Economic Recession Predictions

Thomas delivers an EconSov briefing at a BMW board room

Economic Recession Update

Surveyed economists from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) predict upcoming recession in the following year:

2019: 10%
2020: 42%
2021: 25%
2022 or later: 23%

This is consistent with forecasts I have been tracking by Guggenheim, Deutsch Bank, Ben Bernanke, Larry Summers, Quantum Fund, and Alan Greenspan.

In 2015, the book Economic Sovereignty: Prosperity in a Free Society, laid out the sociopolitical and economic concepts which drive recession and prosperity. Forecasts for readers and briefing attendees have empowered them to prepare and get ahead with wise choices. Those who applied our concepts and consulting are much better positioned.

What will the next recession look like? Volatile factors make specifics elusive. In the best case, stagnant destructionism (the consumption of capital), is predicted by Daniel Lacalle. He accurately lays out the trajectory of financial repression, and explains how Japan’s decades of destructionism were spared without illegal immigration in order to preserve their social insurance programs. Buckling of the social insurance programs will accelerate the consumption of capital. Immigration, sub-replacement fertility rates, and expansion of redistribution contribute to the acceleration.

Lacalle does not use the term destructionism, but his approach speaks to the Austrian and Classical economic schools of thought, so I’m sure he would agree. Alvarism predicts protracted destructionism in the USA until voters demand implementation of the policies suggested in Economic Sovereignty. Irrespective of whether the upcoming recession is stagnant or severe, quickly adopting the knowledge in Economic Sovereignty will improve any citizen’s position.

What You Need to Know About Cryptocurrency

In the summer of 2017, the cryptocurrency craze lit up with the fervor of a toddler in a candy shop. I was working as the Chief Information Officer of a small tech startup, serving our national security and intelligence community. A young software engineer, and cryptocurrency enthusiast, sought my advice. Who amongst indebted college students would not be enticed by the prospect of easy money?

In a mentorship role, I saw it as an opportunity to teach a young engineer methods of innovation. I told him to go research the history of currency, particularly focusing on counterfeiting, inflation, deflation, minting, exchange rates, money supply, loans, and barter.

He came back the next day with an enthusiastic smile. He said he looked at these things but did not see what they have to do with cryptocurrency. Because he is a brilliant person, I fault the institutionalist visions of modern professors (defined in the book Economic Sovereignty). He said that cryptocurrency solves the problem of counterfeiting and it is secure by design so hacking is not a concern. The rest of the concepts he thought were obviated by the design of cryptocurrency.

At that point I unloaded my assessment of the status of cryptocurrency in June of 2017.

I stated the practical utilities of cryptocurrency superior to the dollar:

  • Money laundering
  • Tax evasion
  • Black market exchange of drugs and illicit goods and services
  • Evasion of international sanctions
  • Avoiding central bank financial repression, in part
  • Transaction costs are often less expensive and always faster than check, credit card, ACH, and wire transfer
  • The cost of holding cryptocurrency, inflation, is typically lower than the historical inflation of the US money supply

The practical utilities of the dollar superior to cryptocurrency include:

  • Consumer protection
  • Loss, fraud, theft, and counterfeit protection
  • Universal status as legal tender for payment
  • Established systems of tracking and reporting yield economic data that is critical to governments, investors, and businesses
  • A government has guns backing its legal tender, and an interest in its stability. A stroke of the pen can stifle cryptocurrency transactions in one moment, at a much higher risk than legal tender.

Of course these benefits are from the perspective of a person who would choose to use one currency over another. To law-abiding citizens, making crimes easier is not beneficial. Although the list is not exhaustive, it’s what I could mention off the top of my head while considering the problem for the first time. My question to the young engineer, following these considerations:

“What do you know about cryptocurrency that professional investors do not? Do you believe that changing conditions in the world would make the practical utilities of cryptocurrency more attractive than legal tender?”

The answer was no. So my conclusion was that cryptocurrency in the summer of 2017 was the definition of a speculative bubble, ready to crash. I was correct:

Transaction volume imports capital into a currency. Only speculation and hype drove cryptocurrency transaction volume during that short-lived boom.

Believe it or not, when I advised a professor about treating cryptocurrency as they would a game of poker, they insulted me. I said that professional investors who I knew were only willing to risk 3% of their portfolio in crypto. The arrogant ingrate said, “Now I know you have no clue what you’re talking about – there’s no such thing as a professional investor.”

To which I replied: “If you ever become a legitimate entrepreneur, you’ll discover a party called an accredited investor. Beyond those people, there are firms that manage immense assets for very wealthy entities, or huge volumes of less wealthy entities. Those are professional investors. They’ve got a lot more at risk than you do as a single human being of humble means. So they employ talented people and algorithms to understand the markets much better than any amateur.”

The proud professor skulked away into the shadows as rapidly as the interbellum democratic socialists of Britain and France whose disarmament and pacifist policies rolled out Adolph Hitler’s red carpet to blitzkrieg. We should never underestimate the strength of confirmation bias, and the chasm between academia and the real world.

As for my young software engineer, it was a joy to give a lesson in innovation to such a hopeful young professional. In STEM programs, most educators cram so much technical knowledge into the heads of their students, they often neglect the kind of eternal knowledge that Alvarism curates.

Technology is just a tool, currency included. No matter how sophisticated, if the designers of a technology failed to accurately assess the eternal concepts and constraints related to the problem they approach, then their tool will be insufficient and even detrimental. It’s the temptation of young STEM professionals to dream up tools searching for a problem. That is precisely the mentality that will prevent them from becoming supreme innovators. I do believe that my young software engineer learned a valuable lesson in just two conversations. Even for those who are not engineers, they benefit from juxtaposing currency “tools” to each other, in order to make market decisions.

