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Join us this week for a crazy radio show. Hang on for this bumpy ride around the world of economics and politics with Bill Heid and Brian Brawdy. The show starts out visiting the excitement going on in Thomson, IL, a village of 600 people. Then they venture to the other side of the world to recap on the recent adventures of Bill Heid in China. Only to finish by talking about Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un.
The excitement brewing in Thomson, IL is the recent announcement that President Barack Obama has allocated a division of funds to go to the Thomson Correctional Facility in his most recent budget proposal. This is big news for a small community that has waited more than a decade to be able to utilize the maximum security prison to generate revenue.
Throughout the show, Bill tells Brian what his experience was with the Chinese people’s reaction to Kim Jong-un’s threats to the US. They share their feelings and input into the current economic situation in Japan. Then finally, they talk a little gun control. Listen in to find out how Bill feels like the enormity of the problem with killings and violence in America is not being addressed while the minute problems on the surface are being addressed.
Off The Grid Radio
Release Date April 11, 2013
Bill: And here is today’s show. This is Bill Heid with Off The Grid News, the radio version, of course. Back from China and Brian Brawdy with me. Brian, great to have you on this show as well.
Brian: Thank you, my friend. You know, I think often, Bill, when I do our Survival Seed Bank commercials and I say that you really do travel the globe to find the very best of non-hybrid seeds and so now this just proves it for me. You haven’t been here in a month. You had a couple weeks in Belize under your belt, long enough to come back, change out your bags and then off to China for a couple of weeks.
Bill: It’s been a long, strange trip, as Jerry Garcia once said, and it’s good to be back home but you know, I have to tell you this. What’s really interesting—I’ve been through customs and immigration, like you said, a couple different… actually three different countries in the last couple weeks. And I got back into Chicago last night. Everywhere that I went everyone was quick and fast and kind and patient at getting me through the lines, in and out. I get to Chicago and there’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people deep in this big, long line and there’s two booths open at immigration. And these people are just oblivious to… There’s a… First, there is a Russian girl. I was… Can I just…? This is like me venting, right? I’ve got to get this off my chest.
Brian: Yeah. Go right ahead.
Bill: I’m in the line with US citizens and I’m in the place where I’m supposed to be, in the US citizens, but there was only a couple people in line with me—and these were all ostensibly US citizens—there was only a couple people in line with me that were speaking English. And I was in the citizens’ line, you know? The resident citizens’ line. The other line with people that were supposed to be somewhere that… visitors—they were coming from China or Bangladesh or wherever they might be coming from—they were in a different line and I would expect them to be speaking other languages and I would expect the people in my line principally to be speaking English, but I would say there was only a couple people speaking English in my line, so I don’t know what’s going on. Brian, has the world changed at all?
Brian: Well, I’m thinking, Bill, that some of the missing agents—why only two booths were open—apparently they’re all out getting ready for the bagpipe order. The Department of Homeland Security ordered a bunch of bagpipes.
Bill: Was that that sound? That was bagpipes when I come walking in. When I got off the plane and I come walking down the terminal and I heard this sound and I said, “Am I in Scotland or am I back in the… back in Chicago?” And so now I know what the deal was.
Brian: Yeah, I think they were all playing the new bagpipes that were ordered.
Bill: Yeah. Well, that’s just… I don’t know how you could not have that in the budget—bagpipes. But…
Brian: Yeah. And look, and you and I both agree that bagpipes should be sequester-proof.
Bill: Oh yeah. That shouldn’t be touchable.
Brian: Right. Just like the… Just like White House tours.
Bill: And White House concerts.
Brian: And White House…
Bill: I was in Hong Kong watching President Obama introduce a lot of these singers from this era. I forgot what it was, with Memphis… Steve Cropper—that whole era, the stuff that brought us “Soul Man,” I think, was one of the…
Bill: …songs and actually Drudge was in Hong Kong and I… It was showing it live. So I thought, “Wow. This is unusual to be…” And of course it said “sequester-proof budgets” there inside the…
Brian: There you go.
Bill: So I’ve missed all this, but I could stay close to home by the always… You know, if you’ve got your computer with you, you could always be right there and I found out too, Brian, that they’re going to finally open our prison here, in beautiful, lovely, sunny Thomson Illinois and it looks like there’s money in the budget for that—whatever that means—2015? Is that right, Tony? 2015 that eventually it will be open and they’re going to start painting the walls, I think, here soon.
Brian: Very nice.
Bill: Inject a few million dollars in that, I guess, if the budget gets approved. They’re going to start painting the walls and doing all that stuff, so for those of you that don’t know what’s going on, we had this little prison here that one of our governors… I think a governor that’s in prison right now built this prison. Most of our governors… The thing says with a sign, when you come across the border, it says, “Illinois, where our governors make our license plates.” So most of our governors are in prison and I don’t know about the current one, whether he’ll be in prison some day or not. He’s not right now. He’s down in Springfield doing his thing. But we’ve got this little prison up here in Thomson, in a little town of 500 people, and originally they were going to bring the Gitmo prisoners here and then that got a little hostile. A lot of people said, “No, that’ll create some problems” and so they just are finally going to open it, I guess. So that’s the big news from little Thomson.
Little Thomson—people ask me… When I was in China, Brian, I’m in these towns of… a little town in China is eight million. You just go around the corner, you’re driving down the road and you come to this little… another little town of eight million people, six million people. How many towns in China are there with six or eight million people? And it’s just unbelievable the number of towns like that—new, growing… I know their economy has slowed down a little bit, but it’s quite amazing to see the landscape over there and just see what’s going on.
Brian: It’s a beautiful country in some ways, but when you speak about the population, Bill, as you know, it’s also contributing to in some areas the pollution and the like, so that it’s… It’s a cool country, notwithstanding some of that other stuff.
