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 numero 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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