by Doug Casey
International Man: Due to COVID-19, almost every country in the world closed its borders. Over seven months later, most governments still restrict travel, economic activity, and social gatherings.
You recently traveled internationally. How did it go?
Doug Casey: I’ve been stuck in the backward but pleasant and peaceful little country of Uruguay for the last seven months. The lockdown in Uruguay wasn’t nearly as severe as other countries in Latin America, but it was nonetheless impossible to come or go from the place.
I recently returned to Aspen. Bad timing, because it’s the fall and getting cold here in the mountains.
I took a COPA flight, business class, from Montevideo to Miami via Panama City. American Airlines and United usually fly direct to Miami or New York. But not now. Maybe because there’s not enough traffic, international flights are down at least 80–90%. Or maybe just because they’re bankrupt.
One of the first inconveniences you notice is that they no longer have proper earphones in business class. All they give you is little earplugs, which make it hard to hear the movie over the rush of the wind and the engines; on American, only one ear channel worked as a bonus. Supposedly a sanitary measure to fight COVID-19.
All the airlines have now ceased serving hot meals. On both airlines in business class, all you got was a little lunchbox with cold cuts and a bit of fruit. There are no longer any pillows or blankets available, either, due to contagion fears during the COVID-19 hysteria.
On my American flight from Dallas to Aspen, the stewardess did a good imitation of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. She noticed that though I was wearing my mask—which, of course, is required at all times on the plane and in airports—but it only covered my mouth, not my nose. I was reprimanded.
But when she delivered apple juice, I was allowed to take my mask off entirely for the full hour it took me to sip the glass of juice. Further proof that the rules around the Great Hysteria are mostly annoying theater and laughably ridiculous.
Aspen itself would normally be dead as a doornail in mid-October. But not now.
It’s overrun by obnoxious rich people from cities, mainly New York, LA, and Miami. They’ve apparently decided to leave their first homes, perhaps because Aspen doesn’t have Antifa and Black Lives Matter—which I believe most of them support. Practically every property for sale—especially in downtown—gets an immediate bid. Real estate brokers are coining money.
Aspen should be renamed the People’s Republic of Aspen because that’s what it is. It’s always been an extreme left-wing town, of course. But the immense wealth brought in by the billionaires who are driving the multimillionaires down valley made it, nonetheless, an appealing place to live. And a continual bull market for property.
But now, if you go anywhere in the core of this town, you’ll find they’re rabid about wearing your mask when you’re out walking in the sun and fresh air. Even hiking or riding your bike without a muzzle will draw shaming from leftist hysterics. All the restaurants are jam-packed, with distanced tables. If you walk into a restaurant without a reservation, you’ll likely wait an hour for seating.
Almost all the shops are open and doing great business with the people who have inundated the place. The hotels are jammed, at full rack rates, and you can’t easily rent an apartment.
It’s a fact that people are leaving the cities. And, I understand that it’s like this in all kinds of nice small towns across the country. They’re likely to sell their old homes and stay here. They’re the type of people who can work electronically in the world of the Internet and Zoom.
I dislike being in Aspen now under these circumstances. In fact, I’m going to sell the ranch, which is 20 minutes out of town. When the ducks are quacking, you should feed them. This town is nothing like it once was—the land of soft snow, hard drugs, and casual sex—when I first came here.
International Man: After the September 11th, travel changed forever. The government gave us the TSA, the Patriot Act, and all kinds of permanent restrictions. Do you think much of the restrictions brought on by the COVID hysteria will stay with us?
Doug Casey: Laws are almost never repealed. But lots of new laws are constantly added on.
You have to remember that all of the world’s Congresses and Parliaments are still in session, and what they do is pass laws telling you what you must and must not do. People increasingly act like whipped dogs. Since “democracy” became a secular religion—starting about the time of World War 1—individual freedom has been in shorter and shorter supply every year.
Of course, it’ll get much worse if Harris and Biden win the election. But the effect has been compounded—especially here in the US—by state legislatures and the kind of people who run things at the city and county level. As evidence of that, we have about 2,300 so-called “employee housing units”—aka subsidized housing—in this town of 7,300. They’re available for those making less than a rather shocking $150,000 a year. The place has only the ultra-rich and the workers and peasants who cater to them.
But, to answer the question, the US is not going back to things as they once were. The COVID hysteria has precipitated as major a change as 9/11 did. Actually, even worse. That’s because everybody can see that there aren’t Muhammadan terrorists walking around, but this virus can be said to be everywhere.
International Man: 33 of the 50 US States have a mandatory mask mandate. This is unprecedented. What’s your take on this and the future of civil liberties in the US?
Doug Casey: Well, the people that run for city council, county commissioner, or the state legislature all want to move up the pecking order.