Bill: Well, I think they have… Really, if you think about it, they have our pollution. In other words, what it takes to make products if ever… Sometimes people get mad and say, “Well, why would you sell something from China?” and I always say, “Walk into Wal-Mart” or “Have you looked at your iPhone lately?” or “Have you looked at your electronic items that you have in your house?” Americans are a little bit belligerent about that, but at the same time hypocrites—to some degree we are—because the electronic gadgets and gizmos that we made… that we have are mostly made in China. And so that’s… That’s really an issue and so instead of having the Mississippi River polluted, it’s a river in China that’s polluted as a result of the production. One of the reasons costs on Chinese goods are low is that they don’t have the environmental regulations that we have, so costs would be a lot higher if they did have those things and in some cases, in some of the cities, they are passing those laws so things in China are about to change as well.
Brian: You know, but Bill, when you had a chance to travel to Belize and then you leave and you go onto China, I’d be curious as to what you hear from other people, what you hear from locals—how they look at us. You know, you and I talk all the time about why we listen to the BBC, why we’ll listen to Al Jazeera whenever we get a chance, to try to cultivate an opinion of what the rest of the world thinks of us when they look in. What did you learn on your latest adventure about how people are looking at us now?
Bill: Well, I think what’s interesting is most Chinese people—this is people on the street, and Belizeans—they look at history as it was written years ago. So all of those people consider Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Patrick Henry to be great heroes and they think that that’s what’s being taught in the textbooks today. So if you go talk to them, they say, “Yeah, you have… Your country has an amazing founding with these great people” and this is true for Belize; it’s true for China as well. But they… They don’t realize that that’s not really what’s being taught in the textbooks today.
Brian: That’s fascinating. Well, and they say, “The victors write history,” right? So the people that win the conflicts are the ones that write history. I’m just glad that they’re not all talking about Justin Bieber and Snooki and that kind of thing.
Bill: You know what? A little bit, Brian… Let me go back and tell you. In China, one of the things that they don’t do a lot of is original thinking and so in the matters of the arts… I saw… Going past, in Hong Kong, I went past their… the main cultural center in the city and what was playing—and this is their big cultural event while I’m there—they have a play, the “Dirty Dancing” play, right? Do you remember “Dirty Dancing,” the movie?
Brian: Oh yeah.
Bill: So they’re putting that play on in Hong Kong and that’s a big cultural event there. So in other words, we don’t have… They don’t have their own cultural stuff that they celebrate. They celebrate more European and United States, so what we export—our entertainment industry—we export to them.
Bill: That’s common culture. What’s the new Chanel…? What’s the guy that’s doing the new Chanel at all the commercials? Oh jeez. You know him. Brad Pitt. He’s all over the airports, everywhere in the world, especially in China.
Brian: All right. God love him. Good for… Good for him.
Bill: I guess what you see is… In China you see production and these engineers in China are really good at producing things if you give them a blueprint and say, “This is what we need you to make.” Don’t ask them to make something original. Don’t ask them to sort of create a made-for-TV screenplay—a movie. Don’t ask them to do things like that. That’s not their forte. They love European products. They love American products. So consequently, you go to a mall and it’s all Louis Vuitton and things like that. Those are the big places in both Shanghai and Beijing, Hong Kong itself. Of course Hong Kong, it’s a little more British. But that’s the zeitgeist of that world. They’re consuming our electronics, our entertainment, our ideas, but they make the electronics there and then they turn around and consume them. So everyone in China has an iPhone. It’s amazing to go down the street and see it. Everybody is wearing blue jeans. Everyone’s got… They look… It looks like Chicago everywhere, even in small towns.
Brian: So what do you think that says, Bill? Everyone talks about what’s going on now in North Korea and the conflict that it could ignite and then the battle that we might be forced to be in against China itself, because it’s a bordering country. It isn’t the people that necessarily are picking a fight with different peoples around the world. Do you get a sense that it’s the politicians more than the people themselves? I mean the people in China—they have families. They have kids they’re trying to support. They have… You know? They want to spend their weekends doing fun stuff. As you travel the world, as often as you do—and you were just in England a few months back as well—do you find that it’s more the political class that is busy picking fights, but regular folks are regular folks wherever you travel?
Bill: I think it’s… Yeah, I think it’s politically… There is a sense in which even the political leaders don’t necessarily believe something, but they have to take a position because of their party, because of their backing and so forth. And so right now in China—just to give you a crazy example—obviously the Chinese have security agreements with North Korea. The Chinese government doesn’t really like the idea that North Korea, this guy is crazy—Kim Jong-un—and so they really don’t like him very well. They’re suspicious of him. And yet they have these formal agreements.
Now I’ll tell you some stuff that was… that I heard on the streets in just talking to average Chinese businessmen, workers and so forth. Here is something bizarre. More than one person said to me “I wish North Korea would do something to the United States so the United States would turn around and wipe them off the map.” That came out of the mouth of more than one Chinese person, which is pretty amazing. They can’t stand North Korea. That’s the average Chinese guy. I never talked to any generals. You know me, Brian. That’s not on my schedule of people to talk to. But…
Brian: Oh, I’ve watched you rub elbows with ambassadors. It may not be, but I’ve also seen you work the higher up crowd pretty good as well. Remember Mexico City?
Bill: Oh sure. Sure. Yeah, we had a good time down there at the… at our embassy, discussing all kinds of crazy things with them. But in China, I guess the point I’m making is their economy is a little slow. They’re starting to… It’s moving backwards just a little bit in production. So they definitely don’t want anything to interrupt the economic progress that they’ve made. My guess is that the Chinese leaders really don’t want to mess with one of their biggest trading partners—us.
Brian: What else have you learned, Bill? As I said, in the last half-year you’ve been in England; you’ve been in Belize; you’ve been in China. Any cool things that you saw that you thought, “You know what? That would be really a great… a great item, a great tool for the folks at Solutions From Science”? Any heads up on some of the other cool things you may have uncovered?
