Dorion Mode

October 21, 2019

Simple Steps Part 1 School Spirit

Filed under: Ego — Robinson Dorion @ 4:57 a.m.

This is the first in a series of articles which will document the path I carved to the chair I'm seated in today, in Panama City, Panama.

The path was first summarized publicly in the #ossasepia log, in response to my application to take The Pageboy's Pledge and become a Young Hand for Her Ladyship the Marquess Eulora, Diana Coman, WoT : diana_coman, but some context was left out, let's begin to fill it in.

In January 2010, I found myself in a University Mary Washington economics class structured around debating economic policies. The assignment at hand was to argue either for or against the minimum wage, Resolve: The correct minimum wage is $0.00. The professor seeded some citations arguing both sides. For the affirmative, he linked a 10 minute video of a fellow, who turned out to be Peter Schiff, sitting in an office explaining how the minimum wage destroyed the American Samoan economy.1 I was interested both by how I'd never heard the case against the minimum wage effectively argued and how logically and seemingly effortlessly he delivered the argument.

Over the coming months, I learned the logic Peter demonstrated there wasn't a fluke; he'd taken plenty of arrows in the back from the socialist savages on lamestream media networks prior to the 2008 financial crisis for correctly pointing out2 "the real estate boom" was actually a big, fat, stinking speculative bubble fueled by price controls of interest rates and moral hazard perpetuated by the central bank propaganda bureau. That a recession is not the problem, a recession is the necessary price and resource allocation adjustment for correcting the malinvestment made during the bubble. That to fight a recession with further inflationary price distortions only causes a bigger bubble to form and means a deeper recession is required to purge the additional malinvestments.

Thus, it can be said, January 2010 was when my personal US-centric bubble burst3 and deflation and working through the initial phase of recession would take several months. Up to that point in my life and during that spring semester, athletics were the central focus of my life and identity. The 30 hours weekly minimum commitment to baseball, on top academic requirements, standard UStarded university binging and general youth being wasted by the young resulted in me not really getting the implications of what Peter was forecasting until about May, when after watching documentaries such as, The Dollar Bubble and Melt Up, which feature him, I said, "Holy shit, we're fucked." What did this mean for myself, family, friends and the entire paradigm which I'd grown up in ? Whatever it meant, I knew I had to pay closer attention and change.

Summer 2010 was the first time since before I can remember not playing baseball, which gave me the experience of getting out of the athlete rhythm and provided more time and space to grapple with the potential consequences of the federal reserve note being proper fucked. By the end of the summer, I told my parents I was likely quitting baseball to focus on preparing myself for the real world. My old man was rattled to hear that, which for my immature self wasn't easy to process, but I said it and meant it.

Looping back to January 2010, I had decided to add a minor degree in Spanish to my economics major and use that autumn to study in Spain. Living outside the USian bubble for the first time was extremely healthy on a lot of levels, including further disrupting the athlete rhythm. My god was it nice to live in Europe! I took Spanish classes at Universidad de Deusto, across the river from the Guggenheim in Bilbao and boarded with an Andalucian lady whose place was a couple blocks from the beach. I visited San Sebastian, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Toledo and London among some other sites in Vizcaya whose names now escape me.

My intellectual life was allocated between learning Spanish and consuming all the Peter Schiff material I could. I read his three books, How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes, Crash Proof, and The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets a couple times each, subscribed to his newsletter and when he started his daily call in radio show that November I became a daily listener. The radio show was quite stimulating as while he discussed markets daily, the scheduled guests and listener calls touched Philosophy4, Politics5, History6, Education7, and Economic Theory8. Meanwhile, gold and silver were on a ripping rally9, and I watched my USD savings lose ~15% against the Euro watered down Deutsche Mark falling from ~$1.22/EUR in June to ~$1.40 by October 2010. My thinking was on the one hand, this dollar collapse situation is frightening, but on the other hand, if I commit myself to understanding the situation for what it is and capitalize on the change a fortune could be mine.

