When I was in college, I became enraptured by the album “Who’s Next” and especially the song “Won’t Be Fooled Again,” which proposed in a cheerfully anarchistic way that we were now hip to the controlling machinations of the Man and would no longer be dupes of his nefarious schemes. Maybe we had been blind once, but now our eyes were fully open. Nixon and Kissinger were crafty old devils, but the kids could defeat them, and surely would. Any day now. Just a matter of time.
That was over forty years ago. I am living in South America now, and forty years ago the cruel military dictatorships propped up by the United States’ “Operation Condor” were in full swing back then. Things are certainly better here today than they were in the early seventies. Your chances of being dragged off, bind-folded, in the middle of the night, tortured and then shoved out of a military helicopter or dismembered with a chain saw are far less today than they were forty years ago. At the moment of this writing, Christmas Eve, 2013, things are better in the States than they were five years ago, when the greatest “legal” heist in the history of our union was accomplished when everyone who we trusted to mind the till suddenly figured out that collateralized mortgage backed securities were a Ponzi scheme of frightening proportion. The stock market is up. The dollar is gaining strength.
But for how long? Argentina is tottering on the edge of something big. Recently, police departments in many major Argentine cities went on strike, and as if one cue, mobs began looting supermarkets. The Police demanded raises before they would leave their barracks. They got them.
We lived in Thailand for a year, and I put a third of my savings into the bank there, because they paid an interest rate of 3.5%, which was better than the 0.5% my bank back in the States offering. Since then, the Thai Baht has weakened considerably, the country looks like it might be on the verge of civil war, and if the King dies (he’s 86 and not in the best of health) I’m afraid blood will run in the streets. So much for diversifying my assets. In retrospect, I wish I’d bought gold.