Still chillin

Nothing new to report on my end… same old deal… hit the pool every day, workin… eatin good Thai food… enjoying BKK life.

I got some great news on Trevor today… he is awake and talking now and appears to have full mental capacity which is so friggin awesome. I am sure it will be a long road to get fully recovered but I have no doubt he’ll do it… it is SO like Trevor that one of the first things he asked was when he could go back to Afghanistan.

Here is a story from the Vancouver Sun: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=3e478c3c-0d4f-43a0-a5c8-a73aac8f8bc5&k=10805

As for me I just noticed that the stamp in my passport here in Thailand only allows me to stay until April 30… considering it is April 29 right now that doesn’t give me a lot of time to figure something out… but I think I will go get a Vietnam visa on Monday and then maybe take off on Tuesday (I think they charge $5-10/day for every day you stay over your visa here in Thailand so no big deal). I am thinking to initially go to Phnom Penh in Cambodia for a few days since it is close, then go to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam… from there I think I’ll leave it open and take it as it comes… if I like it i’ll stay a while, if not, i may take off to Malaysia and then maybe Indonesia… we’ll see.

I gotta admit though, I’ve enjoyed the last month of not moving hotels every 2nd day… the place I am at in Bangkok is great… I can’t say enough good things about it… but I refuse to stagnate…

Not to mention I am starting a new feature on SH, which is to kick off our new ‘blogs’ section… I will be writing a financial blog on SH and it will be somewhat based on my travels… a bit like Jim Roger’s “Adventure Capitalist” where he drove around the world looking for investment ideas and info, I am doing something similar, but mine is a plane, trains, sailboats and automobiles approach to it. So, this has me inching to get on the road to get some good content for the blog (both this one and the financial blog).

Until then, I’ve still got a few days left here in my little paradise… gonna enjoy it…

Contented…

Sigh, I am becoming so darn content nowadays… don’t worry, I am just as dissapointed as you are, and possibly more, but I really don’t want to leave here for a while.

However, I will do it! i just want to enjoy this for a few more weeks…

To give you an indication of my life, here is my day so far:

I woke up at 10am after a great nights sleep, read a few things on the internet, then headed down to the gym for a light workout, then into the pool on a glorious day… did some swimming and tanning for about an hour.

I came back up to my room where Jane was just finishing cleaning it all up nicely… we went downstairs to the restaurant in the building which has amazing food… I had a delicious strawberry smoothie (all fruit here is SO good, I must eat at least 3-5 pieces of fruit per day on average) and a nice pasta dish… total cost for my portion of the meal in a super nice/trendy restaurant: $3.50.

I then went upstairs and did some work on my laptop and ate some more fruit. Jane went out for a while to see her friends… she said she may bring one of them over tonight for us to play with.

She text messaged me a few hours later to see if I am hungry… I told her I was… she asked me what I wanted… I felt like McDonalds today so she ordered it for me.

Meanwhile I continue to do a ton of research on the internet in regards to numerous major issues that are ongoing but most of the public are unaware of, including the fact that we have hit Peak Oil and the world could literally collapse as we know it as the wars for oil continue (Iraq was the first big one). Also, the collapse of the US Dollar, which will see gold skyrocket… (notice that gold is up $100 to $620, since I last wrote about it in my blog a few weeks ago? hint: BUY GOLD AND OIL, they will be the only things of value in the coming years… well, food and water too but gold and oil will make you a lot richer).

So anyway, no big exciting stories for the last few weeks but don’t worry, I will hit the road at some point… and Bangkok ALWAYS has some crazy things happen, so hang in there.

In the meantime, I don’t know how strongly I can say and word the following: there are MAJOR changes going on in the world which have and will change things forever… life 5 or 10 years from now will barely even be comparable. The world is almost out of oil (we used more than half in the first 100 years and our usage has increased massively to the point where we will likely use the usable remainder in much less time, and at MUCH greater expense). This will cause huge changes… pretty much say goodbye to affordable air travel within a few years from now (maybe as soon as 2-3 years), so if you have been wanting to make a trip, do it soon.

