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How Jeffrey Berwick Built a Billion-Dollar Tech Company, Lost Almost Everything
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THE FOLLOWING IS A RECENT INTERVIEW FEATURED ON THEDAILYBELL.COM
The Daily Bell is pleased to present an interview with Jeffrey Berwick.
Introduction: Mr. Berwick is an anarchist, libertarian, and freedom fighter against mankind's two biggest enemies, the state and the central banks. Jeff is the host of Anarchast, an anarchist video podcast, and is a contributing editor at many of the world's largest financial and precious metals related websites. The Dollar Vigilante (TDV) is a joint-venture publication founded by two respected free-market speakers and analysts in the financial sector, Jeff Berwick and Ed Bugos. In 1994, Jeff Berwick founded Canada's largest financial website, Stockhouse.com.
Daily Bell: Give us some background on yourself. How did you become a libertarian and an advocate of Austrian economics?
Jeff Berwick: I like to think that we are all born free and we only learn to enslave ourselves out of fear or ignorance later in life. Probably the most defining moment in my young life was when, at the age of about 10, the personal computer came out. My grandfather bought me an Apple II+ clone, called a Unitron, from Vietnam. I spent practically my entire youth hacking away on it. As an extra side-benefit, I became so enthralled with computing that I rarely went to school… so, luckily for me, I missed a lot of the heavy statist indoctrination from the public schools and private schools that are regulated by government.
As a computer hacker/nerd, I always had the outlook that any problem is fixable. I learned this through programming. If you have a problem in your code it is always fixable… you may need to upgrade to new hardware or work very hard to find the solution, but there was a solution to every problem.
I took this outlook to life and as a youngster I was always perplexed how there were so many humans with so little – the scenes of starving Ethiopians were always on our TV in the 1980s – and why humans always seemed to be at war. In my young adulthood I searched for the answers to these questions.
Of course, government and the mass media, which is one in the same with the government in he western world, have it in their best interests to keep us all in the dark about freedom… because if we truly understood things then we would know that we don’t need government at all and see it for what it really is, violence, coercion and slavery. And, as Thomas Pynchon said in Gravity’s Rainbow, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.”
So, like many people still today, I thought the only two political answers were just left or right. Being a young, independent entrepreneur, I never liked the “left”. I always felt that by trying to “help” people through things like welfare you were just hurting them by engraining their bad habits and removing the incentive to be productive. So, I gravitated to the “right” side.
But there were many things that did not sit right with me on the right side also including their anti-drug and pro-war stance. So, for quite a period of time, I dropped it all. I couldn’t find a solution so I went on in life as an entrepreneur and tried to avoid anything political.
That was until I read some articles by Doug Casey around 2003 which opened my eyes that there was another way. Just after reading the first article by Doug Casey it was like a big lightbulb went off in my mind. I remember thinking, “Oh, it’s okay to think like this?”
I immediately put Doug Casey’s writing up on the website I had founded, called Stockhouse.com. Stockhouse, still to this day, is Canada’s largest financial website. And, soon after that, I heard Doug was going to be in the same city where I was located so I contacted him to meet and we went for dinner.
At that dinner he asked me my views on various subjects and after listening he said to me, “Oh, so you are a libertarian.”
My response to him was, “What’s a libertarian?”. I had never even heard that word before. Needless to say, after our dinner, I went home and spent about a month searching for every bit of information I could find on libertarianism and finally I realized the answer to the problem of wars and poverty. They are caused by government.
I was a libertarian and, very quickly after, an anarchist. My beliefs in the free market then led me to discover the Austrian school of economic thought.
Daily Bell: Tell us about Stockhouse.com and how you came to found it.
Jeff Berwick: As I mentioned, I was a computer nerd from a very young age. Back before Al Gore invented the internet – ahem – there were things called Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). These were like mini-websites that people set-up in their own homes and you could only get on them by dialing their house phone number and logging in directly, one person at a time, into their computer. So, for example, if you wanted to call in to a BBS and if someone else was on the site you would just get a busy signal.
