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SOVEREIGN MAN

What you never hear about in Zimbabwe

October 18, 2010
Harare, Zimbabwe

In the late 1800s, English businessman and serial eponymist Cecil Rhodes forcibly colonized a huge chunk of southern Africa on behalf of Great Britain that became known as Rhodesia.

Like other African colonies, Rhodesia was harshly segregated. By the mid-1900s, a series of black freedom movements began spreading across the continent, and one of the Rhodesian leaders was an educated, charismatic young man named Robert Mugabe.

Like Mandela in South Africa, Robert Mugabe was imprisoned for several years, a stint that did wonders for his political credibility. Upon release from prison, and with a little help from the international community, Mugabe became Prime Minister of the country.

He governed quite reasonably for the first several years, and if he had walked away from office early on, his legacy would likely be very similar to Mandela’s.

Addicted to his love for power, though, Mugabe stuck around too long and started derailing the economy. By the time he sent his military to go fight in the Second Congo War in 1998, his country was nearly bankrupt. This gave rise to the land theft and hyperinflation for which Zimbabwe is now so renowned.

Today, Mugabe is in his mid-80s and has ruled for decades.  Despite the reputation that he has achieved as a ruthless and corrupt dictator, though, many locals still revere Mugabe for standing up to the whites and helping to win their independence.

The majority of the country, however, is ready to move on from Mugabe, and one of the leaders who has emerged is Morgan Tsvangirai (pronounced Changarai), head of Zimbabwe’s “Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

As you probably recall, Tsvangirai was himself imprisoned by Mugabe, and upon release, he too became the country’s Prime Minister through a 2008 power sharing agreement that was brokered by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

The thing is, most Zimbabweans don’t think he’s going to last. Mugabe has not honored the power sharing agreement, effectively preventing Tsvangirai from governing.  Rather than dealing with the issue directly, though, Tsvangirai has gone back to the international community for help.

This makes him look very weak in Zimbabwe, and the country’s institutions have little loyalty or respect for him.  Once Mugabe finally kicks the bucket, many locals expect a power struggle among his top lieutenants, and they don’t believe that Tsvangirai is strong enough to win.

Regardless, western media have been quick to anoint Tsvangirai as man who will lead Zimbabwe into the future, and investment funds have been even quicker to move capital into the country.

To be clear, the worst is likely over for Zimbabwe.  Mugabe already destroyed agriculture and chased the mining companies away, so the economy is now trying to find its legs. Most of the ingredients for success are there, though– a solid pool of labor, massive resource wealth, and available capital.

All Zimbabwe really needs is a reasonably functioning government, and this is the bet that foreign investors are making.  Right now it’s a fairly crowded room– there are a LOT of investors taking this bet. Given the post-Mugabe future that many locals expect, though, the bet could be painful at first.

In the long run, I think the country will succeed… but for now, it does provide an important lesson.

We often talk about the boiling frog analogy– like a frog sitting comfortably in a pot of water that’s being slowly brought to boil, people let their political leadership slowly, gradually take control over the country… until one day they realize they’ve boiled and can’t even recognize the place.

Throughout the mid-1980s and early 1990s, Zimbabwe was a clear example of the boiling frog analogy; Mugabe imposed lengthy states of emergency and frequently turned the military against his own people. In the same period, he closed schools, banned homosexuality, and began small redistribution of farmland.

Once Zimbabwe reached its boiling point, the government assumed nearly limitless authority and frequently imposed drastic changes overnight.

Perhaps the starkest example is what happened to Zimbabwe’s currency. And no, I’m not talking about the period of hyperinflation when a suitcase full of cash bought you the week’s groceries, I’m talking about what happened afterwards.

You don’t ever hear too much about this.

In early 2009, the government of Zimbabwe finally capitulated– they realized they simply couldn’t print enough zeros in order to keep up with the hourly price changes in the country… and in the blink of an eye, they did away with their currency.

Today, Zimbabwe no longer has its own currency. The country effectively deals in cash only, in foreign currencies. Merchants take whatever they can get– US dollars, euro, South African rand, etc.

When the government abandoned the currency, though, there was no warning. Anyone holding Zimbabwe dollars was robbed of their savings overnight– there was no national program to convert Zim dollars into something else, the currency simply became unusable.