They’re basically nobodies—busybodies that want to be somebody. The easiest way to have people recognize their names and faces is to run for office. They want to show that they are activists, and the way that they do that is by promising lots of “free” stuff to the booboisie. They love exercising power in the minor leagues to justify they’re worthy of moving up to the big time.
Surprisingly, Americans are now so used to being told what to do that they’re really acting like whipped dogs—rolling over on their backs and wetting themselves. The whole secular religion of political correctness has gotten completely out of hand.
I remember a few years ago, a friend of mine in the newsletter business, Marc Faber, said something that was completely accurate but politically incorrect in his private newsletter. And because of what he observed there to his private subscribers, he was kicked off the board of several public corporations. It cost him about half a million dollars a year in director’s fees.
You have to be very careful what you say in a world dominated by Jacobins and Bolsheviks—and even more careful about what you do in today’s locked down world.
Of course, this whole COVID thing isn’t a matter for the government to start with. It’s a matter between an individual and his doctor. If the person decides he wants to wear a mask, fine, and if he doesn’t, that’s fine too. If a person is old or sick, and therefore in real danger, he should self-isolate at home while others establish herd immunity and the virus burns itself out.
It’s not something that should be legislated, especially by the kind of people who get into politics.
I have to add that COVID-19 may be deadly, but the average age of the person it kills is 80. Even then, it’s only old people who are sick and have other problems who are in danger. So, yes, COVID-19 kills people—like scores of other diseases—but not people who are of working age, and absolutely not people under 30.
This is a highly destructive hysteria, and we don’t know when it’s going to end. What we do know is that the hysteria is changing the entire nature of life.
International Man: The US presidential election is just a few weeks away. If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win, how do you think their presidency will impact the country post-COVID-19?
Doug Casey: I regret to say that I still think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to win.
If they win, there’s no way out. But in fact, if Trump wins, there’s no way out either. He wants to print money as much as they do. He’s adamant about keeping interest rates at disastrously and destructively low levels. He’s quite happy to impose all kinds of duties and arbitrarily sign executive orders about anything and everything. The Greater Depression is going to be nasty either way.
It really is going to be a Harris regency, however. The worst—the most collectivist and statist—senator in the Senate will become the de facto president.
Biden and Harris are surrounded by hard-core leftists, Marxists, and socialists. I don’t know how it’s going to end, except that it’s going to get violent. That’s because one of the things that they’ve hung their hats on is much stricter gun laws of all types. That may actually be the catalyst that sets it all off.
If the Donald is elected, however, the left will be rioting, looting, burning, and who knows what else. Trump won’t leave it up to the State and local authorities but will use the military to put them down. However, I’ll take four years of that kind of chaos, where the ancien regime is still in power, and the remnants of the old America still exist rather than watching the immediate Sovietizing of the US.
In other words, if Trump somehow is elected and maintains the office, we might have a four-year grace period. But there are no guarantees that he won’t be kicked out somehow. It’s all over but the shouting at this point for something like the old America. The best case is peaceful secession; the worst case is something like a civil war. I have, as you know, been saying this for several years.
International Man: Over the years, you’ve frequently said that although the financial and economic problems in the world are serious and accelerating, the biggest risks aren’t financial or economic. They’re political.
Has 2020 set a new precedent for the political risks we all face?
Doug Casey: Absolutely. Financial and economic risks can be solved by investing properly and by going out and producing wealth and saving it. Economic and financial problems are things that you have some control over. No matter what the environment, you can make your life better.
Political problems, on the other hand, are all about direct coercion. There’s not much you can do about them.
We’re facing really serious political problems right now, compounded by sociological problems—and perhaps a serious war.
So what’s going to happen?
People appear to want leaders—to be told what to do. They’ve been programmed to be irresponsible and to believe that somebody else—the State—is going to take care of them.
The average citizen of every country has become much less responsible as the State has grown much, much larger over the last century.
With that being the case, when there are problems, people are going to look for a strong leader—and they’re going to get strong leaders. It’s true all over the world. We already see this with Narendra Modi in India, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Xi Jinping in China, Erdogan in Turkey, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Fernandez in Argentina, and more.
Countries everywhere are going towards so-called strong leadership. It’s shaping up like the ’30s with Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, and the rest of them.
As the situation gets completely out of control, people are going to look for dictatorial leaders to provide direction and safety. This decade is probably going to be the most dangerous since the Industrial Revolution overturned the basis of society over 200 years ago.
Editor’s Note: The economic, political, and social volatility in the days and weeks ahead promises to be extreme. The impact on your savings, retirement funds, and personal freedoms could be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Do you want to know exactly what you should be doing differently with your portfolio and in your personal life?
It reveals what you can do to prepare so that you can avoid getting caught in the crosshairs.