Nashville Meetup – Intro to Preparedness Colonies

For those in the Nashville area, this Saturday, July 16, 2011, I will host, along with my esteemed colleagues, a 2-hour discussion on preparedness colonies.  We will discuss pros and cons of different types of colonies, how to find, connect, evaluate, join or build one.  What makes a colony succeed or fail?  What do you need to be an effective member of a colony?

You can find out more, sign up and RSVP for this workshop at
http://www.meetup.com/PROVIDENTLIVING/events/22957301/

Individual Freedom vs. Unchecked Power. Where is the balance?


I would like to share a discussion string from our community website, “Friends of Sewanee Creek”  Names, other than my own, and emphasis have been changed.

Grant shared an article on 06/13/2011 07:06:20 am
Whoa!! And I thought it was a good thing to be considered a “sustainable developer”.


Jodi – 06/15/2011 01:40:06 pm
Will watch Glenn Beck and Pass the Video to MANY. Thank You!

Debbie  6/18/2011 00:05:37 am
Agenda 21 is very disturbing.
Glenn Beck discussed Agenda 21 on June 15, 2011

Ben  06/20/2011 03:34:03 pm
This is my first introduction to Agenda 21 so I am very unfamiliar with the details but the concept of social engineering is nothing new. I think China is a good example of this with the one child policy. In this case you have a country that is facing a huge ecological mess (pollution, water shortages, decreasing arable land from desertification) where a government steps in and attempts to avert having natural factors like starvation or disease controlling population growth by implementing a law to control population growth.

Again I am unfamiliar with the details of this particular “agenda” but I think it is a reality that increasing numbers of humans in the emerging markets pushing into western middle class lifestyles is going to pose some ecological challenges to the planet. Historical notions of sovereignty create complications when dealing with issues like nuclear disasters, disease, or climate change which do not respect borders. I think many of us see this as the nuclear meltdown in Japan directly affects our welfare.

How does the world begin to deal with these larger transnational issues?

Grant Miller – 06/21/2011 06:41:28 am
Good comment, Ben. It strikes me as both thoughtful and brave, two qualities I admire greatly.

Clearly, as the world shrinks and technology increases the power of mankind to foul his own nest (as well as that of his neighbors) the need for some form of control increases. This need is at the heart of your question.

The dilemma lies in the fact that corruption is endemic to power. I keep coming back to the well worn quote, “Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” How do you have a global government where there is no higher recourse without sacrificing liberty and enslaving the world? Of more immediate concern, why would we want to turn that government over to those who have already proven themselves to be thoroughly corrupt?

I am among a growing population that recognizes the behavior of world, US and local leaders as nothing short of self-serving thuggery. People of all political persuasions are increasingly recognizing that national resources and the wealth of the people have been plundered by those with the power to do so. It is increasingly clear that there is collusion between people with their hands on the levers of power whether at the point of a gun (military or police), through government (congress, parliament, unelected bureaucrats, presidents/kings/czars/dictators) or through sophisticated financial manipulation (Powerful Corporations, Global Banks, Wall Street/The City). Many bury their collective heads in the sand, pretending that none of this exists by labeling it “conspiracy theory”. Thinking people are not cowed by this thinly veiled insult. They recognize that we are all subject to our selfish interests and that as power approaches the absolute, corruption is guaranteed.

The genius of our founding fathers was in their recognition of these facts. Their solution, indeed the only solution that has worked since the beginning of mankind was simple and elegant. To limit all kinds of thuggery, power itself must be limited, checked and controlled.

Ben, you just asked the right question in a forum where you might have perceived a risk of being shouted down. That is brave. In doing so, you elevated the conversation. There is great power in thoughtful, honest questions.  We all owe you a big thank you.

Frankly, I don’t know the answer to your question. I wish I did. The only level at which I think I have an answer is the local one, precisely because I have no power at the global or any other level. But I do believe that if enough people will exercise the power that they do have, locally, to live a thoughtful, wise, brave, chaste and righteous life, the world would change for the better. That is because people with unlimited power have it only to the extent the masses give it to them.

My dream for the Village is that we will have people here who desperately want to live their lives and surround themselves with others of like mind and commitment to virtuous character. Until that small kernel grows into something more powerful, we will at least provide ourselves a measure of insulation from a world that is out of control due to the greed and lust of all-powerful men.

Surround yourself with Extraordinary People

What do you want to surround yourself with?
I wanted to write something for you about this, so I Googled “surround yourself with” and here is the advice that came up on the first page.

