February 17, 2014
En route from Buenos Aires, Argentina
On the tail end of my Army career over a decade ago when I was still living in the Land of the Free, I used to be a volunteer for the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program.
If you’ve never heard of it, BBBS is a non-profit that temporarily matches up at-risk youth with responsible mentors in an effort to provide kids with positive role models.
When I first enrolled, the administrators linked me up with a kid from the inner city just hitting his ‘tween’ years. I’ll call him “DJ”.
DJ was great. Despite living in one of the most violent, crime-infested areas of Dallas, he had managed to keep a positive attitude on life. He was always smiling, and polite.
And unlike a lot of kids from his area who aspired to be either drug dealers or professional basketball players, DJ wanted to be in real estate sales.
(I used to encourage this by driving him around on the weekends looking at open houses and property listings, trying to teach him the valuation methods that I had picked up over the years.)
Eventually, life got in the way. My business interests and personal philosophy had always been pulling me overseas. And my father (the primary reason I had been living there to begin with) had passed away after a terrible bout with cancer.
DJ and I saw less and less of each other. And in our periodic phone calls, it became clear that he was changing. For the worse.
By the end of high school, DJ had hooked up with the wrong crowd. The constant influence of other youth had a powerful effect on him. And with a father in prison and his mother barely at home, he quickly got pulled into a darker world.
His entire personality was changing. It was as if he had become a completely different person. Gone was the happy kid with solid, realistic aspirations and a drive to succeed. DJ had become a thug, respecting only violence, ignorance, and wanton cruelty to other human beings.
Right after his 18th birthday he was arrested for a whole slew of felonies– and was just old enough to be tried, convicted, and sentenced as an adult.
The last time I saw him I barely recognized him. It was sad… really ripped me up inside.
This story is far too common; I’m sure many of our readers have been in similar situations, watching people they once cared about descend into a chaotic downward spiral.
I’ve been thinking about this over the past few days during my time in Argentina. Because nations, like people, can enter a downward spiral from which they become completely unrecognizeable.
The Economist recently did a great spread on Argentina, explaining how this country– this city– used to be one of the greatest in the world.
In its heydey, Buenos Aires was considered among the wealthiest, most opulent places in the western hemisphere.
A century ago in 1914, GDP per capita in Argentina was higher than in most of Europe, and its economic growth outpacing even the flourishing United States.
And while the rest of the world blew itself to smithereens in the Great War, Argentina very smartly remained neutral.
By 1918, Argentina was one of the only prosperous, debt-free nations left. And the consequent surge in exports to support all the reconstruction in Europe resulted in a heady economic boom.
But that was then. Today is a different story.
Decades of utterly destructive corruption, debt, and absurd economic centralization have taken an irreversible toll on the country and its economy.
Despite its massive potential, abundant resources, huge population, and culturally-ingrained business prowess, Argentina has become a pitiful shell that continually vaccilates into the the 3rd world.
And people here have had their liberties and livelihoods ravaged by a government that has imposed price controls, capital controls, media controls, and people controls.
They have nationalized private pensions, confiscated private assets, jailed opposition, spawned a currency crisis, and corrupted public institutions.
All of this has devastated a once rich culture. Theft, deceit, and coercion are all now unfortunately pervasive. Crime and malfeasance have become the means of survival for a substantial portion of the population.
Like DJ, this place is hardly recognizable when compared to its former greatness– the result of a long, steady decline punctuated by a sudden collapse.
Regrettably there are a number of ‘rich’ Western nations in this cycle as well. And a great many people are waking up each day with this realization thinking “This is NOT the country that I grew up in…”
But this IS what happens after decades of poor choices: Too much debt. Too much war. Too much money printing. Too much regulation.
Just as people in decline enter a vicious cycle where the consequences of their actions begin to feed on each other, nations too reach a point of no return– a bifurcation point where the decay becomes exponential.
And once they reach this point, the trend becomes a one-way decline where they must first hit rock bottom before being able to climb out.
If you’re not willing to be pulled into that spiral, I’d encourage you to consider your own situation.
If you live, work, bank, invest, own real estate, structure a business, etc. all in the same country… and that country is on an obvious decline that you can feel in your gut, then you are taking serious, serious risks with your livelihood.
The oppressive controls employed by the Argentine government provide the perfect case study of what happens to people who ignore their instincts and trust their politicians.
from SOVErEIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1oHDM1Y