1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits,* and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then the herald cried aloud, “To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. 6 Whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace the same hour.”
7 Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews. 9 They answered Nebuchadnezzar the king, “O king, live for ever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; 11 and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, have not respected you. They don’t serve your gods, and don’t worship the golden image which you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. Then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered them, “Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, good; but if you don’t worship, you shall be cast the same hour into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. Who is that god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If it happens, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his appearance was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 He commanded certain mighty men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their pants, their tunics, and their mantles, and their other clothes, and were cast into the middle of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste. He spoke and said to his counselors, “Didn’t we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire?”
They answered the king, “True, O king.”
25 He answered, “Look, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are unharmed. The appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace. He spoke and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!”
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the middle of the fire. 27 The local governors, the deputies, and the governors, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies. The hair of their head wasn’t singed. Their pants weren’t changed, the smell of fire wasn’t even on them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything evil against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Today our Pastor gave a profound teaching on this chapter. There are two eternal lessons we can all take from Daniel 3:
When you are in an impossible situation, do not play along, hold true to your values. Further, when they throw you into the fire, know that it is the fire that frees you.
When you are in the fire, don’t miss the fourth man who is there with you. Jews believe it to be the Archangel Michael, Christians believe it to be Jesus, and in both cases it is the Living God who is with us in the trial.
We were fortunate to visit the seat of the Empire in Washington, DC, last week to attend a conference (more on that to follow). The Washington DC area is home to some very moving war memorials. Among them those dedicated to those who gave their lives in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
In nearby Arlington, Virginia the Arlington National Cemetery provides a resting place for approximately 400,000 soldiers. This Military Cemetery was established on 624 acres after the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, the former estate of Mary Anna Custis, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. Ms. Custis, of course, was the wife of none other than Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Most famously, the Tomb of the Unknowns commemorates those who perished in conflict and could not be identified. It is the focal point for many at the Cemetery. It has been guarded around the clock since 1937 and its changing of the guard is one of the most solemn and precise disciplines in the US Military.
Today we watched television program recounting the history of the Navy SEALs, perhaps the most visible and celebrated contingent of the US Military. One thing that stuck out to us is that for the SEALs who shared their stories on the program, they saw their service as “fighting other’s battles.” Indeed, this is the spirit of the Veterans who have answered the call of duty throughout History. They train and then go willingly into the face of danger so that others don’t have to. They defend those who are unable or unwilling to defend themselves, and the depth of their sacrifices is too often overlooked.
Let it be not so this Veteran’s Day, as we remember those who have given their lives for many. You can read about a few we have been privileged to know here: An Ode to the Veterans We’ve Known
For those among our readership who do not follow Spanish Politics, Catalunya, the region of Spain most easily recognized by its leading city, Barcelona, held a vote on two matters of the utmost importance to the Catalans. The questions were posed in the following manner:
1) Do you want Catalunya to be a State?
2) Do you want that State be Independent?
The vote today in Catalunya, of which 80.72% voted “yea” on both questions, was not sanctioned or recognized by the Spanish government in Madrid, other than to say it was nothing more than propaganda.
According to The Guardian, roughly 2 million of the 5.4 million persons who were eligible to vote cast a ballot today, a roughly 37% turnout, which means that today, roughly 32.3% of those living in Catalunya took the time to submit a symbolic ballot in favor of their Independence from Spain. For a quick comparison of this figure, 68.9% of eligible voters cast a ballot in Spain’s last General Election in November of 2011.
While voter turnout today in Catalunya may not seem impressive on the surface, it takes on more meaning when one considers that, as it was unsanctioned by the Spanish Government, over 40,000 volunteers took it upon themselves to receive and count the ballots.
The Catalans have employed what we call Classic, or Grass-roots, Democracy in an effort to allow their citizens to determine in a civilized manner the most basic of questions with regards to self governance: Shall we, as a region, be Independent?
Admittedly, Catalunya is in a unique position to do so. Most regions, for which Independence is more a romantic idea than a practical one (the most recent example being Scotland’s referendum to break ties with the UK), have much to lose and little to gain by declaring Independence. Catalunya, on the other hand, is essentially self-sufficient and for them, remaining part of Spain has little upside.
For a time, the argument could be made that Spain provided Catalunya access to markets that it otherwise could not have sold into. Today, this is a non-issue, as the EU trade agreements would continue to cover an Independent Catalan State.
