China, the USA, and the Afghanistan war are linked. And in order to get here, we will start there. submitted by
9-11 happened. Most of the planet mistakenly understood terrorists had struck a blow against Freedom and Capitalism and Democracy. It was time to invade Afghanistan. Yet all of the terrorists were linked to Saudi Arabia and not Afghanistan, that didn't make sense either. Yet they invaded to find Bin Laden, an ex CIA asset against the Soviet Union and it's subjugation of Afghanistan. The land in the middle of nowhere in relation to North America and the West. It was barren. A backwater without any strategic importance or natural resources.
Or was there?
The survey for rare earth elements was only made possible by the 2001 U.S. invasion, with work beginning in 2004. Mirzad says the Russians had already done significant surveying work during their military occupation of the country in the 1980s. Mirzad also toes the line for U.S. corporations, arguing, “The Afghan government should not touch the mining business. We have to give enough information to potential investors.”
Rare Earth Elements. The elements that make the information age possible. People could understand the First Gulf War and the Geopolitical importance of oil. That was easy, but it still didn't sound morally just to have a war for oil. It was too imperialist and so they fell in line and supported a war for Kuwaiti freedom instead, despite the obvious and public manipulation at the UN by Nayirah.
This is some of her testimony to the Human Rights Council.
While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators and left the children to die on the cold floor. It was horrifying. I could not help but think of my nephew who was born premature and might have died that day as well. After I left the hospital, some of my friends and I distributed flyers condemning the Iraqi invasion until we were warned we might be killed if the Iraqis saw us.
The Iraqis have destroyed everything in Kuwait. They stripped the supermarkets of food, the pharmacies of medicine, the factories of medical supplies, ransacked their houses and tortured neighbors and friends.
There was only one problem. She was the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign, which was run by the American public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government (fun fact, Hill & Knowlton also have extensive ties with Bill Gates).
So the public was aghast at her testimony and supported the war against the mainly Soviet backed, but also American supported and Soviet backed Saddam Hussein, in his war against Iran, after the Iranians refused to Ally with American interests after the Islamic Revolution.
But that was oil, this was Rare Earth Elements. There was a reason the war was called, Operation Enduring Freedom. This natural resource was far more important in the long run. You couldn't have a security surveillance apparatus without it. And what was supposed to be a war on terror was in actuality a territorial occupation for resources.
Sleeping Dragon China is next, and where there's smoke, there's fire.
Let's go point form for clarity.
• China entered the rare earth market in the mid-1980s, at a time when the US was the major producer. But China soon caught up and became the production leader for rare earths. Its heavily state-supported strategy was aimed at dominating the global rare earth industry.
• 1989 Beijing’s Tiananmen Square spring. The U.S. government suspends military sales to Beijing and freezes relations.
• 1997. Clinton secures the release of Wei and Tiananmen Square protester Wang Dan. Beijing deports both dissidents to the United States. (If you don't understand these two were CIA assets working in China, you need to accept that not everything will be published. America wouldn't care about two political activists, but why would care about two intelligence operatives).
• March 1996. Taiwan’s First Free Presidential Vote.
• May 1999. America "accidently" bombs the Belgrade Chinese Embassy.
• 2002 Price competitiveness was hard for the USA to achieve due to low to non-existent Chinese environmental standards; as a result, the US finally stopped its rare earth production.
• October 2000. U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the U.S.-China Relations Act. China's take over of the market share in rare earth elements starts to increase.
• October 2001. Afghanistan war Enduring Freedom started to secure rare earth elements (Haven't you ever wondered how they could mobilize and invade so quickly? The military was already prepared).
• 2005. China establishes a monopoly on global production by keeping mineral prices low and then panics markets by introducing export quotas to raise prices by limiting supply.
• Rare Earth Elements. Prices go into the stratosphere (for example, dysprosium prices do a bitcoin, rocketing from $118/kg to $2,262/kg between 2008 and 2011).