After doing this, and receiving busy signals thousands of times over the course of about 15 years I had finally grown tired of it. I always asked, why can’t they connect all these computers together? I shocked my friends and family when, in 1993, I packed up my computer and put it in the closet. At the time I was working at a bank in Canada as an Investment Advisor and had become interested in the stock market and wanted to become a stock broker.
Then, in 1994, someone at the bank said, “Have you heard about this internet thing?” I said, no, I hadn’t. He told me about it and I said to him, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this!”
I ran home, took my computer out of the closet, logged on to the internet and within minutes I thought, “This is going to change the world… I need to do something on here.” Because I was into the stock market at the time I decided to start up a financial website where you could get stock quotes. Back then there were no websites where you could even get stock quotes so I started one and focused it originally on Canadian stocks.
I ran it out of my house for about a year and continued to work at the bank in the meantime. It grew very rapidly and during this time I tried to get the bank I worked at (CIBC) and the brokerage it owned (Wood Gundy) to hire me. I remember going to a job interview with Wood Gundy and the interviewer asked me what I could offer the firm. I told him that I had a financial website with over 10,000 regular users and that I could surely leverage that as a stock broker. His response was, “What’s a website?”
I quit my job the next day in disgust and decided to focus on building the site. By 1999 it had over a million users and we had received a tremendous amount of financing during the good old “tech bubble” days. We received about $40 million in financing and we expanded to 250 staff in eight countries around the world. We were getting close to doing a billion dollar NASDAQ IPO when the tech bubble burst and people like Lehman Bros stopped returning my calls… I took particular pleasure in seeing them fall during the next bubble – the housing bubble, I might add.
But, literally within days it became clear that no more financing was coming and we had a burn rate of $1.5 million per month with about $20 million in the bank. So as quickly as we had grown we had to dismantle the whole thing and at one point we were just down to eight people.
Everyone told me we had to go into bankruptcy but I negotiated and fought with all of our creditors and managed to salvage the company and later sold it in 2002. I was exhausted and stressed out to the point of not even being able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like I was having a heart attack.
For eight years of my life I had spent 18 hours per day, 7 days a week on Stockhouse and it went from starting in my house to becoming nearly a billion dollar global company to being almost totally destroyed again.
It was at that point that I decided I needed to take a break, travel the world – to see the world through my own eyes and not through the lens of the media – and try to figure out what exactly happened!
Daily Bell: Yes, in June, 2005, you were in the process of circumnavigating the world in your sailing catamaran when you were caught in a storm and the ship was sunk, leaving you floating on your surfboard. You were later rescued near El Salvador. How did that make you feel? Did it change your life at all?
Jeff Berwick: I was only one year, to the day, into travelling the world via sailboat when my boat sank. I had been living on the boat and all my material possessions, which is never much more than my computers, some clothes and other electronics, sank with it so by sinking my boat I was temporarily homeless. Yet, once I got to the shore I had an amazing sensation. It was a great feeling. I had never felt better. I had nothing to tie me down. I felt very free. I remember the first thought that entered my head was, “Which way do I even start walking? I have no home, nothing to do and nowhere to go. Do I go left, or right?”
It was such a great feeling that I decided that for at least 3 or 4 years I would never own more than what fit into a small backpack and I would live completely spontaneously. I would literally show up at airports and just ask them where their next flight was. This led me on a number of great adventures. As example, twice I ended up going to places I’d never even heard of and didn’t even know what region of the world they were in. The two places were Sharjah and Chennai. I’d try to find info on where I was going on the inflight magazine or by asking fellow passengers on the flight, “Where is Sharjah?” That got a lot of confused looks.
