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Pro-Capitalist, Anti-Government Extremists

A new breed of investment consultant mixes dubious financial advice with anti-government propaganda.
 
 
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Back in 1978, when the world was young and “Saturday Night Live” was only in its third season, a young comedian named Steve Martin took to the stage and told his audience how to become millionaires and never pay taxes.

“First … get a million dollars,” he  said. “What do [you] say to the tax man when he comes to [your] door and says, ‘You have never paid taxes?’ Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: ‘I forgot!’”

Porter Stansberry, an “investment advisor” with a knack for lining his own pockets, used a slightly different strategy in 2003. When the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) came to his door and accused him of making over a million dollars selling false “inside tips,” the self-aggrandizing financial guru claimed that it was his First Amendment right to tell his subscribers whatever he wanted — even if what he wanted to tell them was,  as the SEC put it, “baseless speculation and outright lies.”

The courts disagreed. In 2009, after years of very public litigation, a federal appeals panel upheld the SEC’s charges and  fined Stansberry $1.5 million.

Stansberry — who had enjoyed some respect in financial circles and whose First Amendment argument (though not his conduct) was  endorsed by respected news outlets who feared the case would set a precedent for punishing the press for publishing incorrect financial analysis — did not take the verdict well.

He did not stop peddling advice — but these days, it’s about more than get-rich-quick schemes. Evidently soured on the government by his brush with the law, Stansberry has turned from scam artist to antigovernment radical, using various Internet publications to mix dubious investment advice with apocalyptic warnings about a coming era of tyranny that will destroy America.

His most recent insight? According to a YouTube video distributed across a multitude of far-right websites and discussed with great seriousness by figures like antigovernment conspiracist  Alex Jones, President Obama is planning to overthrown the Constitution, implement socialism, and seize a third term in office.

According to Stansberry, Obama won’t even have to use force to do it. Instead, the president plans to buy his third term with untold profits gained from mining America’s vast shale oil deposits, which will lead to an era of extraordinary prosperity unlike anything America has seen before.

“All of this new wealth,” Stansberry says, “will seem like a gift from the Prophet Muhammad to the administration of Barack Obama.”

And his supporters will eat it up. Once the black gold really starts flowing, Stansberry claims, the president will execute a  Hugo Chavez-like power grab, distributing money and favors to friends, cronies, and political allies, who in return will cheer for him in the streets as he seizes an unconstitutional third term — and, possibly, even a fourth — in office. During his reign of terror, Obama will replace America’s market economy with a socialist dictatorship and “punish and tax those who work hard,” using the wealth they create to “buy favors and luxuries for millions of Americans … who have done nothing to earn it.”

America, of course, will be ruined.

Stansberry is not the only ultra-libertarian to promote such ideas. One of his most prominent fellow travelers is Doug Casey, an antigovernment “investment guru” who on Nov. 29 told subscribers to his newsletter that being a taxpayer in America today is analogous to “being a Jew in Germany in the mid-1930’s.”

On the surface, Casey (who often cross-promotes Stansberry’s articles on his various websites and newsletters and who is described by Stansberry as a friend and mentor) seems a cheerful misanthrope, whose breezy manner and self-deprecating wit (he often says Uncle Scrooge McDuck is his hero) is a refreshing change from the pompous grandiosity of his close cousins in the far-right “Patriot” movement.

 
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