Practical Self Reliance: 15 Ways to Use Borage

Ashley Adamant has a typically well-written article on 15 Ways to Use Borage. Borage grows pretty well in our area. It was one of the first herbs that I planted in our garden, and, as Ashley mentions, it has reseeded itself every year since then. We always have a few plants growing even though we’re not taking any particular care with nurturing them.

Borage is a beautiful annual flower that’s popular with gardeners, mostly for its abundant display of showy blue flowers.  It also happens to be both edible and medicinal, and it has a number of uses in the kitchen and around the house.

Borage Flowers in Hand

Borage is one of those underappreciated herbs from long-ago.  While lots of gardeners grow it, few people know it as a medicinal herb (or edible flower).  For the most part, it’s planted and simply enjoyed visually, which is a shame because there are so many ways to use borage.

It’s an old-fashioned plant that has a number of medicinal properties and culinary uses. Borage Flower Cluster

Borage growing in my Vermont garden

What is Borage?

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb that grows quickly but self-seeds, so it continues to reappear year after year. When you pick a spot to grow borage, make sure it’s somewhere you want it to grow year after year. 

In the summer months, borage plants bloom with small, beautiful, blue flowers that attract pollinators and butterflies to your garden. The plants have hairy, rough leaves that measure four to six inches in length.

Don’t be surprised if your plant spreads out; one borage plant reaches 12-18 inches wide. It’s easy to see how they can overtake an area of your garden after a few years of vigorous self-seeding!

For new gardeners, borage is the perfect herb to grow. It grows well in average soil with organic matter, and you can directly sow the seeds into the garden after the last frost date. If you don’t mind reseeding, the plants will continue to show up each year, which means no work for you.

To prevent self-seeding, just be sure to harvest (and use) all the flowers, or try growing borage in containers.  It stays smaller that way, and it’s a lot easier to keep track of the seeds.

growing Borage in Containers

Borage Medicinal Properties

One look at the list of borage’s medicinal purposes, and you’ll wonder why everyone doesn’t grow it in their herb garden. This herb is a cooling, cleansing herb with adaptogenic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

All parts of the borage plant contain medicinal properties. The flowers are the most commonly used part, but the leaves and oil from the seeds are useful if you want to create herbal remedies. 

Oil from the seeds is sold as a popular borage oil herbal supplement, and it’s a plant-based source of Omega fatty acids.

Herbalists use borage to treat a variety of ailments, such as:

  • Eczema
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  • Stress
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • Fevers
  • Cough
  • Depression

Growing borage in your herb garden gives you a potent, versatile medicinal herb, but personally, I love it most as a culinary herb for its delicious flowers and leaves.

Borage Flowers

Ways to Use Borage

You’ll find many ways to use borage once it grows in your garden. Here are some medicinal and culinary uses for this lovely herb. 

Borage Tea

Borage tea has many uses. It helps treat nervous conditions, and tea made out of borage leaves stimulates lactation in breastfeeding mothers. Herbalists use borage tea to reduce fevers, relieve stress, and stop coughing. 

Borage tea is best made out of fresh leaves and flowers. You need around ¼ cup fresh borage leaves or flowers and one cup of hot, boiling water. Let the tea blend steep for 10-15 minutes, and use honey to sweeten to the taste you prefer. 

Borage Tea

Borage Tincture

Making a borage tincture is the same as making any other herbal tincture. Start by filling a glass jar with borage flowers, packing them tightly into the jar. Then, fill the jar with vodka or whatever alcohol that you prefer.

Seal the jar and keep it in a cool, dark, dry location for two to six weeks. When it’s time, take the jar out, and strain all of the flowers out of it.

Now, you have a homemade borage tincture, which is a shelf-stable medicinal extract that can be used year-round (even when borage is not in season). 

Borage Plant

Borage Infusion

Making an infusion with borage is so easy. 

All you need is a quarter of a cup of bruised, fresh borage leaves. Pour one cup of cool water over the top of the bruised leaves and let it soak in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight).

After steeping, strain it, and you have a simple infusion that’s cooling, and refreshing on hot summer days.

Borage Infusion

Borage Poultice

A crushed borage poultice helps with bug bites, bee stings, swelling, bruising, rashes, and boils. It’s a useful, versatile herbal remedy to have up your sleeve, especially in the summertime when bug bites happen frequently. 

I actually used this on my son, who was stung by a bee in the garden not too far from our patch of borage.

Start by gathering enough fresh borage leaves and stems to cover the area that you need to treat. Chop up the leaves and place them over the affected area; use cotton gauze to keep the poultice in place while it works.

In my case, I just quickly chewed the leaves in the garden and placed them directly on the sting.

A borage poultice works fast. You’ll quickly feel the soothing effects that help reduce skin inflammation, just be sure to get the stinger out first if it’s still in the skin.

Borage Infused Oil

The most popular type of borage oil is borage seed oil, but you can make a herbal infused oil out of the flowers. The same process that you might use for other herbs works for borage a well.

Start by picking enough borage flowers to fill a glass jar, and spread them over a baking sheet or screen. Let the flowers dry for several days, and then put them back into the glass jar. It’s important to let them dry beforehand to reduce the risk of spoiling or mold developing.

Fill the jar with olive oil, and let it sit for four to six weeks. Remember to shake it up every few days. After the time is up, strain out the flowers, and you have DIY borage-infused oil. 

You may use this oil on your skin for irritation and rashes, or you can use it to create homemade herbal salves and ointments. 

Borage Infused Oil

Borage Salve with Calendula and Lavender

This recipe combines three potent, healing herbs to create the perfect salve for skin problems. You can use hemp or olive oil for your calendula, lavender, and borage salve. This method creates an infused oil much faster than the traditional method, but the quality stays the same.

Use beeswax pastilles to make a salve after the infused oil is ready. Borage and Calendula Drying for Homemade Salve

Borage and Calendula Drying for Homemade Salve

Cucumber Borage Soap

I love cucumber soaps; the smell is so refreshing and makes your skin feel better. The mixture of cucumber and borage is perfect for those suffering from skin irritation, bug bites, inflamed skin, or eczema.

Take a look at this easy cucumber borage soap recipe

Borage Recipes

Beyond borage’s medicinal and cosmetic uses, it’s also just a tasty edible herb.  The leaves can be eaten like spinach, and it makes delightful soup.

Though it’s eaten like a cooking green (or salad green), the leaves actually taste more like cucumber than lettuce or spinach.

The flowers have a milder flavor and are best fresh.  The leave can be eaten fresh or cooked, and the stems are best cooked in my opinion.

Borage leaves and stems

Borage Cucumber Jelly

This jelly recipe is showstopping and delicious. To make borage cucumber jelly, you need six cups of borage leaves and flowers and one cucumber juiced. The recipe is easy enough that those who are new to canning will be able to make it…(continues)

OH8STN: Zero Dependency Winklink

Justin, OH8STN, has a good post up about emergency communications, talking about Zero Dependency Winlink, or using communication modes that don’t rely on other grid-up resources like the internet.

Recently having a discussion with Dean K5MPG about Winlink Radio only networks. This topic is so important, I thought to turn my responce to his email into a blog post, albeit with a bit more context.

In emergency communications and communications for preparedness, we see the usual blogs and youtube vids talking about repeaters, winlink gateways, DMR, DSTAR, Fusion, … All of them are excellent for what they were designed for, but also heavily dependent upon the internet in some way, based of course on how we use them. They certainly work for simplex comms in a grid down, but with severe limitations. On VHF/UHF there is also a finite number of these services available, or in range of our stations. These are fine for soft events or “after the fact”, once grid power has been restored. This is the risk we take when basing our communications plan, on infrastructure dependent platforms. Not right or wrong, just not as robust as they could be.

Another approach, and one which brings the majority of hate to the channel focuses entirely on HF communications. Unlike its VHF/UHF cousins, HF communications has little to no dependency on infrastructure. If fact, other than station power, there is barely any infrastructure dependency at all! What we are talking about is Radio Only Winlink Networks. Networks with no services dependent upon the internet, not on cloud servers, and networks which can adapt to changing operational variables DURING THE DISASTER!

For personal preparedness communications, nobody gives a monkey butt about “disaster relief” while the hurricane is ripping the roof off, or forcing us away from our homes. That’s not a knock against emergency services, just a part of the puzzle which until recently, has been ignored. Disaster relief is what comes after the storm has passed. It is extremely important, but not until later. Most of us still require a layer of communications during the storm, after it has passed, and before emergency services arrives in the region. Even when disaster relief is on site, their equipment will be used for their own logistics and communications. Not for finding out where your loved ones are. This is where personal communications for preparedness becomes important. It is the layer which allows us to get in touch with family, friends, or coordinate meet ups while primary infrastructure is still down, congested or somehow unavailable.

MPS settings can be found in Winlink Express under Hybrid Network Settings. These settings allow a station to set primary secondary and a third alternate station to pick up messages, without connecting to the CMS.

