UK Cancer charity: Biological females are now ‘people with a cervix’

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances, and your prosperity.

Apparently it’s not just women who can have babies…

It all started when a British cancer charity decided to drop the word “women” from their pap smear ad campaign.

It seems that suggesting “women” should get pap smears to test for cervical cancer is discriminatory and not inclusive enough… so the charity instead started advertising to “everyone aged 25-64 with a cervix”.

Lynsey McCarthy Calvert, a professional birth coach and spokeswoman for a nation association of birth coaches in Great Britain, responded with a Facebook post.

She wrote that she was not a “cervix owner,” but rather an “adult human female,” and that “women birth all the people [in the world].”

She was then immediately accused of transphobia by the woke patrol on Facebook, who took offense as Lynsey’s “absolutely disgusting language.”

Apparently it’s “disgusting” to acknowledge your own biological facts.

But hey, since when does science matter? As one exceptionally woke Facebook user retorted, “. . . not only women birth children.”

This movement has become so ridiculous that even the biological concept of being a woman has become controversial… and basic facts about biology are outright refuted.

Click here to read the full story.

Cops are calling on Google Maps to disable speed trap alerts

Android users have been able to mark and see police on Google Maps since 2018.

That allows drivers to see the location of speed traps that have been marked by other drivers.

Apple users just got those features added.

But now, the National Sheriff’s Association is calling on Google to stop allowing users to report and view the location of cops.

They say it endangers public safety. But according to Google, the company’s own data shows that mapping speed traps actually compels people to drive more safely in those areas… which is the whole point, right?

Click here to read the full story.

City not liable for home destroyed by police

An armed shoplifter running from the police took refuge in a random home.

The only person home, a nine year old boy, ran out of the house to safety. But the family’s troubles were just starting.

While trying to arrest the suspect, police fired tear gas into the home. They used explosives to “open up lines of sight” (AKA blow giant holes in the walls). And finally they used an armored vehicle to ram through a wall, and send in the SWAT team.

In the end, the house was entirely destroyed by the police. It had to be torn down, and completely rebuilt.

The city gave the family $5,000 for temporary housing. But they denied any responsibility for the damage.

Insurance didn’t cover enough of the costs to actually rebuild. But when the family sued the town to try to receive compensation for the damage, the lawsuit was dismissed.

The court claimed that the house was destroyed under the state’s policing authority. Tough luck.

So it seems that police can destroy as much property as they want while exercising their duty, even when that property belongs to innocent people who had nothing to do with the crime.

Click here to read the full story.

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This is the easiest way to obtain a European passport

Warren Buffett has famously quipped that his preferred holding period for an investment is “forever.” Once he zeroes in on a great business and buys a huge stake in the company, he never wants to sell. Ever.

This concept of long-term investing is simple to understand but hard to put into practice.

We humans are emotional creatures. And more often than not, wild market swings and economic crises cause us to swoon, panic, and make bad decisions.

When the stock market tanks, people feel compelled to sell… even though the business they invested in is still fundamentally strong.

Very few people have the discipline to stick with a winner, and to hold a great asset so long-term that future generations can enjoy the returns of that single investment.

But there’s one investment you can make that’s easy to hold forever, and something you can pass on to your children and grandchildren for generations to come.

It’s not a stock or bond or private business. It’s not even a financial asset at all.

I’m talking about a second passport.

We write about this pretty regularly at Sovereign Man: a second passport is an exceptional investment.

It provides greater travel options, business and financial opportunities, new lifestyle possibilities. And it ensures that, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen next, you and your family will always have another place to go where you are welcomed with open arms to live, work, invest, and do business.

Just like owning gold is a great insurance policy for your wealth, a second passport is an insurance policy for your lifestyle.

And unlike financial assets (which investors tend to sell when they become emotional), a second passport is a “forever investment”. Once you have it, it’s generally yours forever. And future generations of your family who won’t be born for decades will receive the same benefits because of the investment you made today.

What kind of investment does it take? In many cases, not much.

Sure, there are some people who have paid up to $2,362,637 to obtain a second passport through Citizenship-by-Investment programs.

These are completely legal, official programs in a number of countries where the government awards qualifying investors a passport in exchange for a particular investment or donation in the country.

The most expensive Citizenship-by-Investment programs are to acquire European passports, but there are other programs around the world (primarily in the Caribbean) where you can obtain a passport for $100,000.

Obviously $100,000 is a much more reasonable investment. But there are even easier ways.

If you’re willing to invest a bit of your own time, you can see if you may already be eligible for a second passport through your own family history– if you have Italian, Polish, or Irish ancestry.