Quite literally, people in Zimbabwe woke up in the morning and found whatever savings they were holding in cash and bank accounts was no longer a valid medium of exchange… and some folks lost everything.

I think there is an important lesson here: We can all observe the warning signs, and while there’s no need to rush into panicked reactions, measured preparations are critical.

As a perpetual optimist, I’m certainly not predicting the end of the world or some sort of Armageddon… but it would be irresponsible to ignore the current and future threats to our capital, our liberties, and our families’ safety.

The warning signs are there, the problems are identified, and the solutions exist. All that’s required is the will to act– to get educated about the tools that are available and put a plan together.

I’d really like to hear from you– what lessons do you see from Zimbabwe, and what sort of plan do you think is right for you and your family?

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://InvestLetters.com Roger

    The problem is that for most Americans, anything overseas can be frightening.

    When I mentioned to my wife your mention of Panama, she forwarded back to me the laundry list of vaccinations, etc required – none of which our family is even close to up to date on, and we are somewhat loath to have needles of unknown substances/side effects, stuck into us.

    That an the immense expense of foreign travel for a family of 5.

    Best,
    Roger.

  • Safariman

    Good article! I visited there two weeks in 1980…was Rhodesia then. Excellent, people lived well, no petty apartheid, the most productive farm economy in Africa. Spent a week there this past February. And they seem to be on the road to recovery.

    Destruction of currency value? Old story; has happened many times before! Do they ever learn?

  • Jsc

    With two wars ongoing – another semi-secret war in Pakistan, saber rattling in Iran – and a government here in the USA absolutely incapable of reining in either their spending or their lust for raw, naked power over every aspect of human life – the dollar must eventually collapse.

    The economy is in the cellar, we have multi TRILLION dollar deficits, and all the FED wants to do is print more money.

    Anything denominated in dollars is going to go bust. Your stocks, bonds, IRAs, Pension Accounts, saving accounts, certificates of deposit – all will be basically worthless.

    In effect – the entire population will become instant millionaires – and instant paupers because of it.

    Forget gold stocks – once the tipping point comes, those shares of ownership will be declared illegal, the actual gold confiscated and the bearers repaid in worthless greenbacks.

    Unless one has PHYSICAL gold & silver to trade in an alternate economy, having all the paper in the world isn’t going to be worth much.

    A word to the wise is sufficient…

  • http://twitter.com/doug_barbieri Douglas Barbieri

    I think the lesson to be learned is to never trust paper currency. Governments cannot devalue gold or silver. Only governments destroy economies. They want to replace Mugabe’s government with something else–maybe they just don’t need a government at all.

    • hmrhonda

      The nonexisting gold stores of the ETFs are creating a gold bubble. When it bursts, all gold holders–even those with physical gold will suffer.

  • Richard

    Lessons learned from Zim:

    I the folding paper in my wallet is currency not money and it “pays” to know the difference.

    Even well intentioned politicians can go awry and cause a great deal of long-lasting harm.

    Everything works in cycles. Observe them and properly identify their phase so as to benefit (or at least not suffer) from them.

  • Jason Martin

    Dear Simon,
    The simple lesson is clear, that any and all fiat currencies could
    simply go away as a store of value. They are nothing more than the
    stock in the confidence of the country that they represent. The U.S.
    dollar is no different.

    While I doubt that the U.S. would simply drop it’s currency like
    Zimbabwe did, it would probably replace the currency with some new
    symbolic paper that gave the masses the ‘feeling’ that their
    hard-earned value was being carried forward. Of course, the new
    currency would really have no greater value than the one just passed.
    There has been much talk of the “Amero” which might play this role,
    and might represent some value of the “North American Union”. Not an
    appealing possibility.

    In general, the Zim should stand as an example of what can happen to a
    currency when it’s managed poorly by politicians without solid fiscal
    responsibility, (sort of like the U.S. Congress and the last few
    administrations.)
    Personal protection is the order of the day!
    - JM

    • Psazava

      I agree; we are very near of the unification of Canada and Mexico with the US. It looks like the US truly needs a push in the arm to prop-up its world leadership and mainly its own stability and value of US Dollar, which most probably will be renamed “Amero”. Not a very good prospect for either Mexico or Canada.

