Dear American, You Are Surrounded

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      Occasionally in the past, I have received emails from readers asking me if it was time to leave America because of some new infringement on our rights.  In the past, I always responded to these emails by saying that it really depended on who the reader was. Anyone, I usually replied, who was in the securities-brokerage industry or the medical profession should start looking, because of how regulated those industries are. If on the other hand, a surfer dude just living for the next wave, would have little reason to be concerned. Things have changed so dramatically in the last 6 to 12 months that I now believe you are being irresponsible ,no matter who you are, if you do not have a bagged packed and are ready to move at a moments notice. It is not as though there is some new country, or land where the breeze blows lightly 365 days a year, and where there is no government intrusion into your life, but things could get so bad in the United States that many places may start to look like happy alternatives. The United States is a very rich country with only minor government harassment at this time. For the most part, we all have smart phones, internet connections, wear fashionable clothes and eat decent food. I now believe this situation could change at anytime. Please note: I am not saying it will change but that it could, very quickly. Folks, we are surrounded. It’s no longer the TSA harassing us at airports. It is the TSA showing up announced at a social security office. It is the TSA and unknown black clad government agents showing up at subway and train stations. Approximately a year ago, while flying out of a west coast airport a man stepped next to me and flashed a badge. He asked if he could talk to me. Totally off guard, I said “Yes.” As he directed me to the side, I noticed another agent at about a 90 degree angle to me. The first agent said they were doing random stops. He asked me where I was flying to and where I stayed in during my trip.  He asked what I was doing in the city.He asked some very strange questions. He asked me who had paid for my hotel room. I  did and told him so. He asked to see my airline ticket. Then he asked to see my ID. The partner called in my ID. He asked to look in my briefcase. We were obviously way over the line in my mind of “reasonable search.” I had a pair of jeans on a button down shirt and a blue blazer. But, I wondered what would have happened if I had said no to the briefcase search. Would they have held me on other grounds, since the Constitution didn’t seem like it meant anything to these two. I had nothing to hide, so I let them look. I had a flight to catch. Then at that point it got even weirder, they didn’t say “thank you” or “you can go now”, after looking through my briefcase. They just stood there. I took this as a technique to see if people volunteer anything. I took the opportunity to take my driver’s license back and “thank” them and proceed to leave, but as I left I pulled a Colombo on them and asked them a question. I asked them, if this was something they were doing a lot. They told me they were a unit that traveled to airports, bus stations, train stations, and get this, hotel lobbies.

It was a very odd experience that I still remember as clear as day, but in the end I chalked it up to minor harassment. It still did not increase my alarm level about the United States. But, now, in addition to these minor harassments, we have the NDAA, which allows the military on the President’s order to grab any American off the street, who is deemed to be “aiding terrorists” and hold that American until the end of the “War on Terror”, without trial or jury. And now, the DHS wants funding for more Visible Intermodal Prevention & Respons (VIPR) teams. What will these teams do? According to LaTi: As many as 25 VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention & Response) teams began patrolling train stations nationwide last summer conducting an estimated 9,300 “suspicionless” spot searches of travelers.  The agency has said the presence of officers with explosive detection dogs, radiation monitors and other devices will act as a deterrent in the nation’s busiest travel hubs…A video shot in a train station in Savanahh, Georgia, in February apparently showed TSA agents screening passengers as they stepped off a train — as opposed to the more common pre-boarding screening procedures..The TSA is planning to add an additional 12 VIPR teams across the country in 2012. As I said, we are surrounded, and still that doesn’t mean much in and of itself, other than the minor harassment, but here’s how things could get bad very fast. Serious price inflation could be only months away. It is very possible that this could result in the President putting price controls in effect at some point. Every person , who knows the first thing about price controls, knows they don’t work and only result in shortages, still presidents reach for them. President Richard Nixon put on price controls-light when he was in power. He didn’t have DHS teams available to enforce the laws, there were no VIPR teams. There was a quite toothless Price Administration Office. But still, the nation ended up with long lines for gasoline and gasoline purchases were only allowed every other day.

