Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Revised 12-8-2012

by James Craig Green

“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” – Frederic Bastiat

Throughout history, governments of the world have often ruled their citizens with an iron hand, using plunder, extortion and every conceivable kind of murder to keep them in line. Apparently, millions of people today think that “democratic” governments, in which a minority of citizens is allowed to vote for a few government “leaders,” have grown beyond the obvious and destructive tyranny that characterized monarchies and other forms of totalitarian dictatorship in the past.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


Just about everybody, at one time or another, complains about government. But, almost no one understands what the REAL problem with all government is, and why, on balance, government always creates more (and worse) problems than it solves. This can never be changed by politics - the ongoing charade that people are in control of those who enslave them.

The main problem with government is that it is based on aggressive force - like the Mafia - except the Mafia doesn’t pretend to represent everyone, least of all the majority who never gave its consent to be governed. Today's governments are world champions of plunder, extortion, and destruction (PED). As legal organized crime, government makes the Mafia look like amateurs by comparison. Sadly, too many believe that because a handful of government officials are elected “democratically,” their plunder, extortion and destruction are excused, or at least necessary. The most common - and fraudulent - phrase to convey these excuses is the “Public Interest.”

The “Public Interest” is the magic phrase, like “Open Sesame,” that allows virtually anyone in a democracy to become a special interest, supposedly deserving of some freebie from the government at the expense of everyone else. Anyone can run to a legislator, with a self-interested proposition disguised to be in the “public interest,” to easily inflict any manner of tyranny on his fellow citizens. This often includes government subsidies to business (promoted by chambers of commerce, government contractors and unions). These special interests, who are "more equal than others," enjoy government benefits and the ability to influence and regulate the nonviolent lifestyles of others and inflict their prohibition of anything they deem to be offensive.

Multiple election frauds recently committed by Obamites in blue states are Exhibit A. When 5-8 percent more votes are cast than registered voters in some precincts, and you hear nothing on the national news... you can be pretty sure the American Republic is dead.

The second biggest problem with government (arguably for some, the first) is that it bestows billions of dollars of benefits on people who do not deserve them. No one who receives or is assigned to allocate money, property or other resources belonging to others will ever spend that money as carefully or as thoughtfully as those who earn it or benefit from its investment. If your investment broker constantly skims money from your account, without higher gains, you can fire him by switching investment companies. But with government, your complaints will put you on lists with terrorists and other criminals, as a danger to the state. Bureaucrats who lose, malinvest or waste taxpayers' money almost never lose their jobs. Such waste is too often a recipe for increased taxpayer funding next year. So, the perverse incentive is to continue it, with little risk to the incompetents, thieves and parasites who maintain the fraudulent idea of "public service." 

Because it is based on PED, government cannot act responsibly with other people’s money. I didn’t say will not, may not, would not or should not - I said CANNOT. This is because it pretends to represent them, when only a small minority of them voted for the political winners in the electoral charade. In other words, a majority of citizens is never directly represented... at least not at the national level, where dollars are printed with abandon to keep incumbents in office.


Neither can anyone else represent such a diverse collective, but there are practical limits on private abuses that don’t apply to government. The lack of real, practical limits on government power, abuse of that power, corruption, fraud and tyranny all derive from one simple, undeniable fact:


Worst of all, this legalized theft and tyranny is condoned, justified, apologized for and patriotically promoted by the vast majority of people who have been brainwashed into believing that government, on balance, produces positive benefits in the creation of wealth.

It doesn’t - and never has.

It has always been a drain on society, for a privileged few. Modern democracies have simply replaced the divine right of kings with the divine right of mobs, where your neighbors can become tyrants with enough savvy manipulation of the system. No one voted for the vast armies of unelected bureaucrats who enjoy guaranteed lifetime jobs and generous pensions at the expense of the taxpayer. Nor, can they be fired for incompetence or sloth in most cases.

