Doug Casey on Controversial Buzzwords, Part I

by Doug Casey, Casey Research:

Justin’s note: Doug Casey isn’t afraid to speak his mind… even if it means offending people.

That’s a rare commodity. These days, most people only think what they’re supposed to think. They say only what’s politically correct.

It’s a serious problem that’s getting worse every day.

So, I recently called Doug to discuss some of today’s most controversial buzzwords…

Justin: Doug, you said something during one of our recent talks that intrigued me:

They’ll say if you use bitcoin you’re a money launderer, a drug dealer, a terrorist, or a tax evader. Actually, the morality involved in all those activities is worth a separate discussion… it’s perverse they’re always classed together.

What did you mean by that? What’s wrong with grouping these people together?

Doug: It's chimpanzee think. It's group-think memes in action. Somebody in a position of authority—or even just an actor, or a news reader, or a rapper, for that matter—says something. That transforms it into something that everybody automatically believes in, thoughtlessly.

It's like the concept of political correctness. I first heard that term on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s. They said "this isn't very politically correct.” I thought it was part of their skit. I thought it was a joke.

Little did I know that it would become a meme. The concept didn’t just catch on in society, it’s come to rule it. You're supposed to be politically correct—if not, you must be a Nazi or a Klansman. Although, oddly, you might actually be a Communist or a fanatic Muslim with identical beliefs—and that’s somehow acceptable. So, the concept of PC isn’t a joke anymore. It’s the complete opposite of a joke. It’s a threat. Calling something a name that’s not just inaccurate, but maybe the opposite of what it is, is dangerous, dishonest and destructive.

A lot of words are consistently misused today. Sometimes purposefully, sometimes just stupidly. What you say reflects what you think. And what you think—or at least feel—influences what you do. I did an article a while ago debunking the misuse of a dozen common words. People who think in slogans and catchphrases are very dangerous. They turn their feelings into group moral memes. Lowest common denominator stuff.

Justin: They aren’t thinking for themselves.

Doug: Exactly. That’s how lynch mobs work—“Give us Barabbas! Give us Barabbas!” People should analyze these “hot button” concepts, like the four things I mentioned—and there are lots of others—on their own merits. Otherwise you’ll wind up mindlessly parroting Paul Krugman, Hillary Clinton, or Kim Kardashian.

These terms shouldn’t be grouped together. "These are evil things. We shouldn't even think about them. They're not even worth talking about." Did Big Brother call them Badthink in 1984?

Justin: But you think they’re worth talking about?

Doug: Absolutely. This is what made Walter Block’s book Defending the Undefendable such a work of genius. Everyone should read it. It’s also very funny, somewhat in the tradition of George Carlin, another genius.

So, yes. We should dissect all four terms that I mentioned.

Justin: I agree. Let’s start with money launderer.

Doug: Money laundering. It’s the process of making money obtained from criminal activity look like it came from a legitimate source. But it’s a completely artificial crime. It’s made up. It was created out of whole cloth about 40 years ago, as I recall. Like most “crimes” today, it’s not wrong in itself; it’s wrong because some legislators passed a law.

There's nothing wrong, in principle, with money laundering.

Perhaps you got the money illegally or immorally. And, incidentally, those are two totally different concepts, where there's only an accidental overlap. But that’s a big subject for a whole new conversation.

But what’s wrong with redeploying capital that already exists in a perfectly legal or moral way? I would say nothing. Money is fungible. It’s not like artwork—it’s not so easy to trace its provenance.

Anyway, it's said that most great fortunes started with a crime. That’s certainly true for the Kennedy fortune. Joe Kennedy, founder of the clan, made most of his money bootlegging, which is the equivalent of drug dealing. He also made money with stock manipulation, which is insider trading. God knows what else he was up to. Although bootlegging and stock manipulation are not, in themselves, immoral. That said, I have no doubt many other things—like murder, assault, theft—occurred in the process.

So, he laundered money. It wasn’t a crime then.

It’s counterproductive to make it illegal to take these so-called ill-gotten gains, and do something correct with them. It's just another Kafka-esque crime that they can arbitrarily use to hang you. At what point does capital created illegally become clean?

Money laundering is a non-crime, and shouldn't be treated as a crime.

Justin: What about drug dealers?

Doug: Today, drug dealers are automatically seen as the worst kind of scum. Drug dealers now are always looked upon as being violent, evil, immoral, amoral, just horrible human beings. But the problem isn’t so much that drugs can be abused and harm the user—that’s true of alcohol, tobacco, food, sex, inactivity, and a hundred other things. The problem arises when they’re made illegal. All drugs should be legal.

Why? Well, your body is your primary possession. If you can’t control what you can put in your own body, you have no freedom at all. You’re, in effect, a slave.

That's the moral argument for drugs being legal. Whether they're good, bad, or indifferent is a technical issue. But it’s a question of degree, as is the case with food, sex, alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and everything else.

These can all be addictive or even dangerous if they’re not used in moderation.

The “War on Drugs” is foolish and destructive on every level. It should be abolished.

Justin: You explored this idea in your latest novel, Drug Lord.

Doug: Yes. In that novel, my co-author John Hunt and I tried to reform the unjustly besmirched occupation of drug lord. Our drug lord hero, Charles Knight, is a thoroughly good guy. There’s nothing wrong with the commodity. There’s nothing wrong with purveying drugs. But, as with the other subjects we’re discussing, people often have a fixed idea burned into their consciousness, and they’re unwilling or unable to analyze the subject rationally.

Drug dealing, whether you’re a ghetto dweller or Big Pharma, is—in itself—a non-crime.

Justin: But Doug, drug dealers murder, kidnap people, and do all sorts of horrible things. How can you say they’re not criminals?

Doug: That’s true. But it’s not because they’re drug dealers. It’s because they’re murderers, kidnappers, or extortionists. Those are the real crimes.

But you’ve got to separate these ideas. Something may look gray. But gray is a combination of black and white. It shows a lack of critical thinking when people can’t separate them.

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