The last week of March 2021, Finland had a emergency grid down communications training exercise. The exercise focused on creating a Winlink radio only network to handle message traffic, WITHOUT “any dependency on the internet”. Winlink Radio Only networks are not using cloud based services to store email for retrieval. Instead they act more like store and forward hubs, forwarding and storing messages on a primary MPS, secondary MPS, or a Third alternate if one is configured. This means messages come in from their senders, are forwarded to the recipients configured MPS (Mail Pickup Station) where they are stored. The recipient then retrieves messages from one of the MPS stations he or she configured. This works just as it would from the CMS, only without the need for the internet. Even if one of the configured MPSs go down, messages can still be retrieved from one of the others configured mail pickup stations. These mail pickup stations also synchronize mail between themselves, routing messages between them, when receiving a message intended for a recipient registered to another hub. It is actually quite ingenious.

History has taught OH-Land that some or part of the grid will eventually go down. This will happen either from a mishap, attack, or from mother nature showing us how small we really are. This is odd since OH has a reasonably robust infrastructure. Still, experience has shown us the need to augment traditional means of communications, is real. A need which can fulfil disaster relief, personal preparedness, or augmenting communications for regional services alike.

We augment traditional commercial communications methods , with slower but more robust HF networks. Networks which are able to adapt to a fluid situation. For this reason many operators in OH-Land participate once or twice a year in grid down comms practice, on a national level. This is a deployment and operation of a radio only hybrid winlink network, routing traffic correctly, discovering any weak points or bottlenecks in the system, testing peer-to-peer connections, …. There are a combination of radio only hubs set up for collection, dissemination, and temporary storage of messages. Outside connections to individual stations are still possible through any remaining gateways, or in the case of Finland through gateways in bordering countries. Although Chat and file transfer mechanisms over HF were not tested, I do hope individual radio operators find interested partners to test Vara Chat for file transfers, and JS8Call for near real-time tactical communications, stations tracking and to augment asynchronous messaging. https://www.instagram.com/p/CNFms6PDmsH/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=13&wp=500&rd=https%3A%2F%2Foh8stn.org&rp=%2Fblog%2F2021%2F04%2F05%2Femcomm-and-comms-preparedness-zero-dependency%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A1199%7D

From a personal preparedness perspective, this should be our goal! A dynamic network made up of hubs. Some of them permanent, others field deployable as required. Then augment the hybrid radio only network with other tools like JS8Call for tactical comms, along with Vara chat for file transfers without unnecessarily congesting the hybrid network channels. This is how we build a robust communications layer, whether for emergency communications, personal preparedness or as a partisan communications network over HF.

I first discovered Radio Only Winlink messages by mistake. I sent a radio only message (by mistake) to an OE station, which actually made it through. We talked about how that was possible for weeks. I understand technically how it worked, but still find it amazing.

IMHO, Radio only email is most effective for “regional “communications, when “hubs” can find a path to one another. Naturally “regional” in HF terms can span multiple countries, so we need to zoom out a little in comparison to VHF/UHF. The more hubs deployed, the the more robust our network. Still, once we start crossing plains, oceans, … it becomes more difficult. Even so, this is the beauty of HF. In part, it is also why my own focus is on NVIS/HF comms, over the infrastructure requirements of VHF and above.

Recently I mentioned on Patreon how the channel is stepping up the technical content once again. One of the projects mentioned was the RMS gateway. Since Dean brought up that topic, I suppose it is ok to let the cat out of the bag. The goal is to deploy a Radio Only network hub for the Northern Gulf of Bothnia region between Finland and Sweden. Naturally it will also route winlink email to the CMS, but that is a secondary function. In our world, many operators mistakenly believe Winlink works like Google mail, eg cloud based email server and storage. It certainly does have that cloud component, but it also has a robust network layer, based entirely on moving email along from hub to hub, until it reaches the Mail Pickup Station the mail is addressed to. I am hoping this change in direction will inspire other operators, bloggers and YouTubers in setting up their own “fill in” stations whether VHF/UHF or HF.

ARES, RACES and the like have this part covered, but Survivalists & Preppers often focus on buying gear, protecting gear, maintaining gear, … We rarely if ever see any videos or blogs about “deploying services”. There is talk about AREDN networks, which are very infrastructure intensive, but a nice attempt at recreating a fast, wide area network. Like VHF/UHF services, I’ll have to pass for now! My personal belief and strategy sees a basic traffic net as a critical requirement, before we start sharing “Nice to have” naughty videos over 5Ghz links. (I digress).

Bottom line, and the reason for the post.
Radio Only Network would work extremely well, if more of us put up our own Radio Only Hubs to pass messages through the network or on to other networks. If we start providing services to the network rather than just consuming resources from the network, we can create a much more robust radio only system. This approach will end up being more valuable to everyone. Think of it as a grass roots radio only traffic net. One which adapts to adding or removing hubs, balances congestion, and easily adapts as it grows or contracts. This as opposed to simply consuming resources as a user eg repeaters, gateways, … all of which have weaknesses most of us already understand. This is where the channel is headed!

Xiegu G90 oh8stn

Today we have good choices for reasonably priced low current draw, CAT controllable rigs like the Xiegu G90. We can combine them with any one of the increasing number of micro computers on the market today. Add a battery, solar power or wind generator, and we have the makings for own Hybrid Network Hub.

Let’s get off grid capable together!

73
Julian oh8stn

Doom and Bloom: Active Shooters In The New Norm

The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical write about Active Shooters in the New Norm and training and first aid for the same.

On March 23rd, 2021, a man thought to be mentally disturbed entered a Boulder, Colorado grocery store and began a shooting rampage. 21-year-old Al Aliwi Alissa, born in Syria but living in the United States since the age of three, managed to kill 10 people, including a police officer, before disrobing and surrendering to authorities. It’s thought that the gunman has a long history of anger issues and may have paranoid tendencies.

The shooting follows an incident where another 21-year-old killed 8 people in Georgia at local massage parlors, which he saw as a form of temptation for what is described as a “sex addiction.” The recent shootings in diverse settings follow a lull during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

In the last few years, shooting events by the disaffected, disturbed, and disgruntled have occurred on a regular basis.  Schools, churches, places of business, and other public venues are now fair game for those with bad intentions. Armed not only with weapons but with a blueprint from previous incidents, gunmen can identify soft targets easily and are more “successful” in achieving their goal of creating mass casualties.

Like COVID-19, have these events become part of the “New Normal”? Should we just get used to them?

You might think that the “successes” achieved by active shooters occur at random. The increase in the sheer number of casualties, however, reveal a strategy that is being refined to deadly effect.

The selection of soft targets is becoming a science and is leading to higher numbers of deaths and injuries. In the 2018 South Florida high school shooting, for example, the gunman activated the fire alarm to make sure there would be lots of targets in the hall. To create confusion, he tossed smoke bombs (but prudently wore a gas mask).

If the ill-intentioned are now that much better at creating mayhem, it stands to reason that our society must become better at thwarting those intentions. Here are ways that would, in my opinion, decrease the number of shooter incidents and the deaths caused by them:

Improve security in areas at risk. I would define an “area at risk” as just about anywhere where a crowd of people would gather. Better protection at malls or grocery stores may just be a matter of hiring more security personnel. Given the loss of so many jobs during the pandemic, it’s not a bad idea to train and hire workers specifically to keep an eye out for those with bad intentions. If the money isn’t there, establishing and training a volunteer safety team in places like churches, schools, or workplaces can increase the level of vigilance and identify threats early.

Although the recent attacks occurred in cities, rural areas aren’t immune. Establish volunteer safety officers in small towns where there may not be law enforcement and emergency medical personnel just around the corner. These persons should have training in security, firearms, and first aid for bleeding wounds. If there are volunteer fire departments, while not trained volunteer safety departments?

Instill a culture of situational awareness in our society. Situational awareness is a state of calm, relaxed observation of factors that might indicate a threat. These are called “anomalies”; learning to recognize them can identify suspicious individuals and save lives.

Situational awareness involves always having a plan of action when a threat occurs, even if it’s as simple as making a note of the nearest exit in whatever building you’re in. Seems like common sense, but in these days of smartphone distractions, many are oblivious of their surroundings.

Identify persons of interest through their social media posts. Some active shooter candidates are vocal about their intentions. You might be concerned about “big brother” monitoring our public conversations on social media. It concerns me also, but you must answer this question:  How many deaths are you willing to accept in your community due to a lack of vigilance?

We must always be on the lookout for signs of trouble. Even if this drives some potential gunmen underground, it might identify others in time to abort their mission.

In the case of Alissa, his sister-in-law felt compelled to take a gun away from him when he was acting erratically. In some states, it is possible for family members or police to ask the court to order the temporary removal of firearms from someone who may present a danger to others or themselves. A judge makes the determination to issue the order based on statements made and actions of the person in question. Controversial? Yes, but it could save lives.

Each municipality must set a mechanism (and an earlier trigger) for the authorities to apprehend and interrogate suspicious characters. Indeed, Ali Aliwi Alissa was a known person of interest to authorities before the attack.

Learn how to stop bleeding in wounds
Learn how to stop bleeding in emergencies

Learn how to stop bleeding in emergencies: Teach our citizens to avoid the natural paralysis that occurs in an unexpected event. This paralysis occurs as a result of “normalcy bias”, the tendency to discount risks because most days proceed in a certain standard manner; we usually assume that today will be the same.