But even if you aren’t part of the lucky bloodline club, you can still obtain a valuable European passport by investing your time.

Most countries in the world provide a path to citizenship for foreigners who obtain legal residency and live in the country for a certain number of years… though the requirements vary significantly from place to place.

There are some countries (like the United Arab Emirates) where a foreigner must be a legal resident for up to 30 years or more before being eligible to apply for naturalization.

But there are many countries that have far more palatable requirements.

Portugal is a great example:

First off, there are so many ways to obtain residency in Portugal; the country is incredibly welcoming to foreigners, and they really want talented people to move there.

They’ve eliminated a lot of the red tape and bureaucracy for foreigners to apply for immigration visas, and there are so many options available.

You could qualify for residency buy starting a business, purchasing a property, retiring there (and demonstrating sufficient financial means to support yourself), or even being a self-employed online worker.

Once you obtain residency, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization and Portuguese citizenship after five years; but you only need to spend a few months per year in Portugal to qualify.

A Portuguese passport is a fantastic travel document. It gives you visa-free access to 159 countries, including the US, Canada, the UK and all of the European Union.

That means that as a Portuguese citizen, you can live, work, start a business, study or retire anywhere you want in Europe without a visa.

Portugal is also a great place to live. For entrepreneurs and retirees, it offers the best of both worlds – low cost of living and all-around great weather, combined with an increasingly thriving start-up scene.

So you could obtain residency in Portugal, continue to spend most of your time in your home country, but spend the cold winter months in sunny Portugal (where temperatures can reach 20C/68F in January/February). And perhaps spend some time in the summers there on the beach.

Clearly you wouldn’t be suffering.

And after a few years of this, you’d be eligible to apply for naturalization and obtain a second passport for Portugal.

Portugal isn’t alone– there are a number of great options out there.

We recently prepared an in-depth report that compares the best options out there so you can determine which one is right for you.

You can check it out for free by clicking here.

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When they can take your children away… how free are you?

George Reby was driving from New Jersey to Tennessee to pick up a car he had purchased on eBay when he was stopped for speeding.

Like many Americans, George felt he had nothing to hide from the police. So when the officer asked him if he was carrying any large amounts of cash, he admitted he had $22,000 on him because he was buying a car.

George was able to show the officer his eBay bids, and that the sale was legitimate. He was able to demonstrate that he has income from his job as an insurance adjuster.

But none of that mattered. The cop seized George’s money on the spot.

Later, in a court hearing that George was not allowed to participate in, the judge allowed the police to keep the money even though George was never charged with a crime.

There was no proof of wrongdoing. Even more, George had proof that there was NO wrongdoing.

“You live in the United States, you think you have rights — and apparently you don’t,” George commented later.

He was forced to hire an attorney and jump through a ton of bureaucratic hoops over a period of several months before the state of Tennessee finally returned his money.

But not everyone is so lucky.

Numerous victims of the Tenaha police department in East Texas (population ~1,300 people) never got their money back.

One victim had his baby taken by child services because he chose to fight the town when they seized his assets without cause.

Another family was threatened with the same because they were carrying $6,000 in cash to buy a car. Police said the children were possibly decoys.

Threatening parents with child services was just one of the tactics Tenaha police used to try to make sure no one fought their absurd abuse of civil asset forfeiture.

Yet none of these people was ever charged with a crime. And that’s because there was no evidence of crimes. They were just carrying a few thousand dollars in cash.

(By the way, carrying cash is completely LEGAL.)

But it’s legal for police to do this in the Land of the Free.

It’s called Civil Asset Forfeiture; and the rules allow police to take money, cars, houses, and other property without ever charging you with a crime.

The government also has the legal authority to take children away from their parents; these laws are supposed to exist to safeguard children who are in abusive and dangerous environments.

Yet there’s an appalling number of incidents where local officials weaponize this authority to harass, intimidate, and extort people out of money.

Last week I told you about how moving abroad could save you tens of thousands of dollars in taxes through the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

(Under the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, you and your spouse can EACH earn more than $105,000 annually, tax free, plus even more tax benefits for housing and other expenses.)

And in addition to the taxes, the lifestyle benefits of being abroad are also substantial. The cost of living is often much cheaper abroad. High quality medical care can be very inexpensive.

You can become proficient in another language; and for younger children in particular, they can learn the local language to an almost native level.

But even above all of those reasons, I still find one of the most compelling benefits of living overseas is that I feel more free.

For many people this is a conundrum– they cannot possibly envisage a lesser developed country being more free than ‘Marica.