The Spanish Government has a big problem. While Spanish officials are swiftly and publicly denouncing the Catalans for holding what, in their mind, had already been declared an “illegal” vote, the Catalans have cleverly and very publicly made a mockery of what passes today as “Democracy” in the Sovereign States of the world who embrace this model of governance.
For what is Democracy if not the people’s right to self determination? Yet modern democracy for most boils down to questions of which hand picked candidate will occupy an embedded power structures, and whether or not to increase the existing tax and regulatory burdens imposed by this power structure.
With today’s actions, the Catalans struck at the heart of the existing system. Our guess is that one day, they and many other regions in similar situations will enjoy sovereign status as peers to their former oppressors in the EU.
Throwing off the EU’s chains, however, would be a matter settled by arms, as the French, American, and every other successful revolution against the clutches of Empire have shown. It is not the nature of Empire to negotiate or put to vote matters of self-determination.
Oregon Taxes Weed
In our local elections, our fellow Oregonians chose to decriminalize marijuana. Joining them were the people of Washington, DC, making a total of four jurisdictions in the US that have changed the innocuous plant from a huge drain on tax revenue to a potential source of revenue with the stroke of a pen.
Weed: It got your parents kicked out of school, now it can pay for yours.
Which way did The Mint vote on the issue? We didn’t. You can read our reasons for abstaining from voting on State and Federal Matters in the links below:
As the Catalans have seen in the case of the Spanish, government, once it exceeds a certain size, ceases to serve the people who created it and becomes at best parasitic and at worst, antagonistic and violent as it increasingly resorts to the use of force in an effort to advance a failed system.
With most of the markets we follow taking a breather for the holiday, save the Bitcoin, which bows to no sovereign and raced up to $383 today, we turn our gaze and tip our hats once again to veterans, not just those of the United States, which has specifically set aside this day to honor them, but of all men and women who have thrown themselves into the face of danger and worked in extremely difficult conditions to defend a national ideal that they believed in with all of their heart.
Here at The Mint, we wish to honor them by remembering the four veterans that we have known, three have passed on and one remains. Each story is woven in with our own, and has changed the course of history for us.
First, there is our Grandfather Collins, who, as World War II raged on, managed to memorize the eye chart so that they would allow him to enlist in the Army. While leaving our grandmother behind with countless other young women in the same situation at an Army base in Kansas, he boarded a troop transport which zigzagged its way across the Atlantic Ocean, dodging German U Boats, while sleeping on a rack with many other men, packed in like sardines for roughly 18 days until they safely reached their destination in England, where, as an ambulance driver he witnessed first hand the casualties returning from the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
“They didn’t tell us, but you could see they were mounting something big,” he told us of the preparations for D-Day. He mentioned that they would ride bicycles 20 miles for a beer at the Pub on weekends.
When VE day arrived, he said they were allowed to stay in some of the finest hotels in Paris, but he was extremely anxious to get home to his young bride and could not enjoy it as one might imagine in retrospect.
Next, there is our other Grandfather, Victor, who enlisted in the Army early on in World War II and was sent to the Pacific Theater of operations. While all of the Veterans we knew passed for difficult things, it was he who had the most difficult time. He was an excellent baseball player in the Army and had the bad fortune of rupturing his spleen while playing ball in Hawaii. While the surgeons were able to successfully remove it, they sewed up his abdomen with a sponge still inside! The incision became so infected that they shipped him back to San Francisco to be operated on once again as he was close to dying.
When he recovered from this ordeal, he was sent into back to the Pacific Theater and, from what the family knew, contracted malaria and got lost in the jungle. It was not until much later, after he had passed away, that we found out that he had actually been a Japanese POW and, at the end of the war, weighed just 98 pounds and again was at the brink of death.
They sent him on a train to his uncle’s farm in western Nebraska, where, fortunately, he was nursed back to health.
Third comes Edgar, our Grandfather Victor’s brother (our great uncle), who fought Germany’s Rommel, the Desert Fox, in Northern Africa. Uncle Ed’s observations of the war that he related to us were that dentistry in the field involved a drill that was powered by a stationary bike. As such, it was best to have a cavity filled when the men with the best bicycle legs were able to help.
He also observed that water was scarce, and it vexed him as to how the villages they visited during the war, who seemed short of water then, had grown to tens of thousands of people some 40 years later. He and his wife, Ethel, were featured in the Reader’s Digest as a letter Ed sent to Ethel was found among a bag of US Army mail that had been found 40 years later. It had words cut out of it to prevent the letters from giving away troop positions and planned movements that the servicemen may have inadvertently included in the letters to their sweethearts.