That is just one major factor… there is a confluence of events currently happening that will almost certainly mean massive changes coming… the 2nd most important issue is that the US is, in every conceivable meaning of the word, bankrupt. This will have major implications as the US dollar goes to zero, probably much sooner than anyone expects.

If you just want to do the bare minimum, here is what I would do:

1. Sell ANY general stock market stocks or funds (US stock market will go down 30-40% in next 1-2 years alone, but likely in next 6 months). Also buy some funds that are negatively correlated to the major indices (bear market funds)

2. Intend on having 50% or more of your ‘savings’ in gold and gold related assets within the next 2 years… this would mean buying 5% of your savings in gold every 2 months for the next 2 years… this is so you can average in… gold is $600 right now, but could possibly be $500 next month, so don’t buy everything right now, just buy every month… don’t worry if it goes down a bit for the next 6 months… it will go up 500%+ easily in US dollar terms in next 5 years, so don’t worry too much… (btw, if gold goes up 500%, this means some of the smaller gold stocks will go up 5,000%)… enjoy :)

3. Buy a certain percentage (say 20%) of your savings in oil and oil related assets… big oil companies right now are very cheap, so now is a good time to buy some… plus many of them have dividends so it is a great investment… gold is near record highs again today, but will go up another 500% easy in next 5-7 years.

4. If you have debt, begin working to pay it off as soon as possible… forego any unneccessary expenses if needed to do so… ask any old-timer what they wish they had done before the great depression and they will tell you most of the above… and this ‘great depression’ will make that one look like disneyland.

Don’t say I didn’t tell ya so. But even if you don’t, don’t worry too much, I’ll have at least one or two little getaways, sufficiently far away from ‘civilization’ that we won’t have to fear being overrun by the unruly mobs too often (and if we do, we will have the firepower and can buy the services of for-hire militia to protect our compound), so you can drop by there if you need food, water and a nice little pad with a swimming pool etc to watch the world change via reports on the internet.

Hmmm… this blog entry went from me talking about living in virtual paradise to talking about the end of the world as we know it… hows that for mood swings? 😛 Well, they are all related… the point is, Enjoy the good times, they will not last forever (nothing lasts forever) and prepare for the future if you want to continue enjoying life in the near future.

No matter what, I’ll enjoy whatever happens as we continue in this great experiment called life… as usual, Elsie, a young girl with wisdom WAY beyond her years (and she doesn’t even know it), had the perfect thought when I discussed the above with her and told her that life as we know it will change and we could even see people in north america almost completely liquidated… her response: “thats probably good… most people need a reality check nowadays.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Bush Whackin

I’ve become very cosy here in Bangkok, only casting a glance at a world map from time to time, but then thinking, nah, not yet… its so comfortable here. The pool… internet… gym… cheap, good food everywhere… and every day the weather is perfect (it’d be a bit too hot without a pool… but with a pool, 35c feels like 30c).

However, I did go on a small little adventure yesterday, just to test my level of interest. This entire week (what is it with Asians and having entire week or more holidays? Well, they are on to something!) is “Songkran Festival” in Thailand. Songkran is Thailand’s “New Year” festival. Songkran means “change place” and it is the day when the sun changes place in the zodiac. Nearly everone in Thailand returns home during this week to celebrate with their families… which leaves Bangkok in a strange state of non-chaos for the only week of the year… you can actually drive around in the daytime without being stuck in major traffic jams during this week.

Most notable of this festival, however, is that it is also called “water festival” and they believe that by throwing water on people you are washing away their bad luck. Well, picture EVERYWHERE you go, on every street corner are kids, families, adults all with hoses, buckets full of water, and waterguns, as well as other assorted water throwing mechanisms. Every person who goes by, they completely soak.

I ordered a pizza yesterday… they always deliver pizzas on motorbike. I opened my door and there standing there in full pizza uniform, soaked as though he had just come out of a swimming pool, was the pizza delivery boy! He must have NO bad luck with that amount of water being dumped on him! Actually just the fact he is still alive means he is lucky… imagine driving a motorcycle around Bangkok (dangerous enough) but then during this week, every few minutes a kid will come out of nowhere and belt you with a big bucket of water! I’ve seen numerous motorcycle riders almost wipe out in the process! Jane even said they announced on the radio that 400 people have died so far this week from Songkran related injuiries!!?!?! What a crazy country.

