The question we have been flirting with…coquettishly…shyly…
…is this: Why is the US struggling to make progress?
It is slipping in almost all global rankings. Its growth rate is barely half of what it was in the last century.
And its government is more corrupt, degenerate, and incompetent than at any time in history.
The answers fall into two major categories. Either it is the fault of God or of God’s creature, man. Today, we look at man’s role.
One of the weaknesses of man is that he tends to greatly overestimate his abilities…and underestimate his own capacity to lie, cheat, and steal.
In its epic battle in Afghanistan, for example, the US elite thought it could turn the local tribes into model Democrats. Even after squandering US$2.3 trillion…and killing thousands of resisters over a 20-year period…the Afghanis stubbornly clung to their primitive ways and the US was forced to withdraw.
In the fight against COVID-19, too, man’s ability to control the situation was greatly exaggerated. He believed he could contain the illness with lockdowns, mask-ups, incessant handwashing, and social distancing…and then defeat it altogether with a miracle vaccine.
Former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell passed away the other week, even though he was fully vaccinated. Had more people been vaccinated, explained the media, maybe he’d still be alive.
But after 20 months…countless indignities…white-hot arguments…jackass finger-pointing…and trillions in collateral damage, COVID-19 still goes around pretty much unchecked.
And now, it turns out that more vaccines would probably not have saved Powell…because they make no difference in controlling the spread of the disease.
In a study of 68 countries and 2,947 counties in the US, the ‘Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Initiative’ found that:
‘At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days. In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel, with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated, had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days.
‘The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa, that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.’
Our beat is neither war nor public health. But if the authorities are so wrong about matters of life and death, mightn’t they also err in matters of money…
…maybe especially so when the error makes them rich?
The elites control the government. The government controls the printing press. Is it any surprise where the printing press money goes? Business Insider reports that the wealthiest Americans now own most of the stock market:
‘The top 10% of Americans now hold 89% of corporate equities and mutual fund shares, a record high.
‘The top 1% alone hold over half of stocks owned by households, according to the Federal Reserve.
‘That means the wealthiest Americans disproportionately profited from the stock market’s strong performance over the last year.’
Here’s more evidence from OpenSecrets.org that the corruption is deep…and bipartisan:
‘House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has seen her wealth increase to nearly $115 million from $41 million in 2004, the first year OpenSecrets began tracking personal finances. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saw his net worth increase from $3 million to over $34 million during that time.’
And here’s the chief of the money printers himself, Jerome Powell. The Federal Reserve head attended Georgetown Law Center at the same time we did (though we don’t recall him). Now, after years of apparently trading on the Fed’s ‘inside information’, he is worth up to US$55 million. Truthout has the lowdown:
‘Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sold between $1 million and $5 million worth of stock just before a large stock market crash last year, according to new disclosure filings reviewed by The American Prospect. Powell’s massive sale came on October 1, 2020.’
Distorted traffic signals
You’ll recall the analogy we’ve been using lately — that the rules of a productive, prosperous, and progressive society are like ‘traffic signals’.
They don’t tell anyone where to go or how to get there…they just regulate the flow, keeping drivers from running into one another. When the light is green, you think you can go through the intersection safely.
What are the ‘traffic signals’ of an honest economy?
They are very simple: honest money, free markets, and protected property rights.
You think your money is dependable. You expect prices to be honest, reflecting real supply and demand. And you count on the ‘law of the land’ to protect what’s yours.
But what if the authorities falsified the signals in order to help themselves get rich…while snarling traffic for everyone else?
Wouldn’t progress slow down?
We’ll answer that question: yes.
For The Rum Rebellion
PS: The Rum Rebellion is a fantastic place to start your investment journey. We talk about the big trends driving the Australian Economy. Learn all about it here.