Tag Archives: Bolivia

Papa Francisco’s Populist Discourse and the meaning of Evo’s Gift

8/2/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

During the month of July we found ourselves south of the equator in our second home, Bolivia.  It has been two long years since we have walked the earth there and much has changed.  The following are some observations made on our journey.

First off, it is obvious that money is everywhere.  From the construction of new apartment buildings to a new style of McMansions that are being erected by those who have benefited by the DEA’s absence in this country:  The Cholet.  The same increase in economic activity that we have noted in Portland is evident here in spades.  Everywhere you look, there is a new store, restaurant, cafe, or industrial park, all with the comforts of modern architecture with inimitable South American flair.

The first part of our visit coincided with the visit of the extremely popular Pope Francisco, or “El papa Francisco” as he is known here.  We arrived in Santa Cruz on July 6th, two days before the Holy See arrived.  On the 8th, we listened, along with all of Bolivia, the radio call of his descent and landing at the airport in El Alto.  The radio call resembled the call of a soccer game here, with the announcer screaming “Llegó” with the same passion that they yell “gol” when the home team scores.

As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, we are ambiguous to the activities of the Pope, who to us is simply another follower of the same Jesus, with a slightly larger following.  In other words, we do not recognize or attribute any special authority nor clairvoyance to the Catholic church that is not available to all believers.

That said, it is undeniable that papa Francisco is something special to the Catholic faithful, especially here in South America, as Francisco  (or Francis, as he is known in the English speaking world), an Argentinian (though you would never know it as he does not seem to swear like a sailor) is the first Pope to hail from the continent.

Having listened to his discourses over two days, it was obvious that Francisco is well schooled in the populist platitudes that the likes of Che Guevara awakened and contemporary leaders Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales have resurrected.

True to the populist playbook, Pope Francisco derides economic inequality and envisions a society where all elements of the economy, the productive sector, distributors, and retailers, all carry out their daily chores in harmony with mother earth and one another.  Where every child can enjoy a happy childhood, every worker enjoy a dignified position, and every elderly person enjoy a dignified retirement.

Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, welcomed Pope Francisco with a unique gift, a crucifix where in the place of the cross, Jesus of Nazareth is portrayed as being crucified on a hammer and scythe, a symbol synonymous with Socialism.

Regalo de Evo a papa Francisco
Regalo de Evo a papa Francisco

Was the Pope offended?  Hardly, you see, the artistic origins of the gift lie with a popular Jesuit priest who made what to some is the obvious connection between the Gospel and Socialist doctrine.  There is more to the story behind the gift, which you can read here:


We bring the whole matter up to state once and for all that the Gospel and Socialism have just one common thread:  The Gospel, or the Good News, is that God forgives, and expects us to do likewise.  Nothing more, and nothing less.  It is the most important spiritual and natural event that has ever occurred, in our lives and the lives of countless others, for it is forgiveness and forgiveness alone that unleashes the supernatural and eternal presence of Yahweh in the here and now.

To the extent that Socialism demands that mankind treat one another as they would like to be treated, it is in harmony with the Gospel.  However, any attempt to enforce what should be spontaneous acts of goodwill towards one another makes a mockery of the Gospel and subjects it to the rules of men.  As we have explored in our economic treatise, Why What We use as Money Matters, rules made by men are incompatible with freedom, which is the reason for the Gospel in the first place.

This Freedom extends to the right to be Socialist, but it does not extend to the right to enforce this destructive doctrine on one’s unwilling fellow man or woman.

We admire the Pope, heck, he gave mass in La Paz with one lung and drew out millions of the faithful in South America.  If he wants to use his enormous platform and the freedom afforded to him by the forgiveness of sins through Jesus of Nazareth to expound upon an idyllic worker’s paradise. more power to him.

The Pope speaks to the Socialist Movements in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia:

The danger in the Socialist doctrine is not evident in meaningless platitudes spewed by its proponents, nor is it evident in postulations about goals that are as unattainable as they are unmeasurable, such as universal dignity in work and retirement.  The danger of this poisonous doctrine is only evident in the blood spilled silently over the years in its name.  For when authoritarian regimes are allowed to define and enforce such concepts on a large scale, the previously unimagined economic burdens of such a program fall upon everyone, and the end result is invariably a society that lives and treats each other in a quite undignified manner.

