Casey on the America That Was Now the United (Police) State of
by Louis James, Editor, International
by Doug Casey:
The Inconvenient Truths of US Foreign Policy
Doug, after conversations like the one we had last
week, we often get letters from angry readers who accuse you
of hating America, disloyalty, and perhaps even treason. These people
don't know or understand what I do about you that you love the
idea that was America. It's the United State it has become for which
you have nothing but contempt. Perhaps we should try to explain
this to them?
I doubt it would work; it's a tough row to hoe, trying to explain
things to people who are so set in their thinking that they truly
and literally don't want to hear anything that might threaten their
notions. A person who feels threatened by ideas and who responds
with emotion is acting irrationally. How can we have a discussion
with someone whose emotion trumps their reason? How do we even begin
to untangle the thinking of people who will gather this week to
give thanks for the bounty produced by freedom and hard work the
famous puritan work ethic by eating a turkey bought with food
But we can
outline the ideas, for the record.
I'll bring a copy if they ever do put you on trial for thoughtcrime
which is frighteningly close to being real these days and called
treason to boot.
It's not just close; it's here. Just try telling an unapproved joke
in a security line in an airport these days.
True enough. Where to begin?
At the beginning. America was founded as a confederation of independent
countries that's what a state is. Or was, in our language. The
original United States of America was a confederation of countries
that banded together for protection against larger and more powerful
countries they feared might be hostile. This is not a disputed interpretation
of history, but as solid a fact as the study of history produces
and yet a largely neglected one.
We did cover this ground briefly in our conversations on the
Civil War and the
So we did... the short version being that the US Constitution was
essentially a coup; the delegates to what we now call the Constitutional
Convention were not empowered to replace the existing government
only to improve upon the Articles of Confederation between the
then-independent states. The framers of the Constitution drafted
it with the notion of a national government already in place, but
calmed fears of loss of state sovereignty by calling the new government
the "United States of America" a verbal sleight of hand that worked
for over half a century. Then the southern states decided to exercise
what these words imply; their right to leave the union. While slavery
was and is a wholesale criminal activity I object to in every way
possible, the southern states did have the right to secede, both
legally and ethically. But the question was settled by force, not
reason, and the wrong side won.
More like an exposure of the first one for the whole world to see.
But by then it was way too late. Despite this, the relative freedom
of the US because it was for many years far freer than other countries
made it possible for artists, engineers, inventors, and businesspeople
to flourish and create a society more wealthy and powerful than
any the world had ever seen. This is what I call the idea of America
the America That Was.
But the seeds
of destruction were already sown at the very beginning with the
Alien and Sedition Acts being perhaps the first highly visible step
in the wrong direction. Then came the forceful assertion of one
national government, with states reduced to administrative regions
via the War of Southern Secession, from 1861-'65. I'm no fan of
state governments, incidentally, but at least they're smaller and
closer to their subjects than the federal government. Another major
step in the wrong direction occurred with the Spanish-American War
of 1898, where the US acquired an overseas empire by force. The
next major step downhill was the creation of the Federal Reserve
and the income tax, both in 1913, just in time for World War I.
It took time for these things to make the system crash, because
it was still a fairly free economy.
But crash it did in 1929
Yes. And it led to the Great Depression of 1929-'46, which lasted
so long entirely because of the unmitigated disaster of the New
Deal (which we discussed
recently). The New Deal injected socialist-fascist ideas into
mainstream American thought like a poisonous acid, corrupting the
heart of the idea of America that once made the place great. The
process was completed with Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, which
really established the basis of the welfare-warfare state. It truly
set the stage for the total ethical, economic, social, political,
and even military disaster now unfolding before our eyes.
beating heart of the idea of America which is to say both social
and economic freedom took time to corrupt. Like a strong man who
doesn't know he's headed for a heart attack, American culture didn't
really peak until the 1950s. The bullet-finned 1959 Cadillac is
a symbol of this peak, in my mind.
Then we had Johnson and his "guns and butter" policy War in Vietnam
and War on Poverty at the same time followed by tricky Dick kicking
the last leg out of under the stool by taking the dollar off an
even theoretical gold standard.