• In a September 2005. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick initiates a strategic dialogue with China. This was presented as dialog to acknowledge China's emergence as a Superpower (which China probably insisted on), but it was about rare earth elements market price.
• October 2006. China allows North Korea to conduct its first nuclear test, China serves as a mediator to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table with the USA.
• September 2006. American housing prices start to fall.
(At some point after this, secret negotiations must have become increasingly hostile).
• March 2007. China Increases Military Spending. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says China’s military buildup is “not consistent” with the country’s stated goal of a “peaceful rise.”
• Mid-2005 and mid-2006. China bought between $100b and $250 billion of US housing debt between mid-2005 and mid-2006. This debt was bought using the same financial instruments that caused the financial collapse.
• 2006. Housing prices started to fall for the first time in decades.
• Mid-2006 and mid-2007. China likely added another $390b to its reserves. "At the same time, if China stopped buying -- especially now, when the private market is clogged up -- US financial markets would really seize up." Council on Foreign Relations-2007 August
• February 27, 2007. Stock markets in China and the U.S. fell by the most since 2003. Investors leave the money market and flock to Government backed Treasury Bills.
I've never seen it like this before,'' said Jim Galluzzo, who began trading short-maturity Treasuries 20 years ago and now trades bills at RBS Greenwich Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut.Bills right now are trading like dot-coms.''
We had clients asking to be pulled out of money market funds and wanting to get into Treasuries,'' said Henley Smith, fixed-income manager in New York at Castleton Partners, which oversees about $150 million in bonds.People are buying T-bills because you know exactly what's in it.''
• February 13, 2008. The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 was enacted, which included a tax rebate. The total cost of this bill was projected at $152 billion for 2008. A December 2009 study found that only about one-third of the tax rebate was spent, providing only a modest amount of stimulus.
• September 2008. China Becomes Largest U.S. Foreign Creditor at 600 billion dollars.
• 2010. China’s market power peaked in when it reached a market share of around 97% of all rare earth mineral production. Outside of China, there were almost no other producers left.
Outside of China, the US is the second largest consumer of rare earths in the world behind Japan.
About 60% of US rare earth imports are used as catalysts for petroleum refining, making it the country’s major consumer of rare earths.
The US military also depends on rare earths. Many of the most advanced US weapon systems, including smart bombs, unmanned drones, cruise missiles, laser targeting, radar systems and the Joint Strike Fighter programme rely on rare earths. Against this background, the US Department of Defense (DoD) stated that “reliable access to the necessary material is a bedrock requirement for DOD”
• 2010. A trade dispute arose when the Chinese government reduced its export quotas by 40% in 2010, sending the rare earths prices in the markets outside China soaring. The government argued that the quotas were necessary to protect the environment.
• August 2010. China Becomes World’s Second-Largest Economy.
• November 2011. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlines a U.S. “pivot” to Asia. Clinton’s call for “increased investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region” is seen as a move to counter China’s growing clout.
• December 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama announces the United States and eight other nations have reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership later announces plans to deploy 2,500 marines in Australia, prompting criticism from Beijing.
• November 2012. China’s New Leadership. Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao as president, Communist Party general secretary, and chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xi delivers a series of speeches on the “rejuvenation” of China.
• June 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping for a “shirt-sleeves summit”
• May 19, 2014. A U.S. court indicts five Chinese hackers, allegedly with ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army, on charges of stealing trade technology from U.S. companies.
• November 12, 2014. Joint Climate Announcement. Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issue a joint statement on climate change, pledging to reduce carbon emissions. (which very conveniently allows the quotas to fall and save pride for Xi).
• 2015. China drops the export quotas because in 2014, the WTO ruled against China.
• May 30, 2015 U.S. Warns China Over South China Sea. (China is trying to expand it's buffer zone to build a defense for the coming war).
• January 2016. The government to abolish the one-child policy, now allowing all families to have two children.
• February 9, 2017. Trump Affirms One China Policy After Raising Doubts.