I ended up travelling to nearly 100 countries that way over four years and it was an amazing experience. I learned more about the world than you could ever learn in any school. Along the way I ended up making a movie in southern China with Jackie Chan in a place called Panyu. In a separate situation I ended up being the boyfriend of the daughter of one of the top Chinese Communist party members and was driven around via a huge military convoy in Guangzhou. And, literally dozens of other equally bizarre experiences and situations. I certainly am not a boring person to talk to at a cocktail party after that adventure.
But, the main point of my trip was to figure out what was going on in the world and what happened during my experiences during the tech bubble. Through discovering libertarianism and anarchism along the way and then discovering Austrian economics I finally figured out what caused not only the tech bubble but also the housing bubble and all of the world’s financial and monetary crisis’ of today. And, surprise … surprise, the culprit yet again was the government… and their evil stepchild, the central banks.
Daily Bell: Tell us about your current venture. The Dollar Vigilante.
Jeff Berwick: After spending eight years giving myself an education in how the world works, and learning about free markets and Austrian economics it had become very clear to me that the entire global financial and monetary system was an artificial, extra market construct; that it could not be sustained; and was headed for collapse.
I also realized that not 1 person in 100 was aware of this and so I decided to try to do something to help educate and inform people. I decided to start a libertarian/anarchist, Austrian economics grounded newsletter to help spread the word about what is going on because the more prepared people are for the collapse the easier it will be.
On the topic of Austrian economics, however, what I like about the Austrian School is that it isn’t really a school. It is a “value-free” theoretical discipline. A lot of the good in modern economic theory, like the subjective theory of value, came from this school. It was labeled “Austrian” by its rivals in the German Historical School, and has been marginalized by mainstream economists ever since – mainly because bona fide economics demolishes the grand schemes of the economic planners.
I discovered the Austrian School because all of its scholars preach the free market ethic and more consistently than their peers too. But, it is important to note that this ethic is not the basis of its body of economic theories. The economics of the Austrian School has a very firm scientific methodology as a foundation. All the laws of economics are derived from the ultimate cause of all economic phenomena: purposeful action. The entire body of economics lies on this knowledge, that a human acts because he/she is trying to either improve his/her circumstances or remove some discomfort, and they choose among whatever available means they have at their disposal to achieve their ends. The fields of political theory and psychology - even history - are concerned with men’s values. Or, the “ends” they want to attain. But economics is only concerned with the fact that they act purposefully to attain ends.
It is utilitarian that way. It doesn’t care what those ends are. It only cares about the universal laws that govern human interactions amongst themselves and with their environment. What I want to say by all of this is that the political theory of liberty is an ethical doctrine. The fact that the Austrian School scholars all unanimously support relatively libertarian and anarchist ideas only proves that there is a utilitarian or scientific/logical foundation for the ethic. In other words, they reach those conclusions because logic and knowledge of economic laws takes them there.
The foundation for the Austrian School of Economics is not political – it is scientific. Rothbard did in fact establish a moral foundation for libertarianism, but my point is that economics is a scientific discipline first; it merely enables us to undress the world around us.
Getting back to how I started The Dollar Vigilante, I considered starting it in 2007, but I was still travelling the world at the time and wasn’t in a good frame of mind to start a serious venture. But after the first wave of the collapse happened in 2008 I knew that if I was going to try to do something that I had to do it fast as this system won’t last another decade. So, I started working on The Dollar Vigilante in 2009 and we officially launched early in 2010.
Our tagline is, “Survive and Prosper During and After the Dollar Collapse” and that is our mission.
We talk about ways to survive the collapse of the western monetary system and western governments through things like getting a foreign passport, geopolitically diversifying your assets, expatriation and self-sufficient living. And we talk about ways to also prosper from the collapse through investments in precious metals, gold & silver stocks and other hard assets.
The newsletter has evolved a lot in response to reader and subscriber requests.
Many of our readers, for example, want to get a foreign passport for a number of reasons. As a safety escape route if/when your own government begins to really go after your assets… and also, especially for Americans, as a way to be able to access the global financial markets. As you know, Americans are now the most enslaved people in history… it is nearly impossible for them to escape their own government and even if they just want to open a foreign brokerage or bank account it is nearly impossible as the US Government has made it so onerous to do business with Americans that most foreign banks or brokerages won’t accept them as clients. So, by having another passport, it re-opens the world to Americans again.
We have even set-up services where we help our subscribers and others to get a foreign passport in my favorite country for this purpose, the Dominican Republic. I like it for its ease of processing, speed of attaining a passport and cost. We like the Dominican Republic (see more here) and we offer complete services to help people get those passports without any of the hassle of trying to do it yourself. An additional benefit is that the Dominican Republic only takes income tax on income generated within the country – so many people can set themselves up there to legally reduce the taxes they are forced to pay.
We see the biggest risks over the next few years as being your own government and so we try to offer information and services to help people escape the control of their government.
I’ve been living everything I talk about as I am originally from Canada but I defected in 2004 and have been a citizen of the world ever since and currently reside mostly in Mexico on a self-sufficient farm although I also own condos and a condo sales agency, AcaCondos, and a hotel in Acapulco called Las Torres Gemelas Private Suites. I have also purchased property at Doug Casey's Galts Gulch in Argentina and will be going down there in early November again to look at building a small home.
Almost everything I do and focus on in TDV revolves around surviving the collapse of the US dollar based monetary system and living free in an unfree world.
Daily Bell: What do you think, exactly, is going to happen to the dollar?
Jeff Berwick: I think it will soon be worth the value of the paper it is printed on. The thing that I always find amazing is that people who can objectively look at things like Mao’s Communist China and the U.S.S.R. and see how the government’s involvement in the economy and the money system were horrible, look at the US and western financial and monetary system and think it is “free market capitalism” and is a good system.
But, then again, most people have been brainwashed their entire lives in the state’s “education” system and via the propaganda put out through mainstream media. Vladimir Lenin once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” He could never have even dreamt of having them for 12 years and then they even go for another 4 years or more in the socialist university and college systems. It is because of this that people can’t see that in many ways our monetary system is a centrally planned, non free-market system much as it was in the USSR. There is nothing free market about the western financial or monetary system. Government should play no role in either but, instead, the government controls both systems almost completely. And, because all of the central planners, like Ben Bernanke, were trained in Keynesian economics theories, which is just plain false economics, they have been destroying the dollar and the economy since the inception of the Federal Reserve.
One only has to look at the fact that the US dollar lost 0% of its value in the 98 years before the Federal Reserve came into being. In the 98 years since the advent of the Federal Reserve it has lost 97%+ of its value.
People ask, will the dollar collapse? The answer is, it has been collapsing for decades. But, now it is reaching a point where it will go to zero very quickly. The entire western financial system is a system based on debt and that will always result in the entire system becoming terminally indebted to the point of collapse. That is the point we are fast approaching.
Daily Bell: You have stated that the financial and monetary systems are not free-market oriented. How would you describe what they are?
Jeff Berwick: They are a particular flavor of statism. The Federal Reserve System is a government protected fractional reserve banking cartel with legal tender privileges and monopoly of note issue. The financial system is the most regulated free market industry in the US, and the banking system is centralized.
To describe it further, however, I think it is important to look at the political system as it is this system that has created the current financial and monetary systems.
Let’s take the US as example. I consider the US to be what I call a Fasco-Communist Police state. I’ve made the case for how the US adheres to every facet of fascism. The corporations and the government of the US have become one now. And, at the same time, the US adheres to six of the 10 tenets of communism and you could make a case for all 10.
The main tenets of communism call for a central bank. Check. The Federal Reserve. It calls for government controlled education. Check. It also calls for a heavy income tax on everyone. Check. And it calls for an inheritance tax. Check, again.
