Slay The Dragon and Be The Hero!

The archetypal story about the fight for good through order an chaos shows up in stories throughout history. Jonah and Jobe in the Bible to Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter are all stories with an arch about mothers/fathers and good/evil and order/chaos.  Smooth sailing life doesn’t always happen, when the first roadblock hits, if you haven’t been sharpened by prior battles you could crumble.

I look back at my life experiences and I’ve lived a number of highs but it’s the massive lows that have sharpened me.  Once I’ve survived chaos/evil and conquered the dragon in front of me, the next dragon had better get ready because I sure am. The battles that can destroy us are the scariest and most fulfilling to conquer.  These stories are the hero’s journey.  Be a hero, rise to the occasion, live the dance between order and chaos. SLAY THE DRAGON and BE THE HERO!

Choas will happen, learn the skills to reorder your life to a better order.



Rules For A Long and Happy Life – By Robert Hall

May 28, 2018

The Rules for a Long and Happy Life

By Robert A. Hall

The most important ingredient of a long, happy, and successful life is self-discipline.

You also need to develop resilience and tenacity

Discipline yourself to maintain a normal weight.  Obesity is the second largest cause of premature death.

Discipline yourself to get regular exercise.  You’ll feel better and live longer.

The most valuable thing you can own is a good reputation.

Take responsibility for your actions.

Stop whining, complaining, and criticizing.  No one will want to be around you.

Stop blaming others.  The person who is responsible for over 90% of your problems is the one you see in the mirror every morning.

Always give more than expected.  Always do more than your share.

If you once tell a major lie, no one will fully trust you again.  If you regularly tell lies, no one will believe you even when you tell the truth.  The same thing if you steal.

Get enough sleep.  Most people need eight to nine hours.  But don’t waste the whole day in bed.

Be slow to take offense, and never on little things, especially those involving taste.

Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Everyone has bad days, but don’t inflict them on others.  Greet everyone you meet with a cheery hello.  Even if he doesn’t return the greeting, you’ll feel better.

Don’t walk around studying your smartphone (or at mealtimes if you are with other people).  You’ll miss communicating with the real people you meet, you’ll miss seeing the world around you, and you might become a statistic – pedestrian deaths have tripled, due mostly to inattention.

Get your hands dirty.  Many worthwhile things – fixing a car, gardening, cleaning a weapon, baking – require it.

Do the disagreeable tasks first.  Procrastinators suffer twice – once in the agony of anticipating the task and again when they are forced to do it.

Here’s your all-purpose job description for school, for work, and for life: “whatever needs to be done.”

Be the most reliable person you know.  Under-promise and over-perform.

Be kind.  It makes the world a better place and makes you happier.

Be punctual.  If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late.  People who are chronically late are saying, “My time is valuable; yours is not.”

Banish “it’s not my job” and “we’ve always done it that way” from your lips.

If you behave in a meretricious manner, do not complain if people treat you as a meretricious person.

Every day, life presents us with choices between what we should do and what we want to do.  Do the “should dos” first 90% of the time.  People who always do what they want first have sad, poor, and unhappy lives.

Don’t always live in the “now.”  You may not believe it, but tomorrow always comes.

Plan for the future.  Yes, people, circumstances and plans change, but at least you will have thought about it.

Doing things for others is more rewarding than doing things for yourself.

Happy people always care about something larger than themselves.  It might be family, job, church, community, country, or the U.S. Marines.  Often it is several things.

Pick up after yourself daily.  You will live in cleaner, neater surroundings.  If you leave it for later, it will become an overwhelming job.

If you were born in the United States, or in fact in any of the capitalist democracies in the West, you won the lottery.  The free-market system has given the mass of people here by far the highest standard of living in history and in the world today.  Of course, many people don’t take advantage of it.  But if you want something besides capitalism, throw away all those consumer goods – smartphones, computers, cars, and so on – that were inventions and produced under capitalism, and move to a country where socialism has given people a good life.

Be slow to borrow and quick to repay.

Be slow to lend.  You will find there are people who will convince themselves that they deserved the money and will become sullen and hostile if asked to pay it back.  You expect gratitude, and you get attitude.

If a couple is having problems, having a baby will not make those problems vanish and bring them closer together.  Usually, it will make them worse.

Large tattoos and face piercings do not make a person more attractive.

I can’t tell you what to believe, but according to many studies, people who believe in God are happier, because it gives their life meaning.

Studies also show that people in small towns are happier than people in cities.

Everything needs maintenance: cars, homes, people.  Maintenance is time-consuming and costly.  But if you don’t do it, it will be more time consuming and costly in the future.  Tomorrow always comes.

Ranting and raving rarely changes the person’s behavior or the situation for the better.

Make your bed every day.  It instills discipline, and you’ll feel better about your surroundings.

“Thank you” and “please” are not old-fashioned, out of date, or constructs of the patriarchy.  They are the essential grease that reduces friction and makes civilization work.

Learn to say, “I’m sorry.  It was my fault.”

If you punish people for giving you their honest opinions, you will be surrounded by “yes men” and will have no warning of approaching disasters.

Read at least two books a month.  Reading well and widely is highly correlated with success.

You are not entitled to anything paid for by money other people earned working.  Be grateful for anything you get.

Respect must be earned.  It cannot be given.

Some people are poor because of circumstances, like illness or accident.  But in America, most people are poor because they made bad decisions.  There are four rules if you don’t want to be poor: 1. Don’t marry until you have the education or training for a career.  2. Don’t have babies before you are married, in a stable, financially secure relationship.  3. Get a job, even a bad one, and work full-time until you get a better one.  4. Don’t get addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Every time you get in a car, you are at risk of dying.  But if you follow four rules, you can reduce your chance of being killed in an accident by about 90%.  1. Always wear your seat belt.  2. Don’t speed.  3. Don’t drive if you’re impaired by alcohol, drugs, or fatigue.  4. Don’t drive distracted by a phone or other device.  (And don’t ride with a driver who violates these rules.)  One or more of these factors are involved in almost every fatal crash.

