Submit or Die

In a 1972 essay by author Ayn Rand, published as part of a compilation of her works in 1995 titled “Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution” Rand wrote the following: “Without property rights, there is no way to solve or to avoid the hopeless chaos of clashing views, interests, demands, desires and whims.”submitI cannot imagine an observation more on point to explain what we are witnessing with the mass invasion of Europe by Muslim immigrants or here in the United States across our southern border by Latino and Middle Eastern immigrants.

Nations without borders (unlike Doctors Without Borders) are entities that have abandoned their property rights. You cannot have a property right without first setting forth the boundaries that establish property.

Rand explores in detail the intentions and methodology, beginning as far back as the late 1960’s in Berkley, California that was put in place here in the United States that began as a usurping of administrative authority at universities, and throughout academia, by illegal and often violent student rebellion.

What Rand observed (and I might add prophesied) here in the U.S. regarding the “power of the mob to solve social problems by means of physical force” is likewise set forth relative to Europe in “The Coming Insurrection”, a 2007 political tract written by The Invisible Committee outlining the step-by-step process by which they intend to effect the “imminent collapse of capitalist culture.”

What Rand noted at Berkley in the 1960’s burgeoned into Occupy Wall Street, the Baltimore/Ferguson riots and, most recently, Black Lives Matter. Likewise, what the Invisible Committee proposed has become the Muslim invasion of Europe. Each day brings new headlines about chaos, violence and religious persecution in European towns, cities and refugee camps of non-Muslims by Muslims. As I write, these are just those making news within the past few hours.

We in the United States have no historical perspective for what is occurring at home or abroad. We have never lived under dictatorship or tyranny in our lifetimes or in our history, for that matter, but for a brief hangover period from British rule that led to the America Revolution.

The solution?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his book “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning” states: “Multiculturalism insists that every culture is equally entitled to respect. All else is a form of racism or phobia or authoritarianism.” Sachs goes on to state: “Abrahamic politics (that found in the Bible) never forgets that there are things more important than politics, and that is what makes it the best defense of liberty.”

Morality can exist independent of religion but it will not last long. Religious values are the foundation upon which lasting morality thrives. Over time, absent that foundation, morality becomes nothing more than words from a time gone by that have lost their meaning.

In our quest for equality through multiculturalism and our dismissal of God, we abandoned the Abrahamic foundation of politics and morality that created societies of unprecedented individual freedom and scientific advancement. In that same quest, we allowed ourselves to cower before the name callers who contort necessary values and principles into racism and Islamophobia.

Submission is a necessary part of the human experience. The question is, “To what do we choose to submit?” Until and unless we are willing to humble ourselves once again and submit to a transcendental ethic to which both we and the state are accountable, we will continue down this path of self-annihilation and cowardice in the face of the most violent among us.



Dumpster Diving for Profit

I have worked in finance for most of my professional career and given the complexities and nuances of the field, there is always something new to master. Yet, when looking at the financial markets, I have always relied on demographics and cultural markers to give me an idea on what is trending in the markets.


For demographics, I have been influenced by the teachings of the Catholic Church, the analysis of economist Harry Dent and the writings of Patrick Buchanan.  In many ways, I have synthesized and combined their analysis as a way to look at the world.

For cultural markers, I tend to look at things that are popular and things that are driving the culture. This has given me a sense of what people are thinking and reacting to. For example, I look to movies, television shows, books, tattoos, eating habits, living habits, and new ways that people are making money.

The markets tend to act, over time, in accordance with the dominant demographic trend taking place. For example, the U.S and the rest of the western world benefited from the population boom that occurred after World War II which brought a generation of affluent consumers to the market who previously did not exist. In the U.S alone, the baby boom generation is thought to number around 75 million. As those 75 million people in the U.S. went through their life cycles of buying homes, cars, washing machines, etc., the companies that supplied those products benefited; hence their stock values, and the market in general, rose.

Recently, the so-called “Boomers” have begun to retire. They no longer consume as they once did. Thus the capital that once benefited these companies is now being used to pay for their retirement. One of the reasons we have such a low labor participation rate, 90 million people out of the work force, is due to the amount of people now retiring. Although the stock market remains high, the bottom line revenue numbers over the last few years have been in decline.