• April 6 – 7, 2017. Trump Hosts Xi at Mar-a-Lago. Beijing and Washington to expand trade of products and services like beef, poultry, and electronic payments, though the countries do not address more contentious trade issues including aluminum, car parts, and steel.
• November 2017. President Xi meets with President Trump in another high profile summit.
• March 22, 2018. Trump Tariffs Target China. The White House alleges Chinese theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property. Coming on the heels of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the measures target goods including clothing, shoes, and electronics and restrict some Chinese investment in the United States.
• July 6, 2018 U.S.-China Trade War Escalates.
• September 2018. Modifications led to the exclusion of rare earths from the final list of products and they consequently were not subject to import tariffs imposed by the US government in September 2018.
• October 4, 2018. Pence Speech Signals Hard-Line Approach. He condemns what he calls growing Chinese military aggression, especially in the South China Sea, criticizes increased censorship and religious persecution by the Chinese government, and accuses China of stealing American intellectual property and interfering in U.S. elections.
• December 1, 2018. Canada Arrests Huawei Executive.
• March 6, 2019. Huawei Sues the United States.
• March 27 2019. India and the US signed an agreement to "strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation" including the construction of six American nuclear reactors in India
• May 10, 2019. Trade War Intensifies.
• August 5, 2019. U.S. Labels China a Currency Manipulator.
• November 27, 2019. Trump Signs Bill Supporting Hong Kong Protesters. Chinese officials condemn the move, impose sanctions on several U.S.-based organizations, and suspend U.S. warship visits to Hong Kong.
• January 15, 2020. ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Signed. But the agreement maintains most tariffs and does not mention the Chinese government’s extensive subsidies. Days before the signing, the United States dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator.
• January 31, 2020. Tensions Soar Amid Coronavirus Pandemic.
• March 18, 2020. China Expels American Journalists. The Chinese government announces it will expel at least thirteen journalists from three U.S. newspapers—the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post—whose press credentials are set to expire in 2020. Beijing also demands that those outlets, as well as TIME and Voice of America, share information with the government about their operations in China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says the moves are in response to the U.S. government’s decision earlier in the year to limit the number of Chinese journalists from five state-run media outlets in the United States to 100, down from 160, and designate those outlets as foreign missions.
And here we are. You may have noticed the Rare Earth Elements and the inclusion of Environmental Standards. Yes these are key to understanding the Geopolitical reality and importance of these events. There's a reason the one child policy stopped. Troop additions.
I believe our current political reality started at Tiananmen square. The protests were an American sponsored attempt at regime change after the failure to convince them to leave totalitarian communism and join a greater political framework.
Do I have proof? Yes.
China, as far as I'm concerned, was responsible for the 2008 economic crisis. The Rare Earth Elements were an attempt to weaken the States and strengthen themselves simultaneously. This stranglehold either forced America to trade with China, or the trade was an American Trojan horse to eventually collapse their economy and cause a revolution after Tiananmen Square failed. Does my second proposal sound far fetched? Didn't the economy just shut down in response to the epidemic? Aren't both sides blaming the other? At this POINT, the epidemic seems to be overstated doesn’t it? Don't the casualties tend to the elder demographic and those already weakened by a primary disease?
Exactly the kinds who wouldn't fight in a war.
Does this change some of my views on the possibility of upcoming catastrophes and reasons for certain events? No. This is Chess, and there are obvious moves in chess, hidden moves in chess, but the best moves involve peices which can be utilized in different ways if the board calls for it.
Is all what it seems? No.
I definitely changed a few previously held beliefs prior to today, and I would caution you in advance that you will find some previously held convictions challenged.
After uncovering what I did today, I would also strongly suggest reading information cautiously. This is all merely a culmination of ending the cold war, and once I have events laid out, you will see it as well.
At this moment, the end analysis is a war will start in the near future. This will be mainly for a few reasons, preemptive resource control for water and crops, population reduction can be achieved since we have too many people, not enough jobs, and upcoming resource scarcity.
Did you notice my omission of rare earth elements? This is because of Afghanistan. I would wager China or Russia is somehow supporting the continued resistance through Iran. But events are now accelerating with China because the western collation has already begun to build up their mines and start production.