Ed often said that if any of us youngsters were drafted, he would pay for us to go live in Canada. After the events of 9/11, he recommended that we read The Haj in order to understand Arab culture.
These three brave men above went on to live long, full lives and, while we have recounted some of the difficult things they were called to live during World War II, they did not doubt the call of duty which was given to their generation, and were glad to have served, and even gladder to be home when it was over.
The final veteran that we’ve known is a friend and former colleague who left the company before we did to occupy a UN post in Geneva. We went to visit him once and he led us on a hike through some of the hills leading up from Ouchy, a nearby village, where at the top, we took in a pot of fondue and enjoyed the views over Lake Geneva.
We knew that Ryan, our friend, had been in the military before we knew him. During our ascent over short rock walls and past cows donning bells, we took the opportunity to ask him about his experiences. He was the leader of a tank unit in desert storm in 1991, and recalled how he would have to run up to holes in the sand to see if there were any Iraqi soldiers that had survived in their foxholes in the desert as the tank units advanced. Not for the faint of heart.
The sacrifices of men like Collins, Victor, Ed, and Ryan all too often go unrecognized and, even more often, are not recounted, even by the very men who lived through the horrors of war to their immediate families.
We tip our hats to them and to all veterans across the United States and throughout the world of all nations, for they have demonstrated that at times it requires uncommon valor to keep the light of freedom burning in this world.
May they be remembered fondly and often, and may those who made the ultimate sacrifice rest in peace.
For those who let the 5th of November go unmarked, as so many still do, by all means, do carry on. “For those who see what I see, and feel what I feel…”
Apart from taking the name “Guy” and enshrining it so deeply in the English language that today many commemorate him without even knowing it, the actions of Guy Fawkes on November 5th, 1605, for those today who have taken time to connect the dots and draw the parallels between the time Fawkes lived in and our own, now serve as a somewhat unlikely rally cry for freedom.
In modern-day jargon, Guy Fawkes would be labelled a terrorist and no doubt be on many a no fly list. His bank account, telephone, and electronic communications would be monitored, and his Facebook friends would be suspects along with him.
In Fawkes’ day, taxing beards and regulating dress codes was high on the government’s priority list, a far cry from innocent government actions which we take for granted today, such as taxing tanning beds and regulating health insurance.
The more one reflects on what occurred over 400 years ago, the more one begins to understand why it still resonates with those who love freedom across the planet, as the million mask marches which took place today demonstrated.
For better or worse, Freedom is one of the few God-given rights of humankind. It is so basic and vital to our existence that one tends to assume that all people think alike on the matter, as they would access to food and water supplies. It is so vital and ever-present that one does not take notice until it is credibly threatened.
Whether you don a mask or not, we wish you a Happy Guy Fawkes day, may we all cherish our God-given freedom, and may those who choose to don a beard continue to do so in a duty-free manner.
Today we came across some information that may literally be a question of life or death. It is regarding the much vilified Fifth Amendment, better known for its Miranda translation, “The right to remain silent.”
The jest of the article is that, rather than being a hiding place for criminals, the Fifth Amendment, the right to not incriminate oneself, serves an extremely important function in today’s culture where persons are all too often presumed guilty until proven innocent. The best advice, when approached by a police officer, is to draw on the fifth amendment first and then ask questions later, with an attorney present.
The logic is that, the police, even under the best of circumstances, may unintentionally twist one’s words in a way that implicates them in a crime that one did not commit. In the worst of cases, the Police use anything one says to frame them.
The article draws on information from the following lecture given by a law school professor and former criminal defense attorney, which deals extensively with this very issue:
With the incredible pressure and awkward situations in which those who are entrusted to serve and protect us are placed in daily, invoking the Fifth Amendment may also be the best way to get them out of a difficult situation.
Paradoxical as it may seem, the next time one is approached by the Police, the best course of action is to simply state, “I invoke my right to remain silent. If you wish to speak with me, I will do so only with my attorney preset.” When they ask why, simply state “Because, anything I say can and will be used to incriminate me.”
As society has made the Subtle Change from Principles to Rules, simply being alive and breathing may cause one to break any number of rules, both written and unwritten, no matter how much one tries to do the right thing.
The Police are there to enforce the rules, and we praise them for it, unfortunately the rules themselves all too often serve to pervert justice rather than serve it. For innocents simply trying to live their life peacefully, the Fifth Amendment may be the best and only source of protection against random prosecutions.
