Category Archives: MONEY

Money – the Universal Religion

Help Is On The Way

Before graduation as a Marine Officer, membership in the Navy Federal Credit Union was required to pay for a $1,000’s worth of uniforms and sword – I really wanted the sword.  Come to find out that Hashgraph’s, first name brand customer, was CUNA, the 1,000 member, Credit Union National Association of which the NFCU was its biggest lender. Ipso facto, I became a near instant, after ten ‘youtubers’ on Bitcoin vs Hashgraph, believer in the genius of Leemon Baird.

Semper Fi

Turkey is the Suez Canal of China’s New Silk Road

Cry not for Turkey – they didn’t get in the European Union, the Euro and a Greek like collapse. They joined the wrong side, the German side, the losing side in WWI and won their independence. Turkey lost their Ottoman Empire that stretched from Baku to Venice, but was relieved of all Arabic speaking nation-states. After Ataturk, put the ABC’s in the Turkish language, the country became the Geo-political Rosetta Stone of the Mid-East.

Today the East (China) meets the West in Istanbul with their One Belt One Road Initiative. Railroads and pipelines, instead of camels, boats and planes are the new modes of transportation. Nobody likes nobody today, tomorrow or yesterday but they all like money. Egypt accepts everybody’s money that uses their Suez Canal. The same thing goes on in Panama, so much so, that China is building another canal in Nicaragua.

Now comes the Baku-Tblisi-Kars (BTK) railway – inaugurated with great fanfare by Erdogan alongside Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, but also crucially Kazakh Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev and Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov. After all, this is about the integration of the Caucasus with Central Asia.

Erdogan actually went further: BTK is “an important chain in the New Silk Road, which aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe.” The new transportation corridor is configured as an important Eurasian hub linking not only the Caucasus with Central Asia but also, in the Big Picture, the EU with Western China.

The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a deal brokered in person in Baku by the late Dr Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, was a major energy/geopolitical coup by the Clinton administration, laying out an umbilical steel cord between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

BTK is just the beginning, considering the long-term strategy of Chinese-built high-speed rail from Xinjiang across Central Asia all the way to Iran, Turkey, and of course, the dream destination: the EU. Erdogan can clearly see how Turkey is strategically positioned to profit from it.

Of course, BTK is not a panacea. Other connectivity points between Iran and Turkey will spring up, and other key BRI interconnectors will pick up speed in the next few years, such as the Eurasian Land Bridge across the revamped Trans-Siberian and an icy version of the Maritime Silk Road: The Northern Sea Route across the Arctic.

What’s particularly interesting in the BTK case is the Pipelineistan interconnection with the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline(TANAP), bringing natural gas from the massive Azeri gas field Shah Deniz-2 to Turkey and eventually the EU.

Turkish analyst Cemil Ertem stresses, “just like TANAP, the BTK Railway not only connects three countries, but also is one of the main trade and transport routes in Asia and Europe, and particularly Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ports. It connects Central Asia to Turkey with the Marmaray project in Istanbul and via the Caspian region. Along with the Southern Gas Corridor, which constitutes TANAP’s backbone, it will also connect ports on the South China Sea to Europe via Turkey.”

Cry not for Turkey, she is in the right place at the right time.

THE SMALL TOWN ELITE AND THE PIANO BANK

mbg-gosport“With your project and two more just like it, I’ll be an expert.”

I designed the bank operations center for New Jersey National Bank, in Ewing Township which included lunch at Princeton University. I sensed that with two more bank ‘paper factories’ just like NJNB I’d be an expert in data center design. That was in the Autumn of 1978 and by 1981 I had personally interviewed hundreds of computer jocks and their fellow paper-pushers – euphemistically referred to as ‘end-users’ in the architectural design trade.

My job was to size up the bank to determine how big the future facility should be and layout the workflow arrangement of the various departments. As an EDP (Electronic Data Processing) expert I got to fly first class all over the country and even Singapore translating  bank assets into square footage. I’d take out my Case Western Reserve University TI statistics calculator to construct a linear progression analysis of constant dollar growth to physical bank data processing requirements.

NCNB in Charlotte is a good example of my expertise chicanery. Back then they had gone from 3 billion to 5 billion by gobbling out of state banks. Today, they have grown through acquisition to become known as Bank of America with $2.3 trillion  in assets. Back in 1980 the original BOA had two 400,000 sqft operations centers one in LA and one in SF. As an expert, I got to help evaluate how much our proposed 750,000 sqft center for Security Pacific Bank – now part of the BOA that began as NCNB and why it’s HQ ended up in Charlotte, NC. – by taking my rule-of-thumb TI pocket calculator and multiplying $300/sq ft X computer area + $100/sq ft x office area =  an easy $100 million.

liberace-on_stage_with_rhinestone_piano-760234On a snowy day in the winter of ’81 I found myself interviewing the computer jock mafia of Denver’s Central Bank & Trust Co. a subsidiary of Baldwin United. The Baldwin, in Baldwin United was my father’s employer for 25 years, the Baldwin Piano & Organ Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The jocks’ machine room was in the rotunda shaped lobby of the bank – I searched my TI pocket for calculating the area of a circle, was it  A=πr2? So, I pivoted and asked them about the bank’s asset growth. “Well, we’ve gone from $838 million in 1973 to almost $9 billion today.”