A side note, and certainly fodder for further debate here at The Mint, our Mother-in-law posed a very interesting hypothesis about what may be wrong with Bolivian society, which seems hell bent on self destruction despite the gifts Mother Nature has seen fit to surround it with:  The poisonous union of the lie by two strata of society.

First the rich, or those who come into money, those whom we will call the upper strata of society.  This strata of society learns to lie as a means to maintain or improve their status both within their social circle, which in turn feeds a continuous chorus of lies as a group to the populations which they enslave and exploit.

Second, there are the lies of the exploited populations themselves, who learn to lie as a powerful tool of survival in a society where, to paraphrase President Snow of the Hunger Games, the odds are never in their favor.

The union of the accumulated lies tend to make any society impossible to navigate with any form of moral or ideological compass.  For to run the straight and narrow is to be stabbed in the back, and the lies create the sad and universally acknowledged truth that no one can be trusted.

Into such societies the seeds of Socialist ideology find fertile ground in which to grow and take root in the minds of the underprivileged.  They begin to grow and, like GMO crop production, look good until one realizes that the crops are only viable with a disproportionate quantity of productive inputs, and that they leave the soil and its inhabitants desolate once the massive inputs stop flowing.

It is then that the inevitable bloodshed begins, and no amount of platitudes or lofty goals, whether spoken by the Pope or the President, can stop it.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for August 2, 2015

Copper Price per Lb: $2.37
Oil Price per Barrel:  $46.77

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.68
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.20%
Bitcoin price in US:  $279.31
FED Target Rate:  0.14%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,095

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.3%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.3%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  17,690
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,998,600,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,991,900,000,000

Was Removing the DEA the Catalyst for Bolivia and Latin America’s Economic Miracle?

9/11/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

We recently returned from Bolivia, which, for the geographically challenged, is a relatively large country located in the heart of South America.  Our better half hails from this land that extends from the peaks of the Andes to the Amazon basin, and we have more than a passing interest in the goings on there.

What we observed in Bolivia this past trip can only be described as an economic boom.  While the economy has been on the uptick for a number of years, what we saw this year was well beyond an uptick.  During previous visits, we witnessed the construction of major roads along with an insane number of apartment complexes being constructed.  On this trip it was evident that the parks are now being maintained and the number of western style shopping malls and other spaces had greatly increased.

The homogenization of Bolivia, as we are fond of calling the phenomenon of globalization, is well underway.

Indeed, as one toggles the GDP of Bolivia on the embedded chart below, courtesy of tradingeconomics.com, the warp curve of economic growth that we have observed in our travels there, which began in 2005, just before Evo Morales (whose policies can only be described as Neo-Socialist) was elected, is confirmed by GDP figures.

Source: tradingeconomics.com

As we descended into Viru Viru, the interestingly named airport in Santa Cruz, we struck up a conversation with a young man who was working as a commercial diver in Oman.  In the course of the conversation, we remarked that Bolivia appeared to be in the midst of an economic boom.

When we asked our fellow weary traveller his opinion as to why the Bolivian economy had entered into its most recent growth spurt, he simply replied, “se fue la DEA.” Which means, the DEA is gone.

The DEA (US Drug Enforcement Administration, for those unfamiliar with the show Miami Vice) had occupied the rich agricultural land of the Chapare, which, while not ideal for growing coca leaves, enjoys a humid climate in which nearly anything will grow quickly, for nearly 33 years when Morales ordered them to leave during a diplomatic spat with the US in November of 2008.   It was a long-standing grudge that Morales, a coca farmer himself, had against the agency which he saw as an imperial force which harassed the simple farmers in the region that was his adopted home.

A quick glance at the GDP graph above seems to indicate that the DEA’s departure, which was completed in early February of 2009, appears to have been the catalyst that sent the Bolivian economy into overdrive.