What kind of book is this? It is largely up to the reader to decide. For us, it is the fruit of two years of wrestling with some of life’s deeper questions with regards to Economics, Politics, and Philosophy. It has answered many of them and, in turn, has raised other issues, for in our exploration, as you will see, the current state of affairs is laid bare for all to examine, and our recommended courses of action may be unpalatable for many.
Nevertheless, there it is, altogether thick and challenging, yet refreshingly simple, the key to reversing the effects of climate change.
In a sense, it culminates the first phase of what we set out to do here at The Mint. There will be more to come, but for the time being, we leave you to ponder the following brief excerpt:
“The natural world strives daily to achieve a perfect state of balance. Events and occurrences that, taken by themselves, appear chaotic and devoid of meaning are together part of a constant rebalancing of the earth’s delicate state. Each event is a splash of color across an oppressive gray sky that hints at a rainbow that will soon appear. “
As the financial world continues to turn in an ever inflated manner, we have been diligently working to complete the latest volume of the Why what we use as Money Matters series before the joyous distractions of summer in the Northwest call us away.
It is increasingly important that mankind take adequate time to pause and reflect as to what ideology is being tacitly or actively pursued as a guide for his daily toils. As the collective efforts of mankind reach an effectiveness that was unimaginable a generation ago, the throws of human action are having a profound impact not only on an increasingly interconnected global economy, but on the very earth which mankind has been entrusted with.
It is no longer a safe assumption that the natural world can perpetually work to correct the mistakes in favor of mankind. A deep examination of our motives in light of the Golden Rule is desperately needed to ensure a prosperous future for many. The key to material prosperity is allowing mankind to tacitly coordinate his varied productive efforts by promoting the ideals of true capitalism in large scale dealings, for it is the ideology which best allows mankind to respond to the incessant demands of natural law. Continue reading Marx and Rand together in perfect harmony set for release!→
If you haven’t paid attention, there is nothing short of a seismic event occurring in the world’s monetary base. It started with the threat of government confiscation of savings accounts in Cyprus and is transmitting itself not through the ordinary channels of the financial and commodity markets, but into what is one of the least recognized developing markets on the globe:
Decentralized digital currency.
For those in Cyprus with an internet connection and a reasonable amount of technical savvy, the Bitcoin represents an escape hatch from the government’s currency grab.
Again, while we personally have reservations about keeping too many eggs in any form of digital currency, be it bank accounts, fiat currency, or Bitcoins, the utility of Bitcoins as a temporary store of value cannot be overlooked.
While we do not classify anything as money, rather, we recognize various things or concepts tend to carry a monetary premium, it is quickly becoming clear that Bitcoins and similar digital currencies which will no doubt emerge must be considered by any serious monetary theorist, amongst which we count ourselves and few others.
As such, the price of Bitcoins as it appears on Mt. Gox, the most established exchange of the digital medium, will be listed amongst our Key Indicators.
It will be quite a ride, for we suspect many senators and those in government whom the public suppose are caring for monetary matters are just now getting briefed on what it is, and why it threatens their hammer lock on the money supply.
At some point, the Central Banks of the world will intervene in the market the way they do with the rest of the markets in our Key Indicators, either directly or indirectly.
Until then, it will be quite a ride, and mostly upward sloping, as the two elements of the Bitcoin/USD ratio are on nearly opposite trajectories. Should confidence in the Bitcoin go mainstream, the action could get downright silly. Not just in the Bitcoin price, but on main street, where banking as we know it will be publicly executed by a lifeless logarithm.
It is a form of poetic justice that Mark Twain would have loved. We invite you to join us in enjoying it for him.
In the twenty first century, it has become clear to most that there is no divine right or imperative for the existence of an Empire on the earth. As such, an ever-increasing number of peoples have thrown off the yoke of Empire in favor of what has become known as a democratic model of collective governance. Yet simply changing the rules of governance has not put an end to the core ideals of Empire, and governments today that are elected democratically have largely retained the hallmarks of Imperial rule, namely the tendencies toward a central monopoly on the use of force and the right to demand tribute. How can this be?
The purpose of this volume is to gain an understanding of the true nature of Empire and, to convince the reader that Empire, and by extension large scale government, is not only unnecessary, but a great hindrance to human progress. This volume also explores why the Imperial model virtually ensures that the worst elements of humanity will rise to power, where they will ultimately impose their will on their fellow humans by violence. For the violent outcomes that Empires invariably produce are not exceptions to the rule, nor are they merely the norm.