That’s it.  Having a happy life is really simple, but it’s hard to discipline yourself to follow these rules.  Look at the many unhappy people you know and see if you think they did.

Robert A. Hall served as a Marine in Vietnam, for five terms in the Massachusetts Senate, and for 31 years as an association executive.  He holds a B.A. in government and an M.Ed. in history and has 12 books in print on Amazon.  He retired in 2013 due to pulmonary fibrosis for a lung transplant.  He now works part-time at the Madison V.A. hospital, interviewing veterans and writing up their life stories for their records and their families.

Read more:
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Jordan Peterson – Chaos and Order and Hero Archetype

Worth a listen. I particularly enjoy the chaos and order discussions found at:


20-minute mark and at the 50-minute mark.


Love his book list; – HERE


It’s Primal – Warrior Energy – The Haka Dance

I first saw the Huka done by the University of Arizona Wildcats Football team. The UofA has always had a number of Samoan players and the tradition started. In 2015, based on some sort of complaint the program stopped doing the haka, only to have it come back in 2016.

For me, it’s primal. It’s warrior energy. The haka is intense! Looking at the commitment of the men doing the dance, watching their facial expressions and knowing the intention behind the dance is pure beauty.

Here’s New Zealand Rugby doing the haka,   another All Blacks 

A farewell to a loved teacher – HERE

Prince Harry – HERE

Jarom Hadley Nathaniel Rihari, 11.02.2000 – 29.06.2017. Haka ‘Tau Ka Tau’ done by Jarom’s brothers and friends. Their final send off to him as his hearse left the chapel. Their friend committed suicide and this is his send off.   Watch the pain in the leader with the blue shirt and tie.


WIKI – – The haka (plural haka, in both Māori and English) is a traditional war crywar dance, or challenge in Māori culture.[1] It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.[a]

War haka were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition, but haka are also performed to welcome distinguished guests, or to acknowledge great achievements, occasions or funerals, and kapa haka (performing arts) groups are very common in schools.[citation needed]

However, “According to Karetu (1993), the hakas have been “erroneously defined by generations of uninformed as ‘war dances’, the true ‘war dances’ are the whakatü waewae, the tütü ngärahu and the peruperu” (p. 37). Within Mäori culture, haka is the generic name for all types of dance or ceremonial performance that involve movement.”[2]

New Zealand sports teams’ practice of performing a haka before their international matches has made the haka more widely known around the world. This tradition began with the 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team tour and has been carried on by the New Zealand rugby union team (“All Blacks”) since 1905.[3]

Low Birth Rates – One Of My 12 Arguments On The Decline of America

One of my arguments of the 12 Reasons America is in decline is that Demographics is Destiny.  A recent report is showing that the American birth rate is at a 30 year low. This trend has some long term consequences that won’t be pretty.  Europe is racing the US to the bottom (Forbes).

The American economy will be crippled

BBC – A fear of low fertility is that the lack of American babies will turn into a lack of American adults – adults needed to fuel the economy, pay into social security, and provide goods and services (especially services) for an ageing population.

Countries like Japan have been crippled by an ageing population and fewer young people to care for them.

Elderly people walk down a busy street
Image captionExperts doubt America will age as rapidly as Japan

But the US is in an enviable position. “Small changes in our own birth rates can be easily offset by changes in our immigration policy,” says Bronars.

“From my point of view as an economist, there’s a certain demand for workers and labour services, there are a lot of ways in which that demand can be satisfied.

“One is having children here, educating and training them and producing the next generation of workers. The other is to make up the difference by importing the workers from overseas who have the skills we’re looking for.”

While Japan has few immigrants, the US is still a top destination for those looking to have a better life. A sensible immigration policy, says Bronars, could help make up for a population on the decline.

Here’s an exert from my 12 Arguments:


Demographics is destiny. Just ask Japan, China and most of Western Europe.  The birth rate which is the number of live births per 1000 population for a given year, in a particular country, is probably the most important number a country should pay attention to.  The old adage of ‘if you’re not growing you’re dying’ could not be more important today in your local community or if you are talking about countries around the world.  Demographic booms and busts are like two high-speed trains destined to collide but there is nothing that you can do but just watch.

If we look at Americas Baby Boom generation, born after post WW2 we see the impact of the largest run-up in the stock market when 401k rules were introduced that pushed billions of dollars into investments from Boomers earned during their peak earning years.  The expansion of vacations homes, the Yuppie wave of the late 80’s, BMW’s, golf country club memberships, luxury cars, cruise travel on the growth mode. As Boomer, they start retiring in droves watch for their impact on all things medical, from home services to hospital and prescription medication.  Watch for mandatory sell-offs of 401k plans starting at age 70.5.  What happens when the Boomers are mandated to sell off their mutual funds? The opposite of what occurred through the 1980’s and 1990’s during the largest run-up of US Stock Market values in history.  The laws of supply and demand dictate a massive sell-off of stocks and investments.  The Fed has been meddling in the market dynamics but the can’t do that forever.

Economist and investor Harry Dent has been watching the global demographic trending for decades. He’s chronicled the rise and fall in a series of books; The Great Boom Ahead in 1993, The Great Jobs Ahead in 1995, The Great Depression Ahead in 2009, and The Great Crash Ahead in 2011 and most recently Demographic Cliff: How to Survive and Prosper During the Great Deflation of 2014-2019.

