by Jeff Berwick: Who’s
the Real Criminal?
I am back home
in Mexico after nearly three weeks in Argentina and very happy to
be here. Home is where your heart is and for me that is right here
in Southern Mexico. I’m a believer that there is a “right” place
for everyone in the world… and it just so happens that rarely
are you lucky enough to be born in that place so it is well worth
taking the time to look for it.
My search took
my whole life and a devoted five year trip that encompassed 100
countries. In the end there were two outright winners, Thailand
and Mexico. Although there were many other places that I’d also
have absolutely no problem living for at least a few years, including
Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Paraguay and Japan just
to name a few. In actuality, there are not many places I outright
dislike and would not want to live. These include Canada, the US,
the UK, Australia, Bolivia, El Salvador and Russia.
But the point
is, if you haven’t found your place yet you should keep looking.
I had one friend from Vancouver who would regularly visit New York.
In Vancouver nothing ever seemed to go right for him but every single
time he visited NYC it was like all the doors opened for him, beautiful
girls came to him, opportunities fell in his lap. I told him, “you’ve
found your place”. You know it because everything seems to flow
with the greatest of ease. This is how it is for me in Mexico…
I am so in tune with the vibe here that anything I want or need
comes to me. In places where you are out of tune with your surroundings
the things you want and need are repelled by you.
If you haven’t
found your place yet, keep looking.
INSANITY OF THE WAR ON DRIED FLOWERS
A big part
of the vibe or energy of a place comes from its local criminal gang,
the government, and their random, illogical deeming of what is perfectly
allowed and what can be punishable by kidnapping or death.
This was reinforced
on my most recent trip. In northern Argentina every single store
sells “coca y bica”. These are coca (cocaine) leaves and sodium
bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda). The locals like to
chew large bunches of the leaves stuffed in to their cheek like
a squirrel would do… and they add some “bica” to activate
the leaves. It is a well known digestive and many chew or drink
the leaves in a tea after meals.
New at the
Salta airport is a “drug sniffing” dog. I was unhappily surprised
to see this sign of the drug war. For the most part Argentina has
stayed away from this stupid war on dried flowers but the ludicrousity
of it all was juxtaposed when one man who had just finished stuffing
his cheek full of coca leaves knelt down to pet the dog as he playfully
In the US that
perfectly peaceable transaction would have required a SWAT team
and that man would be kidnapped into slavery (what else do you call
involuntary servitude?) for years if not decades.
see the stupidity of it all when you travel. In Japan being caught
with even 0.1 gram of the healthy, mind-expanding herb marijuana
can get you 5 years in a cage and extortionate fines of up to half
a million dollars. Yet, you can buy psychedelic magic mushrooms
at almost any street vendor shop – perfectly legally in Tokyo
for just a few yen.Probably the worst part of it all, as with almost
all government enforced programs, is that the consequences of the
actions are often the exact opposite of what was intended. The supposed
intention of the “war on drugs” is to reduce “drug” use. Well, after
40 years of the “war on drugs”, which was instituted by Richard
Nixon, who had Elvis Presley anointed “Federal Agent at Large”,
drug use has only increased. Even the Federal Agent at Large in
charge of the War on Drugs, Elvis Presley, died from drug abuse
(admittedly, mostly prescription drugs which are in fact far more
dangerous than dried flowers).
of the Free-man’s
Perspective recently wrote:
chief… smugglers of our day are the drug lords, bringing cocaine
and heroin into the United States and Europe. Because these products
are so strongly forbidden, their price has risen astronomically
(cocaine is not much harder to produce than sugar) and the people
involved in the trade have become very rich… rich enough to engage
in an arms race with the anti-drug police of the Western
states. The more the arms race escalates, the more deadly both sides
some perspective on this, consider that cocaine and heroin were
fully legal in the United States before the First World War. There
was no forbidden trade, no stunningly rich narcotics traffickers,
no assassination squads, no depletion of the national treasuries,
no one in jail for drug offenses, and an addiction rate no higher
than the one that now exists.”
“El Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, ranked
701st on Forbes’ yearly report of the wealthiest men alive, and
worth an estimated $1 billion, officially thanked United States
politicians for making sure that drugs remain illegal. According
to one of his closest confidants, he said, “I couldn’t have gotten
so stinking rich without George Bush, George Bush Jr., Ronald Reagan,
even El Presidente Obama, none of them have the cajones to stand
up to all the big money that wants to keep this stuff illegal. From
the bottom of my heart, I want to say, Gracias amigos, I owe my
whole empire to you.”