“Holy Toledo Batman, what we have here is a whale in a bathtub” – that makes Baldwin Piano the bank, bigger than my last assignment with NCNB. Howzcum, I never heard of this outfit before?

main-streetGosport, Indiana in its prime

When I called Marion, aka my father, in Altamonte Springs, FL. to tell him the news he sounded worried. The bulk of his savings were in Baldwin United stock now trading at $50/ share and he was worried that CEO Morley Thompson’s financial engineering might come a cropper – could I check it out?

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Marion Benson Gregory was born on September 13, 1913 and I was born on his 30th birthday in 1943. Marion is my small town (Gosport population 700) elite because his father owned the poultry house and built the biggest home in Gosport in 1915 on 2+ acres. When he wasn’t candling eggs for his father he was hanging out at Herschel Walker’s radio repair shop. His electronics avocation led him to P. R. Mallory in Indianapolis to ride out FDR’s depression and a deferment from active duty in WWII.

teg-baby-sueMy sister Sue came along in 1946 to make the Gregory’s an upwardly mobile middle class family of an electrical engineer father and stay-at-home mother. We moved from the Circle-City suburbs to a countryside home in the 70 peeps Quaker community of Valley Mills that made for a 30 mile commute to P. R. Mallory. Marion brought Everett and Eva aka Marion’s parents to live downstairs off the living room.

quilting-bee

Marion became the wizard of Thompson Road when he brought home this monster metal box with a 7 inch TV screen and the whole neighborhood watched the 1948 Indianapolis 500. Child wise there was Nancy, Bud, Sis, Sue and me playing cowboys and Indians as seen on 7 inch TV.  Easter egg hunt and Halloween at the Society of Friends and sled riding down the only slope in the road. The quilting bee ladies added that Norman Rockwell ambiance to my childhood until June 1950 when Marion announced that we were all moving to the big city, Cincinnati.

sue-teg-rakeHOOSIER ECONOMIC MIGRANT CHILDREN IN CINCINNATI

I don’t know how Marion got the job with the Baldwin Piano & Organ Company. This was in 1950 way before Linkedin and Craig’s List. Marion’s WWII work experience involved developing electronics for the military which meshed well with Baldwin’s  1946, introduction of its first electronic organ (developed in 1941), which became so successful that the company changed its name to the Baldwin Piano & Organ Company.

baldwin-factory-exteriorAll sister Sue and I knew was that instead of seven kids in the whole village of Valley Mills, Indiana, we had over seventy kids in our one block of Mooney Avenue in the Cincinnati suburb Hyde Park. The house was bigger because it had a huge attic and equally sized basement. We toted our metal Roy Rogers lunchboxes containing one Esther prepared P&J and one boiled ham with sandwich spread, plus an apple to elementary school. Every weekday morning Marion fired up his ’49 Mercury sedan and drove off to work.

dwight-d-eisenhower-kennedyBetween Eisenhower and JFK, Baldwin went on strike and Marion started spending a lot of time traveling to Arkansas to set up cheap Open Shop factories in the Right to Work sunbelt. In 1959, Baldwin constructed a new piano manufacturing plant in Conway, Arkansas, originally to manufacture upright pianos. In 1961 Baldwin constructed a new piano factory in Greenwood Mississippi. Subsequently production of upright pianos was moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Greenwood.

harveyMarion took me on a tour of his new office – no more engineering department lab bench but an elevator ride to a real office with a view. Sister Sue, Esther and I went along in our past expiration date Oldsmobile for Marion’s two week, not an option, vacation trips from Ludington, Michigan to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was in Strength of Materials class, fumbling with my slide rule, when someone ran in and said, “Kennedy has been shot.” That weekend I got to see Ruby shoot Oswald live on our big 24 inch, still B&W TV.

maxresdefaultMarion announced over green beans, mashed potatoes and meatloaf that he was going to Tokyo. A month or two after his return with a six pack of Japanese woodcut prints, Yamaha-San aka Mr. Stinky Feet – no matter how we tried to convince him to leave his shoes on – showed up as our house guest.  Yamaha was on the leading edge in the use of transistors instead of vacuum tubes in their electronic organs. Marion had the unenviable task of addressing church groups on why they should pay more for an old technology Baldwin versus the Yamaha.

sigma-chi1946-1964 in Fourth Turning parlance is the kick-off generation of an 80 year, four generation boom to bust saga that proceeds through the 20 year stages of A High, An Awakening, An Unraveling and A Crisis. Marion, my ‘G.I. Generation’ father, with only two years of Fenn Business College, got himself out of Gosport, through Indianapolis during the War years, and well on his way to actualizing the American Dream. Sister Sue graduated from WHHS in ’64 and entered U of Miami allowing Marion to say that his kids had it better than he did. I found my sense of belonging living in the Sigma Chi fraternity house, where I no longer had to go to Sunday school or even church. I was free to smoke, drink and drive “here, there or anywhere.”

corvetteMy future in the 1964-1984 2nd Turning: An Awakening was looking good.