And certainly there are tradeoffs. I don’t want to butter your buns with wild tales of exotic women feeding you grapes all day just because you move overseas. (Unless you go to the Philippines, in which case, I hope you like grapes.)

But one thing that’s been consistent for me having lived in half a dozen countries (including places that are fairly underdeveloped) is that you and your family are generally just left alone to live your lives.

And even in places that still struggle with corruption, locals would be absolutely shocked to hear about the government threatening to take someone’s children away.

That stuff doesn’t even fly in banana republics.

It might seem radical at first. But, if you find yourself agitated at the steady erosion of freedom in your home country and the never-ending howls of the Bolsheviks, consider taking a trip abroad… and see if you breathe free again.

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Confused about your gender? You can commit crimes without punishment in Australia

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances and your prosperity.

Appeals court overturns child pornography conviction because criminal is transgender

Right up front– to be absolutely clear, we have absolutely no issues whatsoever about the personal decisions that people make in their lives.

We couldn’t care less if someone chooses to identify as a seedless watermelon, and we support anyone’s right to be whoever they want to be.

But a person’s right to self-identify shouldn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights. And that’s where today’s identity politics really become completely ridiculous.

Here’s a great example–

In January 2016, an Australian male-to-female transgender person was caught with child pornography on her phone.

Now, possession of child pornography is a serious crime anywhere, especially in Australia where it carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

But the woman received an unbelievably light sentence– just two years of probation.

Shockingly, the woman appealed the punishment. And the appeals court ruled that even the two-year probation was too harsh because the woman was confused about her gender identity at the time of the crime.

Allow me to be blunt: this person was in possession of child pornography– images of boys as young as FIVE posing naked or engaging in intercourse.

But in Australia, being confused about your gender apparently justifies the exploitation of children.

Click here to read the judge’s opinion.

College conference names biological male their female athlete of the week

An affiliate of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) called the Big Sky Conference named a biological male as their female athlete of the week.

The student is now called June Eastwood, and placed second in a recent women’s cross country race.

But the same student was dominating the mens’ cross country courses as little as two years ago as Jonathan Eastwood.

The NCAA has no minimum standard for the amount of testosterone in an athlete’s system when they compete in the women’s category. For the NCAA, anything goes: as long as the student says they are female, the athletic association allows them to compete as a woman.

You can be male today, and compete as a female tomorrow, and set every world record in the sport overnight..

This is just the latest in a string of incidents we have been highlighting where biological men are dominating women’s sports like weightlifting, cycling, and running.

Click here to read the full story.

Another school suspends student for picture with a gun

A 17 year old high school girl posed with her Army veteran brother for a Snapchat picture.

In it, they held up guns, and flipped off the camera– a gesture meant towards the brother’s enemy in combat, she said.

This, of course, happened outside of school, on her own time. Nothing depicted was illegal.  The photo and caption made no reference to the teen’s school or violence in any way.

But school officials said they got complaints from students and parents who feared that the girl would do something violent. So the school suspended her for five days.

Click here to read the full story.

Equifax used “admin” as username and password

Do you remember the giant Equifax data breach? In September 2017,  Equifax announced a that the personal information of 147 million people had been stolen by hackers.

It turns out that Equifax was completely hapless in its security; in fact the company’s head of cybersecurity was an ex-musician who had little IT training or experience.

Now we’ve found out from court documents (Equifax has been sued by EVERYONE) that the  company used the word “admin” as both the username and password for a portal which stored sensitive information.

Equifax also used an unencrypted, public-facing server to store sensitive personal information.

And when they did encrypt data, they left the key in the open so that it could be easily stolen.

Their security would be absurdly relaxed for a coffee shop, let alone a company that deals with the most sensitive possible personal and financial information of hundreds of millions of people.

Click here to see the court documents for yourself.

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How you can save tens of thousands of dollars in taxes by moving abroad

Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, once said that “nothing is more permanent than a temporary government program.”

The same can be said about temporary taxes.

Take 1861 for example, when the first-ever federal taxes were levied on American citizens to help pay for the Civil War.

At first these taxes were levied only on residents living in America. But the people in power argued that Americans living outside the country were evading their patriotic duty of helping pay for the war.

And so Congress temporarily extended the taxes to include all Americans, even those living abroad.

Of course, after the war was over, Congress ratified an amendment that cemented taxation by citizenship into the US constitution.

Over a hundred years later, the United States is still one of the only two countries in the world, (the other one is Eritrea) that imposes a worldwide taxes on all of its citizens, no matter where they live.

That makes it particularly difficult for US citizens to lower the amount of taxes they pay.