Government appears to produce "freebies" without any (or little) cost, because their true costs are hidden and confused - jumbled up within a labyrinth of laws, regulations, promises and misunderstandings. We’ve all read and listened to media reports how reducing taxes hurts people, and how raising taxes produces all kinds of benefits. For business to operate this way, only gross revenues - but no costs - would be reported to shareholders and the public. This is normally called fraud, but not when done by government.

It is incredible and outrageous that so many people buy these stupid, erroneous, one-sided arguments, promoted constantly by government apologists everywhere. Perhaps the most confusing thing is that the most vocal of “anti-government” Republicans are not anti-government at all, as they usually benefit directly from ever-growing sums of government money. George Orwell (author of “1984" and “Animal Farm”), if he were alive to describe all this, might say something like, “Theft is freedom, taxes are profit and war is good for your children.” Of course, any politician who wants to get elected today must speak in such gibberish, so as to attract the maximum number of unthinking voters to his cause or candidacy.

Government always makes promises it can’t keep, as the political process demands it. The intoxication of lifetime benefits from taxpayers encourages legislators to promise things people want, while pretending it can produce the money to pay for such things without net cost, effort or loss. The myth of government is its naive perception as an endless wealth machine, which it is not. On the contrary, government in every society or country is the greatest enemy of its own people and the largest drain on their national wealth. But, because there are so many government programs offering freebies at the expense of freedom, a nation of junkies continues to allow - and even encourage it.


Today, the U.S. government chases its citizens to tax them all over the world, no matter in which country they make money or reside. However, other countries tax their citizens only for income made in those countries. This produces the worst of all worlds for the U.S. taxpayer - foreign visitors can make money here without being taxed by the U.S., but U.S. citizens cannot enjoy the same benefit for money made overseas. Some smart businessmen realize it may be better to become a citizen of another country, and just visit to do business in the U.S.

Ironically, the U.S. is a great tax haven for everyone but Americans! This is why raising taxes on rich Americans can never produce more than about 20-22 percent of GDP - and even then only for short periods. The rich can simply leave, retire or donate large portions of their wealth to charity instead of letting it be confiscated by government. This is why the maximum income tax rate in the year I was born (1945) was 94% and is now 35% - without materially affecting average revenue at 19% of GDP - as shown in the graphic below.

                   (CLICK GRAPH TO ENLARGE)

The rich have too many options, and are too smart to let government confiscate their wealth - which they can accomplish LEGALLY in most cases. The law has aways favored the wealthy - especially in the modern welfare state, which has always protected them first. The poor are driven into dependency, sloth and depression by fraudulent government promises of prosperity without effort. This magical thinking has produced generations of victims who chose the easy way out, which turns out to be the worst thing for them. Many will not survive the next, most severe economic downturn, which is now inevitable.

Just about anyone can be bought by government by throwing freebies at them, at taxpayer’s expense, and here’s the juicy part: you will not go to jail for accepting the government’s gifts to you. However, refuse to pay for someone else’s freebies, and you instantly become an enemy of the state, deserving all its criticism and brutality.

Sadly, the U.S. Constitution - elegantly designed to prevent the democratic free-for-all of American government that exists today - has been neutered, like an obnoxious dog, so it is no longer effective in protecting any minority, especially the individual, from the mob. The uncontrollable democratic tyranny of majority rule has replaced the limited Republic of James Madison, and is destroying the America we have known and loved with the dangerous narcotics of government freebies, dependency and public debt which have long passed sustainable levels.


Ironically, today’s neoliberals sell their brand of tyranny through the mantra of an ever-expanding welfare state. Just as ironic, today’s neoconservatives fight for every scrap of government handouts they can get, as everyone knows government is the very best client for business. It appears to have a stabilizing influence over the risky ventures of the marketplace, because it commands people to do things they would not voluntarily choose to do. This seems like a good idea when talking about controlling axe murderers and child molesters, but generations of government-educated idiots continue to promote the fantasy that government can produce prosperity or a net gain without effort. All it “produces” is hidden taxes, inflation and escalating debt that is, and will continue to be, foisted on our children, grandchildren and their descendents - until corrected by economic collapse.