I was energized to commit myself to study for the first time and returned to universtitty in January 2011 excited to engage my professors and extract the most value I could from the experience and extra time available as a full-time student, rather than my previous life of full-time athlete working in studies when convenient. In addition to whatever books they assigned me, I filled my shelves then my mind with titles from Peter's recommended reading list10, including Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand11, The Road the Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek and Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis12 by Ludwig von Mises. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm and hope with which I entered the semester quickly transformed into disgust fueled anger as I realized these so-called professors were dedicated to socialist propaganda13. I decided I wasn't going to regurgitate their propaganda and used the assignments to apply what I reasoned to be true14. By the end of the semester I concluded : a) going to class was taking away from my education, b) the university environment was toxic, c) online courses with the Mises Institute were a couple hundred bucks,15 and d) the businessman I aimed to work for didn't care about some paper16. Meanwhile silver and gold continued to tear USD purchasing power to shreds with silver piercing $50 per the ounce as the spring's buds were blossoming.

I made a verbose written appeal to my parents explaining the situation and to at least take a semester off and work, continue studies through the Mises Institute, etc, to which I received the reply from dear old Dad, "You will get your degree." I didn't accept this and made a call into Schiff Radio May 2nd17 to serve Peter a softball question framed as seeking career advice I knew he'd hit out of the park in my favor about the value of a university degree. Armed with a conversation with the man I aimed to work for supporting my position, I returned to Vermont for a couple months. The first book I read when I arrived on a suggestion from a university girl who listened was The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and I'll be damned, it was as if it was written to me : Howard Roark laughs at idiot professor who failed him out of architecture school for not regurgitating idiocy and decides he'll go work for an outcasted Master who shared his philosophy and would help him develop his skills of expression. I barely put the book down until it was read and by the end of the first week back, the parents had accepted my plan to replace the fall semester with an attempt to get an internship with Euro Pacific Capital, Schiff's brokerage.

And now for a brief interlude : "Told'em, 'I finished school, started my own business.' They said, 'Oh, you graduated ?' 'Nah, I decided I was finished. Chasin' ya'll dreams and what you got planned, now I spit it so hot you got tanned.'" - Kayne West, College Dropout, School Spirit18.

That summer I had a job as a caddy at a Hamptons country club on Long Island, New York. The pay ranged from $20-$5019 an hour and was my first regular exposure to upper class Americans, who included executives and principals from a range of industries from finance to media to law to booze. Whether correctly or not, interacting with these folks gave me confidence I could compete in their world20.

When I wasn't carrying golf bags, tending pins and raking sand traps, I took several online classes through the Mises Institute, which covered texts such as Rothbard's Man, Economy and State, Hazlett's Economics in One Lesson, Mises' Theory of Money and Credit and spent a week in Auburn, Alabama at Mises University21. I also read Rand's Atlas Shrugged, half a dozen Ron Paul books, and an English translation of Bastiat's The Law22.

Despite applying and even showing up without an appointment to the Westport, CT office, I didn't manage an internship that fall. Instead I worked the course23 until Halloween and continued my studies. I returned to Vermont in November and upon parental prodding, George Mason University accepted me as a transfer for the spring semester. I chose GMU because they had a more free market oriented faculty.

November and December 2011 were the most precious months I had to date. I had no external commitments and awoke early everyday to chew through the backlog of study I had laid out for myself. Sit and read Rothbard or Mises all day, I did. That period is also when I dove into Stefan Molyneux's books and Freedomain Radio podcast. On the one hand Stef showed me the Statist gun in the room24 opening me up to anarchocapitalism and on the other hand he focuses heavily on self-knowledge and bringing integrity first and foremost to personal relationships. The latter point on relationships I had taken very much for granted up to that time, but in the years to come would have profound impact in my life.

January 5th, 2012 I was 9 days from making the move to Langley, VA to enroll at George Mason. After supper, I listened to that day's Schiff radio to learn Peter was accepting applications for sales people to help him launch his newly established Euro Pacific Bank in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the requirements being non-US residency. I was filled with energy and immediately talked to my parents about applying, which they certainly resisted. One point I raised was I was about to move to the belly of the police state, which trigged my Father's temper causing him to walk out of the conversation yelling25. Anyways, I sent my application the following morning, along with analyses of Euro Pac's mutual fund strategies in the context of Austrian theory.

