GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – “Is he okay?”
“We don’t know yet.”
“But he’s at home?”
“Yes, the doctor said there was nothing they could do.”
Ranching, especially out here, far from hospitals… doctors… or even roads… is a risky business. Yesterday, first thing in the morning, came word that one of our cowboys almost died.
Makers and Takers
When we left you yesterday, Dear Reader, you were squirming and squealing… on the edge of your chair, eager to tell us what we all know:
Yes, there is an “us versus them” that is real… and matters. But it’s got nothing to do with Republicans – Democrats, Black – White, Protestant – Catholic, U.S. – Mexico, or any of the other regular categories.
Instead, it’s the oldest two groups in the world – those who earn wealth… and those who take it away from them.
As you know, there are only two ways to get what you want in life – honestly and dishonestly. Either you provide a service or a product, willingly… most often, your time… in exchange for something else. Or, you hold up a liquor store… rip off customers… or get a claptrap giveaway from the feds.
Over time, in a stable political system, more and more people figure out how to game the system, using the feds’ muscle to get what they want. That’s why they’re willing to spend millions of dollars to win an election; they know it will pay off.
And it’s why corporate lobbying has become such a big business. And why Washington has become so much richer than the rest of the nation. And it’s why we have a $22 trillion national debt. And it’s why we have wars on drugs, tariffs, poverty… wars in Afghanistan and hundreds of U.S. military bases around the world.
Just follow the money; it leads to some segment of the Deep State and its cronies.
And it’s also why we have a fake money system, and a central bank, that steals trillions of dollars from the middle classes and shifts it to the insiders and the elite.
Schemers and Dreamers
Contrary to what Warren Buffett believes, the rich didn’t get so rich by participating in great American enterprise. Over the last 30 years, stocks have risen twice as fast as the economy. That didn’t happen by accident. Instead, the fix was in. And here is what it produced, financial writer Nomi Prins:
The top 1% of Americans now take home, on average, more than 40 times the incomes of the bottom 90%. And if you head for the top 0.1%, those figures only radically worsen. That tiny crew takes home more than 198 times the income of the bottom 90%. They also possess as much wealth as the nation’s bottom 90%…
But the real “us vs. them” is not the “people versus the rich”… it is the honest public versus the takers… the crooks and chislers… scoundrels and scalawags… the think tanks, policy advisors, contractors, GS16s, unions, trade associations, Mnuchins, Abramses, Pences, Flynns, Clintons, Powells, Bernankes, Gores, and on and on… schemers and dreamers… power junkies and jackasses from both parties…
Our job here at the Diary is just to try to connect the dots, not to improve things. But it would be easy, in theory, to get the drop on these rascals: Simply, cut the federal budget. But that’s not going to happen. And you know why. For the same reason the Fed is not going to “normalize” interest rates: because the insiders control the budget and monetary policy.
We’ll come back to this subject often in this Diary. We believe it explains how America came to be what it is today… and why it is impossible to stop the coming fiscal disaster.
But today, let’s finish our story.
Someone You Can Trust
“We were rounding up cattle,” explained the foreman. “I don’t know what happened but Natalio’s horse – you know, he was riding PomPom (a horse that Elizabeth refused to ride because it was so uncontrollable) – suddenly spooked. He reared up and fell over on him.”
Natalio is 63 years old. No one is more experienced with horses and cattle. He has worked with them all his life.
Natalio works with the cattle on the ranch
“Natalio is someone you can trust,” explained the foreman. “If I want to be sure something is done right, I just give it to Natalio.
“He started out here more than 40 years ago. We all started together. We didn’t have any machines back then. Just horses and mules. And the cows were wild and roamed up in the mountains. We’d go up on horseback. But after a while the horses couldn’t go any farther. So we’d go on foot and spend weeks rounding up cattle, sleeping out in the open… with nothing but our knapsacks and saddle blankets. It was a hard life.
“The young cowboys can’t even imagine what it was like. They come to work now on their motorcycles. And all the cattle are down in the valley where they’re easy to manage. No use bothering with the mountain cattle. The meat is too tough; no one would buy them.
“It was a different world back then.”
It seems to us that it is still a very different world. The young gauchos come to work on motorcycles, but they spend their days on horseback, pretty much as they always did.
They rope and wrestle… rebuild stone fences… and clean out the irrigation ditches with shovels. And it is still dangerous.
Horses are unpredictable. Cows can suddenly attack. Storms come up suddenly, sometimes with dust blowing at 40 mph… sometimes with freezing-cold winds and snow in the mountains.