I fear price controls in a period when we are surrounded with all sorts of enforcement personnel tired of playing enforcement and looking for real enforcement. Unlike, during Nixon’s price controls when there were no enforcement patrols, the enforcement teams are already in place. What could this mean? If the price inflation is high enough and the price controls tight enough, shortages could quickly develop across the country, but unlike the controls during the Nixon era, you have a built in DHS bureaucracy that will want to see the controls maintained, so they can show how necessary they are, just like we have now with the Drug Enforcement Agency. And don’t think so called DC-based free market economists will save us. When Nixon put controls on, Herbert Stein, the father of neocon Ben Stein, was head of the Council of Economic Advisors. He knew that price controls would only mess up the economy, but he tells us he was caught up in the “excitement” of the moment: I had spent much of my career arguing against wage and price controls, even in World War II. And here I was, economic adviser to the President …I was an active participant in the most exciting event in the record of economic policy… Ben Bernanke has already printed a significant amount of money, but in addition, the likelihood is that at some point he will have to print huge amounts more to buy Treasury securities. There are indications that China may have already started bailing out of its U.S Treasury position. Thus, the price inflation could get very bad and the temptation to quiet the masses and put on price controls will be strong. If that happens, with the enforcers floating around, say goodbye to the good life. It will be a gray and dangerous life. Shortages will mean that black markets will develop to deliver goods to those who desire such, but it will be a very dangerous underground market, where white middle class males will find themselves in prison with teenage black underground drug dealers. You see the price controls will make it hard to get a job that pays a decent wage and some will take the risk of delivering black market milk, only to get caught by a VIPR team turned into a price control enforcement team. Soon so many will get arrested that most will just keep their head down so that they are not mistaken for an underground cigarette, milk or bread dealer. I know what that looks like. It is a dull, drab emotionally dead life. It is the soul in jail. I visited East Berlin a year before the wall came down. That’s what East Berlin looked like. That’s what America will look like if the enforcers circling us actually get real work to do. You will not want to live in America, if the enforcers get that kind of work. What are the odds? Who really knows? Perhaps, it will take a perfect storm of events, but the key is the enforcers are surrounding us now. If they are put into action, it won’t be pretty.

Be smart, have a bag packed. There will be no great place to go, but America could become a hell. Don’t think you will be safe simply by being away from a major city. Many, many during the days of Mao and Stalin died in the country side. Even if the price controls don’t come, there are other scenarios that could develop that will make the U.S. a terrible place to live. Unrest in the U.S. could lead to the shutting down of the internet, so that the protesters/’terrorists” can’t communicate. Smart cell phones might be banned, only clunky cell phones without texting capability might be allowed. Doug Casey theorizes that the U.S. is interfering in so many countries that sooner or later another terrorist attack will occur in the United States. If that does happen, then expect the enforcers to go crazy. Cell phone bans will be the least of it. I can envision America’s own version of Iraq’s Green Zone. The area from, say Congress to the White House to Dupont Circle, will be super protected for the elitists. Every one else will be on their own, though without cell phones and the internet.. Nice restaurants, fun food? Huh, hope you get food at all. Fashionable clothes? Think the Soviet Union at the height of the communist control. Anyone bitching about the DHS the way it is now has no clue. The key is that the DHS and sister enforcement organizations have us surrounded, price controls, a tiny terrorist bomb, could mean that they get down to the very serious, very ugly work. I  often wondered why more Jews didn’t leave Germany and Austria before it was to late. The movie, The Pianist, was an eye opener. It shows how many Jews didn’t understand what was happening and they were always one step to late.

Casey says: Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that it’s better to be a year too early than a minute too late. David Galland recently read They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45, by Milton Mayer. He quoted a passage in his column of last Friday. It goes a long way in explaining why Americans appear to be such whipped dogs today. They’re no different from the Germans of recent memory. For those who missed it, let me quote it: “You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ … In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’ “These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic… the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked… But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C?” The only difference is that they won’t only becoming after Jews this time. I hope none of these scenarios play out in any way, but the danger is too close for comfort. The men carrying the guns are out there, they just aren’t using them right now. If things go terribly bad, and a reasonable person has to say they could, the guns could very well be turned on us.  Start thinking, start planning, start packing, be ready.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

2012 Economic Policy Journal

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