My move date was January 14, so I did all my packing the morning of the 12th. I laid down for a siesta early afternoon, to be awoken by a call from Mark Anderson, the President of Euro Pacific Bank, in which he negative sold me to test if I really wanted to leave USia for a commission only, no moving fees included, bring your own computer, need six months savings to give it a chance, are your parents going to let you26 etc. I remember talking with him for half an hour or so at which point, at his demand, I'd get back to him after talking to the parents. I got back to him the next day to learn next steps.

My next article will cover taking the job, moving to a foreign land with strangers, working the business and then leaving it after having more bubbles burst.

I decided to provide this context for the move from USia decision at this juncture because it didn't happen in a vacuum, it had priors27. If I didn't go to Spain, would I have quit baseball ? If I didn't quit baseball, would I have quit school ? The answer to those questions isn't clear, but demonstrates the importance of choosing the thing that needs to be done, the right thing at each juncture. Every decision you take changes your situation. If I'd not quit school in spring and picked up Benjies28 off the golf course throughout the summer and autumn, I'd not have been in position to take the job come January. For all I know, if I stayed in school I'd have had an Everclear29 bottle sucker smashed over my head at a party that autumn because some pantsuit got all triggered because I laughed and called him and his family tax slaves when he claimed freedom30. That could've been the end of me, but acting out enumerated goodness resulted in the potential of that poor outcome being killed, rather than yours truly. Was it easy to make the right choice then ? Was it comfortable ? Fuck no, but it was simple.

  1. The short story is the price fixing priced the Samoans out of the global market, wrecking their one industry : tuna canning. Unemployment was widespread and prices sky rocketed because without tuna to export and pay for imports, ships leave empty rather than with tuna. Moral : if for whatever reason you want to help the tuna canners, pay your tuna canners what they're worth, not what you wish them to be worth. []
  2. and positioning himself and his clients on the short side []
  3. Not that it had reason to form in the first place and emerged from unexamined intellectual inertia. []
  4. What is the difference between economic freedom, i.e. owning the product of your labor, and political freedom, i.e. having franchise ? Would you rather not vote and not be taxed or "vote" and be taxed through the nose ? Hm ? []
  5. Primarily libertarian, free market principals, discussions of the US Constitution and its context, i.e. Federalist Papers and Articles of Confederation, and promoting Dr. Ron Paul while ripping regularly on the Hussein Bahamas regime. []
  6. Pretty much exclusively American history. At the time, Peter was the best scholar of America I'd encountered and made me appreciate being an American and motivated me to work to restore what had been lost. []
  7. He was the first person I heard say a modern university degree is essentially worthless due to the dilution of quality of accepted students and artificially inflated costs, both of which caused by government subsidization. []
  8. Which meant Austrian School and introduced me to The Mises Institute. []
  9. I sold my minimal share holdings in around September and bought metal. []
  10. Link previously at Euro Pacific Capital website since rotted. []
  11. A collection of essays by Rand and company, it was the strongest, most thorough explanation and case for Capitalism and also best use of the English language I'd come across, which was a bit of a mind fuck at first to be reading from a Russian lady. Notably, Alan Greenspan's Gold and Economic Freedom essay is included, in which he explains not only the inflation tax, but also the 1920s FED actions to prop the GBP causing the late 20s stock market bubble and subsequent and necessary crash. []
  12. In part, Mises deduced socialism must fail due to lack of market pricing mechanism to allocate resources. []
  13. I shit you not I witnessed a professor instruct a class to read aloud Das Kapital in unison like some cult, which promptly caused me to pack my things and walk out. []
  14. I applied this most notably in a macroeconomics final where the task was to write monetary policy recommendations in response to some crisis, to which I detailed why the central bank ought to be wound down, a re-institution of precious metals as money and slashing of the state were the only sane choices. To perhaps no one's surprise, the scum failed me. []
  15. You know the etymology comes from the Dollar, 371.25 grains (troy) silver (1792 Coinage Act), being worth a buckskin on the frontier ? []
  16. Even to the point of telling some people to lie on a resume to get past whatever filters the corporate HR has in place, lol. []
  17. Starts at 52m 20s mark on mp3 []
  18. For better and worse was for sure on my soundtrack of those days. []
  19. Tide dollars, of course. []
  20. To the various members who asked about me, I replied I was a student at the Mises Institute. Out of that number, none had heard of Mises, which I inferred as unfamiliarity with the virtue of sound money and free markets, since Mises and the Austrians are stout proponents of both. []
  21. This week was one of my most enjoyable experiences to date as I went from studying essentially by myself on an island to conversing with hundred's of free market people. While I felt I was the dumbest in the room, I noted I knew what I wanted to do with the information, while the more informed seemed to lack direction. []
  22. Despite my surname, my Québécois ancestors failed to pass down the language leaving me in my late 20s grasping to reclaim my cultural heritage, failed European colonies and all that. []
  23. The Esau comment wasn't exactly idle. []
  24. He operates from the non-agression principal, i.e. the initiation of violence violates property rights and is immoral and given the state has a legal monopoly on the initiation of violence, the state is immoral. []
  25. As fate would have it, he walked into the other room and turned on (TV is an emotional coping/avoidance mechanism) Freedom Hour by Judge Andrew Napolitano to promptly find a segment covering the increasing frequency of SWATing in "The Phreheheheeest Motherfuckin' Country on Earth". A win for the truth. To his credit he returned and apologized. []
  26. I reckon that was the moment where I stopped asking them. []
  27. There are various Republicans above my rank making their own exit plans, so I hope this helps. If my 21 year old self can do it, you obviously can too. []
  28. You know Franklin himself was a runaway ? That when he returned to Boston after earning his keep in Philadelphia he was damned proud to flash his pocket full of precious metals in the face of those Bostonians who had provisioned themselves paper bills ? Go read about it in his Autobiography, you and your English and whomever else has to listen to you will thank you. []
  29. Have to buy out of state, e.g. D.C., because Virginia prohibits the sale of grain alcohol. []
  30. That's partially based off a true story from the spring before quitting. No Everclear bottle was involved and no blows were landed on me, but when it's time to get out, it's time to get out. []

