Selective reporting
Jan 19th, 2016 by Ken Hagler

Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al report: Chil­dren mine cobalt used in gad­get bat­ter­ies. Chil­dren as young as sev­en years old are work­ing for up to $2 dai­ly min­ing in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions to gath­er cobalt used in lithi­um bat­ter­ies for 16 multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions like Apple, Microsoft, Sam­sung, Sony, and oth­ers, accord­ing to Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al. [Ars Tech­ni­ca]

Of course the arti­cle doesn’t men­tion that the aver­age house­hold income in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go is only $400 per year, mean­ing that the chil­dren men­tioned in this report are mak­ing far above the aver­age income for an entire house­hold. No doubt this is why the arti­cle care­ful­ly avoids ask­ing whether the chil­dren like those jobs or would pre­fer to be thrown out on the streets to starve to make a bunch of igno­rant lib­er­als in rich coun­tries feel bet­ter about them­selves.

What is System D?
Apr 21st, 2012 by Ken Hagler

The Shad­ow Super­pow­er. Sys­tem D is a slang phrase pirat­ed from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive and moti­vat­ed peo­ple. They call them débrouil­lards. To say a man is a débrouil­lard is to tell peo­ple how resource­ful and inge­nious he is. The for­mer French colonies have sculpt­ed this word to their own social and eco­nom­ic real­i­ty. They say that inven­tive, self-starting, entre­pre­neur­ial mer­chants who are doing busi­ness on their own, with­out reg­is­ter­ing or being reg­u­lat­ed by the bureau­cra­cy and, for the most part, with­out pay­ing tax­es, are part of “l’economie de la débrouil­lardise.” Or, sweet­ened for street use, “Sys­teme D.” This essen­tial­ly trans­lates as the inge­nu­ity econ­o­my, the econ­o­my of impro­vi­sa­tion and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, econ­o­my.


Today, Sys­tem D is the econ­o­my of aspi­ra­tion. It is where the jobs are. In 2009, the Organ­i­sa­tion for Eco­nom­ic Co-operation and Devel­op­ment (OECD), a think tank spon­sored by the gov­ern­ments of 30 of the most pow­er­ful cap­i­tal­ist coun­tries and ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing free-market insti­tu­tions, con­clud­ed that half the work­ers of the world — close to 1.8 bil­lion peo­ple — were work­ing in Sys­tem D: off the books, in jobs that were nei­ther reg­is­tered nor reg­u­lat­ed, get­ting paid in cash, and, most often, avoid­ing income tax­es.


The total val­ue of Sys­tem D as a glob­al phe­nom­e­non is close to $10 tril­lion. Which makes for anoth­er aston­ish­ing rev­e­la­tion. If Sys­tem D were an inde­pen­dent nation, unit­ed in a sin­gle polit­i­cal struc­ture — call it the Unit­ed Street Sell­ers Repub­lic (USSR) or, per­haps, Bazaaris­tan — it would be an eco­nom­ic super­pow­er, the second-largest econ­o­my in the world (the Unit­ed States, with a GDP of $14 tril­lion, is número uno). The gap is nar­row­ing, though, and if the Unit­ed States doesn’t snap out of its cur­rent funk, the USSR/Bazaaristan could con­ceiv­ably catch it some­time this cen­tu­ry. [For­eign Pol­i­cy]

This arti­cle, pub­lished just six months ago, is gen­er­al­ly cred­it­ed with the wide­spread adop­tion of the term “Sys­tem D” in place of old­er terms such as “under­ground econ­o­my” and “grey mar­ket” among English-speakers with an inter­est in the sub­ject. I expect it will become more promi­nent in the future, as the US becomes more oppres­sive and its “offi­cial” econ­o­my heads down the drain.

The Economic Future
Aug 7th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Hyper­in­fla­tion Spe­cial Report (2011) [Shad­ow Gov­ern­ment Sta­tis­tics]

A detailed look at what’s like­ly to hap­pen to the econ­o­my in the near future. The site where this is post­ed takes var­i­ous promi­nent government-published sta­tis­tics that are wide­ly accept­ed as reflect­ing the state of the econ­o­my, and deter­mines what they would be based on the way the gov­ern­ment used to cal­cu­late them in the past before chang­ing them to hide the true eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion from the chumps vot­ers.

Old post on the housing bubble
Nov 1st, 2008 by Ken Hagler

I came across this old post, writ­ten over six years ago on my old weblog:

Infla­tion con­tin­ues to fall as buy­ers keep the pres­sure up on sell­ers. This also means that a 3–4% wage increase this year and a 10% increase in hous­ing prices will have a major impact on real per­son­al income and wealth. Anoth­er three years of this and we will have repli­cat­ed the gains in real per­son­al wealth over the last two decades (for most Amer­i­cans — this is in con­trast to the rapid stock mar­ket dri­ven gains over the last 20 years for the nation’s wealth­i­est indi­vid­u­als). Nice. [John Robb’s Radio Weblog]

There are some prob­lems with this the­o­ry. The most glar­ing is that he’s treat­ing infla­tion as syn­ony­mous with some vague sta­tis­tic about con­sumer prices. In fact, infla­tion is an increase in the sup­ply of money–this may lead to an increase in prices, or it may not, depend­ing on oth­er fac­tors. The US has been inflat­ing its mon­ey sup­ply for years with­out prices going up much, because we send the mon­ey over­seas to pay for import goods. That can only work as long as over­seas sell­ers are will­ing to accept the dol­lars (or have no choice).

