How to Impoverish the Whole World

How to Impoverish the Whole World

Prices rising. Shelves empty. This is a ‘good thing’, isn’t it? It’ll mean less consumption, less production, less CO2 in the atmosphere, lower standards of living, people will get less of what they want…and they’ll be poorer. But it will save the planet, right?


Yesterday, we made some suggestions about how you can enjoy your indigence with a sniffy, superior air.

Today, we focus on the bigger picture, the whole economy. How can we impoverish other people too? And here we connect some big, fat dots.

Let’s look first at the basics.

Home to hovel

You don’t have to do anything to be poor. In fact, for an individual, the less you do, ceteris paribus, the more poverty you get. Poverty is easy. It gives you plenty of time to read The New Yorker magazine, update your Facebook page, or watch CNN.

Prosperity, on the other hand, takes work, self-discipline, investment, learning, savings, innovation — and a few rules. Respect for each other’s property is one of them. If you can’t hold onto your stuff, it won’t work.

A rich man’s house, for example, is the product of many generations’ worth of trial and error…and a multitude of inputs by skilled artisans and engineers — with HVAC systems and stylish mouldings…and carefully laid tile work…expert carpentry…and all the other things that go into a modern, expensive house.

Nobody would bother to build such a house if he thought it might be taken away from him.

The poor man’s house, by contrast, is a hovel, little changed in the last 2,000 years. In our area of Argentina, for example, people still live in mud huts. Mud on the floor. Mud on the walls. Mud on the roof. Few inputs. And those few are rude, rustic, and unskilled. Doors are made of wooden planks held together with rawhide strips. There is no plumbing (and until recently), no electricity.

Poverty is a natural condition. But it’s also natural for people not to want to be poor.

The human species was barely better off than orangutans for the first 290,000 years of its existence. People lived in small family or tribal groups, with little change from one generation to the next. It’s only in the last 10,000 years or so that it has made much material progress.

And now, people can get ahead in life…and live in comfort, with the satisfaction of getting richer than their brothers-in-law. They innovate, work hard, go to college, etc. As if by an ‘invisible hand’, are they guided to win-win deals, giving to others so that they get from them what they want too. One learns how to treat cataracts. Another builds treehouses. Progress is made.

Left alone, in other words, growth happens. Wealth increases. And ‘the people’ are better off.

From riches to rags

So if we want to move the meter in the opposite direction — towards poverty — we’re going to have to backtrack; we’ll need to get control of ‘the people’. We can’t allow them to do what they want…live their lives the way they want, trying to get what they want by working, saving, building, learning, inventing, etc.

Prosperity depends on letting ‘the people’ do their thing. But degrowth and poverty depend on stopping them. And that’s what the feds are for. If they’re going to make us poorer, they’ll have to step up to the plate…and whack us with the bat.

And they have plenty of models and ‘five-year plans’ to guide them. North Korea, for example. Cuba. The Soviet Union. Baltimore.

There’s a reason South Korea is a lot richer than North Korea. The difference is public policy. The latter is a society tightly controlled by a political elite, swinging a big stick. The former is a ‘light touch’ society, with much more individual freedom.

So if poverty is the new prosperity, we will have to imitate North Korea, not South Korea. The North Korean deciders know how to stimulate poverty, and they’re good at it. And the North Korean people are model citizens for the Brave New World of planet-savers. No Hyundai for them. No Samsung. No Korean barbecue. No Squid Games. No passports: if they were let out of the country, they may not return.

Few of them have cars. They eat little…and very little meat. Their clothes are drab. They rarely travel…almost never leaving the country. In short, they use little fossil fuel. The Davos elite applauds their tiny carbon footprints. And some are even virtuous enough to starve to death.

The eight-fold path…to poverty

Right. So let’s get into it. How can we make the US more like North Korea?

  1. Less power to ‘the people’. More power to the Fed; it has cut the GDP growth rate in half since the end of the 20th century. Soon, it will have the country in a more or less permanent depression.
  2. Repeal the First Amendment. Some malcontents and deplorables are never satisfied, no matter how much of the planet you save. They’ll reject the ‘poverty is the new prosperity’ mantra, kvetch about short rations and spread misinformation about the whole program. We have to put a stop to that!
  3. Repeal the Second Amendment. Guns kill people. But only if they are in the hands of ‘the people’. Firepower — including automatic rifles, tanks and infernal, buzzing drones — must be used only by the deciders…to control the voters. It will be easier if ‘the people’ are unarmed.
  4. Repeal the rest of the Bill of Rights, too. The Constitution makes it clear that those ‘rights’ were meant to protect ‘the people’ from their elite. But that is clearly no longer necessary. Besides, if ‘the people’ are allowed to do what they want…they’ll quickly backslide into creating wealth for one another.
  5. Print more dollars. Give them out in trivial amounts to the masses…and huge amounts (by buying stocks and bonds) to the rich. Then, when the dollar approaches worthlessness, replace it with a digital currency that the feds can more completely control.
  6. Connect the new digital dollar to a ‘personal carbon footprint tracker,’ as promised by one of the honchos at Davos. If a person exceeds his allowable foot size, cut him off at the knees by shutting down his bank account.
  7. Increase federal deficits…more gimmie/stimmies…more sanctions…more aid for Ukraine (to keep the war going)…more jackass programs.
  8. As prices rise, shortages appear, chaos amplifies, and the economy declines; call it an ‘emergency’. Then do more of the things that caused the emergency — goofy spending…money printing…rate riggings…and so forth.

Oh…and why not go all the way? Design a new emblem for the country. Forget the stars and stripes — depicting independent, sovereign states. A picture of a dead sheep would be more appropriate. Like the Brooks Bros. logo, with the sheep upside down, its legs sticking up, it can be emblazoned on sweaters or jackets, marking wearers as obedient comrades…loyal dimwits…and reliable stooges.

Make wearing it obligatory.


Dan Denning Signature

Bill Bonner,
For The Daily Reckoning Australia