As for those who listened to Alvarism on cryptocurrency, they invested more wisely than the masses of neophilic dreamers who created the crypto bubble of 2017 to begin with. The utilities of cryptocurrency are attractive, particularly for banking and financial institutions who wish to develop the technologies wisely, integrating with their existing technical infrastructure. A solid cooperation between financial institutions, governments, and academia could yield the next generation of currency, with greater efficiency. With that in mind, we will keep an eye on the progress of cryptocurrency.

On the other hand, the recent crypto craze is a lesson in humility for the overzealous prospectors who got burned, and even for the lucky few who sold for profit at the right time. Taking the optimal action in complex business affairs is an art that requires a great deal of experience, analytical skill, emotional intelligence, and focused devotion. A risky investment like cryptocurrency in 2017 is a complex business affair. Caveat emptor.

American vs. Russian Electoral Subversion – USA Wins

With the raging circus of Russian electoral subversion, how many stopped to consider the nine major methods used by Americans to steal elections from domestic opponents? Is it less egregious for a group of US citizens to steal an election than foreign influence operators? As this article will show, Russians cannot hold a candle to the success that Americans have at stealing elections from each other. The oath of allegiance requires us to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The Russian electoral subversion witch hunters seem to have forgotten about that last part, or else they’re not wise enough to comprehend the enormity of the nine methods of domestic electoral subversion.

Recognizing the ground truth of the anemic Russian influence operation, and also the much greater issue of domestic electoral subversion, Alvarism ignored the Mueller investigation, fanned by Trump’s enemies. Trolls benefit from all participation – whether we validate or repudiate them. It’s best to just starve them. Now that the investigation has failed to prove Trump guilty, the demagogues have shown themselves to be the true enemies of democracy:

May I remind the demagogues that democracy does not begin and end with the voting process? There’s this thing that comes afterwards called governance. Accurate and relevant information shared between citizens is crucial for civilized democracy, no matter who wins at the polls. For those who asked in private, we explained: yes Russia continuously interferes with US civics. Look up aktivniyye meropriyatiya. US civics does not begin and end with elected officials; education, entertainment, journalism, religion, nonprofits, and corporate organizational power impact public opinion and civic action far more than the podium puppets who ultimately ride the wave of culture into office.

Corporate executives, public school teachers, professors, musicians, Hollywood actors and studios, and nonprofits have been the most subversive willing accomplices, far beyond polticians. Using US environmentalists to get America out of the way of Gazprom is just one of dozens of influence ops. Russian reflexive control does not work like an Inspector Gadget plot. A real Russian plot would go something like this:

  • Select the foreign candidate they believe will:
    • Create the most chaos domestically in the US
    • Be the least effective at enticing Russia’s allies
    • Give Russia’s competitors the weakest support (in conjunction with Russia’s Eurasianist designs on the EU)
  • Conduct influence operations to assist their favored candidate
  • Bolster a third-party candidate like Jill Stein to siphon enough democratic votes in key precincts to bend the electoral college towards their favored candidate
  • Once their favored candidate wins, spread disinformation to create a gigantic distraction and demoralize the US voter (Mueller probe). Reflexive control indicates that the sore losers will take every ounce of bait, and run with it.
  • Notice in this trajectory, no “collusion” between Trump and Russia is necessary. Unfortunately for Russia, their buffoons did not even select the candidate most beneficial to their interests. They neglected Trump and Pence’s aggressive security entourage, the business savvy of their associates, the patriotism of their associates, and Trump’s negotiating skill in an era of hostile global trade. Clinton’s proposals would have:

    1. Accelerated the debt to a greater degree
    2. Weakened military deterrence via supplanting conventional military action with clandestine action as she did with Benghazi and Syria, to placate her pacifist voters
    3. Kowtowed to foreign interests that weaken the US position in the name of “cooperation”
    4. Increased regulatory burdens
    5. Diverted funds to inefficient programs

    This must be a heinous revelation to Mother Russia. Their ethnocentric presumptions are hierarchical and aristocratic, which fooled them into thinking that Hillary Clinton was the greater threat because of her membership in the US sociopolitical aristocracy.

    In the Russian mind, self-educated men like Abraham Lincoln, and real estate entertainment moguls like Trump don’t fit the model of civic greatness like those who spent their lives licking the boots of institutional power. How many Russian Abraham Lincolns have they buried in the grave as they empowered ice-blood kleptocrats like Putin? I’d estimate at least a few thousand in holodomor alone.

    On the other hand, the Russian 2016 influence op was not a total loss for Kremlin miscreants. With the Trump collusion fiction, Russian reflexive control induced Democrats and “NeverTrumper” Republicans to dominate American civics with waste and distraction – a major goal of disinformation. While the sorest losers in US electoral history (excluding the confederates) indulged in their anxious fantasy of Trump-Russian collusion:

We could generate a list of serious events ten times as long, obscured by the firehose blast of “Russian collusion” every time we turned on the news.

Unsurprisingly, our news agencies and elected officials make poor intelligence agents. If they had knowledge of influence ops, they would have been investigating their neighbors instead of alcoholics in ushanka hats, halfway across the globe. There are unabated existential threats to American electoral integrity:

  1. Voter fraud
  2. Gerrymandering
  3. Subverting the electoral college – many states have already eliminted democratic republic representation via interstate compact, and states have eroded reprsentation for citizens by counting non-citizens
  4. Attempts to flood the polls with aliens
  5. Mindless “get out the vote” campaigns that treat voting as a virtue instead of a responsibility
  6. Dark money allowing foreign and anonymous donors to buy elections
  7. Micro-donations scamming
  8. Foreign financing of US candidates via internet solicitation and banking loopholes (CVV)
  9. Domestic tech disparity

The last three require special attention. Imagine for a moment that Trump had secured the top technologists from Apple, Google, Facebook, and DreamWorks, who leveraged their transnational corporate influence and power to build Trump campaigning tools that dwarfed Hillary Clinton’s tools. Would that tech disparity lead to an unfair election and conflicts of interest between the tech sector and executive branch of the US government for years to come? While Trump enjoyed no such tech-sector sycophancy, that is precisely what Obama did.

Obama also refused to voluntarily report his micro-donations (under $200), which comprised between 33-50% of his financing, depending upon the FEC report cited. In a farce, the DNC claimed that they had “three-million grassroots” donors. By grassroots, they must mean utilizing invasive technology concocted by the global leaders of software, in an international campaign that solicited foreign donors indiscriminately? How many of those three-million micro-donors were flesh-and-blood American citizens? How many were foreigners? How many were robots using foreign, NGO, hedge fund, and corporate dollars channeled through the CVV loophole?

The CVV is the three digit verification code on the back of a credit card. When questioned as to why the Obama campaign would choose to pay banks an additional $7.5M to dispose of CVV credit card requirements for donations, and reject geolocation verification, the response was, “we have internal checks to ensure the donations are legal.”

See how long your CEO keeps his job when he says, “we’ll pay our vendor $7.5M more than we need to, and we’ll add to that unnecessary cost, our own expensive project to replicate what the banks already do better than us.” In other words, they’re liars who knew they were raking in millions of illicit dollars through internet donations, and the $7.5M price tag to hide their fraud was worth the cost.

Lastly, why was Robert Roche, Obama’s China-business bundler never investigated? Were the conflicts of interest between Roche, China, and Obama overshadowed by green energy sector manufacturing plans? Robert Roche was as suspicious in the Obama campaign as any of the players in the Trump-Russia collusion fiction.

The details of tech disparity, CVV scams, micro-donations, and Robert Roche are available in this report by the Government Accountability Institute.

Russia, like the United States, attempts to influence foreign political leadership. Unfortunately for Trump’s enemies, they have confused real world espionage with James Bond movies. Alongside their delusional witch hunt, they have perpetrated their own domestic scams by which they reduce electoral integrity to steal elections. Abigail Williams would be proud of how they accuse others of the things of which they themselves are the most guilty.

We can continue to live in The Crucible of polarization, disinformation, and witch hunts, or we can adopt the electoral reforms proposed in chapter 4.2 of Economic Sovereignty. Plato warned his people of tyrannical democracy (ochlocracy) thousands of years ago. The US constitution erected checks and balances between judicial, executive, and legislative tyranny. It did not conceive of a future where ochlocracy would be possible, due to property-ownership and literacy acting often as voter qualification. While those qualifiers would lead to improper disenfranchisement, there are wiser methods in the modern day.

In the book Economic Sovereignty, Alvarism proposed a simple reform that would finally curb ochlocracy, which is The Crucible of corruption that democracies across the globe face in the modern day. With that one reform, all of these nine methods of electoral subversion would be eliminated. Elegant solutions to complex problems are simple. We require Alvarism’s reform to bring this entire system of manipulation and fraud to its knees.

Of course we can continue to fantasize about drunkards in ushanka hats, halfway across the globe. It would be the favored activity in a United States of Entertainment. A proud United States of America has nobler plans for its future.

School Walkouts: An Irresponsible Tool of Mob Rule (Ochlocracy)

Photo: 1969 Harvard Walkout

There are many ways to demonstrate for policy change. We would expect places of learning for intelligent students led by mature and erudite teachers, to choose methods like debates, briefings, seminars, and councils. The school walkout is not new, nor is it clever, nor does it present its teachers and students in a respectable manner. It is nothing more than the schoolhouse version of the syndicalists’
general strike. Consequently, it should not shock anyone that the 2018 school walkouts are “astroturfed” by unions through their Women’s March influence operation.

Observant citizens will recall the marketing style, branding, sponsors, and partners of the One Nation Rally from the Obama years. The “Women’s March” is just a new face on the same organizations and ideological interests. The confluence of interests includes radical environmentalists, feminists, communists, democratic socialists, SEIU, AFL-CIO, syndicalists, social justice redistributionists, abortion advocates, racial activists, LGBT activists, felon activists, and public-school unions. Their goal? To elect democrats, and shepherd the democratic party towards their interests. To use a phrase from one of their most popular communist bands:

“Ain’t the new sound
just like the old sound
just like the noose wound
over the burning ground”

A school walkout is the childhood emulation of a general strike. The syndicalist general strike punishes consumers, business owners, the government, and the workers themselves. It’s an act of passive aggression writ large. The workers most likely were perpetrating level-one-and-two passive aggression in their workplace (temporary compliance, intentional inefficiency). In the general strike, they escalate to levels three, four, and five (problem instigation, hidden revenge, self-harm).

Acknowledging the behavioral and social manipulation of the general strike, it’s easy to understand the uncreative and irresponsible school walkout. The activist teachers and their student pawns seek to punish school administrators, school boards, parents, and the students and teachers themselves. Inspiring a minor to forego precious instruction time in order to parrot the democratic party activism of their teachers and parents is the height of irresponsibility.

Instigating school walkouts seeks to use the natural restlessness of youth, which would prefer to be whimsical and unproductive, and direct it towards rebellious mob activism. Would most students prefer to quietly and tediously solve math equations, or would they prefer to chit chat and fool around with friends in a circus atmosphere? What kind of political party would abuse the education of children for their own policy agendas? The democratic party should sanction the partners of the Women’s March and disavow this terrible influence operation.

Even worse, the school walkout can potentially turn students against their parents, their communities, and indoctrinates them with collectivism. They have not earned the moral justification for activism by first reviewing all of the evidence and opposing arguments. Like many foolish adults, they are consequently just parrots of whichever influencer they trust. The school teacher is gifted a near-monopoly of trust by the community and parents, and in that abused gift lies the betrayal of a teacher who instigates school walkouts.