By teaching simple courses of action such as the Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide, Fight” triad, the decision-making process may be more intuitive and more rapidly implemented. This is more effectively taught and ingrained at a young age. Make sure it’s a part of every child’s education.

We should also teach our students simple first aid strategies to stop bleeding, the most likely cause of death in these scenarios. Rapid action by bystanders is thought to decrease the number of deaths from hemorrhage. Add “Reduce” hemorrhage to “Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic” as part of school curriculum, and lives might be saved.

Provide first aid kits for bleeding in public venues. In the last few years, bleeding kits have been packed into fire extinguisher wall cabinets in many public venues and can be accessed by those at the scene. Unfortunately, in most places, there isn’t a sign that indicates their presence. With supplies, the Good Samaritan will be more likely to save a life. I predicted, years ago, that these kits will be fixtures everywhere one day. It’s good that they’re there, but let the public know they are.

Our response as a nation has been to do little to correct the problem. I say that era must end. Let’s stop being “soft” targets. We must forsake the notion that shootings are just part and parcel of the New Normal and begin the process by which we change our attitude and level of vigilance, not in isolated cases, but as a society.

The above recommendations wouldn’t affect the average (sane) citizen’s right to bear arms. It would mean more situational awareness so that people can be more ready to “Run, Hide, Fight”.  

If it means more surveillance, we should realize how much there is already. Watching people who publicly threaten violence more closely makes sense; so does increasing access to mental health resources to, perhaps, prevent someone from going off the rails.

The New Normal is an angry, dangerous place. The American identity has been replaced by many tribal ones; Most seem to hate each other. It’s a recipe for disaster that’s likely to get worse if we don’t reverse course, but that takes fortitude and determination on the part of all parties.

You don’t have to be a Department of Homeland Security official to know that there are more active shooter events on the horizon.  Watch for anomalies in behavior and always have a plan of action. A prepared nation wouldn’t be invulnerable to attacks, but its citizens would have a better chance to survive them.

Joe Alton MD

Rutherford Institute: Stand Up to Tyranny — How to Respond to the Evils of Our Age

Constitutional lawyer John Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute writes Stand Up to Tyranny: How to Respond to the Evils of Our Age

“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”—Martin Luther King Jr. (A Knock at Midnight, June 11, 1967)

In every age, we find ourselves wrestling with the question of how Jesus Christ—the itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist who died challenging the police state of his time, namely, the Roman Empire—would respond to the moral questions of our day.

For instance, would Jesus advocate, as so many evangelical Christian leaders have done in recent years, for congregants to “submit to your leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do?

What would Jesus do? 

Study the life and teachings of Jesus, and you may be surprised at how relevant he is to our modern age.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire, and providing a blueprint for standing up to tyranny that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

Those living through this present age of government lockdowns, immunity passports, militarized police, SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, invasive surveillance and the like might feel as if these events are unprecedented. However, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being are no different today than they were in Jesus’ lifetime: control, power and money.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day was characterized by secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

A police state extends far beyond the actions of law enforcement.  In fact, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

Indeed, the police state in which Jesus lived (and died) and its striking similarities to modern-day America are beyond troubling.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation. 

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:

The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

Ultimately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

After all, there is so much suffering and injustice in the world, and so much good that can be done by those who truly aspire to follow Jesus Christ’s example.

We must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

Furthermore:

We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world.  Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right.  Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants.  Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests.  Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!

…Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?”  But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence.  Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.

In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.  We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds?  Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Joyous Easter

Mises Institute: Decentralization Is a Step toward Self-Determination

Ryan McMaken at the Mises Institute writes that Decentralization Is a Step toward Self-Determination about state pre-emption laws.

For decades now, advocates for freedom and free markets have disagreed over whether or not political decentralization and local self-governance are important principles in themselves.

Most recently, this debate flared up here at mises.org over the issue of state-level preemptions of local government. Specifically, Connor Mortell objected to the State of Florida’s prohibition of local policymaking autonomy on the issue of covid lockdowns and mandates.

In response, a number of readers both in social media and in the comment section here at mises.org insisted that centralization of political power is fine so long as it’s the good guys who are doing the centralization.

We’ve certainly been here before. Indeed, this debate is essentially identical to the one over whether or not the US Supreme Court’s 2005 Kelo decision was a good thing. In that case, both sides were in agreement that eminent domain powers—practiced by any level of government—are a bad thing.

The disagreement was over whether or not states and the federal government ought to be able to prohibit local governments from exercising local eminent domain powers.

Lew Rockwell, building on Murray Rothbard’s decentralist views, took the position that eminent domain is bad (of course), but faraway governments ought not be in the business of meddling in local affairs to prevent it.

In an article titled “What We Mean by Decentralization” Rockwell writes:

The Kelo decision, in which the Supreme Court refused to intervene in the case of a local government taking of private property, touched off a huge debate among libertarians on the question of decentralization. The most common perspective was that the decision was a disaster because it gave permission to local governments to steal land. Libertarians are against stealing land, and so therefore must oppose the court decision.

And yet stealing isn’t the only thing libertarians are against. We are also opposed to top-down political control over wide geographic regions, even when they are instituted in the name of liberty.

Hence it would be no victory for your liberty if, for example, the Chinese government assumed jurisdiction over your downtown streets in order to liberate them from zoning ordinances. Zoning violates property rights, but imperialism violates the right of a people to govern themselves. The Chinese government lacks both jurisdiction and moral standing to intervene. What goes for the Chinese government goes for any distant government that presumes control over government closer to home.

Rockwell doesn’t mention it, but he’s likely taking a page from Ludwig von Mises here on the matter of “self determination.” For Mises, self-determination was a key element in limiting the power of political regimes and opposing the “princely principle” of political centralization and maximization of a state’s area of control.

Mises and “Self-Determination”

As Mises put it in Nation, State, and Economy, the “doctrine of freedom” offers an alternative—“the principle of the right of self-determination of peoples, which follows necessarily from the principle of the rights of man.”

Mises goes on to clarify that this type of self-determination is also about local control:

To call this right of self-determination the “right of self-determination of nations” is to misunderstand it. It is not the right of self-determination of a delimited national unit, but the right of the inhabitants of every territory to decide on the state to which they wish to belong.

What does this mean in practice? Mises insists on the right of inhabitants to choose their own state. By this he means that localized groups of people with similar cultural and political interests—even down the level of a village—must have the freedom to function independently of the impediments of a larger centralized state. 

Murray Rothbard, not surprisingly, was in agreement with this, and noted the implications of Mises’s position: that self-determination at the local level is a key step in securing self determination not only for small groups, but for individuals themselves.

The reasons for this are numerous, and they’re why most libertarians (i.e., the liberals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Constant) preferred local government to government by larger, less local regimes. Like his liberal predecessors, Mises understood that larger “national” regimes tend toward abuses committed by large majorities on smaller linguistic, cultural, ideological, and ethnic groups.1

These problems tend to be made less bad by more localization. 

Decentralization of this sort is also important, because it allows individuals greater ability to exercise their freedoms by more easily changing the regime under which they live. Rothbard explains that decentralization

means greater competition between governments of different geographical areas, enabling people of one State to zip across the border to relatively greater freedom more easily; and it exalts the mighty libertarian principle of secession, which we hope to extend on down from the region to the city to the block to the individual.

Rothbard speaks of state boundaries—here meaning the American political units called “states” and not to be confused with the Weberian sovereign state—but of course he also applied the same principle down to local governments:

Pending total privatization, it is clear that our model could be approached, and conflicts minimized, by permitting secessions and local control, down to the micro-neighborhood level, and by developing contractual access rights for enclaves and exclaves. In the U.S., it becomes important, in moving toward such radical decentralization, for libertarians and classical liberals—indeed, for many other minority or dissident groups—to begin to lay the greatest stress on the forgotten Tenth Amendment and to try to decompose the role and power of the centralizing Supreme Court. Rather than trying to get people of one’s own ideological persuasion on the Supreme Court, its power should be rolled back and minimized as far as possible, and its power decomposed into state, or even local, judicial bodies.

“Uniformity” Is No Virtue

Nonetheless, one recent commenter at mises.org argues local autonomy is unacceptable because travelers ought not have to deal with a patchwork of different legal regimes:

[In Wisconsin] I drive 40 miles to work and 40 back. I pass through at least 8 different towns on the way. If every town had different gun laws, my freedom to protect myself [with legal concealed weapons] would be compromised or curtailed altogether.

The conclusion we are presumably supposed to draw is that some centralized political authority must intervene to ensure uniformity among laws, presumably in a way that protects the rights of residents. Of course, this sort of reasoning takes the naïve view that the central government is likely to implement laws that favor the legality of concealed weapons. Experience suggests this is a rather fanciful notion, and we can see the benefits of local control if we consider the case of a state that takes an unfavorable view toward firearms.