From his research here are some highlights of how demographics will change our world:

  • Young people cause inflation because they “cost everything and produce nothing.” But young people eventually “begin to pay off when they enter the workforce and become productive new workers (supply) and higher-spending consumers (demand).”
  • Unfortunately, the U.S. reached its demographic “peak spending” from 2003-2007 and is headed for the “demographic cliff.” Germany, England, Switzerland are all headed there too. Then China will be the first emerging market to fall off the cliff, albeit in a few decades. The world is getting older.
  • The U.S. stock market will crash. “Our best long-term and intermediate cycles suggest another slowdown and stock crash accelerating between very early 2014 and early 2015, and possibly lasting well into 2015 or even 2016. The worst economic trends due to demographics will hit between 2014 and 2019. The U.S. economy is likely to suffer a minor or major crash by early 2015 and another between late 2017 and late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.”
  • “The everyday consumer never came out of the last recession.” The rich are the ones feeling great and spending money, as asset prices (not wages) are aided by monetary stimulus.
  • The U.S. and Europe are headed in the same direction as Japan, a country still in a “coma economy precisely because it never let its debt bubble deleverage,” Dent argues. “The only way we will not follow in Japan’s footsteps is if the Federal Reserve stops printing new money.”
  • “The reality is stark, when dyers start to outweigh buyers, the market changes.” It all comes down to an aging population, Dent writes. “Fewer spenders, borrowers, and investors will be around to participate in the next boom.”
  • The U.S. has a crazy amount of debt and “economists and politicians have acted like we can just wave a magic wand of endless monetary injections and bailouts and get over what they see as a short-term crisis.” But the problem, Dent says, is long-term and structural — demographics.
  • Businesses can “dominate the years to come” by focusing on cash and cash flow, being “lean and mean,” deferring major capital expenditures, selling the nonstrategic real estate, and firing weak employees now.
  • The big four challenges in the years ahead will be 1) private and public debt 2) health care and retirement entitlements 3) authoritarian governance around the globe and 4) environmental pollution that threatens the global economy.

Another great book on this topic is from Mark Styne,


America Alone – Population growth peaked in the US, Western Europe and Japan peaked in the 80’s and annually, new population growth has been declining ever since. By 2008, the US population of 25-54 year old population went negative.  The decline in consumers, spending on everything from housing to clothes, cars, and computers have been artificially propped up by years of borrowing, second mortgages and subprime credit.  When the Great Recession popped in 2008 the Federal Reserve went into debt hyperdrive to keep the consumer economy primed.  We are seeing that even the Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) isn’t enough to keep demand going.  By artificially propping up the economy through debt we are masking the decline in demand. A decline we may not see come back for a decade or more.

The Cost of Aging – Medicare Problem

Alexis de Tocqueville, the French author of Democracy In America,   visited America during our formation wrote about the amazing experience that was the United States. He opined about our morality, education system and a new form of government for the people and by the people.  He also concluded that the society would eventually degrade into tyranny once politicians figured out the key to holding power is over promising benefits to the voters.  “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

When the US Social Security program was first put in place, for example, the typical American male could expect nothing from it. He was expected to live to 61. He’d be dead before benefits kicked in. But as the 20th century led to the 21st, his life expectancy increased, and so did the burden of old people.


In America today, most Americans do not make enough to support a middle class lifestyle on a single salary.  The following figures come directly from the Social Security Administration

-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.

-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.

-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.

We all know people that are working part-time jobs because that is all that they can find in this economy.  As the quality of our jobs continues to deteriorate, the numbers above are going to become even more dismal.

It was Alexis de Tocqueville who observed that democracy was doomed. He said it would soon degrade into tyranny. As soon as politicians realized that they could win elections by promising the voters more of other people’s money, it was just a matter of time until they overdid it.

Had he imagined how old people would get, he wouldn’t have been so optimistic. As things developed, politicians noticed two important things: that young people (especially those who hadn’t been born yet) didn’t vote… and old people’s votes could be bought fairly cheaply, at least so it appeared at first.


Billy Graham 1969 – I’ve Really Come To Appreciate His Life’s Work

Who doesn’t know Billy Graham? I, of course, have heard of him but didn’t really know his impact until watching the Netflix series The Crown.  In the series, there is one episode that features Billy Graham and his interaction with the young Queen Elizabeth.  The Queen is the head of the Church of England and a spiritual leader in her own right.  Their interaction was powerful, and Graham’s influence on the world his prime…truly showed me the depth and breadth of his work.

Billy Graham is an Evangelical. He understands the nuances of the Bible and shows the humility for a man at the peak of power to remain humble and defer to the Word of God for all answers.

A great interview;

The million dollar question is at 5:02!
Listen to Graham’s answer…it ties into my 7 Deadly Sins argument.   “This is the only planet in rebellion to God.” FREE CHOICE

The negative influence of organized religion.

14:00 – This is a real Christian.

16:39 – It’s possible to have an intellectual understanding of Christianity and still not be a Christian…BOOM

20:35 – The spiritual barometer of the spirituality of the country –

23:52 – Catholics vs Protestants and the New Pope John

25:40 – I believe

31:14 – We could bring utopia except for Lust and Greed and Pride – 7 Deadly Sins

36:20 – Communism and the Bible – Future Plan

37:05 – Make a better pig pen or make a better man to get out of the pig pen!

38:47 – It’s not ethics…Buddhists have ethics…’s Man’s Need For Reconciliation (Cross and Communion)

41:39 – Billy Graham on abortion

48:27 – Billy Graham on the celebrity and his feelings about his role. HUMILITY – I am able to help many many people because I’m known, it’s also a hindrance.





Pride – Power Corrupting The Highest Levels of American Government

8 signs pointing to a counterintelligence operation deployed against Trump’s campaign

It may be true that President Trump illegally conspired with Russia and was so good at covering it up he’s managed to outwit our best intel and media minds who’ve searched for irrefutable evidence for two years. (We still await special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.)

But there’s a growing appearance of alleged wrongdoing equally as insidious, if not more so, because it implies widespread misuse of America’s intelligence and law enforcement apparatus.

Here are eight signs pointing to a counterintelligence operation deployed against Trump for political reasons.Code name

The operation reportedly had at least one code name that was leaked to The New York Times: “Crossfire Hurricane.”