I agree.  I NEED to surround myself with the best, the extraordinary, so that I can become my best.  That’s easier said than done.  It takes work to attract and keep the best in your life, especially if you are looking for people who are better than you are.  I have spent the last five years of my life with that single-minded goal, to attract extraordinary people to the Village.  Our list of permanent residents is still small, but it includes people of extraordinary talents, skills, accomplishments, experiences and character traits.   To name a few, these highly accomplished people, all with post-graduate degrees in their field and stellar life accomplishments, include among their skills:  published philosopher and writer, chemist, plant geneticist, musician, Sr. business executive, successful entrepreneur, web developer, teacher, world travelers, electronics/communications expert, linguists, etc.  If you include those who have purchased land but have not yet built and moved in, the list becomes too long.  Overlaid on these skills are values of hard work, positive thinking, humility, mental toughness, creativity, generosity, mutual caring, independence, self-sufficiency and a strong desire to be part of a cohesive, sharing community.

Have you noticed that on my website, the request for information page includes a text box that asks an unusual question?  “Tell us a little about why you are interested in living in the Village on Sewanee Creek and what you would bring to the community as a neighbor.”  Do you know of ANY other developments where land is offered for sale, but applicants are asked to justify their contribution in terms other than dollars?

I don’t refer to myself as a “developer”.   My primary focus is building this community, so my business card says simply “founder”.  Unlike developers whose work focuses exclusively on subdividing, meeting government codes and selling, I actually live here and have different, vested, personal interests.  So I spend the bulk of my time blogging to attract extraordinary people, then interviewing and observing to understand whether they would be happy and contribute here.  When a person buys land in the Village, only a little of the value they are getting is in dirt, trees, creeks and a nice view.  They are buying years of my single-minded labor to assemble a community, a circle of extraordinary people.  For some, it is hard to recognize tangible dollar value in that.  Those who think the above quotes are only nice platitudes won’t join us in the Village.   They are unlikely to commit to the lifestyle we aspire to or even discover my website with its carefully crafted key search words.  And that is good.  We aren’t looking for average people who have money but don’t get it.

For those who strive to surround themselves with greatness, with people who will lift you higher, people who are like-minded, passionate, intelligent, creative and so on, to these the beautiful land is a nice incidental.

That Village residents understand and value this was recently demonstrated to me by one of them.  We were on an outing together to Nashville to see my favorite play, Les Miserable.  As we drove together I took the opportunity to discuss some community business.  I mentioned that property values in the Village have stayed significantly higher than any nearby as indicated by recent sales.  I sought their views on changes to the covenants because I want to make them as minimally restrictive as I can while maintaining the beauty, tranquility and productivity of the Village.  A Villager with two young children dismissed higher property values.  “Resale value is irrelevant to me”, he said.  “I plan to live here the rest of my life.”  Then he added, “I just want to be sure you will continue to be selective with the quality of my new neighbors.”  BTW, this young, extraordinary man is our post-graduate philosopher/writer/entrepreneur and I would say he gets it.

How to Take Control of your Wealth

I have long been puzzled by the appeal to return to a gold standard.  Yes, I know that gold has been the traditional repository of value throughout the centuries.  But what makes gold intrinsically valuable? Is it its lovely yellow hue? Its soft, malleability?  The fact that it doesn’t rust?  Or is it that, along with these nice features, there is simply a limited supply that inhibits inflation?  A currency that is backed by it should therefore not be inflatable.  That too is true, but this all seems too simplistic.

The wealth of the world is continuously increasing in line with its population, increases in productivity, scientific knowledge and technology.  So why should a fixed amount of currency representing a rapidly changing store of value be a good thing?  Wouldn’t that result in massive deflation as world economies expand? This begs the question, what is wealth?  Is it money?  Obviously not. If we were to assume that gold is money, would it BE wealth? No, it is only a medium of exchange that symbolically represents wealth. Money is simply used to grease the wheels of commerce. It is an intermediary tool used to move in and out of different forms of real, tangible wealth.

Wealth is actually food, water, shelter, clothing, cars, trucks, trains, planes, fuel, electricity, farms, manufacturing and production capacity, washing machines, blenders, microwave ovens and even electronic gadgets that people value for making our lives more pleasant.