“Natalio’s father died up in there,” continued our foreman, pointing up to the mountains to the west of the house.
“That was an accident, too. He was up there chasing cattle. He was on a mule. Usually, they’re more reliable than horses when you’re up in the rocks.
“But somehow, he fell or his mule slipped. And he broke his leg. Nobody knew where he was. All we knew – I was a child at the time – was that the mule came back and he didn’t. And when we went out to look for him the next day, we found him. He had frozen to death. It gets so cold up there.”
We rode over on horseback to see the invalid, who was staying with his daughter in a mud house near the school. We were surprised to see Natalio come out, limping slightly, but still walking, with the usual lump of cocoa leaves in his jaw.
“How are you, old fellow,” we asked?
“Ohhh… so-so,” came the answer.
Natalio told us what happened.
“I just am not as fast as I used to be. The horse was falling on me. I tried to roll out of the way, but he caught me on my side.”
Natalio motioned to his left side.
“All banged up. And fractured ribs. The doctors say they can’t do anything about them. They just have to heal. I was hoping to get back to work next week. But things don’t heal as fast as they used to.
“I think it is time to retire.”
Editor’s Note: Today, Bill shares more photos from Gualfin.
Bill surveys the cattle
A gaucho crafts mud bricks at Gualfin
INVESTING INSIGHT: GOLD IS NOT AN INVESTMENT
By E.B. Tucker, Editor, Strategic Investor
Gold is not an investment asset… it’s money.
I showed Diary readers on Monday why gold miners are an attractive speculation right now.
But physical gold is different. Since it’s easily exchangeable into any currency in the world, it’s the world’s safest form of money.
It’s also the only way to prevent the government from having total control over your financial life.
Today, nearly every transaction is tracked by the government. Every time you withdraw money, deposit money, buy something, sell something, trade a stock, cash a check, or make a wire transfer, the government tracks you.
This makes it easy for the government to control and tax every aspect of your life.
Gold is the only asset outside the control of central banks like the Fed.
That’s why the Fed hates gold. It’s also why the government is making it increasingly more difficult to buy and own gold.
It’s Getting Harder to Buy Gold
During the Great Depression, the government made it illegal to own most forms of gold. President Roosevelt claimed that people “hoarding” gold were making the Great Depression worse. The penalty for not turning your gold in to the government was a $10,000 fine and 10 years in jail.
Finally, in the mid-1970s, the average American could buy gold again. Americans piled into the metal as protection from the collapsing value of the dollar.
But since the 1970s, the government has enacted a series of laws that have made owning gold more difficult, more costly, and less private:
The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 required financial institutions to help the government detect and prevent money laundering. To get around this law, some criminals laundered money by purchasing gold bullion and coins.
To help crack down on this illicit cash, the IRS created Form 8300 in 1984. It requires merchants to report certain cash transactions over $10,000. Essentially, Form 8300 forced coin dealers to comply with burdensome rules that were originally written for banks.
Then came 9/11… and the Patriot Act. Among other things, it allows the government to collect bank and credit-reporting records on Americans in the name of national security.
The Patriot Act made Form 8300 universally accessible to the government without a warrant. What used to be a tax collection tool is now available to all law enforcement. Merchants filling out Form 8300 also have to send a copy to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database.
FinCEN is a branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that collects and analyzes information about U.S. financial transactions to combat domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.
But that’s not all. Merchants also have to fill out a Suspicious Activity Report and submit it to FinCEN whenever they suspect a customer of making multiple transactions to avoid a Form 8300.
The Hobby Protection Act restricts how dealers can, or can’t, sell replica coins made from gold or silver.
The Dodd-Frank Act, passed after the 2008 financial crisis, created new reporting requirements for bullion dealers, which don’t allow smaller dealers to “hedge” the price of gold.
Recently, some state governments have gotten even more aggressive in cracking down on gold…
In 2014, the state of Minnesota required any coin dealer selling to citizens of the state to first obtain a surety bond (a promise by a third party to pay a certain amount if an obligation from the coin dealer isn’t met) before conducting business. Many dealers couldn’t comply with this rule and abandoned customers in the state altogether.
A Louisiana law prevents gold dealers from buying precious metals with cash. Now they can only write checks to selling customers. State authorities want to know about all of these check payments via a special form.
The Fed claims all these restrictive laws are in the name of safety, security, and fairness. The government says criminals use gold to avoid the banking system. But the laws rarely seem to ensnare criminals.
For average citizens, owning gold isn’t about avoiding taxes or laundering money. It’s merely about ditching the liability that comes with owning dollars.
When the government makes a law protecting something, it often ends up taking that thing away from you. For your own good, of course.