Yes. Nixon was arguably even a worse President than Johnson, with
the devaluation of the dollar in 1971 and his creation of the War
on Drugs. Things have spiraled out of control since then. In The
Casey Report, we've written reams about these last decades
and how they led to and shaped what's happening now. But I have
to say, the focus has been largely financial.
Which is as it should be, in a publication designed to help investors
navigate these turbulent times.
Yes, but the corruption goes way beyond that, beyond even the senseless
wars and idiotic foreign policy we
discussed last week. America, once the land of the brave and
the home of the free, is well on its way to becoming a police state
worse than any we've seen in the past, including the Soviet Union
and Nazi Germany.
How could it get worse than that?
Brother has better technology now, allowing possible manipulation
and control of the population that Stalin and Hitler never dreamed
of. And because the US used to be such a great place, a lot of people
have been tricked into believing it's the same as it was. But there's
no more resemblance between the America of old and the US of today
than there was between the Rome of the Republic and the Rome of
the later emperors. Furthermore, most Americans have conflated the
government with society. They're not only different things, but
I thought you said you're an optimist!
I am. But that's for the survivors who make it through the wringer
the global economy and every person on this planet is about
to go through. I keep telling you that the coming Greater Depression
is going to be even worse than I think it is. You may think I'm
joking, but I'm not. I do think that, primarily for reasons we discussed
in our conversation
on technology, what comes next will not only be even better
than I imagine, it will be better than I can imagine
we have to go through the wringer. I see no way around it. I truly
Okay, I know you believe that. Can you substantiate the police-state
Well, rather than give you anecdotal evidence of which there are
masses more each day let me refer to a rather perceptive blog
post by a George Washington law professor named Jonathan Turley,
Reasons Why the US Is No Longer the Land of the Free. I'm
sure I don't see everything the way the professor does, but the
list struck me as quite accurate and very important for people to
I'm sure I don't want to hear this, but okay, shoot.
[Chuckles] Maybe you don't, but I know you value the truth. These
points underline something I've said for years: the Bill of Rights
is a completely dead letter. It's essentially meaningless and rarely
even gets the benefit of lip service. Quoting it will result in
derision, if not arrest as a dangerous radical.
didn't think the civil liberties situation could get worse than
it was under Cheney-Bush, but it has. Obama has repealed none of
what they did and added more. So, let's go through the list. First:
of U.S. citizens: "President Obama has claimed, as President
George W. Bush did before him, the right
to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or
an abettor of terrorism."
Of course the
very concept of terrorism is highly malleable, with over 100 definitions
floating about as we've
discussed. But apart from that, it's now accepted that the president
and his minions have the right to kill almost anyone. This conceit
will get completely out of control after the next real or imagined
major terrorist incident.
This reminds me of the extraordinary powers given to government
agents to battle the War On Some Drugs like the RICO statutes
which have now been turned against ordinary citizens who have
nothing to do with the drug trade.
Exactly. Once you give the state a power for whatever good reason
you imagine it needs it it will use that power for whatever those
in charge feel is in their interests. And those in charge are never
detention: "Under the law signed last month, terrorism
suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has
the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism."
This was a
precedent set by Guantαnamo, where scores of the accused continue
to rot without even a kangaroo-court trial.
justice: "The president now decides whether a person will
receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal,
a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic
due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and
Obama has continued the practice."
As the government
becomes more powerful, it's completely predictable that everything
including the justice system will become ever more politicized.
And government very rarely relinquishes a power it's gained. I particularly
like the Supreme Court ruling in April 2012 that allows anyone who's
arrested for anything including littering or jaywalking to be
Note to readers: you can't hear Doug's voice, but I assure you that
his use of the word "like" is sarcastic.
Just so. Moving right along:
searches: "The president may now order warrantless surveillance,
including a new capability to force companies and organizations
to turn over information on citizens' finances, communications and
associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot
Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended
the power, including searches of everything from business documents
to library records."
now a completely dead concept, from both a legal and a practical
point of view. If you want to retain privacy, you now have no alternative
to relocating outside the US.
Or any advanced Western country. I've read that there are more surveillance
cameras per square mile in London than anywhere else.