Consider New York State, for example, where the state government heavily restricts the use and ownership of firearms. It is likely that many towns and cities in the northern and western part of the state, however, would prefer to allow more freedom in firearms usage in their jurisdictions. If these local communities were allowed local control,  at least the residents in those communities would have greater freedom with firearms. But as it is, the presence of a strong centralized state government ensures these freedoms are heavily curtailed everywhere within the state. Thus, the overall amount of freedom is greater in a scenario with decentralized political power.

The argument that laws ought to be uniform is equally suspect when dealing with passing across state borders. For example, consider a commuter who must drive from southern Maine to the northern end of the Boston metro area. This is a trip of only about eighty miles, but requires the commuter to travel through three states. Two of these states tend to be permissive on guns—Maine and New Hampshire—but Massachusetts tends to heavily restrict firearms usage and ownership.

If uniformity in law is important, then we must therefore insist that the federal government intervene to ensure that we aren’t inconvenienced by the fact gun laws change every time we cross state lines. 

But, of course, we know how well that would work out. Inviting federal lawmakers to “protect rights” or make gun laws “uniform” would almost certainly result in far more restriction than is currently the state in many states. Unfortunately, uniformity across state lines tends to favor the areas with the most restrictive mandates.

The Problem with Asking Higher Levels of Government to Protect Our Rights

Another objection is that a profreedom position requires support of any regime that lowers government regulations or mandates, regardless of how immense or distant that regime is:

Government at any level, other than at the individual level, is illegitimate … it makes more sense to support any individual action that comes closer to enforcing the NAP [i.e., the nonaggression principle] whether it is the president, governor, or mayor.

This is the logic behind the EU: the national governments are imposing tariffs, so we need the European Commission to ensure “free trade.” Indeed, the EU has long been sold as a profreedom institution, because it supposedly lowered trade barriers erected by more local government units. Of course, we can see where that led. The net effect of the EU has been the exact opposite of the expansion of freedom. Instead, the EU has given the world a giant bureaucracy that limits trade with the non-EU world and imposes countless regulations of its own.

The same logic could also be employed to call in the World Trade Organization to force down Trump’s tariffs. After all, if the US is raising taxes on trade, we need somebody to “enforce the NAP.” Why not strengthen the WTO so it can dictate tax rates to member states? The problem with this should be obvious: calling in some international body like the WTO to better “protect rights” is just asking for trouble. Americans would soon find themselves in a position similar to that of the British under the EU. Would surrendering more local prerogatives to an international group of politicians be a solution to high tariffs? This could potentially work in the short run, but experience has taught us that the potential for lost freedom in the longer term is enormous. 

  • 1. On this, Benjamin Constant writes: “It is clear that different portions of the same people, placed in circumstances, brought up in customs, living in places, which are all dissimilar, cannot be led to absolutely the same manners, usages, practices, and laws, without a coercion which would cost them more than it is worth.”

Economic Collapse Blog: America’s Cities Are Being Turned Into Crime-Ridden War Zones

The other day we posted an article saying that America has already collapsed. Here, Michael Snyder at the Economic Collapse Blog writes America’s Cities Are Being Turned Into Crime-Ridden War Zones, And Murder Rates Are Way Up Again In 2021.

The wealthy are reveling in their giant mountains of money, but meanwhile our society is literally coming apart at the seams all around us.  The stock market has been hovering near all-time record highs, and for those at the very top of the economic pyramid these may seem like the best of times.  But for most Americans, the “good old days” are a long distant memory.  More than 70 million new claims for unemployment benefits have been filed over the past year, poverty is absolutely exploding all around us, and crime rates are shooting higher at an unprecedented rate.  In fact, one study of 34 big U.S. cities found that their murder rates rose by an average of 30 percent in 2020…

A study by the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice found that murders increased by 30% across 34 large U.S. cities.

In some areas, carjackings, robberies, shootings, sexual assaults and violence have become so common that it seems like the crime literally never stops.

Unless you have a death wish, there are certain parts of Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore that you should never enter night or day.  If you doubt me, just go wander the streets of the worst neighborhoods of those cities and see what happens to you.

This was supposed to be a year when crime rates began to return to normal, but instead they are on the rise again.  One study that looked at 37 large U.S. cities found that murder rates are up by an average of 18 percent so far in 2021…

The big increase in the murder rate in the United States in 2020 has carried over to 2021.

A sample of 37 cities with data available for the first three months of this year shows murder up 18 percent relative to the same period last year.

What is truly frightening is that this is about as good as things are going to get in America from here on out.

So if murder rates are spiking this much under relatively good conditions, what will our cities look like when things get really crazy?

Some of the crimes that we are witnessing are almost too horrible for words.  For example, just consider what just happened to a 12-year-old boy in Miami

A suspect in a black car kidnapped the boy at about 2 a.m. early Saturday morning from a Miami street, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

He drove a few blocks, raped the boy, and then shoved him out of the car and drove off, police said.

A good Samaritan on a bike near the scene of the crime came to the boy’s rescue. He was bleeding from the head and said he had been shot.

How sick do you have to be in order to do something like that?

Sadly, I could write about nightmarish crimes such as this every single day of the week if I wanted to, because they happen constantly.

Much of the crime boom is being fueled by gangs.  There are more than 100,000 gang members living in the city of Chicago alone, and a steady stream of illegal immigrants ensures that the gangs will always have an influx of new recruits.

Securing our borders would go a long way toward solving this problem, but we refuse to do that.

Just recently, a sheriff in Texas took a reporter from the Daily Mail down to “the easiest illegal border crossing along the Rio Grande”

The crossing point is on private property where an abandoned house sits on a quiet rural street that runs parallel to the Rio Grande, about 5 miles out of town from Del Rio, Texas, 150 miles southwest of San Antonio.

Law enforcement has nicknamed it ‘Border Lawn.’

‘It’s the easiest illegal border crossing along the Rio Grande,’ Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.

When the river is low, immigrants can wade across the Rio Grande in about five minutes.

Authorities know that hordes of people come across the border at this spot each week, but they won’t stop it.

Of course any immigrants that are detained need to be held somewhere, and facilities at the border are already packed beyond overflowing.  In particular, the infamous facility in Donna, Texas is already holding more than 10 times more migrants than it was designed to hold

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding facility in Donna, Texas, is supposed to house no more than 250 migrants during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the tent complex was holding more than 4,100 migrants, including 3,200 unaccompanied children, according to Oscar Escamilla, a Border Patrol official in the Rio Grande Valley who briefed reporters during the first press tour of a CBP facility under President Biden.

So much of the immigration debate is focused on the unfortunate children that are being held in places such as this, but that is just a drop in the bucket.

Each week, thousands of grown men illegally cross the border without being detained at all.  Many of those grown men end up in our core urban areas, and with few legitimate employment prospects available many of them turn to crime.

In an article that I published yesterday entitled “We Have Never Seen A Home Buying Frenzy Quite Like This”, I discussed the fact that we have seen a mass exodus from our core urban areas over the past year.  Millions of Americans have been looking to buy homes in desirable rural and suburban locations, and this has pushed housing prices into the stratosphere.

Today, I came across another example of this phenomenon.  122 offers were made on a 1,400 square foot home that was listed for sale in Citrus Heights, California in just one weekend

A Citrus Heights home in a quiet cul-de-sac received 122 offers in one weekend on the market.

The 1,400 square feet home has three bedrooms, two baths and a spacious backyard with a swimming pool and an asking price of $399,900.00.

Could you imagine paying $400,000 for a house that is just 1,400 square feet in size?

The real estate agent that listed this property was astounded to receive so many offers, because it wasn’t underpriced at all

“People would think that it was underpriced. It was not underpriced. It was straight on with the comps,” said Deb Brittan, the listing agent for the property. “I had hoped, I thought, maybe if we get 20 offers that would be amazing.”

As for the couple that sold the house, they don’t need it anymore because they are moving to Idaho.

As conditions in the United States continue to deteriorate, we will continue to see people flock to rural and suburban communities at an unprecedented rate.

So if you are planning to move, I would not wait.

Millions of Americans have already been priced out of the market, and the feeding frenzy is not going to subside any time soon.

The Defense Post: Top US General Calls Russia, Ukraine Amid Reported Moscow Troop Buildup

In this article at The Defense Post, Top US General Calls Russia, Ukraine Amid Reported Moscow Troop Buildup. Tensions in the region rise after President Biden condemns Russia’s 2014 takeover of the Crimea peninsula and calls Russian President Putin a “killer.” Many organizations, including leftist ones, have asked the President to cease his “reckless” rhetoric with Russia.

The top Pentagon general called counterparts in Russia and Ukraine Wednesday as the US Defense Department expressed concerns about a reported buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s border and in Crimea.

US troops in Europe were on an elevated “watch condition” as Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley spoke to General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian Armed Forces chief of staff, and Ukraine armed forces Commander in Chief Ruslan Khomchak.

Meanwhile, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called the head of the Ukraine Presidential Office Andriy Yermak to reiterate Washington’s support for the country.

“We’re concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including violations of the July 2020 ceasefire that led to the deaths of 4 Ukrainian soldiers on the 26th of March, and the wounding of two others,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

“Russia’s destabilizing actions undermine the de-escalation in tensions that had been achieved through an OSCE-brokered agreement back in July of last year.”