Not only that, but when one overlays the Latin American GDP in the graph above, it is clear that not only Bolivia, but all of Latin America has experienced a similar GDP warp curve and attendant development in their infrastructure and consumer amenities.

While it may appear that a simple injection of drug money, which now flows somewhat unhindered into the country in search of the now abundant coca leaf (the raw material for cocaine and other illicit drugs) would account for this unprecedented growth, the phenomenon has coincided with another US policy that has paralleled the time frame in which Bolivia has been “DEA free*.”

Ben Bernanke’s printing press, which kicked into hyperdrive circa 2008 and has not stopped since.

While places like Hong Kong and China receive a great deal of attention for their respective currency pegs to the US Dollar, the Boliviano (the Bolivian national currency) is also pegged to the US Dollar in a similar 7:1 fashion.  As such, the Bolivian economy, which until recently has had a relatively low-level of consumer debt, has taken the dollars that Bernanke had intended to stimulate the US economy, and put them to work rather than throwing them down the black hole of their banking institutions.

So what is the ultimate catalyst for the explosive Bolivian and Latin American GDP growth over the past five years, the DEA leaving Bolivia or US Monetary policy?  Either way, it is clear that despite the Socialist bent of many Latin American countries, there is a flashing green light to invest in them as long as these two conditions persist, for they are like rocket fuel for these largely cash based economies with dollar pegs fixed to their national currencies.

“Viva mi Patria Bolivia…como la quiero yo!”

*Morales has deployed his own military to fulfill the role of the DEA in their absence, however it is evident that they are not as zealous in their persecution of the coca leaf as their American counterparts.

Key Indicators for September 11, 2013

Carta abierta dirigida a Su Excelencia Evo Morales Ayma, Presidente del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia

Carta abierta dirigida a Su Excelencia Evo Morales Ayma, Presidente del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia,
Evo Morales - President of Bolivia in Brazil 2007
Evo Morales – President of Bolivia, photo taken December 17, 2007 in Brazil by Marcello Casal Jr. of Agencia Brasil http://www.agenciabrasil.gov.br/media/imagens/2007/12/17/1840MC44.jpg

Permítame expresar mi más sincero saludo a Usted, señor Presidente, y a las honorables autoridades de la gran República Andina de Bolivia. Que puedan vivir y prosperar en la tierra bendita que habitan en la que goberna hábilmente como su humilde servidor.

He observado, tanto de cerca como de lejos, su pasión por liberar y elevar a los pueblos que habitan en las tierras que hoy conocemos como el Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia. He observado con admiración la valentía y determinación que usted ha demonstrado al llegar a su posición actual y al continuar con el trabajo diario por la liberación y la dignidad de aquellos que, durante demasiado tiempo, han sido víctimas de la opresión injusta.

Le escribo hoy por dos razones. En primer lugar, para animarlo en su lucha noble. Todos los grandes líderes, como usted sabe muy bien, enfrenten la adversidad, la crítica y la oposición de los que se ven amenazados por lo que representan. Estas fuerzas sólo han aumentado en intensidad a medida que tome medidas para reparar siglos de injusticia.

Sepa que a pesar de el ruido que hacen algunos quienes le insultan por tomar acción mientras ellos se sientan con los brazos cruzados, hay muchos, aunque sus voces sean suaves, que piden a Dios por su salud, fortaleza y sabiduría.

El segundo motivo para escribirle a usted es para ofrecerle tres principios que, a la medida que están permitidos a operar, permitan que los pueblos de la tierra conocida como Bolivia podrán sobresalir económicamente. Bolivia ya es una tierra rica. En las manos de la gente, se hará mas rica.

Junto con usted, rechazamos los principios neoliberales que han causado la destrucción de los pueblos que las han ciegamente implementado. Nuestro objetivo es brindarle las herramientas con las que no sólo Bolivia, sino todos los habitantes de la tierra, puedan lograr observar los diez mandamientos para salvar el planeta que usted ha contribuido generosamente al mundo.