MORLEY, CARL & CHARLIE THE  BAD BOYS OF CINCINNATI

At Sunday school in the basement of the First Church of Christ Scientist, Norwood, we would discuss the Hegelian side of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. The teacher would tap the table with the meta-physical theme that the table was not real, only the idea of the table was real. Jesus was the physical manifestation of the spiritual, Christ like idea.

original-united-dairy-farmersAs soon as class was over Marion would pick us up and drive over to Carl Lindner’s United Dairy Farmers’ store for eggs, bread, milk, at least two half-gallons of ice cream and smearcase.

According to Ms. Costello, smearcase is a Pennsylvania Dutch term for cottage cheese. It’s from the word Schmierkase meaning soft cheese that can be smeared or spread.

Sister Sue and I always thought Marion was nuts with the smearcase request cause anybody could see it was cottage cheese. However, we were enjoying the Karl Marx or in the case of UDF, Carl Lindner’s material side of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. The ice cream tasted very real and Karl M. or Carl L. or whoever came up with the idea should be complimented.

thompsonsr-20130323-tif_20130322lindnercarljr-750xx488-651-10-0charlie

Morley P. Thompson, appointed president of the company in 1970. Having graduated from the Harvard Business School in 1950, Thompson had started out as a door-to-door piano salesman. His skill at shuffling money among subsidiaries to limit corporate taxes and generate acquisition funds won him a reputation as a financial “wizard.”

Thompson would not be satisfied with a mere sideline in finance; he wanted to fashion a major conglomerate out of the nation’s largest keyboard company. Under his guidance, Baldwin acquired literally dozens of financial services firms in the 1970s and early 1980s. At its peak, the company controlled over 200 insurance companies, banks, savings and loan institutions, and investment firms.

liberace-baldwinThe D. H. Baldwin Company, a musical‐instrument manufacturer that diversified into banking in 1968, has disclosed that it received approval from the Federal Reserve Board to acquire five banks in Colorado with total assets of $130‐million.

With the acquisitions, Baldwin, which owns the $396.6‐million Central Bank and Trust Company and the $305‐million Empire Savings Building and Loan Association, both of Denver, would have financial institutions in Colorado with some $830‐million in assets.

Morley had pulled the piano strings better than Liberace by tuning-up that $830 million into $9 billion, by the time I arrived on the scene with my sketch pad in 1981.

lead_960Two years later, the Baldwin Data Center in Lakewood, CO. was up and running – we had already toured several prospective clients through the facility.  Fred Gould, the facility manager, graciously took our banking prospects around, even sharing the scandal of the security guards making CCTV video tapes of the female employees on the jogging track. Fred, in private, shared the bigger scoop, he was looking for another job because Baldwin United was headed to bankruptcy. Things were not going well in Altamonte Springs either, Marion’s $50 shares were now worth 50 cents a share.

Architecture is a leading economic indicator – when architects and engineers have work – the overall economy is going well. My employer, The Austin Company, in 1983-84 was doing gang busters in bank computer centers and newspaper printing plants. However, my expertise in bank facilities was not enough to save Marion from losing his 25 years of life savings in Baldwin Piano & Organ profit sharing stock.

mbg-sue-teg-tennis

The night before I was supposed to kick-off a study of a real bank, Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, sister Sue called to say that Marion had had a heart attack and was no longer on the material side of DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM. Louise Hay, a Mary Baker Eddy on steroids, says that from the meta-physical perspective, a heart attack is caused by fears over career or money. Marion may have overdosed on smearcase but I vote losing  the loot at age 67 was what did him in.

salesman-496x300The Awakening, the 2nd Turning 1964-1984  left me disillusioned.  I threw my EMBA calculator out the window for a career in sales and marketing that was foreshadowed in Willy Loman’s Death of a Salesman.