He said the US military was aware of Ukrainian reports concerning Russian troop movements on the country’s borders.

“We’re discussing our concerns about this increase in tensions in ceasefire violations and regional tensions with NATO allies.”

On Tuesday Moscow and Kiev traded accusations of responsibility for an increase in violence between Ukraine government forces and Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, leading to a rise in deaths.

Khomchak denounced the “threat to the military security” of Ukraine by the Russian army, saying that some 28,000 separatist fighters and “more than 2,000 Russian military instructors and advisers” are currently stationed in eastern Ukraine.

Reports online suggested that Russia had located more military forces along the border and also moved more into Crimea, the Ukraine territory that Moscow seized in 2014.

Those reports could not be confirmed, but some observers have tied them to Russian military exercises.

Kirby said Milley’s call to his Russian counterpart was “to gain a little bit more clarity on what exactly is going on.”

“We obviously don’t want to see any more violations of Ukrainian territory,” he said.

In his call with Yermak, Sullivan “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, in the face of continuing aggression,” according to a White House statement.

US forces in Europe were placed on a heightened watch level to “potential imminent crisis” in response to Russian activities, Kirby confirmed. He said that the watch condition “expresses combatant commanders’ concern about a potential threat.”

Mises Institute: The Property-Based Social Order Is Being Destroyed by Central Banks

The Mises Institute has the article The Property-Based Social Order Is Being Destroyed by Central Banks

Readers of the Mises Wire are no doubt familiar with the negative consequences of central banking and the inflationary capacity of fiat currency and how such a system drives malinvestment and leads to boom-bust cycles. Not only does the business cycle lead to the misallocation of resources from their natural ends of the structure of production, but it also drives resources into financialization, rather than the “real” economy. This financialization, which has been taking place since at least the First World War, has served, over time, to structurally undermine the morality of property in the eyes of the general public. As the increased popularity of socialism, at least in rhetorical terms, among the youth indicates this “evaporation” of property may reach a critical mass within the not-too-distant future.

The Social Effects of Financialization

In his book The Present Age, sociologist Robert Nisbet traces the origin of financialization to the First World War and the decision to finance the war via credit, rather than taxation. He argues that the other negative social effects of the war, combined with the flush of cash and credit into the system drastically altered American’s traditional propensity to save and instead to spend. These changed habits led to the “roaring twenties” where instead of acquiring wealth through hard work and thrift and a focus on producing goods and services, Americans turned to financial means of acquiring wealth. 

This began what Nisbet calls the “evaporation of property” where ownership of hard tangible goods has evolved into the “soft” ownership of highly liquid and mobile forms of property such as stocks. This concept of evaporating property originated in the work of Joseph Schumpeter, an economist and contemporary of Mises in Austria (though not a member of the Austrian school) who identified and explained this phenomenon in his classic work Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.1 Schumpeter criticizes the shareholder mechanism of ownership for separating legal ownership from those responsibilities and actions that are traditionally associated with it. He argues that the owners of publicly traded firms are comprised of three groups of people: the salaried executives and managers, the large shareholders, and the small shareholders, and that “no element of those three groups … takes the attitude” that is generally meant by the word property. The employees, he states, often do not identify with the shareholding interests, and the large shareholders, even if they behave how financial theory predicts, are “at one remove from both the functions and attitudes of an owner.” Schumpeter considers small shareholders to be the least tied to ownership, saying that they often care little and if anything are mobilized by others for “their nuisance value.” He goes on to say that in the end, small shareholders end up feeling ill used and “almost regularly drift into an attitude hostile to ‘their’ corporations, to big business in general and, particularly when things look bad, to the capitalist order as such.”

For Schumpeter, the heart of the problem is that “the capitalist process, by substituting a mere parcel of shares for the walls and machines of a factory, takes the life out of the idea of property” and that “this evaporation of what we may term the material substance of property—affects not only the attitude of the holders but also that of the workmen and the public in general. Dematerialized, defunctionalized and absentee ownership does not impress and call forth the moral allegiance as the vital form of property did.”

Easy Money vs. Private Property 

Nisbet laments that this highly liquid form of property leads to economic perversity where “more and more capitalism tends to ‘exalt the monetary unit’ over the type of property that theoretically alone gives the monetary unit its value.” Nisbet takes especial issue with slick operators who seem to believe “that by raiding a decently run corporation, artificially jacking up its price on the stock market through the use of high-yield credit, including junk bonds, they are in consequence improving the management of the corporation.” 

The sad fate of the once iconic Toys “R” Us is one such example. When Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy several years ago, some thirty thousand people lost their jobs. The surface argument is that the brick-and-mortar retailer simply couldn’t keep up with the new online world and was losing out to the Amazons and the Walmarts. However, when examined closer, the case can be made that the company’s doom was sealed when it was purchased by a consortium of private equity firms in the mid-2000s. Thanks to the abundance of credit facilitated by the Fed’s loose monetary policy the firms actually only fronted 20 percent of the buyout, with the rest being borrowed. After the acquisition, the firms then saddled Toys “R” Us with the debt used to purchase them in the first place, adding over $5 billion in debt to the $1.86 billion the company held before the deal. By 2007, 97 percent of the company’s operating profits were being consumed to pay interest expenses. The firms also charged the company hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and The Atlantic reports that “according to one estimate, the money KKR and Bain partners earned from those fees more than covered the firms’ losses in the deal.” Who knows how Toys “R” Us would have fared without being saddled with $5 billion in debt. Perhaps it would have had the flexibility to innovate, or perhaps it would have failed, but in the end it didn’t have a chance to find out.

Were Nisbet alive, he would not have been surprised by such an event in the slightest. Loose money leads to loose morals and loose people who see no problem in such a scheme that demonstrates very little actual economic value being produced. 

Rather than exercising the responsibilities typically associated with property and ownership, these private equity firms treated Toys “R” Us worse than a rented mule and in doing so created loads of anticapitalist sentiment. One can’t help but think of Bruce Springstein’s 2012 song “Death to My Hometown,” in which he attacks such firms by lamenting that even though no “shells ripped the evening sky” or “blood soaked the ground” and “no armies stormed the shores for which we’d die” “marauders raided in the night” and “just as sure as the hand of God they brought death to my hometown.” Springstein concludes with a warning to “be ready for when they come for they’ll be returning sure as the rising sun.”

A people that comes to view the capitalist class as rampaging Huns in suits who “ate the flesh of everything they’ve found” is not a people that will be living under a market system for much longer. And when one looks at what happened to Toys “R” Us and similar firms, how the stock market was booming in the midst of the covid lockdown disaster, or how, as Ryan McMaken recently pointed out, GDP is expected to go through the roof even though the true unemployment rate is dismal, it is not hard to understand why people have such hostile opinions of capitalism.

Similarly, all this financialization has made it much more difficult for people to preserve their wealth against inflation and to save and invest in the traditional manners. Instead, people are driven into the stock market. As Jörg Guido Hülsmann notes in his book The Ethics of Money Production, people “must invest their money into the financial markets, lest its purchasing power evaporate under their noses.” He goes on to note that while such a thing may be good for financial brokers, it is not good for the average citizen who is incentivized into debt due to chronic inflation, pushed into a state of financial dependency, and now at the mercy of the financial winds.

The GameStop saga is example of this idea in action. Flush with cash from government “stimulus,” numerous average joes have taken up day trading and pumped the price of a stock into the stratosphere that is in no way connected to reality. The first wave of “meme investors” soon learned that the financial system is not exactly friendly to their method, as the actions of brokers like Robinhood quickly demonstrated. In the long run the reality is that most day traders will lose money and when that happens there is little doubt that their small foray into “financial capitalism” will leave these small investors with the attitude that Schumpeter predicted: hostile to the company they supposedly own and to the capitalist system in general. 

Misplaced Hostility Toward the Marketplace

Hostility towards capitalism seems to be growing everywhere one looks. It is not surprising that envy fueled leftists despise capitalism, but on the political right more and more populists have taken to bashing capitalism and the “market fundamentalists” who are supposedly running the GOP. Yet, populist conservatives have so far seemingly failed to notice the way in which the Federal Reserve and our inflationary fiat currency have contributed to all of the social problems and ills that they are greatly concerned with. Perhaps such populists can be given a pass for not being familiar with Hülsmann’s work on the cultural consequences of fiat money, but what is perplexing is that midcentury authors who conservative populists are more familiar with, such as Robert Nisbet and Wilhelm Röpke, wrote at length about the scourge of inflation and its negative social consequences and yet the issue still raises nary a peep out of the likes of Tucker Carlson and Sohrab Ahmari.

While such a situation is distressing, those within the Austrian tradition should see an opportunity here to harness the populist energies that seem to be growing larger by the day and to reveal to the aggrieved masses that the true target of their wrath should be the state and central banking system. Had Bruce Springsteen had access to a sound economic education he would have been singing at Ron Paul rallies, rather than at those of Bernie Sanders. The task of ensuring the next Springstein is lambasting the Federal Reserve and not capitalism itself begins now.

1.All quotes from Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, 3d ed. (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought, 2008), pp. 141–42.

The Smallest Minority: Slowly, at First. Then Very Fast.