Of course the collapse, as usual, will again be blamed on Laissez-Faire Capitalism - something absent from the U.S.for more than a lifetime.


If neoliberals really believed their mantras, they would pass a law raising the minimum wage to one million dollars per year for everyone. However, if stated this bluntly, no one would take them seriously. Few seem to realize that the same silly logic and extreme consequences from this minimum wage law are the same as for current, more modest proposals. Only the numbers are different, while the poor and uneducated suffer from the unintended consequence of not qualifying for work because their skills are not worth the minimum wage. Of course, union members have long since used the minimum wage - which does not affect them - as a means of reducing competition for their labor.

I notice the spelling checker in this program has the word “neoconservative” in its database, but does not recognize the word “neoliberal.” How revealing: Too many folks seem to think that wonderful Latin word for freedom ("libertas") somehow still represents what the modern liberal wants, instead of the tyrannical democratic socialist welfare state s/he clamors for with every breath. No amount of government is too much government for a neoliberal. Tragically, neoconservatives are only slightly less tyrannical in their outlook, choosing corporate welfare instead of welfare to the poor. Both are destructive. Neoconservatives fall way behind neoliberals when it comes to personal freedom and alternative lifestyles that offend them, however. The ongoing destruction of the American Republic is big business for those politically connected, at the expense of others. After Roosevelt but before Obama, Republicans grew government faster than Democrats, as shown by the graphic below, which I researched and published in 2009:

                            (CLICK GRAPH TO ENLARGE)

Today of course, U.S. government debt exceeds $16 trillion, with ANNUAL deficits exceeding a trillion dollars in each of the last four years. Apparently, Obama's 2008 campaign promise to cut deficits in half was a joke, as they increased by more than half.

"Law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice."
Frederic Bastiat

If neoconservatives really believed their bluster, they would immediately demand that the federal government be cut back to its constitutional limits. But wait! That would eliminate their sweet deals as government contractors – selling lots of overpriced, worthless stuff to governments who don’t have to worry about how to pay for it (since the Fed can just print more dollars). The irony of all ironies is that conservatives still fancy themselves as believing in free markets, which they haven't since long before President Roosevelt was elected in 1933. When bloated military budgets are called “defense” when their true purpose is war, and by subsidizing tyrants of every persuasion, anyone with a clear head would break down hysterically laughing, if the consequences of this stupidity were not so tragic. Egypt and Syria, of course - beneficiaries of billions of dollars in U.S. freebies - are such good friends to the U.S. that they contributed Osama Bin Laden and his insane terrorists who flew planes into buildings on 9/11/2001.  

There is nothing remotely related to freedom in any liberal or conservative political agenda today. Both groups of headless horsemen congratulate themselves on being in “control” of government, while deluding themselves into believing they will somehow be protected from the angry mob when the freebies stop flowing.

With record levels and escalating rates of public and private debt, it’s only a matter of time before the system of national government we know in the U.S. self destructs. If the poor think they are in bad shape today, wait until the freebies dry up.

Many otherwise reasonable people in democratic countries (like today's U.S.) sincerely believe that government produces positive good, and at worse is a necessary evil. This is because the benefits of government freebies appear obvious to all who can see them, but the costs are hidden or assigned to some other entity. For example, in 1913, the U.S. Congress created the Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel, and bestowed on it Congress’s constitutional power to regulate the nation’s money supply. This, and the creation of the income tax (previously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court) in the same year financed the U.S. to enter World War I, which had been fought to a stalemate by all sides. If ever there was a stupid war, it was World War I, the results of which almost demanded the rise of a dictator like Hitler to produce World War II, plus an oppressive welfare/warfare state thereafter.

The rest, as they say, is history...

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys" - P.J. O'Rourke

Sunday, November 18, 2012


by Porter Stansberry
The S&A Digest
Stansberry and Associates Investment Research


No one knows what to call it…

That's part of the problem. It's difficult to criticize something that doesn't yet have a proper name.

You can't just call our economic system "socialism." It's not. There's a profit motive and private ownership of nearly all assets. Socialism has neither of these. Besides, far too many people have become far too rich in our system to simply label it "socialism."