Wiretap fever

Secret surveillance was conducted on no fewer than seven Trump associates: chief strategist Stephen Bannon; lawyer Michael Cohen; national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner; campaign chairman Paul Manafort; and campaign foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

The FBI reportedly applied for a secret warrant in June 2016 to monitor Manafort, Page, Papadopoulos and Flynn. If true, it means the FBI targeted Flynn six months before his much-debated conversation with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

The FBI applied four times to wiretap Page after he became a Trump campaign adviser starting in July 2016. Page’s office is connected to Trump Tower and he reports having spent “many hours in Trump Tower.”

CNN reported that Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election “including during a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Trump.” Manafort reportedly has a residence in Trump Tower.

Electronic surveillance was used to listen in on three Trump transition officials in Trump Tower — Flynn, Bannon and Kushner — as they met in an official capacity with the United Arab Emirates’ crown prince.

The FBI also reportedly wiretapped Flynn’s phone conversation with Kislyak on Dec. 31, 2016, as part of “routine surveillance” of Kislyak.

NBC recently reported that Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, was wiretapped. NBC later corrected the story, saying Cohen was the subject of a “pen register” used to monitor phone numbers and, possibly, internet communications.

National security letters

Another controversial tool reportedly used by the FBI to obtain phone records and other documents in the investigation were national security letters, which bypass judicial approval.

Improper use of such letters has been an ongoing theme at the FBI. Reviews by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General found widespread misuse under Mueller — who was then FBI director — and said officials failed to report instances of abuses as required.


“Unmasking” — identifying protected names of Americans captured by government surveillance — was frequently deployed by at least four top Obama officials who have subsequently spoken out against President Trump: James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence; Samantha Power, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Susan Rice, former national security adviser; Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general.

Names of Americans caught communicating with monitored foreign targets must be “masked,” or hidden within government agencies, so the names cannot be misused or shared. 

However, it’s been revealed that Power made near-daily unmasking requests in 2016.

Prior to that revelation, Clapper claimed ignorance. When asked if he knew of unmasking requests by any ambassador, including Power, he testified: “I don’t know. Maybe it’s ringing a vague bell but I’m not — I could not answer with any confidence.”

Rice admitted to asking for unmasked names of U.S. citizens in intelligence reports after initially claiming no knowledge of any such thing.

Clapper also admitted to requesting the unmasking of “Mr. Trump, his associates or any members of Congress.” Clapper and Yates admitted they also personally reviewed unmasked documents and shared unmasked material with other officials.

Changing the rules

On Dec. 15, 2016 — the same day the government listened in on Trump officials at Trump Tower — Rice reportedly unmasked the names of Bannon, Kushner and Flynn. And Clapper made a new rule allowing the National Security Agency to widely disseminate surveillance material within the government without the normal privacy protections.

Media strategy

Former CIA Director John Brennan and Clapper, two of the most integral intel officials in this ongoing controversy, have joined national news organizations where they have regular opportunities to shape the news narrative — including on the very issues under investigation.

Clapper reportedly secretly leaked salacious political opposition research against Trump to CNN in fall 2017 and later was hired as a CNN political analyst. In February, Brennan was hired as a paid analyst for MSNBC.


There’s been a steady and apparently orchestrated campaign of leaks — some true, some false, but nearly all of them damaging to President Trump’s interests.

A few of the notable leaks include word that Flynn was wiretapped, the anti-Trump “Steele dossier” of political opposition research, then-FBI Director James Comey briefing Trump on it, private Comey conversations with Trump, Comey’s memos recording those conversations and criticizing Trump, the subpoena of Trump’s personal bank records (which proved false) and Flynn planning to testify against Trump (which also proved to be false).

Friends, informants and snoops

The FBI reportedly used one-time CIA operative Stefan Halper in 2016 as an informant to spy on Trump officials. 

Another player is Comey friend Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor, who leaked Comey’s memos against Trump to The New York Times after Comey was fired. We later learned that Richman actually worked for the FBI under a status called “Special Government Employee.”

The FBI used former reporter Glenn Simpson, his political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile allegations against Trump, largely from Russian sources, which were distributed to the press and used as part of wiretap applications.

These eight features of a counterintelligence operation are only the pieces we know. It can be assumed there’s much we don’t yet know. And it may help explain why there’s so much material that the Department of Justice hasn’t easily handed over to congressional investigators.

Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times bestsellers “The Smear” and “Stonewalled,” and host of Sinclair’s Sunday TV program, “Full Measure.”

Greed – Britain Loses One Empire and Builds Another – Off Shore Banking

Worth a watch.

Website here – or watch it with your Amazon Prime membership.

As the British Empire declined post WW2, London moved to create secrecy laws in 7 of it’s remaining colony remnant regions.  With banking secrecy laws in place, a series of trust, shell companies and other offshore entities, there are hundreds of unreported and hidden entities that popped up in the Caymans, Gibralter, Jersey. The goal, tax evasion, looting of countries by their elites and asset hiding.

The Panama Papers involved leaked documents detailing the web offshore banking. The firm at the source of the leak was the 7th largest firm structuring these deals for wealthy individuals, corporations or heads of states.

To Learn More;

Dirty Money – Uncovering the Damage of Off Shore Banking and Tax Havens

Amazon – With eye opening revelations, Treasure Islands exposes the culprits and its victims, and shows how:

*Over half of world trade is routed through tax havens

*The rampant practices that precipitated the latest financial crisis can be traced back to Wall Street’s offshoring practices
*For every dollar of aid we send to developing countries, ten dollars leave again by the backdoor
The offshore system sits much closer to home than the pristine tropical islands of the popular imagination. In fact, it all starts on a tiny island called Manhattan. In this fast paced narrative, TreasureIslands at last explains how the system works and how it’s contributing to our ever deepening economic divide.