In this post, Kevin at The Smallest Minority talks about voting and bill HR1 – Slowly, at First. Then Very Fast.

Roger Kimball brings the Truth: For US, Gradual Ruin Is About to Become Sudden. (Behind a paywall, but Instapundit has the pertinent portion.)

There is the passage in the house of H.R. 1, the so-called “For the People” bill, which would effectively assure that were was never another fair election in this country.

It would do this by all-but-obliterating voter ID requirements—you need an ID to board a plane but not cast a vote—mandating same-day voter registration and at least two weeks of early voting, and by requiring states to provide unsupervised drop boxes to receive completed ballots.

In other words, H.R. 1 would centralize presidential elections, taking responsibility for oversight away from the states, where the Constitution placed it, and arrogating it to the clutches of the federal government and its sprawling bureaucracy.

If, as seems almost certain, H.R. 1 becomes the law of the land, it would be the final nail in the coffin of electoral integrity

The widespread irregularities (that’s polysyllabic periphrasis for “fraud”) that attended the 2020 election would be codified into law assuring that, for as long as anyone could envision, 2016 would have to be counted as the last free, fair, and open presidential election.

It used to be that American was the land of the free and home of the brave. A robust culture of free speech was every American’s birthright.

We had free and fair elections, unlike the banana republics we were always called upon to bail out or police.

We also had borders, and even politicians eager to increase immigration understood the difference between entering the country legally and opening the floodgates to the hordes massing on our Southern border.

That’s all behind us now, or at least those traditions appear to be on life support—no, the patient was on life support, but someone came to euthanize him and pulled the plug.

The signs and portents are many and they are not encouraging.

Perhaps the most disturbing episode last week was Joe Biden’s alarming performance when he announced the elevation of two women to the status of combat generals.

Biden went on to underscore the “intensity of purpose” with which his administration would be pursuing “body armor that fits women properly, tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits, updating their hairstyle requirements.”

This was not from a Saturday Night Live skit: it was the President of the United States live in front of the cameras.

I’ve been on this planet now 59 years. When I was eighteen, I voted for Ronald Reagan – the first and only candidate I ever voted for. I’ve voted in every national and most state elections since, but since then (and even in 1984), I have since voted against. Against whoever was the worse choice. I even cast my ballot for Perot in 1992, being not particularly enamored of either George H.W. Bush or William Jefferson Clinton. I have since concluded that we’ve voted our way into this, but we won’t be voting our way out.

The 2016 election gave me a glimmer of hope, but 2020 ruthlessly stamped out that ember. The Authoritarian Left and its oligarchs in Washington will make sure that their power is never again threatened by the electorate. As someone put it after November 3, 2020, “We knew we had to win by more than the margin of fraud. We just didn’t realize the margin was infinite.”

H.R. 1 legally codifies power grabbing into the future. No more fear of another Bernie or Trump wrecking their plans. The Left controls both houses of Congress, the White House, most of the bureaucracy, and a whole lot of the Justice Department, not to mention the remainder of The Swamp. They can do whatever they want, and they are. Open the border? Done. Raise taxes on the middle cl… I mean, the rich? No problem. Disarm the dangerous “domestic terrorist” publ… I mean, protect the children? On its way!

And anyone who opposes this is a racist and/or a domestic terrorist. A Public Enemy. A Traitor.

I said a while back that I thought all of this insanity had a basis in reality. The Oligarchs aren’t nuts. Well, they may be, but they’re not irrational. They use the irrationality they deliberately created among the general public as a tool, a lever for greater and greater social division so that the chance of any organized opposition of any size is minimized. Why do you think they’re so freaked out about the Capitol riots January 6? Well, they’re not, really. That’s political theater, at which they’re masters. The conditions were set up by them. The Capitol Police were largely stood down and requests for National Guard were refused due to “optics.” Honestly, I think they’re disappointed in the body count. But never mind, it gave them the excuse to clutch their pearls in front of the cameras and claim fear for their lives, and arrest people publicly – the Roger Stone treatment of SWAT teams and armored vehicles, smashed doors and ransacked houses. “This is what happens when you protest wrong.” Turn the thumbscrews one more turn, tighten the ratchet one more click.

In my July 2020 post Endgame I predicted the election outcome. I also wrote:

The wheels come off the train and the train comes off the track in 2021, one way or the other.

The End of America has been predicted by many people for quite some time.  The Progressive Postmodernists appear to have decided that the time is ripe.  The national debt cannot be ignored forever.  The projected entitlement spending is unsupportable.  All their preparation of the battle space through balkanization has brought us to this point.  Black Lives Matter, itself organized and run by self-proclaimed Marxists, is the hinge on which the lid is swinging, but Pandora’s Box is certainly opening.  I don’t think we’re going to stop the greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death that will come flooding out of it, and there most likely won’t be much around afterward to put them back in.

BLM is no longer the hinge. Post January 6, “Domestic Terrorism” has taken its place. The Anointed have told their followers to Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid of their neighbors who are Not Like Them™. But the National Debt currently exceeds 28 trillion dollars. Twenty-eight TRILLION dollars. $28,000,000,000,000. Not quite five times what it was in 2000, and spending hasn’t slowed down a bit. It continues to accelerate.

That which cannot go on, won’t. But the Anointed are getting theirs while the getting is good, and the rest of us are on our own.

How much longer before their gravy train derails? I predicted before the end of 2021, but there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. We may yet hang on a bit, but not forever.

We live in the very best period of history humanity has ever experienced, and we’re about to destroy it nonchalantly, like a child with a Christmas ornament. I’m not sure Billy Beck’s “Endarkenment” is sufficiently descriptive.

Medium.com: I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There.

A water tower bombed by the Tamil Tigers in the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2008. Photo: Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto/Getty Images

The following is a post from last year by a person living in Sri Lanka. We’ve posted a few times in the past about the end of empires and slow collapse versus quick. I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. talks about how the very slowness of collapse can go unnoticed.

I lived through the end of a civil war — I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.

This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.

I was looking through some old photos for this article and the mix is shocking to me now. Almost offensive. There’s a burnt body in front of my office. Then I’m playing Scrabble with friends. There’s bomb smoke rising in front of the mall. Then I’m at a concert. There’s a long line for gas. Then I’m at a nightclub. This is all within two weeks.

Photos from two weeks in 2006, courtesy of the author

Today I’m like, “Did we live like this?” But we did. I mean, I did. Was I a rich Colombo fuckboi while poorer people died, especially minorities? Well, yes. I wrote about it, but who cares.

The real question is, who are you? I mean, you’re reading this. You have the leisure to ponder American collapse like it’s even a question. The people really experiencing it already know.

As someone who’s already experienced societal breakdown, here’s the truth: America has already collapsed. What you’re feeling is exactly how it feels. It’s Saturday and you’re thinking about food while the world is on fire. This is normal. This is life during collapse.

Collapse does not mean you’re personally dying right now. It means y’all are dying right now. Death is sometimes close, sometimes far away, but always there. I used to judge those herds of gazelle when the lion eats one of them alive and everyone keeps going — but no, humans are just the same. That’s the real meaning of herd immunity. We’re fundamentally immune to giving a shit.

It honestly becomes mundane (for the privileged). As Colombo kids we used to go out, worry about money, fall in love — life went on. We’d pop the trunk for a bomb check. Turn off our lights for the air raids. I’m not saying that we were untouched. My friend’s dad was killed, suddenly, by a landmine. RIP Uncle Nihal. I know people who were beaten, arrested, and went into exile. But that’s not what my photostream looks like. It was mostly food and parties and normal stuff for a dumb twenty-something.

Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else. That’s all it is.

If you’re waiting for a moment where you’re like “this is it,” I’m telling you, it never comes. Nobody comes on TV and says “things are officially bad.” There’s no launch party for decay. It’s just a pileup of outrages and atrocities in between friendships and weddings and perhaps an unusual amount of alcohol.

Perhaps you’re waiting for some moment when the adrenaline kicks in and you’re fighting the virus or fascism all the time, but it’s not like that. Life is not a movie, and if it were, you’re certainly not the star. You’re just an extra. If something good or bad happens to you it’ll be random and no one will care. If you’re unlucky you’re a statistic. If you’re lucky, no one notices you at all.

Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else. That’s all it is.

One day, I was at work when someone left a bomb at the NOLIMIT clothing store. It exploded, killing 17 people. When these types of traumatic events take place, no two people experience the same thing. For me, it was seeing the phone lines getting clogged for an hour. For my wife, it was feeling the explosion a half-kilometer from her house. But for the families of the 17 victims, this was the end. And their grief goes on.

As you can see, this is not a uniform experience of chaos. For some people it destroys their bodies, others their hearts, but for most people it’s just a low-level hum at the back of their minds.

What’s that buzzing sound you hear now?

Today I assume you went to work. Bad news was everywhere, clogging up your social media, your conversations. Maybe it struck close to you. I’m sorry. Somewhere in your country, a thousand people died. I’m sorry for each of them. A thousand families are grieving tonight. A thousand more join them every day. The pain doesn’t go away, it just becomes a furniture of bones, in a thousand thousand homes.