If we agree that these acts of passive aggression are damaging to children, and that the teachers and parents who enlist child-pawns to do their political bidding are grossly abusing their power – then the question becomes, how do we confront this gaggle of lost souls? Our constitution affirms our natural rights to free association and assembly. That should apply to people within schools, businesses, and unions equally. In the workplace scenario, so long as right-to-work laws are advanced, the coercive aspects of union membership will be balanced by those of non-members.

Likewise, students should have the right-to-learn:

  1. A student should be free to walk out – and they should be subject to the same consequences for walking out as any other reason.
  2. A teacher should be free to incite her students towards her own ideological crusade and choose an unexcused absence from her job – and she should be subject to the same consequences for incitement and absenteeism as any other reason.
  3. The school administrators should be free to use their school as a tool of democratic party activism, by either permitting the walkouts without consequence, or by advocating them directly – and the school board and voters should then replace the administrators with ones who actually respect education.

A school under my management would never use education time for biased activism, even if we would encourage civic engagement in other ways. Nor would we harbor, protect, and apologize for deranged young killers who might someday come upon the tools of arson, shootings, or vehicular homicide.

Considering that this school walkout is a leftwing influence operation to scapegoat guns for failures of law enforcement, schools, and mental health professionals, it is egotistically self-serving in its whitewashing of teachers’ and school administrators’ responsibility to detect, isolate, correct, and neutralize predatory students – who could choose any weapon of mass killing. That is why the confluence of democratic party interests are astroturfing the event. Their sacred belief in the public education model is currently at risk, so they must deflect at all costs – in this case, towards their profane item of self-defense: guns.

While the actual policy goals are laughable and cannot stand against rigorous debate, the school walkout is a more insidious beast, using tax-funded education to inculcate a mob mentality in our youth. A healthy nation prefers academics to enlighten with reason, civility, and evidence, rather than to incite with propaganda, disobedience, and emotion. Perhaps the Women’s March and its affiliates use these methods because they know that their gun control agenda would never survive an honest, civil, and intellectual contest.

The front-persons of the Women’s March (Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland)

The partners of the Women’s March:

The misguided influence operation of the Women’s March:


SOTU Viewership 1993 to 2018: Trump Beats Obama, 2008 Baffles the Erudite

On January 30, 2018, President Donald J. Trump delivers his first State of the Union Address

Trump’s detractors want to present his SOTU viewership statistics in a way that deflates his influence. Trump’s enthusiasts want to present the numbers in a way that aggrandizes his influence. Alvarism just wants to know the truth in order to best advise our office holders. No other analyst to our knowledge adjusted for population growth or added digital viewers. The result of our analysis shows that nothing much has changed in nearly 30 years except for how viewers choose to watch the speech. When digital viewer projections are added to the numbers, Trump has beaten Obama’s equivalently-phased viewership by about 11% in 2017 and 2018:

The implication? Whether you love or hate Trump, curb your enthusiasm – the trend shows nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps the most alarming thing about this chart is that the Islamist terror attacks of 9/11, dot-com bust, and Iraq War gave crescendo to Bush’s 2003 record engagement, but the housing bust didn’t bump viewership in 2008 to the highest point on this chart. In fact, 2008 was the lowest viewership except for Clinton’s last year in office. It seems as though the long-term and egregious impact of the housing bust was never appreciated and remains obfuscated.

The point about the housing bust is critical. People are apt to tune in when they are either concerned or enthused; therefore, using SOTU viewership as a gauge of Presidential approval is fairly banal. The amount of grand concern over the housing bust should have shot 2008 viewership through the ceiling. Meanwhile some claim Obama’s 2009 reception was “historic” when in fact, it doesn’t even rise to the engagement in 2003 because of the Iraq War, and when Trump has exceeded him by eleven percent.

I’m personally not a fan of modern political speeches, even delivered by politicians that I favor. Carefully constructed emotive content, exploitation of poster children, propaganda techniques, fallacies, and fact-challenged assertions combine into an onslaught of insults against our intelligence and virtues. There’s not some grand conspiracy, it’s just that these techniques have proven to be effective, so all parties hire speechwriters who use them. This modern reality seems to turn Edward Bernays’ Propaganda, Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion, and Bertrand Russell’s The Impact of Science on Society into prophecy.

On the other hand, what I am incredibly interested in, is how effective political teams are at constructing public relations (PR), including speeches. Business PR is not so different from political PR. Businesses are responding to market demands, and engaging buyers. Politicians are responding to civic demands, and engaging voters. The market of American civics is massively diverse. There are so many caucuses, nonprofits, third-parties, and thousands of lobbyists moving policy and ideology in the USA, that party-line devotees to the Democrats or Republicans are often disillusioned by legislation and agency actions that don’t seem “pure” to the party-line. If one politician could achieve everything they intend within our system of checks-and-balances, then our government might look more like a pantheon of warring pagan gods than a Republic with compromise and deference.

The current state of the union tradition was created for mass media broadcast over radio and terrestrial television. For most of our history, it was simply a written report. In the information age, the Constitution’s intent should be fulfilled with modern tools. A stream of well-curated reports and data should be given to congress from the President on a quarterly basis. The President should open his engagement to formal exchanges between party and caucus leaders, and the American public should tune in to those proceedings, rather than emotive speeches decorated by a circus environment of phrase-by-phrase congressional adulation-clapping and protestation-sitting. The Constitutional intent was to create understanding and synergy between the Executive and Legislative branches of our government. It remains unclear how that goal is achieved by foisting 20th century mass media artifacts, mass psychology tactics, and emotive manipulation upon the electorate.

If this widespread distortion of the SOTU historical ratings are indicative – very few Americans are aware of the facts and concepts presented here.

Some sources used in this analysis:

Nielsen ratings:

Age demographics:

Streaming TV Trends:

Streaming TV and Age Demographics:

Traditional TV Trends:

2018 Economic Sovereignty Presentations

What’s better than a one-of-a-kind book that condenses volumes of socioeconomic intrigue, concepts, research, and discoveries into a few hundred pages? It’s a presentation of the findings by the author, with Q&A, and book signing! Economic and financial issues change year-to-year, but the discoveries and concepts in Economic Sovereignty: Prosperity in a Free Society remain the same. In 2018, Alvarism has added an assessment of the new GOP Tax Bill to the Economic Sovereignty presentations.


Use our contact form to RSVP, or private message Alvarism LLC or Thomas Kurek on Facebook.

Please RSVP five days before the event to allow organizers to scale their accommodations. The venue address will be disclosed upon RSVP.

Current Presentation Dates

February 13th, 2018 6:30 PM – Fairfax County, VA
February 25th, 2018 12:30 PM – Sterling, VA

Event Description
Financial self-determination, economic misconceptions, class warfare, and the “managed decline” of the US economy revealed. New GOP tax bill assessed.

What do federal and state governments spend our taxes on? How has government spending changed over the years? What does poverty and prosperity look like in America – by numbers and in lifestyle?

The TEA Party, Occupy Wall Street, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and economists from different schools of analysis have different visions of the American economy. Economic Sovereignty looks at the economy by the hard numbers, evaluates income dynamics, and juxtaposes American economic performance against the global economy. It also evaluates political ideology that biases economic assertions.

This research arrives at concepts for personal financial independence and policy suggestions for the government to eliminate the debt and restore economic self-determination to American citizens. Join the author in a presentation of the key findings and discover this uncommon knowledge with a personal touch.

Author and speaker Thomas Kurek founded Alvarism LLC, a think tank for economic and sociological analysis based upon empirical, rational and perennial knowledge paradigms. His services were commissioned by the State Department, global hospitality and tourism, ecommerce, healthcare, state government, FBI, and Department of Defense.

Revealed: Economic Sovereignty Cover & Graphic Design Decisions

Full cover of Economic Sovereignty – back, spine, front

The graphic art in Economic Sovereignty: Prosperity in a Free Society is fairly suggestive for a nonfiction book in the socioeconomics, political science, political economy, and comparative economics categories. The first requirements were practical – the images must be obtainable in acceptable-quality resolution, and copyright-free. Although this work is academic, educational, journalistic, and not-for-profit – giving us legal fair use for most copyrighted content – there is no good reason to wantonly frustrate our neighbors’ intellectual property claims.

The cover photo was taken by accident during an uncommon blizzard in the suburbs of Washington DC. The photographer, Ms. Jennifer Serrano, was visiting the area to collaborate on the book and investigate prospects for her career. As a California girl who had never seen such an idyllic winter wonderland, she was mesmerized. Unlike we northeastern snow-goers, who tend to call the snow something along the lines of “fluffy white expletives,” dumping upon us only to crash our cars, make our elderly fall on the pavement, and delay our transportation, Jennifer looked at the snow much like a child making igloos and snowmen. I thought she was going to max-out her cloud storage with all the photos she was taking, but her enthusiasm was a fun reminder of what’s loveable in snow.

Consequently, the cover photo was not planned at all. I just remembered it when reviewing dozens of candidates. Winter was the perfect landscape for Economic Sovereignty, because the harsh weather and desolation represent economic erosion perfectly. The blacks, whites, and greys symbolize the continuum of ideology between the valorists and the institutionalists. The green, gold, and red use color psychology that I learned while branding our music technology company, MYnstrel.

As for the subject? A solitary man marches forth, determined, and persevering through the elements, despite the conditions. A sidewalk to his right is covered to his waist in snow – he takes whatever path is available and yields to the occasional car passing to avoid an untimely accident. His heavy briefcase is a mobile office-in-a-bag – running database servers, web servers, software development environments, Microsoft office, internet, graphics design, and video production. A woman who once tried to carry it needed both arms and had to take a break after less than a block of walking. Despite the icy roads, one way or the other, the meeting was going to be held and the work would get done.

The profligate government had no such incentive to get their work done. Even though most roads were more traversable than mine on the day of that photograph, the schools and government were closed in a purely lazy capitulation to lawyers’ liability intimidations. This lack of ruggedness would make our forefathers ashamed of us, recalling Valley Forge:

Luckily, this business warrior had only economic targets and did not have to risk life and limb for his job. What a privilege it is to pursue prosperity in peace without crime and war. This solitary walking man marching uphill, illustrates the individual prosperity considerations and career choices that every American must make for themselves as they try to add value for their neighbors. Nothing needs to be done to create poverty and ignorance; it is the natural state of mankind. Only the willpower and virtue of individual human beings can fight poverty and ignorance.

With all of this in mind, it was the perfect cover photo.

On the back cover, the Hindenburg disaster is shown to illustrate the coming economic crises, and the historical crises in general that are discussed in the book. Few know that the creators of the Hindenburg warned its operators not to fly it during conditions favorable to static electricity. The operators ignored the warning and it exploded when they dropped the metal cables to the ground. Likewise, this book is a warning about the financial decisions that lead to economic disaster – on a personal and national level.

The photo of Warsaw Poland in the aftermath of World War 2 shows a woman and man making their photo to look as the city did before the destruction. It is a reminder that such rose-colored glasses can be useful in the aftermath of any tragedy, so that people can pick up the pieces and make the best of what comes next. But to what extent does this idealism hinder the accurate perception that’s needed to make the right choices?

The honeycomb and honey pictures on the spine represent the brand of the Alvarian Press and its motto: “Hive mind resigned, honeybee set free.” It is a reminder of the Barberini family’s paternalistic view of its subjects in 17th century Italy, as they opposed the Medici family. Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected as Pope, and he put the honeybees of his coat of arms on his monuments. John Bargrave said of Pope Urban VIII:

“Upon his elevation, his kindred flew from Florence to Rome like so many bees (which are the Barberini’s arms), to suck the honey of the Church, which they did excessively.”

In the context of the time, honey was a symbol of God’s favor in the promised land, and the hive represented a well-ruled Church. Later, bees were used often on the seals of savings and loans institutes. Alvarism wants to spread the honey, and rejoices in the liberated thinking that guards against Barberini-styled nepotism and collectivism that was encouraged by so many institutionalists in history. In ideological terms – we are erasing the patronizing symbolism of the hive and bees by appropriating it for its opposite meaning. If the Medici family could laugh from beyond the grave, this sardonic imagery would be their punch line.

The cover is definitely not the crowning achievement of Economic Sovereignty compared to the actual research, but it’s a great illustration and enhancement. There is meaning and purpose behind every detail.

But Economic Sovereignty today! Click here for more details!

Alvarism Activities Update

A sarcastically hysterical meme about priorities of innovators

The project load and task lists of Alvarism never grow shorter. Here is a quick update on recent activities:

  1. Thomas Kurek’s labor was required to maintain MYnstrel, Inc.’s trademark with the USPTO. The Office Action response was completed and submitted last weekend
  2. MYnstrel Inc.’s old website was stunning, but newer and more efficient platforms exist today for basic communications. The site is transitioning to a WordPress platform, and partners are updating the migrated content. The old site will be available on one of our domains within the next few weeks.
  3. The final pieces of the series, The Dangerous Fake Narratives of Hackers, Internet Trolls, and Spies, will not be published until congressional Republicans decide how to shape a commission that decouples the realistic election results from the foreign influence operations. If it is delayed past Q1, we will publish an update.
  4. The Civic Social Network – the next generation of social networking that empowers news consumers, activists, nonprofits, government liaisons, and academic researchers – is on its way towards financing. Thomas Kurek is personally designing the system, using Sparx Enterprise Architect.
  5. News2Share has requested that Thomas Kurek appear in a documentary on transhumanism. Alvarism is preparing a briefing on the economic implications of transhumanism – focusing on implications for the division of labor, political economy, prosperity incidence, disruptive innovation, and the disutility of labor. The interview is tentatively scheduled for the end of February. The documentary is not advocacy, but aims to present an objective treatment of the topic.
  6. The second Alvarism book is scheduled for release at the end of 2017. It educates readers on the economic support industries – healthcare, immigration, criminal justice, national security, and culture (religion, education, civics, journalism, entertainment). It also chronicles those industries by the numbers with the same rigor as Economic Sovereignty. There are reams of major discoveries. A teaser: based upon democide and troop casualty data, the US is one of the most peaceful nations in history. Reagan’s rejuvenation of peace through strength was not just fanciful rhetoric. Also, Americans spend much more on culture than healthcare and energy. Here is a challenge that emerged: how does a person find statistics on homicide, broken down by the type of killing? Can you find historical data on prosecutions for first-degree, second-degree, manslaughter, justifiable homicide, and felony murder? If you can, please contact us and let us know! You will be shocked at how American crime and imprisonment has changed over the years. Once you get to know the economic support industries, you will have a powerful understanding of some of the most important experiences in our lives – war, peace, crime, punishment, health, and culture. You will also see how these industries can either enhance or degrade prosperity.
  7. Requested public speaking engagements have been postponed until Q2-Q3 due to priorities
  8. New content will be published to the website throughout Q1

Onwards and upwards!

The Dangerous Fake Narratives of Hackers, Internet Trolls, and Spies: Part 2

Nathan Hale is Executed by the British on September 22, 1776 for Spying

In part one of this essay, we reviewed Russian and American political influence scuffles reported by The Atlantic, The New Yorker, New York Times, and Washington Post. Without context that includes the 2011 Russian election fraud and the Trolls from Olgino, an observer may be incredibly confused upon hearing of alleged Russian hacking. Conflating Wikileaks and its source with the hacking entity is a popular misnomer. But before we turn to hacking, we need to complete the story of Russian trolling, disinformation, and “fake news.” Without this knowledge, we have no context for the greater Russo-American political influence scuffle to which these events contribute. How did the United States respond to coordinated Russian disinformation in 2014? Why would Russian trolls shift from fanning the flames of leftist narratives to supporting Trump?

2014: The US Counter-Disinformation Team

Rick Stengel, US State Department Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy

The US State Department was tired of Russia meddling with American public opinion. Secretary of State John Kerry called the Russian state-sponsored news media in the West, Russia Today (RT), a Kremlin propaganda arm. His Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, Richard Stengel wrote that RT engages in disinformation.

Under the Bureau of International Information Programs, the US State Department created a Counter-Disinformation Team, modeled after the Reagan Administration’s Active Measures Working Group. With a beta website and hired staff, the project was scrapped after only eight months. Counterintelligence officer John R. Schindler said that the Obama administration decided that the project would antagonize Russia. An anonymous official inside of the US State Department said that the Obama administration simply refused to take Russian disinformation seriously. Both are likely to be true – the Obama Administration likely had the mentality – “why are we going to antagonize a foreign nation by responding to a threat that we don’t believe can seriously impact America?”

Perhaps one of the most glaring political contradictions of this story is that we do not hear a clamor from Democrats about the Counter-Disinformation Team. Top Democrat officials with the power to confront Russian meddling, identified the threat in 2014 and then summarily scrapped the program. Now they speak of “fake news,” disinformation, and hacking, only after they lost an election. There’s nary a whisper to be heard in Democrat circles, saying, “Who were the people that promoted the Counter-Disinformation Team? Which of Obama’s appointees scrapped the program? That project would have preempted this issue.”

On the other hand, the question of whether government intelligence teams are the best tools to confront disinformation is much more important and will be discussed at the end of this series.

2015: Russian Trolls for Trump

After exacerbating American racial and class tensions with leftist groups like La Raza, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Wall Street, Russian disinformation shifted to promoting Trump and denigrating Hillary Clinton. The Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University, RAND Corporation, and the Foreign Policy Research Institute agreed that Russia was using social media, paid internet trolls, botnets, and websites to criticize Clinton and support Trump. But why would they support Trump? Was this just the Putin Administration’s revenge on American Democrats for shedding light on his party’s corruption in 2011?

Knowing the biography of the Putin Administration, we can say that it was a delightful three-for-one deal: revenge/intimidation, shifting US/Russian loyalties abroad, and chaos in US civics. Their emotional side relished the thought of getting revenge against Hillary Clinton. Their rational side perceived an opportunity to serve Russian state objectives.

The Russian government does not care who wins US elections. Their goal is to erode faith in the United States government, its policies, and its interests, in order to pave a path for Russian influence, culture, deals, and policies abroad. Russia has adopted a part-mercantilist and part-Eurasianist stance, and its competitor is “Atlanticism,” led by the United States. Russian interference in US civics will always fight Atlanticism, and support their mercantilist and Eurasianist positions. The research of RAND, Elliot School, and FPRI was corroborated after the election, when Russian officials were caught celebrating Trump’s victory by NSA signals intelligence (SIGINT). This suggests that Putin’s Administration truly believes that Trump will be better for its mercantilist and Eurasianist agenda and worse for Atlanticism. Whether or not that is true – a separate issue. Russia has been wrong about most concepts in politics, economy, and culture for over a century. It also suggests that the Russian trolling for Trump was not motivated by revenge or disruption of US civics alone.

A third motivation is to spread chaos in United States civic discourse via disinformation, so that Americans have a harder time arriving at a sensible understanding of their own interests. Disinformation (black propaganda) does not induce emotional support like standard propaganda. It is an intentionally false narrative, supported by some truths, which poisons open communication channels by lowering the signal-to-noise ratio (valid information is the signal, disinformation is the noise). Disinformation fills the citizen’s head with lies, and it also creates noise and chaos. People then become cynical and paranoid about the communication channel itself, and they have a harder time participating in free, honest, and open information exchange. Most people lose interest in listening to the communication because picking out the signals from the noise becomes too tedious.

Intelligence is ultimately a preparation of the battlespace. The battle can take the form of a conventional war, or economic, monetary, trade, or cultural conflict. Exacerbating racial, religious, ideological, and class tensions, dramatizing and exaggerating corruption in the US government, and filling American heads with fiction serves the same goal – weakening American civics. That cannot be achieved by exclusively playing for one side of the tension.

With this in mind, many casual observers are misled to believe that Russian trolls promoted Trump because they are incredibly excited about his policies. When we understand that the goal is to make American civics “stink” so that normal people do not like touching it, it makes perfect sense that Russian trolls would fan the flames of the Black Lives Matter, La Raza, Occupy Wall Street, and Corrupt-Hillary narratives. Soiling Trump with mountains of polemic did not need extra help. Popular US news media was doing passionate work on that task. To soil all candidates involved and produce the sentiment that the entire election is disgusting required dirt on Hillary Clinton. And quite frankly, digging up dirt on established political dynasties like the Clintons is not a difficult endeavor.

Finally, the Putin Administration’s Information Operations/Information Warfare (IO/IW) achieved classic mafia-like intimidation in addition to revenge and deranged American civic infighting. It sent a dire intimidation to American politicians of all parties: “Do not dare bring attention to Russian corruption, or assist Russian opposition politics, or else you will be the next target of destruction by disinformation, hacking, and IO/IW in general.” The Trump administration has received this message loud and clear. It will be interesting to see how it responds to the intimidation. Cowardly denial and avoidance? Brazen retaliation? Or giving Russia lip service while taking countermeasures behind the curtain?

Russia had an axe to grind with America after they blamed “the West” for their own civil unrest in response to the 2011 Russian election fraud. They started grinding that axe with the Trolls of Olgino. But trolling is not rocket science. Russia’s state-sponsored trolling surely was emulated by thousands of Russophilic sycophantic parrots across the globe with too much time on their hands. In this way, state-sponsored disinformation made by a few hundred agents can snowball into viral internet content. Former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, put it perfectly when he characterized Russian trolling as seeking to weaken opponents and critics. He said, “They don’t try to win the argument. It’s to make everything seem relative. It’s kind of an appeal to cynicism.”

With the background of Russian-American political influence scuffles, the subsequent trolling, disinformation, and counter-disinformation stories elaborated, we have the context to ask each American: how can you confront trolls and disinformation?

Unprecedented statistical analysis of crime, warfare, terrorism, and espionage is presented in a chapter of Alvarism Book Two, which is not yet published. This essay supplements that chapter.

The Dangerous Fake Narratives of Hackers, Internet Trolls, and Spies: Part 1

A Joke Referring to Russian Alaska Day, Galvanizing Russian Patriotism by Fabricating Historical Resentment

News coverage of the Russian/American dance of political intrigue, including hacking, internet trolling, and propaganda has been mostly myopic. The braided conversation is currently filled with everything that makes our modern news environment toxic. Conflicting groups mingle twisted psychology with international espionage deceptions into a maelstrom of fiction. Many Democrats have used Russia as a scapegoat for their political repudiation at the polls, in complete denial of their failures. For those whose memories extend beyond four years, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party peddled a similar narrative about United States’ alleged interference with Russian elections in 2011. Meanwhile, many Republicans have denied Russian involvement, cynically asserting that Russian hacking is just a fabrication to stain the legitimacy of Trump and his rightwing appointees. Conspiracy theories abound. Some of the most fanciful: Obama sabotaged Hillary Clinton for his own personal gain, Israel hacked the DNC, and our own intelligence agencies carried out the hacks. Where are the professional, nuanced, and honest presentations of facts and context?