The hous­ing price increase is the result of anoth­er bub­ble. The Fed­er­al Reserve is still inflat­ing the mon­ey sup­ply, but now instead of the mon­ey going into smoke-and-mirror “dot com” stocks, it’s going into real estate. This is bad for any­one buy­ing a house now, because when the bub­ble bursts, they’ll be stuck with a house worth less than what they paid for it, but their mort­gage pay­ments will reflect the inflat­ed price.

To me, that’s even worse than los­ing mon­ey buy­ing lot­tery tick­ets dis­guised as stocks. At least you can just accept your loss and move on, instead of being stuck either mak­ing exces­sive pay­ments for 30 years on a house or else going through the has­sle of sell­ing it at a loss.

When I wrote that, it hadn’t occurred to me that those house buy­ers could legal­ly walk away, but as it turns out they could.

On collectivism
Nov 1st, 2008 by Ken Hagler


Larken Rose has penned yet anoth­er essay in his TMDS series (The Most Dan­ger­ous Super­sti­tion: the belief in imposed author­i­ty). He explains what col­lec­tivism is, why it always leads to vio­lence, and why Oba­ma, McCain, and every oth­er Repub­li­can and Demo­c­rat can­di­date are all col­lec­tivists.

[End the War on Free­dom]

It’s a good, and lengthy, arti­cle that cov­ers some of the same ground as The Road to Serf­dom. The fol­low­ing is from his con­clu­sion:

Bar­rack Oba­ma is a col­lec­tivist. Despite the usu­al window-dressing
and euphemisms which con­ceal the true nature of what he advo­cates,
he is, in every way, an advo­cate for the idea that every indi­vid­ual–
and all wealth–is the prop­er­ty of the col­lec­tive, as rep­re­sent­ed
by “gov­ern­ment.” In oth­er words, he believes in com­mu­nism.

So should every­one vote for John McCain? No. Mr. McCain is also a
col­lec­tivist. In fact, with very rare excep­tions, ALL Demo­c­rat and
Repub­li­can politi­cians are col­lec­tivists, as they have been for
many decades, even back when they were feign­ing con­cern about the
“spread of com­mu­nism.” So why did I focus on Oba­ma? Because, unlike
Mr. McCain, Mr. Oba­ma seems to have a lot of enthu­si­as­tic sup­port
from well-meaning, albeit mis­guid­ed, Amer­i­cans. As with Bill
Clin­ton, Mr. Oba­ma makes the advo­ca­cy of wide­spread gov­ern­ment
vio­lence, theft and oppres­sion sound both noble and use­ful. It is

So if all of the above was not intend­ed to make you vote for
someone–and it cer­tain­ly was not–then what is being sug­gest­ed?
Intel­lec­tu­al hon­esty. First, I want peo­ple to under­stand what the
self-proclaimed “lead­ers” are actu­al­ly propos­ing, because it is not
“hope,” or “change,” or “progress,” or any of the oth­er vague, feel–
good rhetoric being fed to the gen­er­al pub­lic. It is what EVERY
gov­ern­ment “leader” always pro­pos­es: more pow­er for the state, less
free­dom for the peo­ple. They pre­tend to have the purest motives for
it, but the means to their goals will ALWAYS be less free­dom for
you, and more pow­er for them.

After peo­ple real­ize that, next I want them to be hon­est about
their OWN beliefs and agen­da. If, for exam­ple, you sup­port any of
the col­lec­tivist redis­tri­b­u­tion plans and pro­grams pitched by both
major par­ties, then I sim­ply ask that you drop the cha­rade, set
aside the euphemisms and obfus­ca­tions, and do it open­ly and
hon­est­ly. If you believe that there is some­one some­where whose
sup­posed “need” enti­tles him to what my time and effort have
pro­duced, with or with­out my con­sent, then pick up a gun, come to
my house, and take it from me your­self. Don’t hide such destruc­tive
evil behind elec­tions, leg­is­la­tion, and polit­i­cal rhetoric. Do it
open­ly and hon­est­ly, or don’t do it at all. If you give your vote
to ANY col­lec­tivist, you are just as guilty of rob­bing me, and
rob­bing a cou­ple hun­dred mil­lion oth­er peo­ple, as if you had done
it your­self. But in addi­tion to being a thief, you’d also be a
fraud and a cow­ard, because you lie (maybe even to your­self) about
what it is you advo­cate, and don’t have the spine to go do it

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