Do you remember when Trump made a "joke" about buying Greenland? Yeah. It turns out that Greenland has one of the largest rare earth mineral deposits on the planet.
Take care. Be safe. Stay aware and be prepared.
This message not brought to you by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Elon Musk, Blackrock, Vangaurd, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rand Corporation, DARPA, Rothschilds, Agenda 21, Agenda 30, and ID 2020.
Well, February 22nd makes it one whole year. I think that's deserving of a top level post, right?
Here are screenshots of the Mint Trends, which has every single expense from the past year categorized. I've added comments on each page. Expenses Overview Auto Expenses Food Expenses Home Expenses Utility Expenses Tax Expenses Healthcare Expenses Entertainment Expenses
Main takeaways, my total expenses for the year was $37,700, but I'm going to dismiss about $15,000 of that as "one time" expenses from paying off my car and my furniture loan. A more reasonable number for my annual spend is $22,700.
With my car payment gone, my highest expense category is Food, averaging $500 per month. This has room for improvement.
Healthcare will look artificially low last year because of taking Tax Credits up front. This year I am not and will be paying $325 per month for health insurance. At ~$4000 per year, this puts healthcare at nearly 20% of my total expenses.
Nothing else is particularly interesting. That $22,700 figure is a reasonable real-world number for me, but for future planning I'd still inflate that to $25,000 just to have more wiggle room. I may look into traveling this year, which would add some expense. Investments:
Vanguard Investments: (All in VTSAX)
- Traditional IRA: $299,000 -> $348,000
- Roth IRA: $14,500 -> $18,150
- Brokerage: $18,400 -> $22,900
- Total Rollup: $331,800 -> $389,100. ~17% return
Other LTCG holdings: $145,000 -> $291,000 (other investment accounts and bitcoin)
HSA Investment Account: $6000 -> $7400, with another $1700 in the "cash" holdings of the HSA.
$9000 cash in Money Market & Checking Account. Finances Going Forward
I had earned income last year so I didn't start my Roth Conversion Ladder last year. This year I decided I will be converting the $12,400 standard deduction + $9600 of the first tax bracket for a nice round $22,000 converted. Yes I'll owe a little bit of taxes, but it sets up my Roth with $22k in 5 years which should cover the majority of my expenses. And with $350k currently in tIRA and converting $22,000 per year, I won't be able to chew through it all before actual retirement age.
I have about $20k from an old stock purchase plan that unlocks come April, which I will be selling and likely moving over to my money market account to shore up my "cash" holdings.
My plan is to not really tap any of my "normal" investment accounts for as long as possible. I've been deferring to selling Bitcoin if I need to move some cash over. Last year I sold 3 bitcoin, one for $9300 in June, and then two at the end of December (for tax year Capital Gains reasons) for $7300 each. These were all LTCG at 0% taxed. AGI for last year is around $35,000. The Living Part:
There's all the boring expenses and financial stuff. Now for the ever painful question that my beloved Grandmother loves to ask, "But gosh, what do you do with all of your time! I can't imagine being retired at your age!"
Step 1, restful sleep. During my working career I lived off 6 hours of sleep every day. It made for exhausting weekends trying to "make it up." And luckily I'm not a generally stressful person or else it'd have been worse. But now I go to bed when I'm tired, and whenever I naturally wake up, I get up. This can lead to VERY weird hours since I'm often an extreme night owl. But I generally get 9-10 perfect restful uninterrupted dream-filled hours of sleep.
I'm betrayed by my "Food Expense" breakdown, but I really am cooking more and eating better. I drink a lot of coffee and water at home and generally try to eat only one meal per day, but sometimes lunch and dinner. I don't normally eat breakfast, just have coffee when I wake up. And did I mention how much less painful it is to go grocery shopping when it's in the middle of the day and everyone's at work. It's so nice.
I spend a lot of time on reddit browsing my front page, and I check out the YouTubers I follow that post daily, then check out any of the irregular posters. Depending on how much good stuff there is, this could go on for a few hours.