  • Duwain

    You certainly spark the fire of historical perspective. The ability to create a Self-Directed 401(k) through an LLC owned by me is quite appealing. Locating a suitable bank in which to create the trust and park money is the next step. I may actually look into buying that seahorse farm off of Honduras.

  • Toddbystrom

    Simon – good to see you enjoying Africa. Noted that there were some negative comments on life in Cape Town even though you gave it very high rating. I do not know how anybody who has spent any time there(I have spent months on 2 separate occasions in past 4 years) could not share your enthusiasm for Cape Town as it is one of the most “comfortable” places I have ever been. I still spend more time in South America, but as I get older Cape Town will hopefully take more of my time.

    If people want to really go through a “frog boiling” experience in Zimbabwe, take a few hours to read “When the Crocodile ate the Sun”. This is a nonfictional account of a well educated, once weathy white family who overstayed their welcome in Zimbabwe. This is probably the most depressing book I have ever come across and I do not depress easily.

  • Forrest

    My comment is only indirectly related to Zimbabwe’s economy.
    Recently, I caught myself for the umpteenth time with the fleeting thought that one bright side of the catastrophes that await us is that finally people will see the error of the government’s ways. Some sense will come into the discourse. History has shown how completely wrong that notion is.
    There is plenty of evidence that Fed policy brought on the great depression, but here we go with similar policies. Nobody learned anything.
    After the disastrous results of every war, you might think our esteemed leaders would decide to give peace a chance.
    I am afraid we need to look elsewhere to justify optimism. I am optimistic by nature, but not because I think political leaders learn anything.

  • Josquin

    I was in Korea when the currency went to zero–yes, I’m old. I learned then that there are two kinds of money: #1: paper, subject to the whims of politicians, #2: the thing you take to the baker to buy a loaf of bread. Without missing a beat, the Koreans immediately agreed on #2 and left #1 to the blathering of the politicians. Zimbabwe is not alone and the United States is following in its footsteps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/frank.dobner Frank Dobner

    Hey Simon,

    I think the one lesson that this brings up for me is putting all eggs in one basket. When you do denominate your investments in one place, you are seriously at risk. This lesson comes in many different forms and layers – geographical, vehicle, industry, career, education. It seems it just is not wise to attempt to be invested in any one form.

  • pokey

    If I’m convinced hyperinflation is coming, then all savings is in gold & debts are paid off w/ dollars when they’ve become worthless. In the meantime, stockpile all the stuff I’ll need to survive while prices are reasonable

  • hmrhonda

    Beware, Americans, lest you become frogs.

  • Jamunn_1

    If you live long enough, you will experience the same political blunders. History DOES repeat itself.I lived in Brasil when the “Cruzeiro” went oblivion.Most of us understand the reasons & the effects of the political mistakes & what the cause. We can go to seminar after seminar and hear all about the diversification of ones wealth. However the “real truth” is that most of us can’t just pick up and move money to one place, live in another, work someplace else, etc etc. The real world is that MOST of us want “stability”.Stability is what the USA was all about. In South America, most of the wealthy had their money in Switzerland or the USA. This no longer exists,so the last bastion of “SAFE STABILITY” is GONE!!!! Why do you think that most of the immigrants came to AMERICA. There is no more “ICE CREAM’ to give.We can all exhaust ourselves with what shoulkd be done, but the majority is waiting for someone to promise CHANGE!! You know what that brings.The rest of the world is still HOPING that the USA figures it out. Not until someone with a pair of balls, & the backing of the MAJORITY will th SHIP get back to the BASICS THAT BROUGHT US TO GREATNESS. YES, there are mistakes, but the ship LOST its compass.It seems like the minorities are eating all the “ICE CREAM’ and are “ENTITLED”. THERE ARE NO RULES & NO ACCOUNTABILITY.SO, getting your marbels together and hop-scotching around the world is NOT practicable as well as unaffordable. Lets not talk in “parrables” because no one will understand as JC found out.If you have “cancer” you don’t keep smoking!!!!