We’re likely just seeing the beginning of these laws. As the economy continues to slow, government tax revenues will suffer. When that happens, we’ll see more of an obsession with tracking – and taxing – money.
That’s why now is the time to buy gold.
– E.B. Tucker
P.S. There’s something else I’d like to share with you. It’s not an exaggeration to say it could be the single best way I know to potentially turn a meager investment into a small fortune. And before you ask, it’s not cryptos, weed stocks, or any risky options play. I can’t get into the details right now. But I’ll tell you everything tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Go here.
How’s The Upper-Middle Class Doing?
As Bill correctly pointed out, the ultra-rich have been getting even ultra richer. The middle class, meanwhile, has withered. But what about the in-between people; the so-called “upper-middle class”? Here’s how America’s “sorta rich” are doing…
Corporate America’s Debt Diet?
Corporate America has been binging on debt for a decade. With the help of historically low rates, companies have borrowed some $3 trillion over the last decade. But that mountain of debt is starting to look wobbly, and some company executives think it might finally be time to tighten their belts…
The Best Way to Hunt for Gold
Gold is the “one thing” you need in a market like this, Bill says. But what’s the best way to buy gold? How do you know you’re getting a good price? Casey Research’s E.B. Tucker shows dear readers the way…
In the mailbag, it’s “us vs. them.” Where does the mindset come from? And what can be done about it?
Bill, you left out an important element within your “us vs. them” discussion: Sports. From grade school, through high school, then college, and finally, professional sports; this learning process became a subtle means to instill the “us vs. them” paradigm into our lives. Unlike politics – wherein an individual votes for a candidate every two to four years – sports are available to all on a seasonal basis, for good reason (relaxation, entertainment, social drinking).
– Bill Z.
Bill, you’re half right… Your point is spot-on about taking from one group to give to another, and people trying to use the government’s guns to give them an advantage; but you are wrong that there isn’t a “we”… The “we” are those of us who have no power, and whatever we might believe, that is any of us who aren’t part of the Deep State.
As I have been telling anyone who will listen with every election cycle; “it’s not the ‘Right’ vs. the ‘Left’, it’s “‘us’ vs. ‘them’”… Don’t “eat the rich”, don’t “feed the poor,” abandon any of your special interests and “there ought to be a law” mentality, and instead fight the “them” by working to shrink government until it is so small that it will fit inside the Constitution.
– Joe J.
What if the “we” were “We the People,” and the “they” were “lobbyists and politicians, who like power and control, special interest, crony capitalists, the Deep State and tax lawyers”? What if “we” regained lost civil rights, freedom, and liberty and “they” lost the power to directly tax us per the 16th Amendment? This is what the FairTax Act H.R.25 does.
FAIR tax is America’s Big Solution to the many problems with the federal tax code. We want a long-term solution and not short-term tax changes that don’t fix the root problems.
– Paul L.
Laissez-faire… doing nothing or leaving alone is fine, perhaps when the system is fair and running well for the majority of people. It’s a recipe for the continuing refusal to face the issue in times like these. At times, Bill, you seem to suggest nothing can be done… that every effort leads to a worse place. Human progress might be bitty and might even evoke a hollow laugh at times, but few could argue that it has not happened.
It needs will and it needs a genuine desire to confront the tiny minority who have engineered all the wealth into their own hands. And to deny that this has not happened is to deny facts. The American Dream is a shabby lie, when the 400 richest Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. While the top 1% own 43% of all the wealth.
A country that’s unequal is headed for the same disaster that overtook France under Louis XVI or the last Tsar of Russia. It needs radical action, before that kind of event takes place.
– Richard C.
Bill’s description of the various ways governments make its middle classes poorer with various tax burdens was disheartening. I hope he’ll craft some upbeat articles on how the average man can create wealth.
– James R.
I love your ranch stories, Bill. My wife and I own a small horse boarding facility on the east side of Folsom Lake (not too far from Folsom State Prison of Johnny Cash fame) in Northern California, and we have driven cattle a few times ourselves – sometimes down Main Street in Folsom to the annual rodeo. Other times, on Big Ranches in NorCal! Real cowboy stuff. It’s fun! My wife has been riding since she was 3 years old. We are 70 now and still riding. Let us know when you’re in the area.
– Greg A.
Did You RSVP?
Today is your last chance…
Our friend E.B. Tucker is hosting a free online event tonight. In it, E.B. will show attendees a little-known technique to potentially make 10 times your money this year. You just have to know where to look…
It’s not pot stocks, cryptos, or options. Go here to find out for yourself.