Everywhere you go in Thailand, there will be pickup trucks with the back FULL of young Thai’s and a big barrel of water as they go around town soaking each other. They also will jump out of their vehicles and put white powder on other people as well… not sure what thats all about. But 95% of people you see this week have white powder all over them and are soaked.

I rented a car for the last two days and as we were driving we came up to an area heavy with these festival goers… Jane told me to roll up the windows AND lock the doors… I asked her why lock the door? She said, they will even open your car door and throw a bucket of water in! Haha… Thai’s are crazy… but I can think of worse things to happen to you when every day is 35c+!

So, anyway, getting back to my mini-adventure… poor Jane’s mother and father have both died in the last 3 months (continuing what always seems to be tragedy after tragedy here in Thailand)… her home town is about a 3 hour drive away and she wanted to go see her family (grandparents, brother, nieces and nephews) as she hasn’t seen them since her parents have passed away…

I rented a car yesterday and we headed out. We got there and there were about 3 or 4 ‘shacks’… they were barely even shacks really.. they had some brick around 3 of the 4 walls, which was basically attached to some very basic looking wooden supports, to which corrugated sheet metal was tied on… Sitting out front, and in, each of the shacks was about 5-10 people each… this was her family. I can’t quite understand where all the kids came from as there seemed to be only 2 women there who looked to be of child bearing age or ability, but there must’ve been about 10+ assorted kids, from age of 4 months to about 15 years old.

As we sat there, more and more people kept coming over to where we were, until there was about 20 people sitting around us, including 2 really old women who looked like they were 90 or older, and had completely black teeth (never seen teeth that were totally black before!). I figured they all came to see Jane, but I understand a few words of Thai now and I kept hearing “falang” (which means white person) and “canadian” over and over… I asked Jane partway through what was happening and she said everyone was coming over because most of them have never seen a white person before… haha

Then we had dinner.. they had only one large light in their shack and it had attracted about a thousand moths… I found the moths to be kinda irritating, especially cuz they would fly into you quite a bit… but it didn’t take me long to realize that this was a source of enjoyment for everyone else… the kids loved playing in the mess of moths…

Then one kid came over and gave a large moth to Jane. She took out her lighter and began to burn it alive. At first I kinda was like, hey, thats not very nice… you shouldn’t kill and/or torture something for no reason… but it turns out they had a reason. After a few seconds of cooking it, she gave it to one of the kids who instantly put it in his mouth and ate it… then one after another they brought them over for Jane to cook for them… she had a couple herself… I passed.

At one point I noticed the really fat kid was just eating them, without even bothering to get Jane to cook them… I guess he likes his moths sushi-style… The next day he even caught a fly and ate it, almost unconsciously!

We slept the night in one of the shacks… I think they gave us the good shack because we were special guests… our shack had a bathroom (which was basically the chinese style, without a sit down toilet)… they didn’t seem to have running water but had big vats full of rain water that they used.

We were going to carry on to Kanchanaburi, which is another 50 kilometres away the next day but both of us were eager to get back to the comforts of our place in Bangkok… so we just ended driving back to BKK. Kanchanaburi, fyi, is on the River Kwai, which was made popular in that old movie, Bridge on the River Kwai.

So, that was it for this week… other than that I have been very good… haven’t gone out at all since last weekend… have worked out every day and have gotten quite a bit of work done.

I think I will try to do the same this week and then maybe in 1-3 weeks take off for Cambodia, Vietnam and maybe Malaysia and Indonesia for a bit… then maybe back here… Elsie may come out in early June for a visit to Thailand… then maybe fly back to Canada in mid June… of course, all this can and likely will change… especially if the Oilers get past the Red Wings in the first round… in that case I may just head back a lot earlier to catch all the games as I still haven’t set-up a system to watch Canadian TV when I am outside of the country (which is and always will be all the time).. I plan to set that up when I go back this June so I can watch hockey, CFL and other North American TV wherever I am via the internet… you can do it using devices like the Sling Box (http://www.slingmedia.com/)… of course eventually all TV stations will broadcast directly onto the internet, but until then it is easier to use devices such as this.

Uh Oh

So I spent the day at my ‘new apartment’ today… and, well, I could get realllly used to this!

I spent an hour or so swimming and poolside reading, a bit of time in the gym, and the rest of the time in my apartment, overlooking the pool with a nice view of Bangkok, working on my laptop.

Once I get high speed internet installed, and my wireless router, where I can then sit poolside while working on my laptop… well… like I said, I could get used to this!

Actually, the best part is that every day at 12pm I am not awakened and cringe at the phone call from the front desk, “will you be checking out today?”… to which my answer, more often than not, is “uhh, can i stay one more night?”, then go back to sleep.

But FEAR not! The journey definitely doesn’t end here just because I am enjoying not packing and unpacking my backpack every other day for a few days. I don’t want anyone thinking that I am going to just be staying somewhere, collecting useless material items and getting a dog and joining a local golf course or something lame like that…

In fact, no sooner had I moved in here than I had read an article by an associate of mine, Doug Casey, which I was so excited about I immediately contacted him about involvement… essentially, I would work with him to go visit some smaller, 3rd world countries and try to convince them to move to a very unique form of government where there is essentially really no government… the country would be run like a company, with all the citizens as shareholders… with the country even listed on a stock exchange, with tradeable shares.

I have been thinking about this for years and was having some difficulties with some of the solutions but when I read Doug’s ideas I felt like he may have answered a number of the things I was having trouble putting together.

So, anyway, I could very well be off to Eritrea, or some other small country at a moments notice… so I’ll just enjoy the sun and the pool and being in one spot for however long it lasts… I doubt it will last long.

In the meantime, I think Doug’s thinking on this issue is so important I will post it here… if you have the time and are interested to know how we can actually make this world practically paradise, rather than the near-hell we are very quickly headed for, read this:


The Spectrum of Politics

The terms liberal (left) and conservative (right) define the conventional political spectrum. But the terms are floating abstractions, with meanings that change with every politician.

In the nineteenth century, a “liberal� believed in free speech, social mobility, limited government and strict property rights. The term has since been appropriated by those who, while sometimes still believing in limited free speech, always support strong government and weak property rights and who see everyone as a member of a class or group.

Conservatives have always tended to believe in strong government and nationalism. Bismarck and Metternich were archetypes. Today’s conservatives are sometimes seen as defenders of economic liberty and free markets, although that is mostly only true when those concepts are perceived to coincide with the interests of big business and economic nationalism.

Locating political beliefs on an inaccurate scale, running only from left to right, constrains political thinking. It’s like trying to reduce chemistry to the elements with air, earth, water and fire.

Politics is the theory and practice of government. It concerns itself with how force should be applied to control people, which is to say, to restrict their freedom. It should be analyzed on that basis. Freedom is indivisible, but in the abstract it can be seen as composed of two basic elements: social freedom and economic freedom. According to the current usage, liberals tend to allow social freedom but restrict economic freedom, while conservatives tend to restrict social freedom but allow economic freedom. An authoritarian (they now style themselves “middle-of-the-roaders�) want both types of freedom restricted.

But what do you call someone who believes both social and economic freedom should be allowed maximum rein? Unfortunately, something without a name may get overlooked, or if the name is only known to a few, it may be ignored as unimportant. That may explain why so few people who believe in both of these dimensions of freedom know they are libertarians.

A useful chart of the political field would look like this:

A libertarian believes individuals have a right to do anything that doesn’t impinge on the common-law rights of others—basically anything but force or fraud. Libertarians are the human equivalent of the Gamma rat, which bears a little explanation.

Some years ago, scientists experimenting with rats categorized the vast majority of their subjects as Beta rats. These are followers, who get the Alpha rats’ leftovers. The Alpha rats establish territories, claim the choicest mates and generally lord it over the Betas. This pretty well corresponded with the way the researchers thought the world worked.

But they were surprised to find a third type of rat as well, the Gamma. This creature staked out a territory and chose the pick of the litter for a mate, like the Alpha, but didn’t attempt to dominate the Betas. A go-along-get-along rat. A libertarian rat, if you will.

My guess, mixed with a dollop of hope, is that as society becomes more repressive, more Gamma people will tune in to the problem and drop out as a solution. No, they won’t turn into middle-aged hippies weaving baskets and stringing beads in remote communes. Rather, they will structure their lives so that the government—which is to say taxes, regulation and inflation—is a non-factor. Hippies used to ask: suppose they had a war and nobody came? Personally, I would take it further: suppose they had an election and nobody voted, levied a tax and nobody paid, imposed a regulation and nobody obeyed?

Libertarian beliefs are strong among Americans, but the Libertarian Party has never gained much prominence, possibly because the type of people who might support it have better things to do than play political games. Even among those who believe in voting, many tend to feel they are “wasting� their vote on someone who can’t win. But voting is itself another part of the problem.

None of the Above

Since 1960, the trend has been for an ever smaller percentage of the electorate to vote. Increasingly, the average person is fed up or views elections as pointless. In some years, better than 98 percent of incumbents retain office. That is a higher proportion than in the Supreme Soviet of the defunct U.S.S.R., and a lower turnover rate than in Britain’s formerly hereditary House of Lords, where people lost their seats only by dying. The political system in the United States has, like all systems that grow old and large, become moribund and corrupt.

The conventional wisdom holds that this decline in voter turnout is a sign of apathy. But it may also be a sign of a renaissance in personal responsibility. It could be people saying: “I won’t be fooled again, and I won’t lend power to them.�

Politics has always been a way of redistributing wealth from those who produce to those who are politically favored. As H. L. Mencken observed, an election amounts to no more than an advance auction of stolen goods—a process few would support if they saw its true nature. Protesters in the ‘60s had their flaws, but they were quite correct when they said “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.� If politics is the problem, what is the solution? I have several answers that may appeal to you.

The first step in solving the problem is to stop actively encouraging it. Many Americans have intuitively recognized that government is the problem and have stopped voting. There are at least five reasons many people don’t vote:

Voting in a political election is unethical. The political process is one of institutionalized coercion and force; if you disapprove of those things, then you shouldn’t participate in them, even indirectly.

Voting compromises your privacy. It gets your name in another government computer.

Voting, as well as registering, entails hanging around government offices and dealing with petty bureaucrats. Most people can find something more enjoyable or productive to do.

Voting encourages politicians. A vote against one candidate—a chief, and quite understandable, reason many people vote—is always interpreted as a vote for his opponent. And even though you may be voting for the lesser of two evils, the lesser of two evils is still evil. It amounts to giving the candidate a tacit mandate to impose his will on society.

Your vote doesn’t count. Politicians like to say it counts because it is to their advantage to get everyone into a busybody mode. But statistically, one vote in scores of millions makes no more difference than a single grain of sand on a beach. That’s entirely apart from the fact that officials manifestly do what they want, not what you want, once they are in office.

Some of these thoughts may impress you as vaguely “unpatriotic;� that is certainly not my intention. But unfortunately, America isn’t the place it once was, either. The United States has devolved from the land of the free and the home of the brave to something more closely resembling the land of entitlements and the home of whining lawsuit filers. The founding ideas of the country, which were intensely libertarian, have been thoroughly perverted. What passes for tradition today is something against which the Founding Fathers would have led a second revolution.

This sorry, scary state of affairs is one reason some people emphasize the importance of joining the process, “working within the system� and “making your voice heard,� to ensure that “the bad guys� don’t get in. They seem to think that increasing the number of voters will improve the quality of their choices. That argument compels many sincere people, who otherwise wouldn’t dream of coercing their neighbors, to take part in the political process. But it only feeds power to people in politics and government, validating their existence and making them more powerful in the process.

Of course, everybody involved gets something out of it, psychologically if not monetarily. Politics gives many people a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves, and so has special appeal for those who can’t find satisfaction within themselves. We cluck in amazement at the enthusiasm shown at Hitler’s giant rallies but figure that what goes on here, today, is different. Well, it’s never quite the same. But the mindless sloganeering, the cult of personality and a certainty of the masses that “their� candidate will kiss their personal lives and make them better are identical.

And even if the favored candidate doesn’t help them, then at least he’ll keep others from getting too much. Politics is the institutionalization of envy, a vice that proclaims: “You’ve got something I want, and if I can’t get one, I’ll take yours. And if I can’t have yours, I’ll destroy it, so you can’t have it, either.� Participating in politics is an act of ethical bankruptcy.

The key to getting “rubes� (i.e., voters) to vote, and “marks� (i.e., contributors) to give is to talk in generalities while sounding specific and to look sincere and thoughtful yet decisive. Vapid, venal party hacks can be shaped, like Silly Putty, into saleable candidates. People like to kid themselves that they are voting for either “the man� or “the ideas.� But few campaign “ideas� are more than slogans artfully packaged to push the right buttons. Voting “the man� doesn’t help much, either, since these guys are more diligently programmed, posed and rehearsed than any actor.

This is probably truer today than it’s ever been, since elections are now won on television, and television is not a forum for expressing complex ideas and philosophies. It lends itself to slogans and glib people who look and talk like game-show hosts. People with really “new ideas� wouldn’t dream of introducing them to politics, because they know such ideas can’t be explained in sixty seconds.

I’m not intimating, incidentally, that people disinvolve themselves from their communities, social groups or other voluntary organizations; just the opposite, since those relationships are the lifeblood of society. But the political process, or government, are not synonymous with society or even complementary to it. Government is a dead hand on society.

Using the “A� Word

One of the most important books I’ve ever read, and possibly one of the most profound ever written, is The Market for Liberty by Morris and Linda Tannehill. The book is a cogent, well-reasoned presentation of how society would work in the absence of government. But nowhere in the book is that system named. What might it be called? I knew one of the authors, Morris Tannehill, and asked him why he never used the word anarchism in his text. He allowed that although the concept of society being organized on principles of voluntarism and laissez-faire was acceptable to most people of good will, the name for such a system, anarchism, had been purged from the vocabulary of those who wanted to be taken seriously. George Orwell recognized the force of such purging in 1984, where he had his dystopian state reducing the number of words in the dictionary every year. A concept without a name is hard to grasp.

By definition, democracy means “rule of the people,� monarchy means “rule by one,� oligarchy means “rule of the few,� and so forth. Anarchism means only “no rule.� It doesn’t mean “chaos,� “disorder,� or “violence.� Like so many words, its true meaning has been misappropriated and twisted. The popular perception of an anarchist is a man dressed in a black cape skulking about with a round bomb, fuse lit. And certainly there have been violent anarchists, just as there have been violent Americans, violent Christians, violent parents and violent doctors. But that’s never been an essential or even an accidental characteristic of any of them.

Paradoxically, anarchism is the gentlest of political systems. It is the political manifestation of the ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy, what philosopher Alan Watts called the “watercourse way,� where everything flows unrestricted, at its own pace, to its own level. Some have suggested that I abstain from using the word anarchy because it carries so much emotional baggage and arouses atavistic fears. But ideas should speak for themselves, and semantics should be used to clarify, not obscure, their meaning.

In many ways, reality is just a creation of widely shared opinions. Nothing should be accepted just because it exists, including the state. Concepts take on lives of their own, unless someone challenges them. And the concept of the state is sorely in need of a challenge.

How to Go There from Here

Like the weather, everybody complains about politics, but nobody does anything about it. What can and should be done? In my view, a gentle shift to the right or the left has no hope of success. The Reagan administration had many ideological conservatives in its ranks whose battle cry was “If not us, who? If not now, when?� They had some limited success in rolling back the state in a few areas, like firing striking air traffic controllers and reducing maximum income tax rates, but were ineffectual overall. In fact, their main success was in expanding state activities favored by conservatives, like the military, the DEA, customs, NSA and CIA, while leaving most of the liberal establishment intact.

The experience of Third World countries probably gives the best hint of what will happen in the United States soon. Third World governments have tried every conceivable variation of the socialist theme. Without exception, they ran their societies into the ground. It’s rare that a downward trend can be turned around once it is underway, for the same reason it is impossible to stop a boulder once it starts rolling downhill. They only stop when they’ve hit bottom. There is no reason the United States will be any different. It will just take longer, since the U.S. has so much capital and now has a more pronounced antiauthoritarian tradition than any other country.

A renaissance in liberty is more likely to occur in some country that’s already been devastated by collectivism than the United States. I’ve made it an avocation to try putting theory into practice by meeting with Third World leaders and presenting them with a plan to revitalize their bankrupt countries. What’s to be done with basket cases?

In essence, I suggest that 100 percent of the government’s assets, which typically means almost everything in these countries, be put into a public corporation, with the shares distributed pro rata to every man, woman, and child in the country, although extra shares would necessarily be given to those in authority (as an inducement) and a percentage put in trust for the next generation. A modest number of shares would be sold on major world markets to generate capital and establish a market price.

Since government assets theoretically belong to the people, it’s only fair to give them directly to their owners. This is important, since most “privatization� plans floated today feature auctioning off government assets, which ensures that only the rich, who have the money to bid, and the government, which gets the proceeds, benefit directly.

Distributing shares directly to the people puts the power where it belongs, but it’s not enough. It would also be necessary to:

Spin off all state industrial and agricultural enterprises to shareholders, while reserving perhaps 30 percent for distribution to current employees, both to encourage loyalty and to act as a golden handshake for the many who will be redundant.

Allow the formation of unregulated stock exchanges, where the above shares can be traded and capital raised for new enterprises. Permit the establishment, without regulation, of private and foreign banks.

Take 100 percent of government gold and foreign currency reserves and use them to make the national currency completely convertible to all holders. It would soon become the world’s most desired currency. Citizens would save it, not look to dump it for tangibles.

Abolish all duties, subsidies, exchange controls, taxes, ministries, bureaus and regulations, with no exceptions. Ex-government employees could liquidate shares to sustain themselves while they found productive work.

The government would serve no function except to protect residents from common-law crimes of force and fraud. But private police forces and courts would be allowed on an equal basis. Schools and all other useful government functions would be “spun off� like all other assets.

In every case, it’s not a matter of “doing something,� but simply of getting rid of laws, like a decades-old encrustation of barnacles, that make it impossible for the market to give people what they need. One thing that wouldn’t be either needed or wanted is aid from foreign governments. As it always has, such aid only serves to entrench the old power structure. So counterproductive is aid that it’s amazing people of good will even consider it. The answer lies in laissez-faire and freedom.

Should any country do something even approaching this proposal, its standard of living would surpass America’s in only a few years, and the country would be inundated with foreign capital, labor and entrepreneurs. What are the chances of it happening? Don’t plan your life around it. But stranger things have occurred, and the leaders of several countries I’ve approached may try it, if only out of desperation. It would make them legitimately rich, domestically loved and figures of world stature. That certainly beats waiting for the next revolution to put them up against the wall.

A similar plan would work in the United States; but America has become one of the most conservative countries in the world, with a power structure for which “change� is no more than an election-year buzzword.

Got an apartment?!

Considering I haven’t had an actual physical, stationary address for nearly 2 years, this may come as quite a shock, but today I got an apartment in Bangkok.

But, considering it is fully furnished, with a nice pool and gym in the building and costs about $350/month, it is hardly a “big decision” or a “big commitment”!

I really have no intention of even spending a lot of time there as I intend to travel through Vietnam, Indonesia and maybe other countries in SE Asia over the next month or so… and then after that I will be in Vancouver and Edmonton sometime in June, afterwhich I will likely travel through parts of Russia and then into Eastern Europe, likely culminating in September in Italy or France, prior to heading back to Asia.

But, seeing as how I spend so much time in Bangkok lately, it seemed to make some economic sense… plus the place is nicer than most hotels I’ve been staying in… they are installing high speed internet this week, so it will have everything I need…

So, next time you are in Bangkok, stop by my place… its, uh, near Rachadiphisek, near Asoke-Dindaeng… or something like that.