It’s a very long time since I studied macro economics in graduate school, so I’ll admit to being a little rusty. But I was fortunate to have an excellent professor who had held a fairly senior position at the Fed, but had rejected it in favor of a libertarian philosophy.  He was an avid follower of economics Nobel Prize winner, Milton Friedman. I learned that control (expansion and contraction) of the money supply is the primary means of manipulating economic power and that power is currently under the exclusive control of a highly centralized and private banking system. As an inexperienced, young student, I lacked the practical perspective to understand the implications of what I was learning. Some 35 years later, I’m beginning to get it.  Ok, so I’m a slow learner.

To the extent that a person is reliant on a money supply that can be manipulated at the whim of another private entity, whether that is in the form of gold, paper currency, electronic blips on a computer, tulips or puka shells, we have lost the ability and freedom to manage our own lives. We are unwitting serfs in a modern feudal system shell game. We are sheep in a farm being repeatedly sheered through intentionally created boom/bust cycles of inflation/deflation and a villainous system of usury.

Is there a means of escape? Yes, but it is an inconvenient one.  People the world over are so conditioned to value convenience and comfort above all else that few would be willing to take the prescription. I know a little about the value we place on convenience. I personally created the business plan and negotiated the deal for 7-Eleven Thailand with the CP Group when I worked for the Southland Corporation. 7-Eleven is the world’s largest operator of convenience stores. Thailand, with about 6,000, now has the 3rd largest number of 7-Eleven stores behind the US and Japan.

Can you guess the ultimate convenience I am suggesting we need to ween ourselves from in order to gain back our freedom and stop the theft of personal wealth?

Contact me to explore the answer.

Visit the Village on Sewanee Creek Website

Related articles:

Principles for a Strong, Free Community

Cover of "The 5000 Year Leap (Original Au...

Cover via Amazon

I’m reading, thanks to some friends of Sewanee Creek, an insightful book that chronicles the creation of the United States. It is called The 5000 Year Leap. by Cleon Skousen.

There have been many aha moments, but I just read the opening lines to the 7th principle of freedom: the proper role of Government. It resonated so strongly with me that I felt compelled to jump on the computer and share it.

Under the bold header, “What Powers Can Be Assigned to Government” it reads,The founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves.”

My experience in business management taught me that this is a true principle. In many ways I have always been a bit of a contrarian, preferring to march to the beat of my own drum and driven by strongly held, biblical principles of right and wrong. Often, in the course of my employment, I found that my principles were at odds with those in higher authority. On a couple of occasions I tried to institute change from a grass roots level. That approach invariably landed me in hot water and confirmed to me that this is a true principle. In a corporation, those who have position power will have their way, that is as long as they are clever enough to exercise and maintain power, as they usually are upon reaching a high or ownership position.

That understanding emanates from business experience, which can/should be very different from government of a democratic republic.  But the underlying principle is eternal and immutable. You can not delegate power that you do not have.  In the domain of government, where in America our underlying assumption is of a government for and by the people, the application can become circular and confusing until one inserts the concept of God-given, unalienable rights. These rights and the power that proceeds from them are few and broad, but must be tightly defined.

To return to my business analogy, as a mid-level manager, I had neither the right nor the power to institute change within an organization that I did not own or been delegated rights and powers, regardless of my sense of right and wrong. As stated elsewhere in this great book, rights stem from ownership. Where I disagreed with my superiors my options were, (a) execute exactly as I was directed, (b) convince those in authority of a better way or (c) resign and find a place to work more closely aligned with my values.

Only when rights of ownership and true authority are respected can an organization of any sort reach the potential to achieve the purpose for which it was created. If it is true that the rights of government of the USA are vested only in the people, it is clear that there has been a boardroom coupe.  America is ruled by unelected bureaucrats who report indirectly to hands-off elected officials who have made themselves unaccountable to those who should be vested with power, the people.  But the people have become deservedly dis-empowered because of their witless incompetence in the exercise of their power. Anyone who has participated in boardroom politics will recognize that only those who exercise their power with wisdom and clever insight will retain power. Even owner/founders are routinely deposed by hired managers. The American people have lost power because they have failed to exercise their true, God-given power.  God giveth and the government taketh away.  America is no longer a Republic.  It is a corporation, ruled by hired managers.

I want to relate this back to something more local, as that is all I feel empowered to speak of with any confidence any more. The Village values individual freedom and rights. Rights stem from ownership. Ownership should be the result of honest thought, labor and investment. This is why individual (not communal) property ownership is a keystone to successful community whether at the Village or Nation/State level. That is why the Village on Sewanee Creek is different from most “intentional communities” that typically end up in flames because they are often built on a utopian socialist, common-ownership model.

