Geopolitics

Freedom in the World

In Hamlet, William Shakespeare sagely noted: “Lord! We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.”

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Maialisa / Pixabay

Nevertheless, each New Year’s we engage in a soothsaying, trying to predict events for the 365 days ahead. Then, various self-appointed experts recommend life-changing resolutions for personal salvation.

No resolutions from me. Only the observation that recent history dictates, sadly, that in 2018 there will be more of the same — domestic political turmoil, accusations, a search for truth in suspect news, diminished freedom, wars and rumors of wars.

Freedom in the World

Since 1978, Freedom House has published Freedom in the World, an annual assessment of the state of political and civil liberties in 195 countries. It saw 2017 as the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The U.S. scored 89 out of a possible 100, ranked as “mostly free.”

As for Shakespeare’s hopeful claim that “we know what we are,” Freedom House sees an America that is “deeply polarized” along party lines, divided by race, gender, geography and education. Freedom House noted erosion of democratic institutions reflected in legislative gridlock, a dysfunctional criminal justice system, and growing disparities in wealth and economic opportunity.

New Year’s resolutions are an attempt at self-control, a personal commodity often in short supply. Today, most of the traditional restraints of religion, family and society have weakened. The decline in common sense can be seen in a collective lack of personal discipline evident in the financial world (see bitcoin).

Many investors and bankers act as though there is no day of reckoning — unwary speculators who seem blind to the lessons of the 2008 bubble. Included in that group: American politicians who cut taxes when the national debt nears $21 trillion.

Then, too, many individuals fail to take the simple steps necessary to create secure asset-protection and estate plans for themselves and their families.

Anticipation

Britain’s great Victorian prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804 to 1881), observed: “What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens.” The horrific events of recent years certainly have reconfirmed his wisdom.

So who knows what 2018 has in store?

Chinese astrology sees 2018 as another Year of the Dog. Those born in Dog years are said to “abhor injustice and always reach out to those in need, making them natural candidates for humanitarian missions.” President Donald J. Trump (born June 14, 1946, age 71) is a Dog-year child.

For 2018, the French prophet Nostradamus predicted world-shaking natural disasters. Scientists may agree, seeing severe quakes likely to occur next year because of a periodic slowing of the Earth’s rotation.

My own guess, after major political tremors in the Virginia and Alabama elections, is that a major national electoral earthquake will alter Republican majorities in the U.S. Congress and in many state governments.

Also, the U.K. will survive Brexit; the EU and the U.K. still need each other.

Up to You

The continuing goal of Banyan Hill is recommending useful investment strategies that offer you the personal freedom to control your own assets and life.

A popular Thai phrase used for English-speaking visitors concerning choice is: “Up to you.”

What the Year of the Dog holds for us depends in large part on what each of us chooses. We will do our best to help you choose individual sovereignty.

Yours for liberty,

Bob Bauman, JD

Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing