America will not survive without alternative markets
by Brandon Smith
Posted originally Friday, 27 May 2011
COMMERCE IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF A NATION. Without the free flow of trade, without financial adaptability, without intuitive markets driven by the natural currents of supply, demand, and innovation, cultures stagnate, countries whither, and one generation after the next finds itself deeper in the somber doldrums of economic disintegration.
In an environment of transparency, honesty, and the absence of monopoly (government or corporate), on the rare occasions in history that these conditions are actually present in one place at one time, we often see an explosion of prosperity and true wealth creation. When local, decentralized markets are given precedence over subversive elitist leviathans like mercantilism or globalism, a wellspring of abundance bursts forward. Free people, building true free markets that serve the specific needs of individual communities and insulating the overall economy from systemic collapse; this has always been the wave of the future. Not “integration”, “harmonization”, or some fantastical nonsensical “global village” administrated by a faceless unaccountable transnational entity like the IMF, infested with sociopathic maid raping euro-trolls.
Unfortunately, average Americans today have grown far too accustomed to having their commerce, and thus their livelihoods, micromanaged for them. Most cities and states in this country today are entirely dependent on corporate infrastructure or federal funding for ready employment and steady incomes. Most people have never even considered life without the Dollar; a highly flawed and unstable fiat currency. They exist enslaved, without any means to carry on even the most remedial exchanges in the event that the worthless paper notes finally hyperinflate into oblivion. Most Americans have never even imagined where they might obtain food or other goods if grocery chains were to shut down for more than a week; a very likely scenario considering the extent to which such businesses are indebted, not to mention the effects of destructive price increases due to inflation in commodities and freight rates. The bottom line is, if the daily fiscal life of the average American were to deviate from today’s norm even slightly, the results would be devastating. There is no flexibility in our current system. All is rigid and fragile. There is no backup plan.
The problem, of course, is in educating the populace on the necessity of alternative markets. To many, the U.S. economy has been and always will be the standard. How could it change? Surely, people have been discussing the possibility of total economic collapse for decades, and it hasn’t happened yet, so why should we worry now?
What these people don’t realize is that first, economic storms are progressive events. They rarely happen in the blink of an eye. Far more like a wounded airplane struggling to maintain altitude but invariably crashing into the unforgiving earth. The collapse of our dollar has been an ongoing program since at least the early 1970’s, when Nixon removed our currency completely from any vestige of a gold standard. Our industrial infrastructure has been dismantled over many years and replaced with low paying, remedial, and unreliable service employment. And, our national debt has been snowballing, more than doubling every decade since 1970. You can only put so much weight on the camel’s back before it finally snaps. This brings us to the second point; that snap has already occurred here in the U.S., many just don’t seem to recognize it.
Make no mistake, the year of 2008 was the breaking point. As soon as the private Federal Reserve in tandem with a paid for and pocketed U.S. government began rampant production of fiat without oversight, without guidelines, and without the consent of the American people, it was all over for our existing economy. The consequences of quantitative easing measures initiated in 2008 will be far reaching into the foreseeable future, and will probably go down in history as the catalyst for immense international catastrophes soon to come. For people who argue that collapse is a farfetched “conspiracy theory”, I simply point out that the collapse they scoff at is going on right now, right under their gullible noses.
This realization usually brings us to the next obvious question: what can we do to stop this terrible landslide?
To begin with, we need to abandon the idea that our economic implosion is something that can be mended before the pain it creates is felt. Like every sickness, it is something that we will have to struggle through, and suffer through, before a cure is made viable. There is also no single magical solution to defuse the situation, and anyone who tries to sell you one is probably not to be trusted. We must accept that no matter what we do from this point on, we WILL see a breakdown of the U.S. dollar and by attrition the rest of our financial system. Our only practical options are those which insulate and shield us as much as possible from the effects of that breakdown, so that the country might have the opportunity to remove manipulative elements (global corporatists) from the equation, and rebuild.
Do we wait around for politicians, legislators, and courts, to set up protective barriers in our communities and our local economies for us? I certainly hope not. Anyone doing that will be twiddling their thumbs long after the nation has fallen apart. Elections at the federal level have proven time and again to be utterly useless in effecting any meaningful improvements in our society, let alone preventing calamity. There are only so many Ron Paul’s and Rand Paul’s operating in our government today. Vote for them, but don’t put all your hopes for prosperity and liberty into one candidate, or one election.
At the state level (depending on your state), there tends to be a bit more breathing room, and a chance for free market and sound money legislation to be pushed to the forefront (as has been done in Utah). However, relying on state representatives alone will not turn the tide. When it comes down to it, the only person that can protect your financial future, and your community’s financial future, is you. Yes, they created the mess, and now YOU are responsible for cleaning it up. Sorry, that’s just the way it goes…
This means that if we want to ensure any level of safety to our economic environment, we as Americans must do it ourselves. We must stop buying into the lie that participation in commerce is about mere “consumption”, and actually take ownership of our economy. We must decouple from the unstable mainstream system and the dollar, and construct our own local markets with our own stable non-fiat currencies. They’ll call them “black markets”, they’ll call it an undermining of the dollar, they’ll even call it terrorism, but the fact remains, life, and thus trade, must go on. If the globalist based economy does not provide an environment that facilitates free trade, or tries to dominate trade as a method of social control, then alternative markets are going to arise. It is unavoidable.