(Newsweek 4/6/16)  “Numbering just a few million of the world’s 6.5 billion people, they are an incredibly diverse group, from 30-year-old Chinese real estate speculators and Silicon Valley software tycoons to Dubai oil sheiks, Russian presidents, mineral-rich African dictators and Mexican drug lords.”

In 2015, the Financial Secrecy Index named the most secretive states across the world. Due to low tax, tight secrecy laws, corporate transparency legislation and a lack of interest in creating public registries of beneficial ownership, the top five were named as Switzerland, Hong Kong, the U.S., Singapore and the Cayman Islands. Britain was placed at 15, and Panama 13.

Here is a rundown of the top ten big players:


Described by James S. Henry from the Tax Justice Network as “the grandfather of the world’s secretive tax havens,” Switzerland is a massively important player in the secrecy world today.

In September 2015, the Swiss Bankers’ Association reported that banks in Switzerland held the equivalent of $6.5 trillion in assets under management, of which it said 51 percent originated from abroad. This made Switzerland the world leader in global cross-border asset management, with a 28 percent share of the market.

The country has made some concessions recently to its iron-clad secrecy laws, under strong international pressure, but it has been a laggard relative to some other big players, like Luxembourg.

Switzerland’s aggressive and apparently illegal pursuit of secrecy-breaking whistleblowers highlights the strength of the Swiss secrecy lobby.

It has committed to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) global level Common Reporting Standard (CRS) of automatic information exchange, but it will only start implementing it in 2018.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the world’s fastest growing tax havens today. Its fund management industry had $2.1 trillion under management in April 2015 and over $350 billion in private banking assets.

It has the second largest stock exchange in Asia after Tokyo, it ranks third after New York and London in equities and initial public offerings, and hosts a wide range of financial services players.

In 2015, it had the world’s highest density of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals with personal wealth over $100 million, at 15.3 per 100,000 households.

On paper, Hong Kong accounted for just under half of all foreign investment into China at the end of 2012.

It also has not signed the multilateral agreement to initiate automatic information exchange via the CRS. It has a problematic record on corporate transparency and—unlike European countries—it appears to have little appetite for country-by-country reporting or for creating registers of beneficial ownership.

China’s control over Hong Kong has shielded it from global transparency initiatives, and it still allows owners of bearer shares—vehicles for some of the world’s worst criminal activities—to remain unidentified.


The United States is more of a cause for concern than any other individual country, according to the Financial Secrecy Index, because of both the size of its offshore sector, and also its rather wayward attitude to international cooperation and reform.

The U.S. provides a wide array of secrecy and tax-free facilities for non-residents, both at a federal level and at the level of individual states.

Though the U.S. has been a pioneer in defending itself from foreign secrecy jurisdictions, aggressively taking on the Swiss banking establishment and setting up its technically quite strong Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), it provides little information in return to other countries, making it a formidable, harmful and irresponsible secrecy jurisdiction at both the federal and state levels.


This former British colony vies with Hong Kong to be Asia’s leading offshore financial center.

According to the Boston Consulting Group in 2015, Singapore held around one eighth of the global stock of total offshore wealth, and an IMF report in 2014 estimated that over 95 percent of all commercial banks in Singapore are affiliates of foreign banks, a testament to its extreme dependence on foreign—and offshore—money.

The Singapore financial center is the region’s largest center for commodity trading, and in 2014 it overtook Tokyo to become Asia’s largest foreign exchange trading center, and the world’s third largest after London and New York.

It hosts substantial activity in insurance, in debt and equity capital markets, in derivatives, and in offshore companies and trusts. It is a major wealth management center, with $1.4 trillion in assets under management in 2013.

As a country, it poses many of the same threats that Hong Kong does—a lack of serious reforms to its corporate secrecy regime and a lack of interest in creating public registries of beneficial ownership.


With banking assets worth $1.4 trillion in June 2014, and hosting over 11,000 mutual and other funds with a net asset value of $2.1 trillion, the Cayman Islands makes the list.

It has 200 banks, over 140 trust companies and over 95,000 registered companies. It is by far the world’s leading domicile for hedge funds, and the second leading domicile for captive insurance companies. Financial services account for well over half of its gross domestic product.

Cayman retains many secrecy features—not least a law that can put people in jail not just for revealing confidential information, but merely for asking for it.


Luxembourg takes secrecy seriously and breaking professional secrecy can result in a prison sentence.

The whistleblowers who exposed the so-called “Luxleaks” scandal went on trial and while Luxembourg has taken action to improve its previously poor track record on providing offshore secrecy, it has continued to expand its role in helping multinational corporations to avoid paying tax in other countries.

It remains a center of lax financial regulation and yet it is one of the world’s most important financial centers.

Luxembourg is the most important private banking and wealth management center in the Eurozone, with 143 banks holding nearly $800 billion in assets, of which over $300 billion is in the secretive private banking sector.

It is the world’s second largest investment fund center after the United States—and fund management, with assets under management worth over $2.5 trillion, is the most important part of the financial center.


The Lebanese scattered population is estimated at anywhere between 5 million and 16 million-strong—larger than Lebanon’s total population of around four million.

Many members of the population are high-net worth individuals and include such world famous names as Carlos Slim, the Lebanese-Mexican telecoms tycoon who is the world’s richest man, Carlos Ghosn, the French-Lebanese-Brazilian boss of carmakers Renault and Nissan, and Nicholas Hayek, a Swiss-Lebanese who runs Swatch, the biggest maker of Swiss watches.

Lebanon’s political and military troubles over recent decades have disrupted the offshore financial sector, but it has proved astonishingly resilient.

Beirut’s offshore financial services sector has been growing at an average of nearly 12 percent per year since 2006, with banking deposits estimated at some $175 billion at the end of 2014.

While other offshore financial sectors have significantly curbed financial secrecy in recent years, Lebanon has sailed against the prevailing winds on global financial transparency.