  • Dr G. Martinez

    Political ideology is problematic, whether you are R. Mugabe or G.W. Bush or S. Palin, or Obama for that matter. Change happens. history happens and it repeats itself. Critical thinking and seeing out of the box and acting and living accordingly, without the associated bias of those who do not have our individual interests in mind or at heart, is imperative.

  • Smoeser

    This Universe and everything in it is completely controled by immutable physical laws that cannot be long ignored. Picture a stream running to the sea. For reasons that are unknown to us that river is supposed to run to sea. If a person or group of persons are arrogant enough to fantasize that they can actually build a dam across that river and forever prevent the water from reaching the sea, they are living in a dangerous fantasy, and they are going to waste decades of their time, resources, and energy in a futile attempt to actualize this egotistical fantasy. And yet that is exactly what the governments of the world are now doing to one degree or another. They are telling their citizens that the dam can be saved if it is only built just a little higher. But the dams foundation, which was laid decades ago, was never designed to support this sort of dam. It is a matter of if, not when, before the weight of the water behind this dam causes it to fail catastrophically and all of the water that they thought that they were so cleverly capturing will finally make its way to the see in accordance with the immutable physical laws of the Universe. While it would make sense to allow some of the water to escape before the inevitable catastophy, the people in power are far too egotistical to allow this to happen. They will continue to insist that they can prevent the river from running to the sea. Unfortunately the millions of people, who have trustingly and gullibly inhabited the lowlands at the base of this magnificent dam, will suffer total destruction. So be it!

    What is government’s rightful place in our lives? Until people are free to do as they wish with their own bodies and until all taxes are voluntary, human beings will never be free from government oppression and tyranny. What we do with our own bodies, as long as we don’t directly damage another human being, must be the most sacred right of any truly free human being. If a person whats to commit suicide, have an abortion, or take drugs, that is his/her business – not the government’s!!! These are moral, religious, philosophical issues – not legal issues! A truly free human being should also have the absolute right to pay only those taxes that he, and he alone decides are most beneficial; any other form of taxation is just some sort of extortion masquerading as “democracy” or some other illusion of social responsibility. In other words – the river must be allowed to flow to the sea in accordance with the immutable physical laws of the Universe or will we all will inevitably suffer the painful consequences of our convenient refusal to accept reality.

    SM

  • amused

    hilarious as usual…people always blame the government official because he’s the guy on TV and they apparently can’t conjure in their heads the real powers that destroy economies–the international banking cartels and global capital pools. blaming Mugabe for hyperinflation is like blaming Nixon for the gold window, Carter for inflation, Reagan for neoliberalism, etc. these things are NOT done by the politician…powerless 40-somethings from harvard/yale/oxford have no power compared to the power of global capital pools. as long as nations continue leaving their financial borders undefended, they will continue to lose sovereignty and be incorporated into the global corporation being built.

    • Zimbo

      Do you really think Nixon, Carter and Reagan were ever in the same league as His Excellency, The Honourable Executive President of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe? He’s no powerless 40 something! RGM has out manoeuvered and outlasted more politicians and diplomats than most presidents ever get to meet in their entire career … and he’s still doing it.

  • David

    You are absolutely right – it’s the conclusion of the Zimbabwean hyperinflation that is always left out.

    I think that is precisely because it is the single best reason to maintain a portion of your wealth in hard assets whose “value” is not subject to political whim, preferably in a location (separate country) that is even further removed from that whim.

  • SUNSHINE

    Yes, I believe the signs are evident. Maybe not as extreme as Zimbabwe, but who knows! I moved myself {I am a retired widow} offshore, about 10 years ago. Moved my $ to the country I live in, and am preparing to move some of the $ to other countries, just to be safe. Now, I am working on becoming a citizen here. That will be more safe all the way around. It is safer to travel on a non USA passport, and this allows me more freedom, financially and personally. I will renounce my USA citizenship. I own a beautiful villa on the beach, and it costs about 1/4 of what the same { if it existed} would be in the USA. You need to be a risktaker to do all this, especially when you are a single female, but it worked , so far, for me. !!!!!!! Sunshine

    • Govmann

      How did you get your new passport? How did you decide on your new location? Are you retired? Did you move all your money overseas? Very interesting. Thanks for your comments.

  • Wanderer

    Zimbabwe holds many lessons, some direct and others implied. Government action must always be monitored.

