A Conversation with Doug Casey – Thoughts on UBI, Education, Culture and Crypto
“Choosing to think is man’s most powerful tool and greatest virtue, and refusing to think is his greatest danger, the surest way to bring him to destruction.” The Market for Liberty – pg.8
Exponential growth is said, by many, to be one of the most misunderstood mathematical concepts in the world. For those not familiar, exponential growth in a graphical sense looks like a hockey stick lying at a slight angle, with the blade standing upwards. Exponential growth is slow at first, but eventually, like the hockey stick, reaches a point where it spikes.
What’s my point? Exponential growth can be found in basically every aspect of our lives, and when that spike or crescendo is reached, major change occurs. Today, technology is rapidly advancing, bringing us closer to a completely automated world – sooner than we may think.
Additionally, governments have been printing money at unprecedented rates, racking up debt and enough inflation to completely destroy our savings in the future. Paraphrasing the late Richard Russell, in the future, it will not be he who makes the most, but he who loses the least.
Today, I’m going to share with you a recent conversation with Doug Casey, founder of Casey Research. In our conversation, we discussed the proposed Universal Basic Income (UBI), Casey’s thoughts on the future of education, the seed bed of oppression – culture, the rise and popularity of crypto-currencies, and finally, a look at his new book, Drug Lord.
Brian: Recently, I listened to an interview with Elon Musk, in which he says that within the next 10 years, not only will cars be electrically driven, but they will be autonomous, which in his estimation, will eliminate the number 1 occupation in the world, driving.
The consequences of progression in technology will not only affect driving, but the entire manufacturing industry in general. This progression doesn’t happen overnight, but over time, our technological progression will have major consequences for our current economic and social paradigms.
Musk continues in his thesis and suggests that the solution to this conundrum is a Universal Basic Income, which would be given to everyone without a job.
What’s your take on a universal basic income as the answer to a potential unemployment problem?
Doug: The so-called UBI is one of the most stupid and destructive ideas to come down the pike in recent years. Why? It is, first of all, a matter of ethics. I believe that all welfare of whatever type should be abolished, because welfare is nothing but disguised theft from the people who provide the capital to pay the welfare.
Look, if you’re going to survive in the world– and the world makes it hard to survive—you want to see as little theft as possible. The more energy you have to devote to protect yourself from thieves, the less you have with which to produce. Or figure out how to improve technology to produce more efficiently. The main thing that allowed us to move out of the Palaeolithic era is technology. But in order for that to develop you needed capital—even if that was just a bit of extra grain and skins for the winter. To do that it’s incumbent upon each individual to produce more than he consumes. The excess, savings, builds capital. You can’t advance if you’re a “consumer”; you have to be a producer and a saver.
The whole idea of UBI is destructive, from an economic point of view. It would treat humans as consumers, not producers. But worse than that, it’s destructive from a moral point of view. Why should a person have to support somebody else? Voluntary charity is one thing. But making welfare public policy is actually anti-human. Every time and everywhere the results have ranged from bad to catastrophic. It’s corrupted everybody it’s touched, from blacks in the inner cities to Indian tribes on reservations, cementing those groups to the bottom of society. Expecting to get something for nothing, with no exchange, is totally destructive of character. It’s worse for the recipient than it is for the givers, and from the givers’ point of view and from the economic point of view, it destroys capital– it encourages consumption and discourages production.
UBI has become a meme in recent years. But it’s an old idea. Free bread and circuses helped collapse ancient Rome. Mao’s China and the USSR both had a UBI. We’ve had idiot savants like Bill Gates saying that it’s good and necessary– but it’s neither.
They say it’s going to be necessary because intelligent machines will eliminate most jobs and cause mass unemployment. Don’t worry about unemployment, because everybody on this planet, that’s seven and a half billion people, each have an infinite desire for goods and services. You or I or anybody could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing goods and services for other people. It’s just a question of motivation, price, and your ability to give other people what they want. They say that the UBI is going to be necessary because robots are going to do everything. But this argument is just an updated version of what the Luddites of 19th century England were all about. They wanted to destroy the weaving machines that could produce much more cloth with much less labor. Stupid on many levels…
I’ve talked to UBI advocates, although alking to them is about as pointless as arguing religion with a born-again of some type…One of their favourite arguments is that when everyone has a fat guaranteed income, the masses will be freed up to create great art, think great thoughts, and invent new things. Just like the blacks in the ghettoes and the Indians on reservations do, I suppose.
