlike many, I refuse to define myself by the artificial borders that were determined solely by an accident of birth. Why should I?

Do I relate to the idea of America? Of course; what thinking person wouldn't? But during this philosophical dark ages for freedom in the United States, what practical purpose does clinging onto that idea serve?

To use an overused comparison, what practical purpose would it have served for the head of a Jewish family during Hitler's Germany to stand on a street corner handing out anti-Nazi pamphlets? The obvious answer is "none." It would have just resulted in the ultimate loss of liberty – his death and likely that of everyone he loved.

Personally, I look at the Americans and I see a people who have been very effectively brainwashed, or who simply have given in to the entirely human tendency to shuffle unquestioningly onto the path of least resistance and let themselves go.

I see a people who, on a wholesale basis, have consciously or unconsciously decided to trade the idea of America for the false security of a totalitarian state.

While there are voices in the woods, such as Ron Paul, that warn of the consequences, I'm trying to focus today on hard realities. And the hard reality is that if you were to assemble all 300 million US citizens in an auditorium to listen to well-presented arguments for less vs. more government and then ask for a show of hands, the vast majority would raise their hands in favor of the current system that has the state deeply involved in pretty much every aspect of the economy and society at large.

Skeptical? Then ask yourself what percentage of the audience would raise their hands in favor if asked the following:

"How many of you want Social Security to remain intact?"

"How many think the government should subsidize health care?"

"How many think the rich should pay more taxes?"

Or ask your questions in the negative, and watch how few hands stick in the air.

"How many of you think the Food and Drug Administration should be abolished?"

"How many of you think recreational drugs, including cocaine and heroin, should be legalized?"

"How many of you think the Department of Education should be shuttered?"

"How many of you think that the tax credit for mortgages should be cancelled?"

At the end of the exercise, the level of support for the very same tangled body of state controlled handouts, regulations and central economic planning now choking the last gasps of life out of the body politic would be obvious and overwhelming.

The practical point I am trying to make here is that the COL are fighting against a very entrenched and increasingly dangerous public mindset. Some like to hearken back to the days of the revolution when prominent men in the community risked it all to overthrow the British. I would contend that the situation today is totally different. Then it was a foreign enemy daily adding salt to the open wound of what was essentially an occupation by marching troops around and passing highly unpopular and often arbitrarily punitive laws. Today the enemy (of true freedom) is within. In fact, the nation is overrun by them… they dominate in most every community, in most businesses and even in most families.

And your fellow citizens don't want what the COL are selling. Sure, there are a fair number – for instance, members of the Tea Party – who might be sympathetic on a largely abstract level, but drill down into the specifics by asking questions such as those above and you'll quickly find just how far off the grid you are.

So what's the point?

  1. Face the facts – Free No More. Contrary to popular delusions, the United States is no longer the Land of the Free – either in terms of its judicial system or its market structure.

    Rather, it is the land of the paranoid, the state-dependent, supporters of Guantanamo and permawar… with the highest incarceration rates in the world, militarized police and… and… and…

    That said, it's also the land of the convenient shopping, relatively inexpensive food and housing and trains that run on time. Provided you pay attention not to trip over the big legal no-nos, you can live a very high standard of living (though, in fairness, that's true of most of the world).

    If, on the other hand, you don't think you can stay out of trouble here or in any country whose government is becoming a danger to residents, then go somewhere else. Or, to quote my friend and partner Doug Casey, "Stop thinking like a serf."
  2. Define what it is you want from your life. And I am speaking about this life, not some promised afterlife. Do you really want to put yourself on the front line of a battle that the vast majority of the populace wouldn't support you in?

    If the answer is "yes," that you are willing to lose your liberty – the ability to travel freely – in support of the cause, then I can only wish you well. I hope at the end of your life, which in the US could come quicker than you'd like, you'll have found satisfaction and purpose in the struggle. Just be sure you are clear on your objectives and are willing to accept the consequences.

Of course, I'll continue to support the champions of liberty here in the US, even though I think they are tilting against windmills for the most part. And I will almost certainly find occasion to speak against the totalitarian tide myself, albeit in terms sufficiently tame to avoid leading to a loss of my liberty.

Far more important as it relates to my personal liberty, I'll continue the process of diversifying my life between political jurisdictions so that if and when things in my native country become unbearably oppressive – and therefore an active risk to my ability to freely go about my business – I can bid it goodbye.

Call me a coward, but in my view it's far better to switch than to fight, especially when the vast majority of my fellow citizens wouldn't know the true meaning of freedom if you served it to them on a silver plate.

