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Capitalism: The Ordnance of Rational Ideas

  • Capitalism: The Ordnance of Rational Ideas
  • ETF Talk: This Fund Focuses on New, Emerging Technologies
  • It’s Time to Let Freedom Out of Its ‘Penn’
  • This Is the True Face of Socialism
  • The Lucky Ones

In last week’s lead story (full text below), “This Is the True Face of Socialism,” I addressed one of the major philosophic issues confronting the world today — the rise of socialism and the concomitant demonization of capitalism.

More importantly, I addressed a subscriber’s question regarding what one can do to combat the rise of this malicious form of collectivism. As I explained, the only solution to bad ideas are good ideas, and socialism is a very bad idea whose only solution is the very good idea of capitalism.

Make no mistake, the conflict between socialism and capitalism is indeed an epic battle that needs to be fought with all our might. And to fight it properly, we must arm ourselves with the only munitions that can do any real damage — the ordnance of rational ideas.

So, what’s so bad about the essence of the idea of socialism? What’s so good about the essence of the idea of capitalism?

It’s a legitimate question that doesn’t get asked very often, particularly because the “essence” part isn’t usually included in the discussion.

What’s usually discussed in arguments about socialism vs. capitalism are issues such as income inequality, uneven playing fields, the social safety net, government healthcare, breaking up big banks, big tech, big pharma or big whatever the prevailing successful industry is at the time.

These issues all are tangential to the essentials operating underneath the concepts of socialism vs. capitalism. So, when arguing with someone over whether too few individuals “control” most of the wealth, whether government needs to “level the playing field” among industries, or whether healthcare is a “right,” you are arguing from concrete outcomes and not principles.

To argue from principles, you have to argue by identifying the core essence of each concept.

The essence of socialism is that the individual does not own his or her own life.

Instead, he or she is the property of the collective. A corollary to this is that his or her life, liberty and the byproducts of her mind are not his or hers to dispense with, but rather, they are first and foremost, in principle, the property of the state.

The essence of capitalism is that the individual does own her own life.

This recognition of individual rights comes with its own set of corollaries, one of which forbids of the violation of the right to an individual’s life, liberty and most importantly, property, by means of physical force. Absent the absolute right of an individual to her own life, the state has de facto permission to violate everyone’s rights based on the notion that society “needs it.”

Now, many times when arguments are made on either side of the socialism vs. capitalism debate, capitalism’s defenders argue from pragmatism, citing the tremendous wealth that free markets create and how much good they do for — here it comes — “society.”

Well, as soon as we, capitalism’s defenders, start to engage in that line of argument absent the principle of an individual’s absolute right to her own life, we have already ceded the moral high ground.

As the philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand, who is, in my view, one of the most ardent, eloquent and brilliant articulators of capitalism’s morality, once wrote:

“The moral justification of capitalism does not lie in the altruist claim that it represents the best way to achieve ‘the common good.’ It is true that capitalism does–if that catch-phrase has any meaning–but this is merely a secondary consequence. The moral justification of capitalism lies in the fact that it is the only system consonant with man’s rational nature, that it protects man’s survival qua man, and that its ruling principle is justice.”

So, to combat the bad idea of socialism, first boil it down to who owns your life.

Do you own your life, or is it owned by society, the group, the collective, the state, the monarchy, the church, the Führer, the Politburo, Parliament, Congress or the White House?

To me, the rational answer is obvious. And sometimes in the battle of ideas, the most-brilliant salvo is the most obvious.

If you want to arm yourself with as much rational ordnance as you can carry when arguing in favor of capitalism’s essence, here are some intellectual munitions that you simply must have in your arsenal.

  • “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” by Ayn Rand
  • “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand
  • “Human Action,” by Ludwig von Mises
  • “The Road to Serfdom,” by F.A. Hayek
  •  “Economics in One Lesson,” by Henry Hazlitt
  • “The Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes,” by Dr. Mark Skousen

Although there are countless more brilliant defenses of capitalism, these texts will be more than enough rational ordnance to combat any social justice warrior who claims that government force should be employed for the “good of society.”