Bill: Well, I think one of the things that just was… that fascinates me, no matter where I go, it’s really a function of something that you said earlier. People are basically the same everywhere in the world. They want to get along in life. They want to sort of do their thing, do their work, pick their kids up at school or whatever and go to soccer, take them to soccer practice and then go home and rent a movie or whatever. That’s kind of… Whether that’s good or bad, that’s kind of the way the world is everywhere and the average person on the street really just doesn’t want a lot of conflict. Irrespective of his ideology, the average person just doesn’t want a lot of conflict. So I see the same things in England as I do in Belize and as I do in China. You just mentioned those countries that we’ve been into recently.
But it’s really politicians that have to make these sort of brazen statements and a lot of saber rattling is nothing more than that. It’s just politicians taking a position. Personally, I don’t think anything is going to come from the North Korean thing other than they’re trying to shake down both us and China for money and that’s… That’s their endgame. Nobody says to you “Be prepared for merciless destruction. I’m going to blow you up in two weeks.” That’s not… If someone’s going to blow you up they don’t say anything and the next thing you find is an explosion someplace. So that’s… That’s really, I think, the bravado that goes on. This young man’s learned that from his father, that you make a lot of noises and really nothing’s—my opinion is—nothing’s going to come from it, except concessions.
Brian: Except concessions.
Bill: We all want to pay a guy off. “Hey don’t be so crazy, Kim Jong-un, you knucklehead. Don’t be so crazy. Here is some money to not be crazy.”
Brian: You know what? It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve done… we’ve done something like that. What’s going on in Japan, Bill? I know we had a conversation when you were in Belize with a friend of yours that was talking about the Japanese market. And then I saw the other day where it says that the United States and Japan are kind of leading the way in the printing of money. What did you hear about that while you were overseas?
Bill: Well, not too much, other than a lot of my Chinese manufacturers and friends that do business—middle class people over there—also do business in China. So China has turned on the money spigots. Of course they are adopting a Keynesian—full blown Keynesian—mentality with respect to printing money. So what you’re going to see there is really inflation at some point, like those folks have not seen that in years. They’ve had really slow growth and as we’ve heard from one of our previous radio guests, there really hasn’t been any economic growth in Japan for over a decade. So now their plan is “We’re going to flood it with money and flood it with subsidies.”
One interesting thing that I read into was one of our solar panel manufacturers in China—now their big market, Germany, stopped the subsidies so Germany dried up completely. That used to be one of their big markets. What’s happened is Japan is now subsidizing the solar industry so they’re sending container after container to create a little bit of a solar bubble in Japan. So that’s… That’s what I know about Japan, that… And there’s a little side note too, about Japanese… the Japanese customer, as my Chinese friends are very demanding, very hard to do business with just from the standpoint of… They tell me they never really become friends with the Japanese people. They… You can become business partners but not really friends.
There is a little animosity between the Japanese people and the Chinese people for good reasons, because of the Sino-Japanese War that existed a while back. So… As a matter of fact, one of the things that I did… You would have got a kick out of this. This is a very sobering thing that I did. And you had mentioned that the victors tell the story. So in this case, I was up in Nanjing, which used to be the old, provincial capitol of China, and this was a provincial capitol when they first were not the People’s Republic of China, but the Republic of China and this was in 1912, I think, that that first started. But in Nanjing, in the ‘30s—in 1938—the Japanese Army came there and just throttled the people. They killed 350,000 people—butchered them. And they have a memorial to that. It’s almost like a Holocaust type museum. But they have a memorial to that in Nanjing and it was extremely crowded there at the memorial and they have some live footage from it. But I mean the total destruction, the bayoneting of innocent people, the raping, the looting. A third of the buildings were burned down. They just went into that city—the Japanese did—and just brutalized the people. And to some degree, that’s never really been forgotten over there.
Brian: That’s something… You know, it makes me think of maybe like the Holocaust Museum or sometimes even some of the places that you travel to in the south that are museums of the Civil War. And if they’re stuck in a time, Bill, as you said, where they look at our founders as a part of our current history, you could see how being stuck in the past when it comes to us is kind of the motif they use in their own mind. They are stuck in the past about those atrocities.
Bill: Oh, very much. And it’s hard to get that out of your system and I don’t think the current-day Japanese people really have a lot of animosity towards the Chinese. There is a little bit of a sort of perspective among Japanese. I don’t know if you’d call it superiority or what you would call it, but these… These military guys that went in there, they were trained under this old bushido order and I think it just creates a merciless perspective. When you go in, the idea is the value of human life is nothing unless it’s your own race and so you just wipe it clean. And man, what I saw there, when I walked out, was extremely sobering. Now what’s interesting about it was—I wanted to say this to my Chinese friend but didn’t—where is the Chairman Mao museum of the 40 million people or 60 million people, whatever, that Mao killed? Where is that museum? And of course, they can’t put that museum up because the Communist Party still runs things.
But I was impressed in Nanjing with this fact—something really interesting about who tells history. I would have expected the Chinese people to tell a very bad story about Chiang Kai-Shek. Chiang Kai-Shek took power in 1927 in that country and then was driven out to Taiwan by Mao later, but I went to Nanjing where the palace was—where Chiang Kai-Shek lived, his house, his presidential building, all of those things—and was surprised, Brian, that the Chinese government tells the story and almost makes him a bit of a hero.
So I didn’t see a lot of sort of massaging of history, as you were saying, in this case. I think they really kind of surprised me because in Russia during the Communist period, if you were on the way out, if you were someone who made a mistake and sort of crossed the Communist Party, you were just zeroed out of history, right? Their history books would just show a shadow where you used to be. This was before Photoshop they were doing Photoshop. They would just wipe you clean. But Chiang Kai-Shek in China, despite being an enemy of the Communist Party, is really quite a hero there. Amazed. I was amazed at that.
Brian: And what else do you…? Now having traveled, as I said, to England, to Belize and to different parts of China, as you look at three other countries now, how are they doing economically? Are they fearing inflation? Are they experiencing inflation? Are they worried, as you and I tend to focus and our listeners tend to focus a good bit, on what the government’s up to and all the rest of that? What do you find other peoples from other countries focus on? Do they have the same thirst for political discussion and debate that we do?