    It occurs to me even before that, you must educate yourself to know the danger signs or evaluate threats first thing. Besides excessive government control, regulation, and taxes a critical thing to watch for is the creation or use of a currency backed by nothing more than government promises.

    This is the time to start a long term accumulation of PM’s, commodities and other real things. Studies show that it may take around 40 years for a currency once backed by PM’s to experience a crisis. This seems applicable to the USA even now.

    Once in the hyperinflation, you need things to trade whether those things are other currencies, barter items or your own skills.

    If you able to leave, do so because things can and frequently do become very unpleasant. You are threatened not only by thieves and other criminals, but also by confiscatory taxes and regulation making it difficult to impossible to make a living while obeying all laws.

    So read the handwriting on the wall. Decide ahead of time what your response will be to certain events. Such as I will leave the country when this or this or this happens and not return until things get a lot better. Examples of events could be when taxes hit a certain percentage or when the population is disarmed or when internal travel documents become mandatory or some combination of events determined by you. This much will I tolerate and no more.

    Just a few thoughts off the top of my head.

    Live long, prosper, love and be happy.

  • Cali-Mike

    Simon,

    Lessons from Zimbabwe – runaway! Runaway as quickly as you can. Any dictator that finds you unworthy can put an end to you, your family, and everything you’ve ever worked for. Paper money is the least of your worries when it comes to your family being safe and whether or not you can still breathe.

    Family plan – Honestly, who knows by now? For every answer there’s pros and cons. Buy gold, but watch the gold bubble. Without taking physical possession, how can you be sure your gold savings won’t be confiscated through an international agreement, or even war? But how realistic is physical possession if you have any significant amount of savings? If you opt to store your gold yourself, you better be prepared to defend it if things take a turn for the worse.

    Diversify – which is wise regardless of your current financial situation. But what if you’re like many of us in this economy that are trying to get by until we have the means to build something better, and there’s no significant savings to speak of? If there’s not enough left in the till to purchase even an ounce of gold, then what?

    So, that being said I would say that we will do what we always do…survive. We will focus on our survival rather than our “gold” savings. We will continue the practice of learning the skills that will allow us to survive in an economy with worthless paper money. We will return to our farming and hunting and gathering roots, and barter with our neighbors and shopkeepers for the necessities that we can’t make ourselves.

    Kind of like Josquin’s comment earlier, – “…there are two kinds of money: #1: paper, subject to the whims of politicians, #2: the thing you take to the baker to buy a loaf of bread. Without missing a beat, the Koreans immediately agreed on #2 and left #1 to the blathering of the politicians. “

    Time to take a lesson from the Koreans.

  • Shane388

    Simon did people in Zim have mortgages or commercial loans in Zim dollars and what happenned to the loans. Shane QLD AUS

  • Ricky Ricardo

    I thought you were talking about Cuba without the natural resources. Anyways, you mentioned the problem. Without a stable government, there is no hope even if capital is present, as capital can flee as fast or faster than how it came. As far as preparing, I’ve already started the business that hopefully will carry me and my family away from the US. I have like a 5 year plan to where I need to be receiving X amount of income consistently.
    I’m also going for my Bachelor Degree in Finance which will help me land a job, hopefully in Chile.

  • T. Fernández

    Hello. I am not from Zim, so I cannot answer your question, but I still enjoyed reading this post very much. I and a group of Caribbean citizens have started a petition in support of Roy Bennett, who we believe could put forward important changes in the agriculture sector, which, as you well mention, has been utterly destroyed by Mugabe. The link is:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/263/justice-for-Roy-Bennett/

    The petition will be posted until December 24, 2010. We urge you all to review it and—if hopefully in agreement—sign it and share it with all your contacts, asking them to do the same.

    As one of the undersigned wrote: “I know it takes a village. But one person can make a difference. One by one!”

    Thank you very much in advance.

  • John Hendrickson

    This past Sunday, I heard from a missionary from Zimbabwe, whom has been in the country since 1998. He mentioned they would have to travel over three hundred miles for groceries to South Africa, as there were none in Zimbabwe. He also stated that if you did find something for sale in Zimbabwe, you bought it on the spot, as it wouldn’t be there when you got back.
    I especially loved his display of 100 Trillion Dollar notes. The note was issued after the government removed 26 zeros from the currency.