The US Government
currently has El Chapo high on their list of most wanted, dead or
alive. For Mexico’s sake, they better hope that El Chapo is never
captured or killed… that would enter Mexico into a massive battle
for his territory… something that the US Government is well aware
of. The US Government has been trying to destabilize Mexico for
years, from planting Swine Flu here to having the White House running
guns directly to the narco-traficantes in Mexico.
“war on drugs” isn’t about stopping the usage of drugs. It’s about
the continually taking away of our liberties and as a way to further
enslave the public in prison camps.
a few more weeks in Argentina it is readily apparent that things
continue to get worse and worse as communist, Cristina Kirchner,
continues to destroy the country. Most gas stations are out
of gas on a very regular basis. Line-ups for ATMs can go down
the block at certain times of the day as people try to withdraw
their 1,000 peso per day maximum limit (about $200). And just
while I was there they instituted all sorts of inane capital controls
allowing Argentines to use their debit cards when outside of the
country… and they instituted a tax on sushi… surely taxing imported
tuna will save the disastrous socialist government!
As well, they
continue to not allow the importing of certain things such as Apple
iPhones… to protect the very important Argentine cell phone manufacturers
like… well… I don’t think there are any. So, instead of
Argentines having access to new technology even the upper class
walk around with 1997 era mobile phones.
than comment on it myself, a good friend and TDV subscriber, V.T.,
who previously lived in the communist Soviet bloc, then lived in
Canada for a number of years and has lived in Buenos Aires for the
last year reported in with his thoughts:
is quite fascinating to be on the ground and watch how the socialist-fascist
psychopath politicians are destroying again this beautiful country…
Energy shortages, currency controls, import restrictions, you name
an evil and Cristina and the cohorts are doing it, except soccer
that the province of Mendoza is the last producing province to revoke Yacimientos
Petrolíferos Fiscales’ (YPF) – concessions in the country,
I expect a few nasty things to trickle down. First, YPF is taking
the governments to court stating that they honored all their work
commitments (which, speaking to local YPF people it seems to be
true) and that this will take time. The actual issue is that, due
to a perceived and artificial growth, more energy is needed and
the government is bankrupt and can’t buy more oil, so they’re trying
to turn the screw on the international companies.
for now, YPF is not allowed to produce oil. I see ahead SERIOUS
diesel and gasoline shortages, which in turn will add to the general
discomfort and social unrest and to a further slowing of the economy
since the tracks wouldn’t move (talking about increasing exports
using only track to move the stuff, there is no railroads to bring
the products to the ports!).
there is an increasing noise about Argentina nationalizing YPF’s
assets… People here are saying that the government doesn’t have
the money (which is correct) for such a bold move. In addition,
even if Argentina would do such a stupid thing, WHAT are they going
to do with concessions? They don’t have the expertise nor the money
to get the stuff to the refineries. I don’t think, personally,
that anything dramatic will happen, but meanwhile, I’m making sure
that my driver’s company is stocking up on fuel so I can travel
without too many commotions (will we be attacked while driving because
we have fuel?) and watch the locals suffering for lack of transportation
(I forgot to mention the weekly subways’ strikes, asking for increased
wages to protect against the rampant inflation: 25-35%, and going…).
Argentina still caps the oil and gas prices and make the life of
the explorers and producers an inferno…To top it off, it seems
that late in 2011, ExxonMobil chairman came to visit the Energy
and Planning ministers (the company being already committed to spend
in Argentina many billions of dollars in gas and oil shale) to try
to reason with them and he was shown the door and sent home, with
some nasty comments… Meanwhile, the industrial output in January
and February fell, and now, as far as inflation goes, Argentina
has the second fastest inflation rate in the world (after Venezuela).
The journey of Cristina’s economic model continues…
estate, especially in Buenos Aires, is, from practical stand point,
paralyzed. Transactions fell 15% in January and 15% in February,
basically due to currency controls imposed by Cristina as soon as
she won the elections in October (more on that below) and the sales
plunged 41% since October. Property values have risen in the last
decade, providing more stable returns than the Argentine dollar
bonds, which posted annual losses four times in the past decade.
Because of the currency controls, potential buyers are struggling
to get dollars and the sellers are reluctant to lower the prices,
preferring rather to pull the properties off the market; they do
that because they want to use real estate as a protection against
inflation. Out of about 1,000 properties for sale or rent with one
of the real estate agencies, only 10 owners accepted pesos (how
is that as a sign for Argentina’s health?). Some buyers are
turning to the unregulated “blue market” to get dollars, where they
have to pay almost 5 pesos for one dollars, while the official exchange
rate is 4.20 to 4.30. For me, this is good, since I’m exchanging
my dollars in pesos to pay for my living expenses. How long
will this situation last? My prediction is by the end of this year,
the latest mid next year, will see another 2001/2002 (currency collapse)
and I’m looking forward to buy real estate then.