In spite of this, the good news is that there are several ways that US citizens can still slash their tax rates to virtually 0.

Reducing the amount of taxes that you pay is one of the best decisions you can make.

Rather than continue to finance wars, ballooning debt, body scanners and drone strikes, you can put that money to work in a way that actually benefits yourself, your family, or anyone else you choose.

For example, earlier this year I used my tax savings to personally pay rent for furloughed government employees during the government shutdown.

And the years prior to that I financed the recovery of a village in Nepal that was devastated by an earthquake.

I also paid more than $70,000 to fund an experimental surgery for a disabled veteran who lost his leg in Afghanistan.

(As a result of the procedure, he was able to dance at his wedding, and he has participated in a 5K race.)

All of these things were possible because I applied perfectly legitimate provisions in the tax code to reduce the amount that I owe.

And these strategies are available to everyone.

One of them is a special provision in the US tax code called the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE).

It allows Americans who live abroad to earn up to $105,900 tax-free in 2019.

That amount varies and is indexed to inflation. So for example, in 2016, the amount was $101,300. In 2017, it was $102,100. And in 2019, it is $105,900.

Naturally, the IRS has strict rules as to what qualifies as foreign income, and whether or not you can qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion in the first place.

For example, the exclusion only applies to earned income from wages or salaries.

Investment income (dividends, capital gains, interest, etc.) or variable income (rents, royalties, etc.) will not qualify.

But if you also qualify for the Housing Exclusion or Deduction, you can save even more.

That’s because the Housing Exclusion or Deduction allows you to exclude your housing costs from your income tax as well, subject to certain limits depending on where you live.

That’s an unbelievable deal – and not one you come across very often.

Of course, you will still be required to pay taxes on your foreign income in the country that you live in.

However, you can move to a country that doesn’t tax the foreign income of its residents – like Panama – and pay no tax on that income (up to $105,900) at all.

That’s a pretty good deal (and Panama is a fantastic place to live).

The only requirement is that you actually live abroad and that the income is not US-sourced.

If you have a US LLC for example, and you are self-employed, you will still have to pay self-employment tax in the US, even if you qualify for the FEIE.

But you could re-incorporate offshore in a lower-tax jurisdiction, move overseas, and potentially pay zero tax on that income.

And paying no tax is just one of the many benefits of moving overseas.

It can potentially increase your freedom, your options, and your overall quality of life.

That’s why I made the leap over 15 years ago to seek greener pastures abroad. And I’ve never looked back.

If you want to learn how to lower your taxes by moving abroad, my team has created a free, in-depth article about the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion that you can read here.

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Tanzania: Come for the nature, stay for the stock market

[Editor’s Note: Today’s Note from the Field comes from Sovereign Man Team Member Joe Jarvis who recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.]

For some people it starts with loss of appetite. Others get a headache and nausea.

Pole, pole is the motto, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro– slowly, slowly. At an altitude of 5,895 meters (19,340 feet), you can definitely feel the lack of oxygen on Africa’s highest mountain.

And while the tourists huff and puff with their light daypacks using climbing poles for support, the porters practically sprint past. They’re carrying all your stuff, plus the sleeping tents, mess tent, cooking gas canisters, all the food, water, and so on.

These guys–and some women too–do it with a smile.

Some of the friendliest, hardest working people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet were the porters and guides on Kilimanjaro.

Most speak perfect English, which isn’t too surprising in the tourist industry. But slightly more surprising was the entrepreneurial spirit.

Both of my guides, and our waiter told me about the businesses they want to start.

(Yes, you get a waiter on Kilimanjaro. It’s quite posh honestly, especially for someone used to carting in his own equipment up mountains.)

Ghalib, the main guide, said he would stick to the tourist industry, but add in some eco-tourism. With Tanzania’s amazing soil, he wants to start a farm/hotel, and provide excursions to Kili and the Sarengetti.

Another guide, Abdullah, thinks Tanzania’s two growing seasons make fruit exports a solid opportunity. He’s saving up the couple thousand dollars needed for insurance in case the crop is lost, and will start looking at farmland for rent next year.

Another guide, January, hopes to own his own tourism business. He’s been a porter/ waiter on Kilimanjaro for three years. Now that the season is ending, he is starting school to become a guide.

In the West people expect to make big money straight out of university with an underwater-basket-weaving degree. But in Tanzania these guys seek out specific training to achieve specific goals, not just some wishy-washy education for the sake of having a piece of paper..

And when they aren’t on the mountain, they are hustling.

