Monthly Archives: April 2015

Micronations of Liberty

Micronations of LibertyMicronations

First there was Galt’s Gulch (aka Mulligan’s Valley or Atlantis), the secluded community in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. Founded by fictionalized banker Midas Mulligan, this community was populated by a group of spirited revolutionaries spurred on by the book’s capitalist working-class hero, John Galt. Readers of Rand’s prolific tone remember Galt’s Gulch as the hidden refuge where America’s most forward-thinking creators, industrialists and inventors sought community amidst an American society that had fallen prey to collectivism and government overreach. It is through this experimental culture that Galt sought to promote a transactional community of voluntary exchange, devoid of laws and regulations that hinder foundational principles of freedom and liberty.

Fast forward to 2015 where we could be witnessing a derivative of Galt’s vision, as exquisitely captured in Rand’s book. Known as “micronations,” these developments function as independent nations, states, or even just communities free of the restrictive controls of a central government. In a fully idealized form, these independent milieus might establish a dedicated currency system, community mission and other elements codifying their functional ecosystem.

Liberland Abound

Within libertarian circles, media attention is in full buzz around Liberland, a new micronation situated on a 2.7-mile swath of unclaimed territory between Serbia and Croatia. Originally done in jest as a publicity stunt, this proposed nation-state is now attracting a groundswell of interest, garnering nearly 250,000 citizenship applications over a short period of time from all parts of the world.

Liberland was officially codified on April 13, 2015, by acting President Vit Jedlicka and a couple of other Czech libertarians. Symbolically, this date was intended to align with the birthday of one of America’s founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. The purposeful intent of Liberland: To embrace the principle of limited government in alignment with voluntary taxes and public services. And according to Jedlica, no, Liberland will not be joining the European Union.

The hope is that Liberland will evolve over time into a libertarian utopia, with a population of 35,000, which would place it in the same category as Liechtensten, another small European state. State decisions will be made by referendum, embodying the philosophy of direct democracy and electronic voting. In lieu of a traditional tax system, the citizenry will be privy to an autonomous decision-making process that allows them to determine how much they want from the state and what they are willing to cough up in terms of money to pay for it.

By Land and By Sea

TaxesThere are also vast bodies of water worldwide being coveted by independent nation enthusiasts seeking to carve out new vistas of freedom and liberty. Perhaps the most ambitious initiative in play is currently fueled by the Seasteading Institute, founded in 2008 by libertarian activists Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman, with the aim of erecting autonomous communities on floating platforms situated in international waters. Interest in this concept mushroomed after word that PayPal founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel was a major backer.

According to the institute, as well as micronation advocates, these free market floating cities are the next big thing, with predictions of these communities taking shape in the next five years.

The “Live Free or Die” State

New Hampshire has always been somewhat of an odd duck among  the U.S. States. But amidst its majestic landscapes and beauty is a micronation initiative that has been showing momentum for some time. Known as the “Free State Project,” a migration of libertarians is taking place in this New England state, and they are intent on fueling a state of unencumbered freedom,

On tap are some lofty ambitions targeted by or before the year 2035: reducing government debt by one-half as well as government employment by 15 percent; the legalization of marijuana and prostitution; abolishing smoking bans; ending sobriety checkpoints; rolling back unnecessary regulation; impacting free enterprise; reducing incarceration rates and tax burdens to among the lowest in the U.S; facilitating the end of victimless crimes, among others.

The Glendale, Colorado Experiment

Quietly nestled within the mile-high City of Denver, Colorado, is a home rule municipality that is engaged in a quasi-micronation experiment. In the village known as Glendale, Mayor Mike Dunafon has a grand vision of transforming this 4,100 person community into the “go-to” destination for freedom lovers across the world.

According to Dunafon, decisions related to how the city is run are predicated on a philosophy or principle which upholds the freedoms and liberties of the individual. Here, the goal at every City Council meeting is to take at least two often obscure laws off the books that unduly target and punish its citizens or even visitors to the area.

Whether in Glendale or in an obscure part of the world where a new micronation community is sprouting up, the goal is to deregulate our lives through limited government and voluntary exchange. As Dunafon is quick to point out, very few, if any, laws are truly needed for people to govern themselves and act like reasonable, civilized people.

Harkening In The New Gults Gulch?

Irrespective of whether Liberland and other micro nation experiments succeed at their quest, this movement reflects a liberty-oriented consciousness that’s catching fire across the globe. Here questions abound:Freedom Land

Why are such onerous laws restricting our liberty still in vogue from days gone past?

Why are we so hemmed in by taxes that serve as barriers to individual initiative and free enterprise?

And what about our privacy rights?

And what about our freedom to use money as we see fit as long as we are not harming others?

Can’t we just live our lives as free human beings?

These questions and more are all spurring interest in autonomous, experimental enclaves where libertarian ideas can be beta-tested a la Galt’s Gulch. Moreover, they suggest growing interest in the principles of freedom and limited government as the new normal for a free society that works for all.