They are literally guaranteed by design.
Once we have grasped the true nature of Empire, we will then will explore the only known antidote to Empire and the only possible means for mankind to rid itself of the lethal effects of Empire on the earth. And it is probably like anything you have imagined.
The following is an excerpt from our upcoming ebook release, “What is Truth? On the Nature of Empire” which is volume IV in our series “Why what we use as Money Matters.”
As we researched the book, we were joined unexpectedly by James Tissot by way of his astonishing artwork. His depiction of Joseph and His Brothers approaching Pharaoh adorns the cover, and his great works, such as this one entitled: “Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix” or “What Our Lord Saw from the Cross” in English have moved and inspired us as we have toiled on this volume. We pray that they will move and inspire you as well.
“Ce que voyait Notre-Seigneur sur la Croix” (What Our Lord Saw from the Cross) – by James Tissot
What is Truth? On the Nature of Empire
As men and women go about their daily occupations, it is relatively common to stop and form an opinion on the benefits or detriments to society of a particular action taken by the government. While it is easy to form an opinion and then take sides of an issue, perhaps the most important question that can be asked is not, “What should the government do?” but rather, “Why is the government doing anything?”
The reason that the second question is rarely, if ever asked is that the concept of Empire, or a large scale government which is seen as the ultimately authority, has been part of the human experience for so long that it’s existence or utility are rarely, if ever, questioned. We pray that this volume has caused you to give it some thought.
The ignoble goal of all Imperial activities has been to establish and maintain primacy in the affairs of men and women throughout the entire known world. This demand for primacy and allegiance takes the form of the Empire claiming a monopoly on the use of force, which is invariably followed by demands for tribute. Ultimately, the head of Empire will make an appeal to divine right and declare him or herself a deity. As the Empire begins to fade out of existence, it tends to become more violent and intolerant, not conscious of the fact that its subjects are devoting a great deal of time and energy to escaping its grasp.
Those who remain are left to either perish at the hands of the Empire or at the hands of those who see no alternative save the use of the force of arms to overthrow the Imperial leadership, which has been necessarily populated by the members of society who are best able to suppress their conscience in blind pursuit of the Imperial imperative.
Such is the nature of Empire, and it is lethal to human progress. The existance of Empire on the earth ensures that all who inhabit it will take the side of Cain, who in the Biblical account related in Genesis chapter 4 lead his younger brother Abel to a field where he murdered him, or Abel, the innocent. Cain’s murderous act is born out of the mistaken belief that the removal of others from the earth will secure one’s place before God and man. It is an idea that is the driving force behind Imperial action, and it is death.
Fortunately, there is a better way. The better way lies neither in violently or peacefully resisting the Empire, it lies in the doctrine of non-resistance, which paradoxically is the best way to ensure one’s safety and security regardless of the state of Imperial degeneration that one finds themselves surrounded by.
However, the path of non-resistance is not without risk. Many of history’s most noted adherents are noted because they perished while clinging to this principle. It is not for the faint of heart, yet it is attainable.
The power to do this is found in the person of Jesus Christ, who replied to the Imperial lament, voiced by Pontius Pilate, an instrument of the Roman Empire, “What is truth?”
Jesus’ response, which is not recorded in the Biblical account but made clear by His subsequent actions, echoes through 2000 years of Imperial rule to guide our actions today:
In His reply, we find the power to embrace the doctrine of non-resistance, which is the only hope that mankind has to live in peace both here and now, regardless of the proximity of Imperial rule to his or her daily activities, and in eternity. For to forgive is to live in eternal peace with God himself.
Stay tuned in to The Mint for the upcoming ebook release!
In today’s Mint we submit to you, fellow taxpayer, an excerpt of our upcoming E-book release: On the Nature of Empire. Enjoy!
Empire: An Introduction
empire-/’empī(ə)r/- noun -1. An extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority or oligarchy.
Derived from the Latin imperium, the word Empire has come to embody the concept of dominance on a grand scale. From the time of the original Akkadian, Mayan, and Egyptian Empires to the more recent Greek, Roman, and British versions, the ignoble goal of all Imperial activities has been to establish and maintain primacy in the affairs of men and women throughout the entire known world.