If you have ever traveled to an actual socialist country – with a power grid that never works, little public sanitation, petty graft at every turn, and endemic, horrifying poverty – you realize our system and real socialism aren't the same at all.

Our system isn't truly capitalism either, though. The State intervenes in almost every industry, often in a big and expensive way. With government at all levels making up more than 40% of GDP, it's fair to say we live in a State-dominated society.

And we share other, disturbing similarities with typical socialist states. Not all of them are economic. The most frightening similarity between the U.S. and classic totalitarian socialist states is the mutual investment in and appreciation of violent coercion. The U.S. has a huge standing army – by far the most powerful in the world. It fights aggressive foreign wars.

And it fights violent domestic wars: U.S. prisons are bulging with a large percentage of the population. But the overwhelming majority of U.S. prisoners have never committed a violent crime.

One hallmark of a totalitarian, socialist government is a large penal system. At its peak, prior to World War II, the Soviet Union's "gulag" system incarcerated roughly 800 out of every 100,000 residents. Today, the U.S. incarcerates roughly 743 people out of every 100,000 residents – a total of 2.3 million inmates.

Including people currently on parole, more than 7 million people are in the American criminal justice system – one out of 31 adults. Roughly 70% of federal prisoners are violent offenders. The number of drug-related prisoners has increased 12-fold since 1980. The U.S. has the world's largest prison population. Incarceration rates run seven times higher than in similar countries, like Canada, Australia, and the European Union nations.

Most of my readers probably aren't familiar with this violent side of America's culture. It's the poor who suffer the most from these aspects of American life. It is their children who are sent to foreign wars. It is their children who get sent to prison.

Likewise, as with all socialist experiments, it is the poor who suffer the worst economic outcomes, too. It is their cash savings that get wiped out by inflation. It is their jobs that disappear when regulations reduce capital investment or government debt crowds out private capital in the markets.

If the poor knew the first thing about economics, they wouldn't keep voting for socialist politicians and their programs. Alas, they don't even know the basics.

The poor in America, like the poor everywhere, still believe you can rob Peter to pay Paul. They still believe their "leaders" are trying to serve their best interests. It is a sad hoax. What has really happened is clear: Bamboozling the poor has become a way of life for American politicians. And the poor's willingness – even eagerness – to embrace the resulting economic slavery is the linchpin of our system.

But it's not only the poor who have become addicted to the system. Businessmen like Warren Buffett embrace it, too – despite its limitations and taxes. Buffett calls it the "American System." He says it's the greatest system for creating wealth the world has ever seen.

We're not so sure.

Yes, it certainly makes it easy for big businessmen like Buffett to become wealthy. But those same benefits don't accrue to the society at large. For example… even though the value of America's production has soared over the last 40 years and asset prices have risen considerably, our debts have grown even more.

When you adjust for debt and inflation, you discover America hasn't gotten richer at all. Yes, we have become more affluent. And yes, some individuals have gotten vastly richer. But taken as a whole, when you add back the debts we've racked up, the country hasn't gotten richer at all. Since the end of the gold standard in 1971, real after-tax wages, per capita, stagnated. On average, we haven't gotten any richer at all in 40 years

What happened over the last 40 years?

Why did so many people rush so eagerly into debt? Why did they borrow more and more to buy the same things at ever-higher prices – again, and again, and again? And why do people in America continue to work, day after day, for jobs that offer no opportunity and declining real wages? Most important, how did a few people end up getting so rich from this merry-go-round economic system that never takes us anywhere?

To answer this question, we need only answer one core question: Who benefits?

Whose wealth and power increases with inflation? Whose stature in society grows alongside the government? Who profits from increased spending on wars, prisons, and social programs that are doomed to fail? And most of all… who profits from an explosion in debt?

A certain class of people has the power to not only protect itself from these policies but to profit as well. These people have used the last 40 years to produce massive amounts of paper wealth. And they are now desperately trying to convert those paper accounts into real wealth, which explains the exploding price of farmland and precious metals.