13 Comments »

  1. "I decided to provide this context for the move from USia decision at this juncture because it didn't happen in a vacuum, it had priors" - like everything else and at all times, of course it had priors and of course it's never (nor can it possibly be) in a vacuum. The part that is quite often harder to grasp is that what you fail to do at one point or another also has its priors and context. And quite often looking for this sort of priors-induced blindness/incapacity is exactly what can get one unstuck.

    Comment by Diana Coman — October 21, 2019 @ 9:00 a.m.

  2. The part that is quite often harder to grasp is that what you fail to do at one point or another also has its priors and context. And quite often looking for this sort of priors-induced blindness/incapacity is exactly what can get one unstuck.

    While that's been my experience, I'm certainly not out of the woods yet with a lot of work to do. Two applications of the importance of this process are called to mind:

    Bastiat's Broken Window Fallacy, i.e. while accounting for the seen is easy, accounting for the unseen is important.

    MP pointing out thinking of the negative space is what thinking means.

    Comment by Robinson Dorion — October 21, 2019 @ 5:08 p.m.

  3. Precisely negative spaces, yes.

    Re Broken Window Fallacy - hopefully you read at least the original source (ie Bastiat's writing) rather than just relying on the 2nd hand (at best) retelling. Technically what you referenced there is not even Bastiat's at all but "Bastiat's Broken Window Fallacy as interpreted by the Mises Institute".

    Comment by Diana Coman — October 21, 2019 @ 9:08 p.m.

  4. I've not yet read his original French, but am working towards building the capacity.

    I read an English translation of his original quite a while ago, but don't recall where from; bastiat.org looks canonical, Mises Institute does publish an English translation of his complete works.

    Comment by Robinson Dorion — October 22, 2019 @ 4:49 a.m.

  5. Fun read. Re footnote 27, it's likely much easier for you, at 21, to jump ship than for the older ones who actually have shit they are leaving behind. (Not to say they can't or shouldn't...)

    Comment by whaack — October 22, 2019 @ 5:30 p.m.

  6. Thanks. To aim at clarifying, I meant easier in the sense I had less financial, intellectual and life skill resources to equip me in the journey. It's true the elders have accumulated more sunk costs, but throwing good money after bad isn't likely to profit. Shit's supposed to be flushed down the toilet not bathed in anyway, amirite ?

    To be explicit though, there's likely a saltmine, family, friends, real estate, auto, accumulated collectibles such as precious dead tree, firearms, etc. Many of those can either be put in container or sold and bought back. Do your family and 'friends' actually support you and help you process reality effectually ? Or is the 'relationship' more about supporting shared delusions ? If the former, they're likely to join the journey and proud you proposed it. If the latter, what's the cause to hold the delusions ?

