Beware Friday the 13th

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Welcome to Friday the 13th. You may not know why Friday the 13th is considered such an unlucky day, but it’s worth learning about for anyone who’s concerned about protecting his assets, especially from high taxes and confiscation.

While Obama might be defeated in 2012 and a GOP win would certainly be a slight improvement over the socialist democrats, I see little difference in Democrat or Republican administrations. Only in their election-time rhetoric and the speed at which they travel down the road toward bigger government, higher taxes and national debt do they differ, and only to a slight degree. Between Bush and Obama, for example, there has been little difference in foreign policy, deficit and national debt creation or bailouts except for the identities of the favored recipients of government money. Expect no real changes even if the GOP returns to power with one of its usual champions.

Friday the 13th is like most bad dates; they all have something negative to do with politicians — usually war, street battles or theft. For example, as Americans we all know the evil meaning of April 15th each year or the December 7th attack by Japan. Before the invention of the income tax, politicians and governments stole most of their wealth from groups rather than from their entire population. Small wars and plain old outright confiscation of property on trumped-up crimes and charges were the norm.

Friday 13th gained its association with trouble from such a government enterprise in the year 1307. As today, there was an empire swamped by debt and with a desperate political leadership looking for wealth to steal. The hero in charge was King Phillip the 4th of France, who had earlier stolen most of the wealth of his Jewish subjects. After running through that money, he decided to go after the very wealthy Knights Templar, who had accumulated much wealth and, in their folly (remember this, China), had lent Phillip and the French government far more than they could ever repay.

Phillip developed a secret plan to imprison the entire order in France on Friday 13th, using trumped up charges, then steal their assets and destroy his largest creditor in the same stroke. It worked, at least to the extent that plundering can ever work. He escaped his debts to the Templars and got all of their vast real estate holdings in France — but not their portable property. They were able to secretly move their treasure out of the country, and even today people still search for the lost Templar gold.

So what does the unlucky Friday 13th and King Phillip have to do with your wealth and our modern-day and political system? Quite a bit, actually, as there are several theories about where the lost Templar wealth was hidden and how it was used. The most plausible drop-off location is Scotland. Many historians believe Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce won the Battle of Bannockburn, in the first War of Scottish Independence, largely with mounted Knights Templar.

There also is scholarly speculation that some Templars escaped to Switzerland and that remnants fought in the 1315 Battle of Morgarten with the Swiss peasants from the newly independent Swiss forest cantons. Switzerland does have a long history in the wealth protection business.

So part of the Templar gold may well be sitting in a bank vault under the Zurich Bahnhofstrasse, but suffice it to say on this Friday 13th, remember that your wealth is an easy target inside your home country whenever desperate politicians decide they need what is yours.

Ron Holland [send him mail] is a contributing editor to the Swiss Mountain Vision Newsletter and Swiss Confidential published by Appenzeller Business Press.

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