Bill: Well, I think the commonality that you mentioned between all of those things is a Keynesian economic policy. In other words, can we interject a lot of money into the system and continue to sort of massage or play with the growth a little bit? That’s what I see is the world has this artificial system and instead of—this is true everywhere that I go; it’s true in China; it’s true in England; it’s true here; it’s true in Belize—instead of allowing the business cycle to take its full course… In other words… And I’m… From my worldview, letting businesses… I’m almost like Ron Swanson, right? On Parks And Rec. If you’ve got a bad business, it should fail. And there is something healthy about that. That’s the American tradition. That’s free enterprise. That’s capitalism. That makes us all healthy. Now it’s sad for businesses to fail, whether they’re small businesses or whether they’re big businesses. But to get that bubble out of the system, to get that out of the system and start over, it creates lower prices because people fail and then… For example in housing, if you take all the bubble nature out of it… If you take the subsidized mortgages out of it, what you get is lower prices. So… Which would be good for everybody.
What we see is this creation of bubbles everywhere in the world and it goes from area to area. Right now our stock market is at… is in a bubble situation. What’s holding that up? It’s certainly not consumption. It’s certainly into well-run companies. But it’s just money that’s finding its way into the markets. And I see that everywhere. So I don’t know that there are too many places in the world—too many countries—that really have a sane monetary policy. So everyone’s playing the game. Everyone’s cheating. Everyone’s sort of pumping and they’re pumping more and more and more. And just as you said, in Japan it’s become a big deal where they’ve not only just done it quietly, where they’ve said, “We’re going to pump… We’re going to sort of fill this economy full of cheap money.”
Brian: And does anyone else around the world, Bill, do you sense have an understanding or if not an understanding, then a gut feel that there has to be a reckoning for all of this or do you find people are just terribly—and by terribly, I mean tremendously, I guess, is a better word—tremendously optimistic and that we can after some of this pumping, we’ll be able to turn it around or do you think people are realizing that “Let’s kind of make it work while it can work,” but there is a little more foreboding about the future?
Bill: I don’t think the future has sort of… Okay, what’s my perception of history? What’s my perception of what’s going to take place in the future? I think we’re such existentialists. We’re so caught up in the now—in managing the now—and this is a function of the political system, as well as economics in some sense. In other words, you’ve got to manage the moment to keep all of the various groups satisfied. So everywhere you go you see this existentialist idea of “The only thing that’s important is the moment.” We’re definitely not interested in our grandchildren’s future. If we were, our economic policies would be very, very different than what they are now. But our kids, our grandkids, great-grandkids are going to pay and pay and pay for all of this at some point, in a decreased standard of living—very much so.
Brian: You know, when I hear you say that, Bill, and it’s just so… It’s just so sobering, because I bet if you asked most people “Hey, if a building is on fire and you look up at the second window and you see that your grandchild is in there, would you run into the building to try to save them?” and I… I suspect—unless I’m just delusional, and I’m surprised I didn’t hear Jeremy laugh there—unless I’m delusional, I suspect most people would run into the building and try to save their grandchild. But it seems removed enough that if you try to say to someone “Look, what we’re doing right now is going to put them in a bad way 10 or 20 years from now, three decades from now.” There seems to be that same disconnect you mentioned earlier.
Bill: Well, I think they would go save their grandchildren as long as it didn’t affect their Social Security checks. So I know I’m going to make a lot of people mad with that, but that’s even more sobering yet, because really, just this idea of everyone getting their check this month… Everyone is got a nut to cover, right? We’ve all got our monthly expenses. So it’s hard to de-ratchet… Once you ratchet—that’s the title of one of my books coming up is The Ratchet—but once you ratchet up a certain level of expectations to sort of take that back then becomes extremely difficult. And it’s true no matter what the group, if it’s senior citizens, if it’s labor unions—it doesn’t matter—if you ratchet something up, to go back at that and deleverage it, there is a great political cost to that and people are… People aren’t going to vote… I’m sorry.
Ron Paul got a lot of sort of press and of course we were sort of behind Ron. We met Ron in Clinton when you were here. And we’re certainly for him and for that perspective of not spending more than what you take in. But my guess is most people—even Tea Party people—if you… If Ron Paul got his way and he started turning the spigot off, he would start to sort of… There would be pain that would be felt by people. Even his supporters would start feeling pain. Most people don’t have the moral courage to take that pain for what’s right. And that’s true around the world.
Brian: So now let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. And I’m looking forward to reading… I’m looking forward to reading your book. Here’s the question that I… that I struggle with a lot. We talk about “Oh, well a lot of people don’t want to feel the pain now” but a lot of the pain we’re talking about would be… You’re not going to have a big screen TV. You’re not going to have four cars. You’re not going to have iPads and iPhones. You’re not going to have your electronics. But the pain that we’re talking about would return people to a day 100 years ago where humanity was doing great. They… Parents still loved their kids. Their kids still smiled. I think of my own kids. They’re up in the morning. They’re on their electronics. They’re doing this. They’re doing that. Some of the pain that we’re referencing isn’t… If you just stop and take a deep breath, talk about ratcheting it up. Some of the pain we’re talking about we’ll survive. It’s not like we’re losing the ability to breathe oxygen.
Bill: Well, that’s a good point. You will not… You won’t die. You’re not going to die from a lot of this and for us to sort of live a life that’s been deleveraged a mite, it’s not going to kill us. It’s not going to kill people in other countries. It’s not going to kill us. It’s not going to kill our grandkids. And as you sort of mentioned, there may be even some advantages to problems. I like… From my Christian perspective, sometimes when you see judgment in history and you see things happen, really what happens is it forces people towards what they consider ultimate. In other words, we have all this white noise in our everyday lives, in our existential moments and what happens is when there’s a crisis that white noise gets erased and people immediately go to “What’s the most important thing?”