And, as though it isn’t bad enough that the US has now taken all the worst parts of all the worst political systems it also is a police state.
A police state is generally defined as a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.
That defines the current situation in the US, doesn’t it? Have you tried to open a lemonade stand without a permit lately? I’ve never had problems with the “law” anywhere in the world but I’ve been in handcuffs numerous times in the US, including recently in Phoenix when I walked outside of a bar with my drink to talk to someone.
And now the President of the United States has a “kill list” and can kill any US citizen he wants and can enter American troops into wars at a whim. Just last week Obama started another war in Uganda. That is on top of his Iraq and Afghanistan wars, his Libya bombings and his regular drone attacks into Pakistan, Yemen and other countries and his concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay and other secret prisons around the world. It’s tough work being a Nobel Peace Prize winner when there are so many hearts and minds to win through bombs.
Daily Bell: What do you think of the Internet in terms of its continued revolutionary impact? Is it like the Gutenberg Press before it – which helped spawn the Renaissance, Reformation, etc?
Jeff Berwick: Absolutely and unquestionably. The internet is only secondary to movable type in that without movable type we’d never have evolved to the point where we have the internet. But, in every other way, the internet is even more important than the Gutenberg press.
There are a number of reasons why. First, it allows us to connect to all other human beings and to trade knowledge instantly and cheaply – often for free.
Many countries try to limit or censor the internet, including the US, but it is almost impossible to completely censor it without actually banning all access. That is because the internet was built to be able to survive almost any circumstance. So, even if countries like China try to put up firewalls, there are always ways around it for the industrious. Things such as proxy servers and countless other technologies enable you to get around your own government trying to control the information it wants you to see.
As well, as innocuous as it sounds, just the ability of all people worldwide to even do little things like enter comments on articles and editorials changes the world dramatically. With most mainstream articles I mostly ignore the article but go straight to the comments to gauge a) what people really think of the validity of the article and b) I like to see the interaction between people and how it evolves.
Again, it sounds silly, but people who have views that do not adhere to reality or make rational sense are quickly outed amongst the international community. The internet creates an environment where human thought can quickly be distilled and improved in realtime. As example, an article on war may have one or two Americans state, “We have to fight in Iraq to win hearts and minds!” to which, very quickly, people around the world, including especially people in Iraq, will mock them and/or try to explain to them why that view is brainwashed propaganda. Nothing works quite so quickly to awaken the brainwashed than good old fashioned peer pressure.
Also, the internet offers geographical freedom. It creates never before known freedom. We can now work and learn from anywhere which means we can choose the country where we wish to live now easier than ever. Since leaving Canada I have lived in both Thailand and Mexico with as much ease as if I had just moved down the block.
Finally, I would likely never have learned about libertarianism, anarchism nor Austrian economics without the internet. People like Ludwig von Mises are all but banned and ignored by government schools and libraries.
Therefore, the internet is of tantamount importance. Were it not for the internet or if the internet would be to somehow shuttered I would lose almost all hope for the human race to ever become free, peaceful and prosperous.
Daily Bell: Can the Internet be controlled and ultimately vanquished by the powers-that-be?
Jeff Berwick: It can be controlled to an extent but as I stated there are usually ways around it for those who really want access to the information.
My greatest fear for humanity, actually, is a solar electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The sun puts out EMPs large enough to knock out most of the world's electrical systems for years – and this occurs every hundred years or so and we are due for one. This is by far the greatest risk to mankind that I know of. Yet little or no contingency plans have been set up for this inevitability.
That's the non-man-made risk. As for how we can destroy ourselves, I am hopeful that governments cannot and will not. I think the powers-that-be have made a massive tactical error by not realizing much earlier – circa 1993 – how the Internet will undermine the power and control of all governments. They are starting to realize this now, of course. That is why Obama and other politicians speak from time to time of an "Internet kill switch."
