Book Review: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Book Review: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations is—far and away—the most difficult book I’ve read.  The writing is dense and the ideas are complex. The book is a behemoth…a paragon in the Libraries of History.

Smith is a legendary thinker. He covers a wide array of topics, from the Chinese economy to the barter system of Ancient Peru. During the process, we realize that we’re in the presence of a GREAT MAN. He’s an economist, a historian, a philosopher…in short, he’s the Age of Enlightenment personified.

Here’s what I took away from the book:

Agriculture is a Vital Part of a Country’s Economy

Smith believed in agriculture. He points out that a country must—first and foremost—be able to feed itself. It needs to produce bread, rice, etc. And when a country cannot feed itself, it’s an economic liability.

The examples are numerous—just look at the Irish Potato famine. Once they lost the ability to feed themselves, a tragedy ensued. Another example can be seen in modern-day Venezuela, which did away with much of its agriculture. When a financial crisis occurred, the people were lacking in basic food commodities. Just look at how many supermarkets were raided in downtown Caracas.

Paper Money Should Be Connected to a Precious Money

According to Smith, paper money needs to be tied to a precious metal: gold, silver, etc. This prevents the country from printing paper money at will, which leads to inflation. Smith provides numerous examples, going as far back as the Roman Empire’s use of bronze as a way to stabilize its currency.

Needless to say, the United States is currently in this dilemma. Since it left the gold standard, the inflation has slowly been rising. This accounts for the fact that a dinner that once was worth five cents (such as in 1920) is now worth fifteen dollars. If the situation spirals out of control—such as in Venezuela—then the paper money can become pointless. Note how in Caracas, you need a backpack full of money to buy a lunch.

Every Armed Conflict Has an Economic Story

The Wealth of Nations was written in 1776…the year of American independence. Smith goes into great detail about the war. He points to the economic underpinnings of the battle, explaining an angle that’s rarely talked about. Through this lens, the American War of Independence was more than a fight for sovereignty—it’s was an economic battle.

How many wars are fought over money? What’s the real story behind any armed conflict? What about the Syrian battle? The Iraqi invasion? Money plays a huge role in these conflicts. Smith reminds us about the “unspoken cause of war” the conflict that’s always at play—the battle between a creditor and a debtor.

Conclusion

I highly recommend The Wealth of Nations. Regardless of your major, you should read this book. It will bring you up to speed with “the best in what’s been thought and said.” Adam Smith should be on the bookshelf of any self-respecting bibliophile.

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Book Review: A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade by Vincent K. Hubbard

Book Review: A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade by Vincent K. Hubbard

The Caribbean has a fascinating history. The glorious events are discussed in A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade by Vincent K. Hubbard. The book is wonderfully comprehensive, starting in the Pre-Colombian era (i.e. before the Spanish arrival) and finishing in the 1990s. Hubbard takes the reader to Indian Wars, sugar plantations, and WW2 battlefronts. It’s a real page turner.

Here’s the rundown from Major Styles…

The Indians of the Caribbean Were a Warlike People

I wrote about Pre-Colombian violence in a recent post. Despite what history teachers have taught us, the Native Americans were not all peaceful. The Caribs were a prime example. They were the dominant tribe when the Spanish arrived (thus the term “Caribbean”). They rose to the top with the Ultra-Violence (to quote Alex the Droog). For them, New Years in Cologne was the work of amateurs.

“…the Caribs had attacked and killed all the Arawak males and taken their women as slaves…During wars there is good evidence that parts of the enemies’ bodies were eaten, the theory being that consuming these parts would impart the courage of the vanquished to the victors,” (p. 11).

So the Caribs committed genocide against the Arawak, ate their bodies, and turned their wives and daughters into sex slaves. Nice…what a group of guys.

Carib
The Caribs engaged in genocide, cannibalism, bridal theft, and rape. Keep moving people…nothing to see here.

I guarantee that you won’t hear that story in your American History class.

As I’ve told you before, America is controlled by Cultural Marxism – the theory of oppressor/oppressed. Historically speaking, this means that every event must have the same conclusion: evil Europeans destroyed the noble, indigenous tribes.  Subsequently, because of Cultural Marxism, your children will never be taught an accurate history in a public school.