As a nation you don’t seem to mourn your dead, but their families do. Their communities do. Jesus, also, weeps. But for most people it’s just another day. You’ve run out of coffee. There’s a funny meme. This can’t be collapse, because nothing’s collapsing for me.

But that’s exactly how collapse feels. This is how I felt. This is how millions of people have felt, including many immigrants in your midst. We’re trying to tell you as loud as we can. You can get out of it, but you have to understand where you are to even turn around. This, I fear, is one of many things Americans do not understand. You tell yourself American collapse is impossible. Meanwhile, look around.

In the last three months America has lost more people than Sri Lanka lost in 30 years of civil war. If this isn’t collapse, then the word has no meaning. You probably still think of Sri Lanka as a shithole, though the war ended over a decade ago and we’re (relatively) fine. Then what does that make you?

America has fallen. You need to look up, at the people you’re used to looking down on. We’re trying to tell you something. I have lived through collapse and you’re already there. Until you understand this, you only have further to fall.

Cato Institute: “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act” Gains Steam

From the Cato Institute, “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act” Gains Steam

I’m not aware of a piece of legislation that has ever actually prevented an attack of any kind, but that’s not stopping Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), who earlier this Congressional session reintroduced his Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 350). And contrary to a Bloomberg Government story out today suggesting that “lawmakers aren’t likely to pursue expanded powers to fight the domestic threat any time soon”, Schneider’s bill has gained tremendous momentum in the House in the nearly three months since the Capitol Insurrection on January 6.

Just last week, the bill picked up 22 new cosponsors, bringing the total supporting it to 166, including Republicans Fred Upton (MI-6), Don Bacon (NE-2), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1). Of particular note is the number of House Democratic committee chairs on the bill: DeLauro (Appropriations), Pallone (E & C), Meeks (Foreign Affairs), Nadler (Judiciary), Maloney (Oversight & Government Reform), Thompson (Homeland Security), DeFazio (T & I), and Rules (McGovern).

To be fair, Schneider’s legislation is not–at least in its current form–quite the Constitutionally invasive monster the PATRIOT Act has been over the last two decades. Even so, it has the potential to spawn expanded domestic surveillance activities by law enforcement and intelligence elements of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

The core of Schneider’s proposal involves expanding bureaucracies inside of DoJ and DHS through the creation of new “Domestic Terrorism Offices” within each. Yet both organizations already focus on potential domestic terrorism threats within their existing organizational structures. Indeed, as the extract below from the FBI’s Investigation Classification list shows (obtained last year by Cato via the Freedom of Information Act), the FBI already has discrete categories of investigations for white supremacists, militias, and “sovereign citizen” extremists:

FBI Investigation Classifications extract

If anything, were Schneider’s bill to become law it would likely make detecting and thwarting domestic terrorist plots harder; the more layers of bureaucracy, the slower government works. The other issue it would likely exacerbate is the question of which department–Justice or Homeland Security–should be the lead on dealing with homegrown threats.

The entire rationale for DHS’s existence–according to its supporters–was to help prevent another 9/​11‐​style (i.e., foreign terrorist‐​originated) attack on the country. There is, of course, no empirical evidence to suggest the creation of DHS actually accomplished that goal–something that should make House and Senate members loathe to give it an expanded role in an area traditionally within the FBI’s purview.

Both the 9/11 Congressional Joint Inquiry and the subsequent 9/11 Commission Report found that it was a failure of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share data, not a lack of data itself, that was the prime reason Al Qaeda’s attacks succeeded. Creating new, competing organizational “domestic terrorism” stovepipes will increase, not reduce, the likelihood of another domestic terrorism intelligence failure.

And there is another reason why the Schneider bill is problematic: it appears to reflect zero lessons learned from the post‐​9/​11 experience vis a vis “countering violent extremism” (CVE) programs.

The other major component of Schneider’s bill is a requirement for “anti‐​terrorism” training for federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of “understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and White supremacist and neo‐​Nazi infiltration of law enforcement and corrections agencies.”

As I noted earlier this year in The Hill, the Schneider bill contains no reference to the huge problems with the FBI’s CVE programs targeting Arab and Muslim Americans during the previous decade. Simply stated, those CVE programs were little more than racial or religious profiling dressed up as “counterterrorism” measures. Often billed as “community outreach” activities, they were, in fact, intelligence gathering operations.

Schneider’s approach shares the same underlying flaw with prior CVE programs: the assumption that membership in a particular group–be it racial, religious, or political–is indicative of an intent to commit a violent act. Existing published, peer‐​reviewed literature on the topic tells us exactly the opposite; there is no way to predict, on the basis of mass surveillance of a given group, who within that group will make the leap from fiery speech‐​making to pipe bomb throwing.

Congress should avoid a repetition of the PATRIOT Act debacle and not legislate in this area until existing investigations into the Capitol Insurrection have run their course and we have the full facts about how it happened, who was involved, and why the response to the insurrection was so slow and fragmented. A quick, fear‐​driven legislative response will only make things worse.

The Organic Prepper: Ten Ways to Sow Revolution in Your Back Yard

Daisy Luther of The Organic Prepper talks about the increasing government control of seeds and food, why gardening may become a revolutionary act, and why you must go to battle in Garden Rebels: 10 Ways to Sow Revolution in Your Back Yard.

Perhaps the next Revolutionary War will take place in a vegetable garden.

Instead of bullets, there will be seeds.  Instead of chemical warfare, there will be rainwater, carefully collected from the gutters of the house. Instead of soldiers in body armor and helmets, there will be back yard rebels, with bare feet, cut-off jean shorts, and wide-brimmed hats.  Instead of death, there will be life, sustained by a harvest of home-grown produce.  Children will be witness to these battles, but instead of being traumatized, they will be happy, grimy, and healthy, as they learn about the miracles that take place in a little plot of land or pot of dirt.

Every day, the big industries that run our nation take steps towards food totalitarianism.  They do so flying a standard of “sustainability” but what they are actually trying to sustain is NOT our natural resources, but their control.

One of the most inspiring, beautifully written articles that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time is by  Julian Rose, a farmer, actor, activist, and writer. He wrote an article called Civil Disobedience or Death by Design and it is a “must-read” for anyone who believes in the importance of natural food sources:

“From now on, unless we cut free of obeisance to the centralised, totalitarian regimes whose takeover of our planet is almost complete, we will have only ourselves to blame. For we are complicit in allowing ourselves to become slaves of the Corporate State and its cyborg enforcement army. That is, if we continue to remain hypnotized by their antics instead of taking our destinies into our own hands and blocking or refusing to comply with their death warrants. This ‘refusal’ is possible. But it will only have the desired effect when, and if, it is contemporaneous with the birthing of the Divine warrior who sleeps in us all. The warrior who sleeps-on, like the besotted Rip Van Winkle in the Catskill mountains.” (source)

And it isn’t just industrialism that’s causing our issues. A supply chain disruption has been apparent in the US since people first cleared the shelves a year ago and while some things came back in stock, supplies are limited to this day.

Sustained into starvation

Does it sound dramatic to state that if things continue on their current path of “sustainability” that we are all going to die?  If you think I’m overstating this, read on.  It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think that we are going to soon be “sustained” right into starvation via Agenda 21.

  • The European Union is in the process of criminalizing all seeds that are not “registered”.  This means that the centuries-old practice of saving seeds from one year to the next may soon be illegal.
  • Collecting rainwater is illegal in many states, and regulated in other states.  The United Nations, waving their overworked banner of “sustainability” is scheming to take over control of every drop of water on the globe.  In some countries, people who own wells are now being taxed and billed on the water coming from those sources.  Nestle has admitted that they believe all water should be privatized so that everyone has to pay for the life-giving liquid.
  •  Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “food code”) is a global set of standards created by the CA Commission, a body established by a branch or the United Nations back in 1963. As with all globally stated agendas, however, CA’s darker purpose is shielded by the feel-good words.  As the US begins to fall in line with the “standards” laid out by CA, healthful, nutritious food will be something that can only be purchased via some kind of black market of organically produced food.
  • Regulations abound in the 1200 page Food Safety Modernization Act that has put many small farmers out of business, while leaving us reliant on irradiated, chemically treated, genetically-modified “food”.

In the face of this attack on the agrarian way of life, the single, most meaningful act of resistance that any individual can perform is to use the old methods and grow his or her own food. Big banks are betting AGAINST the consumer and investing large sums of money in Big Agri before predicted shortages raise prices even more dramatically.

It’s time to become a producer instead of a consumer.

I often write about producing instead of merely consuming and in no subject is that more important than food. Growing your own food wields many weapons.

  • You are preserving your intelligence by refusing to ingest food doused in chemicals.  The pesticides that are liberally sprayed on food crops have been proven to lop off IQ points.
  • You are nourishing your body by feeding yourself real food.  Real food, unpasteurized, un-irradiated, with all of the nutrients intact, will provide you with a strong immune system and lower your risk of many chronic diseases.  As well, you won’t be eating the toxic additives that affect your body detrimentally.
  • You are not participating in funding Big Food, Big Agri, and Big Pharma when you grow your own food. Every bite of food that is NOT purchased via the grocery store is representative of money that does NOT go into the pockets of these companies who are interested only in their bottom lines. Those industries would be delighted if everyone was completely reliant on them.
  • You are not susceptible to control mechanisms and threats.  If you are able to provide for yourself, you need to give no quarter to those who would hold the specter of hunger over your head.  You don’t have to rely on anyone else to feed your family.