They will likely try to use this as the US devolves into riots and unrest as the US dollar enters hyperinflation or the US Government defaults on its obligations and debt. However, I believe it is now too late. People around the world have realized the value and the power of the Internet and any governmental attempt to take it away would be met with extreme hostility.
I, for one, have said that my line in the sand when it comes to the government is that if they ever totally shut down the Internet that would be the day I go into the street and actively fight against government oppression as opposed to what I am doing now, fighting it daily through the spread of information and knowledge.
Daily Bell: Do you believe there is a kind of power-elite cabal that is trying to set up one world government? We call it the Anglo-American power eilte.
Jeff Berwick: This is one area that I constantly struggle with. It is a question I always find myself asking. Are the people who control the governments and the central banks evil or just incredibly stupid? Because it is either/or, based on their actions.
It appears to me that almost every action of the US Government and the Federal Reserve, for example, is the exact correct thing to do if your intention is to destroy the country and the currency unit.
However, supporting the case for stupidity over intent, this has also been done many times in the past. For example, during the Weimar Republic, many top economists were calling for MORE money to be printed even after the amount of Marks printed had already increased by 10,000%. Central bankers, even today, do not ever seem to be able to see the basic truth that the more money they print the more it devalues. Eventually, and especially when this devaluation is rapid, money appears to be scarce; but this is a result of the inflationary policy. It is so obvious, yet all of the major economics schools in the world today teach Keynesian thought and they never blame inflation or hyperinflation on money printing. They always assume it is some sort of liquidity trap or other exogenous nonsense, like the weather. Or animal spirits.
Leo Tolstoy, who was an anarchist, once said, "I know that most men – not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever, and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic problems – can very seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as to oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty – conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives."
In other words, people like Bernanke may be very intelligent but after having devoted their lives to an economic framework that has been discredited at least twice historically, in the Thirties and Seventies, it is all but impossible for him to change his mind now no matter how great the evidence that he is wrong.
The problem is foundational, as one scholar put it.
In answer to your question, however, I have now seen enough evidence to know that there are certainly people, such as can be found at groups like Bilderberg and the CFR, who wish to use the power they have to try to bend the world to ends that satisfy their desires. Of this, there is no doubt. Murray Rothbard, who was also a great historian, commented on this often and therefore I am apt to give these theories serious credence.
As to how coordinated they are, that is not something on which I can comment, as I have not had any firsthand experiences in that area. In fact, I look to sites like The Daily Bell for information on this topic.
Daily Bell: Let's get into some modern events. Is the euro on the way out?
Jeff Berwick: Yes, of course. I'm surprised it even lasted this long, and it's only a little over ten years old. Doug Casey put it perfectly when he said the US dollar is an "IOU nothing" and the euro is a "who owes you nothing."
We are nearing the end of nation-states, and thank goodness. They have been a horrible experiment. Nation-states have caused hundreds of millions of deaths in war and countless billions to be impoverished through the theft of taxation and the central bank monetary inflation, which transfers wealth from mainly the poor to the financial elites.
With it, we are nearing the end of democracy, socialism and the ridiculous notion of drawing pictures on a piece of paper and forcing people to accept them as money. That is why I don't worry too much about a power-elite trying to move the world towards a one-world government. I don't think they will succeed. Even their schemes like the EU and the euro are already falling apart at the seams.
Thanks to the Internet, if we can just continue to spread truth and knowledge then very quickly the masses will awaken to the fact that they have been enslaved and that the government isn't here to help them. All it will take is for 5-10% of the population to come to this revelation and it will be enough to transform human society. Perhaps at that point even if people aren't ready for true anarchy at least things like the United States may break up into 50 different states, or more... or perhaps cities even become their own sovereign land. At least, at that point, no one government will ever be big enough to cause too many problems in the world.