Proof of this is found in the nearly invariable behavior of the heads of Empire, known as emperors and empresses, who come to embody the ultimate conceit of the imperial mindset by attempting to establish themselves as a deity. The conceit is always fatal, for this ridiculous presumption has the nasty side-affect of destroying any shred of legitimacy that the head of Empire may have previously established. However, whether or not the emperor publically manifests a claim to deity by demanding reverence reserved for the truly divine or, at the opposite end of the spectrum of possible outcomes, they make a demand for reverence that goes largely unchallenged, those who have reigned in the emperor’s chair have invariably come to assume that they had, at their disposal, the divine right to liquidate any and all threats to their claim to the ultimate power over their fellow mortals.
In the twenty first century, it has become clear to most that there is no divine right or imperative for the existence of an Empire on the earth. As such, an ever increasing number of peoples have thrown off the yoke of Empire in favor of a what has become known as a democratic model of collective governance. Yet simply changing the rules of governance has not put an end to the core ideals of Empire, and the hallmarks of Imperial rule, namely the tendencies towards a central monopoly on the use of force and the right to demand tribute, have been largely retained by governments today that are elected democratically. How can this be?
The concept of Empire is a construction of men, and is largely a result of a tolerance by the many of what is nothing more than antisocial behavior by a few. As we have stated above, an Empire, at its base, is a monopoly on the use of force which evolves into a monopoly on the right to demand tribute. Living under Imperial rule is not man’s natural state, and it will eventually come into conflict with mankind’s natural disposition for autonomy, commonly known as freedom or the right to self determination.
Why do the many tolerate the antisocial behavior by a few that ultimately leads to Imperial rule? The answer is that Empires do not appear overnight. They emerge over relatively long time horizons and, until they approach their blow off phase, may appear to have many benefits. However, these benefits always come at a great human cost, a cost that is almost always obscured from those who receive them.
It should come as no surprise, then, that there is no historical evidence of an Empire spontaneously arising by mutual consent. On the contrary, Empires are created and expanded by subjugating a territory and the peoples that inhabit it via either the threat or actual use of military force. Once subjugated, the Empire attempts to consolidate its control of the territory by exacting tribute from its subject. From ancient times up to today, an Empire’s demand for tribute ultimately manifests itself in taking control over the food supply.
One of the more poignant historical examples of this can be found in the Biblical book of Genesis, where Joseph advises the emperor of Egypt at the time, Pharaoh, to store up the Egyptian grain production for a time in anticipation of a seven year famine. The Pharaoh then sold the grain back to the Egyptians and foreigners during the famine. While the story generally has a happy ending, it is a stark example of the Imperial prerogative to confiscate property via taxation.
Paradoxically, the subjects of Empire, who could just as easily eat from the foodstuffs they produce and store up their own rainy day funds, find themselves rendering their harvests to the representatives of the Empire, in the case of the Pharaohs, a full 20% of their production, only to be forced to beg them back at a future date when the need arises. The Paradox is furthered in that the Empire, in attempting to maintain primacy via various forms of taxation, ultimately ensures its demise, as the inherent waste in the Imperial model overwhelm its ability to extract further tribute from its subjects.
The mechanism of taxation itself causes the Empire to weaken, as it indirectly encourages sub optimum activity and in the worst case, inactivity and waste by those who receive the benefits of the proceeds of the taxes.
Long before the Empire becomes aware of its weakened state, the subjects themselves are often the first to realize that the Emperor is wearing no clothes, to borrow Mr. Andersen’s metaphor. Those with the means and the initiative will move to escape the withering grasp of the Empire. Those who do not leave are often left to perish in a futile effort to either defend the Empire or oppose it through the same force of arms by which the Empire came to their lands. For an Empire must ultimately demand allegiance from its subjects, and an intolerance for dissention will tend to increase in direct proportion to the level of weakness of the Empire.
As such, for an Empire to perpetuate itself, it must rely entirely on the force of arms when necessary and coercive propaganda at all times in an ultimately futile attempt to assure it retains the primitive right to meddle in the affairs of others. In the final blow off phase, which is marked by civil wars such as the one currently playing out in Syria, the Empire will resort almost exclusively to the use of arms to squash dissention.
Yet the maintenance of Empire, like the air travel industry, is in every case a losing proposition. It is an utter and complete waste of time and money. To maintain an Empire requires an ever increasing amount of human and intellectual capital which are depleted in ever increasing quantities as the Empire slides into history’s dustbin, where it will simply attach itself to the long list of Empires that were.