Germany is a safe haven for dictators’ loot, the assets of organized crime networks, and the proceeds of tax crimes and other illicit financial flows from around the globe.

In his September 2015 book Tax Haven Germany, TJN researcher Markus Meinzer calculated that the amount of tax exempt interest-bearing assets held by non-residents in the German financial system ranged between €2.5 to €3 trillion as of August 2013.

While there has been some recent progress with Germany’s international treaty commitments and anti-money laundering framework, there are still major loopholes and many implementation deficits.

Germany has shown negligent enforcement of anti-money laundering rules, and it offers a worrisome set of secrecy facilities and instruments, such as bearer shares, which were outlawed or severely restricted long ago in many ‘classic’ tax havens.

Like many other OECD countries, Germany does not sufficiently exchange tax-related information, automatically or otherwise, with a multitude of other jurisdictions.

Many foreign-owned assets in Germany are held secretly through elaborate structures spanning secrecy jurisdictions such as Cayman Islands and Switzerland.


Lacking any major remaining oil reserves, Bahrain has made up for this in part by building up an offshore financial center.

Being an island in the Persian Gulf has influenced its history as a trading center, which in turn was a foundation upon which offshore finance has been built.

It is seen as an “island of hospitality” to banks and businesses, as author Geoffrey Jones put it. The financial sector today is the largest employer in Bahrain, contributing to over 25 percent of GDP and employing some 14,000 people.

Bahrain is one of the biggest global centers for Islamic finance, and hosts the largest concentration of Islamic finance institutions in the Middle East. This sector is growing fast, with total assets in the Islamic banking sector rising from $1.9 billion in 2000 to $25.4 billion by November 2014, out of total banking sector assets of $189 billion, according to the Central Bank of Bahrain.

Bahrain was named the world’s fastest growing financial center in 2008 by the City of London Corporation’s Global Financial Centres Index 2008.

There is no corporate income tax, personal income tax or capital gains tax in Bahrain, and Bahrain has quite a wide network of tax treaties with a number of developing countries.


Although the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) describes itself as “an onshore financial center,” Dubai is unquestionably one of the world’s best known tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions.

It is built on a complex array of free trade zones, a low-tax environment and multiple secrecy facilities and lax enforcement. In addition, Dubai has a strong culture of an ask-no-questions, see-no-evil approach to commercial or financial regulation or foreign financial crimes.

It has consequently attracted large financial flows and some of the world’s most high-profile criminals. A significant slice of the inbound money comes in the form of cash or gold.

Like Switzerland, Dubai appears as an island of political and economic stability in a turbulent region.

As The Economist explained in 2013: “This role as a regional hub—and a policy of being open to almost any kind of business—explains why Dubai has been, at least economically, the main beneficiary of the Arab spring.

“Instability in the rest of the region has diverted capital, commerce and people to the emirate. When neighboring Saudi Arabia upped its social spending to pre-empt protests, for instance, much of the cash ended up in Dubai’s shopping malls. More important, the emirate has clearly established itself as the region’s safe haven.”

Historic Decline of Civilizations – A 5000 Year Story That Seems To Have A Repeating Plot

How long can an empire last? What brings down once mighty civilizations? The idea has intrigued me for years because by studying the historic decline of great civilizations, perhaps we can see patterns in our current world that may or may not exist.  I have been working on the Decline of America in 12 arguments and that work has lead me to a deeper dive into historic declines of great civilizations of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.  Many had long runs, most were pushed out of existence because of wars but wars were always a part of history.  The wars that finally ended civilizations like Greece at the hands of the Romans or the Romans at the hands of the Barbarians were symptoms of a bigger decay. Historically, societies fall when they lose sight of what made them great.

Here are a few of the selected notes I found on the net.  For the full spreadsheet – HERE

Decline of  A Great  Society

When you look at the decline of other great societies there are historic clues that don’t always line up perfectly with the arguments I put forth in this book but there are definitely patterns that should scare you and make you take notice.  Alexander Fraser Tytler, a European historian published The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic. In his analysis, Tytler concluded that from his research that the following stages of societal growth and decline are clear guideposts that great societies follow:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loss of fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith,
From spiritual faith to great courage,
From courage to liberty,
From liberty to abundance,
From abundance to selfishness,
From selfishness to complacency,
From complacency to apathy,
From apathy to dependency,
From dependency back again to bondage.”

The American experience, at just shy of 240 years old, is following  Tytler’s stages.  From our Countries foundation and the pushback against tyranny at the hands of the British empire to the roaring 20’s, industrial revolution, post WWII economic booms on through to the rise of the counterculture, hippies, free love and into the rise of illicit drug use through the cocaine and crack 80’s and 90’s. The final stages we are now living include lack of trust in our governmental institutions from Congress to your local school district, the rise of the entitlement state and the ‘selfie generation’ who ask ‘what is my government going to do for me?’

A Study of History – Tonybee

Historian Arnold Toynbee wrote a 12 part series in 1961 called A Study of History.  Toynbe argued that civilizations travel through many distinct stages;



Troubled Times

Universal State


 Toynbee believed that a civilization declines not by external influences brought on by environmental concerns or attacks from invaders.  Tonybee’s research showed societies become very focused at problem-solving but are not able to adapt to new, more sophisticated problems caused by advancement.  Over time,  societies have created too many layers, and empires overdeveloped their problem-solving structures and can’t adapt. The Rise of the Bureaucratic State is one of the chapters that will delve into this theory at greater length.

Tonybee studied the role of the “Dominant Minority” that forces the majority to obey. The “Creative Minority” which once was the source of new ideas, adaptations and the ability of the minority to influence the majority continues to bask in the glory days of the past and loses their ability to challenge and push society into a new direction.

He argues that the ultimate sign of a civilization has broken down is when the dominant minority forms a large centralized ruling system, a central government or a Proletariat, which stifles political creativity. He states:

First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force – against all right and reason – a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession. Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation – and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands.