Ghalib serves as an informal middle-man for everything from clothing to televisions to Timberland boots.

When Abdullah told me that his grandmother used to bake him cookies, that sounded pretty standard. But they weren’t for him. He went out and sold them when he wasn’t in school or doing the family laundry.

And of course, the kids are out there on the side of the road selling fruits and crafts to tourists on the way to a safari.

Most Tanzanian businesses also make it really easy for you to spend money. They don’t put obstacles up… and whatever color your money happens to be, they’ll take it.

They’ll accept Tanzanian shillings, euros, US dollars, etc. I imagine some places accept Chinese renminbi too, given China’s dominant presence in the country.

The people and their impressive entrepreneurial spirit that I encountered on this trip convinced me of the economic potential in Tanzania.

Tim Staermose, Sovereign Man’s chief investment strategist and author of our investment newsletter The Fourth Pillar was actually born in Tanzania’s biggest city, Dar Es Salaam. And he routinely returns for business and pleasure.

With two young daughters, Tim has been looking for opportunities to build generational wealth.

He says Tanzanian still has simple businesses with durable competitive advantages, and decades of strong growth ahead of them.

He says Tanzania today is like Warren Buffett’s ‘Golden Era’, when Buffett was able to buy simple, high quality businesses in the United States back in the 1960s and 1970s for peanuts.

For instance, Tim is invested in the dominant concrete company in Dar Es Salaam which has several advantages.

First, Dar Es Salaam’s population is growing like crazy, and the city is projected to be one of the twelve most populous in the world in a few decades. That means a lot of demand for building materials.

And this particular cement company is 70% owned and managed by a successful German cement giant… so they have access to cheap financing and technical support– two major advantages.

The company also has a Price-Earnings ratio of SIX, meaning it costs about $6 per share for every $1 in annual company profits.

By comparison, the typical company in the US sells for 20-30 times earnings.

And to top it all off, this Tanzanian cement company pays a 15% dividend to its shareholders.

Tanzania is clearly a place on the rise, loaded with compelling opportunities to build wealth. This is definitely a country worth keeping on your radar.

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Three things you didn’t know about the crash of 1929

October 28, 1929– 90 years ago today– is known as ‘Black Monday’ in financial circles.

The US stock market had peaked the previous month, on September 3, 1929, with the Dow Jones stock index reaching a record high of 381.

But throughout September and October, nervous investors began pulling their money out of the market.

And over a three day period in late October (including Black Monday), the market lost more than 30% of its value.

Ninety years later, I thought it would be prudent to look at three key insights from that historic crash, starting with:

1) Stocks are more overvalued today than they were in 1929

Back in 1929, the price/earnings ratio of the average company trading on the New York Stock Exchange was about 15.

In other words, investors were willing to pay $15 per share for every $1 of the average company’s profit.

That’s not high at all. In fact, a Price/Earnings ratio of 15 is completely in line with historic averages.

Coca Cola’s Price/Earnings ratio back in 1929 ranged between 15 and 18. Today it’s 30… meaning that investors today are willing to pay roughly twice as much for each dollar of Coke’s annual profit.

Coca Cola is actually quite an interesting case study.

If we just go back a few years to 2010, Coca Cola’s annual revenue was $35 billion. By 2018 the company’s annual revenue had fallen to less than $32 billion.

In 2010, Coca Cola generated $5.06 in profit (earnings) per share. In 2018, just $1.50.

And Coca Cola’s total equity, i.e. the ‘net worth’ of the business, was $31 billion in 2010. By 2018, equity had fallen to $19 billion.

So over the past eight years, Coca Cola has lost nearly 40% of its equity, sales are down, and per-share earnings have fallen by 70%.

Clearly the company is in far worse shape today than it was eight years ago.

Yet Coke’s share price has nearly DOUBLED in that period.

Crazy, right?

It’s not just Coca Cola either; the Price/Earnings ratio of the typical company today is about 50% higher than historic averages.

(This means that the stock market would have to drop by 50% for these ratios to return to historic norms.)

It’s clear that investors are simply willing to pay much more for every dollar of a company’s earnings and assets than just about ever before, including even right before the crash of 1929.

2) Stocks fell by nearly 90% in 1929… and it took decades to recover.

The ‘crash’ wasn’t isolated to Black Monday.

From the peak in September 1929, stocks ultimately fell nearly 90% over the next three years. The Dow bottomed out in 1932 at just 42 points.

42 is lower than where the Dow was trading in 1885… so the crash wiped out DECADES of growth. And it took until November 1954 for the Dow to finally surpass its high from 1929.