St. Kitts Was the Most Valuable Spot on Earth…and it Was All Because of Sugar

We forget the power of sugar; there was a time it was the most valuable product on earth. And little St. Kitts – with a unique soil and climate – was able to produce a high-quantity of sugar. So the battle was on…the country that had St. Kitts would rule the world. And that country was England.

sugar pla
A sugar plantation in St. Kitts from the 1700s. The tiny island was making more money than all of England.

A West Indian sugar planter was rich. No, scratch that…filthy rich:

“At a time when a person in England with an income of 100 a year was considered well off, some of the richest West Indian planters had incomes of thousands of pounds per annum…There was a saying in seventeenth-century England that a wealthy person was ‘As rich as a West Indian Planer’.”

At one point, tiny St. Kitts was generating more cash than all of England. Needless to say, the profits were boosted by slave labor. That’s a story in and of itself (and a brutal one, no doubt).

The Modern World Was Shaped by Geopolitical Treaties

Many of the nations that we currently know were formed via precarious treaties. An example of this was The Treaty of Breda, signed between the warring factions in the Leeward Islands: England, France, the Netherlands and Denmark. What caught my attention was a detail in the treaty, where the future territories were divided:

“In order to regain their half of St. Kitts, the English gave the French all of Nova Scotia in Canada. The Dutch had the choice of keeping either Surinam or New York. They selected Suriname,” (p.50).

What if New York City became a Dutch colony? Would there be a Manhattan? It’s a question worth asking. Clearly, Suriname was never able to achieve economic greatness. And the same can be said for the Dutch nations of Aruba and St. Martin.

manhattan
The Dutch chose Suriname over Manhattan (The Treaty of Bereda). What would have happened if they chose Manhattan instead? Would this have ever existed?

History often hinges in a single event. And millions of people can be affected by the signing of a pen or the casting of a vote.

Summary

I highly recommend A History of St. Kitts: The Sweet Trade. Moreover, I encourage people to read more on the history of the Caribbean. It’s a unique place with a history that’s intriguing and, most importantly, rarely told.

What the Hell Does “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” Mean?

What the Hell Does “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” Mean?

(((Literary critics))) have applauded the poem “Anybody Lived in a Pretty How Town” by E.E. Cummings. The poem is included in most literary anthologies, spreading confusion from Los Angeles to New York. But what does it mean? And what is a “how” town anyway? For years, I tried to make sense of the poem but was unable to; like so many students (as well as teachers), I was clueless about the meaning.

So today, let’s see if we can make up an E.E. Cumming’s poem. I have three to get the ball rolling…

  • Anybody Lived in a Pretty What Village
  • Anybody Lived in a Pretty Where City
  • Anybody Lived in a Pretty When Ghetto

You get the picture…my titles make no sense. And neither does the Cumming’s one. So why is it applauded then?

To understand the Cumming’s poem (and its modern approach) we need to review the history of 19th-century Europe; i.e. to understand an event, you need the study history that proceeded it. So when we review 19th-century European history, we find the ongoing struggle between a Christian majority and a Jewish minority. No book highlights the struggle better than Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together. The cultural battles of the 19th-century bled into the 20th, and that’s when modernism begins.

What is modernism? Simply put, it’s a Jewish attempt to subvert European culture. The point is obvious when you review the originators of modern art. The Jewish goal was to replace the art of European history (pieces that depicted real-life heroes) with ambiguous structures: i.e. a German soldier on a horse was replaced with a shapeless blob. By doing so, Jews could erase the physical reminders of Christian heroes from Europe. Once these images were scrubbed clean, the Christian majority would become more accepting of a Jewish minority; and in turn, more accepting of its transgressions.

So what does “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” mean? Nothing…and that’s the point.

You’re supposed to be confused. You’re supposed to be lost. You’re supposed to be misdirected. It’s an educational red herring, designed to distract you from the history of Christian civilization.

Note that Cummings himself was not Jewish, That being said, he imbibed the cultural sentiments of his time. And in order to become popular, he had to embrace modernism. We can see a similar correlation in America today. If you want to be popular, you have to take a shit on Christian values: i.e. Madonna, Lady Gaga, etc.

