Doug Casey on the Dangers of Global Regulation

Rachel’s note: Regular readers know Doug Casey believes you can always bet on the government to do the wrong thing. Whether it’s the dangerous response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or overregulation abroad, government intervention often creates more problems than it solves.

And today, Doug discusses the dangers surrounding globalism… and explains why we actually live in a fascist system…

Doug Casey

Daily Dispatch: Doug, we’d like to get your take on the question of “Globalist vs. Globalism.” Not so long ago, the right was in favor of embracing a global economy, in order to access cheaper labor and other benefits of outsourcing. Whereas the left was against that whole idea, as they wanted to be more protectionist in their local economy.

But now, to the average man at least, that seems to have flipped. Now the right seems to be more protectionist, and the left wants to be more global. Is that an overly simplistic take on things? What’s your view?

Doug Casey: Well, to start with, these are just labels that don’t really mean anything – other than deciding what variety of statism you want.

The truth is that individuals and companies should be able to trade with each other with absolutely no restrictions, interference, or comment of any type from governments. No quotas, no duties, no incentives… nothing.

Governments bring absolutely nothing to the party. It’s a sham, a myth, and a delusion that government acts in the interest of the country it controls. Government (and the people who control it) act in their own interests and those of their cronies. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, and runs counter to what we were taught in grade school civics, or what sanctimonious Deep Staters like to repeat. But it’s the case with late-stage U.S. “capitalism.”

“Globalists,” “Globalism,” there’s barely any difference. It’s just busybodies deciding what products the real producers may or may not create, and what entrepreneurs can or can’t do. Saying one is good and the other is bad is the wrong way to look at it. It politicizes the question.

Daily Dispatch: Okay. What about all the noise about NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], USMCA [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement], and the trade deals the U.K. wants to do now that it has left the European Union?

Doug Casey: It’s really quite simple. To repeat, governments shouldn’t decide anything. There shouldn’t be an American trade policy, a French trade policy, an Australian trade policy, or any other trade policy. These things shouldn’t exist. People in whatever country should simply produce, buy, and sell. Whether that’s from their own country or from other countries. Forget about “national policy” with its ridiculous distinctions and labels.

Daily Dispatch: While you mention it, one of the things that has been quite amusing about Brexit are the “Remainers” (those who wanted to stay in the EU), who seem to think that if the U.K. doesn’t have a trade deal with the European Union, then suddenly all trade will stop.

They don’t seem to understand that you don’t need to have a deal between countries in order to trade. Businesses and individuals can just buy things. I can buy something from you. You can buy something from me. As long as we’re a willing buyer and seller, that’s all you need to trade.

Doug Casey: That’s absolutely correct, whether we’re talking about the European Union or NAFTA trade deals between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It’s unnecessary and unproductive trying to regulate trade with documents the size of an old New York telephone book.

Few people are aware that there are 50,000 employees of the European Union in and around Brussels – not counting lawyers, lobbyists, and hangers-on. Not one of these people serves a useful purpose. But they get fat salaries, expense accounts, and bribes. As Tacitus said 2,000 years ago, “The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the society.”

The European Union started out as a free trade organization after World War II – its purpose was to facilitate trade. But it’s grown into a giant dysfunctional bureaucracy. If the EU simply eliminated trade barriers, duties, and regulations, you wouldn’t need any of these people. They’re basically “useless mouths.” But that’s just the opposite of what they do. The European Parliament constantly passes more laws, which reduce personal freedoms. And those laws have to be enforced, which constantly increases taxes.

I’m all for Brexit. The British hopefully will no longer be constrained by the ridiculous regulations that come out of Brussels telling them how to make beer, cheese, or whether shops are allowed to sell eggs by the dozen.

Switzerland isn’t an EU member, and it does just fine.

Daily Dispatch: Related to this issue is the idea that Western governments seem to be pursuing the idea of a global tax or global wealth taxes. You could say that the West is bullying developing nations in the area of “tax competitiveness,” in the same way they’re bullying them with trade in general.