Mientras que los títulos de estos principios pueden aparecer en conflicto con el primero y sexto mandamiento, le pedimos que lea atentamente las explicaciones ya que vera que el funcionamiento de estos tres principios permitirá la realización de sus diez mandamientos para salvar la tierra de la explotación.

Una palabra de precaución, es extremadamente importante que estos principios económicos operen juntos, sino, no funcionaran en absoluto:

Libertad:  Mucho se ha escrito y hablado sobre el tema de la Libertad. Pues, es el precursor de la dignidad y la piedra angular de todas las sociedades civilizadas. La Libertad, desde la perspectiva de la política económica, significa que los pueblos prosperarán a la medida en que las restricciones artificiales sobre su capacidad de trabajar, producir, e intercambiar esten eliminadas. La correlación entre la libertad económica y la sociedad civilizada es tan fuerte, que el coro del himno boliviano resuena con gran significanza:

“Morir antes que esclavos vivir”
El concepto de la libertad no debe limitarse sólo a la libre expresión y movimiento, situación en la que se encuentran la mayoría de las sociedades que pretenden que sus habitantes son libres, sino extenderse a la capacidad de una persona de participar en tanto el comercio como otras actividades sin restricciones artificiales, siempre y cuando el hecho de participar en la actividad no impide la libertad o dañe la propiedad de otros. Esta es la clave de la libertad, ya que mantiene la tierra en equilibrio. Desequilibrios peligrosos se producen cuando las Libertades de un grupo están subordinados a los de otra. Nuestro tercer principio, la igualdad ante la ley, se ocupa de que esto no suceda.

Quizás lo más importante hoy en día, la libertad debe extenderse a la esfera bancaria y a la moneda, dejando la decisión del medio mas aceptable y métodos de comercio más expedientes en manos de la gente.

Propiedad Privada: Para todas las virtudes que el principio de la libertad otorga a un pueblo, el principio no es más que una idea intangible a menos que su consecuencia natural, el principio de la propiedad privada, es respetada por igual por todos los miembros de la sociedad. El concepto de la propiedad privada es la base de cualquier actividad productiva que se desarrolla en la tierra, desde la siembra de un campo a la construcción de pozos para proveer un acceso al agua potable.

Más allá de la propia persona, una persona o grupo de personas deben tener el derecho de poseer propiedad, tanto real como personal, de la que pueden trabajar y compartir de la manera que más le plazca, con la expectativa de que van a tener la capacidad para emplear y disfrutar de los frutos de sus labores.

De la misma manera, el principio de la propiedad privada viene con la obligación de cuidar y mantener la propiedad que uno tiene a su cargo. El principio mismo es el incentivo para que las personas se animen a mantener la propiedad bajo su control, ya que la misma tiene el derecho de disfrutar o preparar para su venta a otro individuo libre dicha propiedad.

Con el fin de ser a la vez productivo y bien mantenido, la propiedad privada debe realizarse a nivel individual, familiar o comunitario. Si la propiedad se encuentra en manos del gobierno u otra entidad grande, será explotada de la misma manera que la propiedades están hoy explotadas por las grandes corporaciones, que no tienen incentivo para cuidar de él después de haber extraído la riqueza de la misma.

Igualdad ante la Ley: Los principios de la libertad y la propiedad privada deben ser asegurada para todos por medio del funcionamiento del principio de igualdad ante la ley. Para que las personas puedan prosperar económicamente, deben saber no sólo cuales acciones están permitidas, sino tambien que las leyes que hayan aplican de la misma forma a todos los miembros de la sociedad, independientemente de su nivel economico, raza, sexo, color, u origen. Sólo si existe la percepción de una igualdad ante la ley pueden las personas planificar y llevar a cabo sus actividades diarias.

La igualdad ante la ley es la base de una sociedad justa en la que las personas pueden prosperar de acuerdo con sus esfuerzos en atender a las necesidades más intensamente sentidas por su prójimo. Por lo tanto, todas las leyes en una sociedad debe centrarse en la protección tanto de la vida como en la propiedad legítima de la persona o grupo. Cualquier ley que extiende más allá de estos dos campos necesariamente sirve para limitar tanto el derecho como la libertad y la propiedad privada que deben ser considerado sagrados y permitidos a operar sin obstáculos para que el máximo de bien material pueda ser extendida a todos.