During the economic boom which spanned the last 40 years, the U.S. birth rate simultaneously declined. The generation that prospered economically wanted to enjoy their newfound affluence and freedoms and so had fewer children. However, for a country to continue to grow, most statisticians project a necessary average birthrate of 2.1 children per couple. Most European countries’ birth rates are way below that number. While the U.S is also below that number, we have been able to sustain growth due to ongoing Latino immigration.

Europe’s population is now growing albeit from the massive number of Muslim immigrants flooding the continent. Patrick Buchanan, in his seminal book Death of the West, believes a good portion of the European continent will have Muslim populations over 50% by 2050. France, Buchanan predicts, absent a reversal of its indigenous current birth rates will be the first European country to lose its cultural identity by that date.

Buchanan and the Catholic Church both have argued that a healthy society is one that produces and sustains life.  Having children is, in essence, a belief… a bet… that life will be better in the future. Despite current economic hardships in having a large family, there are always ways for conditions to change and mitigate adversity if one is willing to bet on the future. Yet, even though we in the West live in a world that has more conveniences than ever before in the history of the world, we are none-the-less more fearful of our economic future than ever before.

The Muslims currently immigrating to Europe have less economic resources but are having more children. How ironic that the Muslims fleeing to Europe have more hope in the future there than the Europeans in whose lands they seek to reside. Think of it as an invasion; an invasion where no shots are fired.  The outcome of this invasion is that the invading immigrants will be the dominant political force by the mid-21st century strictly due to population increase. These two trends, an older population in the West with a lower birth rate and an immigrating Muslim population with increasing birth rates do not bode well for future economic conditions.

This demographic reality was in my mind when I stumbled across an article in Wired Magazine about Matt Malone, who makes a six figure income from dumpster diving.

The article detailed how many resourceful “entrepreneurs” are making their living scrounging through the garbage of others. Surprisingly, the people dumpster diving for monetary gain are not poor; they are smart, intelligent people who have found a valuable economic opportunity. Most stumbled onto it by chance. For example, Matt Malone started in the business when a store he frequented went out of business. He saw the dumpster located by the store filled with a variety of products that the store was discarding. Malone went through the dumpster, gathered items, and started to sell them on E-bay.

Malone made a nice profit and began frequenting dumpsters of other stores going out of business with similar result. Shortly thereafter, he started targeting stores like Best Buy and Target at night, to see if they might be throwing away valuable items. To his surprise that was exactly what they were doing! Soon he was reselling computers, printers, cables etc. making over $100,000 a year strictly by selling the castoffs of others.

Wired, to its credit, found it so incredulous that someone could actually do this that their reporter tagged along with Malone to verify his claims.  After spending three weeks as Malone’s nighttime sidekick, the reporter was amazed and convinced of the results. On average, Malone made about $2500 per day. The reporter calculated and that if he did this every day for a year he could make close to $600,000 dollars annually! He concluded, to his dismay, that we have become so culturally rudderless that people, as well as companies, now discard things of real value. Because we are no longer a society that can fix things efficiently it is cheaper to discard and replace them.

Wired’s reporter went on to interview the author Edward Humes, of Garbology, as part of further research into this topic and came away concerned.  Wired opined that the way a society’s garbage is handled says a lot about the society. Humes has concluded that every time a society reaches the point where it begins to throw away things of value, the culture inevitably implodes.

In the West, we are under the adverse influence of four factors that point to a significant demographic and cultural upheaval: 1) an aging population; 2) declining birth rates; 3) unfettered immigration with increasing birth rates, and, 4) no longer valuing things as we should.

While in this post I chose to not explore the gravity and future of the economies and financial systems of Western nations, one need only  look at the demographics of these nations, combined with their obvious disregard for things of value, to know that we are in deep trouble.




Biden’s No Run…Run

More and more often the political shenanigans, maneuvering and flat out manipulation get to be too much for me and, I suspect, for a whole lot of other people as well. Vice President Biden’s speech today from the Rose Garden was definitely one of those moments. I happened to be in my car when the program I was listening to was interrupted to broadcast live the VP’s long anticipated announcement.


It was a “No.” Apparently, the time has passed that would permit the VP to mount a meaningful campaign. Or was it a “Yes” should Hillary crash and burn? I was definitely confused by the opening words explaining why he would not run followed by about the most Presidential candidate-like speech I’ve heard in a long time.