It is a little understood fact that the constitution of the United States was not ratified or even drafted till years after the successful conclusion of the revolution. Similarly, I have felt it inappropriate to impose homeowner association bylaws for the Village which should be the product of land owners within the village. George Washington declined the offer to become a king. He was a public servant in the best sense. I desire to do the same. My wife and I own most of the Village property now. But when it is sold, I am a Villager, created equal and with equal rights to other Villagers.

For those who might be interested in a model for government of the Village (not to mention the Republic of the USA) read The 5000 Year Leap.

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged – a philosophy to unite Left and Right

I have occasionally hinted in my blogs that “I like liberals” or that I feel a strange kinship with some aspects of progressive thought.  As I have written these things, I cringe a little inside, expecting to be castigated by conservatives for association with such hated labels.  Finally, here is a piece that explains my feelings.  Here is the core of my hope that there is ample reason to believe that a majority of Americans from both ends of the political spectrum can find common cause if they will cast off the labels and think for themselves.

Thank you, Tom Mullen, for articulating this so well.  I include the full text of his article as well as a link to the original below.

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Why Progressives Might Enjoy Atlas Shrugged
By Tom Mullen

I had the opportunity to see Atlas Shrugged, Part I on Saturday in the only theater in which it is being shown in Tampa, FL. It is currently running at Cinebistro, a specialty theater where you can enjoy a high-end meal and fine wine served at your seat, which is very similar to a first class airline seat. Admittedly, it is just the kind of venue that progressives might associate with an elitist gathering of selfish capitalists. However, the movie itself tells quite a different story than they might expect if their understanding of Rand is limited to her interviews with Phil Donahue or Mike Wallace.

Like libertarians, Rand’s Objectivist economic theory was rooted in what we today call “the non-aggression axiom,” which Thomas Jefferson and the liberal faction of America’s founders called “the law of nature.” According to this philosophy, each individual has an inalienable right to keep the product of his labor and to dispose of it as he sees fit. The non-aggression axiom forbids any individual or group from using force to take away the justly acquired property of another. Neither does it allow for anyone to interfere with voluntary contracts, as long as those contracts do not involve the initiation of force against anyone else.

This prohibits the government, which is by definition the societal use of force, from redistributing wealth or enacting laws which go beyond prohibiting aggression. Establishment media figures who interviewed Rand immediately focused on the implications of her philosophy for social safety net programs, charging that Rand’s philosophy would not allow for programs for the poor or handicapped. While this is true, it obscures the most important implications of Rand’s philosophy for economic policy in the United States.

What would likely startle progressives watching the film is its emphasis on the evils of what free market proponents would call “crony capitalism.”  This is completely consistent with the novel, which demonstrates that the beneficiaries of government regulation supposedly enacted for “the common good” or “the benefit of society” are really the super-rich. Indeed, the film never criticizes the beneficiaries of social programs. Instead, it spends all of its time demonstrating the difference between those “capitalists” who acquire their wealth through government privileges and those true capitalists who acquire their wealth by producing products that consumers voluntarily buy.

This is a crucial distinction that has eluded progressives from Woodrow Wilson to Michael Moore. After seeing Moore’s film, Capitalism: A Love Story, I pointed out in my review of that film that there was very little that libertarians would disagree with. All of Moore’s criticisms of what he calls capitalism are really the result of crony capitalism. The biggest culprit in the economic collapse of the last decade was the Federal Reserve, a central planning/wealth redistribution institution that Rand explicitly condemns in her novel. Unfortunately, Moore incorrectly concludes that the economic distortions, inequitable distribution of wealth, and widespread harm to middle and lower income Americans were the result of a free market.

Rand would agree completely with progressives on the injustice of today’s American corporate state. That might also surprise progressives who probably assume that Rand would have supported the mainstream Republican policies of George W. Bush. Not only would Rand have condemned Bush’s version of state capitalism, but she was openly critical of Republican hero Ronald Reagan. When asked by Phil Donahue about Reagan during his administration, Rand said in so many words that he should have stuck to acting.

The only opportunity that progressives might have to disagree with anything in the film is the portrayal of the labor union official who tries to sabotage Dagny Taggarts launch of a new railroad line. This encounter takes all of about 3 minutes of the 113 minute film and is not a condemnation of labor unions in principle, but rather the illegitimate power that corrupt union officials can wield because of government privileges.