Le ofrecemos estos tres principios, sabiendo que en su sabiduría y benevolencia, los pueblos que se encuentran bajo su cuidado se beneficiarán por ellos y convertirse en la envidia de las naciones de la tierra, no por la riqueza natural que cuidan y producen, mas en la nobleza de sus convicciones.

Su dedicación y servicio al pueblo boliviano es una inspiración para toda la humanidad. Nuestro deseo es ver a todo el pueblo boliviano, y los pueblos del mundo, vivir en equilibrio y libertad con Dios, la naturaleza y entre sí.

Que Dios le bendiga a usted y a toda Bolivia.

Le deseo todo lo mejor,

David Mint

An Open Letter to Evo Morales

10/29/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

While we have taken the decision, along with a silent majority of Americans, not to vote in the upcoming national elections, this does not mean that we have given up hope for change, quite the contrary.

Here at The Mint, for better or worse, we have opinions that cannot be confined to a dot on a pre printed scantron form.  They require words and dialogue.

Enter the open letter.  If one is to effect change in this world, it is important to correspond with those who are in the seats of power and therefore have the ability to effect positive change in this world.  If we can change their mind, they can change the world.

When writing world leaders, it is important to both acknowledge their authority and use terminology which we understand to be important to them.  We must recognize them as an ally for we share a common aim, the good of themselves and their people.  Finally, as people who are derided daily for serving their populace, they need encouragement.

The following is a copy of our open letter to Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia.  A proper Spanish translation will be forthcoming.  Enjoy!


Evo Morales - President of Bolivia in Brazil 2007
Evo Morales – President of Bolivia, photo taken December 17, 2007 in Brazil by Marcello Casal Jr. of Agencia Brasil http://www.agenciabrasil.gov.br/media/imagens/2007/12/17/1840MC44.jpg


October 29, 2012

An open letter addressed to His Excellency Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia,

Allow me to extend my warmest greetings to you, Mr. President, and to the honorable people of the great Andean Republic of Bolivia.  May they live long and prosper in the blessed land that they inhabit which you capably govern as their humble servant.

I have watched, both from near and far, your passion to liberate and elevate the Peoples which inhabit the land known today as the Plurinational State of Bolivia.  I have watched with admiration your courage and determination as you have risen to your current position and as you continue to labor daily for the liberation and dignity of those who have, for too long, been victims of unjust oppression.

I write you today for two reasons.  First, to encourage you in your noble struggle.  All great leaders, as you know all too well, face adversity, criticism, and opposition from those who are threatened by what they represent.  These forces have only increased in intensity as you take steps to repair centuries of injustices.  Know that though there may be some with loud voices who heap insults upon you for taking action while they sit idly by, there are many, though their voices be soft, who pray for your health, strength, and wisdom.

Our second motive for writing to you is to humbly offer you three principles which, to the extent they are followed, will allow the Peoples of the land known as Bolivia to excel economically.  Bolivia is already a rich land.  In the hands of the people, it will be made richer. 

Together with you, we reject the Neo-Liberal principles which have wrought destruction on those Peoples who have blindly employed them.  Our aim is to provide you with the tools with which not only Bolivia, but all of the inhabitants of the earth, can strive to observe the ten commandments to save the planet which you have generously contributed to the world.

While the titles of these principles may appear in conflict with your first and sixth commandments, we ask that you carefully read the explanations and see that the operation of these three principles will allow for the accomplishment of your ten commandments which to save the earth from exploitation.