controls, along with the import restrictions, are really, in my
opinion, putting the last nail in the coffin…There are SO MANY
stupid things this government is doing, that there is no other label
than sociopaths! These days, they don’t allow anyone to withdraw
more than 1,000 pesos a day from the ATM (they now have even frozen
Argentinians’ debit cards when they go to Chile to buy stuff that’s
significantly cheaper or “normal” stuff that’s not available in
Argentina…Cristina’s daughter made the comment that “importing
all those gadgets would hurt Argentina’s economy”! ). On one hand,
one might make a case for the poor locals, but on the other hand,
WHY doesn’t the government want as many of my dollars as possible
to get into Argentina? Besides that, the facts are not stopping
here…My experience is that, having a pesos and a dollars bank
accounts, is like that: if I want to wire dollars from other places
into my dollar account here, they’d automatically be exchanged into
pesos and I would have to get AFIP’s (Argentine IRS) approval to
get (at least) part of my initial dollars back as dollars. Aha!
So they want my dollars in, but I need to get permission to have/use
them…now I get it…Old memories (from my Soviet bloc days) come
In my last
trip to Argentina (“Don’t
Cry for Argentina“) I stated that a Argentine peso collapse
was imminent. V.T. is now predicting basically the same.
What will that
mean for Argentina? Nobody knows exactly. But if the
government can be removed from every facet of Argentine economic
life then very quickly the gas and ATM lines would fade away, a
flood of new products from around the world would enter into Argentina,
prices for a time would be very cheap (and good for building a house…
hint hint) if you had your savings in anything but the Argentine
be chaos in Argentina? Perhaps some outbreaks in Buenos Aires.
The majority of the country is farmland. And the Argentine
peso has collapsed and become worthless five times in the last forty
years so if this comes as a surprise to anyone in the country then
they deserve what is coming to them.
NEED THE GOVERNMENT FOR ROADS!
I was recently
accosted by a brainwashed statist in Toronto, Kanada, who seemed
to think he had me cornered on the perfect argument for why we need
traffic lights!” he shouted, flailing his arms in the air.
them?” I responded.
“We need traffic
lights, you have to admit that!” he said, smuggly as though he had
just completed a deft checkmate against Garry Kasparov.
“I don’t know.
I don’t know that we need traffic lights,” I responded,
honestly. “I’ve been to many places where they don’t use them and
things work fine… in fact, I prefer it. Nothing is so soul draining
as sitting for minutes at a red light when there is no other traffic
around for miles,” I continued.
we need traffic lights!” he stammered, “And who is going to do it
if government doesn’t!”
Well, I have
just returned from another fair sized city, Salta, Argentina, with
a population of about half a million. There are hardly any traffic
lights in the entire city. There are no stop signs. People just
go when they can go and don’t when they cannot. And it works fine.
I didn’t see any accidents, didn’t hear one car honk or see any
signs of “road rage”. That road rage, by the way, is caused by the
thousands of rules that the slaves are forced to adhere to… so
when one slave doesn’t submit to one of the rules, the other slaves
quickly attack them for being less subjucated than themselves.
with the government in charge of “education”, your average person
cannot even figure out the most basic of math questions, much less
remember the leviathan of rules and regulations they are supposed
to adhere to. Your average youth in the western world today is someone
like this girl thanks to her years of indoctrination and dumbing
down, after all:
To be fair
to her though, she did state that she was just “guessimating”.
this a few times over the last few months but after my most recent
trip to Cafayate and Doug’s
Gultch it has become quite clear that it doesn’t meet everyone’s
particular needs or capabilities. It certainly is not “cheap” by
most people’s standards… and not everyone is interested in a golf,
polo and wine lifestyle.
So, we’ve given
more thought to starting our own dollar vigilante expat community.
We are looking at a number of interesting locations in some very
free areas… many on or near a beach. So we thought we’d ask you.
Would you be interested in a TDV expat community somewhere in the
You can answer
the poll here on Facebook.
The main points
about our particular expact community would include things like:
- Price (cheap)
- In as free
a country/region as possible
- Warm weather
- Near the
- Very good
high speed internet access
- Highly self-sufficient
(grow most of our own food, supply our own power)
when we get down to choosing a spot we’ll be asking you what you
are looking for as well… these are just a few of our ideas for
now. You’ll be surprised to hear a few of the countries we have
with permission from The
Berwick [send him mail]
is an anarcho-capitalist freedom fighter and Chief Editor of the
libertarian, Austrian economics grounded newsletter, The
Dollar Vigilante. The Dollar Vigilante focuses on strategies,
investments and expatriation opportunities to survive & prosper
during and after the US dollar collapse.