If that were to happen today, it means the Dow would fall to just 2,700… a level it hasn’t seen since the early 1990s. And it wouldn’t return to today’s highs until the mid 2040s.

Most people think this is completely preposterous.

And to be fair, I think the government and central bank will do everything in their power to prevent a severe crash.

The Federal Reserve has already announced that it will print another $60+ billion per month, which should be favorable for the stock market in the short term.

But just because we can’t imagine something happening doesn’t mean it can’t happen. In fact it’s happening right now in Japan:

Japan’s stock market peaked in late 1989 with its Nikkei index reaching nearly 39,000.

Within a few years the Nikkei had lost half of its value and would ultimately fall by 80%.

Even today, thirty years later, the Nikkei index is still 40% below its all-time high.

There is no law that requires the stock market to go up. It can fall. And it can stay low for years… even decades.

3) Adjusted for inflation, stocks have returned just 1.7% per year since 1929.

It’s best to think long-term about any investment. Businesses take time to grow and expand, and patient investors who understand this tend to do well.

But when thinking about the long-term, it’s imperative to consider the extraordinary effects of inflation.

Every single year your money loses around 2% of its value. But over time those small bites of inflation fester into a major chunk of your investment gains.

Consider that, even according to the federal government’s monkey math, the US dollar has lost 94% of its value since 1929.

So even though the Dow is more than 70x higher than it was in mid-1929, when you consider the effects of inflation, stocks are only about 5x higher over the past 90 years.

That works out to be an average annualized return of just 1.7%.

Even over the past 20 years– if you go back to late 1999, the stock market has only returned about 2.2% per year when adjusted for inflation.

Think about all the risks and wild market swings that investors have had to deal with over the past 20 years– all for a measly 2.2%.

It’s interesting to note that, when adjusted for inflation, GOLD has outperformed stocks over the long run.

When adjusted for inflation, gold has averaged a 1.8% return since 1929 (slightly higher than stocks), and a 6.7% return since 1999– more than 3x as much as stocks.

But unlike stocks, people who own gold haven’t had to put up with the same risks. No shady brokers. No WeWork bullshit. No Enron scandal.

They earned 3x more than the stock market– with the added benefit of being able to hold their investment right in their own hands.

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Hey Air Force, the 1960s called: they want their floppy disks back

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances and your prosperity.

Air Force Missile Command finally retires 1960s era Floppy Disks

I suspect our younger readers might not know what a floppy disk is, let alone have ever seen one.

Whereas today we have USB drives etc. to copy and store files, the standard used to be ‘floppy disks’ several years ago.

(As a kid in the early 1980s, I used to play on my dad’s computer, which had dual 5 ¼ inch floppy disk drives. It was a real beast of a machine…)

A 5 ¼ inch floppy disk had a maximum capacity of 1.2 megabytes. Today even the smallest USB stick is at least 1,000x the size.

The history of floppy disks goes back to the 1960s when 8-inch floppy disks were developed.

And the 8-inch floppies could store a whopping 80 kilobytes of data– that’s barely enough space to store a single email.

It’s now late 2019, and the United States Air Force has finally phased out 8-inch floppy disks.

Up until now, the Air Force had been using these floppy disks to store data crucial to operating its intercontinental ballistic missile command, control, and communications network!

Click here for the full story.

Now it’s discrimination for straight men to refuse sex with “women” who have penises

An adult filmmaker in the United Kingdom contacted a local woman who had recently posted seductive photos on social media and asked if she would like to participate in a pornographic scene with him.

Unbeknownst to this man, the woman he contacted is transgender and still has male bits and pieces.

When he found this out, the man withdrew his offer to shoot a scene with her. It wasn’t the scene he was looking for, and he wasn’t personally willing to participate in the act.

She has subsequently called the police, claiming that, because the man refuses to sleep with her, his transphobic discrimination is unfairly holding back her modeling career.

And believe it or not, police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Click here for the full story.

Last Weekend no one was shot in NYC for the first time since 1993

Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was the number one hit in the US the last time New York City had a weekend where no one was shot.

That was 1993.

It took 26 years for another weekend to go by in NYC without a shooting.

We just wanted to say congratulations to New York City for having a weekend free of shooting deaths.

That’s a pretty sad track record for a city with some of the tightest gun control laws in the country…

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China tells a citizen protesting overseas to “think of your family”

An Chinese citizen living in Germany recently participated in a hearing in Berlin that was investigating Chinese human rights abuses. Then he got a strange phone call.

It was from his sister, who he hadn’t heard from in years. She asked him to stop speaking out against the Chinese government.