A word of caution, it is exceedingly important that these economic principles operate together, or they will not operate at all:

Liberty:  Much has been written on the subject of Liberty.  Truly, it is the precursor to dignity and the cornerstone of all civilized human societies.  As it applies to economic policy, liberty means that Peoples will prosper to the extent that artificial restrictions on their ability to work, produce, and trade are removed.  The correlation between Liberty and civilized society is so great, that the chorus of the Bolivian anthem rings especially true:

“Morir antes que esclavos vivir!” {For those reading this in English, it translates as: “We will die before living as slaves.”}

The concept of Liberty, to be productive in society, must not be limited merely to speech and movement, as it is today in most societies which pretend that their inhabitants are free, but rather extended to the ability for a person to engage in trade and other activities at will to the extent that engaging in the activity does not infringe upon the Liberty or property of another.  This is the key to Liberty, as it keeps the earth in balance.  Dangerous imbalances occur when the Liberties of one group are subordinated to those of another.  Our third principle, Equality before the law, deals with this.

Perhaps most importantly today, Liberty must be extended into the banking and currency realm, leaving the decision of the most acceptable medium and methods of trade in the hands of the people.

Private Property:  For all of the virtues that the principle of Liberty bestows upon a people, the principle is nothing more than an intangible idea unless its natural byproduct, the principle of Private Property, is respected equally by all members of society.  The concept of Private Property is the basis for any and all productive activity which takes place on the earth, from sowing a field to building a wells to provide access to clean water.

Beyond the ownership of one’s person, which should go without saying, a person or group of persons must be able to lawfully possess property, which they may choose to work and share as they please, with the expectation that they will be able to both employ and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

In the same way, the principle of Private Property comes with the obligation to care for and maintain the property that one is entrusted with.  The principle itself provides the incentive for the property to be maintained as persons will naturally care for something that they will either enjoy themselves or prepare for sale to another free individual.

In order to be both productive and well maintained, Private property must be held at the individual, family, or community level.  If property is held by the government or another large entity, it will be exploited in the same way that property is today exploited by large corporations, who have no direct incentive to care for it after they have extracted the wealth from it.

Equality before the Law:  The principles of Liberty and Private Property must be secured for all by the concurrent operation of the principle of Equality before the Law.  For people to prosper economically, they must know not only which actions are permitted, but that the laws which are enforced are administered in the same manner to all members of society, regardless of perceived wealth or lack of wealth, race, sex, color, or origin.  Only if there is a perceived equality before the law can persons plan and carry out their daily activities.

Equality before the law is the basis for a just society in which people may prosper in accordance with their efforts to help their fellow-man by serving their most intensely felt needs.  As such, all laws in a society should focus on protecting both the life and rightful property of the individual or group, any law extending beyond these two realms necessarily serves to limit both the right to Liberty and Private Property which must be held sacred allowed to operate unhindered so that the greatest possible amount of material good can come to the greatest possible number of persons in a society.

We offer you these three principles, knowing that in your wisdom and benevolence, the Peoples who find themselves under your care will benefit greatly and become the envy of the nations of the earth, not for the natural wealth they care for and produce, but for the nobility of their convictions.

Your dedication and service to the people of Bolivia is an inspiration to all of humanity.  Our desire is to see all of the Bolivian people, and the Peoples of the world, live in balance and freedom with God, nature, and each other.

Be encouraged and may God bless you and all Bolivia.

All the best,

David Mint

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Email: davidminteconomics@gmail.com

Key Indicators for October 29, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.49
Oil Price per Barrel:  $95.54
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.37 
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.75%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,710 PERMANENT UNCERTAINTY
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.8%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.6%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  13,107  
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,334,000,000,000
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,199,400,000,000

Bolivia: único país de América del Sur sin McDonald’s >> Indias >> Blogs Internacional EL PAÍS

An interesting article about the demise of McDonalds in Bolivia.

Bolivian food is unique, amazing, cheap, and delicious.  Overpriced hamburgers that taste like masking tape are no match for it.

Even in urban centers where fast food is thought to solve the problem of time, McDonalds found that in Bolivia, there is always time to eat.

The death knell for the multinational giant, however, came directly from its status as a multinational giant.  In a country where anti globalization is an almost accidental art form, Ronald finally met his match.

Bolivia remains the only country in South America without a McDonalds, for the richness of their food is without equal on earth.

Read more at El Pais (in spanish):