What is the purpose of poetry? It should lift you to lofty heights. It’s a wave of pleasure, rolling over your body. It’s the magical power of emotion, brought to life. Poetry is the flower unfolding, the blossom blooming: the beauty of life made available to the world.

Poetry is not E.E. Cummings.

See Related Article: Poetry Review: A Critique on “August 1968” by W.H. Auden

 

Book Review: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Book Review: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell’s book, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy is just what the name implies—a beginner’s guide to economic theory. I found the book to be excellent. I should’ve read it years ago, since it would have peaked my interest in money matters a bit more.

Several quotes stood out:

Speculation is Superior to Gambling

Speculation is often misunderstood as being the same as gambling, when in fact it is the opposite of gambling.  What gambling involves, whether in games of chance or in actions like playing Russian roulette, is creating risk that would otherwise not exist, in order either to profit or to exhibit one’s skill or lack of fear.  What economic speculation involves is coping with an inherent risk in such a way as to minimize it and to leave it to be borne by whoever is best equipped to bear it.

Gambling is like marrying a woman that you’ve known for three months (something the Major has done). Essentially, you’re creating a risk. You’re making a commitment to somebody that’s a virtual stranger. You don’t have the all the information yet; in my case, I found out that my wife was an alcoholic.

We gamble out of stupidity; but also, it’s a “lack of fear” as Sowell points out. We test the natural laws of the universe, believing that our intuition is superior. Occasionally, we get lucky and win. But most of the time we lose.

Conversely, speculation is like marrying a woman that you’ve known for three years. You minimize a risk (AKA, speculate).  Her negative traits have already come to light, but you feel that you can manage them. You’ve seen the worst in her and feel that you can overcome the risk.

Smart people are speculators. They understand that risk is inherent in life, but they learn to manage it. Their good luck appears accidental to those around them: the product of a lucky break or even nepotism. But in reality, they calculated their decisions better. They like to skydive, but they also like parachutes.

The Federal Reserve Has Created More Problems than it Solved

The Federal Reserve system was established in 1914 as a result of fears of such economic consequences as deflation and bank failures.  Yet, the worst bank failures in the country’s history occurred after the Federal Reserve was established (p. 24)

Sowell brings up something that few Americans even question anymore—whether or not the Federal Reserve is a good thing. He believes that it was a bad thing. It’s interesting to note the creation of the Federal Reserve: 1914. This was, of course, at the start of World War 1. Obviously, there were concerns about political stability at the time.

Fifteen years later (1929), the stock market crashed and we had the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve was unable to stop the problem they said they would solve. We’ve had several economic downturns ever since: take 2008, for example, when the housing market collapsed.

It’s a powerful lesson—a time of crisis can lead to bad decision-making. And this bad decision can then become a way of life.

When You Help Someone Economically, You Often Hurt Another Person

Nothing is easier for the media or for politicians than to present “human interest” stories about someone whose family has been farming for generations and who has now been forced out of the kind of life they knew and loved by the impersonal economic forces of the marketplace.  What is forgotten is that these impersonal forces represent benefits to consumers who are just as much persons as the producers who have been arbitrarily selected as the focus of the discussion.  The temptation is always there to try to solve the problem of those whose plight has been singled out for attention, without regard for the effects elsewhere. (p. 27)

That’s the crux of charity: the natural Christian tendency to “help thy neighbor.” Sowell points out how the media will manipulate this altruistic desire, promoting a hard-luck story that’s designed to shift the government coffers in a different direction.

The appeal to pathos is ubiquitous. We saw it before the Affordable Care Act was passed (countless stories about a poor person who  could not afford medical care). Of course, moving money into someone’s pocket is often done by removing it from somebody else’s. This proved to be true with the ACA. The money that was used for people without health insurance was taken from another source – those who actually had insurance. This resulted in higher rates for those who were already covered.

Somebody always has to pay: the question is who.

Summary

Basic Economics is an excellent read. I think should be taught on the high school level; moreover, it would make a good read for Economics 101 courses at the college level. It explains the essential concepts with plain language, simple analogies, and logical organization.

I highly recommend the book.

See Related Article: Adam Smith on the Economic Differences Between Europe and Pre-Colombian America

Book Review: Tai-Pan by James Clavell

Book Review: Tai-Pan by James Clavell

A friend of mine used to say, “New books are better than old ones.” After reading by Tai-Pan by James Clavell, I have to agree. It’s bold, funny, raucous…everything a novel should be. I give it five stars.

