I see lots of posters and stickers in the various urban areas I frequent, but this one, proclaiming that “legit is dead,” really caught my attention. I can’t say for sure what the sign’s creator meant by it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better fulfillment of Simon and Garfunkel’s lyric:

The words of the prophets are written on subway walls, and tenement halls.

All things “legit” are about to be bled dry.

THE SITUATION

Lots of other people are covering the details of this, so I’ll limit myself to a summary:

The governments of the West have been surviving on printed money for forty years or more. They have promised pensions, old age benefits, welfare, disability, medicine, endless schooling, unemployment checks and much more. Over that same time, they have, overall, barely raised taxes.

This would be an impossible situation if not for free money coming off the presses. The problem is that these monetary systems are unsustainable by nature and their end seems to be approaching.

When money finally breaks, taxation will get vicious. The rulers will have no other choice. None.

DID IT BEFORE, WILL DO IT AGAIN

This situation is not new, of course, except for the details. The same thing happened in the late Roman Empire. The rulers tried all sorts of taxation schemes, but one of their last big ones was to tie the workers to the land, and then tax the landowners based on the number of workers. Since Rome was very good at controlling land, they were able to pull this off.

As a result, a lot of productive people ran away from Rome (to the Goths, Visigoths, Vandals, etc.), and serfdom began for those who did not run away. Here’s how historian R.M. Adams describes it:

By the 5th Century, men were ready to abandon civilization itself to escape the fearful load of taxes.

That is precisely what is heading down the road toward us.

And, of course, the rulers of the West have already taken draconian actions when they felt the need; constitutions be damned.

In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt stole the gold of America because he was desperate and because he could. Most of it was in safe deposit boxes and he had enough obedient policemen and IRS officers to pull it off.

This is already happening in Greece. Lots of people are saying “the Greeks are irrational welfare cases, rioting and burning because their checks are in danger.” That is false. It may be true for some of them, but not all of them. (We’re talking about millions of people here, so any single verdict applied to them all is irrational and deceptive.)

Some Greeks are being forced to pay for the right to work. The gold of the Greek treasury is ready to be taken away (this may be underway already). You won’t see this on TV, but if you look, you’ll find out that it is true. Many Greeks are now hungry. And there is one fact underlying it all: The Greek people are being taxed to repay stupid bets made by international banks.

Oh… and they now have an unelected banker serving as their Prime Minister. Hitler had better democratic standing than this guy, for goodness’ sake.

Yeah, it CAN happen to a modern democracy. It just did.

LEGIT IS LOW-HANGING FRUIT

When push comes to shove, rulers will grab for what’s already under their control. And the things they control are those which have obediently submitted to the ruler’s control. In other words, those things which are “legit.”

Activities that are certified, registered, regulated and obedient are low-hanging fruit to a ruler. So, that’s where they go first.

Sure, the various government bosses will protect their corporate boss friends, but all those millions of corporate employees will remain fair game. It is fast and painless to collect taxes from the corporate worker – everything they do goes through approved, controlled channels.

Regardless of what you learned in school, governments in duress always revert to conquest and confiscation, and confiscation begins with things that are already under their control.

WHAT TO DO?

I happen to have a friend who is a well-known financial commentator. For some time he has been concerned about this subject, and I don’t think he’d mind me summarizing some of the things we’ve discussed:

  • For small holders, silver is probably the best option for asset protection. It is less likely to be seized and a working man can pick up an ounce or two (with cash) while driving home on payday.
  • Mining shares are great, but the stockholder should possess the certificates proper and/or must be ready to pull out before exchange mechanisms are closed down. Such a shutdown will not happen near the beginning of a crisis – it would be a very serious emergency measure, and dangerous for the bosses – but it may happen later in the process. So, if things get bad, get all of your assets under your personal control.
  • For large holders, the available options will shrink. Physical gold is prime, but you have to control it yourself. The powers that be are quite capable of seizing gold in safe deposit boxes.
  • For businesses, holding cash in multiple currencies and locations (US, UK, EU, Hong Kong, Moscow) will probably be the best option. That way, they can get out of the most dangerous places quickly and keep moving their cash to the safest place.
  • Alternative financial systems like Bitcoin, Pecunix, Voucher Safe, Web Money, etc. will increase in importance as the crisis proceeds.

THE BOISTEROUS & THE OBEDIENT

Holding land in chaotic times can be a good option, but, being immobile, it is easy to tax. You’ll have to know your area and your neighbors. This is where the boisterous/obedient distinction becomes important.

There are a lot of rural places in the US and Canada where real estate taxes are low and will have to remain low, because the majority of the owners can handle no more… and where the taxpayers are close to the county officials.

The insulated big city mayor will do worse things than the rural county commissioner who is also a farmer and lives on the same rural route as fifteen similar farmers. If this man jacks up the rates, his neighbors will come knocking on his door.

City property will likely be affected the same way: In boisterous places, where the residents are able to assert their will, things may equalize at some livable level. If people confront the cops who live in their neighborhoods and demand that they serve them, not the bosses, the working people of that city will have a chance to survive with some dignity. In “obedient” cities, they will be taxed into a new serfdom.

Again, take a look at what is happening now in Greece. Read up on what happened at Rome’s end. This is our future, whether it be in months, years, or decades.

We do NOT have a magical dispensation that makes us immune from history.

Free-Man’s Perspective – If you enjoyed reading today’s Global Speculations piece, subscribe to Paul Rosenberg’s monthly dispatch on the important things of life: virtue, courage, science, art, history, philosophy and personal growth. The things we end up thirsting for once we look up from our work and investments. Subscribe today and get special introductory rate of $9.99 a month.