Why I Believe the Free Markets Empower Con-Artists

I used to be a big believer in the free-markets. For years I followed the Austrian School of libertarian free-market economics and read books by the likes of Murray Rothbard and Harry Browne. Proponents of libertarianism believe that the free markets are self-regulating and that the markets punish those who engage in corruption. They place strong emphasis on the individual and that the individual takes full responsibilities for their action and any consequences that arise from it.

Libertarianism is one of those ideologies that sound good in theory but is ultimately unworkable in all but the simplest societies. I’ve concluded that a libertarian society is in fact detrimental to the well being of a society over the long run. One thing I’ve noticed that free-market proponents shy away from is that of addressing actual human behavior. They rarely address the human and emotional side of things and the fact that humans evolved as social animals interdependent among one another. We did not evolve in a glass tube. We are not robots. We get emotional when listening to a touching speech and we get angry when someone cheats us. In particular humans have a huge weakness when it comes to recognizing and avoiding psychological manipulation – especially ones that exploit our emotions of fear and greed. No one is immune from this – not even libertarians who are considered among the most rational of all.

Now I believe that the free markets work well when it comes to goods and services that you can easily make rational decisions in regards to it’s quality and utility. However when it comes to goods, services, and entities that are exploitive of your psychological weaknesses we need something that protects society from those menaces. We need safeguards to protect the long-term interests of the people. When profits are the sole motive an entity exists, there will always be corruption. As for the con-artist(s), the reason they exist is to exploit you in order to gain money or power or to get you to support an agenda.

It was my investigation of Jeff Berwick’s series of scams that caught my attention and got me thinking about this matter. Berwick is a popular libertarian activist out of Canada who has been pushing all sorts of controversial services such as marketing fake passports and selling land in South America at huge markups. He runs the site dollarvigilante.com. Berwick promoted a supposed libertarian paradise called Galts Gulch Chile that was to be a haven for libertarian-minded folks who wanted to escape the “tyranny” of government. There had been numerous reports that Berwick did not fall through on his end of the deal and fleeced his investors out of millions of dollars.

Almost all of the buyers and investors into GGC – 73 families paid in over $10 million – are libertarian and as such they have been attacked publicly as rich, greedy misanthropes who were so hopelessly naive as to think they were escaping the government by moving to Chile. Being libertarians, many of GGC’s investors were against the use of government courts to correct the injustices and receive the property they paid for. But what they found was that there simply was no other way to regain their stolen property without doing so. —-Jeff Berwick, realizing why government exists for the first time

Among the main reasons why folks such as Jeff Berwick and Doug Casey chose to do business in South America was to escape the legal jurisdictions of Canada and the US. In that way fleeced investors cannot easily go after them. Mike Stathis on Jeff Berwick at the 20:50 mark:

The Gold Pumping Network

Gold pumpers are another example of swindlers thriving in a free-market society. Now while I do believe in the importance of owning some precious metals I never jumped on the “imminent dollar collapse” and “gold to the moon” bandwagon. In fact I believed that hyperinflation was impossible because of the record low interest rate environment. The gold pumpers never addressed that.

The gold pumping movement is a cartel. It is a mafia. Folks like Peter Schiff, Jeff Berwick, Max Keiser, Doug Casey, and others interview each other and promote and sponsor each other’s products and services. To no surprise the message from each one of those folks sound the exact same. Gold is going to the moon! The dollar is gonna collapse! Chances are if the average viewer is on a Peter Schiff site they will also be assessing a number of other gold and libertarian sites, which will more or less be saying the same thing. The two most effective tools of media propaganda is the “flooding approach” and painting the issue as “black and white”. The flooding technique involves getting the message or story exposed on as many media channels possible. In painting the issue black and white, the idea is to repeat the story in the same way across as many mediums as possible so as to leave no doubt in the viewer’s mind. The gold pumpers have their target audience in mind. They market their services primarily to those who are skeptical of the establishment, the banking system, and the government.

Among the most effective propaganda techniques is to take some bits of truth and completely blow them up and out of proportion to the actual reality. We all know the Fed is corrupt. We all know Wall Street is run by a bunch of crooks. Con-artists tell you what you want to hear. They pretend to be your friend and after your best interests. Con-artists are especially effective when they promote their message through fear-mongering. Jeff Berwick’s Dollar Vigilante website’s slogan is “surviving and prospering during and after the dollar collapse“.

The fact is the gold dealers are making huge money off of commissions and they continue to enjoy the doomsday programming that have saturated the alternative media. They don’t care about being right. All they care about is taking your money.

Mass Media

Mass media is the biggest source of mass deception. This includes not just the mainstream media but probably much of the alternative media as well. The propaganda techniques of mass media is the same as those listed just above. When it comes to the media we have been conditioned to look just at the surface. Most of us simply listen and digest literally what comes out of the mouths of those media personalities without stopping to think about what purpose those people and organizations serve. Why are they telling you this or that? Are they really on your side or are they doing it for money? And if it’s money who is funding them? Do those programs have sponsors? Who are their sponsors and what other organizations are the sponsors affiliated with?

Religious hucksters and Cult leaders

Organized religion is one of the most powerful tools of societal control and one that the establishment uses very effectively. Hucksters and cult leaders spreading fear of punishment by a supernatural deity if you don’t do this or that gets people to react in ways they wouldn’t otherwise do. The susceptibility to believe in magic, miracles, and the supernatural may even be genetic. If this is so, it is easy to see how so many can get duped and swindled by those with bad intentions. Propagated on a mass scale, it is an excellent way of undermining the existing order of society. Jim Jones, who headed the Peoples Temple in which 918 members committed suicide, is probably the most well known cultist who used religion to exploit his followers.


Savvy con-artists get rewarded by the free markets. Con-artists who make their scheming and deception obvious get punished by the free-markets while those who do the best job of hiding their deception thrive. Con-artists like Peter Schiff are rock stars. He is a celebrity, a media darling, and a best selling author. Schiff has a net worth of $70 million. He got rich despite being consistently wrong on the markets and despite losing a lot of money for his investors. But does it really matter? What matters is that Schiff was able to successfully funnel money out of his sheep and become rich.



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