The concept of Empire has always been lethal to human existence and prosperity. However, for some reason it is romanticized in the human psyche. The purpose of this volume is to gain an understanding of the true nature of Empire and, to convince the reader that not only is Empire, and by extension large scale government, unnecessary, but it is a hindrance to human progress and virtually ensures that the worst elements of humanity will rise to power, where they will ultimately impose their will on the rest of us by violence. For the violent outcomes the Empires invariably produce are not exceptions to the rule, nor are they merely the norm.
They are literally guaranteed.
Finally, we address Pontius Pilate’s infamous inquiry, to Jesus of Nazareth before His public trial:
“What is truth?”
It is a question that has been left to humanity for two millennia, and it is time that it be answered, for in the answer lies our common fate.
Intrigued? Stay tuned to The Mint for the book’s release.
We were privileged today to witness an oath ceremony which is taken by residents of the United States who have chosen to become naturalized citizens. What we thought would be a mildly interesting event, which for those taking the oath serves as the final step towards becoming a full-fledged American citizen, moved us to tears.
The ceremony, far from being a bureaucratic event with little more to offer congratulatory remarks and an official seal affixed to a document, is a veritable celebration of the idea of America.
What is moving about the ceremony, at least for us, is a video segment which shows still shots of immigrants of the past, all of whom have come to America’s shores to escape oppression, seek opportunity, or both. It is very powerful.
After the ceremony, they show a brief video address by President Obama, where he welcomes the immigrants to America by inviting them to become part of the great American story which is now their story as well. He encourages them to do good both in their communities and throughout the world.
The ceremony is a celebration of the American idea, that all men and women are free, and that with this freedom comes the obligation to protect it and to share it with others. To use it for the betterment of mankind.
It chokes us up to think about it. We have only been brought to tears at the idea of America three times: First, in 1992, watching Carl Lewis anchor the 4 x 100 relay in Barcelona, where he covered 100 meters faster than any human being before or since. Second, while watching the movie Seabiscuit. And third, today, at the citizenship oath ceremony.
Despite the faults that are inherent in self-government, we will always be inspired by the idea of America and have a profound respect for immigrants, both legal and illegal, for they are the embodiment of this ideal.
In closing, we echo the President’s exhortation, both in the State of the Union and in his video message welcoming new US citizens, that we must all do what is within our power to better the lot of our fellow-man and woman, for to better their lot is to better our own.
Tonight’s State of the Union address by President Obama will once again draw a sharp focus on gun control, or lack thereof in the United States. The theory held out by gun control advocates is that restricting access to guns will serve as a deterrent to violence. Unfortunately, the statistics on a national and global scale argue firmly against this cause/effect relationship, as the following info-graphic illustrates:
Contrary to Utopian logic, an increase in overall gun ownership serves to decrease the rate of intentional homicides, not the reverse.
If a higher incidence of gun ownership paradoxically produces a lower intentional homicide rate, why would the idea of gun control be floated by the leader of the “Free” world at all, especially when such ideas are in clear contradiction with the document which He has sworn to uphold?
The Benefits of bad news
Mr. Obama and the rest of the well-meaning individuals who are at the head of the rallying cry for increased gun control have one thing in mind when they float such ideas:
Columbine, Sandy Hook, and innumerable other mass shootings in recent history have cast a stigma over gun ownership that world improvers, our pet name for those who believe that they and only they know what is best for humanity, have latched on to as evidence that only certain persons should be allowed to possess firearms.
Clearly, mass shootings are horrific tragedies and attempts to avoid them should be made at all costs. Again, paradoxically, they seem to occur in environments when the instigator(s) are the only ones in possession of a firearm. However, while they race to the top of the news feeds when they occur, mass shootings are generally outliers to the human experience. As such, while they are horrific tragedies, they are not as common as one would think.
It is for these reasons, both that they are uncommon and that they are horrific, that the national psyche attaches to them and examines them the way one would rise to investigate an unexpected sound in the night. For it is our rightly held belief as human beings that these things should not be, and if they have occurred, then something must be wrong. The glory of free societies is the indomitable belief that if something is wrong, we, the people, can work to make it right.
In this sense, while we cringe at the many headlines that announce a mass shooting, or any act of violence, for that matter, we have trained ourselves to breathe a sigh of relief. For the very fact that they are being reported on means that an investigation of their root causes will rise to a level of national debate. This reporting and national debate is one of the healthiest expressions of free speech that can occur.
While we do not believe that gun control will serve to mitigate tragedies, we are pleased that the debate rages on, for the answers are out there, and it gives us hope for all of mankind that we are diligently searching for it.
