Have you ever wondered where all the money comes from?
The £22 million, say, it cost to evict an encampment of Irish travellers from their illegal site at Dale Farm in Essex?
Or the £600 million the Ministry of Defence forks out annually for compensation claims ranging from £81,000 to four soldiers who’ve been given badly fitting boots to the £3 million paid out to the family of an Iraqi who died after being beaten by British troops in Iraq?
Or the £18.3 billion the government is committed to spending every year “decarbonising” the economy under the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Or how about the £850 billion or more spent by the government on the 2009 bank bail-out?
I’m not after value judgements here: just answers to a basic question I don’t think any of us ask nearly often enough. Who pays for all this stuff?
If you’re anything like me you’d probably rather not know. At least that’s how I used to be till quite recently. The way I’d rationalise the smaller figures would be something like: “Well the population is about 60 million, the working population must be around 30 million and 30 million times lots of tax pounds is enough to take care of that kind of thing.”
And the way I’d rationalise the larger sums, like that £850 billion – or, worse, the £5 trillion or so which constitutes Britain’s national debt – would be to bury my head under my pillow and hope that all this horrid nightmare stuff would eventually be magicked away by someone, somewhere who knew what he was doing.
But then came the event which opened my eyes to the terrifying truth. It was a small meeting in a Committee Room in the House Of Commons, attended by no more than five MPs, a few economists and a handful of bloggers. Blink and you’d have missed it. What I heard there was so appalling – but made so much sense – that it spurred me into immediate, drastic action. First, I put our much-loved family home on the market; second, I resolved to devote my energies over the next months and years to warning as many of you as I can of the disaster which lies ahead of us.
What kind of disaster? Not even our greatest economists know the precise answer to that one but then, did they ever? All we can say with certainty is that’s going to be ugly.
Best case scenario is that we experience years of stagnation, rising unemployment and falling wages. Worst could be anything from Weimar-style hyperinflation to riots, shortages and civil war leading to the emergence of the kind of totalitarian regimes which seized Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Currently, we’re in a kind of limbo, muddling along as best we can, hoping someone will find a solution, somehow and that it will all get back to normal. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Before things start getting better they’re going to have to get a whole lot worse.
Why? Because, for four decades, we in the West have been inflating the mother of all credit bubbles. We’ve been maxing out on cheap credit, spending money we don’t have, borrowing far more than we can ever afford to repay – and now we’re about to get the shocking bill.
Sure we can keep trying to put off the evil day using all sorts of devious cheats – money printing and artificially low interest rates appear to be the current favoured options – but in the end it’s not going to save us. What our governments are doing now is the equivalent of forcing us all to drink more booze to stave off our hangover: the longer we put off facing the inevitable, the more painful it’s going to be.
So far so very obvious. It’s not as though you can’t read similarly dire predictions every day on the internet. All that was different about this meeting was that it explained, in a way that had never been really clear to me before, exactly why we’re in the mess we’re in.
The meeting was organised by the Cobden Centre and the main speaker was Detlev Schlichter, author of Paper Money Collapse. Schlichter is a follower of the great Austrian school economist Ludwig von Mises, who foresaw not only the first Great Depression but also the new one fast approaching now.
Von Mises wrote:
There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.
One of von Mises’s great bugbears was “fiat currency” – the kind of money that governments are able to create at their whim. (As opposed to money whose supply is limited by being linked to a scarce commodity, as happened in the era of the “gold standard”). And von Mises had a point: every paper money system in history from China’s Southern Song Dynasty onwards has ended in failure. If it wasn’t brought voluntarily to an end, then the currency inevitably collapsed, invariably accompanied by social unrest and economic hardship.
Perhaps you’ll have worked out by now why we called this site Bogpaper. One of the reasons, anyway. Another is that it’s salacious and snappy. Another is that for such a cool name we got it surprisingly cheap. Another is that we can help promote it with amusing taglines like “Bogpaper: we’re here to save your arse!” and “Bogpaper: getting you out of the shit since 2012.” To which we might add, Bogpaper: not just about Austrian economics and fiat currency.
Because it’s not. Sure, you’ll like Bogpaper if you’re interested in those things.
But you’ll also like it if:
You believe – as we all do here – in free markets, free speech, liberty, personal responsibility and limited government.
You probably don’t believe in: bank bail-outs; the European Union; the Federal Reserve; crony capitalism; corporate rent-seeking; political correctness; HS2; wind farms; PFI; Man-Made Global Warming.
You’ve looked at the GOP shortlist and realised: America, at least as much as Europe, is toast.
You’ve accepted we’re all toast but you’d prefer to be lightly browned rather than charred.
You’re worried government spending has got completely out of control and that we’re entering an Atlas-Shrugged-style disaster zone where the productive few are bankrolling the feckless many.
You’ve sensed for some time that everything’s about to go tits up but you’d like it if someone could explain to you why.
You want to find out how best to protect yourself, your friends, and your family from the worst effects of the coming economic armaggedon.
You think people like us should stick together and build a community where we can exchange goods, services, ideas.
You want it all to be over soon so you can pick up the pieces and get on with your life and build a better future for the kids.
You – now you think about it – don’t merely want to survive this economic armaggedon but actually to come out of it much wealthier and more successful. (Yes it’s possible: we can point you in the right direction).
You like Alex Jones, Zero Hedge and Telegraph blogs.
You have a remote shack in the hills, next to a clean water source, surrounded by razor wire and claymores, with a year’s supply of dried food, plus plenty of ammo for your M4 and your shotgun. Or at least you do in your fantasies.
You’re a goldbug. (Duh!)
You believe that revolution is too important to be left to the left.
You’re a confused member of Occupy in need of enlightenment.
You’re middle class and well educated and frankly pissed off because you can’t earn enough to give yourself an even half-way decent standard of living any more.
You’ve got stuff to say, pithily and entertainingly, on any of these subjects and you’d like to blog on it for us.
You want to know the answer to the question I asked at the beginning.
Yeah. Where does all that money come from?