Nothing too profound, just something that's been on my mind. As always, your feedback is most welcomed at, though I can't promise I'll be able to respond to everyone.

(Since I mentioned it above, I'll mention that the next big event at La Estancia de Cafayate is being held November 5-10. It's the official kickoff of "The Season" down there, when many of the over 230 property owners from countries in the northern hemisphere come to visit or to take up residence in order to enjoy the beautiful Argentine summer.

There are social events, a Casey Research mini-conference, wine tastings, horses and polo, a golf tournament, tennis, classes at the world-class spa and much more. Information on the "Cafayate Adventure" event can be found here.)

Letters from You: Stepping into the Fire

Because it relates to the above musings, I wanted to share a snippet from an email I received from subscriber Brian A., which concluded with the following well-meant sentiments:

"I would like to do more to change the path this country is going down. Voting seems useless. People like Dave Janda and Ann Barnhardt are getting the message out in their own way to the masses as well as the Casey folks. But I am trying to figure a way a basic person such as myself can contribute to the solution. Any suggestions?" Brian A.

My response…


Thanks for the note.

As far as helping to change the world, alas there is not much I can suggest on that front.

As I see it, the country – and much of the large, degraded democracies – are on fire, the fire starting in the piles of paper money and debt and spreading fairly quickly at this point.

The bureaucrats are throwing everything they can at the fire at this point, but the size of the paper mountain is too big for them to have any effect. That won't stop them from trying... by throwing the corpses of the productive classes onto the inferno (which, of course, just stokes the fire further, but they don't know that), by adding more regulations, exchange controls, starting wars, etc.

Meanwhile, the public has been trained to think that the bureaucrats are the only ones that know how to put out a fire, and so instead of throwing them into the inferno (figuratively speaking, of course) which would be the actual solution, they stand on the sidelines and encourage them to greater efforts.

Now, you may want to step into middle of this raging blaze, perhaps with your garden hose, but in my view all that's going to happen is that you, and everything you own, will then go up in smoke.

The reality, at least as I see it, is that the fire needs to complete its natural cycle, leaving behind scorched earth that will provide the fertile soil for an economic resurgence.

While we each have to make our own choices on where to be during the firestorm that's coming, I plan on being about as far away as I can – in a small, wine-growing town in Northwest Argentina. In addition to being a truly wonderful place, the Argentines are old hands at dealing with economic crisis – and the place is completely self-sustaining in all the right things (starting with good food and wine, and lots of it).

Not sure that helps, but that's the way I see it.


I guess that sums up my current view pretty well. And now, on to an article on the realities of the current investment environment.

Starving the Savers with Operation Twist

By John Mauldin, chairman of Mauldin Economics

The news that the Federal Reserve Bank expanded its Operation Twist program by another $267 billion was meet with somewhat surprising yawn by Wall Street.

In case you've been ignoring the Fed (which is not such a bad idea if they weren't so powerful), Operation Twist is the process in which the Fed sells billion of dollars of short-term bonds and uses those funds to purchase long-term Treasury bonds on the open market.

The goal is to reduce long-term interest and make mortgages as well as business loans more affordable.

According to the Federal Open Market Committee, Operation Twist "should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative."

That strategy didn't work so well on the day of the announcement, as yields on the 10-year Treasury note rose from 1.62% to 1.65%.

Operation Twist is on top of the Fed commitment to keep interest rates "exceptionally low" at least until late 2014.

The idea is to lower the interest rate of the longer bonds, which in turn is supposed to lower interest rates for borrowers on mortgages, cars, and business loans. While Operation Twist may be helpful to people and businesses who want to borrow money, the result for savers is financial starvation.

These are the people who have responsibly spent less than they made and socked away those savings for a rainy day, presumably the golden years of retirement.

Savers are simply getting what my father described as "diddly-squat" on their savings. One has to go out beyond five years to get more than a 1% yield. Who is buying this stuff?

And if this additional waste of taxpayer money doesn't work, Bernanke promises to spend even more borrowed money. "If we don't see continued improvement in the labor market, we'll be prepared to take additional steps if appropriate," promises Bernanke.

Those "appropriate steps" will certainly be the third round of Quantitative Easing, or QE3.

QE3, however, is effectively the last bullet in the Federal Reserve Bank's pistol, and if it proves to be as ineffective as QE1 and QE2, some other division of the government cavalry will need to ride to the rescue.

Operation Twist, Quantitative Easing, and keeping interest rates at historic lows are all acknowledgements that our economy is weak and going to get weaker.

Meanwhile... Back on the Congressional Ranch

At the same time, our elected officials need to turn their focus away from getting re-elected to finding a solution – at least a temporary one – for the fiscal cliff we are approaching.