The story takes place in China during the 1700’s. We follow Dirk Straun, the English sailor. He’s become a wealthy man by trading opium with the Chinese. Simultaneously, he takes an Asian wife and starts a company called The Noble House. He lives in Hong Kong, a new city in the British Empire (we all know how that turns out, of course).

Dirk is the “Tai-Pan” – it means supreme leader in Chinese. The locals respect and fear him. He rules with an iron hand, learning how to do business in the local way: saving face, calling bluffs, and fighting when need be.

Enter Culum, the son he left behind in England. The book segues into a great father/son tale at that point. Dirk…the man who went to China to make a fortune, yet left a boy in England behind. And Culum…the son who comes looking for a father: hoping to learn from him yet full of resentment. It’s a universal conflict.

I love the story for many reasons, but perhaps most is this…

Deep inside of every man, there lives a Dirk Straun—a man that longs for a life of adventure.

So many of us lead mundane lives, trapped inside a cubicle farm in corporate America. The break room, the bathroom, the freeway…boring. Thankfully, with the help of James Clavell, we can be transported to another place and time. A world of sailors and sword fighting.

I highly recommend this novel—it belongs on the bibliophile’s bookshelf.

Book Review: Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun

Book Review: Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun

Wess Roberts wrote a book in 1993 entitled Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun. It became a best seller, mixing ancient history with business acumen. It was read by CEOs across the United States. One fan was Pat Riley, the former coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. On some level, the book is like President Trump’s Art of the Deal—designed to teach people how to succeed in the business sector.

The book is structured in the following way:

  • Provide an anecdote about Attila the Hun’s invasion of the Roman Empire
  • Use the anecdote as a teaching lesson, told from the perspective of Attila. The advice is centered on how to lead people, how to run an organization, etc.

Here are the pros and cons of the book:

Pros:

There were a lot of great sayings. You can easily use the maxims in a variety of ways, from personal growth to attention whoring on Facebook. Here are just a few of the quotes:

“Warriors with high potential turn down assignments that don’t offer an opportunity for them to learn and grow.”

“A warrior with high potential is quick to leave a poorly led tribe.”

“A chieftain doesn’t waste time by trying to learn more lessons from an experience than it contains.”

Cons:

Roberts was very enamored with Attila; he describes him in positive terms throughout the entire book.  But he conveniently overlooks the other side of Attila; for example, the man who skinned people alive, disemboweled them, and had their bodies torn to pieces by attaching each limb to a horse.

Simultaneously, he describes the Roman Empire in harsh ways; they were savage, brutal, prone to excess, etc. While that was true, there was another side to the Roman Empire—one that allowed them to rule the ancient world.

In short, I found him playing a bit loose with history. And I’m skeptical of people who manipulate the events of history to serve a personal aim.

Summary

Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun is a book that, on some level, has influenced the current migrant invasion of the West. A PHD academic like Wess Roberts, who condemns his own culture while simultaneously sanctifying the foreign invaders. The Roman Empire might as well be America/Europe while the Huns are Syrians, Somalians, etc. It’s very disturbing to see the seeds of our current dilemma. But for anyone that’s familiar with American academics, it should come as no surprise.

I recommend the book on the strength of the quotations. Just be aware that, ultimately, Roberts is a useful idiot that’s being dangled on the puppet strings of George Soros.

Warriors with High Potential Turn Down Assignments

Warriors with High Potential Turn Down Assignments

“Warriors with high potential turn down assignments that don’t offer an opportunity for them to learn and grow.”

These are the words from Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun, a 1989 book by Wess Roberts.

His words are apropos…

I recently took a part-time job that I despise. They work me too hard, pay me too little, and their company is lame. But the bills had to get paid. So I took the job, planning to stay there for a short time. Now – one year later – I still have the job. What the hell am I doing? Why am I still working there? I paid the bills I needed to pay.

I realize the answer…

We get hooked on a supplemental paycheck—the extra money every month. We become lazy, complacent or comfortable. We get used to settling. To living a life that’s subpar – to accepting less than 100%.

Roberts gave me a kick in the ass today…it’s time to replace that job.