This article was originally published by George Ford Smith at The Mises Institute.
It won’t be long before governments around the world, including the one in Washington, self-destruct.
Strong words, but anything less would be naïve.
As economist Herbert Stein once said, “If something cannot go on forever, it has a tendency to stop.” Case in point: fiat money political regimes. Interventionist economies of the West are in a fatal downward spiral, comparable to that of the Roman Empire in the second century, burdened with unsustainable debt and the anti prosperity policies of governments, especially the Green New Deal.
In the global Ponzi scheme, thin air and deceit substitute for sound money. As hedge-fund manager Mitch Feierstein wrote in Planet Ponzi, “You don’t solve a Ponzi scheme; you end it.” Charles Ponzi and Bernie Madoff
made some of their investors a whole lot poorer, but the world didn’t come crashing down as a result.
For that—for a Ponzi scheme that would threaten to bankrupt capitalism across the entire Western world—you need people much smarter than Ponzi or Madoff. You need time, you need energy, you need motivation. In a word, you need Wall Street.
But Wall Street alone doesn’t have the strength to deliver a truly cataclysmic outcome. If your ambition is to create havoc on the largest possible scale, you need access to a balance sheet running into the tens of trillions. You need power. You need prestige. You need a remarkable willingness to deceive. In a word, you need Washington.
As Gary North wrote in a brief review of Feierstein’s book, “The central banks have colluded with the national governments in order to fund huge increases of national debt, beyond what can ever be paid off. In other words, [Feierstein] has described government promises as part of a gigantic international Ponzi scheme.”
In a recent interview, Peter Schiff, who was laughed at when he predicted the economic meltdown of 2007–9, said interest on the federal debt alone “will be about a trillion by the end of this year. By the end of next year [it will reach] two trillion dollars—and that’s if interest rates don’t go up. . . . This is a huge debt bomb that’s going to explode.”
Along with this, Reuters notes that the spread between two- and ten-year Treasurys is at the deepest inversion since 1981. Rarely has an inverted yield curve not signaled a recession.
Can Jerome Powell and his advisors steer the economy into a soft landing? Not this time. “The only landing possible is a crash, where everyone on board dies,” Schiff recently tweeted.
Ponzi and Madoff went to jail for their schemes, but how do you prosecute governments for theirs? Prosecution implies being a part of government. And with rare exceptions such as Ron Paul, those who go into government believe gold is a barbarous relic and the Fed is a good thing that just needs a little government tinkering. So, the guilty will go unpunished, unless public outrage misguidedly turns to nonjudicial violence. The rest will be too busy trying to survive and protect those they care about.
The War on Being Human
A study of history, including US monetary history, makes clear that the state is not in the business of securing our liberty. As the previous nine hundred-plus days have made clear, any defense of “liberty” would likely be regarded as hate speech. Instead, we are inundated with the feel-good words of diversity, equity, and inclusion along with the fear-driven campaigns of climate change and killer covid. Challenge any of it and you’re demonized—or worse.
But the state can’t do anything significant without monopolizing money, and the Orwellian central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) will be the latest installment to control the monetary system. The new FedNow payment system with its emphasis on user convenience is providing the framework and psychological grooming for CBDCs.
The Shadow Superpower
We can stop this from happening. Two states, Florida and Indiana, have effectively banned CBDCs as money in those states. Other states will likely follow. The government will outlaw cash at some point, but those who use it now are casting a vote against CBDCs.
Many people will turn to barter, some using barter metals, and to the shadow economy. If this sounds desperate, consider how the global black market in 2011 was the world’s fastest-growing economy. Sometimes referred to as System D, it features both the usual, small transactions of flea market trades or workers looking for employment in the parking lots of home improvement stores and also larger, international trades. David Obi, a Nigerian, relying on his cell phone and his own initiative, contacted a Chinese firm to have small diesel-powered generators shipped to his home country, where electric power is often scarce: “Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of the government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.”
Friedrich Schneider, research fellow at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, whose expertise is in off-government economies and who coauthored The Shadow Economy, found that System D is growing faster in many countries than the officially recognized gross domestic product. If System D were an independent nation, it would be the second-largest economy in the world.
The future is undecided, but we can help determine the outcome if we take responsibility for it. Wikipedia defines System D as “a manner of responding to challenges that require one to have the ability to think quickly, to adapt, and to improvise when getting a job done.” In this sense, success has always depended on System D, with or without government.
The American term for it is life hack, “any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.” Whatever you call it, it describes a spirit all of humanity needs to adopt if we are to survive the coming collapse of government Ponzi schemes.