UBI is just the latest cockamamie scheme from social engineers that want to reorder society as if other humans were just ants in their terrarium. Gates, Musk, and others appear to have very little knowledge of economics or history.
The UBI is silly, destructive, unethical and has no redeeming value.
Brian: In an interview with Forbes, Mark Cuban said the following,
“The amount of change we’ll see for jobs in the next five or 10 years will dwarf what we’ve observed in the past 30 years, and that as artificial intelligence and as machine learning takes center stage, there will be a greater need for expertise in subjects such as English, philosophy and foreign languages.” ~ Forbes
Further, in an article written by James Altucher, he remarks that ideas are the true currency of the next Century.
Our current economic paradigm does not, in my opinion, pay back those who study the arts, but from what Cuban and Altucher suggest, it appears that they believe the future will be much different.
In your opinion, will it be a philosophical renaissance or are we headed for some other type of paradigm shift?
Doug: Well, to avoid confusion, let me say James Altucher and I are very much on the same page. Mark Cuban—not so much.
I guess it’s a question of the nature of education itself. As you may know, I don’t believe in the value of going off to college for 4 years; it’s usually just a very expensive way to piss away 4 of the best years of your life drinking and chasing the opposite sex– or I guess today I’d have to say maybe the same sex or the 48 genders that Facebook designates– while being inundated with unsound ideas from socialist teachers.
Few people even remember what they learn, since they’re uninterested in the material. Unless they’re taking science, mathematics, engineering, medicine, or the like, I encourage high school kids not to go to college. Chances are they’ll emerge burdened with a lot of debt and bad ideas.
As for what Cuban says about English, philosophy, foreign languages and so forth– these are things that you can and should learn by yourself. To start with, most schooling today, starting from grade school is just indoctrination. Education is something that you do for yourself, not something that anybody can give you or something that you can buy. I’m a great believer in auto-didacticism; most everything that’s worth learning is something that you can teach yourself.
The Internet today has all the world’s knowledge.
You don’t need the distraction of school. Historically– other than learning a specific subject in a disciplined atmosphere– the reason why you, went to college was for the values of western civilization to be transmitted. But, today, universities don’t do that—rather the opposite. They teach political correctness and cultural Marxism, which are antithetical to the traditional values of western civilization, and its historical culture.
Brian: I recently started reading The Market for Liberty. One quote that echoed what I have been thinking for a long time is the following,
“Because man must initiate and maintain the process of thinking by an act of choice, no one else can force him to think or do his thinking for him. This means that no man can successfully run another man’s life. The best thing one man can do for another is not to prevent him from enjoying the benefits of his thinking and productive work, nor to shield him from the bad effects of refusing to think and produce.” ~The Market for Liberty – pg.7
My question for you, is it the want or a need to control by a certain segment of the population, or is it the fear of living with the consequences of our choices, which has propelled us into a society that allows the government to have ever increasing control over our everyday lives?
Doug: For many years, I have been an anarchist. I want to define that word accurately. It’s simply a person who doesn’t believes in political coercion—“no ruler”, that’s what the word means. It certainly doesn’t mean violence, it doesn’t mean chaos. It means taking responsibility for yourself and your own life. The Market for Liberty is a fantastic book. It explains how an anarchic society would work from a practical point of view, why it would be freer, less violent, and more productive than any political system that we have today. To me, the essence of this is learning to be responsible for your own life. Not blaming things on anybody else, but recognizing that when you’re born, whether you’re a member of the lucky sperm club and are born rich with great parents, or just the opposite, that you own and control your own life.
It’s all a matter of personal responsibility. Life is like a poker game. You can be dealt a pair of aces or you can be dealt an unsuited two seven. You’ve got to play the cards the way they are, and to do this, you’ve got to have an attitude of personal responsibility, and allow and expect other people to also actualize themselves.
I’m totally opposed to any form of social engineering, or so-called world improvement. In an anarcho-capitalist society the law would be very simple: “Do all that you say you’ll do, and don’t aggress against other people or their property”.
