Economic reflections on a gloomy Independence Day, 2016

Traditional American freedoms that were difficult to achieve have been squandered in just a decade. Will 2016 be the year Americans choose to reclaim them... or lose them forever?

Independence Day fireworks display in Washington, DC. (Image, circa 2010, adapted from U.S. National Park Service photo.)

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2016 – It’s a gloomy, rainy Independence Day holiday here in the D.C. metropolitan area. As of 8 p.m., Washington’s massive fireworks display is still getting the green light, but other displays in the area may be postponed until Tuesday or later. That’s almost symbolic of the way the world has been moving in 2016. Just when you get revved up for some excitement and celebration, something or somebody rains on your parade.

Given this summer’s ongoing stock and bond market chaos, the Maven has been enjoying this welcome holiday weekend off from the kind of relentless trading action many investors have been forced to adopt in recent years. Technical and fundamental analysis, the standard tools of this trade, have been rendered virtually useless in this century, with markets now dominated by clever, grossly-overpaid computer geeks who know more about amusements like World of Warcraft than they do about economics and basic civics.

Image via splash page.
Image via splash page.

As a result, investing has become its own subgenre of World of Warcraft, as stocks, bonds and pretty much everything else are gamed on one hand by elitist world governments and on the other by the video gamers who run high-frequency trading firms, their supercomputers and their low-latency networks.

Increasingly, investors as well as everyday average Americans have gradually lost control of their finances and their lives, both of which are increasingly being overwhelmed by overeducated East and West Coast Ivy League types who are busy—or so they think—creating Feudalism 2.0 where they and their allegedly brilliant politicians and friends end up running and owning everything—for our own good.

The Maven’s increasingly negative feelings toward this dismal turn of events were jump started yet again today by a mournful yet intellectually stimulating article penned by Shawn Ritenour of the Mises Institute. Here are a couple of lengthy quotes from this piece, with bold highlights provided by Zero Hedge, where the Maven first encountered this piece:

“The Leviathan state’s control goes beyond dollars…. In fact, our rulers seem to want to control as much of our lives as possible. The 2013 Code of Federal Regulations had a near-record 178,277 pages. And these laws regulate virtually every area of our lives. Government bureaucrats simply do not trust buyers and seller to voluntarily agree on acceptable goods at acceptable prices. Did you know that the federal government regulates the production of battery chargers, ceiling fans, central air conditioners, clothes dryers, clothes washers, clothing itself, computer and battery backup systems, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, furnaces and boilers, kitchen ranges and ovens, lawn mowers, microwave ovens, swimming pool heaters, refrigerators and freezers, window air conditioners, televisions, cable and satellite TV boxes, water heaters, commercial ice makers, industrial clothes washers, compressors, electric motors, fans and blowers, refrigerated beverage vending machines, refrigeration equipment, walk-in coolers and freezers, ceiling fan light kits, lamps, fluorescent lamp ballasts, illuminated exit signs, light bulbs, flash lights, faucets, showerheads, and flush toilets? And this is not even an exhaustive list. Exhausting yes, but exhaustive, no. The USDA regulates the marketing of cotton, milk and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and livestock, poultry, and feed. Government bureaucrats even have detailed instructions mandating the cornbread-to-meat ratio required in a commercial corn dog! The state will not even let us produce and sell corn dogs on our own! In the land of supposedly free enterprise, a full 38 percent of workers employed in 2008 needed a government license or certification just to do their job. In the 1950s the number was about 5 percent.”

Astonishing, no? At least to those Boomers and Xers who retain some knowledge of the way things were in America and the way they are still supposed to be. Pre-programmed by leftist academic and media idiots to view our complex world as a Gnostic, binary system consisting of absolute good (the idiots) and evil (the rest of us), one suspects that most millennials are already lost forever when it comes to engaging in rational thought and argumentation. That’s because a key leftist propaganda point has been accepted by millennials and many more as an absolute truth.

“One of the great intellectual errors that drive [the elitists’] despotism is the view that the independence we celebrate is primarily about egalitarianism. After all, the most famous phrase in the Declaration does say, ‘All men are created equal.’ Hear this statement in context, however. The passage in question reads, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ What the Declaration affirms is every person has the divine and natural right to liberty. The common way of stating the doctrine at the time was that each person has a natural right to life, liberty, and property. [Italics by this columnist.] He has the right to not be murdered, the right to use his mind and body without restraint by others, and the right to the fruits of his labor.

“That one of ‘the unalienable rights’ asserted by the signers of the Declaration was the right to property makes it clear that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are antithetical to our current government’s policy of confiscation and control. Missing the connection between freedom and property is a tap root of our nation’s interventionist culture—a culture that yields the bitter fruit of social and economic destruction.”

In other words, for the elites who continue to destroy the American economy and the nearly 250 years of history that support its impressive achievements, they’re all much smarter and more sophisticated than our Founding Fathers, which requires them to rewrite America’s unique and stunning economic successes and unparalleled freedoms in their own brilliant image and likeness. These elites are the New Gods. #ElitistLivesMatter. Ours do not. Therefore, the New Gods need to confiscate whatever private property we’ve been able to amass in order either to redistribute it to buy support from the masses or quietly appropriate it themselves.

As Ritenour notes,

“…when a society rejects the right to private property, which is the bedrock of all of our freedoms, it is committing suicide. And yet that is what too many in our culture seemed primed to do.”

This July 4, 2016, we can either throw up our hands in despair and resign ourselves to our collective Fate; or we can take matters into our own hands—which still vastly outnumber those of the New Gods—ignore both them and the media, and begin to force radical change on Washington, including a drastic downsizing of the Federal government Leviathin instead of “selling of our American economic birthright for a mess of socialist pottage.”

George Washington / Nation's Capitol
George Washington / Nation’s Capitol

Our columns here over the next few months will continue to articulate our still-evolving investment approach that’s geared increasingly toward profiting from investments and investing strategies that operate beneath the radar screens of the political and regulatory elites and remain largely invisible to the racketeers who run arguably illegal trading operations like HFTs whose continued, stunning success relies almost exclusively on regulatory and industry collusion and massive public disinformation.

Putting America’s thieves, miscreants, wholly-owned political and regulatory hacks, phony educators and corrupt judiciary permanently out of business right now, starting today, will be the best way to ensure that America’s 250th anniversary of individual freedom and independence and the right to own capital will survive as a beacon for the world for centuries to come. It’s a big job, but those of us who still believe in the Founding Fathers’ vision of America can still do it. It’s time for all of us to emerge at last from Galt’s Gulch.

As for us, we’ll be back in action Tuesday morning, rain or shine.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17