And in philosophy we talk about “What’s ultimate for you?” What is ultimate? You can’t have multiplicity of ultimates, right? There can only be one ultimate. So you go back to what you treasure most when there is a crisis. Now I don’t bring this up, Brian… I don’t mean to be… mean this poorly and everything, but you just had a bad experience. Your mother passed away and that was a little bit cathartic for you. That was a crisis. And so you and I had some great conversations that I think people could benefit from because when you’ve got something in your life, you go back and say, “Gee. I wonder what the most important thing is?” and those are some of the things that you and I have been talking about.
Brian: Absolutely. And that’s… And as you know, Bill, my belief in the divine and that everything happens for a reason and that… I tell people all the time if you believe in the concept of omniscience and omnipotence, then even… What is…? What could be construed as bad on its face, underlying that is still a sense of compassion and still an opportunity for growth. You know, we’ve got this place over here on the Fox River and I had to do some burning over the weekend—last weekend—to get rid of some of the… some of the overgrowth and three days later the grass that had been choked out by the trees, by the bushes—the grass is a couple of inches taller already.
Bill: Yeah. Yeah.
Brian: So I don’t want to do the old… What is it? The phoenix rising from the ashes, but there really is that opportunity.
Bill: There is great opportunity and that’s how… Civilizations cycle. Families cycle. Individuals cycle. Tony just handed me a note a little bit about… and said, “What about the [inaudible 0:32:03.4] effect?” What if you did have an event like a lot of our listeners think might happen or could happen? What would that do? Man, right away if you didn’t have all of the creature comforts, if you didn’t have all of the sort of support structures that you have, how then shall we live? And you’d have to start figuring out what’s important to you right away, because that’s something, in a crisis, you can’t dilly-dally with.
Brian: No, but you can start to cultivate now, which is one of the things I think we try so hard to do. You can cultivate that sense of grit. You can cultivate your ability to… And this is the part of the eulogy that I gave at my mom’s funeral, was the 23rd Psalm—“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil,” right? So you kind of either believe that or you don’t believe it.
Bill: Well, and I think a lot of people… You know what, Brian? Let me challenge you on that.
Bill: I think that people say that they believe that, but I think when we get tested, I think we get a different response sometimes than what we say and so that’s our challenge, I suppose, today—to everybody—is can you walk that walk when the crisis comes? Whatever your crisis might be, can you continue on the course that you say is the most important thing? It’s easy to sort of articulate a course when you’re watching your plasma TV and you’re grabbing a bite to eat from the fridge and life is good and well and your sports teams are winning and all those things. But when that stuff gets cut out, what kind of person are you?
Now we talked about this before, but in the Depression, Brian, one thing about it is most people continued to lead their lives pretty much the way they did before. People moved in with their parents; people moved in with their grandparents—whatever it might be—they consolidated, but there wasn’t a moral crisis that accompanied the economic crisis and I think so many of our listeners are correct in their assumption that today’s different. Today people will kill you over a pair of tennis shoes when times are good. So what would happen when times are bad? That’s really something that you have to consider and you have to consider that with respect to where you live, the communities that you develop—just all of these things—as you sort out “What if?”
Brian: And you know, Bill, that’s another thing that I focus on from time to time is just this different conception of evil. When people say, “You’re absolutely right.” We had a thing while you were gone where two gunmen went in… I believe it was in the city of Chicago. Two gunmen went in to rob a grocery store and the owners beat them off with a chair, a fire extinguisher and a broom.
Bill: Well, I’m not sure what kind of guns that the criminals had but…
Brian: Well, apparently they had nine millimeters and they were shooting and this and that, so… Which always goes back—it’s not so much having the gun. You’d better train to be able to use it. But there exists a certain level…
Bill: Or a guy’s going to hit you with a chair.
Brian: Yeah. Well, he did a better job… The guy with the chair did a better job of striking the bad guy than the bad guy with the gun did shooting him. I think all of his shots missed.
Bill: Brian, what if we had a chair control? Because I think you just brought something really interesting up. Look at the damage… If ordinary people have chairs, what can they do with those chairs? And the answer is a lot of damage. So what if Vice President Biden…? What if you sort of sent him a message saying, “I think chairs are bad and we ought to start to control chairs, like especially chairs with pointed edges, because you could hurt yourself or others with one of those”? And it’s… All of the gun things—it doesn’t matter what it is—you can pick up a stick and kill somebody. You can pick up a chair and smash it over somebody’s head. It doesn’t… I mean really, think about it. The gun control stuff is really just ludicrous at its core.
Brian: Well, I’m also… Now this happened yesterday, Bill. You might have been on a plane. Maybe Jeremy can bring it up and put it up on your computer. But there was a young man armed with a box-cutter that attacked a dozen or more people just yesterday or the day before, slashing them all. And it was on a college campus somewhere and I forget exactly where it was, but given that, you wonder if there’s going to be a push to restrict the sales of box-cutters at Home Depot and Lowes today. And when you—to your point—when you throw in the number of people that are killed every year by hands, by feet, by baseball bats, by blunt objects, it far outweighs the number of people sadly killed by guns. So I think you raise a valid point. Where do you draw the line? And I’m going to try to find it real quick while we’re talking, but where do we draw the line when it comes to…? People are just going to use… They’re going to weaponize whatever they can find, so how many “weapons” are we going to take away from folks?
Bill: Well, and it has its limits. At some point you can’t take anything more away. You can… Oddly, I met up with a fellow in China who sat by a guy on the plane—somebody that he sat by on the plane—was a commando and he did sort of training for special ops groups. He was telling him how to kill somebody with a comb. A comb.
Bill: And he said, “A comb is one of the most deadly weapons if you know how to use it, that is imaginable.” So comb control, maybe.
Brian: Well, here’s the thing, my friend. I just found it. It’s on CNN.
Bill: It’s not just… It’s not just for Donald Trump.
Brian: Not just for…
Bill: Comb control.