Brian: I recently read an article entitled, Twenty Observations of Liberty and Society, by Jayant Bhandari. Bhandari tells the story of his transition from life in India to his new life in the United Kingdom (UK). The contrasts which he observes, I think, are summarized in his final point,
“Every little bit of totalitarianism in our minds, however benign it may appear, helps to produce a complexly corrupt and coercive society, endlessly mirroring itself in the workings of the state. People should learn to see this connection. Libertarians should learn to see it. They should learn that the seedbed of oppression is not the state but the culture.” ~ Liberty – pg.53
Do you agree, is the seedbed of oppression culture?
Doug: Yes, Jayant is quite correct. There’s a movement called multiculturalism, which sees all the world’s cultures as co-equal. This is complete nonsense. About as foolish as saying an African village of mud huts ruled by a witch doctor is co-equal to New York.
But let’s try to be fair and objective. First off, all you have to decide what’s important. Which values are important? What do you want to see the world be like?
For me, it is things like freedom, liberty, science, capitalism, free markets, non-coercion, reason, individualism, voluntarism, and free thought. These things are closely related, are all the products of Western civilization, which originated in Greece 25 or 26 hundred years ago.
The other cultures in the world have different values, and they’re more often as not antithetical to Western values. I don’t consider other cultures co-equal. Most are backward, many are just degraded.
I do have respect for some aspects of Chinese culture; it’s brought a few things to the party. I’m a fan of Taoism, and some of Confucius’ thoughts. I’m a fan of their cuisine, of tai chi, and martial arts. But, other than that, there’s relatively little that Chinese culture has to offer.
Islamic culture actually brings negative, retrograde values to the world. Quite frankly, it’s authoritarian even totalitarian. It’s built on a foundation of religious dogma.
Indian culture– yoga is great, as is Indian food. But I don’t see much else of value.
After you look at those, there aren’t any other cultures that have done anything of value, to even be worth mentioning. We’d still be beating on the earth with sticks and eating each other if it weren’t for Western Civilization. The culture of a country is more important than anything else. The politics, sociology, justice system, literature, values, and everything else arises from the cultural base.
Unfortunately, there are things—like multiculturalism– that are eating away at the foundations of Western civilization. And people actually think it’s good. People have been taught to think that Western civilization has been destructive and a bad thing. We are going to go back into the dark ages if its values collapse.
Brian: Thus far, 2017 has been the year of the crypto currencies, with Bitcoin headlining the surge of speculative cash flowing into the digital realm. In The New Case for Gold, James Rickards writes,
“The cashless, digital society is already here. Some observers are concerned about what they call “the war on cash.” Don’t worry – the war on cash is over and the government has won.” ~Rickards – pg.40
Firstly, do you agree with Rickards and, if so, what do you think will be the catalyst for the elimination of cash?
Doug: He’s absolutely right. Governments of the world tend to work together, as with FATCA. All bank and financial accounts have now basically become available to any government anywhere. There’s no more financial privacy, making it extremely hard to deny tax income to the state. The black economy is on its way out because of so-called “transparency”. Governments now know what you own and where it is.
Their next step is to get rid of cash, because they can’t track cash. It’s happening in Sweden, in particular, and it’s happening in parts of China. There is mention of getting rid of U.S. 50s and 100s and even 20s. They want everybody to use their smartphones, which are totally trackable. Or, at least, a credit card, with no cash, you have to save in a bank account; there won’t be any c-notes to hide under the mattress. You’ll become a total serf, where the government knows everything you have, has access to everything you have, and can take everything you have with a couple of keystrokes. Yhe trend is horrible, disastrous, and it should be fought.
The funny thing about crypto currencies is they started out as hugely liberating. Bitcoin, is fiat currency like the dollar, but it’s better than the dollar because there’s no limit whatsoever on the number of dollars that can be created. Bitcoin is limited to 21 million. And the US government is going to be creating many, many trillions more dollars. As will the governments controlling every other currency in the world—they work together these days.
The U.S. government and other governments are going to be coming out with their own crypto currencies, which they’re going to try to force you to use. They’re going to try to slam the door on Bitcoin and other free market crypto currencies. It’s another really dangerous and disturbing trend and, to me, it’s an argument for buying gold. Unlike paper dollar bills, which have no value in themselves, at least with gold you have a real asset. As crypto currencies become better known and more and more people start using them, people are going to start asking themselves questions about the nature of money, the nature of banking, and how central banks fit into this. Something they’re completely oblivious to right now.