The ultimate act of rebellion is to feed yourself.

Consider every bite of food that you grow for your family to be an act of rebellion.

  1. If you live in the suburbs, plant every square inch of your yard.  Grow things vertically.  Use square foot gardening methods.  Make lovely beds of vegetables in the front yard.  Extend your growing seasons by using greenhouses and cold frames.  This way you can grow more than one crop per year in a limited amount of space.   Use raised bed gardening techniques like lasagna gardening to create rich soil.  If you have problems with your local government or HOA, go to the alternative media and plead your case in front of millions of readers.  We’ve got your back! Here are some tips for stealth gardening.
  2. If you live in the city or in an apartment, look into ways to adapt to your situation.  Grow a container garden on a sunny balcony, and don’t forget hanging baskets.  Grow herbs and lettuce in a bright window.  Set up a hydroponics system in a spare room (but look out for the SWAT team – they like to come after indoor tomato growers!)  Go even further and look into aquaponics. Create a little greenhouse with a grow light for year-round veggies.  Sprout seeds and legumes for a healthy addition to salads. Don’t forget community gardens either – they’re a great way to grow food and meet others with your interests. Here are some other tips for gardening without a yard.
  3. If you live in the country, go crazy.  Don’t just plant a garden – plant fields!  Grow vegetables and grains. Grow herbs, both culinary and medicinal.  Learn to forage if you have forests nearby.  Learn to use old-fashioned methods of composting, cover crops and natural amendments to create a thriving system.
  4. Raise micro-livestock.  The micro-livestock option may not work for everyone, but if you can, provide for some of your protein needs this way.  Raise chickens, small goats, and rabbits, for meat, eggs, and dairy.  If you are not a vegetarian, this is one of the most humane and ethical ways to provide these things for your family.  Be sure to care well for your animals and allow them freedom and natural food sources – this is far better than the horrible, nightmare-inducing lives that they live on factory farms.
  5. Use only heirloom seeds. We get all our seeds here. With heirloom seeds, you can save your seeds.  Learn the art of saving seeds from one season to the next.  Different seeds have different harvesting and storage requirements.
  6. Go organic.  Learn to use natural soil enhancers and non-toxic methods of getting rid of pests.  Plan it so that your garden is inviting to natural pollinators like bees and butterflies.  If you wouldn’t apply poison to your food while cooking it, don’t apply it to your food while growing it.
  7. Be prepared for some backlash.  The day may come when you face some issues from your municipal government.  Be prepared for this by understanding your local laws and doing your best to work within that framework. If you cannot work within the framework, know what your rights are and refuse to be bullied.  Call upon those in the alternative media who will sound the alarm.  Every single garden that comes under siege is worth defending. A Florida family finally won the right to garden in their front yard after years of harassment.
  8. Learn about permaculture.  Instead of buying pretty flowering plants for your yard, landscape with fruit trees (espaliering is a technique that works well in small spaces), berry bushes, and nut trees.  Permaculture can provide long-term food sources for your family.
  9. For the things you can’t grow yourself, buy local.  Especially if space is limited, you may not be able to grow every bite you eat by yourself.  For everything you can, buy local!  Buy shares in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Visit your farmer’s market.  Shop at roadside stands.  Join a farming co-op.  Support agriculture in your region to help keep local farms in business.  (One note about farmer’s markets:  Some farmers markets allow people to sell produce that originates at the same wholesalers from which the grocery stores buy their produce.  I always try to develop a relationship with the farmers from whom I buy, and I like to know that what I’m buying actually came from their fields and not a warehouse.)
  10. Learn to preserve your food.  Again, go back to the old ways and learn to save your harvest for the winter.  Water bath canningpressure canning, dehydrating, and root cellaring are all low-tech methods of feeding your family year-round. Not only can you preserve your own harvest, but you can buy bushels of produce at the farmer’s market for a reduced price and preserve that too. Learn how to cook and preserve your fresh in-season produce here.  Learn all about food preservation in this 4-books-in-one guide. (My canning book is included.)

There is a food revolution brewing.

People who are educating themselves about Big Food, Big Agri, and the food safety sell-outs at the FDA are disgusted by what is going on. They are refusing to tolerate these attacks on our health and our lifestyles.

Firing a volley in this war doesn’t have to be bloody.  Resistance can begin as easily a planting one seed in a pot. It’s time to go to battle and declare your independence with a spade in one hand and some seeds in the other.

Mises Institute: Gun Laws and Decentralization: Lessons from “Constitutional Carry”

José Niño at the Mises Institute writes Gun Laws and Decentralization: Lessons from “Constitutional Carry”.

Few political movements can boast of success like the firearms movement in the United States. Often overlooked is how before the 1980s there was no concept of licensed, let alone unlicensed, concealed carry in the overwhelming majority of the country. The sole exception was Vermont, which through an idiosyncratic state supreme court decision in 1903 has had unlicensed carry for over a century. “Vermont Carry,” the concept of unlicensed concealed carry, would be the Holy Grail for Second Amendment advocates for up to a century.

In the intervening decades, in large part motivated by notable transgressions on the right to bear arms during the 1930s and 1960s, activists took to using gradualist methods in their efforts to relax gun control laws at the state level. Starting in the late 1970s, Georgia kicked off the modern licensed carry movement after it joined states like Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Washington in enacting some form of licensed concealed carry. Soon thereafter, states began adopting licensed carry one by one, and by the twenty-first century, most of the nation had some form of licensed concealed carry. 

At first, the idea of unlicensed carry seemed like a quixotic prospect only odd states like Vermont were capable of adopting. However, the dam broke after Alaska ended America’s century-long unlicensed carry dry spell by signing its own constitutional carry bill into law in 2003. An even more pronounced momentum shift took place in 2010 after then Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1108, Arizona’s constitutional carry bill. From there, a wave of states have followed suit in making constitutional carry the law of the land.

Constitutional carry’s success is not a coincidence. It reflects a concerted effort by many disaffected gun owners who realized the federal government was not responding to their demands to scale back infringements on gun ownership. Rather than engage in the pie-in-the-sky federal campaigns that the average conservative organization would generally be involved in throughout the post–World War II era, many gun owners shifted their political sights toward state legislatures.

Indeed, there is something to be said about Barack Obama’s occupancy of the White House serving as a lightning rod for gun owners at the state level. At the time, many gun owners were thoroughly spooked by Obama’s campaign promises to enact gun control legislation. Their fears became more pronounced when the Obama administration pushed for a far-reaching gun control package in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

Although Obama’s gun control desires never came to pass, gun owners became sufficiently motivated to not only take action against his gun control attempt at the federal level but to shift their attention toward the state level. Several creative Second Amendment organizations picked up on the grassroots dissatisfaction of the Tea Party and leveraged that energy for state-level projects such as constitutional carry. By the time Obama left office in 2016, there were eleven states with constitutional carry as law.

Constitutional carry’s momentum maintained its course in the Trump era. Five states—New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kentucky—passed constitutional carry legislation of their own when Donald Trump was in office, thus showing signs of a movement that has a life of its own and a willingness to press forward regardless of the partisan winds blowing in DC.

Presently, there are eighteen constitutional carry states, following Utah and Montana deciding to quickly pass said legislation in the opening weeks of the Biden administration. Furthermore, states such as Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas are seeking to jump on the legislative bandwagon. From the looks of it, the concept of lawful individuals carrying firearms without a license is not going away any time soon.

Undoubtedly, the level of polarization present in the US can be leveraged in a positive direction. Large swathes of red states are filled with “deplorables” who have no love lost for both Democrats and Republicans in DC. One way they could poke DC in the eye is by passing legislation such as constitutional carry.

Contrary to what the promoters of traditional politics say, political confrontation can yield positive results. When states start taking matters into their own hands and buck prevailing trends emanating from DC, Americans can carve out their own “freedom domains,” if you will, where they can enjoy particular freedoms other states and the federal government would generally deprive them of.

In turn, when enough states adopt niche policies like constitutional carry, lagging states and the federal government alike will get the message that they are out of touch with the policy wants of large portions of America. At the same time, America is witnessing an ever-expanding Second Amendment sanctuary movement, with similar actors using local means to push back against gun control. Dissatisfaction is high and people are beginning to express it in a concrete, political form. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and sufficient pressure from below could be the wake-up call federal lawmakers need in order to act on their constituents’ demands.

Pulling a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” likely won’t bring about any meaningful political change in a gridlocked Congress. Perhaps real political reforms will be the product of frequent visits to one’s respective state legislatures instead. Getting acquainted with state politics—something many politically active Americans have neglected to do in our federally obsessed political culture—is the first step in casting aside the ossified strategies of yesteryear.

Meaningful reforms will not come from DC but rather state legislatures and lower levels of government that are more prone to yield to grassroots pressure.