Brian: Boy, talk about… Yeah. Or going back to one of our former governors, Blagojevich, right? You were talking about former governors of our…
Bill: Yeah. Yeah.
Brian: He was a big fan of a comb or a brush or whatever.
Bill: He had a great… He had a comb-over as well, or was that just a wig? I can’t… Tony? Did Blagojevich have a wig? You can’t Google that because you don’t have your computer with you.
Brian: All right. Well, I’ll go ahead and Google it. 14 injured, Bill, in Texas when a young gentleman named Dylan Quick is alleged to have gone onto the campus of Lone Star College near Houston armed with a box-cutter and slashed a bunch of folks. And in one of the videos that’s appearing on there now, they talk about how had kids on that college campus been able to carry—concealed carry—carry their firearm onto the college campus, they could have stopped it long before 14 were wounded. So now are we going to have the same kind of attention brought to knives that are brought to “automatic” weapons?
Bill: Well, if the logic would stay consistent, you would have to say yes, right? If something can do damage to another person, you have to… The solution isn’t going back and saying, “Hey, we need to educate our populous in terms of moral constraints.” The solution is always environmental, right? So there’s… I mean we’re broaching on a really interesting subject, Brian. My position on this is there’s… It’s Kuyperian in the sense that Abraham Kuyper talked about sphere sovereignty, right? Can you control yourself? Are we teaching our children self-government in school? No, the answer is—that’s rhetorical—the answer is no, we’re not. We’re teaching our children in school that they are their own God. That’s what they’re teaching them.
And so if that’s the case, why shouldn’t somebody go take a box-cutter and slash a bunch of other people? In other words, you mentioned the word “evil,” but from my point of view, Brian, only in a Christian worldview can you say that there is such a thing as evil. If you take that out of the society, you teach kids that they’re independent, they’re sort of self-validating, if they’re god, right? As a lot of the French existentialists—Jean Paul Sartre would say, “If I’m my own… If I’m God, you must… my neighbor must be the devil.” So why would someone say it’s wrong for another person to slash someone else with a box-cutter? Right? Why would we say that’s wrong? Isn’t it just one group of molecules and bag of biology sort of bumping into another bag of biology, as we move through the evolutionary chain?
I mean if you disconnect from God, isn’t that really, at the end of the day, all you have—blobs versus blobs? Really what you have is a positive thing, Brian, because it’s survival of the fittest in Darwin’s world, right? The strongest—that was what Hitler liked—the blue-eyed race, right? And so it’s a good thing that the blue-eyed race killed the other races. That’s what you get when you get this kind of thinking. And I think that’s a very dangerous thing.
Brian: I would agree and I would just… Only because it popped to mind, Bill, while you were saying it… While you were gone, an MSNBC host claimed—and it’s Melissa Harris Perry—claimed that kids belonged to the community. They are a part of the collective, not the parents. So when you said, “Hey, if we’ve got somebody running around…” And my first inclination with the box-cutter or the razor utility knife… “Well, we never saw a razor utility knife coming, Brian.” Well, that’s what hijacked all the airplanes on September 11, right? That’s what they used. They used box-cutters.
So we’re not in a position to say, “Oh, we never would have seen that utility razor knife thing. We never would have seen that… We couldn’t have imagined that that was weaponized.” Well, except for September 11. So then as you talked about the kids and if everyone thinks you raise a kid to believe that he or she is God, here’s someone while you’re gone saying that the—Dateline, this is Los Angeles—parents and media critics were aghast after a host for MSNBC called for collectives to care for the community’s children instead of the parents taking care of the kids themselves. So how does your opinion fit into that?
Bill: Well, that’s certainly what happened in Sparta, if you remember.
Bill: The… If you were a Spartan parent, you gave your child up to the collective state and that happened in the Soviet Union and it happened earlier in China. That’s not the world in China today, but that happened earlier in China, where it was thought that the community owned the child and not the parents. And I think when you disconnect someone’s history, you disconnect someone from their family, you end up with real social chaos and we need to know who our parents are. We need to know… Even if you look at… Speaking of Kim Jong-un, Dennis Rodman was abandoned by his father, right? And I don’t know if people know that, but Dennis is a troubled… was a troubled young man, as I used to watch him as a Chicago Bull. He’s a troubled older man now, but you know what my opinion of Dennis Rodman is? He’s still looking for his dad. He’s still trying to connect with his father.
And here is just another good example… Look at most of these guys—these crazy people—they come from situations where they’re not sure—these kids who commit a lot of these crimes—these aren’t right-wing, heterosexually raised children. They are kids that come from bizarre situations where they are taking drugs and they’re taking all kinds of… They’re receiving therapies and… I think it’s part of our culture, Brian. We’ve lost our way and I think we need to find our way back. And I think, again from my perspective, the only way back… We talk about all these other things on radio shows everywhere, right? It’s always dancing on the periphery of what the subject is. So if you watch talk shows… I mean if you watch all of the shows on TV at night with the new shows where they all sit around and talk, do they ever talk about the most important thing? Do they ever try to solve that problem? They never do, because the Republicans and the Democrats, as you had mentioned, for the most part—and folks, I’m not speaking with a broad brush—but for the most part, what’s the difference between John Boehner and President Obama? It’s a matter of degree. It’s not a matter of “Oh, look at this policy is different than that policy.” Boehner’s policy is “Yeah, I’d like to spend a little less. Send me off the cliff going 55 and not 85.”
That’s what the Republicans want for the most part. Now I know there’s a lot of good Republicans and there’s good Democrats and there’s all that too, but I’m just saying generally, pull the camera back. Look at it, people. Look at what’s going on in the world. Everybody stands for the same thing and they’re just saying, “Well, we’ve got the dimmer switch on a little bit dimmer. Why don’t you vote for us?” At least President Obama—listen—at least he is just overt about what he’s doing, right? You’ve got to give him credit. He’s basically saying, “I’m a socialist. You should vote for me.” The Republicans sort of hide their socialism. That’s why they can’t have an articulate platform. That’s why they really don’t ever come up with an articulate platform. So you run a guy like Romney against someone like Obama and it’s 74% versus 69% in terms of the degree of socialism that one wants. And yeah, listen, they say that they’re not… that that’s not what they believe, but that’s not just true. That’s just not true. It’s the same party. We need a new party.