For instance, the West doesn’t want developing countries to have, say, a coal industry. It wants the developing countries to be more considerate of environmental issues. That just doesn’t seem fair. These countries are trying to drag themselves out of poverty while the West is forcing on them rules that will keep them in poverty. Then, in order to satisfy their guilt, they say, “Well, let’s give them billions of dollars in aid instead.” Which we know just goes to the corrupt leaders anyway. Right?

Doug Casey: Yes, of course. There’s this ridiculous concept of harmonizing tax policies, which devastates poor countries. The only reason that you would want to invest in a poor backward country is because costs may be lower, and the government might leave you alone. They can only attract investment if low taxes and regulation make it worthwhile.

Meanwhile, the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development], and similar clubs the governments of advanced countries belong to, are trying to get backward countries to impose the same level of taxes and regulations that they do. Which will keep these countries as serfdoms and colonies. And it gets worse, because the foreign aid that they give to these countries just acts to cement them to the bottom of the economic ladder.

Foreign aid only further enriches the rich people in those countries, who are rich mostly because they’re politically well-connected. In fact, foreign aid is nothing but a “transfer of wealth” scam from poor people in rich countries, to rich people in poor countries.

The fact that the talking heads on television, magazine writers, and politicians all take this seriously, like it’s the way the world should work, is highly destructive. The average guy gives these authority figures completely undeserved credence. People ought to point out that the king has no clothes, and his minions are idiots.

Daily Dispatch: Kenya’s clothing industry is a good example of this. It was quite substantial up until the 1980s. There are several reasons for its decline, but one of the major factors was the Western charities that convinced Westerners to donate clothing, which was then shipped to Africa and effectively dumped into the local economy.

Ever since then, whenever you see footage of third-world countries, you notice that the kids and adults are wearing European soccer shirts or NBA basketball shirts. You know they haven’t paid the $100 or $200 that these things cost. They’ve been donated from the West. It’s an example of how these kinds of practices can destroy local industries.

Doug Casey: That’s exactly right. Locally produced items, no matter what their price or quality, can’t compete with free goods. And it’s worse than that, actually, because the same thing happens with food. Western farmers lobby their governments to buy surplus cheese, wheat, sugar, and whatever else, and then give these things to third-world countries. They say it’s charity. But it actually destroys the local farmers in these countries.

And then when the aid stops or diminishes, there are no farmers left – they’ve all had to move to the city. Now the country has a real problem on its hands. Here’s the takeaway: All foreign aid to backward countries should be abolished. It’s counterproductive, at best. It impoverishes Western taxpayers and destroys the productive capacity of the recipients.

But look, this is all a question of government intervention. It’s not capitalism, in fact, technically, it’s fascism. People don’t understand that we don’t have capitalist systems anywhere today. Capitalism is a system where there is no taxation and no regulation – it’s a total free market.

Instead, today we have fascism – a term that was coined by Mussolini, who was philosophically a socialist who realized direct state ownership didn’t work as well as corporate ownership. Fascism has little to do with jackboots and parades – those are just convenient decorations. Fascism basically promotes a “partnership” between the state and corporations.

You have to remember that the U.S. government is an entity with a life of its own – as are General Motors, Google, General Electric, or whatever. They work together for their mutual benefit. The general welfare of the citizens is secondary.

Daily Dispatch: And yet people still blame capitalism.

Doug Casey: Yes, because the population in general, the media, and the politicians are too stupid to understand the real definition of capitalism. Everybody repeats the same myths to each other – they did it in the Soviet Union until it collapsed.

You see this all the time, where some mainstream fool will say that capitalism is broken and we need to fix it. But capitalism isn’t broken at all, because the current economies aren’t capitalist. If they were truly capitalist, then the system wouldn’t be broken.

The system they criticize is actually the same system they helped to perpetuate. It’s, as I say, a fascist system whereby governments and big corporations work together at the expense of the individual. Look how degraded the U.S. has become. Nearly half the country was quite ready to vote for Bernie Sanders, because he said he’d give them free stuff.