Acknowledging his moniker of “Middle Class Joe” the VP went on to verbally champion that very class along with ending institutional racism, creating equality for everyone, free college for all, protection of the environment, and eliminating partisanship in Congress all of which he said should take place under the umbrella of more morality, humility and kumbaya-like unity for the nation as a whole.

The warm and fuzzy Joe I heard today, calling for mutual respect between Democrats and the Republican “opposition” bore absolutely no resemblance to the vicious attack dog that excoriated Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork during their judicial confirmation hearings. But lest we forget, Washington, like Hollywood, lives in and profits from a world steeped in illusion, make-believe and reinvention.

It was really difficult for me to come up with an answer to the question arising in my mind as I listened to Biden, which was “Joe, if you’re not running why are you giving the quintessential candidate’s speech from the Rose Garden of the White House flanked by the President of The United States?

Surely “No” should be easier, shorter and lonelier.

So I concluded that he’s 1) not running; 2) possibly running and 3) definitely available for running at some future date should circumstances, and his party, call upon him to do the noble thing and serve his nation.

It takes all the wonder out of Donald Trump’s appeal, doesn’t it? Trump never engages in political double-speak. Like him or not, he says it the way middle America is hungry to hear it. This, in all its Fellini-esque confusion, turns Trump into “Middle America Donald” and Biden into “One More of the Same Politician.”


The New American

Want to know the fastest way to lose power over your own life? Fail to exercise it. Sounds pretty obvious and simple, I know. While that idea may be readily apparent, living it is another matter altogether.


For example, in my own life, I was very blessed as a child and young adult in that my father had been very successful in business. As a result, we lived a materially comfortable life. In fact, there can be no dispute about how spoiled I was. I never gave thought to where or how things and money appeared in my life; I just enjoyed the things and spent the money. But when your sustenance is provided, through no effort of your own, something much worse happens that a lack of appreciation for the work effort. You abdicate power over your own life. Because “Not while you’re living under my roof” or “No, not while it’s my money” become the boundaries beyond which you cannot move. Figuratively and literally.

Whenever an individual or group is willing to abdicate its power because holding on to it requires too much responsibility and too much work, there will always be someone in the wings ready and willing to assume that relinquished power.

Which brings me to Russia.

When President Obama drew his “red line” in Syria, he did so from the height of a priceless structure. It was the monument laid down by at least a century of former U.S. Presidents who had taught the world that the U.S. is a mighty giant and poking it never ends well for the aggressor. However, when Bashar Assad crossed that line, and the giant responded with timidity or worse, apathy, those looking on said to themselves, “Hmm…the giant isn’t so intimidating after all. In fact, it has no power.”

Within 30 days of Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people, and the failure of the United States to respond thereto, Russia entered the Ukraine. Not long after, China not only militarily entered the South China Sea, it began building new islands there.

There are always those awaiting the relinquishment of power by others in order to claim it for themselves.

However, our President’s cowardice with abdication of power goes way beyond him and his office. It is most dangerously seen in our culture at large.

In July, TIME Magazine covered a story of the largest satanic cult gathering ever that took place in Detroit, where hundreds gathered to unveil a 7 foot statue of Lucifer, the overlord of Hell. Worse than the unveiling itself was TIME’s reporting that by the inclusion of “binary symbols” on the statue, it represented a “willingness to celebrate, even embrace our differences.” This week, in Oklahoma, following a lengthy dispute, a stone representation of the Ten Commandments was removed from the State Capitol building, under cover of darkness, so as not to create a reaction or picketing.

Lucifer gets press while God gets trashed.

While we ponder, with angst, about the seemingly endless dangers of our world, 95 million out of work in this country, natural disasters, porous borders, ISIS advancing in the Middle East, Iran on the way to a nuclear bomb, just to name a few, we seem to be missing the obvious.

The fastest way to lose power is a failure to exercise it.

Radical Islamists are certain. Their certainty is empowering. Surely they are insane but they are certainly insane. They have no doubt in what they believe, they make no deviation from the path created by that belief, and they lose not a moment ruminating over the rightness or wrongness of their actions in service to their belief.