THE BIG ZIMBABWEOSKI

zim-trillion

Where are the wheelbarrows? Every time in world economic history, when the government begins printing money exponentially the banknotes face value goes from one to a million, to a billion and in the case of the Big Zimbabweoski a trillion. Why have we not yet seen Americans waddling behind their Home Depot wheelbarrow full of dollars into Wal-Mart to buy groceries.

 saupload_weimar-republic-chart-of-inflation-large_early_late  zim-hyper  venezuela  us-fiat-currency

Weimar

Zimbabwe

Venezuela

United States

The coming apocalypse, you know the one where Hillary stands between us and the apocalypse or she is the bridge to the apocalypse. Whether we call it the Apocalypse Soon or the Big Zimbabweoski, there should be people pushing wheelbarrows of worthless greenbacks. Germany’s Weimar Republic did the job in four years 1919-1923, we’ve been cranking out the ‘moolah’ since Nixon took us off the gold standard in August 1971. In the brief four generation history of money JFK realized that the ‘jig’ was up and tried to bypass the Fed with his EO #11.110.

jfk-in-officeJFK started printing his own money issued by the US Treasury, like Abe Lincoln’s ‘greenbacks’ during the Civil War. Five months after JFK was shot the Kennedy dollars were recalled, leaving the printing presses to the Fed. The Fed was limited to a 4/1 ratio of paper to gold. LBJ got the bright idea of spending 100 million a day in Vietnam which was peanuts compared to his $22 trillion (in today’s dollars) Great Society.

nixon-shock-smWhen, Tricky Dick took six more years to end the war the Fed was already maxed out on the $32/oz equals $128 of fiat, wheelbarrow money. The “Nixon Shock” closed the gold window, ended the Bretton Woods Agreement and opened the door to Zimbabwe land.

However, we have to go to the next generation 1982-2004, the Millennials, the 3rd Turning, the Unravelling and Alan Greenspan the “Great Unraveller.”

If You Can’t Do, Exponentiate

alan-greenspan2mona-lisa

Greenspan, the Mona Lisa of Central banks, responded to the flash crash of 1987, the Dot.Com bust of 2001 and the housing bubble by printing an additional 3.5 trillion paperbacks on the Nixon legacy of 1.5 trillion. Leaving the Fed in 2006 with, “Not to worry we can always print more money.” Which brings us to the 4th Turning, the Crisis 2005-2026 and the seven-year reign of Helicopter Ben Bernanke.

Never let a crisis go to waste

ben-kraut

Bernanke took the Lehman Brothers baton and ran with it, putting his 4 trillion of paper onto the 4 trillion that Greenspan left. He got the handle, “Helicopter Ben” because in the 21st century you don’t need wheelbarrows to haul the fiat money door-to-door, you digitize it. However, when the 4 trillion went directly to the bourgeoisie 1% and zilch to the rest of us, Ben suggested dropping the printed material from the sky on the proletariat 99%.

bernake-wheelbarrow

No helicopters and no wheelbarrows came under Ben. It’s up Janet Yellen to burst the Big Zimbabweoski.

 

OCCUPY FARMERS’ MARKETS

Milk March

When our sale of raw goat’s milk depended on Yuppie couples driving out to our farm fifty miles southwest of Houston the “invisible hand” of desperation slapped me upside the head with my MBA diploma. Granted, I was not an honor, or even a near honor graduate of Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead school of business but Anala Goat Company’s on-the-farm sales of $200/week versus a $500/week feed bill foretold, a future going-out-of-business sale. Maybe with a catchy tagline e.g. “Had Milk.”

Shelby, the CPA Systems Analyst brains of the outfit, had already poured money, not milk, into building the dairy, buying the goats, dogs, cows, the land and equipment in order to obtain a Grade ‘A’ Raw Dairy License. In addition to rigorous monthly testing of our product, the Texas Department of Health limited sales to on-the-farm only. The delivery of raw dairy to retail stores, farmers’ markets, or even door-to-door was subject to all kinds of bad things like revoking our license.

salt march

Over a double stack order of nachos and fajitas, I asked myself, “what would Gandhi do?” He said, mirror my ‘Salt March to the Sea’ by occupying the Houston Farmers’ Market. I learned at Case Western to look to Harvard Business School case studies for further guidance. Of course, I found zippo raw goat’s milk case studies but Gandhi’s protest of England’s Salt Tax led me to the Boston Tea Party’s, “taxation without representation” caper.

I admit, even as an architect, it was a challenge to connect salt and tea tax revolts to barriers to entry of off the farm sales of raw milk. After all, our neighbors trucked that nasty arugula and okra to the market, waving their ‘organic’ cred banners.

My third data point was the 1920 Prohibition Act.

Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933.

The sale of raw dairy has been Prohibited since 1912 to the present day. California never eliminated raw dairy from retail stores. Texas, Oregon and five other states allow on-the-farm sales only. I joined the Weston Price Foundation, listed analagoatcompany.com on their website www.realmilk.com and setup my 10 x 10 tent on Saturdays at the Houston Farmers’ Market.

Agrinomics

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Why pay this guy $15 for a gallon of milk when you can go to Wal-Mart and grab a Great Value jug for just $2.89? Truth is you need his raw – not pasteurized, not homogenized – goat’s milk more than he needs your money.