It’s always a problem and a danger when government co-opts a new technology. But just like with gunpowder, the printing press, the Internet, and every other technology, the market will overwhelm them. Technology always frees and empowers the average person in the long run. The bad guys who inevitably congregate around government try to co-opt the technology and use it against people. But, in the long-run, technology is always liberating. I’m sorry to see cash go away—but it will be replaced by free-market cryptos and plain old gold coins.
Brian: Ever since I read Speculator last fall, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the 2nd book from the High Ground novel series, Drug Lord, and picked up a copy at the Sprott Resource Symposium in July.
I loved the book, having almost finished the entire thing on my flight home to Toronto. In particular, one pivotal moment in the story stood out for me. Setting the scene, Charles Knight, the main character, is called to the Capital Building before a committee of government officials to be chastised about the off-label use of Visioryme’s drug, Sybillene.
During this hearing, Knight courageously says,
“There are essentially four ways to deal with evil. You can bow to it, and let it rule you. You can pretend it doesn’t exist. You can try to run, and hope it won’t find you. Or you can confront it, and attack it. Only the last alternative has a chance of success of more than a moment.” ~Drug Lord – pg.244
With this book, was there a particular lesson or theme that you wanted to bestow upon the reader, and if so, what? Why now?
Doug: Well, one of the worst things that the US government has bestowed upon the world is the War on Drugs. It didn’t just start with Nixon in the 70’s, but long before, with the Harrison Act in 19xx, which regulated cocaine and opiates, among other drugs. In this book, we talk about both the legal FDA-style drug business, and the illegal DEA-style drug business. How it works, the morality of drugs– and the intelligence or stupidity of using various drugs, and the effects they have on the body.
We’re exploring the positive aspects of the drug world in Drug Lord—which is rather unusual. I believe in what Aristotle called the Golden Mean, which is to say moderation in all things. It’s like water or food. Too little food and you’re malnourished. Too much food and you become fat, killing yourself another way. It’s the same thing with many drugs. For instance, completely unbeknownst to most people, LSD in micro-doses can have huge beneficial effects. It’s a question of moderation. And that’s just one of the things that we’re trying to explore in the book.
Wait until next year’s book, Assassin. You’re going to love it. Our hero, Charles Knight, explores the techniques, the history, and the morality of assassinations, so in a way, Drug Lord is just a gateway drug to much more hardcore novels which are going to follow, starting next year.
Brian: That’s great, I really look forward to it. Doug, as always, thank you very much for your time and for answering my questions, it has been a pleasure.
Doug: Thanks Brian.
A Summary of My Conversation with Casey:
- Concepts such as UBI have been around for hundreds of years and have played a major role in the collapse of ancient Rome, Mao’s China and the USSR. Simply put, UBI is destructive and will have a negative effect on the countries that adopt it.
- Education is something that you do yourself, it isn’t given or bought. Quoting Mark Twain, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
- In life, you have to play the cards that you have been dealt, and to do this, you’ve got to have an attitude of personal responsibility, and allow and expect other people to also actualize themselves.
- The politics, sociology, justice system, literature, values, and everything else arises from the cultural base. Given that culture dictates such important facets of our lives, it isn’t a stretch to conclude that culture is the seedbed of oppression.
- The cashless society is here, whether we like it or not. While this may initially be viewed negatively, rapid progressions in technology, such as crypto, ultimately work to free and empower the average person over the long term.
- Casey and Hunt’s 2nd book in the High Ground Series, Drug Lord, can be purchased right now, follow the link. Drug Lord is a fantastic read, one that I recommend to everyone, check out my review here.
Finally, for those looking to protect their hard-earned money via internationalization, you have to check out Doug Casey’s International Man. International Man examines many topics, including off-shore banking, getting a 2nd passport, off-shore gold storage, and digital diversification, just to name a few.
Additionally, for those poised to make money in the broader market and/or the junior resource sector, you have to check out the newsletters offered by Casey Research. Letters such as The Casey Report and The International Speculator help tilt the odds of success in your favour by bringing the expertise of their top minds to the reader. Check it out!
Don’t want to miss a new investment idea, interview or financial product review? Become a Junior Stock Review VIP now – it’s FREE!
Until Next time,
Brian Leni P.Eng
Founder – Junior Stock Review