By the end of this year, unless lawmakers intervene, some automatic spending cuts will go into effect, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire, and income tax rates will rise, along with taxes on long-term capital gains and dividends.

  • The maximum tax on long-term capital gains from the sale of securities will rise from the current 15% to 23.8% in 2013.
  • Dividends will be taxed as ordinary income, so the tax will rise from the current 15% to as high as 43.4%.

And don't forget the expiration of the payroll tax cut on Social Security.

While I believe the legislators will find some solution as we approach year end, there is no way to know what they will do, so you would be wise to have a plan in place to protect your portfolio.

If the Bush tax cuts expire, you may want to harvest some of your capital gains in 2012.

Not only because tax rates will rise, but you should also consider the very real possibility that our economy may fall back into a recession and take the stock market with it.

Europe, Here We Come

Our country is at an important crossroad. Our politicians want to spend even more money that we don't have and like Europe, have built up a mountain of debt.

The US will soon be faced with similar sovereign debt problems. As the bond investors look at Europe and a soon-to-implode Japan, they will decide that the US is only different in size and scale.

Our national debt surpassed our country's GDP last year. Think about that: our politicians have spent their way to the point that we owe more than the collective output of all our individuals and businesses in the entire United States.

And our debt problem is going to get worse.

The interest on our $16 trillion of national debt is rapidly becoming a huge part of the overall budget, and any rise in interest rates will put severe constraints on spending or force large tax increases or require the Federal Reserve to monetize the debt.

None of those have positive outcomes.

Our ballooning deficit creates the very real risk of the bond market treating us just as it is treating Italy and any other country that gets to the point where its debt is unsustainable.

No country can run deficits the size we are currently running, along with unfunded deficits over four times the size of the economy and a growing overall debt burden, without consequences.

At some not-too-distant point, investors in bonds will start to question the ability of the United States to service that debt and will treat our government debt like a red-headed stepchild.

But until that time comes, which is a ways off, it's clear that the Federal Reserve, other central banks, and even our esteemed leaders in Washington are going to take whatever measures they deem fit to rectify Washington's problems – even if it means effectively repressing your income, your returns on savings and investments, and more.

The bottom line is that Washington has effectively changed the game for successful income investing. So much so that people who rely on yields will need to adapt to a new way of investing for income. And the sooner the better, because the environment for traditional income investing is not going to improve anytime soon, and maybe not for years.

While bonds have had a great run thanks to the government's suppression of interest rates, today they offer a negative return after taxes and inflation. Worse, they will suffer huge losses once interest rates rebound – as they inevitably must.

John Mauldin is the chairman of Mauldin Economics, a partnership with Casey Research, and the publishers of a new advisory service called Yield Shark, offering specific buy and sell recommendations specifically tailored for income-oriented investors and adapted to the new realities of an over-indebted world. More information is available here.

Friday Funnies

Since our theme today is pretty political, I thought we'd continue with the following classic quotes you might enjoy.

* The problem with political jokes is they get elected. – Henry Cate, VII

* We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. – Aesop

* If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in political acceptance speeches there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven. – Will Rogers

* Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. – Plato

* Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. – Nikita Khrushchev

* When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. – Clarence Darrow

* Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. – Author Unknown

* If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates. – Jay Leno

* Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. – Oscar Ameringer

* I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. – Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952

* A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country. – Texas Guinan

* Any American who is prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so. – Gore Vidal

* I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. – Charles de Gaulle

* Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. – Doug Larson

* Don't vote, it only encourages them. – author unknown

* There ought to be one day – just one – when there is open season on senators. – Will Rogers

A Sign of the Times

Those of you who skew Republican will probably get a kick out of this; those of you who aren't… hang in there, I'll find something equally good next week. But I have to admit, I thought this was pretty funny, especially the part about approving this message.

Could You Live Forever?

Reader Jake W. sent along a link to a YouTube of a speech by Dr. Stephen Badylak at last year's Singularity Summit on the topic of regenerative medicine. Alex Daley (the head of our Technology Research division) and I were both at the event and saw this speech live and were most impressed, so I was glad to find it has been posted in the open.

In his speech, Badylak shares the stunning results of recent human studies on growing body parts, in one case growing a brand-spanking-new human esophagus from stem cells from a pig. This is a very upbeat and exciting video about new technologies that, except for interference by the FDA, would almost certainly be on the market sooner rather than later. It's 38 minutes long, so don't start it until you've got some time available. Here's the link.

