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Commentary

Hotel Chambermaid


February 3, 2010

Wallace, Idaho " With apologies to Graham Parker, ain't nothing like a Hotel Chambermaid.

We keened a lot of knowledge at Cambridge House's curtain-raiser in Vancouver last weekend. This annual mid-January two-day conference of mining- and precious metals-savvy investors takes the rectal thermometer of the metals mining biz for the next year to come, and by all of this January's measures, the mercury is busting out of the tube.

We've sucked up a lot of post-Christmas, pre- and post-Vancouver wisdom. Doug Casey gives the current goofy Wall Street Dow (which if it truly measured industrial output from this country already would be in the minus column) another six months' sailing, after which it will cease defying gravity and plummet to the bottom, like Wile E. Coyote discovering there's no more cliff beneath him. Where is the bottom? Casey does not say but we won't be done brushing the sweat off our brow until we see 2500. A Dow of 10,000 and a fourth of this country out of work, two-thirds of its auto industry bankrupt and in Team Obama's hands, its banks on the dole and its homebuilders on life support? Won't last. Cannot last.  Keep an eye on General Electric. When they necessarily tank so will everything else.

In Vancouver we heard from yet more experts: Frank Holmes, Roger Weigand, Bill Murphy, John Embry, Peter Spina, Jay Taylor, Billly Currington,  among many others " the whole smash. There were private lectures as well.

“I don't know if you read books, but I do,” said one expert.  “The books I read saw this real estate crash in the U.S.  coming ten years ago. Well, that happened and it's coming to Canada next. The same guy also predicted that the banks would crash, that there would come a time when you would go to your bank branch or to the ATM and not be able to withdraw your money.

“I read all of this up and I looked around me here in Vancouver. They say your money is safe. I rent and they say I should buy. Why should I buy? All of these apartments you could rent here are now for sale. Can you believe the prices? A quarter- million dollars for a small apartment! Forty-year mortgages and no down-payment. Sounds attractive, doesn't it? It's how they suck you in and get you in debt and make you a slave.

“I rent. I always have rented and I always will in this town. Why do I want to be a slave to some bank for 40 years?  They take you in with the low down-payment and then they have you. They want to make you their slave. And inflation! Have you bought a dozens eggs lately? That's the banks.”

Ten years ago, persuaded by her books that the banks were going to crash, she paid cash for a house in her native Saskatchewan. Not a McMansion. Just a house on a lot big enough to grow a garden.

Yes, if you slaved your ashes off for 30 years working as a hotel chambermaid at the Hotel Vancouver and watched your expenses, you could do this thing. So she did. Her son lives in that house now, and that's where she's headed after 30 years of changing the bed-sheets and recycling towels of the likes of you and me at the Hotel Vancouver.

When she'd shaken the last towel out and dusted the last blind, she wheeled herself and her cart away down the hall to the next room, and were left wondering if anyone downstairs at the Cambridge House conference could offer better wisdom than a hotel chambermaid's. Indeed, in the world of paper money, debt is slavery and the government is king.

And in the interest of full disclosure, Billy Currington wasn't really there in person. But his lyrics on the radio in the taxi coming in from the airport rather summed up the situation almost as well as the gracious lady who changed our bedsheets:

“God is great
“Beer is good
“And people are crazy”

Except for that hotel chambermaid.