  • ebert beeman

    i am buying $50 worth of silver every week. i have been doing this for two years now. i am going to visit ghana in december to learn what i can about that country. what can you tell me about ghana?

  • http://www.referencepointtherapy.com/blog/ Simon R

    hey Simon, I loved the “serial eponymist” line, must use that some day!

    Zimbabwe is a parable for modern times on the significance of the rule of law – viz just how easily a corrupt government can turn a rich thriving nation into a starving bankrupt one.

    I think that you were a little over-dramatic about people’s savings being wiped out overnight when the Zim became worthless. It would be tragic to most of us with cash holdings (hence you get to scare your audience) but it’s relatively meaningless in the context of hyper-inflation.

    If your money can lose half its value in a space of hours, then all your cash holdings has a “life expectancy” of at best a few days. You don’t want to be the one caught holding it when the music stops, so you spend it as quick as you can. Anyone caught holding Zim at d-day was no worse off than if they had kept it in their pocket a day anyway.

    I do not mean to underestimate the tragedy, I am only saying that focusing on currency failure is over-dramatic. There are more meaningful faces to the tragedy, like starving black children and white farmers who are raped/murdered for their land in a political statement sanctioned by their government.

    For those not familiar with hyper-inflation, there’s a classic story by the English economist John Maynard Keynes who visited Germany between the Wars to witness hyperinflation. He stopped at the pub and watched the locals ordered two beers at once, even though one got warm before they could finish the first. He asked why and was told “the price could double by the time I finish my first beer.”

    If that doesn’t demonstrate the uselessness of cash during hyper-inflation then nothing will..

    my 2c as an ex economist and “rule of law” attorney…

    Simon

  • Francissba

    Dear Simon. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on Zimbabwe. The facts are–the US is over $13 trillion in actual debt and has amassed $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities. There are 3 ways to remove these liabilities.
    1. Continue to offer more debt
    2. Repudiate the debt
    3. Inflate the currency until the debt is worthless.
    We are not going to get out of this life alive or out of this debt without extreme actions. Inflation is the slowly boiling pot of water and most likely to remove the debt without a neck tie party for our political leaders or outright war. Maybe.

    The Weimar Republic is a classic example of one of the strongest countries in the world falling into the trap of monetizing their debt-used to pay for their war and reparations required of them by the winning side. Pensions, debt and the currency were destroyed,leading directly to the rise of Hitler.
    Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing $1 trillion a year. What’s next? Another war, another natural disaster, another market based collapse causing us to print even more money.
    This Zimbabwe effect will not end well in this country.
    I am optimistic,even to the point of thinking we can work our way out of the present Depression but my optimism is not infinite.
    I am bunkering in and have resources to stave off almost anything that comes my way.

  • Pshostak

    Lesson # 1: Buy minted silver coins (Eagles or Maple Leafs are an excellent choice).