This explosion of wealth at the top of the "food chain" is the main feature of what I call New American Socialism. It's a system fueled by paper money, the constant expansion of debt, and a kind of corruption that's hard to police because it occurs within the boundaries of the law.

Like the European and totalitarian socialism of the last 100 years, New American Socialism harnesses the power of the State to grow and maintain production. Like in traditional socialism, the poor pay the costs of New American Socialism. But unlike socialist systems of the past, this new American version has one critical improvement…

In the New American Socialism, the power of the system produces private profits. In this way, it provides a huge incentive to entrepreneurs and politicians to work together on behalf of the system. This is what keeps the system going. This is what keeps it from collapsing upon itself. And this, unfortunately, is why the imbalances in the world economy will continue to grow until the entire global monetary system itself implodes…

New American Socialism began with the policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1933, FDR seized all the privately held gold in the U.S. and began creating the massive government programs necessary to implement socialism. To give you some idea of how much the federal government grew during FDR's reign, remember federal spending made up 3% of GDP in 1930 – a level that had been fairly consistent for most of America's history. Almost immediately after his election, he tripled federal spending to more than 10% of GDP. And by the time he died in office, federal spending reached 44% of GDP – an all-time high.

As everyone should know by now, the promises of socialism aren't affordable. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is inefficient and kills Peter's incentives. The result is usually economic stagnation, depression, and eventually a crisis that frees people from the government's confiscatory repression. Because America was the only large economy standing after World War II, it took much longer than usual for the problems of socialism to appear in our economy. Also, the government scaled back many of FDR's policies during the post-war boom. In winning the war, we also won a generation of economic spoils.

All this changed in the 1960s. Lyndon Johnson had delusions of government-led grandeur. His ideas of a "Great Society" and "Model Cities," along with an expensive foreign war (Vietnam), were a recipe for massive new debts and an increasing role for government in all aspects of American life.

These policies led to an acute funding problem in 1971 because the debts of socialism couldn't be financed with gold-backed money. It was far too expensive. And so we began a new kind of socialism… the New American Socialism.

What happened in 1971? The size of America's government deficits forced us to abandon gold. After World War II, the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency. In exchange for placing the dollar at the center of the world's economy, we made a solemn promise to always exchange the U.S. dollar for gold at $35 an ounce. Nixon broke that promise, calling our creditors "global speculators" and telling them to go pound sand.

This move away from gold severed the fundamental tie between our economy and our money. Without the link to gold, bank reserves could be created by fiat. And they were. This led to a huge expansion of our money supply and our debts.

The power to use this debt and to control the creation of new money is the most powerful factor in our economy. The government can now create unlimited amounts of credit to control the U.S. economy. This bestows favored status on certain companies – notably banks. This lies at the core of our economy's structure. It is how fiat money privatizes the benefits of New American Socialism.

Most Americans simply don't understand how our historic tie to gold made it impossible for the banking system to grow beyond clear boundaries. Gold limited the amount of currency in circulation, which, in turn, restricted how much money banks could lend. Under the gold standard, the maximum total debt-to-GDP ratio was limited to around 150%. But as soon as we broke the tie to gold, our total debt-to-GDP ratio began to grow. It's now close to 400%.

Without the tie to gold, the amount of economic mischief our government could engineer became practically limitless. No social goal was too absurd… no war too expensive… and no government insurance scheme too patently self-serving not to finance.

Today, New American Socialism has spread like a cancer throughout our country, afflicting industry after industry. Like a cancer, once it infects an industry, it metastasizes from company to company in that sector. Suddenly, businesses cannot function without massive government aid. These corporate wards of the State weigh down the rest of our economy… making us weaker and less competitive and dragging us further into debt.

Keep in mind, this New American Socialism I'm talking about isn't called socialism at all. It goes by many names. It's been called "compassionate conservatism." It's been called "joint public-private enterprise." It's been called "government insurance."

