Let us say you made your money honestly, maybe in a small town with a closely held business. Perhaps you have run your financial numbers and see you have more than you will need for yourself. You have talked with your estate tax attorney and see that you cannot get it all to the kids without paying estate tax. Then, again, the kids are doing well, and don't need all that money. So, you have determined you can do something for the community, for the country, or for the world, or in the name of God, or your sense of the Divine. Out of such an analysis can come philanthropy, or retiring early to work in a nonprofit leadership or volunteer role, or maybe starting a new venture, one oriented to the public good, as well as being a going concern. This is the point of view, or process, that Tracy Gary and I have been promoting.
Here is what gives me pause. Running the numbers in a typical financial plan involves assumptions about rates of return, inflation rates, tax rates, as well as risks like morbidity, mortality, and property casualty loss. Financial Planners assume that the future will resemble the past, more or less. They assume that you will have a real return after taxes and inflation, that your tangible assets will continue to appreciate in real terms, and that risks are well accounted for in modern portfolio theory, and insurance risk tables.
But shake your head with me for a moment. Clear the head. Do you believe that the next twenty years will be inside the normal range? That peak oil is not an issue? That global warming is a hoax? That rising disparities between the wealthiest and everyone else can continue? That we can continue as a nation to send our productive capacity abroad and make up the difference by borrowing from China? That Terror will be well controlled by secret surveillance of every American, by revocation of civil liberties, by torture and incarceration without appeal? Or, do you think it more likely than not that we are going to swing from boom to bust, from crisis to crisis, as those at the top loot the public good and the public treasury on behalf of those who support them, for as long as there are public goods left to steal?
If like me, you see the possibility of social unrest, and see steps being taken now by government as anticipatory of a coming crackdown, where should you invest your time, money, love and attention so that you can leave a decent, let alone a better, world to your children and grandchildren?
I see two approaches, other than Business as Usual. You might decide to win with the winner, to become a funder of pirates. You could invest in the usual political crowd. You could buy stock in law and order related businesses, like Caci, Dyncorp, KBR, Halliburton, and private prison stocks. You could get your money off shore and await our collapse. You could buy gold and await the collapse of the dollar. You could try to get into Carlyle, the investment fund run by politicians to profit from their public decisions. You could buy stocks in banks or local franchises well positioned to benefit from money laundering. In doing this you would be winning with the winners. They will give you all the alibis you need to salve your conscience. Think Tanks work full time on that.(If you are short an alibi, give me a call. I can put you in touch with the right people.)
You might also hire armed guards, purchase a bullet proof limo; you might live behind high walls, topped with broken glass and razor wire. You might work with friends to create something like a castle set above local farms whose produce you might purchase or plunder. When you outline this strategy you see, if you read the papers with a keen eye, that you would not be alone. This is the Plan A, it seems to me, of those now plundering our country, as they plundered Chile, and Russia. This is the scenario I would call, Rise of the Oligarchs and Suppression of Dissent. The Mall above the torture cell. Economic freedom without political liberty, and the sucking of capital up into the central banks, and the global corporations, out of the local communities that will wither and die away, as if America in a flat world, were a thrid world country. All of this will be well managed by people with advanced degrees. Philanthropy will fit right in, assuaging this and ameliorating that, to the greater glory of the Oligarchs.
That is one approach, to invest in Oligarchy. The other would be to invest your time love and money in rebuilding public goods, in making government more transparent, in reducing the subordination of government to corporate interests, in supporting alternative media not in collusion with government and global corporations. You might disinvest in piratical corporations and those who do their bidding. You might get your money back into your local economy with closely held firms, or farms and ranches. You might invest in your religious organization, or local artists. You might emerge as a leader, a voice rallying others to wake up before it is too late.
I call this Scenario, ACT for America, for Awaken, Connect, and Take Action. (I am endebted for the ACT formula to Randy Ottinger who might not endorse the use made of it here.)
I am just a Fool with a Blog. But if you find these thoughts credible, please get in touch. The C, remember, is for Connect. Of course that is not all fun and games: Terrorists are anyone so stipulated by the Oligarch in Charge, based on secret evidence, without recourse to legal appeal, under an onging state of exception. The Terrorist category includes those who oppose The Rise of the Oligarchs. That is pretty obvious, right? That is why you are so scared even to read this post? So, the Connecting part is key. In South America they went into the streets banging pots and pans, the peasants did, to protest the Oligarchs who wanted to, say, privatize the water. If all you have are two empty pots, beat them togther. We can hear you, even if the media pretend they cannot.
Radical? Well, no, I am just endebted to C.A. Fitts, a former investment banker who after serving under the elder Bush and under Clinton was considered for a seat on the Federal Reserve, before she outed systemic corruption (a nexus of financial fraud, CIA secret ops, black budgets, drug money, and cronyism). She became an Enemy of the State, stuck it through, survived unspeakable horrors with humour and faith intact, won the most important piece of the litigation against her, collected from those who falsely accused her, and used the money to start a new investment advisory company networked with people inventing a new world and helping other people to win despite all this craziness. She is a conservative, and like me, what she wants to conserve is our economic freedom, our political liberty, and our integrity as a country, the value of our currency, and our moral and religious traditions. She also, as she often reminds me, wants to get rich again and help others do the same, but honestly and with an eye to public and as well as private prosperity, not by stripping out the value and leaving others the poorer for it.
As do I, and others, perhaps people like William Schambra at Hudson, what we, so many of us, want is America the Beautiful. We want a vibrant Main Street, respect around the world, a balanced budget, an economy with good jobs for our children, the rule of law, honest accounting in business and goverment, and a vital spiritual and aesthetic culture, with family values honored in high places by the observance not the breach. Telling the truth, not stealing, not selling people out, not privatizing public goods into the hands of cronies, not killing and torturing, not hounding political enemies to death, not ruling by fear, not setting yourself up as dictator over other people, are Family Values too, though maybe not among the Dynasts.
Neither party will help us. They work in a double capacity, both for us and against us. They are two wings of one Secret Society of oligarchs with different marketing strategies, different brand images, different spins on the same underlying scam. The Jolly Roger is their true flag. They are freebooters and privateers aboard the ship of state. Those they serve best are those who pay them most in tribute. Together they in bi-partisan comity raise a toast to our confusion. To restore America, we are going to have to do this ourselves from the bottom up and side to side. Only when we Awaken and Connect, will either party Take Action, and then mostly against us. But the holy spirit and the spirit of democracy moves in this work and will prevail. Many have died for these ideals, more will, but in a better cause than the ones to which our leaders send them to their death today.
In any case, hotshot, you pick your scenario. You bet your life, your political liberties, and your money on it. Take your pick: Business as Usual, Rise of the Oligarchs, or ACT for America. Where do you want to invest? Getting in early with America The Beautful might pay off big. Don't bet against it. Somone will make a bundle as Main Street comes back.