  • joe in buenos aires

    All -
    What we should learn from Zimbabwe I’ll cover at the end of this missive.
    For all those whining about the gov’t printing more currency, you need to do a better job of keep track of what’s going on in the world. Right now a LOT of nations understand that they’re running out of options when it comes to someone else buying their debt (in T-bills or whatever). So these countries are deliberately lowering the value of their currency to make the products THEY produce cheaper for the rest of the world – i.e., increasing their own exports. China has been doing this for literally decades; Japan, Korea, the U.S. & others are now pursuing this same line. We learned in the Cold War that physical armies are EXPENSIVE, so now the banks conduct the wars. (Remember, we won the Cold War because the Soviet Union went BROKE.) For a GREAT write-up on this, see Peter Tasker’s “The Coming of the Money Wars” in the Oct 11 issue of Newsweek.
    SM asked, “What is government’s rightful place in our lives?” Answser: WHATEVER WE DETERMINE IT TO BE. The Founding Fathers set up the country with the idea that EVERYBODY would take turns in serving in their own gov’t: they did NOT have a professional political class in mind for the country. WE, THE PEOPLE instituted said professional political class because we couldn’t be bothered doing it ourselves. Thus started the national attitude of “WHY DOESN’T SOMEONE (ELSE) DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?” (To be fair, I also see this attitude here in Argentina, where I’ve lived for a bit over four years now.)
    For anyone who wants things to change, GET OFF YOUR ASS & DO SOMETHING. And don’t give me the typical cop-out excuse of “I’m just one person – I can’t do anything.” I have one name for you: ROSA PARKS.
    Patty Murray, senator from the state of Washington, was once told by a state representative that she couldn’t make a difference because she was just a “mom in tennis shoes.” She used those tennis shoes to go door-to-door in campaigning for various political offices. She ended up unseating incumbent Republican Bill Kiskadden for the U.S. Senate. It CAN be done. You have to want it badly enough.
    Another way to lessen the curse of the professional political class is through congressional term limits. We have them for the presidency; why not Congress? (Yes, I know – we’re asking the foxes to vote themselves out of the henhouse here.) But unless & until the American people stop whining & actually DO something, nothing will change.
    It’s also time to put the whining about taxes into its proper place. This assinine idea of “people should be able to pay whatever taxes they want” is a great example of what I call the American disease: I am more important than everybody else. Taxes, folks, are the price you pay for belonging to a civilized society. You want some semblance of national security? It’s going to take taxes. How about a decent road system so the economy can send & receive goods? Ditto. Want a fire department to save your home? How about a local police force so you can safely come out of your home? Ever think about what you’re going to do with your garbage? What about clean water? The list goes on & on, but they all require something called TAXES.
    Don’t like the way your politicians are spending your tax dollars? DO SOMETHING. Run for office – just as Patty Murray did. Then let me know what office you’re running for & I’LL VOTE FOR YOU.
    joe in buenos aires

    • andy

      funny… from Joe… in Buenos Aires.

      I guess HE did something – move!

  • Vincent Surics

    Simon Hi
    Interesting observations about Zimbabwe. Bear in mind that Mugabe murdered hordes of citizens in the early years that he came to power. He has devastated the country and it will take years if not a decade to get the wheels turning again on a sustainable basis. The backbone of the economy is destroyed and it will not simply be put right by foreign investments. Like a seriously bleeding deep wound, it requires a healing process.
    If I look at Mozambique, Angola, Namibia I notice that all these countries have been through their political turmoil and resultant economic damage yet real national growth has not taken place. They appear to idling in “survival mode”. Sure there are moments of optimism and flickers of hope but these don’t really convert to sustainable economic recovery. I don’t see how Zimbabwe will be the exception although I am happy to be proven wrong.
    Regards
    Vee

  • Thistledown

    I have followed Zim from a daily email sent me by a local broker. One thing is clear owning equities has been scary beyond most investors wildest imaginings but it has been one way to preserve some value. The trouble is as things get really bad you lose a great deal of capital, just not as much as from holding the currency.

    But for all that I am an observer and do not hold any Zim securities.

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  • A. Lurker

    I would buy some preciouse metals. Not gold. Gold is linked too closely to any attempt to control a money or currency supply. I would buy silver. Less expensive, less conected with the currency, and more needed by indestrial complex, so less likely to come under government control.

  • http://Silvercoinreport.com Jay

    Well I guess that 100Trillioncurrency note ain’t gonna take care of my retirement plans.I’// just have to rely on my pile of Silver and my passport.

  • 333nola

    I believe owning gold and survival items, plus knowing how to grow food is your best bet. However, how does one get gold out of the country? Jewelry can be one way (though the amount would be relatively small). The other way I see is to purchase it where your second location is going to be. No government is trustworthy. Our Constitution gave us the best shot, and we allowed it to get to this point.

  • Mitchyc

    Its an unbeleivable notion that one night you sleep in peace feeling that you are secure and safe and the next morning you awake to find that you aren’t and that you are vulnarable and you are one of the many who will perrish in the confusion and hostility and fear your brothers and you are feelling.
    Our family decided just a little while ago to liquidate our assets and plant flags in other countries. I like Simon beleive in investing in properties that are good agricultuaral land for self perservation. We have bought in Panama and are looking in farm land in Ecuador. It takes a little courage and thick skin, as the masses are negative, to go forward. We have children of school age, they aren’t thrillled to leave their friend, but their education doesn’t suffer, they will realize one day how complete they really are and will appreciate this move. Mitch Yukon

    • DavDavemedgrp

      where did you buy in Panama. I have heard great things about the Valley of Longevity in Ecuador the veritable bread basket of the world. I have also read about Uruguay – any thoughts? Thanks

    • Psazava

      I would be very concern to purchase in Panama and much less in Ecuador as US or other national. You have to understand the mentality of Latin America and ownership/security. What had happened in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in nothing new for all of us from the forma communist Europe. Savings were lost on continual basis. Good luck.

