The US Constitution, the banking system, the building and construction industry, education, local body government, raising children; what do they share in common?
The answer is peak disconnect. Because "we" have become disconnected. I don't mean every single one of us, but enough to make the case. We live in the most material period in history, where even the poorest are better off than those who came before. Not that a status upgrade automatically accompanies it.
Unfortunately, we have not ditched the idea that the economic pie must be divided "fairly". The "entitlement" syndrome pervades as much as ever and courses through all socio-economic levels of society. It is far more important to grow the pavlova.
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"What have you given us Mr Franklin?" was the question posed to Benjamin Franklin in September 1787 after he emerged from the Constitutional Convention. "A Republic, if you can keep it," was the response. And the same might be said about all forms of democracy.
In New Zealand, we like to think that we have a system that will be stable for the foreseeable future. When change comes, who and what will be the reasons for the changes, for how they will be sold and discussed, how they will be implemented? Just as important is what percentage of the vote will be required as approval? Will it be a 50.1 per cent majority or 66 per cent? It is constitutional change we're talking. Whichever it is, should that percentage be of votes cast or of eligible votes? The last major constitutional adjustment to our system, MMP, came via 37 per cent of the eligible vote, and many of them if not most voted under a misapprehension. Way to run a democracy!
There is a line that Abraham Lincoln never said but gets the credit for. Broadly, it states that America will never be destroyed from without but within. The American Republic is presently under the greatest threat since the Civil War. The US Constitution is a work of political exceptionalism but with one failing. It will survive only as long as the citizenry adhere to it and participate accordingly. The current massive strain imposed on multiple fronts through disconnect will produce extreme aftershocks.
New Zealand is, in my opinion, exposed to political fragility. Low voter turnout reflects lack of interest, understanding or commitment to freedom. Witness last weekend's local body turnout.
The world of banking and finance is being ruptured by disconnect. Fiat currencies have a history of unreliability. Like so much else, faith, some say ignorance, is what holds it together, but not forever. I've been watching some rather extreme headlines from non-traditional information sources roll into mainstream publications over the last few months. "Monetary Failure is Becoming Inevitable." "Central Bank Issues Stunning Warning: 'If the Entire System Collapses, Gold Will Be Needed to Start Over.' That was the Dutch Central Bank.
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There has been much critiquing of the RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr over collapsing interest rates for retirees and savers. The Reserve Bank of Australia is murmuring about quantitative easing (QE) and negative interest rates, which deserves to be tagged as insanity. It's the financial equivalent of attempting to defy gravity. Professor Warwick McKibbin of the Australian National University was on the RBA board for the decade to 2011. Speaking of QE last week, he said, "It's a big mistake. You can't keep distorting the financial sector and expect capitalism to do its job. Once you get an interest rate below a certain level it doesn't stimulate the economy, but it does distort capital." Economic gravity rules.
On October 10, 5200 tobacco shops in France began dealing Bitcoin. Sportswear giant Decathlon and cosmetics store Sephora will start accepting BTC in 2020. Meanwhile, RealInvestmentAdvice.com asks, "Can monetary or fiscal stimulus turnaround the next recession?"
New Zealand has had its share of construction disasters over the last two to three decades. The most obvious being leaky buildings. There is a saying among good engineers, "Do it once, do it right, and move on." But there is something that banking and construction have in common and that is, lay the foundations right. I'm told that some had an attitude that it was cheaper to fix a building than to do it right in the first place. No, I don't get that either.
Economic gravity should have been left to purge the mess of 2008. The blood on the exchange floors would have evaporated long ago and we would not be expecting what so many are now terrified of. Maybe that's the result of sacrificing so many foundations of education.
Beto O'Rourke, in this week's Democrat debate, claimed that mass killers would give up their guns because Americans follow the law. That is beyond peak disconnect.
In conclusion, I have effected a disconnect with this weekly column. I've written 34 of them this year and it has been a pleasure. So, after a cheap but very pleasant lunch, my request to scribe a little less frequently was accommodated.