That is, after all, the general idea the founders of the United States had for America. That is why they wanted so much power in the hands of the states. Of course, as always happens, however, that power gets usurped as it has now by the US Federal Government. But it is my hope that in the next phase of human political unions there will at least be enough choice that those of us who believe in true freedom will have areas we can go to, perhaps like the free state project in New Hampshire or Doug Casey's libertarian enclave in Argentina.
The best case scenario for humanity, however, is for there to be 7 billion different governments on earth. I don't know if we'll see that in my lifetime but I do have hope for it thanks to the power endowed to us by the Internet.
Daily Bell: What is your opinion of 9/11? How did it happen?
Jeff Berwick: I think the US Government's conspiracy theory about what happened is absolutely, unquestionably false. Anyone who has done even a modicum of research knows this is the case.
Still to this day there has been no official reason given for how World Trade Center 7, which was not hit by a plane and had a few small fires, collapsed at free fall speed after the firemen in the area were warned to get away from the building because it's "about to come down" and the owner of the building, who had just completed insuring it for billions of dollars, stated in a documentary that he had to "pull it."
World Trade Center 7 was not even included in the official enquiry into 9/11, making it all the more obvious it is a cover-up.
As well, the fact that the most secure building on the planet, the Pentagon, had not one security camera that captured video of an airplane hitting it should be more than enough for people to have some questions.
In fact, there are so many holes in the official conspiracy theory that it would take hundreds of hours to go through them all.
Anyone who doesn't have questions about what happened that day is a fool and I do not accept the "I don't want to know" response that so many people give. The world we live in today – the one where we are all more enslaved than at any other time in history – all hinges upon this false flag event.
The most recent event, with the so-called killing of Osama bin Laden and then throwing him in the ocean before anyone could be a witness to it is also full of holes so big that only fools and the brainwashed could believe it. Unfortunately, we are mostly surrounded by fools and the brainwashed.
Daily Bell: What is your take on Ron Paul?
Jeff Berwick: I have many mixed feelings about Dr. Paul. As a side-note, I never refer to any government official, politician or henchman (police) with any respectful terms such as sir or Mister. It is one of my pet peeves that many people when talking with police call them "sir." They should never be treated with much respect. At most they should be treated as small-time criminals or bottom-feeders and dismissed, but never treated with respect – at least until they do something which shows they deserve some respect.
That said, I always refer to Dr. Paul with respect for a number of reasons. Even though he is a politician he has proven to be an incredibly principled, honest politician who always fights on the side of freedom. Needless to say, there aren't many like that. He is the only one I've ever been made aware of.
As well, he is fast becoming this generation's Murray Rothbard. He is creating more libertarians than any other person on Earth at the moment. I recently interviewed Mr. Walter Block, who has been called "Mr. Libertarian" by Lew Rockwell and was one of Rothbard's protégés, and he stated that Ron Paul has created more libertarians than any other person in history with the possible exception of Ayn Rand.
That said, my concerns with Ron Paul running for president are threefold:
First, I don't believe the US government can be changed dramatically through the political process. The government and the media always likes to make anarchists – who are peace lovers and who hold the non-aggression principle at the heart of their being – out as violent rioters and protesters. The real violent rioters and protesters are usually government workers. Try to reduce their wages or lay one of them off and you will have an out of control riot on your hand. It is for this reason that even if Ron Paul gets in I don't believe there is enough recognition of the value of free markets and capitalism – not corporatism – in the US that if he attempted to even close one or two departments he'd immediately be under fire from all angles.
Secondly, I don't believe the president really controls anything. I don't know if George Bush Jr. ever took an IQ test, but he must have been grazing the low 60s. And, it is hard to tell if Obama is even a real person!
It took him years to show a birth certificate and then, just a matter of hours later – pure chance, I am sure – he had Osama bin Laden "double tapped" and no one mentioned it again. Any research into his childhood leads to nothing but dead ends. And he can't even speak to grade school children without his teleprompters.