It’s perverse. The Greater Depression is going to be nasty indeed…

Daily Dispatch: Thanks for speaking with us today, Doug.

Doug Casey: You’re welcome.

This Innovative Network Will Help Bitcoin Achieve Mass Adoption

By Nick Giambruno, chief analyst, The Casey Report

Nick Giambruno

Today, I’m going to slaughter a cryptocurrency sacred cow (for some).

It’s the idea that Bitcoin cannot scale without altering its protocol.

Think of the Bitcoin blockchain as simply a public database of transactions, distributed across thousands of computers around the world.

And a computer that hosts the entire Bitcoin blockchain is called a “full node.”

These full nodes play a crucial role in securing the network.

About every 10 minutes, a new block – or set of transactions – is added to the existing database (blockchain).

Today – after over 11 years of transaction history – the size of the Bitcoin blockchain has grown to about 293 gigabytes (GB). The Bitcoin protocol sets the maximum size of each new block at about 1 megabyte (MB).

That means there is a hard limit on the maximum number of transactions the Bitcoin network can process – about 375,000 transactions a day.

By contrast, there are over 1 billion credit and debit card transactions per day worldwide. And there are another 1 billion non-card consumer payments each day. In sum, we can estimate there are at least 2 billion consumer transactions made each day around the world.

Bitcoin does not have anywhere near the capacity to handle these daily transactions. Bitcoin can accommodate only about 0.019% of them – about two one-hundredths of one percent.

In other words, Bitcoin would need to increase its transaction capacity by about 5,333 times to be able to process all the world’s consumer transactions.

One group of people think the solution is to simply alter Bitcoin’s protocol to increase the size of the blocks.

To be able to handle all consumer transactions, the block size would have to increase around 5,333 times, to roughly 5,333 MB or 5.3 GB.

That means every 10 minutes, each full node in the Bitcoin network would need to download an additional 5.3 GB.

That’s 32 GB per hour… 768 GB per day… or 280,320 GB per year.

By contrast, most modern laptop hard drives have about 750 GB of space. It simply would not be possible for them to run a full Bitcoin node.

Here’s the bottom line: A minor change in the Bitcoin block size won’t move the needle much on transaction capacity. An enormous change would be needed.

But doing that would cause some serious problems.

Altering Bitcoin’s Protocol Is a Slippery Slope

The first problem is it makes Bitcoin subject to change, which destroys its immutability.

If you can easily change the block size parameter, it’s conceivable that people could also tweak Bitcoin’s other parameters. It’s a slippery slope.

Next, they might decide Bitcoin’s monetary policy must be changed to inflate the supply. Or that certain people have too many Bitcoins and should be subject to a “fairness” tax.

The second problem is that it destroys Bitcoin’s decentralization.

If the Bitcoin block size was anywhere close to large enough to handle all credit and debit card transactions, then the average person would not be able to run a full node. Only those who could afford highly advanced computers and large internet bills would be able to.

In this scenario, Bitcoin would become centralized and at serious risk of capture.

At that point, Bitcoin might as well be another PayPal, Visa, or another centralized financial service where you need to ask for permission to do anything.

Remember, Bitcoin’s primary value proposition as a global money is that it is immutable, censorship-resistant, permissionless, accessible to everyone, and controlled by nobody.

These attributes are only possible because of Bitcoin’s decentralization.

It deserves emphasis: without decentralization, there is no Bitcoin.

Therefore, a scaling solution that compromises decentralization is a non-starter – you would be destroying the very thing you’re trying to scale.

Here’s the bottom line: We are basically stuck with Bitcoin as it is – with a maximum capacity of about 375,000 transactions per day.

Remember, there are about 2 billion consumer transactions every day worldwide. Does that mean Bitcoin will never be able to scale and achieve widespread adoption?

Absolutely not.

As the hardest money the world has ever known, Bitcoin is only going to grow in popularity.