And then an unnamed Chinese official took the phone and told him “You’re living overseas, but you need to think of your family while you’re running around doing your activism work in Germany,” he said. “You need to think of their safety.”

Click here for the full story.

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WeWork: one moron ruining it for everyone else

In 2010, New York-based entrepreneur Adam Neumann had an idea: to lease office space to companies all over the world on a short-term basis.

Usually when a company leases office space, it has to sign a long-term contract; but Neumann wanted to lease space to businesses for terms as short as one month.

It wasn’t an original idea. Companies like Regus have been doing that for decades. But Neumann had two key twists:

1) Make the offices cool… so cool that even millennials would want to hang out there. So he brought in free tequila, gourmet coffee, and chic designs.

2) Lose an absurd amount of money in the process

And so began the journey of WeWork nearly a decade ago.

Since then, the company has grown to hundreds of locations. Yet the more successful they became, the more money they lost.

By 2018, WeWork was losing nearly $2 billion annually, and there was no end in sight.

The more money they lost, the more money they had to raise from investors. But the company seemed to have no problems selling billions of dollars worth of shares at progressively higher valuations.

Finally, the music stopped a few months ago. WeWork (technically called the ‘We Company’) filed IPO paperwork disclosing not only horrendous losses, but some of the most appalling shenanigans ever seen from a major company CEO.

Neumann, it turned out, had personally enriched himself time and time again at company expense.

I’ve written about this before–

1) He sold the rights to the word ‘We’ to the company for $6 million.

2) He borrowed money from the company to buy office space, only to lease that office space back to the company at a profit.

3) He sold off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of his own shares while simultaneously convincing investors to put money in the company.

4) Yet despite selling his shares, he awarded himself special rights to be able to out-vote everyone else, cementing his control over the company.

The list really does go on and on… and I expect there will be a Netflix documentary about Neumann’s unethical self-dealing some day.

Point is, the bubble burst. Investors weren’t putting up with it anymore, and WeWork had to cancel its IPO.

And without an IPO to bring in billions of dollars of new capital, WeWork is now in a terrible cash crunch and rapidly running out of money.

They need to cut costs in a big way… and that means laying off staff.

But WeWork is so broke, according to Bloomberg News, that they cannot even afford to pay the severance packages necessary to lay off employees.

In other words, WeWork is too broke to keep its employees. But it’s too broke to lay them off.

That’s a pretty desperate position.

So just yesterday, WeWork’s lead investor– the SoftBank Vision Fund– came in with an emergency funding offer to take supermajority control of the company.

(A “majority” shareholder owns more than 50% of a company. But even at that level, there are restrictions in terms of what a majority owner can do. A “supermajority” means that the Vision Fund will control 80% of WeWork’s shares; that’s generally the threshold required to give a shareholder carte blanche to do just about anything they see fit.)

The deal values WeWork at $8 billion. That’s an 83% decline from the $47 billion valuation they were expecting just a few months ago.

As part of the deal, though, Neumann could personally profit by as much as $1.7 billion. His ‘consulting fee’ alone is worth $185 million.

Pretty amazing. They’re giving a huge payout to the guy who plundered the company for his own personal gain and nearly ran it into the ground.

Thousands of people will lose their jobs because of Neumann’s mismanagement. Investors who have already sunk billions into the company are left to clean up his catastrophic mess.

Yet this guy walks away with a $185 million ‘consulting fee’. What a load of shit.

Sure, it’s irritating to watch someone who was so self-absorbed and destructive receive such absurd benefits. And the Internet is on fire today with people justifiably bashing Neumann.

But what I’m thinking about it how the fire will spread.

This is the sort of news that Bolsheviks live for. When a billionaire gets bailed out and thousands of people lose their jobs as a result– it gives capitalism a bad name and fuels their Socialist rage.

Bolsheviks already believe that entrepreneurs, business executives, and value creators are a bunch of greedy scumbags.

And Neumann has just single-handedly reinforced that negative stereotype.

Plus he’s provided endless ammunition for the Bolsheviks to propose new tax increases, regulatory handcuffs, and government oversight.

(Naturally these people believe that government is purer than the driven snow, and that their proposals will protect ordinary, hard-working people from greedy business scumbags.)

Neumann doesn’t have to worry about any of the destruction and consequences he’s caused– he now has generational wealth.

But for anyone else that aspires to start or grow a business, life could certainly become a lot more taxing as a result of his ineptitude.

This is a classic case of one moron ruining it for everyone else.

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Four lessons from the biggest riots in decades

If you’re been following the news, you might have seen reports about civil unrest in Chile– the worst in decades.