So, I carry no misconceptions that the president of the US is anything but a talking puppet and has any real power. They are controlled by the financial elite. And so I agree with the late, great Bill Hicks, who said that whoever becomes president is called into a smoky room on his first day and a bunch of the richest men in the world come in and play a video of the JFK assassination from an angle you've never seen before. In other words, if Ron Paul really came close to effecting real change he'd likely be taken out very quickly. You can already see that the financial elites want nothing to do with Ron Paul by the blatant mainstream media blackout on him.
And, thirdly, the US is bankrupt and on the verge of complete collapse. This has been a process that started long ago and accelerated dramatically after the final connection to gold was removed from Federal Reserve Notes on August 15, 1971. It will collapse and it will be very, very messy. If the US government defaults by going bankrupt and refusing to pay its debts we would see turmoil and a deflationary depression that would make the 1930s look like Disneyland. Granted, if the government stayed out of the way it would be a brief, harsh depression... but it would be so dramatic and terrifying to most people that they'd likely call for the most dictatorial of all politicians to "fix it" which would only make it go from weeks or months to lasting years and decades.
Alternatively, if they continue to print dollars to paper over the ongoing default then we will soon go into hyperinflation, which is even worse, and we could be headed for a few years, or more, of a Mad Max style environment in the US.
In either case, I'd rather see someone like Obama sit there and be president when they have to announce there is no more Social Security and Medicaid or when the US dollar becomes worthless.
My nightmare is that Ron Paul becomes president and a few months later the US collapses and the powers-that-be convince people that the reason it all collapsed was because of his free-market policies and we enter into a deeply dictatorial form of communism in the US.
Daily Bell: How can people get more information from you?
Jeff Berwick: We offer a free blog on our website for The Dollar Vigilante.
Just enter your email on our front page. We also offer a paid subscriber newsletter for those interested in more detailed and actionable information on how to survive the coming collapse of the monetary system.
I also do interviews on a regular basis with anarcho-capitalists about freedom at Anarchast.
And, for those looking to gravitate to live in areas with fellow freedom-lovers, I also have condos in a building on the beach in Acapulco (http://acacondos.com) where I am trying to attract libertarians to come live. Mexico, like all countries, has its problems but it is by far the freest country in North America now and that is why I've lived here for the last few years.
Daily Bell: Thanks for sitting down with us.
DAILY BELL AFTERTHOUGHTS:
Outside of enjoying Jeff Berwick's life story very much because he is such an intelligent man and an "early adapter" to trends that only later are seen as significant, we enjoyed this interview because it is a cautionary tale.
That probably sounds somehow perverse, but wait a minute. Read the interview closely. We'd make the argument this is a perfect case study for how central banking hurts individuals and their business efforts. We often write about it in the abstract but here Berwick has provided us with his own personal story.
It happened. He was caught up in a great money euphoria. Wall Street was willing to throw tens of millions his way. But then the euphoria turned to a bust as equity markets in aggregate re-evaluated the amount of products on the market and "concluded" quite logically that there was too much of ... everything.
Jeffrey Berwick is an incredibly bright guy and yet all his intuition and professional analysis failed him when it came to the larger economy. Like everybody else of that era, he was swept up in the tech bubble. Ironically, because he was so bright and active, Jeffrey Berwick fell EVEN HARDER than most. He lost a billion dollar company and probably tens of millions out of his own pocket.
That's how pernicious and vicious a central banking system really is. Not only are the best and brightest snared in it despite themselves, they are likely hurt more deeply by the cycle's recurrent disasters because they are the most intelligent and most active.
In Jeffrey Berwick's case, there is a happy ending. He went on to travel around the world, figured out how he'd lost almost everything and, thanks to the Internet, founded another successful business called The Dollar Vigilante – one that warns people every day about what's really going on. A serious publication published by a serious man ...
We bet it's privately funded!
See the original interview here: http://thedailybell.com/3125/Anthony-Wile-