Because this saga of global intrigue requires uncommon knowledge of espionage, politics, public relations, and ideology, and spans complex ongoing events since 2011, the story could not be told in one-thousand words. In this three-part essay we will discuss the first volley during the Russian election of 2011, the Russian disinformation response via The Trolls of Olgino, the failed United States countermeasure in John Kerry’s scrapped Counter-Disinformation Team, the evolving Russian disinformation objectives, the alleged Russian hacking of US political parties, and finally what impact, if any, Russian activities had on the election outcome, and whether they achieved their intelligence objectives (two separate concerns). We will close with some practical advice on confronting internet trolls of all sorts, and how America should respond to disinformation in general, whether it comes from a particular foreign intelligence program, useful idiots, or domestic institutions.

Citizen Confirmation Bias

To be clear, all intelligence operations are conspiracies, but armchair activists who have never so much as read a single textbook on intelligence, are always way out of their league when they speculate about espionage events. Successful deception relies upon telling the asset or target what they want to hear; nearly every bogus narrative and distortion of these complex events can be reduced to confirmation bias. Democrats do not want to believe the voters rejected their offerings in 2016. Republicans do not want to believe that Trump benefited from foreign hostilities. If the prevailing fears are of Obama, Israel, or the US intelligence community, then they must be the conspirators. In the absence of certainty, mobs of jokers are chanting, “hubba, hubba, hubba, who do ya trust?”

The least psychologically rewarding conspirator is Russia. Very few Americans are satisfied by thinking that their elections are vulnerable to foreign meddling, and in 2016, America is weary of foreign entanglement. The notion of a new major conflict does not reduce the cost of healthcare, college, and taxes, nor does it increase job opportunities and returns on investments. Americans are much more apt to indict corruption in their own government than to admit a foreign government has the power to trounce the American government in a significant way.

Unfortunately for Citizen Confirmation Bias, who relishes shoving his fingers in his ears as he swallows the banal narrative that suits his ego most favorably, getting the story right is his only cure. Misdirected hostility against fellow Americans, and the whitewashing of foreign hostilities can lead to diplomatic and security nightmares – at worst, economic turmoil and proxy wars. We must review the major players, their interests, evidence, and implications to understand these critical events.

The 2011 Russian Election Fraud

Tens of thousands of Russians protest election fraud in 2011

The story begins in 2011 when Russian election monitors reported pervasive fraud – suggesting that Vladimir Putin’s United Russia was saved by cheating. Russian opposition websites were hacked. Russia’s Interior Ministry pursued three criminal cases, and cited hundreds of electoral breaches. Massive protests ensued. If Americans thought that their election of 2016 was a Barnum & Bailey Circus, then the Russian election of 2011 was an international tour of Cirque du Soleil.

From her US State Department officialdom, Hillary Clinton twisted the knife protruding from United Russia’s belly, calling for investigations into Russian election fraud and the Putin Administration’s intimidation. She characterized the Russian election as “neither free nor fair.” Putin and Medvedev reacted to the allegations with denial, despite dozens-of-thousands of Russian protestors and official indictments by the Russian government itself. Medvedev said, “I consider such statements absolutely irresponsible, deceitful, and even provocative.” Putin blamed the protests on Hillary Clinton’s “signal,” as he derided his Russian protestors – calling their white ribbons “condoms” and accusing them of being paid agents of the West.

This event is significant because it formed the motivation for the latest volley of Information Operations/Information Warfare (IO/IW) between the United States and Russia. Russian internal corruption, in which Putin’s government perpetrated intimidation, fraud, and cheating, while political parties jostled and hacked each other, was simply called out by Hillary Clinton from an official capacity. America became an easy target for Putin’s Administration when they accused Hillary Clinton of “deceit and provocation,” and their domestic opponents of being paid Western agents. Putin’s political entourage had secured their scapegoats for civil unrest in the wake of their contaminated democratic proceedings.

The 2013 Trolls from Olgino

It wasn’t long before Vladimir Putin’s first deputy, Vyacheslav Volodin, created a troll farm named the Internet Research Agency Ltd., also known as The Trolls from Olgino. In the summer of 2013, it was time for Putin and his cohorts to retaliate against “Atlanticism” of which the United States is the purported head in Russian ideological parlance. Hundreds of paid trolls made blog posts, comments, infographics, and viral videos on behalf of Russian interests. But these influence agents are not just out to spread pro-Russian propaganda. Their main goal is to perpetrate campaigns of hate, disinformation, and harassment. Investigative Journalist Adrian Chen said, “They seek to overwhelm social media with a flood of fake content, seeding doubt and paranoia, and destroying the possibility of using the internet as a democratic space.” He added a disclosure from Leonid Volkov, “The point is to spoil it, to create the atmosphere of hate, to make it so stinky that normal people won’t want to touch it.” In other words, Russian intelligence wants us to be looking at kitty cat memes instead of evidence-based articles like this.

Western investigative journalists claimed that the Russian trolls were ideologically blind. Sometimes they would promote American racial tensions with Black Lives Matter or La Raza narratives, and class warfare with Occupy Wall Street narratives. Other times, the trolls would incite ideological division in the USA by jumping onto naturally dirty American political battles with election disinformation and hacking disclosures. As we will discover by the end of this piece, the Russian paid trolls are not ideologically blind. Western observers simply do not tend to read the ideological doctrines disseminated to Russian leaders through their training and education, and they try to force-fit Russian ideology into their own Western political categories.

In the next article, we will discuss the US response to the Trolls of Olgino, the trolls’ shift to exacerbating ideological division, and the arguments for-and-against Russian hacking.

Unprecedented statistical analysis of crime, warfare, terrorism, and espionage is presented in a chapter of Alvarism Book Two, which is not yet published. This essay supplements that chapter.

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