We, in the West, no longer have certainty. We were so willing to give up our personal power to authority, to government, without realizing that enslavement is the inevitable end. Generally speaking, over time, slaves stop thinking for themselves, internalize victimhood and give up the will to care. Held responsible for nothing and powerless over everything this is what we have become: uncertain and uncaring.

We are the New Americans and we are devoid of certainty.

When we are unmoved by the tearing off of limbs from live babies for profit we redefine hardheartedness. In fact, way beyond mere definition, the question emerges, “Does the New American even have a heart?

We were the Nation that could not have been defeated militarily. Now, we are the Nation eating itself alive without any conscious awareness of the pain we are causing ourselves or the end to which we travel.

When all morality and ethics are relative, when belief in a loving God and the Light of Truth become a shame to be whisked off in the night and its opposite, evil, hailed as a laudable testimony to our “differences”…we have willingly cast off the “image and likeness of “ in exchange for what ends in depravity.

Am I the only one who can hear God weeping?


Setbacks As Opportunities

I blew out my knee when I was seventeen. My body was thrown right, my left leg locked up and I shredded my knee. I tore the cartilage along with the ligaments. Instead of playing football my junior year, I missed the rest of the season and was left with a joint that was permanently damaged.


I ended up in a lengthy rehab where I learned how to stretch. Really stretch! If it hadn’t been for that injury, stretching would not have become part of my daily practice. After that type of injury, scar tissue builds up in the injured area and the only way to dislodge and break it down is through extensive stretching and physical therapy. It was through this process that I learned to love stretching. I loved how stretching changed my body and made me much more flexible and lithe. The benefits I found were not only physical but mental as well. As the body stretches so goes the mind.

As I got older, I suffered a second knee injury which led me to Pilates, a type of workout that adds flexibility to the body, improves posture and strengthens the body’s core. I was instantly hooked. Pilates combines the element of stretching along with strength training. Again, a setback led me to a new way of working out that I doubt I would have found had it not been for that injury.

Still a glutton for physical training, I took up martial arts and for many years trained every day in Aikido, a Japanese martial art which focuses on utilizing your opponent’s strength against them. Through this practice, I wrenched my back and dislocated both shoulders. This lead me to further my knowledge of the body. This time the payoff was classes in both Yoga and Gyrotonics which helped repair my shoulders.

These setbacks with my physical body helped me to adapt to setbacks I have suffered in my professional career. My physical injuries helped me learn to become resilient and helped me to look at setbacks through a different lens. In my financial career alone, I went through four major upheavals where thousands of employees were laid off, departments cut and careers terminated. I have held numerous jobs in numerous fields and have had to constantly adapt and upgrade my skills to stay current.

Because of all the upheavals, personally and professionally, I have had to reinvent myself many times over and upgrade my skills while taking jobs in fields unrelated to finance. I have suffered through periods of unemployment. However, I have always managed to create income in my life because I have created a skill set and mindset to do so. I have not been immune from experiencing failures or humiliation but I have come to accept these as part of the process.

We live in a time where we celebrate success to such an extent that we fail to realize that defeat and failure are the mother of invention. The creation of the Pilates method itself was born during Joseph Pilates internment as a prisoner of war by the British during WWI. Rather than become depressed, he worked as a nurse helping war veterans, and during this period experimented with the use of levers and pulleys from hospital beds to create a new form of exercise. Thomas Edison view of failure is poignant as he did not see things as failure but rather opportunities to do things differently.

I imagine many people today are questioning their sanity and belief system given their financial situation in the last seven years of under-performance by our economy. There are currently over 90 million people in the U.S not in the work force. With a media unwilling to report the true nature of our economy, it must be vexing to the average American to understand the economic landscape they are living in today.

The current economic doldrums not only affects the middle class but the wealthy as well. Robin Williams, prior to his death, lamented that given his economic predicament he had been forced to go back to working in sitcoms, a platform he loathed. Wall Street as well, over the last few years, has been rocked by numerous suicides due in part to the economic pressures people found themselves buried under.

None of us is immune.

It is only by understanding and going through the struggle that we come though more resilient and compassionate for our fellow human beings who may be struggling with predicaments much worse than our own. Compassion for ourselves and others combined with a healthy dose of hope and “can do spirit” goes a long way to surviving any downturn…physical, emotional or financial.