However, the true villains in the film are not union officials, beneficiaries of entitlement programs, or any other group associated with progressive philosophy. The villains are exclusively corporate executives and the government officials they get in bed with to illegitimately acquire wealth. The heroes are those who acquire their wealth by productive achievement and voluntary exchange. If one had to sum the film up in one sentence, it is an effective demonstration of the evils of crony capitalism and its difference from a truly free market.

I encourage progressives to see this film and to read Rand’s novel. If there is one thing that I hope they take away, it is that even great wealth can be acquired legitimately, when it is the result of human beings trading the products of their labor with the mutual, voluntary consent of all parties. Once progressives begin making the distinction between legitimately acquired wealth and wealth acquired because of government privilege, they will find libertarians and all other proponents of truly free markets standing by their side, fighting the evil corporate state.

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I pray that the deep chasm dividing Americans will be healed around our common desire to live free in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity, our birthright.


Ex-Pharma Rep comes clean, exposes industry corruption

This lady makes good sense.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of all the information on the web that points to evil, controlling, manipulative behavior that loosely falls under the category of “conspiracy theory”.

The thing that deludes people into thinking all this is just paranoia is the myth that all evil is somehow coordinated by a small group of evil doers at the top of a great pyramid of evil.  Then again, maybe organic pyramid structures are a naturally occurring phenomena.

Watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Isn’t it amazing that almost all of them nowadays are based on the simplistic story of a super hero pitted against an arch evil nemesis who is single-handedly out to control or destroy the world?  When we grow up, cartoons are relegated to the world of childhood fantasy along with anything that smacks of cartoonishness.  Out goes the baby with the bathwater.  Ergo, arch-villains don’t exist or are at least an aberration from the norm.  Humanity is basically good, so to think that the mass of people would cooperate in a massive evil scheme is… unthinkable.

I view this a little differently.  It has been my life experience that most people really care about one thing – getting ahead.  That boils down to two words, money and power with their derivatives (fame, beauty, sex, comfort, pleasure, etc.)  I have made it a habit of evaluating motives by looking at where the feet are pointing – actions, not words.

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics posited that there is an invisible hand that moves all mankind in a free market to make efficient choices in their own enlightened self-interest that furthers the good of all through general economic growth.  Having observed the nature of man in general, I suggest that Smith was absolutely correct, except that there are cumulative evil side effects of the invisible hand.  Selfish interests do not produce benign results in the long run.  The uncontrolled quest for wealth and power will ALWAYS lead to corruption.  Stated more succinctly, “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

While almost everyone knows and acknowledges that couplet as fundamental truth, why is it then, that most people remain so optimistically blind to the fact that big, powerful institutions, with incredible consistency, have only one objective in mind, self-enrichment and empowerment at ANY cost?  The higher one rises within the pyramid, the more single-minded one is required to be in pursuit of the one and only god of money and power.  Those lower in the pyramid not having absolute power are corrupted, but not yet absolutely.

Once you recognize that as a fundamental fact in our fallen world, conspiracy is not a theory, it is the most routinely observable human behavior of all.  Conspiracy is a fact of life for everyone.  Everyone is scheming to get ahead.  Conspiracy is nothing more than the survival instinct on steroids.  Conspiracy is just normal individual human behavior with at least one accomplice.  To posit that conspiracy is only a theory or a symptom of paranoid crackpots is to deny that there is greed or evil in the world.

Since we are on the topic of pharmaceuticals relative to the most common of all human diseases, it seems appropriate to ask, “Is there an antidote?”

The answer is YES, but like many antidotes, it’s tough medicine.  Attempting to kick habits that are not only natural to the human condition, but encouraged by drug pushers masquerading as executives, politicians and officers is infinitely more difficult than kicking heroine cold turkey.  If you decide to make the attempt, you will need a good physician and a support group of loyal friends.

I have a recommendation:  There is a good doctor named Jesus Christ who wrote the book and operates a worldwide chain of clinics.  There are many alternative cures of varying efficacy  developed by prophets, philosophers, gurus and shamans around the world.  Some of them are also good.  At the core, the good ones all practice the same golden rules.  But, for my money, Dr. Christ, GD is the best.

There are also many local support groups.  I’m partial to a network forming at the Village on Sewanee Creek of reforming addicts.  As with all addicts, it’s a constant struggle to stay on the wagon, hence the need for a support group.  As a former senior executive, I can testify from personal experience.