I've heard that too. The opposite being true in rural Argentina
is one of the things I like about it. Back to the list:
evidence: "The government now routinely uses secret evidence
to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and
military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the
United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would
make the government reveal classified information that would harm
essentially amounts to nothing more than government security, which
amounts to cover for the individuals in the government. Nazi Germany
and the USSR were national-security states. As I've tried
to explain in the past, once a critical mass is reached, it's
impossible to reform a government. I believe we've reached that
state in the US.
crimes: "The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible
for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration,
the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow
CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions.
This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles
of international law."
field operatives under the stress of combat is one thing; torture
as official policy is something else again. But torture is now accepted
in the US. Worse, there are far more serious war crimes than torture
being committed in the name of the US that are going unpunished.
This is, after all, a far darker version of the same US government
infected black US citizens with syphilis just to see what would
happen, and sent
US citizens of Japanese descent to concentration camps during
Exactly. The next point is:
court: "The government has increased its use of the secret
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its
secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting
hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed
these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals
who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group."
You no longer
live in a free country when there's zero privacy for citizens, but
100% secrecy for the government and those it employs.
from judicial review: "Like the Bush administration, the
Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies
that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the
ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy."
has outsourced some of its functions not least the use of contractors
in war zones. Increasingly, being associated with the government
gives you a "get out of jail free" card. In the USSR they called
this a "krisha" a roof.
monitoring of citizens: "The Obama administration has successfully
defended its claim that it
can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens
without securing any court order or review."
Bad as this
is, it's just one example. There's also the use of domestic drones,
and hundreds of thousands of cameras that take pictures of everyone
renditions: "The government now has the ability to transfer
both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system
known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using
other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan,
to torture suspects."
Yes, if someone
is kidnapped, there's plausible deniability if the torturing is
done abroad by a third party. And they're likely to have even fewer
That's a pretty depressing list, Doug.
And this is just the beginning. As I've said before, I don't call
the shots just try to tell the truth as I see it. The point is
that you couldn't assemble a list like this even 15 years ago. But
now it's part of the firmament. Worse, it's going to grow. As the
economy turns down over the next few years, the people acting
like scared chimpanzees will ask the government to "do something."
And it will. The trend is going hyperbolic.
I can't argue
and I agree it is not likely to be stopped. So if
this is a sure trend, are there investment implications?
This just goes to reinforce what I've been saying for some time.
As great as a US citizen's risk is in the marketplace these days,
the greatest single risk to their wealth and health is the government.
People simply must internationalize to diversify their political
risk. I can't stress that strongly enough.
Would you go so far as to say that being a taxpayer in the US now
is like being a Jew in Germany in the mid-1930s?
That's a good analogy. It's costly and upsetting to uproot, but
the risk if you don't is unimaginably worse. And I would warn people
in other countries to take the same precautions. All of these nation-states
are dying dinosaurs that will cause a lot of damage as they thrash
about in their death throes. No place is completely safe, but you
improve your odds by not putting your eggs all in one basket.
Okay, I guess we've covered that plenty of times. Is there a "police-state
play" any investments one could make before the new Iron Curtain
slams down? Handcuff manufacturers?
Nah they have those plastic zip-binder things now; they're so
cheap that I doubt the manufacturer can even make big money in volume.
But I do remember a speech I attended in the '90s given by William
Bennett, the ex-Drug Czar, who recommended investing in prisons.
I excoriated him as a sociopath at that meeting but he was right.
However, that ship has sailed; it's hard to believe the US can incarcerate
more than the current 2.3 million people. Besides, I find it morally
offensive to capitalize what I consider to be criminal enterprises.
No, for now the only absolutely crystal-clear imperative is as above:
You've got t have a Plan B ready in case you need to get out of
Dodge and you need it pronto.
And to those
who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I urge you to remind
those you carve the turkey with that it was hard work and the freedom
to profit from it that created the bounty the pilgrims celebrated.
It was this enterprising spirit and the liberty to exercise it that
was the heart of the idea of the America That Was the idea that
made America great. Those corrupt politicians who have been undermining
these values for so long, and the willfully ignorant ideologues
who support them, are responsible for turning this country into
the United (Police) State of America. They should be criticized
and opposed at every opportunity.
Okay, Doug. Thanks for another challenging but enlightening conversation.
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