Must we go cold turkey on the Greenback, or weekly trips to Walmart? Not necessarily. Alternative markets can be organized in parallel with the existing system, and used in tandem until the primary economy takes the final plunge, or, can be replaced entirely. That is to say, as localized markets, barter networks, and gold and silver based currencies become more popular in the midst of the comparably feeble and poisonous mainstream economy, they will begin to supplant the old system. Why? Because the laws of supply and demand cannot be undone. People want a strong currency, and they want reliable foundations for local trade. If you provide these things, they will cast aside that which doesn’t work, and adapt that which does.
This is why the globalist system strains so hard to undermine any concept of “choice”. Either you use the dollar, or you starve. Either you work within the corporate framework, or you starve. Either you accept the autocratic puppeteering of groups like the Federal Reserve, or you starve. As soon as people begin to recognize that they actually have other options beyond the establishment status quo, the base of power for the elites falls apart.
It is not a matter of IF alternative markets are built. It is only a matter of WHEN alternative markets are built. Barter organizations, food co-ops, and sound money, are a matter of survival. No modern economic collapse that I know of has occurred without causing the sudden ascent of localized commerce to fill the void. For example, Greece has recently seen a significant rise in barter networking programs in the past year, although some of these programs are still rather primitive, and many are still too dependent on the internet instead of encouraging more face to face community building.
Argentina has had barter networks and alternative markets for years following the collapse of its currency and economy. The Argentine financial system has yet to recover from its collapse, despite IMF claims that they “saved the country” from certain destruction. Because of this, barter organizations continue to operate there even today (again, still in primitive fashion and with their own shortcomings, including a continued dependence on unbacked “coupons” as currency):
Economic collapse forces the issue of alternative commerce. The problem is that nearly every culture to face such dire straights waits until after they are thoroughly desperate before they launch a replacement economy. In my view, Americans can do much better. First, we have foreknowledge of collapse. Many citizens are at least aware that the threat exists and treat it more seriously than they did a few years ago. Others in the Liberty Movement are fully cognizant of the inevitable danger and have a complex understanding of economics in general. Next, we still have some wealth (fiat wealth), though dwindling, which can be converted into tangible commodities like gold and silver, as well as materials for micro-industries (a skill set you have achieved that is useful in a post collapse economy could be turned into a micro-industry you can use for trade). We have extremely wide usage of the internet (for now), which is the perfect tool for connecting people and groups together, setting the stage for face to face organization later on. We have states, with 10th Amendments rights, which can be converted into “safe havens”; financially, politically, and socially protected areas of the U.S. where independent citizens can congregate that provide shelter and mutual defense from the chaos that collapse imposes. And, most importantly, we have the will to make these things possible, though it seems hidden or even non-existent, it is there in many of us. All that is required are vehicles which give that will a direction and a means.
The Alternative Market Project, which I recently founded, could be one of those vehicles, and could be used as a way to accelerate the creation of barter networks and sound money programs. However, to be clear, ANYONE with enough focus and enough patience can set up a barter network within their town or city. The primary thing to remember, is that this must be done now, while we still have the ability to maneuver, not after we’re already in a financial stranglehold.
For anyone out there that still doubts the need for localized commerce, sound money, and private trade groups, I suggest they consider the following:
1) In 2010, for the first time in two decades, central banks around the world became net buyers of gold, driving prices to record highs:
Some skeptics site George Soros’ recent dumping of his gold holdings which was partly attributed to the drop in metals this past month. However, what they don’t seem to grasp is that Soros dumped his ETF holdings, or paper gold, which were likely unbacked by any physical as most ETF securities are unbacked. He dumped inherently worthless stocks. Unfortunately, this kind of manipulative action by bankers still has psychological effects on the markets. But, as always, gold and silver are coming back stronger than ever, and foreign banks continue to buy.
If global banks are buying up precious metals in enormous quantities, then logically, it serves our interests to protect ourselves in the same fashion. More states need to adopt sound money legislation now, as Utah did, before it is too late.
2) The method that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to calculate inflation has been changed 24 times since 1978, making the CPI the most skewed index in history. The Fed reports inflation at 2.7 percent, and core inflation at 1.2 percent. If one were to calculate inflation using the old methods, the CPI would actually be 10 percent, and this is still a conservative estimate when one considers that most commodities, from oil to grains, have doubled in price in the past two to three years. The Fed and the BLS hide true inflation because it signals bad monetary policy and warns the world that the dollar is devaluing at an alarming rate. Any economy that is still tied to the dollar as this process escalates will be beaten bloody. This includes your local economy. Decoupling from the dollar and building alternative markets using methods outside of the mainstream is the only way to cushion the blow. Foreign economies are slowly distancing themselves from the Greenback, and so should we.