Brian: I… As you know, Bill, I call them all the time the “pachs” and the “jacks,” right? The pachyderms—the elephants—and the jacks are the donkeys. I call them the same thing. They’re two gangs of the same cartel, because you’re right. There’s not a demonstrable difference in a lot of ways—on social issues. I think that’s where they draw their line in the sand, right? So they can say socially… It’s a lot of bait and switch. We argue about all the social issues, but in terms of the economics, in terms of the like, it’s tomato-tomato and I have to tell you—since you jumped off the ledge, I’m not going to go by yourself—you have to… And remember, all the emails go to Jeremy. You have to kind of give it to President Obama in some of his positions, because he’s a little more forthcoming now than he was in the first election, but at least he’s saying what he believes in, right?
Bill: Yeah, he’s setting himself up for that and I’m not advocating…
Bill: …President Obama in any sense. I’m at the other end of… I’m against socialism, whether they’re socialists of his ilk or whether they’re nationalist socialists. Remember, the Nazi Party is the nationalist socialist party, right? That’s who the fascists are. They’re socialists too. So I’m not for any of that. Our family went into World War II to fight against those people. But you have to say that when someone at least identifies himself and says, “Look at me. I like the…” He even uses language like this. “I like to spread the wealth around a little bit.” Well, that’s not even code for anything. That’s just overtly saying, “I’m a socialist.” And I think it’s okay to say that and I don’t… I’m not for that, but I think that the world would be a better place if everyone sort of identified themselves and sort of spoke with a lot of transparency and he doesn’t always do that real well, but that’s what we need to do more of.
Brian: Well, let me ask you, Bill, do we just have our head buried in the sand? Because when you look at some of the other socialist regimes from around the world, maybe people recognize it but they’re kind of more “Hey, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” And they get a little bit of apathetic towards it. He still received the majority of the votes in this country, even after “Hey, spread the wealth around.” So maybe it’s like a… Maybe socialism becomes like a weed, right? Maybe… What is that…? The haduchu [sp] or whatever? The weed that’s growing in the south that’s starting to take over because it’s growing unchecked?
Brian: Do you think that’s what happens through the long-term history of a country?
Bill: Well, I think socialism is something more dark and insidious than that. I think in some sense, socialism is the part of us that wants somebody else to pay the bill for either our lifestyle, our excesses, anything. And I think that socialism is something that we all suffer from as a philosophical system and we all sort of deep in our heart… Now again, from a Christian parlance, I’m going to call that “sin” because we want somebody else’s stuff, right? At the end of the day, it’s one person wanting someone else’s stuff and to get a cut of somebody else’s stuff. The problem with all of that, as the late Margaret Thatcher said, is eventually you run out of other people’s money. Eventually you run out of other people’s money. And it doesn’t go on forever. Socialism just doesn’t work.
I think the problem with President Obama—we’ve really covered a lot of ground here—but the problem with President Obama is that he’s never had to run a business. He’s never had to make a payroll. So he doesn’t really understand what it takes to take in more money than you spend as a conceptual idea. Now Romney probably gets that better, as a businessperson. But who knows how many of his businesses were subsidized by big money and whether he really played in a level playing field? I have no idea. But I think it helps to sort of actually balance a budget to some degree on your own in your household and then as you move out in the community, your business before you get into political office.
Brian: No, that’s a valid point. Then the next step of that is to say that because he did receive the popular vote and the electoral vote, that people that are a fan of someone that can balance a budget didn’t rise up or did rise up and there wasn’t enough of them, to get Romney elected and that people that are fans of running a country where you don’t have to worry a lot about the budget, that particular individual received more of the vote. So maybe you… Maybe like a jury, right? A jury of your peers… I say to people all the time… They want to slam the politicians. I’d say, “Hey, look around. Look in the mirror. Look at the electorate. We get what we elect.”
Bill: Oh, I totally agree, Brian. President Obama is… He’s the right man for the job at this point when it comes to majority rule, when it comes to that idea of who most and best represents the American zeitgeist, the American culture. And I would say—and I don’t say this proudly because again, I’m on the other side of the spectrum—but I would say that President Obama does represent 51%-plus what this country believes. So this has nothing to do with how the country was started. You know, I read a book, Brian—I have to tell you this—on the plane. This was a really interesting book, a Dr. Lutz about the American Constitution. You know, it was frowned upon… Jefferson and probably through the year 1800—I’m not sure when it started—I’m going to have to do a little research on this. But what was thought was that the commanding idea in that culture with respect to sort of electing politicians was the cream would rise to the top. That was the… really concept behind early American government, that the best and the brightest would end up getting elected because the people would see that.
And in addition to that, you could not even… You could not even do any campaigning. So Jefferson and those folks didn’t campaign. It was frowned upon to campaign. But look what we do today. We campaign and we buy votes with promises. We go around and meet with groups and groups and we promise them stuff. That’s—and whoever does that—the mostest and the bestest is the one that gets voted in. And President Obama did a superior job of promising more things to people than Romney did and consequently, he’s the president. But imagine a culture in which it wasn’t socially correct to campaign or “electioneer,” as they said. That wasn’t common.
Brian: Well, think about it. We have politicians now that think Guam is going to tip over if we put too many people on it. I… I look at it all the time and go… You know, everyone wants background checks now, right Bill? Everyone… “Oh, we’ve got to have background checks, background checks.” I’d like a politician or two to maybe take a Rorschach test before they’re able to put their name on the ballot. You look at some of the people that are elected to public… from both parties—from all parties, right? You’ve known me for years now and I’ve often said anyone that ever says, “I have wanted to be president of the United States ever since I was a little boy or a little girl” should automatically be disqualified from the job. Anyone that wakes up with that concept of Lex Luthor, wanting to be the most powerful man in the world, wanting to be the one that goes up against Superman, we probably wouldn’t hang out with that person a lot, right?