I've been studying it for many years – finding it in one company after another. I've actually preferred having it in many of the stocks I've recommended over the years because it tends to be good for investors. That's the most insidious thing about New American Socialism: It's a form of socialism that leaves the profit motive in place.

That's why the New American Socialism has grown decade after decade. That's why it continues to be heavily promoted by almost every mainstream media outlet and both political parties. It leads to a kind of corruption I believe will be impossible to stop without a full-scale economic collapse…

Socialism always destroys the poor because it robs them of social mobility and makes it impossible for them to protect themselves from the predations of the powerful. Historically, its damage has been limited because eventually socialism so disrupts an economy that even the rich and the powerful suffer. That's what's so dangerous about this New American Socialism. It doesn't subject the rich to any depravation at all. It does just the opposite. The New American Socialism retains the profit motive for the rich and the well connected. In this new model, only the poor suffer. The rich are always protected.

It's capitalism for the rich, without any risks… and socialism for the poor, without any rights.


Porter Stansberry

Monday, November 12, 2012


by James Craig Green

You might think from the title this is about two unrelated subjects, but both are about applied philosophy. In short, I learned some of the most useful philosophy of my life from Bruce Lee and the Basset Hounds and other dogs my late wife Kay and I trained over more than a quarter-century training dogs together.

Kay and I got our first Basset Hound in 1972 as a pet for the kids. But, like heroin, we ended up with as many as eight at one time, and a total of more than 20 dogs, maybe as many as 25. When Kay died of cancer in 1998, we had but one dog, a Basset, left, as we had already decided to get out of most dog activities.

In about 1976 or so, we joined a tracking training class taught by our friend Carole-Joy Evert, a neighbor in Littleton, Colorado where our kids grew up. Tracking is a sport that contains some of the elements of search and rescue, such as dogs following human scent in the field by using their superior sense of smell to hunt. A couple of years earlier, Kay had taken two or three of our Bassets to obedience class, and got very interested in that activity as a sport by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

In both obedience and tracking, we found an extreme amount of dogma in dog training experts who had never trained a stubborn hound before. One obedience trainer, who had Doberman Pinscers, kept saying "this will work, I guarantee it," as each and every thing he tried failed. It didn't take Kay long to find trainers/teachers who knew something about the hound temperament. Scenthounds like Basset Hounds were bred to hunt together in packs, but not to be micromanaged in their behavior like some herding breeds, for example. Most dog trainers at the time practiced behavior modification, which is a very rigid, mechanical method to reinforcing specific behaviors by reward and punishment. It works best with dogs who are very willing to please their masters. Unfortunately, most Basset Hounds are anarchists - which drives many dog trainers almost crazy. But, Kay and I loved their independent sprirt and the challenge of treating them as living, thinking equals instead of slaves or robots.

To make a long story short, in both sports (obedience and tracking) we found that positive reinforcement worked better than punishment, but especially in tracking. After an insightful 1977 seminar with Glen Johnson, a famous Canadian tracking judge, trainer and teacher, we began to branch out on our own.

One of the first things we learned is that Johnson's rigid approach, which worked with his German Shepherds and other high energy, obedient dogs, didn't work for the hounds. Through trial and error, we learned that our hounds were easily distracted, and didn't like finding the articles like gloves and scarves on the track. Although we changed some of his teaching, as long as we trained tracking dogs, we continued to apply many lessons taught to us by Glen Johnson.

So, we revamped our whole approach to tracking and other dog training activities...


Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist and movie star, was born in 1940, which on the Chinese calendar was the year of the dragon. The calendar recycles a dozen animals to represent ancient Chinese beliefs that people born in particular years are supposed to have certain personality traits in common. Although I studied Tai Chi and many western philosophies for many years, I never thought about any connection between philosophy and dog training. I forget when but one day, a light bulb went off in my head connecting Bruce Lee's experience breaking from the traditional, dogmatic, never-changing beliefs of ancient martial arts with my dog training experience.