My Houston Farmers’ Market buddie, Bob Stryk http://texascheese.com/ and I were the two Raw Milk vendors at the market, until a knucklehead board member turned us in to the Texas Department of Health. Even though we were both visited monthly by Vince, the State inspector, our grade “A’ raw dairy license was limited to on-the-farm sales. My farm to market trip was fifty miles up the Southwest freeway. Bob’s sixty head of Jerseys grazed on his 310-acre farm 8 miles past Schulenburg, a 100 miles west out I-10.

BOB STRYKAfter our eviction, I bailed and shortly thereafter moved to China, while Bob relied on ‘drops’ at friendly driveways in Katy and Sugarland. At the market we charged $10/gal. Today, Stryk’s at the farm price was listed at $7.50/gal. That’s fresh raw Jersey cow milk, not pasteurized, not homogenized, pure not-adulterated, 100% digestible nutrient dense butter, cream, yogurt, milk and cheese.

organic pasturesThe raw milk movement (the largest form of  civil disobedience in America) is led by Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures in Fresno, California. Raw milk can be purchased legally on the farm and more importantly in stores. Organic Pastures’s raw milk, butter, kefir, cheddar, cream, and yogurt is available in over 200 stores in the Bay area alone, including Whole Foods. Brace yourselves, the fresh grass-fed 100% organic milk goes for $12.00/gal.     

Why pay the guy at the top $15for a gallon of milk? He’s selling raw goat’s milk the closest thing to mothers’ milk – any species of mammal, save Flipper the  dolphin, can thrive and survive on goat’s milk – but works harder than Stryk and McAfee. Their cows have four teats pumping out 8-10 gallons a day versus two teats and one gallon for the goat.

 

A RETURN TO THE GOAT STANDARD

3Pettis - Breakfast at Trevas for websiteEarly in my goat farming career I bought 6,000+ pounds of goats from a scalper named Floyd Thompson in neighboring Higgins, TX. – At the age of twelve, Will Rogers ran away from his Oklahoma home to Higgins to learn how to be a cowboy. – I agreed to pay 80 cents a pound for Floyd’s 68 rag-tag collection. We drove truck and trailer to the grain silo for an empty weigh-in and returned an hour later for the loaded tally. Wrote a $5,000 check from Shelby’s account and started my two-month saga to resell those puppies for at least 85 cents a pound.

For my first attempt I set-up shop on the highway outside Booker complete with a chain-hook scale. Three hours later $20 bucks for one lousy 20lb. goat sold to a Mexican slaughterhouse worker. Next try was a six pack at the Dodge City livestock auction for a whopping 75 cents a pound. A week later it was the same story at El Reno, the auction west of Oklahoma City, where scalper Floyd had purchased most of the sorry critters weeks before.

Before embarking on another furtive sales venture my goat buddy from up-the-road in Slapout, OK – called Slapout because when the general store was out of stock their response was, “sorry we’re slap out.” – Danny Nord, claimed that slaughter goat buyers wanted ‘wethers’ or neutered ‘billies.’ Taking out his pocket knife he performed the surgery on ten ‘billies’ who post op, laid around the pen with sorrowful facial expressions. Four subsequently failed to survive the experience. Dead goats brought zero cents thereby adding to my cost of goods sold.

mills

It was then suggested that I try selling the remaining stock at the sheep & goat auctions in Texas. Goldthwaite was the closest, seven hours straight south of Follett. Friday afternoon the deed was done, 75 cents for the motley ones and 85 cents for those showing Boer blood influence. When I got home to total all the damage I had sold my collection of hand me down goats for an average of 70 cents on the dollar. Of course the diesel fuel, chicken fried steak and cheeseburger lunches were not included. However, sale barn, livestock auction cuisine beats the truck stop any day.

koreshYou would think that like Adam Smith, the father of Economics who gathered his wisdom of the law of supply and demand at the Glasgow, Scotland sheep auction, I had learned my lesson. But after Shelby and I relocated the Anala Goat Company to Kendleton, TX, 50 miles southwest of Houston I became incentivized by the West African need for $1.25/lb. billy goats. Mrs. Kettler and her husband had over 200 Nubian goats on two acres in Waco, TX. They were a legend in Texas dairy goatdom for selling $7/gal. raw goat’s milk to David Koresh and his Branch Davidians. The ATF put an end to Mrs. Kettler’s number one customer and to top it off Mr. K, who did all the milking by hand, died.

The opportunity to purchase 40 of the best Nubian breeding stock billies for only a dollar a pound, was too much to resist. Borrowing another $5,000 check from Shelby, I loaded those bad boys up in Waco and drove straight back to the Nigerian chop shop in Houston. Woe is me the deal was off, that $1.25/lb. was good for the Christmas rush, and no longer applicable in January especially since Africans don’t celebrate the Super-Bowl.

