Recently I held a live Q&A Zoom call with my friend Peter Schiff, and several dozen members of our Total Access group.
And towards the end of the call, one of our members asked– what do you think the future looks like for the US, and the West in general?
Peter went off into one of his classic tirades about how the US dollar is doomed because of how much money the central bank is printing.
And while I generally share Peter’s dim view about the dollar (were it not for all the other world currencies that are being printed into oblivion), my answer was a bit different.
In deference to the 20th century Danish Proverb– “predictions are hard, especially about the future”– I do think it’s possible to look at major trends to at least have a sense of direction.
So if you want to understand where things are going, just take a look at everyone’s priorities.
Most governments’ Covid reponses are an obvious example.
The economic destruction they’ve created is staggering. Tens of millions of people unemployed, countless businesses gone bust, trillions of dollars of wealth wiped out.
In the first wave back in March, they shut down the economy to protect us from the virus. Then they opened up again… but– shocker– the virus was still there.
What a surprise! Shutting down the economy did not eradicate a virus.
So what did a lot of these people do when the second wave hit? They started shutting down the economy again.
It didn’t work the first time, so let’s keep trying the same approach and expect a different result. It’s genius!
This is clearly economically destructive. But again, economic prosperity is no longer the priority. All that matters is force-feeding people a false sense of safety.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York probably captured this mentality the best when he said back in May,
“We don’t want to lose any lives [to reopen the economy]. We’ll figure out the dollars, and we’ll figure out the economic impact, but we’ll protect people in the meantime, and we’ll protect their health.”
This is total BS. The sad reality is that lives are lost all the time in the normal course of economic activity.
In New York City, two workers died during the construction of Freedom Tower. Plus there were dozens of life-altering injuries, like spinal fractures and paralysis.
The government knew the tower’s construction would likely cost human lives. But they approved the construction permit regardless, because they knew the benefit would outweigh the human cost.
Similarly, over 100 people died constructing the Hoover Dam in the early 1930s. The government knew that people would die. But the benefit outweighed the cost.
Today there can be no discussion of cost or benefit. There is one priority, and it’s no longer economic prosperity.
But the shift in priorities doesn’t stop there.
Basic fiscal responsibility is no longer a priority– and it hasn’t been for a long time.
Most western governments were racking up enormous debts even before Covid started.
In the US, even during the economic boom of 2015-2018, the federal government added at least $1 trillion to the debt each year.
Now the debt growth is completely insane: the US Treasury Department expects to add $5-$6 trillion to the debt this calendar year.
(That’s more than the entire national debt as recently as 2001!)
And not to be outdone, the Federal Reserve has conjured trillions of dollars out of thin air since the start of Covid and slashed interest rates, once again, to zero.
Plus, there’s a good possibility they’ll make interest rates negative. Just imagine how much prosperity you’ll achieve once you have to start paying your bank just to save money.
Of course, all of these tactics– printing money, going deeper into debt, negative interest rates, paying people $600/week to stay home and NOT work– are destructive to economic prosperity.
Then we have the rise of the Bolsheviks… a growing chorus of politicians (and voters) who despise capitalism.
Like Seattle city councilwoman Kshama Sawant, who claimed she wants to overthrow “the racist, sexist, violent, utterly bankrupt system of capitalism” and replace it with “a socialist world.”
A few years ago this was a fringe view. Now it’s mainstream fever.
They want to get rid of capitalism– the system that created the most prosperous nation in the history of the world– and replace it with the same economic model as Cuba and the Soviet Union.
And Joe Biden, of course, unveiled his economic plan last month, built around ending “the era of shareholder capitalism.”
He wants the government (and Twitter mob) to set the priorities and stakeholders in your business, rather than the market.
This, again, is an obvious reflection of priorities. And economic prosperity is clearly not on the list.
Economic prosperity also takes a backseat to social justice.
Yes, most reasonable people probably agree that the mistreatment of minority groups should change. But that’s not an excuse to go on a violent rampage.
Yet whenever angry mobs take to the streets and destroy private property, the media elite and their political allies justify criminality as necessary to end systemic racism.
Meanwhile, universities have turned into hotbeds of progressive radicalism to perpetuate white fragility and the evils of capitalism.
Corporate America has also caved. You can’t even sell beans anymore without things turning political.
Countless people who are talented, productive, and made valuable contributions to their companies have been fired because they used the wrong words or expressed some intellectual dissent from the Twitter mob.
Firing a rock-star employee because of his/her personal (and non-controversial) views would ordinarily be considered completely stupid. But now it’s the norm… because economic prosperity is no longer the priority.
This trend is obvious: several powerful movements have gripped the world… and most of them are economically destructive.
So it’s not terribly difficult to see where things are headed.