    If I'm missing anything essential that makes it harder I'm glad to have blinders removed. And a hat tip to you for making the jump yourself !

    Comment by Robinson Dorion — October 22, 2019 @ 8:03 p.m.

  7. I can't speak for them, but I don't think "financial, intellectual, and life skill resources" are the barring factor for anyone. Poor surfing derps manage to switch countries all the time lol.

    The problem appears to be sunk cost fallacy as you say / other psychological trappings that grow over time. asciilifeform mentioned the problems that occur from staying too long when I asked for advice.

    And ty, come visit me in Guanacaste sometime / the meet-up-in-Panama I discussed with jfw extends to you as well.

    Comment by whaack — October 23, 2019 @ 3:38 a.m.

  8. [...] 2010-January 2012: Extracting toxic university from my life as an intellectual [...]

    Pingback by Taking my blogging lumps and asking for help. « Dorion Mode — October 25, 2019 @ 5:42 p.m.

  9. My aim wasn't to make it an easy measuring contest, hence "not easy", but to point that the decision to take fundamentally boils down to the simple "stay" or "go". Once you decide the former all sorts of psychological trappings are invented. Once you decide "go", you'll like be surprised at how the path is actually carved, but you will be carving it.

    Thanks for the invite, looking forward to it and we'll have to make it happen in Q1 2020, cheers!

    Comment by Robinson Dorion — October 25, 2019 @ 6:06 p.m.

  10. Making the log-to-blog bridge for context and future reference:

    diana_coman: dorion: re sources and referencing: there is always a primary source aka the original author; if that's what you read, then you reference it directly as you did there ie Bastiat's Broken Window Falacy + link (and note that even in this case referencing includes the edition which in turns indicates the translator if any etc); if however it's *not* that, then it's secondary source and you *have to* indicate which of all possible ...
    diana_coman: ... secondary sources have you read & therefore are you referencing
    diana_coman: all this is important on a rather basic level for intellectual activity, quite similar to food hygiene being important for body activity (and yes, not doing it properly strucks civilised people that notice it with the same sort of disgust essentially)
    dorion: It occurs to me I've had this concept, "My education started when I quit school." This is in part true, because my drive to learn was reactivated for the first time in over a decade in the nuke sense; I started to seek rather than wait to be assigned.
    dorion: However, without the proper structure to write about what I was learning, pretense leads to deskilling which if uncheck inflates the pretense and accelerates the deskilling. So thank you for the sourcing and referencing likbez, diana_coman.
    dorion: let me proactively correct my error on the referencing/sourcing there. I reckon' drawing the nuke quote from btcbase was caused by searching in #o search box rather than #t, which lead to looking in 'pre-dragon' logs. 'so help me my own intelligence and cursed be my own stupidity.'
    ossabot: (trilema) 2016-08-30 asciilifeform: 'motivation from fear is a firecracker, from interest - a nuke' as the americans used to say
    diana_coman: dorion: heh, good for you; and yes, there's no bot to cite the line from btcbase logs + it's unclear for how long those will stay up, anyway

    Comment by Robinson Dorion — October 25, 2019 @ 7:16 p.m.

  11. [...] wrote Saturday and Sunday and published, Simple Steps: Part 1 School Spirit Sunday evening my time. While it took a while to get it out, I enjoyed the process and looked [...]

    Pingback by RMD review, October 15th-November 1st, 2019 « Young Hands Club — November 1, 2019 @ 11:49 p.m.

  12. [...] started off well with Simple Steps Part 1: School Spirit then Took My Lumps from inexperience planning writing time and published The Fabled [...]

    Pingback by The Wayside Articles « Young Hands Club — December 19, 2019 @ 5:00 a.m.

  13. [...] an extended hiatus from the Simple Steps series, I'm pickup up where I left off in School Spirit to start filling in The Fabled Outlines. This article primarily paints the backdrop of the picture [...]

    Pingback by Simple Steps Part 2: Hopping Caribbean Islands to land in Prospect Point « Dorion Mode — January 25, 2020 @ 9:55 a.m.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress