I’m writing this while at the Freedomfest conference in Las Vegas. It’s the largest gathering of libertarian (or libertarian-leaning) folks in the world. Most of the sessions here focus on investing, business, and politics. As you might imagine, the political stuff doesn’t really interest me; I’m here for the investing and business materials, as well as to meet some of the guys I’ve been following for quite some time.
I was going to speak at this conference but I missed the speaker deadline because I was stupid. I will instead speak at Freedomfest next year, as well as have an entire booth at the trade show, right alongside guys like Peter Schiff. Pink Firefly will run the booth with the help of a few of my other friends. That will be fun, but that’s next year. This year it’s just me and my son attending and checking everything out, with my Alpha 2.0 Business Seminar afterwards.
One of my goals for this conference was to meet certain people. I made a list of everyone I wanted to talk to and I’m happy to report that I was able to spend some one-on-one time with everyone on that list. These men were various men I’ve mentioned on this blog before:
Jim Rogers – One of my all-time mentors, Guinness Book of World Records holder (he drive round the entire planet on a motorcycle) and one of the most successful self-made investors of all time. He flew all the way here from his home in Singapore (he wisely left the Collapsing West several years ago) and was very jetlagged when we talked the first time. Kinda funny.
Doug Casey – Another super successful business owner and investor who has helped me make a lot of money. He’s a total anarchist and very abrasive in his books and speeches (in a good way; I love guys like this), but was extremely pleasant and relaxed when I talked to him about his daily and weekly work habits.
Peter Schiff – The contrarian investor who called the crash of 2008 when most everyone else said everything was fine. I was only able to talk to him for a few minutes; a very hyper and high-energy guy. Fun.
Jeff Berwick – Big time anarchist who’s all over the internet and hosts another large annual freedom conference called Anarchapulco. I don’t agree with 100% of his views but I really like him and will probably be doing business with him soon.
There were some other guys here I liked and saw speak but didn’t necessarily need to meet, such as Robert Kyosaki, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Steve Forbes (yes, there are some Republicans here unfortunately, but Steve Forbes isn’t too bad), Nick Gillespie, Gary Johnson, Andrew Puzder (holy shit, this guy is amazing), John Mackey, Adam Kokesh and a few others. John Stossel was going to be here but had to cancel his appearance because he broke his jaw while playing volleyball(!).
Here are a few quotes and snippets from my conference notes that I thought were of interest:
- If all cars became electric tomorrow, total worldwide oil consumption would only go down by 20 percent.
- Vault services (like international gold vaults) are not considered financial institutions, so there are no reporting requirements on their end, and FATCA doesn’t apply to them(!).
- They asked people around the world why they don’t do business with more Americans. The answer is “You Americans show up with 5000 pages of employee manuals, 5000 pages of environmental impact rules, 5000 pages of trade rules, and so on, and the Chinese show up with a suitcase full of hundreds of millions of dollars and say, ‘We’re ready to start on Monday.’” China wins. Why the hell would we want to do business with you Americans?
- Jim Rogers: “If you were only able to invest in 20 things in your entire life, how would you go about it? You would do massive amounts of research before investing, and you’d only invest in sure things.”
- Robert Kiyosaki: “Your FICO score doesn’t mean shit.”
- Instead of the European Union, there should be 1000 Lichtensteins.
- Government should be like the post office. You don’t care who’s in charge of the post office, you just want your letter to get there.
- A common left-wing argument is that real wages in the US have been stagnant while employee productivity has increased; thus businesses are ripping off employees. This has been true, but only since 2004. Overall productivity in the US has dropped since 2004, and continues to drop. So now wages are stagnant and productivity is down.
- Robert Kiyosaki: “Student loans are now the number one asset of the US federal government, at $1.2 trillion. The government is ripping off our students with these useless college degrees.”
- The average employer spends $10,000 per year per employee to comply with all governmental regulations. If you’re a manufacturer, it’s $20K. If you’re a small manufacturer, it’s $30K. China didn’t kill our manufacturing jobs; our own government did.
- US home ownership is now at a 60 year low.
- Whenever investing, ask yourself, “What if I’m wrong?” Then evaluate your portfolio from that perspective. The more confident you are that you’re right, the more likely you are to be wrong. Always, always diversify like crazy.
Anyway, Freedomfest has been fantastic, and attendance grows every year. Starting next year (the next Freedomfest is in Las Vegas next year, July 17-20th), I will now be a part of this conference every year as a speaker and exhibitor. America is still fucked and libertarianism will never catch on, but the economic and investing data I’ve received, as well as the contacts I’ve made here is more than worth my time to attend and support this conference.
Can’t wait for next year!