All the News that's Worth Manufacturing: Chick-fil-A

Though I read a lot, I tend to avoid reading the manufactured news. You know, the stuff that marketing geniuses deep in the bowels of the media networks concoct out of whole cloth to stir mass emotions and generate eye-balls on advertisements.

However, curious after seeing the headlines for several days about a big controversy over the views of the owner of an oddly named chicken franchise on the matter of gay marriage, I finally succumbed and clicked on a link to read the story.

And the story is that, oh my gosh, the Southern Baptist owner of Chick-fil-A restaurants is – Gasp! – against same sex marriage! Wait, let me add a few more exclamation points to that stunning revelation.


This, apparently, is such an outrage that the mayors of Boston and New York have come out and said that the franchise was no longer welcome within their borders.

That this whole set up is ludicrous almost beyond description should be obvious to pretty much anyone... anyone whose brains haven't been so addled by political correctness indoctrination, that is.

For starters, if you think the guy who owns Chick-fil-A doesn't like same-sex marriage, what about the guy down at the local hardware store? Or laundromat? Or car dealer? I bet there are business owners all around the country, especially those who attend fundamentalist churches, who loathe the idea.

Therefore, if you are going to walk the picket line at businesses whose owners aren't in favor of your point of view, you'd better buy a nice new pair of sneakers (checking first, of course, that the owner is prosame-sex marriage, anti-guns, anti-foreign imports, pro-carbon taxes, pro-dolphin-free tuna unless you are a vegan, in which case anti-tuna altogether, etc., etc.), because you're going to be doing a lot of walking.

Of course, the owner of Chick-fil-A has the right to his views, and if people really find them offensive, they should feel entirely within their rights to not buy their chicken there. Instead, the opposition to his views, having already made the guy a small fortune by ginning up support from people who share his views, are planning on doubling down by holding a Kiss-In at the Chick-fil-A restaurants. Apparently they believe that staging some girl-on-girl action for the entertainment of diners will make their point.

In my view, the state has no role in marriage, and if two people of the same gender want to make a legally binding contract to share assets and so forth, why should anyone object? In fact, if five or ten people want to make such a contract, who's to say they shouldn't? As for things like allowing hospital visitations or employee benefits for the partners in these contracts, if a company doesn't want to allow for that, there will be plenty of others who will.

Time marches on, and societies evolve. Well, at least most societies.

A World Without Trust

As it's getting late in the day, I'm going to quickly toss out some items from this week that reinforce just how few trusted sources remain to the public at large. In fact, the situation is getting so bad that virtually all the institutions we used to think we could trust are proving to be unreliable and downright deceitful.

Good Knight, Capital: The Wiggly World of Finance. This week a technology glitch at Knight Capital started trading wildly, losing the firm $440 million in just minutes. This is just one of dozens of stories out there on the subject. The simple truth is that the entire financial system and much of the money tied up in it is at risk from the widespread adoption of high-speed trading and automatic order-processing software. Meanwhile, John Corzine of MF Global remains unencumbered by the constabulary.

(At our upcoming Carlsbad Summit, September 7-9, we're having an entire panel dedicated to ways to invest outside of traditional stock and bond markets… get all the details on the event and take advantage of the early-bird pricing that ends tonight at midnight.)

Global Whining: The Corruption of Science You have to read this classic example of how desperate the manmade global-warming crowd is to find something to prove their unprovable point.

Today's Jobless Report: (Government) Statistics Lie. Our own Vedran Vuk pointed out today the following, which is from the just-released BLS employment report, which you can read here.

"Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 163,000 in July, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 8.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, and manufacturing. Household Survey Data Both the number of unemployed persons (12.8 million) and the unemployment rate (8.3 percent) were essentially unchanged in July. Both measures have shown little movement thus far in 2012. (See table A-1.)"

As Vedran put it, "Who knew that in the new doublespeak economy 'essentially unchanged' actually means the unemployment rate rose from 8.2% to 8.3%. True, this labor report wasn't as bad as it possibly could have been, but it is certainly is not 'unchanged.' The unemployment rate rose."

We live in a world where it's not even enough to "trust, but verify" any more. I think it's now more like, "Assume the data are manipulated until proven otherwise."

And with that, I will bid you so long for the week, apologizing as I do to anyone whose toes I may have stepped on today. It is good to exchange views on the big ideas that dominate contemporary thinking. While the nature of this medium is largely one-sided (though I do read all incoming emails), it is my hope to see you in either Carlsbad or even at La Estancia de Cafayate to continue the dialogue.

Until next week, I hope, thanks for reading and for being a Casey Research subscriber.

David Galland
Managing Director
Casey Research