Oh, and whenever you hear the term “good of society,” it’s usually a veiled euphemism for “you don’t own your life, it’s the property of the collective.”

If any bad idea needs to be fought with every bit of intellectual valor we can muster, it’s that bad idea.

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Join Me at the MoneyShow in Las Vegas, May 13-15

I invite you to join me for the MoneyShow in Las Vegas May 13-15. I will be a featured speaker and I will share my latest views about the market and the best investments to make. The event will be based at the Bally’s and Paris, Las Vegas Resorts and feature more than 200 presentations. Other featured speakers include Steve Forbes, Dr. Mark Skousen and Hilary Kramer. Click here to register free as my guest or call 1-800-970-4355. Be sure to use my priority code of 047465.

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ETF Talk: This Fund Focuses on New, Emerging Technologies

The Ark Web x.0 ETF (ARKW), an actively managed exchange-traded fund (ETF), seeks long-term capital growth by investing at least 80% of its assets in companies that its managers expect to benefit from a shift away from hardware and software toward cloud and mobile.

ARKW has a very broad mandate that is not limited by geography or by industry, but rather the fund’s managers look to identify companies they see as the next generation of internet evolution. The fund’s managers target companies involved in “internet of things,” “cloud computing,” “digital currencies” and “wearable technology.”

Companies within ARKW are focused on the transition of technology infrastructure to the cloud, enabling mobile, new and local services. Stocks in this fund offer increased use of shared technology, infrastructure and services, internet-based products and services, new payment methods, big data and social distribution and media.

The ETF currently has $1.15 billion in net assets, $5.43 million daily volume and is at 24.61% in year-to-date return. The expense ratio is 0.75%, which means this fund is slightly more expensive to hold relative to other exchange-traded funds.

Chart Courtesy of stockcharts.com.

ARKW’s top sectors include technology, consumer cyclical, financial services, real estate and health care. Its top holdings include NVIDIA Corp. (NASDAQ:NVDA), 7.68%; Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), 7.08%; Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), 5.58%; Tencent holdings (OTCMKTS:TCEHY), 4.65%; Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), 4.19%; LendingTree, Inc. (NASDAQ:TREE), 3.74%; and Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZG), 3.32%.

While ARKW’s focus may be appealing for investors with conviction in these new technologies, portfolio implementation is a more difficult task; most of the companies developing these advancements are huge corporations for which nascent technologies are only a small fraction of total revenues. As such, it is difficult to get pure-play access to ARKW’s targeted technologies, so be sure to confirm that the fund’s holdings — not just its thesis — align with your view of the space.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.

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It’s Time to Let Freedom Out of Its ‘Penn’

As you likely know, one of the core principles of The Deep Woods is freedom in all of its forms. Freedom of thought, speech, exchange, commerce, association and the freedom which states the unequivocal autonomy of the individual, is a concept that underpins my worldview.

And to perhaps no one’s surprise, my favorite event each year celebrates freedom in all its forms, and it also happens to be the brainchild of my friend and Fast Money Alert co-editor, Dr. Mark Skousen. Yes, it is the annual FreedomFest conference, and this year, it’s going to be extra special.

This year, Mark and his FreedomFest team have scored the great Penn Jillette of “Penn & Teller” fame, as one of the featured speakers. In this special FreedomFest talk, Penn will reveal the “sleight of hand” behind the dangerous new “socialist” agenda in America. His presentation is not to be missed!

He will speak on Friday, July 19, 2019, on “The Magic of Liberty.” After his evening talk, Mark will interview Penn about his incredible career, followed by Q&A from the audience and a private reception (including photo and autograph opportunities) with attendees and speakers (limited to 100 attendees).

Between Penn Jillette, Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank” fame, and yours truly, this year’s FreedomFest is going to be awesome. I recommend watching the three-minute video about this year’s big show at https://vimeo.com/311525927. Password: eastwood

And, for The Deep Woods readers, I am proud to offer a special “early bird” discount, which ends March 29. Just go here and use the password EAGLE or call 1-855-850-3733, ext. 202.