  • msc

    What I learned from Zimbabwe? Letting someone’s own country’s currency down is a cowardliness. I believe government should be made more responsible for economic shape of each country. If they let the country down, they should (a kind of) repay the necessary fixes to bring economy back when it was before they took it over. As an owner of a company you/your insurer also need to repay your creditors in case you go bankrupt.

    • yugo

      cowardice, not cowardliness

  • Builder50

    There certainly are lessons for us in the US with our debt and getting more unstable dollar. All that has to happen is we wake up some morning and the dollar has been devalued, perhaps to a tenth of its value, thereby wiping out savings but making our debt appear more palatable.

    • Abel

      I am truly shocked at your intelligence as to the fact that you can even see any form of resemblance between what happened in Zimbabwe and the unstable dollar as you call it. Watch the Chinese and learn about what a currency can do to a nations ability to sell its goods.

  • Colin Beck

    THE KINGDOMS OF HAY, WOOD & STUBBLE, WHERE SUPPOSEDLY THE 3 LITTLE PIGS WILL MORPH INTO THE 3 STOOGES. One of Churchill’s rivals went to Moscow in 1942 and returned bearing good tidings which were very well received by the British public. He said that if Britain regarded the U.S.S.R. as a friend the Communists would have no territorial ambitions after the war. He had heard it straight from the horse’s mouth, Joseph Stalin. We did not deal with strong delusions in Viet Nam, Rawanda, the Sudan & Afghanistan, so millions died. Rebellion & stubborness is based on witchcraft & idolatry.

  • ND

    Quite a gloss over of Mugabe’s takeover. In fact, there was a freely elected black government that Mugabe refused to recognize. He kept up his revolution until he and his Chinese Communist backed insurgents won.

  • Redskinz009

    Ian Smith was right.

  • Willis

    The problem that will never be solved is that modern Africa is a collection of failed states with a strongman running the show and people just happy to take his crumbs. Until people break the mindset that this is correct there will never be a successful African nation. We cannot continue to blame the Europeans, our failures are now our own. We must rise up and demand freedom and democracy and denounce, at every opportunity, the continued enslavement of Africans by Africans!

  • Rdevilliers

    Ian Smith was right…and a humanatarian. Mugabe has no love for his people or counrty and has only made political and not economic desicions during his reign of terror. His henchmen are so inbedded in coruption that they will never allow a free and fairly elected leader to take over. The best hope for Zimbabwe is a benevolent dictator.

    • Anzvirayi

      He was a humanitarian for the white people. My grandmother had to walk to the police station and get interrogated and threatened by Ian Smith’s soldiers/police as they wanted to know what my mother was doing here in the US and wanted to know if my parents were involved with the African freedom parties Zanu/Zapu…Ask the Africans how much of a Humanitarina Ian Smith’s forces were just because the indigenous people wanted self-determination. Mugabe is corrupt and so are his cronies in power, but I believe with all the highly educated Zimbabweans who currently live in the diaspora (both black/white whatever) have the means and the tools to bring Zim back. I lived in Zimbabwe in the 80′s and most people got along and life was comparable to here…The legacies of colonialism still haunt Africa…Our masters taught us how to steal and take what we believe is ours and enslave people who don’t have anything….

  • justnfree

    I would like to hear more about historical details specially for the time mugabe started his political actions, and also about his supporters. that’s how we can analys what happened there better. anyway nice summarized history of Zimbabwe.

  • Haledancer

    Do you see anything happening here now that is akin to what happened in Zimbabwe?

  • Chris Mazzarelli

    Wow. You semi truths are amazingly suave. The disease called liberalism infected Rhodesia and now you’re left with Zimbabwe.

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