The demand for hard money is likely to far exceed Bitcoin’s ability to accommodate each consumer transaction on its blockchain. It will necessitate innovation.

Fortunately, solutions exist that could allow Bitcoin to scale and handle every transaction in the world. All without compromising its decentralization or immutability, and at practically no cost.

It’s the most exciting development for Bitcoin since its creation and will turbocharge its adoption.

A Competitive Free Market at Work

Bitcoin is the world’s first – and only – genuinely scarce digital asset.

Think of the digital space on each Bitcoin block as scarce real estate.

Whenever you make a Bitcoin transaction, you must pay a fee for Bitcoin miners to inscribe it onto the next block of the blockchain.

Remember, the size of each Bitcoin block is about 1 MB. There are precious few transactions – a maximum of about 2,600 – that can fit on each block every 10 minutes.

Whenever you make a Bitcoin transaction, you are bidding against everyone else in the world to get your transaction inscribed onto the next block through the transaction fee.

The higher the fee you pay, the faster your transaction will be finalized, which means it has been added to the blockchain.

Here is a chart of the average fee for each Bitcoin transaction since 2009.

The marketplace for Bitcoin transaction fees is an excellent illustration of a competitive free market at work. It ensures that only the most productive uses utilize Bitcoin block space.

For example, suppose demand for Bitcoin block space rises, which causes transaction fees to rise to $25. It would not be economical to buy a $5 coffee and record the transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain.

In other words, higher value transactions that demand the high security of Bitcoin have crowded out small consumer transactions.

The good news is that there is an incredible innovation that will address these smaller transactions, which higher fees have priced out of the Bitcoin blockchain.

It has near-instantaneous speed, with zero counterparty risk, and almost zero fees. And eventually, it will be able to handle every transaction in the world – many millions per second.

This Will Accelerate Widespread Bitcoin Adoption

I’m talking about the Lightning Network, a peer-to-peer network built on top of Bitcoin.

On the Lightning Network, people can perform an unlimited amount of transactions without needing to add them to the Bitcoin blockchain. It is not necessary to delegate custody of funds to a third party – you always remain in control.

It starts with two people opening a payment channel with each other by depositing Bitcoin to the payment channel.

The two people can then transact with each other – and any other payment channels they are connected with – an unlimited amount of times. Those transactions are performed on the Lightning Network and will not be recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain.

At any point, either party can close a payment channel. The outstanding Bitcoin balance at that time will be returned to the two people. The transaction to close the payment channel will then be recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain.

In short, the only time Lightning Network transactions are recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain is when payment channels are opened or closed. Everything else occurs off-chain on the Lightning Network.

Think of it like keeping a running tab, and then settling up on the Bitcoin blockchain when either party decides to.

As of writing, there are about 32,000 open payment channels in the Lightning Network. Check out the map of connections below.

Keep in mind that the Lightning Network is still a developing technology. It’s not quite ready for mass adoption, but it could be soon.

(Readers of my newsletter, The Casey Report, are positioned with an industry titan that’s about to ramp up the Lightning Network’s adoption. If you’re a subscriber, catch up on the latest here.)

And once that happens, the accelerating Bitcoin trend will get a boost. I am very confident about the Big Picture for Bitcoin… and believe everyone should own some.

♫ The Boxer ♫

Awesome song from 2 legends! ❤

Filosofa's Word

In the two years I’ve been doing these music posts, I’ve only played three by Simon & Garfunkel, so it’s about time for another, don’t you think?

Released in 1969, this song hit #1 in Canada, #6 in the UK, and #7 in the U.S.

In a 1984 interview, Paul Simon said that he wrote this song when critics were writing harsh things about his music – he was the boxer. Said Simon …

“I think the song was about me: everybody’s beating me up, and I’m telling you now I’m going to go away if you don’t stop. By that time we had encountered our first criticism. For the first few years, it was just pure praise. It took two or three years for people to realize that we weren’t strange creatures that emerged from England but just two guys from Queens who used to sing rock’n’roll. And maybe…

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