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Who Owns Ukraine?
Probably not Ukrainians or Russians
My possessions are causing me suspicions,
but there’s no proof
—Don’t Dream It’s Over, Sixpense None the Richer
As Canada began seizing homes, bank accounts, and businesses of truckers, I realized that Klaus Schwab’s “you will own nothing” was not a prediction. It was a statement of fact delivered in the wrong tense.
You already own nothing.
Specifically, if you cannot physically touch it and defend it (by whatever means you’re willing to employ), it’s not yours. The balance in your bank accounts? Not yours. Your 401k? Someone else’s. Your ETFs? Theirs.
As with so many other things, we were lied to about ownership. You own what you can physically control, and that’s it. (That Second Amendment should be looking mighty attractive about now.)
As I said, I’ve been thinking about this since Canada took the supposed property of truckers. And people who donated $10 to them through GiveSendGo. I’ve decided to invest in nothing but physical gold and silver (and other such valuables). Stuff I can defend with the Second Amendment.
A psychologist would probably say I’ve been thinking such thoughts much longer. I have more backpacks than the average family of six whose favorite pastime is camping. Each of my seven backpacks has a purpose and is packed accordingly. I’ll spare the details of my other means of escape and evasion, but less cynical people consider me odd. And this oddness manifested long before Justin Trudeau became Prime Sinister of the Great White North.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I felt like I’d met an old (but much wiser) friend when I read a post on ZeroHedge tonight. It was reposted from the Substack Doomberg (awesome name for a blog). It took my concerns of lack of ownership to the macro level.
Doomberg looks at Western sanctions on Russia and concludes that the jig is up. The entire banking scheme exposed itself as a sham.
Retail customers won’t recognize this admission, but people handle lots of money and have lots of fiduciary licenses will.
Writes Doomberg (emphases added):
The most stunning move by the US and its allies was cutting off the Russian central bank’s access to most of its $630 billion of foreign reserves. Without access, one wonders if these funds are really “its” reserves at all? What is ownership without access? No matter how justified that move might seem today, there’s no escaping that this action will reverberate for years to come.
Doomberg points out that he is not alone in realizing the mask just dropped. He references a Jon Sindreau piece in the Wall Street Journal that pointed out the dangers of the US regularly seizing foreign assets that do not belong to the United States—much the way Vladimir Putin seized a territory that did not belong to him. Doomberg elaborates:
In for a shock, indeed. In essence, Sindreu’s piece argues that this move substantially increases the risk that the US dollar loses its privileged status as the global reserve currency and, at a minimum, likely ensures a polarization of the global economy into at least two camps – the West in one and Russia/China/Iran/Saudi Arabia plus other targeted or aligned countries in the other. If $20-30 trillion or more of global GDP spurns the preexisting reserve currency, is it still the reserve currency? If reserves can be negated overnight, are they even reserves? How many other countries must hedge against the possibility of similar sanctions? Should we add India to the list?
In essence, some countries believe the United States has broken the trust of Bretton Woods, not just by going off the gold standard in 1971, but abusing its position as printer of the world’s reserve currency.
Imagine one of your buddies, Dick, owns a fishing cabin in Canada. It’s a nice cabin, and every year he invites and four other guys for two weeks in the wilderness. He, of course, gets the best room with a door and his own toilet. It’s his cabin. Nobody complains. But after a few years, the guy starts kind of throwing his weight around a little unfriendly. Your new fishing rod is missing one day. “Yeah, Dick grabbed and went on the lake this morning,” someone tells you. Another says, “did he take my bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s? I can’t find it.” “Oh, Dick drank that last night,” someone says.
When Dick gets back, he says he lost your rod, but you can borrow one of the kids’ out in the shed. Oh, and he’s also having a few friends from Manitoba over for a couple nights, so “some of you guys will need to find accommodations.”
But the icing on the cake comes when all of you guests find your wallets empty. “I needed some cash. They don’t take plastic up here, and those Manitobans drink a lot,” he explains. “Besides, it’s my cabin.”
To some countries—however vile they might be—America is the Dick. It invades Afghanistan with good reason, but then hangs around for 20 years and leaves the place worse than it found it. An this was after it did the same thing in Iraq. These other countries tolerated the USA for a long time because it kicked Hitler’s ass, contained the Soviet Union, and produces some of the world’s favorite movies.
But now, after training the world that peace and stability are attainable only through an open and well-regulated financial system that ensures money can be shared, borrowed, lent, escrowed, and withdrawn easily, the Dick of nations starts pocketing other people’s cash on the pretense that, “Hey, it says ‘The United States of America’ right on the front, so it must be mine. Get lost!”
In other words, from 1945 to (about) 2000, the world’s nations refrained from blowing each other to kingdom come because doing so would blow up a lot of the bombing nation’s wealth along with it. We all owned a piece of each other. And the United States would honor its contracts, right?