In Bruce Lee's famous 1973 film "Enter the Dragon," he used the movie to explain his philosophy of life - including his radical new approach to martial arts - to both western and oriental audiences. After being a fan of Bruce Lee for years, it finally dawned on me that his break from the rigid, dogmatic religion that was ancient Chinese martial arts was similar to what Kay and I had discovered in our dog training. Our approach involves constant change in response to every new reality, as opposed to following some grand plan months after it has repeatedly failed to achieve our goals.

After training tracking dogs for several years with limited success, we essentially started all over again from scratch, because the never-changing, dogmatic beliefs we were taught didn't work for our dogs. So, we came up with a new philosophy - which I call "Small Successful Steps." Although our Canadian tracking mentor Glen Johnson had inspired us with many new ideas in 1977 when we took his two-day seminar in Golden, Colorado, we hadn't yet connected all the dots.

Like Bruce Lee's break with the traditional, dogmatic approach to martial arts, we broke with tradition and decided to train week-to-week instead of following the same plan for several weeks. As with learning any skill, sometimes what you expect the dog to do and what he actually does are very different. Many of my friends in the tracking community seemed to rigidly apply their dogma on how to train a dog the same way over and over again, without effectively correcting mistakes soon enough. Kay and I learned that our dogs began improving by leaps and bounds, once we decided not to apply the same old rigid program week-to-week and month-to-month. Our great breakthrough was listening to our dog telling us what worked, and what didn't.

Essentially, our training approach evolved into changing the training plan after every training sesson, if necessary. Unlike the rigid plans made weeks ahead of time, which often resulted in dogs getting more and more frustrated week after week with their escalating failures, our new plan included observing and correcting small problems immediately before progressing to the next step. This often meant GOING BACK to an earlier phase of training where the dog was having success, and then working slowly through the problem until it had been solved. Many of my friends failed dozens of tracking tests without ever passing, for their unwillingness to change their training approach. But, most of my friends who stayed with the sport for more than a few years eventually learned some variation of what I am describing, though some breeds have to be trained differently than others.

Hounds and Terriers, for example, are often very stubborn, and don't give a damn what you want. Unlike Border Collies, some German Shepard and other working/herding dogs, they were not bred to require constant instructions from their human handlers to do their job. For example, if you've ever watched a Border Collie herding trial, you will see the dog lives on frequently-changing commands, by whistle, voice or arm motions, to change their behavior instantly. In other words, they work like robots. This is exactly what a sheepherder wants to control flocks of sheep, but different breeds have different skillsets resulting from different breeding and training goals. Owning a Border Collie was one of the delights of my life, as they are exciting, energetic, and always moving. I used to say "The difference between night and day is not enough to describe the difference between a Border Collie and Basset Hound." But, Basset Hounds and some other breeds were not selected for obeying their owners, so much as working to solve problems on their own. Therefore, in our experience training Bassets in tracking, we learned that "Less is More."


When Kay and I learned to LET THE DOG TRAIN US, rather than impose our desires by force from the top down, our success in tracking dog training exploded. Each week, we would evaluate the dog's performance, determine if we should do something different, and make changes if necessary before the next training session. Sounds simple, but not if you've been taught that you have to do the same thing over, and over, and over... no matter what. Sometimes, if we decide we have a frustration or temperament problem, the best approach is to not track for a while, maybe even several weeks. I recently applied this appoach to helping my old friend Carol Makowski in Boulder, Colorado with her Basset bitch Crystal. We had trained intensively last spring, and we both thought Crystal was ready to pass a tracking test. But, she failed two or three tests, so we took a summer break. This fall, with minimal training over about three or four training sessions, Crystal earned her TD title with a motivated, near-perfect performance! Less really WAS more!

Below are links for the tracking articles I wrote over six years as the Tracking Columnist for TALLY HO, the Basset Hound Club of America monthly magazine. I stopped training dogs after Kay died, but continued to judge tracking tests for many years, retiring from that sport in 2009.

My TALLY HO training articles (some co-authored by Kay) over six years are listed below.

(The last three summarize our philosophy from a quarter-century of dog training):

Craig's Dog Tracking Articles

"Simplify - eliminate the non-essential"
--Bruce Lee

November 2012