Tonybee argues that, as civilizations decay, they form an “Internal Proletariat” and an “External Proletariat.” The Internal proletariat is held in subjugation by the dominant minority inside the civilization, and grows bitter; the external proletariat exists outside the civilization in poverty and chaos and grows envious. He argues that as civilizations decay, there is a “schism in the body social,” where groups are pitted against each other. Instead of virtue and community, the people in the society become jealous and envious.

When short-term gain for the ruling majority is bypassed for the long-term gain of what is best for the society, cracks emerge in the societal fabric. We will dig in deeply to the political structure, bureaucracy and once trusted institutions that are now corrupted or incompetent to deliver on their mission.  America is moving towards an ‘every man for themselves’ philosophy and this shift is not only counter to what made this Country great but could spell the end of this great experiment envisioned 240 years ago.

Here’s a few of the once mighty societies that are now gone;



1000 years
-Heavy taxes were paid by the provinces to support the luxury of Rome; the conquered people began to resent this.
-Conflict and social unrest was created by the wide gap between the rich and the poor.
-Slavery eroded the economy by taking work away from the plebeians.
-The spread of Christianity divided the Empire and caused many people under Roman rule to reject traditional Roman culture.
-The society was weakened by its materialism and focus on luxury, especially in the ruling classes.
-Trade was constantly disrupted because of wars; the economy suffered because goods could not be freely bought and sold.
-The Empire became too large and the borders were too long to defend.
-Rome’s army became too large; the hired soldiers (mercenaries) in Roman armies were not Romans and not loyal to Rome.
-Eventually, the Empire became a dictatorship and the people were less involved in government.
-The neighboring states were increasing in power and were more unified than the city-states of Greece.
-According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by twin brothers Romulus and Remus after escaping the Trojan War. Archeological evidence supports this date as the founding of Rome. This earliest period lasts until 510 BC when the king, Tarquin the Proud was ousted from power. So it lasted roughly 140 years.
-The Roman Republic begins in 510 BC with the ouster of King Tarquin the proud and the establishment of a republic based on a constitution. The republic lasted until 44 BC when Julius Caesar was assassinated. It lasted for roughly 450 years.
-The Roman Empire begins in 44 BC when Augustus takes absolute power. Romes starts to greatly decline in power around 330 AD when Constantine made Constantinople the new capital of Rome. In 410 AD, the Visigoths successfully destroyed much of Rome. The empire formally ends in 476 AD with the abdication of the last emperor Romulus Augustus to the Germanic chief Odoacer. So, it lasted for roughly 520 years.
 -Those morals and values that kept together the Roman legions and thus the empire could not be maintained towards the end of the empire. The dramatic increase of divorce undermined the institution of the family. Crimes of violence made the streets of the larger cities unsafe. Even during PaxRomana there were 32,000 prostitutes in Rome. Emperors like Nero and Caligula became infamous for wasting money on lavish parties where guests ate and drank until they became ill.
-The most popular amusement was watching the gladiatorial combats in the Coliseum. These were attended by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on. The drive for personal pleasure had become very intense, even to the point of obsession. Gibbons noted that, at the very end, sports had become more exciting and brutal.
-Gradually, the Praetorian Guard gained complete authority to choose the new emperor, who rewarded the guard who then became more influential, perpetuating the cycle. Then in 186 A. D. the army strangled the new emperor, the practice began of selling the throne to the highest bidder. During the next 100 years, Rome had 37 different emperors – 25 of whom were removed from office by assassination. This contributed to the overall weaknesses of the empire. Hidden conspirators were working within the government to secretly destroy it. They worked quietly, invisibly and deceitfully; during the entire time they were secretly dismantling the government of the Roman Empire, they publicly proclaimed their unswerving support of it. People lost their faith, both religiously and in their government. The efficient Roman Government gave way to chaos and disintegration.
-During the latter years of the empire farming was done on large estates called latifundia that were owned by wealthy men who used slave labor. A farmer who had to pay workmen could not produce goods as cheaply. Many farmers could not compete with these low prices and lost or sold their farms. This not only undermined the citizen farmer who passed his values to his family, but also filled the cities with unemployed people. At one time, the emperor was importing grain to feed more than 100,000 people in Rome alone. These people were not only a burden but also had little to do but cause trouble and contribute to an ever-increasing crime rate
-The imposition of higher taxes undermined the economic stability and vitality of the Empire. Taxes were raised to pay for deficit government spending, to pay for food for all in society and to pay for government-sponsored activities of diversion, such as circuses and sports. Interestingly, as the time of the final collapse drew closer, greater emphasis was placed on sports, to divert the attention of the public from the distressing news of massive trouble within the Empire.
-The Roman economy suffered from inflation (an increase in prices) beginning after the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Once the Romans stopped conquering new lands, the flow of gold into the Roman economy decreased. Yet much gold was being spent by the Romans to pay for luxury items. This meant that there was less gold to use in coins. As the amount of gold used in coins decreased, the coins became less valuable. To make up for this loss in value, merchants raised the prices on the goods they sold. Many people stopped using coins and began to barter to get what they needed.
-But since the Romans relied so much on human and animal labor, they failed to invent many new machines or find new technology to produce goods more efficiently. They could not provide enough goods for their growing population. They were no longer conquering other civilizations and adapting their technology, they were actually losing territory they could not longer maintain with their legions.
-Maintaining an army to defend the border of the Empire from barbarian attacks was a constant drain on the government. Military spending left few resources for other vital activities, such as providing public housing and maintaining quality roads and aqueducts. Frustrated Romans lost their desire to defend the Empire. The empire had to begin hiring soldiers recruited from the unemployed city mobs or worse from foreign counties. Such an army was not only unreliable but very expensive. The emperors were forced to raise taxes frequently which in turn led again to increased inflation.




