How Can You NOT Afford to Explore Alternative Markets?

Sunni's picture

Yesterday—along with probably everyone else who’s been paying any attention to the financial industry lately—I ranted a bit about the outrageous plan Strong-Dollar Paulson and Helicopter Bernanke are trying to push through Congress. I also took a bit of a mordant humor break and browsed LOLFed ... but the situation is serious, and requires thoughtful consideration and careful planning.

When the treasury dictator bill passes—and I say “when” rather than “if” because all our howls of protest will be completely ignored in the rush to do something in order to continue the charade of helping and caring about us taxpayers (here’s a hint as to how much they really care: notice that the helicopter drop is targeting the financial sector), our howls will turn to those of pain. Between the US dollar declining in value and the increased taxes needed to pay for all the bailouts, more of us will be pinched, and pinched harder than ever before, perhaps. Yesterday I suggested writing letters to Congressvermin not with an expectation that it will actually do anything, but as a warning. The teeth behind the warning is that we shrug, as much as possible: we withdraw our activities from the aboveboard market, where inflation and taxation will eat at us with increasing vigor as the government tries to suck our lifeblood to pay bankers who’ve been misrepresenting themselves and cheating us a myriad of ways all along.

Many will argue that they cannot afford to risk becoming tax resisters, especially in such troubled times. As I said yesterday, I do understand that such a move is easier for some, both physically and mentally. If you’re having difficulty wrapping your head around dropping out in this way, consider some of the implications of staying within the system:
1]. People who stay in the system will bear the costs of all these nationalizations, in terms of tax increases and a declining value of the USSA dollar.
2]. As such, they will have less of a buffer between their income and ability to support themselves and the fluctuations in the mainstream economy.
3]. Less diversity in one’s income streams means greater risk; this shakeup is far from over, and many of the aftershocks of the moves already made have yet to show themselves.
4]. Less diversity in the type of income (viz., the USSA dollar) one receives means greater exposure to risk if that type of income becomes unstable or devalued.
5]. Being in the system might actually make one more of a target, as new taxes, enforcement of extant taxes that are largely overlooked, and/or seizures of assets may radically change the economic landscape.

As an individual who values freedom, do you really want to maximally support what is an increasingly collectivist and overtly fascist system? Because that’s what you’re doing when you allow yourself to stay under the thumb of their rules, regulations, and reporting that add to business costs but add nothing of value.

A market economy is not a system thought up by bankers, nor bureaucrats, nor politicians; it is simply a way of viewing or labeling the aggregate transactions in some specialized area or as a whole. Long before people thought of using skins, or salt, or feathers as a means of exchange—as currencies—people exchanged goods and services in mutually beneficial ways. That’s all a market is: and to the degree that a market is open (honesty and reputation can inform transaction decisions) and unregulated, transactions will flow and problems will be corrected.

That is precisely the opposite of what we have in the USSA financial/monetary system today: regulations have shoved institutions into little corners, where they still find room to game the rules to their advantage over those who were once respected customers; regulations encourage companies to lower their standards and increase costs, as well as to hide misdeeds or honest mistakes in an effort to avoid fines or other consequences; having corporation status confers a large but undeserved advantage on entities that would likely quickly fail in a genuine free market, either from producing a crappy product, poor customer service, or dishonesty. “Too big to fail” means that natural market consequences have been avoided somehow. And the reason there’s little liquidity today is because there is—deservedly—zero trust among bankers. The reason the USSA FRN is failing is because the fraud shot through the federal government is now in plain sight, for all to see.

So it’s our choice we want to perpetuate the myth and pain that a coercive fascist system is a free market? Or do we want to move off the books as much as possible, and thereby teach others how a genuinely free market can work while sheltering ourselves and families from the fallout still to come?

Think about what you can do that others might be willing to pay you for. Can you write code? Can you weld? Do you know sewing, carpentry, herbal medicine, or plumbing? Are you willing to clean things that others hate to touch? Knowledge and skills are excellent barter basics, but sometimes just being willing to take on an ugly job will get you paid.