After you are shocked by the next tragic headline that comes your way, remember to give thanks for your reaction. For this reaction, at its core, is an inkling of the hope for the betterment of all mankind that is alive and well within you.
So carry on, Mr. President, as Free men and women, we are privileged to hear you out, as well as disagree on solutions. We share your sorrow at these events, and will work to make a better world for ourselves and our posterity.
With the unthinkable tragedy that has taken place in Connecticut, it has become fashionable to once again to turn to a form of national gun control legislation as the answer. The nation has been down this road all too often in its brief history, as such, it is normal and proper that these events shock the public conscience into some sort of action.
However, even though we, at The Mint, advocate what we call “peaceful, non-resistance,” meaning that we believe that the most effective way of ending violence is to personally renounce it, to avoid confrontation where possible and, when impossible, to meet violent individuals with a spirit of peace, we also recognize that we do not live in the utopia that gun control advocates unwittingly presume when peddling their legislative plans to remove guns from the society.
We consider Portland to be one of the most peaceful places on the planet. This may or may not be true for everyone here, but it will help us to prove a point regarding Police to Citizen ratios.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the ideal Full time Police Officer ratio for a city the size of Portland is 2.5 for every 1,000 residents. Portland’s current force is roughly 940 for a population of 593,820, which is a ratio of roughly 1.58 officers for every 1,000 residents, or one officer for every 631 residents.
No matter how you slice it, 631 people is a lot for one man or woman to be responsible for protecting.
For perspective, this ratio is claimed to be closer to 5 officers per 1,000 in New York and Los Angeles. On the other side of the spectrum, we have heard that Santa Cruz, Bolivia, considered to be the wild west, the ratio is something like 1 officer per 1,000 residents.
To see if increased police protection is synonymous with lower homicide rates, we’ve compiled some rough data which maps homicide rates in major cities against their Police to citizen ratio. Here, we present a rough graph of our rough data for your perusal:
In addition to the cities above, we threw in London, England, which has combined both stringent gun control with a larger than average police force.
It is interesting to note that, while New York and Los Angeles have the highest police force to citizen ratio in our sample, they also have the highest homicide rates. As such, it is difficult to tell if a larger police force is the key to controlling urban homicides.
However, it is interesting to note that, in urban areas, it appears that gun control may be effective in controlling homicides. However, this theory is seriously impaired when a city like Chicago or Washington, DC is considered.
As long as human beings are imperfect, unpredictable violence is likely to remain a part of the social landscape. While it is even more shocking when it occurs in low crime areas, it should be clear that unpredictable violence is just that, unpredictable. Policy remedies are imperfect.
So why the second amendment? To explain why the right to bear arms is integral to the operation of any free society, we turn to video of testimony by Dr. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, who is a survivor of the 1991 Luby’s massacre and leading advocate of the individual’s right to carry a concealed weapon. In her famous closing words, which can be seen in the clip below, she articulately states that the second amendment (we paraphrase) “wasn’t meant to protect our right to hunt ducks, it was meant to give us a means to protect ourselves from y’all (the government)”
Is it right to categorically deny a population of nearly 400 million persons the right to defend themselves (or hunt ducks, for that matter)? Second amendment advocates and the peoples of the former Soviet Union, Turkey, and Cambodia, who were systematically exterminated after surrendering such a right, would say no.
On the other hand, peace loving individuals who live in dense, urban populations may have a different opinion, where ideological battles such as the right to bear arms are meaningless if the threat of urban warfare is too close for comfort.
Whatever the choice, it can only be made at the individual level, there is no policy prescription, save the to often ignored 5th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” to which Jesus added, “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
Perhaps rather than attempting to control anything, a greater respect for human life and the Golden rule should be espoused by all. This may be the only thing that everyone involved can truly live with.
May the victims of this most recent of tragedies rest in peace, and may we be shocked into peacefully renouncing violence against one another.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of the third sign and Trust Jesus.
Ron Paul may not be perfect, but He is one of the few persons in Congress who has actually read the Constitution and understandibly watches in utter disbelief at the machinations which pass as the operation of the Federal Government today.
Mr. Paul has inspired a generation to take hold of real freedom to the extent that it can be secured here on earth. In honor of Mr. Paul, we present to you, courtesy of CSPAN, his farewell address to the House of Representatives, where he has served for the State of Texas for over 30 years. May we count ourselves amongst the the virtuous and moral people who are capable of living in a free society.
Farewell and Godspeed, Mr. Paul, your voice of reason and wisdom will be missed more than you can imagine.