3) Remember the mortgage crisis that triggered the never-ending bailouts of corporate bankers who gave themselves huge Christmas bonuses as a special thanks to the American taxpayer? Well, the crisis never stopped. Foreclosure sales have continued to climb, and home values dropped in 75 percent of U.S. cities in the first quarter of 2011:
What have global banks done in response? They continue to make wild bets on housing! Why not! It’s not their money! Bank of America in particular has thrown billions into a gamble that housing prices will bounce back in the last half of this year, even while the fundamentals of the economy show no signs whatsoever that house prices will return, or that people will suddenly begin buying again en masse.
Will bailouts of the “Too Big To Fails” continue? Absolutely. This signals not only the disintegration of America’s last store of value (property), but also the relentless creation of debt and currency devaluation caused by an out of control quantitative easing policy. Bailouts have severe consequences. Don’t ever let old Benanke tell you otherwise…
4) U.S. long term Treasury auctions continue to perform dismally. Foreign buyers are few, and most prefer not to invest in American debt for more than six to eight weeks at a time, let alone thirty years:
The Federal Reserve now revels in its role as the only serious purchaser of U.S. bonds, expanding new national debt while paying for old national debt with a printing press, of all things. The question is not whether Congress will raise the debt ceiling to continue this madness. Of course they will raise the debt ceiling! The real question is; what will happen when they do? Are you willing to bet your own survival on the hope that foreign holders of U.S. treasury bonds will not dump their reserves in protest of the cycle of inflationary debt doom created by the Treasury and the Fed? I’m not…
5) Are you a state or federal employee planning retirement? Expecting your pension fund to cover it? Don’t bother. Currently, the U.S. Treasury under the ever shameless Timothy Geithner is siphoning revenues from federal employee pension funds and 401K’s and using them to pay for the horrible machine to keep rolling while they create even more debt. Of course, Timmy assures us that they’ll put the money back once the debt ceiling is settled:
States have been creeping towards pension confiscation for at least a year. New propaganda talking points include arguments that many pensions are “padded” by employees using legal loopholes to “manipulate overtime” or steal more money from taxpayers. In some cases this may be true, but already you can see that the rationalizations are being formed in the public mind which will allow states to more easily confiscate all pension funds, as if all state employees nickel and dime the system and should be punished. In reality, pension confiscation will only be about poor state management and fiscal ineptness. Austerity is about to go into full swing here in the U.S.:
Without the retirement nest egg you spent half your life procuring, what will you do? Continue to rely on the establishment structure that stabbed you in the back? Or, will you step away from the structure completely, and build your own?
6) “Low Food Security” in U.S. households, which is measured by the Census Bureau, grew by 39 percent from 2007 to 2008. The poverty rate has hit a 15 year high. Considering that the Census sets the poverty level standard as thin as a family of four living for under $21,000 a year (a ridiculously low income for four people to live on), it would be safe to assume that poverty is much higher in this country than is officially reported:
This mass of destitution and potential homelessness is hidden away by one thing; entitlement programs. Welfare and foodstamps have created an illusory barrier between our society and the poor that inhabit it. What happens if entitlement programs disappear? All of that ugly truth we tried to ignore will come flooding into full view. Alternative markets aren’t just a stop gap for ourselves, they are also a new option for those who have lost everything to the volatile mainstream economy. We can either make a safety net for those millions struck by poverty, and help them to become self sufficient, or we can let them stew out on the streets, waiting for more government handouts, until they turn towards more violent means to get what they need. Ultimately, by creating new methods of commerce today, we can prevent far greater turmoil and destruction later on.
7) I don’t know if you have noticed, but the world seems to be going loony toons lately. Unrest is washing over the Middle East like a boiling tidal wave. Protestors are being mowed down by gunfire in Syria, Yemen, and Egypt. The Libyan War is going to go on for years. Pakistan is barely able to hide its own destabilization. The U.S. is sending predator drones into people’s bathrooms in countries across the planet. The EU is now continuing its steady descent into debt default, one overleveraged country at a time. And, Japan is living up to its reputation as the birthplace of such luminaries as Godzilla and Mothra, its seas and air absorbing radioactive material beyond anything we ever saw at Chernobyl. You have to wonder if this is all leading to some kind of climax.
Because of globalization, almost every nation on Earth has been pushed into interdependency with every other nation. At least economically. What happens on one side of the planet effects the other side of the planet. This fact should be considered by those Americans who live oblivious to world events, or ignorantly believe that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. We are certainly not protected from the strife across the oceans. Why? Because we have no independent decentralized systems in place to counter the failings of global “harmonization”.
We as average Americans with limited incomes cannot quickly develop alternative markets on a global scale, but we can create such markets in our immediate communities. Each new free and self contained market reinforces the others, until eventually, you have a network of independent organizations which serve to support each other simply by being independent. It sounds like a contradiction, or perhaps even a paradox, but it is an undeniable model. The more free a culture is, the more self reliant a culture is, the more prosperous it becomes. Our job, is to bring America back to that realm of prosperity, one town, one city, one state at a time.
You can contact Brandon Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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