The Voluntary Life: September 2012

24 September 2012

77 Internationalising Yourself

This episode discusses ways in which you can overcome the limitations of the country in which you happen to have been born and, as much as possible, live with the whole of planet earth as your homeland. The topics covered include:

  • Travelling and seeing the world, to help you make conscious choices about where you want to spend your life
  • Taking the opportunity to live abroad for extended periods of time so that you can experience life in different parts of the world
  • Learning another language and giving yourself different tools to think with
  • Internationalising some of your assets, as geo-political diversification in case of catastrophic events such as a war.
  • If you have the opportunity, taking advantage of the chance to obtain dual nationality to further extend your flexibility in terms of where you can work or live. 

Podcast Episode

17 September 2012

76 The Permanent Portfolio: Author Interview With Craig Rowland

This episode is an interview with Craig Rowland, who is the co-author of a new book called The Permanent Portfolio: Harry Browne's Long-Term Investment Strategy. Craig is also author of the Crawling Road blog and host of the permanent portfolio forum. In the episode we discuss the Permanent Portfolio strategy and many of the insights from Craig's new book. We talk about the way in which the Permanent Portfolio approach differs from other investment strategies including:
  • The choice of being an independent investor as opposed to entrusting your money to someone else
  • Achieving diversification in investing, as opposed to the Warren Buffet quote of "putting all your eggs in one basket and watching the basket very closely".
  • Using an asset allocation strategy based on identifying how assets react to each of the possible economic conditions, as opposed to asset allocation based on correlation studies.
  • The problems with trying to time the market in investing
  • The benefits of a passive investing approach that rebalances according to a strategy of maintaining diversification.
We also talk about some particular practical issues relating to the portfolio including
  • Creating your own portfolio versus using the Permanent Portfolio fund (and differences in the fund's approach to the classic PP strategy)
  • The growth of passive indexing strategies in stocks and how this aspect of the Permanent Portfolio approach is now more mainstream
  • Craig's thoughts on how best to own gold bullion and the tradeoff between convenience and safety.
  • How the permanent portfolio can help independent investors in the current context of artificially low interest rates and Quantitative Easing.
You can also get more information about the concept of the permanent portfolio in Harry Browne's book "Fail-Safe Investing" and in many of the previous Voluntary Life podcast episodes on investing. Neither Craig nor Jake are financial advisors or dealers of any kind and this podcast only expresses our opinions.

Podcast Episode

11 September 2012

75 The Most Advanced Democracy On Earth (Probably Not What You Think)

This episode is about the most advanced democracy on earth. It is about the most effective system we have for letting everyone have their say, working together to change society in a non-violent way.... Oh and it's probably not what you think.

Show Notes
Ludwig Von Mises' "The Anti-capitalistic Mentality"
Churchill's quote on democracy
Karl Popper's views on democracy can be found in The Open Society and Its Enemies

Podcast Episode

4 September 2012

74 City Air Makes You Free

This episode is about where you choose to live and the impact that this choice can have on your level of freedom. Many people who have written about personal and political liberty have suggested a link between where you choose to live and how free you are. In the podcast we explore 3 different ideas about this choice:
  • The ideas in "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau: finding freedom by living self-sufficiently alone in a rural setting
  • The idea of 'Galts Gulch' in "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand: finding freedom by living in a small community of like-minded people (again in a rural setting with an emphasis on self-sufficiency)
  • The idea that 'City Air Makes You Free' (expressed by writers such as Jane Jacobs): finding freedom in the division of labour and diversity that cities provide.
Arguably, the benefits of self-sufficiency have been overestimated in books like Walden and Atlas Shrugged, whereas the benefits of interdependence in cities have been under-appreciated by previous writers on liberty. It is suggested that Galt's Gulch wouldn't actually work in real life because it would lack the division of labour of a big city that is necessary to support the kind of advanced and specialised roles of it's inhabitants. In contrast, living in a city can provide many opportunities for greater work and personal freedom because of the benefits of the division of labour in cities.

Show Notes
Origin of the phrase City Air Makes You Free
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Previous episode of The Voluntary Life about Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Previous episode of The Voluntary Life about Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Podcast Episode