Dairy goats in general are docile. Does for sure, Bucks not so for sure but Nubian Bucks are the noisiest, rowdiest, most obnoxious breed known to man. Now, Anala Inc. had forty of them in our backyard. Accidents, described as self-punishment in Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body came to mind when I fed Shelby’s English Mastiff in the barn stall and all forty bad boys rushed in. The Mastiff sunk his two bicuspids into my thigh muttering under his fangs, “that’s for squandered five grand on ill-gotten ventures.”

teeth checkBecause Allah, like God, protects children, drunks and architects, I was spared from complete failure by my Palestinian goat vendor in Katy, who needed two-tooth billies for the Eid al-Fitr festival celebrated by Muslims around the world, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, in 2002 Eid was in February. Eid al-Fitr in Arabic literally means “festival of breaking the fast” and back then it meant saving my ass.

After, the Houston Islamic community had opened every Nubian’s mouth to verify that they were two-toothed yearlings they accepted 39 of the four legged devils. One, the prettiest, had a limp and went home with me. Later, swept up in the biblical sense I branded the dappled fawn colored boy buck, Joseph “coat of many colors.” Although, the Palestinian paid me the over a barrel price of $1/lb. I eventually sold Joseph for $500.

josephYou see, Juan Valdez – he looked like a Juan Valdez, only taller – came out to our farm as the Goat Marketing Rep of the Texas Department of Agriculture and inquired about the handsome “coat of many colors” Joseph. “Did you get that buck from Mrs. Kettler?”

Yes, I did.

“That’s great cause she raises the best Nubians in Texas.”

I wondered if the Muslims thought they tasted good too?

At the end of my 400 days and 400 nights of selling goats door to door, I was convinced that a dollar a pound was a good price for any goat as long as it was still alive. Shelby, the CPA Systems Analyst brains of the analagoatcompany.com begged to differ and sent me and Rudy, my polka-dancing Czech-American goat buddy neighbor, off to San Angelo to deliver a dozen or so of our full blood Black Boer goats for $11,000 COD.

ali the turkThe COD part turned out to be a bad check but Rudy and I got to tour the Producers Livestock Auction, where every Tuesday 4,000 goats and 6,000 sheep are auctioned off.  Ali the Turk is the big buyer of sheep and goats in Texas. On Mondays, he’s in Junction, Tuesday he’s front and center in San Angelo, he ends his work week buying for the East Coast ethnic market on Fridays in Goldthwaite. He has his purchased sheep and goats loaded on four level cattle trucks for deliver to New Holland, Pennsylvania.

There are three million goats, six million sheep and 100 million cows in America and 80% of those live in Texas. Save for a couple hundred thousand in Dallas and Houston, the hardcore caprine eaters live in the New York, New Jersey area. Ali either sells direct to a slaughter house or is forced to re-auction them off in New Holland. As Adam Smith and I learned livestock auctions are the  Real World of price discovery.

US dollar Value 3-value-of-the-dollarNo longer in the goat business per se I’m still interested in economics and especially the value of my fixed income dollar. I was on a jet plane to Rio on August 15, 1971 when the flight was grounded in Panama because Nixon closed the ‘Gold Window.’ At the time I thought that was cute. My 1955 Social Studies teacher claimed the dollar was only worth 35 cents, in 1971 it was 25 cents and after Greenspan and Bernanke less than a nickel. I thought the great Satan Greenspan was having an Adam Smith moment when he recently touted the 1913 (when a dollar was a dollar) economy and a return to the gold standard.

I don’t know how much a goat was worth in 1913 or 1971 but in 2001, I know all too well. As of Wed Aug 10, 2016 according to the USDA Market News, an 80lb. wether – A bellwether is literally the lead sheep or goat wether that wears a bell – got $2.22 – $2.42 a pound or almost $200 at the San Angelo, Producers Livestock Auction.

The New Holland Sales Stables in New Holland, Pennsylvania is one of the most important livestock auctions in the country, due to its proximity to the northeast urban population. Twelve percent of all goats slaughtered in the United States will pass through this sale ring at New Holland, and 1.6% of all federally inspected sheep slaughtered in the United States pass through here. For sheep and goats, the New Holland market has national significance due to its proximity to the northeast region of the United States, where the greatest demand for sheep and goat products is located. Although 80% of all sheep are raised in the west and processed by four major packers, the prices set at New Holland are the benchmark that others look at. Because of the high prices at Eastertime, lambs from as far away as New Mexico will arrive in New Holland by the truckload for the Easter lamb sale. Auctions are an important way in which agricultural commodities are marketed; for small farmers, the auction is both a direct outlet for selling their products as well as the measure that sets prices for products sold privately.
The New Holland Sales Stables in New Holland, Pennsylvania is one of the most important livestock auctions in the country, due to its proximity to the northeast urban population. Twelve percent of all goats slaughtered in the United States will pass through this sale ring at New Holland, and 1.6% of all federally inspected sheep slaughtered in the United States pass through here. For sheep and goats, the New Holland market has national significance due to its proximity to the northeast region of the United States, where the greatest demand for sheep and goat products is located. Although 80% of all sheep are raised in the west and processed by four major packers, the prices set at New Holland are the benchmark that others look at. Because of the high prices at Easter time, lambs from as far away as New Mexico will arrive in New Holland by the truckload for the Easter lamb sale. Auctions are an important way in which agricultural commodities are marketed; for small farmers, the auction is both a direct outlet for selling their products as well as the measure that sets prices for products sold privately.