Bill: Well, a lot of those guys got picked on in high school, if you remember, and whether they become TSA agents or whatever or not, they end up wanting to sort of exhibit power over other people and certainly not all TSA agents are that way or police officers, but you’ve mentioned to me before when you were on the detective force in New York, how many kids… how many officers were kids who were picked on and were just trying to even the score as a cop. And you have the same thing with politicians. A lot of people just want to either make money or even some score or say, “Look at me. Look what I’ve done.”
Look at this situation with Washington, right? When George Washington won the war as General Elect Cincinnatus, he bowed his knee and turned his sword back and they wanted to make him king and he said, “No, it’s not my place. Are you guys fools? What’s going on here? I thought we were fighting for this cause. You make me king and everything that we fought for—all these people that died—they died in vain because our cause wasn’t for another king.” So he kneels and he hands his sword back to the current president of the country at that time and that’s the kind of leadership that we used to have. I would say, Brian—and I’ve mentioned this before on this show—I think that President Kennedy—JFK—could not even run as a Republican. Way too far right. Way too far right to run as a Republican. He couldn’t get elected. He couldn’t get on the Republican ballot, let alone the Democratic ballot. That’s how much we’ve changed.
Brian: Well then Bill, let me ask you—tying two things together here, because you’ve got my mind racing—who is going to be the person that’s going to kneel and turn back the sword so as to protect your grandkids? Who is going to be that person—and it better happen soon, my friend—who is going to be or what type of person…? Where is that person going to come from that’s going to surrender that and go, “Look, we better change this right now, because we are approaching a future that we just can’t sustain” or are we just lost? It is too late?
Bill: You know, I can’t remember his name because it’s been a few shows ago. It’s been a couple years ago, but that man is the kid that wanted—that was on our show—the kid that’s in the bee business that wanted a mop.
Brian: Oh yeah.
Bill: He wanted a mop for Christmas. Do you remember that?
Brian: Yes. Yeah, because he… Yes I do and he said… Don’t worry, Jeremy. He said that his parents used to say to him “We’re not raising kids. We’re raising adults.”
Brian: Remember that?
Bill: Yes, very much.
Brian: And he had the honey and the nut business.
Brian: Yes. Like pecans and bees.
Bill: And I think that’s our next president and that… Well, he won’t be our next president because we’re going through this period where our president—the next president—is going to probably be someone that offers to promise more things yet than President Obama did or at a minimum, if we go through a cycle and says, “Look, I’m not going to turn the spigot off. I’m going to let the spigot where it is.” So you may find someone at some point saying, “Hey, no new stuff but I’m going to keep everybody exactly where they are socially with all of these entitlement programs.” My guess is that’s the next president that’s going to be elected. Maybe Rand Paul can raise some support, but I think if people really understand what Rand Paul wants to do—and he wants to do the right thing because he wants to turn the spigot off—they’re going to say—and I’m just being a social critic here—they’re going to say, “No, I’m not going to vote for that. I may like that sound ideologically.” Let’s say a Tea Party member or something.
But I think when they start feeling… When that Tea Party member starts feeling some pain, he’s going to say, “You know what? I can’t bear this. It’s more than I can bear.” And he’s going to look for somebody else. And you know what happens, Brian, when things break down, when they really break down? Because you can’t spend more money than you have forever. So societies break down. Cultures break down. And when they break down, at the end of the breakdown, much like the French Revolution, you end up with some strong guy and some strong guy will come in and he will say, “I’ll make everything better. I’ll build you better roads, like the Audubon. I’ll do… I’ll bring greatness back.” And that person is probably going to be someone to the far right, my guess would be, someone sort of totally nationalistic. But then that person is going to finish off on the freedom side—everything that everybody’s ever known—he’s going to finish it off forever, very much like the paper hangar from Germany.
Brian: Well, I would… Then I guess I would just say, folks, think about your grandkids. You know what I mean? Think about… Just spend a moment looking at the children of your children and what’s…? What possibly could be an outcome of their life if we don’t kind of…? What, Bill? If we don’t kind of adopt some of that own pain for ourselves right now.
Bill: Yeah, we’ve got to take control. As we finish up, Brian—we’ve only got a minute or two—but I think here’s the idea. Whether you’re in the US, whether you’re in China, whether you’re in Belize or London, any country in the world, one thing about mankind that all of the philosophers agree on, whether it’s Jesus, whether it’s Aristotle, whether it’s Marcus Aurelius and on and on—Buddha—one thing they all agree on, Brian, is that you become what you think about most of the time. And so what is it that we as a nation are thinking about most of the time? Now we’re a bunch of individuals, but as individuals, we make up a collective consciousness. We make up a collective zeitgeist and what are we thinking about most of the time?
And my guess? Look, I’m pointing the finger right back at myself, my family, my company, all of us here and saying my guess is we probably spend too much time thinking about ourselves and not enough time thinking about our neighbor. That’s probably how the deal is and that’s probably… If we’re going to get back to where we need to get back to, we’ve got to think, “How can I be of service? How can I serve? How can I do something for someone else? How can I produce more than I consume?” That’s a winning formula no matter what culture you’re in.
Brian: And I think that’s probably a great place to leave it, Bill, since we’re coming up on the top of the hour. I’ll let you go ahead and say good-bye to everybody and throw it back. It’s nice to have you back. I don’t know if it’s necessarily sunny and beautiful in Thomson today. We’re having some wild weather. But it’s nice to have you finally back in the states.
Bill: Well thanks so much, Brian. And it’s good to be back and it’s good to have all of you listening again on Off The Grid News, the radio version. We just want to thank you again for your time. We know that your time is very important. To spend some of it with us is a privilege that we don’t take lightly. So thanks again from Off The Grid News.