“Getting small” is the survival strategy for our time

In a recent interview on USA Watchdog, financial and geopolitical analyst Warren Pollock outlined a strategy that I also see as effective for survival in these volatile times. He calls it “Getting Small.”

At this point in time being someone who is conspicuously productive and/or wealthy is a big liability. Especially if you are not part of the political and corporate class of people of which the rules the we must live under seem not to apply. Huge parts of the population are living off of theft through the state, much of it pushed off into the future through debt, but it is theft none the less. It only takes a short rational look at the medical, financial and academic industries, just to name a few, to realize that the system is horribly corrupt with almost no resemblance of what a healthy capitalist economy should look like.

Not only that but in the rapidly changing and volatile global economy making the long term decision of starting a business is almost an impossible calculation.

  • What will your prospective market look like in 5-10 years?
  • What will the taxation regime look like?
  • What government regulation will effect you?
  • What kind of inflation rates will you experience during this time period?

There are many of these questions that will give you pause in investing time and money into starting a new enterprise. This is a concept which Professor Robert Higgs labeled Regime uncertainty.

There are also the looming signs of a large economic crash or at least a monumental shift in the next 5-10 years. The unsustainable trajectory of governments worldwide is clear to see. It’s not a matter of if but when these systems will fail. Exactly what the world look like on the other end of this shift is unknown.

So knowing all of this what is one to do? Especially someone who is young and wants to be successful while not becoming a victim of their own success. It may seem like this is all negative without any good solution but that is not the case.

I’ll give my recommendation but first I’ll let Warren Pollock explain what it means to “Get small.” His quote from the interview:

The strategy for our time is to get small.

There’s almost no merit to opening a factory in the US, there’s almost no merit to even opening up a coffee shop. I knew a lawyer locally that wanted to open a coffee shop and it was going to cost him $450,000 in bribes to the local building inspectors, etc. For what, to sell a $2 cup of coffee?

The ability of America to become productive is being destroyed by systemic theft and a lot of this theft is loaded out on the future via debt.

I think Karl Denninger has is correct in his analysis. He could open up a business tomorrow and generate six or seven figures certainly but why would he do that if everything is going to be taken away from him, if he’s going to be exposed to tremendous amounts of risk that he won’t be able to keep the bounty that he created with his own mind. So he’s getting small, he’s withdrawing his consent.

The way you do that is with money. If you can’t vote at the voting booth with any effect, you can vote with your money and make yourself less of a target. I’ve personally sold some real estate because it’s a vector for taxation. I try to live a modest life. This is all depriving people of revenue via theft.  That’s how you make yourself small.

Try not to be on twitter, try not to be on Facebook and don’t give people information that can be used against you at will.

I actually do see merit in his recommendation to stay off of social media. I am on social media and have opened myself up online for a variety of reasons although I understand the risks, but I don’t recommend it for everyone.

During the interview Pollock recommends that people withdraw completely and live a simple life. Many people do take that approach but I do not however think that is necessary.

In today’s age it is easier than ever to “get small” while still being ambitious. Some practical ways to implement this strategy are:

  • Having no personal debt.
  • Having a location independent business that will allow you to change jurisdiction if need be.
  • Work as a freelancer or contractor rather than an employee.
  • Embrace minimalism. Having too many possessions will way you down and cost you money unnecessarily.
  • Having as little interaction with banks as possible for your personal finances. You can do this with cash, Paypal, cryptocurrencies, barter, etc.
  • Not owning the house that you live in, or at least not having it in your name.
  • Living “as a tourist” in a country where you are not a citizen and do not engage in business. Preferable in a low cost area with little to no VAT and that you know you could exit easily if need be.
  • Invest in yourself and your own health and skill level. Your body is something you can always take with you.
  • Staying away from family court by having airtight agreements with your significant other (very hard to do), not involving the state with your relationship or avoiding marriage altogether.
  • Avoid social media or use an alias and use encryption when communicating about sensitive issues over e-mail.
  • Personally associating with people that share your values and that you can trust.

I know that many of you will think that these suggestions are paranoid and unnecessary. I am certainly not saying that everyone must adhere to all of them strictly but I do think that they are a good rules of thumb to keep in mind.

Also, don’t only think about what the state of affairs is today but what it may be in the future. If you make a long term commitment or leave a record of something and the laws change, in say 10-20 years, you may still be held accountable to the new policies.

Taking risk is an important part with getting ahead in life but let’s be realistic about the amount of risk that we’re faced with.

Stay small or be larger than life, what do you think is the best strategy for success in today’s world?

  • Ray

    Excellent ideas! I like to think of this strategy as being invisible.

  • Michael Menzies

    Great piece James!

    It is not paranoid to openly discuss
    actual experiences. It is paranoid to have irrational fear. In my humble opinion, the big challenge for many is identifying and executing
    practical solutions to the actual problems faced.

    Thanks for providing some
    really solid and specific solutions. Hopefully your readers and listeners
    will follow them (if they don’t already).

    We need more leaders and
    fewer sheep, thanks for being a leader!

  • Thanks Mike!