600 years
-An important factor in the decline was the increasing lack of ability and power of the sultans themselves. Süleyman tired of the campaigns and arduous duties of administration and withdrew more and more from public affairs to devote himself to the pleasures of his harem.
-corruption and nepotism took hold at all levels of administration. In addition, with the challenge of the notables gone, the devşirme class itself broke into countless factions and parties, each working for its own advantage by supporting the candidacy of a particular imperial prince and forming close alliances with corresponding palace factions led by the mothers, sisters, and wives of each prince.
-Holders of the timars and tax farms started using them as sources of revenue to be exploited as rapidly as possible, rather than as long-term holdings whose prosperity had to be maintained to provide for the future.
-Political influence and corruption also enabled them to transform those holdings into private property, either as life holdings (malikâne) or religious endowments (vakif), without any further obligations to the state.
-Inflation also weakened the traditional industries and trades. Functioning under strict price regulations, the guilds were unable to provide quality goods at prices low enough to compete with the cheap European manufactured goods that entered the empire without restriction because of the Capitulations agreements
-Landless and jobless peasants fled off the land, as did cultivators subjected to confiscatory taxation at the hands of timariots and tax farmers, thus reducing food supplies even more
-The central government became weaker, and as more peasants joined rebel bands they were able to take over large parts of the empire, keeping all the remaining tax revenues for themselves and often cutting off the regular food supplies to the cities and the Ottoman armies still guarding the frontiers.
-Many peasants fled to the cities, exacerbating the food shortage, and reacted against their troubles by rising against the established order


470 years
-It was a post World War 2 act of peaceful implosion, the world had changed and the Imperial era had less and less relevance, Britain began the slide towards Europe and a continental future.
-India, ‘The Jewel in the Crown’, was Britain’s most famous and most fruitful possession. Winston Churchill never tired of saying that giving up India would be fatal to the Empire. They ruled India for 200 years and when that rule ended in 1947 the empire soon followed.
-After the war it became clear to the British that ruling India and the colonies will not be acceptable to world opinion. Moreover India was becoming ungovernable and they could not expect much profit from ruling India. Britain thought it wise to leave and they did so with dignity.
-The main cause for the dissolution of colonialism after World War II was the change in people’s attitude to ruling over other people against their wishes. Even the people of countries that ruled the colonies thought so. Mahatma Gandhi was largely responsible for that change of attitude and Adolf Hitler for causing the upheaval that allowed world order to be reset.


1000 years
-The Old Assyrian Empire begins with the founding of Ashur. The Old Assyrian Empire lasted from 2000 BC to 1759 BC. The Old Empire fell to Hammurabi’s forces. The Old Assyrian Empire lasted roughly 340 years.
-The Middle Assyrian Empire begins with the rise of Ashur-uballit to the thrown of Assyria around 1360 BC and ends around 1047 BC. The main cities were Ashur, Ninevah, and Nimrud with Ashur still the capital. The empire declined around 1047 BC after the reign by Tiglath-Pileser I. So, the middle period lasted rougly 315 years.
-The Neo-Assyrian Empire lasted from 934-609 BC. Some historians have claimed that the Neo-Assyrian Empire was the first “real” empire in human history. The Neo-Assyrian empire ended in 612 BC with the fall of its capital city Ninevah to invasions by the Chaldean Dynasty. The empire lasted roughly 330 years.


Zhou (China)

375 years
-The Zhou Dynasty began in 1122 BC with the suicide of Shang Zhou. The Zhou Dynasty begins with Ji. Its capital city is Hao. This is the time of Confucius, Lao Tzi, the founder of Daoism. The dynasty changes significantly in 771 BC when King You decides to leave his queen and marry a concubine. This first period is called the Western Zhou period.
-In 771 BC, a war is fought between King You and the family of his former queen. The queen’s son Ji Yijiu becomes king and the capital is moved to Luoyang. This period is called the Eastern Zhou period. It ends around 441 BC when the feudal lords rise in power and are able to eclipse the power of the Zhou family. This first half of the Eastern Zhou period is called the Spring and Autumn Period.
-The last half of the Eastern Zhou period is called the Warring States Period. It lasts from 771 BC until around 260 BC. In this period, the Zhou ruling family are primarily figureheads. This is the time when Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War. The state of Qin becomes very powerful and in 316 BC, it takes over the Shu area. In 260 BC at the battle of Changping, the Qin win a decisive victory.

Teotihuacan (Mexico)

735 years
-The first building of the Teotihuacans was built around 200 BC. The Pyramid of the Sun was finished in 100 AD. It is believed that their culture came to an end around 535 AD as the result of climatic changes including droughts and internal unrest.

Satavahana (India)

380 years
-This dynasty lasted from 230 BC to around 220 AD. The Satavahanas took power after the death of Ashoka. Around 200 AD, the central state was losing power to local authorities. The end of Satavahana Dynasty occurs as small dynasties divide up the territory. The dynasty lasted roughly 450 years.


Lust Takes Down Another Politico – Gov. Greitens of Missouri

Young, good-looking, small kids, Navy Seal, out of the blue Governor of a solid midwestern state….what’s not to love about Eric Greitens?  I learned about Greitens from a podcast I listen to, The Art of Manliness.  Episode #355, Leadership and Public Service with Gov. Eric Greitens had me hooked.  Greitens was Classically educated, studied history and had a new book out on perseverance.  I enjoyed the interview so much that I sent it over to my friend with the comment that there is hope for our country as long as we have people like Greitens rising up the ranks.

I guess infidelity happens.

When it takes someone down from the heights of a rising political star like Greiten it’s just sad. Like a Shakespeare tragedy, the story is rife with irony, sadness. More than anything proves my argument that the 7 Deadly Sins are in all of us. Right when we think we have it all figured out, Pride, or Lust or Wrath, or Slot, or Greed is there to derail you.