If Ali was forced to sell his goats at the New Holland sale barn in Pennsylvania on Mon Aug 15, 2016 he would receive a whopping $3.15 – $3.25/lb. or $250  for an unsubsidized, brush grazed, ruminant friend of the environment.

sheep goatsA Return to the Goat Standard says that inflation from a dollar a pound in 2001 to $3.00/lb. 15 years later in 2016 is close to 8% per year. Another way, the current price of our 80lb. wether in 2001 dollars is $2.18 the law of supply and demand at work.

Corn was $2.00/bushel for ever until the Ethanol subsidy goosed it up to $7.00/bushel in 2012 with the subsidy curtailed we’re back to $3.70 in 2016, which is still 40 cents a bushel higher than the 2001 price. The big big problem for the corn  producers is their need for $5.37/bushel just to break even.

The cattle price when I was in high school was 20 cents a pound but then a dollar was only worth 35 cents. Cows in Nixon’s 25 cent dollar era went for $0.28/lb. Cattlemen aren’t doing too well these days at $1.32/lb. for the less than a nickel Federal Reserve economy translates to $0.22/lb. in Nixon dollars and $0.15/lb. in my high school years.  Unlike goats, cows like alfalfa, feedlot corn and expensive anti-biotics to stay alive long enough to get to the auction. A mid-west farmer puts the cows and corn fiasco this way:

“Come on you guys just look around. I take a road trip every few years across America. Sometimes I cross the northern part of the country. Sometimes south. A few years (2008-11) ago I saw corn in every 3 cornered 3-acre patch of ground for a thousand miles. This year (Feb 2016) I saw cattle in every 3 cornered 3-acre patch. I no longer raise corn or cattle because I grew weary of mine and your predilection to produce ourselves into bankruptcy. If we could get the government out of agriculture, we would probably be ok. Get rid of all subsidies and I do mean all! Then we can let the market settle itself. Forget ethanol and CRP programs. We really don’t need them. The government does. Maybe the next regime will get out of our way…? Until then I will continue digging ditches.”

A Return to the Goat Standard or the Gold Standard as Greenspan calls it, is the only way to stop the Federal Reserve, Obama, Hillary etal. from taking our currency to infinity and beyond. Here is Nixon’s Gold Window fairy tale.

Gold should be $10,000/oz. to conform to amount of digital money that has been pumped into the world economy. It has been suggested that the US Treasury offer $5,000/oz. for gold to bring Nixon’s temporary solution to an end. If not Ali will be forced to pay $625/lb. for an 80 pound wether in San Angelo, Texas. A $50,000 goat sounds like a fair price to me but then what do I know.

 

MONETARY FEUDALISM

feudalism_then_nowAspirational career options for an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs personality test, were architect at the top and farmer at the bottom. After thirty years of very limited success trying to make my fame and fortune as an architect I gave farming a shot. My ten year goat farmer experience taught me how to survive and thrive as a member of the 98.5% Everyone Else proletariat.

My second wife and mother were both Aquarians, someone born between January 20 and February 19th. “Aquarians know too much about everything, which is a blessing and a curse.” They are like the teacher that knows all the right answers and everybody else are the students each with different levels of understanding. Fortunately for America, Abraham Lincoln was an Aquarian and held fast to his belief, that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

BLOOM WHERE“Bloom where you are planted,” was my Aquarian wife’s mantra, her truth, her philosophy of life. It was one of the first cross stitch patterns she completed. She had it framed and intentionally hanging on the wall in our bathroom, as a daily reminder. I didn’t pay much attention or think much of it until we bought nine hectares of land, with a barn, in the countryside, 50 miles southwest of Houston. The acreage 150 years ago belonged to a plantation that was sold to the slaves that had been freed by that earlier Aquarian, Abraham Lincoln.

Shelby, my ENTJ Aquarian wife and livestock farming visionary, chose this location because it was the cheapest real estate in the Metropolitan Houston area.  ‘Race’ was the major cause for the low cost of land, Shelby and I, were the only white people in this poor farming community, surrounded on all sides by 3rd generation Czech  farms and businesses. Except for the Post Office, all grocery stores, gas stations, or anything you wanted to buy stores, were in the adjacent villages of Needville, East Bernard and Wharton. We didn’t care, we were there to raise dairy goats, not show horses. We were there to, bloom where Shelby planted us and blooming meant joining the 3% income crowd.  In 2001 that number was $150,000 ($200,000 in 2016 dollars).