I lived in Chile for more than seven years before moving to Puerto Rico; I still have business interests there, along with hundreds of employees (both foreign and local), many of whom I’ve been speaking to over the last few days.

First things first, Chile is ordinarily a quiet, stable, peaceful country.

The last time Chile went to war was 140 years ago back in 1879. They even skipped both world wars.

And while there are occasional protests, Chile is quite tame by Latin American standards.

It’s also the most modern and advanced nation in the region– this is not a destitute, impoverished country.

Chile has thriving industries and a large middle class that’s in better shape than just about anywhere else in the region.

But just like every other country in the world, there are countless imperfections.

Inflation has eaten away at the purchasing power of workers’ incomes, and a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was a 3% increase in metro fares.

It’s nothing. But it was enough to make thousands of people become completely unglued, resulting in riots, looting, arson, and all-out mayhem.

Let’s talk about some of the key lessons from this:

1) It can happen anywhere.

It’s not just Chile. Looking around the world right now we can see major demonstrations and even violence in places like Hong Kong, Spain, Haiti, Lebanon, etc.

The ‘yellow vest’ movement in France in late 2018/early 2019 brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets to torch cars and destroy property, all apparently in protest of rising fuel prices.

Political tensions, social tensions, economic tensions… they exist everywhere, in rich countries and poor countries alike.

People everywhere are tightly wound, and it doesn’t take much for them to become unhinged. If you think this can’t happen where you live, think again.

2) It can happen faster than anyone realizes.

The weather in central Chile is one of the great benefits of living there; it’s warm, sunny, and dry… southern California climate.

And this past Friday was a particularly beautiful day. By lunchtime, people were out in the parks enjoying the weather. It was calm, peaceful, and joyful.

Within a matter of hours the city had turned into a war zone. Hours.

One of my team members told me on the phone yesterday, “If you had said on Friday afternoon that Santiago would be in chaos by nightfall, I would have laughed… And then it happened.”

3) It only takes a few idiots.

There are roughly 18 million people living in Chile. And there may even be a few million people nationwide who are deeply frustrated about the rising cost of living.

But only a few thousand have been stupid enough to cause such chaos and devastation; they’ve destroyed dozens of metro stations, buses, and even lit office buildings and grocery stores on fire.

Innocent people have died. And almost everyone else has had their lives heavily disrupted.

They can’t get to work. Schools are closed. Grocery store lines are crazy. There’s a curfew. Tanks are in the streets.

Most people are rational and peaceful. They might be angry about certain issues, but they know that torching property and killing innocents won’t solve anything.
Only a trivial fraction of a percent of the population are acting like cowards– the ones who steal a bunch of flat-screen televisions from the neighborhood electronics store before setting it on fire.

And they’re selfish and delusional enough to believe in their own righteousness– that their actions are justified as payback because of some economic injustice.

Yeah. Because nothing proves your moral superiority more than looting flat-screen TVs.

4) They often think Socialism is the answer.

Human beings seem hardwired to think that they can solve any economic injustice with Socialism.

More often than not, people don’t even think through the issues. They feel symptoms– difficulty making ends meet, difficulty getting ahead in life, etc. and they get angry.

And that’s where the analysis stops. There is no analysis actually. It’s just anger.

A rational person thinks things through– why is my cost of living increasing? Why aren’t I getting ahead? What’s the root cause of these problems? How can I fix it?

Again, Chile isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot.

But think about the 18-year old kid taking selfie videos while lighting a grocery store on fire because he’s angry… angry that his education was sub-par, angry that he can’t find a good paying job.

And he’s partially right. Public education in Chile is pretty bad, and he doesn’t have the skills for a high-paying career.

But I wonder how many books he’s read this year? How many free online courses has he taken? What has he done to solve his own problem?

Instead of torching buildings, he could have been at home watching countless videos on YouTube learning how to code in Python. For free.

And in developing real, marketable skills, he would become much more valuable and able to command a substantial wage and work remotely for prospective clients and employers worldwide.

But the Socialist mentality is not about solving your own problems.

Socialism means that you don’t have to lift a finger (except to light a match).

You just have to throw a temper tantrum until someone else solves your problems… even if you can’t even define your problem or present a reasonable solution.

I don’t want to make light of the issues; there are several problems that protesters have bought up which I agree with. But neither Socialism nor burning buildings ever solved any problems.

It may take time, but Chile is undoubtedly going to recover from this nightmare and move on. The ‘sane’ population (i.e. the vast majority) is already fighting back and defending their neighborhoods.

But I can’t help but wonder– where’s next?

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