Michael Scott is the Founder and Principal Barista with Bookmark Global Connect, Inc a firm committed to creating collisions between authors and readers one book at a time. Find out more at http://allthatbookjazz.tumblr.com

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Swiss Bank Refuses Large Cash Withdrawal

Swiss BankSwiss Bank Baulks

Swiss banks used to be world-renowned. The nation has had a reputation for banking secrecy and international neutrality, making it a relatively safe place to store wealth. Unfortunately, the costs of Swiss banking might soon outweigh those benefits. As negative interest rates continue to permeate the Swiss economy, at least one bank has declined a customer’s request for a large cash withdrawal. This probably occurred at the direction of the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

The negative interest rates took effect at the central bank in January 2015 amidst a failing Russian economy and crashing oil prices. Private lenders have been forced to follow suit. Instead of paying interest on deposits, some now charge customers for the use of their money. This has been a huge blow to the fiscally responsible Swiss. Those with retirement funds and similar investments are now losing money by keeping it in the bank.

Further problems arose when one pension fund manager tried to avoid those losses. He wanted to withdraw his fund’s money from the bank and move it to a separate storage facility. That would save his clients 25,000 Swiss francs per year for every 10 million francs in the fund. Storing cash in an insured vault would still cost money, but it would be far cheaper than keeping it in the bank.

Withdrawal Request Denied

WithdrawalSomewhat unexpectedly, however, the bank denied this request and provided little explanation for the decision. A letter to the fund manager simply stated that his expectations could not be met within the specified time period. Many have speculated that the bank’s actions were spurred by a directive from the SNB. The central bankers might feel that large withdrawals could lead to a cash shortage and cause banks to fail. If that happened, Europe could face an even more serious economic crisis.

At least one banking expert has suggested that the bank’s refusal was clearly illegal. Even if the SNB did issue a directive, it should not have superseded the law. The fund manager’s contract dictated that he should have been allowed to withdraw his money at any time and the private bank should have been legally obliged to honor that request.

In the financial sphere, there are all kinds of deposits, and some do take time to mature, but the pension fund’s account was not like that. It was known as a sight deposit account. The SNB itself defines sight deposits as “Funds which can be transferred immediately and without restriction to another account or which can be converted into cash.” Based on that definition, the bank should not have been allowed to withhold the pension fund’s cash.

Distressing News

Financial FreedomThis news is so distressing to many because Switzerland is supposed to be one of the world’s most economically free countries. (Switzerland is ranked at number 5 and the United States is number 12.) If the Swiss government can start restricting withdrawals on a whim, how much worse could things end up in countries that are less free? This might be an important sign that the global economy is still precarious and securing wealth in trusted, physical assets is essential.

Daniel Brown is the editor-in-chief of You, Me, and BTC. He’s also the “Everything Elf” at Liberty.me.

Every American Should Own Physical Gold & Silver

DecliningDollarGold & Silver

At this point (Spring 2015) in our constantly changing world of global economic and financial uncertainty, every American should own physical gold and silver. Period. Everyone. No matter how much or how little you earn or have invested.

Sadly, the average person understands very little about gold and silver. But the fundamental logic for every American to own physical gold now is enduring and inescapable.

Do You Have insurance?

It’s a fair bet that you have your home, car and health insured. Perhaps you even have life insurance. But do you have your wealth insured through ownership of physical gold and silver? Owning gold and silver is the ultimate hedge against inflation, deflation and currency depreciation, and it is a great tool for transferring wealth to your children and grand-children.

How Diversified Is Your Portfolio?DiversifiedPortfolio

Your portfolio is not properly diversified if it does not include physical gold & silver amounting to – at the very least – 5% of your total net worth. A much more prudent allocation would be 15%.

A Declining Dollar

The purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar has declined over 95% since The Federal Reserve was created in 1913. The cumulative rate of dollar inflation over the last 100 years is 2,238%, according to The Fed, which has been fudging annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) statistics since the early 1980s. ShadowStats estimates that the cumulative rate of dollar inflation since 1915 is actually over 9,000%. So what cost $1 in 1915, costs over $90 today!

Do You Trust Your Government?

GlobalBombA 12/18/13 Gallup Poll revealed that 72% of Americans think Big Government is the biggest threat to the U.S. in the future. This is the same ever-expanding Big Government that prints money like a Third World despot, reads your e-mails, eavesdrops on your cell phone conversations, rides roughshod over The Constitution, and uses government institutions like the IRS (targeting Tea Party organizations) and Justice Department (Operation Choke Point) to punish individuals and entities it simply does not like. Although Americans are becoming increasingly powerless to stop this juggernaut of Orwellian oppression, gold and silver empower the disenfranchised.

You Must Own Gold & Silver

With gold & silver, you never lose your investment. Add to your precious metal holdings over time, and be certain that you are doing what you can to preserve your wealth and to secure your family’s future in an uncertain world.