Rightly or wrongly, many of the world’s nations no longer believe the United States can be trusted with the combination to the vault or the Pappy Van Winkle’s. Rightly or wrongly, some nations no longer believe that an open, well-regulated financial system is open or well-regulated. One of those nations is is Russia. Another is China. A third is Saudi Arabia. (Have you wondered why, for the first time, the Saudis are telling a US president to pack sand when he asks them to step up production?)
Let’s get back to Doomberg and the Canadian truckers (who would never lose your new fishing rod or drink your Pappy’s):
We are the first to admit that “Russian oligarch” is a less sympathetic faction than “Canadian trucker,” and perpetrating a war on another sovereign nation is way more serious than honking horns in downtown Ottawa, but many of the same questions we raised about the consequences of Justin Trudeau’s impulses seem apropos here. Who gets to define oligarch? What qualifies as enabling? Do the accused have any recourse? If assets in the West are subject to swift confiscation without due process for even indirectly enabling a currently unpopular-with-us national political leader – no matter how justified that unpopularity might be – what sane foreign asset owner wouldn’t at least consider liquidating assets now and onshoring what wealth they can preserve? Have we thought through the dominos that fall by fundamentally rewriting property laws?
Yesterday, I wrote that there are no good guys at the macro level.
I believe that. Just because Vladimir Putin is perpetrating evil doesn’t mean our response to his evildoing won’t produce blowback. Or that the Western alliance has pure intentions.
History tells us that embedded in the text of every peace settlement is the plans for the next war. And, increasingly, wars are fought with property, access, and rights rather than rocks, arrows, and bullets. Could the near-universal retaliation against Russia hurt the retaliators more than the object of their anger?
Returning to the micro level, how long before the government—or your bank—decides your political views are incompatible with your net worth and confiscates whatever assets it can? What would stop them? The law? Why don’t you ask a J6 prisoners how the law works? Or someone whose house was seized because their teenager sold his classmate a bag of weed in his bedroom? The law is whatever the ruling class says it is. Just like “your” checking account balance.
Almost every principle of our legal system is now detached from its foundation: the Book of Leviticus. (A wise lawyer friend of mine read Leviticus after law school and was blown away by discovering that the American system and British system are just minor edits of God’s system.) When we told the Creator to take a hike, our law became no more powerful than the ink on its pages.
Likewise, when we severed the dollar from its value in gold, our financial system became, as they say, “fiat.” A fiat is an act of will. “Thy will be done” is, in Latin, “Fiat voluntas tua.” Unless government is God, it cannot will anything into existence unless we willingly believe it. Doomberg stopped short of where I will go: we could be witnessing the end of money as we’ve known it.
In another post I read over the weekend, the author suspected as much. He sees the US dollar and all other currencies becoming local means of value storage and exchange. Cross-border currencies will be things of actual value: oil, corn, wheat, nickel, gold, and the like.
A return to hard commodities would certainly make the world bigger. You wouldn’t have to cajole people into buying local, that’s for sure. Places beyond the horizon would become mysterious and exotic again, like Mexico was to our grandparents but is no longer. I know.
A couple of years ago, I travelled for a week to Aguascalientes, Mexico. It’s about 100 miles northeast of Mexico City. It’s real Mexico, not an American tourist destination. It’s a desert.
I was both apprehensive and excited to take the trip. I worried about my broken-down Spanish, but I looked forward to the authenticity of a place few Americans had ever even heard of.
From the window of my room in the Marriott, I could look down on a Home Depot, a Lowe’s, an Applebees, and a Texas Roadhouse. Not a single back-lit sign was in Spanish. I might as well have been in a Marriott in Chesterfield, Missouri, (except for the ridiculously low prices).
I blame my disappointment on the homogenization everything which is a direct result of fiat currency and the USD’s reserve status. We’ve Americanized all the places we pay good money to get away to. We’ve made the world us—and, for the most part, the worst part of us.
America was a better place when she was different, just as Aquascalientes was better without Applebee’s. Just like the Church was better when Catholics were distinct and weird—speaking Latin and eating fish on Fridays.
Governments control your assets and can seize them whenever they want without explanation. They can also replace authentic Mexican food with Fiesta Lime Chicken(TM). But if they take away something that wasn’t real to begin with, have we actually lost anything at all?
We will all be poorer when the USD becomes a quaint souvenir to tourists from Mexico, but we might be better off, too. Maybe we were meant to own only what we can physically defend. Maybe what we think we have is actually an illusion.
As I said, I’ve been thinking about the Canadian truckers and asset seizures. I haven’t worried, though. There’s nothing I can do about it except trade some dollars in my savings account for gold and silver and the means to protect them from hostile intruders. I believe that whatever happens comes ultimately from God and is in the best interest of my immortal soul. The same way lifting heavy weights and taking cold showers is in the best interest of my body and mind. Sometimes we have to suffer to thrive.
Thankfully, we know Klaus Schwab was wrong. Whether he was telling us how things are or how he hopes they will be, we all own everything we came into this world with. It’s too bad men like Vladimir Putin and Klaus Schwab don’t believe what we know. Maybe, then, they’d keep their hands to themselves and, as St. Paul said, work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).