You will save $200 off the retail price, which means you pay only $495 per person or $795 per couple. Be a part of “the greatest Libertarian show on earth,” including our three-day financial seminar that is once again sponsored by Eagle Publishing and The Deep Woods.

So, come celebrate freedom with me in Las Vegas. I guarantee you’ll love it!

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This Is the True Face of Socialism

“The true face of socialism isn’t Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; it’s Joseph Stalin.”

That was my response to a subscriber’s great question during our recent subscriber-only “Ask us Anything” teleconference, held by myself and my Fast Money Alert co-editor and fellow free-market warrior Dr. Mark Skousen. The question posed was essentially: What can be done about the rise of socialism in America?

First off, it’s an alarming question to have to address. I mean, you would think that after countless historical examples of failed socialist states; widespread deprivation, corruption, state-inflicted violence, gulags, death camps and killing fields, socialism and its corollary political ideologies fascism and dictatorship would be relegated to the philosophic crematory of necrotic ideas.

Yet that’s where we are in 21st century America, an America where Democrats are running as fast as they can to the left to embrace the “progressive” ideas penned some 150 years ago in Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital.”

Perhaps those who think it a feel-good notion that government should be in control of the economy via restrictions on how we consume energy, how much of our lives we must forfeit through taxes, and how we get our medicine, should stop and read another influential book on government.

That book’s title is “1984.”

In that dystopian warning beacon, George Orwell created the depraved vision of a socialist future through use of the Stalin-like “Big Brother,” complete with a push broom mustache and all. Yet more importantly, the collectivist essence of government control is expressed in the following line by the novel’s antagonist, O’Brien: “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left), Joseph Stalin (right)

This is the stuff of nightmares, but sadly, the ideas at the base of America’s new socialists are, in essence, the stuff of Big Brother.

That brings us back to my answer to the subscriber’s question regarding what we are going to do about the rise of socialism in our country.

Well, the answer actually is simple, because it’s the only solution to any issue of public concern, and here it is: The only way to combat bad ideas is with good ideas.

Moreover, the only way to combat the encroachment of bad ideas is to engage those bad ideas on a philosophic level with better, more persuasive arguments.

This is by no means an easy task, because those of us who believe intensely in the virtue of free markets, liberty and capitalism are often painted with a black-hearted brush. That’s why we need to approach this issue in terms of morality, not just practicality.

Capitalism isn’t just a better social system for humans because it provides more goods to more people. Yes, it does that, but that’s not its essence.

Capitalism is moral because it’s a social system based on the veneration of individual rights. Those rights include the right to your own life, your own liberty, and perhaps most importantly, your own property.

Practically speaking, this translates into a society where the government’s only legitimate function is to protect individual rights.

If you argue the morality of capitalism and not just its practicality, you will be arguing on the same playing field that the current American socialist darlings such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders occupy.

You see, the left argues that it’s “immoral” to be too rich and that it’s moral for the successful to be compelled to pay for everything in society via taxation. They also argue that it’s moral to make sure every citizen is his brother’s keeper.

The moral counterpunch to this line of thinking is that it’s immoral for the state to violate an individual’s right to his life, liberty and property.

So now, we who love liberty, freedom and capitalism must engage in an epic battle of ideas, one that takes place on the playing field of not only rational discourse, but also the playing field of moral virtue.

Finally, remember always that the only antidote to bad ideas are good ideas.

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The Lucky Ones

And in this world

Truth be told

We’re the lucky ones

And if we find someone to love

Until we fade away

Into the rise and fall of

Each and every night and day

Together, we’ll breathe into the wind…

–Colin Hay, “A Thousand Million Reasons”

The genius of the former frontman of the iconic 1980s band “Men at Work” comes from his ability to touch hearts with a blend of lyrical depth and beautiful melodies. In the bridge from this great song, Hay reminds us that the truly lucky among us are those who have found someone to love until the end. Because in the end, love really is really what matters most.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

To read my e-letter from last week’s The Deep Woods, please click here. I also invite you to comment about my column in the space provided below my The Deep Woods commentary.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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