Hilary-QueenToday, you need a $250,000 annual income to escape the maddening Everyone Else club. Wherever we are planted from Bangladesh to Boston, three percent is the magic number to be a player, but as in Las Vegas, the house odds guarantee that only two percent make it to financial independence. Half of those two per-centers never had to sweat it as they were born rich. George ‘W’ and Trump got their two per-cent creds at birth, while Obama and Hillary chose the Elected Officials route to Financial Independence.

I literally, slept in the barn, with fifty goats for a month until Shelby found a forty-foot park trailer in the “Thrifty-Nickel,” that we called home in our first “down on the farm,” year.  Although we planted ourselves in October 2000 we didn’t start to blossom until six years, later. That was a very long, long time and at least, a half million, pre Bush-O-Bama dollar investment. Only, an all-knowing Aquarian could find the funds, patience and resources to endure such a long growing season, two years longer than honest Abe took to free the slaves.

Shelby had carried with her, “Five Acres to Independence,” since high school, after university, she added “Your Money or Your Life” as her guide to financial independence.

Shelby and Abe are no longer with us and I have re-potted myself two, three and four times since ending my farming career to enjoy the expat lifestyle in Antalya, Turkey where “everyday is truly a holiday and every meal a banquet.” Unfortunately, I am still dependent on my PGBC pension and SSA income to continue endow my life of Riley retirement.

Seeds of discontent, aka worry, started sprouting when I began gambling on Binary Options to supplement my endangered entitlements income source. The good news, after three years of practice and six months for real, I’m at break-even status. The bad news, the more I learn about money the scarier it gets. Five and a half days a week five trillion dollars changes hands in the world currency market. That doesn’t include my daily $1 wager at  https://marketsworld.com/ because binary options are derivatives, bets on what the real money traders are betting.

untouchablesMy real worry is that the Central Bankers today’s Monarchs and the Bankers, the Landed Gentry of yore, don’t have a clue on what to do about the global economic situation. Remember when Alan Greenspan said that:

“his whole intellectual edifice had been destroyed?”

As an architect I tried to get the Corporate Elite to hire The Austin Company to design, engineer and construct their production facilities. This came to be an ever increasing challenge as manufacturing – Austin’s 100 year-old bread and butter market – moved overseas. China took the company’s bread and butter away and following bankruptcy and my pension was salvaged by the PGBC. Our Central Bankers, Bankers, Top Bureaucrats and even our Top Professional financial analysis say that the PGBC and SSA are broke. However, the scariest scary is our Elected Officials telling us, “not to worry about it.”

How To Make $150,000 Annually On A 1.5 Acre Farm

My across the aisle farmers’ market neighbor brought her vegies to the Saturday Houston Farmers’ Market from Wharton 10 miles past our farm on the Southwest freeway. Her answer to, “was it worth it? “Most Saturdays I make over a $1,000 and if I don’t make at least $500 a market I drop it.”

I asked my fellow LLU teacher Ms Permaculture, another vegie pusher, what was her favorite market success story? “The guy who made $250,000 on a half-acre vacant lot in San Francisco, selling specialty greens to restaurants.”

My adjacent vendor always showed up late, bitched at the market manager for not having a space under the car-park canopy, then proceeded to sell out of salad greens in an hour and a half.

Of course my personal success story that convinced me that the only way to make a buck, or several bucks, was Nina Planck’s book Real Food. Her family in Louden, Virginia grossed $375,000 by trucking organic vegies to 17 farmers’ markets a week in the Metro DC area. $375,000 divided by 17 = $500/market, as an architect that was one more data point than I needed to launch my ‘Roadkill Sausage’ career in a Houston parking lot.

Today’s hero Jean-Martin Fortier interned on a farm in New Mexico and when the Santa Fe arugula dealer took home one to two thousand dollars on Saturday afternoon, Fortier was hooked. If he had worked for a Clovis, NM. farmer it would have been a different story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BH0NkN6zHs://URBANFARM-JM-CSThere are many ways to make money living off the grid, but organic farmer Jean-Martin Fortier may have found the best one – and it’s bringing in $150,000 each year.

Fortier and his wife take in that much annually on an acre and a half farm where they raise everything from tomatoes to broccoli, using what they call “biologically intensive” practices and unique farming methods to harvest more vegetables than is normal on such a small piece of land. And they do it all without a tractor.

Fortier is this week’s guest on Off The Grid Radio, and he gives us an overview of his Quebec farm – a farm that has drawn worldwide attention and resulted in him writing a book.

He also tells us:

  • How his method can be duplicated on any off-grid homestead.
  • Why he chose not to use a tractor or any heavy machinery.
  • How he grows vegetables, in such large quantities, in a cold climate.
  • What he learned on a trip to New Mexico that inspired him to try his methods.
  • Why he believes his method – and not Big Ag – is the secret to feeding the world.

Fortier’s story is incredible and inspiring, even if you don’t plan on copying his methods. Listen as this organic farm expert shares his methods that are changing how we think about farming!