I have a lot of hours playing video games. I tend toward puzzle games or building games (Factorio, Satisfactory) because they scratch that itch in my engineering brain. There are times at night where I'll spend hours
on this website: https://www.puzzle-sudoku.com/
and play Sudoku or Nonograms or any of the other puzzle types on the bottom of the page.
I'm doing my best to watch every single last show on Netflix. It's a daunting task, though it's surprising how often I drift back toward watching the same smattering of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes rather than try something new. But I try and take recommendations and work my way through shows.
And Podcasts! The joy of joys is when I come across a new-to-me podcast that has a huge backlog. I found a great ST:TNG rewatch podcast that had 108 episodes already done. I spent like 2 months watching the episode of TNG then immediately listening to their podcast about that episode, repeat repeat repeat. I'm currently working my way through The Adventure Zone, I'm on episode 46 of 155 with them. And they keep advertising the other podcasts The McElroys do so I'm sure I'll roll into one of those next. For many people podcasts are background noise, but I'll often just sit on the couch and concentrate on just listening the podcast.
Outside of home, I can't wait for the weather to get nicer so I can go on more walks. Being a night owl I like going for walks at night. I live near our city center so I'm within blocks of city hall, the main library branch, and the fountain / park.
I jump at any opportunity to hang out with friends. It's just about every weekend that we are getting together to hang out and play board games. Like I mentioned in one of the breakdowns, I've started to play D&D with my buddy and his wife. I'd never played before but he's been DMing for years (but hasn't had a group for 10+ years now). He's glad to be playing again, his wife loves
it, and it's super convenient for them to stay home with the 5 month old daughter. (And baby gets to hang out with Uncle Oracle.)
I get together with former co-workers every few months to keep in touch with them. One in particular I have a standing every-2-month bar date with. I remind them every so often that if they want to go out to lunch ever
to just call me. Personal History
Just a quick personal history in closing. I was an automotive engineer working for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in the Metro Detroit area. In the 2008 downturn I lost my job and was unemployed for 2 years and ended up getting my house foreclosed in 2010. By the time i got a job in March of 2010 I was basically at $0. I had a tiny amount in an 401k, had about $20,000 in credit card debt from being unemployed.
But then I got a very well paying engineering job ($108k annual and eligible for time-and-half overtime). I kept living like I was unemployed, spent as little as possible and saved as much as possible. Through my parents I secured a mortgage on a nice 1 Bed / 1 Bath 900 sq ft condo. I paid off my CC debt in less than a year and kept banking cash and maxing my 401k every year.
I heard about bitcoin in early 2013 (from a guildmate in World of Warcraft, believe it or not) and jumped on board. All time bitcoin price chart (log scale) for those unfamiliar with the history.
I got in before the first spike to $1000 in December of 2013, and kept buying throughout the downswing in 2014 / 2015. In 2017 I sold 5.6 BTC for a total of $6000 and paid off the last of my student loans and my car, then a few months later I sold 4.25 BTC for $6700 and paid off the last of my condo mortgage. So in May of 2017 I was officially debt free and had a net worth of about $200,000.
Then in the fall of 2017 was when bitcoin exploded. I knew I had to take profits here. Every time the price went up 10% I sold another bitcoin. $7500, $9000, $10700, $13000, $15500, $18600. I sold all the way up. I ended up selling about $100,000 in bitcoin that year and I pushed most of it into my Roth IRA and Brokerage accounts.
Then I really started thinking about FIRE in early 2018. Started doing the math, tried to see what my expenses would be, and thought I'd give it ago. I've told myself from day 1 that I'd give this trial a solid 2 years. If I don't feel good about it, or the money doesn't seem right, then I'll still only be 40 years old and could (IMO) easily jump right back into an engineering gig. So I targeted early 2019 so I could frontload my 401k for two months, grab the annual bonus, then peace out.
TL:DR: 38, FIREd, Money's looking right, Life is feeling right, everything is fine
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