Are the things you offer location-sensitive? If so, perhaps it’s time to re-assess and if necessary, develop skills that don’t require local customers. Be creative and find a niche, or create a niche. Become part of a trusted web of individuals who work together and help take care of each other, economically as well as emotionally.

NonEntity was right that it is through our love flowing that we can successfully work around the barriers and challenges before us. It won’t be easy, and success is not guaranteed for all—but it never is for any of us. But won’t it feel so much better to both remove our support from economic and political systems that are anathema to our principles, and to do something we enjoy in support of our lives and in creation of a real agora? If it is possible and there’s sufficient interest, I’m willing to explore building a secure online agora for trusted, pro-freedom individuals.

The time is at hand to put up or shut up. The current promised bailouts are an enormous drain on our already lagging economy; whatever legislation gets passed is certain to add to that. Given the choice of staying with the sinking fascist economy or helping to build a more resilient, free market, how can we not afford to work toward that goal?

I'm with you

I've basically been doing this for almost 3 years. Would love to have a lot more company... :)

Your invite here still

Your invite here still stands too.


Company and location ...

P, thanks for reiterating that; it means a lot to me, especially now. But I don’t think relocation is specifically what Mama Liberty had in mind when she wished for “more company”; I think she primarily meant more traders in The Family.

Turning the Tables

A "a secure online agora for trusted, pro-freedom individuals" sounds intriguing. Did you know that the ancient Greek agora started as a place where soldiers would muster or people would gather to hear official pronouncements from the king or council? Eventually the agora morphed into an open marketplace. We've seen a similar progression with the Internet (build by DARPA but since freed from government control).

There are many challenges involved in building such an agora on the Internet. For one, the Internet is a low-trust environment. To bootstrap part of it into a high-trust environment, we'd need to leverage something like PGP webs of trust. And of course "secure" means different things to different people. But it's an idea worth exploring...


... it's an idea worth exploring...

Coming from you, that really means something. Thanks. And thanks for the brief history lesson, too! I did not know that.

You may have already noticed my Agora, version 0.0.1 I suppose. Right now I’m addressing trust via my personal knowledge of and experiences with listed entities, knowing full well if the idea is to expand, the network of trust must also expand. I will not list individuals I do not trust, nor those with whom I’ve had unsatisfactory dealings. But that brings a sorting problem: is an omission due to lack of information or lack of trust? That’ll have to be dealt with eventually, I hope.

This doesn’t offer real security, but I did notice that the Drupal software allows me to set the visibility of that block—that is to say, I can make it such that anonymous visitors to the site will not see it in the right sidebar. They may still come across the node if they enter the right digit sequence for it, of course ... but this nascent offering is not yet a threat to the powers that be. All the same, anyone with experience in the area of internet security is welcome to toss out ideas, whether in the comments here or to me via email.

More Thoughts

Yes, in Drupal you can limit access to certain pages and set up different user types (e.g. you could make an "agorans" group and then only those folks can access your Agora page).

I happen to be a big fan of decentralization. So rather than require everyone to go through you, each person could have their own personal agora. This builds on the web of trust concept. So I might trust everyone who's done business with you and, say, our friend The Shadow -- or, to be precise, I might simply be more inclined to trust those folks (after all, we're individualists here and I'm not going to automatically trust someone just because The Shadow does). But someone else might know Mama Liberty and Jorge, and rely more on their trust networks. This is similar to how popular social networking sites function (LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc.). However, we'd be using such an approach to build something a bit more interesting than sharing photos or whatever...

Ooooh, yes!!

For some reason I didn’t click on your web of trust comment earlier—but yes, decentralization and the ability to evaluate links and trust between those links is definitely the way to go.

More later ... it’s been a stressful day, with a family member having surgery and some other stuff going on. I need some sleep.

Good Luck

Oh, I hope your family member is OK. We've got plenty of time to explore webs of trust and all that, so focus on what's most important first!