Ida Auken, Member of Parliament, Denmark, and WEF Young Global Leader writing in the World Economic Forum (WEF), Nov. 12, 2016:
Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better”:

“Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city — or should I say, ‘our city’. I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.

“It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.”

“You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy”

— 8 Predictions for the World in 2030, WEF, 2016 [recently removed from the WEF website]

“Understand that you own nothing. Everything that surrounds you is temporary, only the love in your heart will last forever.”

— Leon Brown

“You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.”

— Ursula Le Guin, from her novel The Dispossessed

“The secret to success is to own nothing, but control everything.”

— Nelson Rockefeller

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

— Aristotle

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.”

— George Orwell

“Happiness is found in doing, not merely possessing.”

— Napoleon Hill

“It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.”

— Thomas Jefferson

Do we really own much of anything these days? Well, I thought we did. Like corporate stocks, securities. Turns out we don’t. We “own” only a “security entitlement” – a claim on the underlying security that is held by an agent. And so much today is bought as a subscription, lease, or collateralized loan. The situation here is worse than I could have imagined.

Quite a while ago, I looked at this situation as being a trend toward a rental economy. Renting rather than buying – owning – can make a lot of sense in many cases. Products, which you buy and own, are rapidly becoming services, where you effectively rent the usage of a product owned by a supplier.

Software, for example, seems to be largely subscription-based today. This arrangement compensates the developer for ongoing upgrades and maintenance. Worth it, I think. I must have around 50 subscriptions of this kind.

What, then, might we want to own rather than rent?

Things that appreciate in value over time seem worth owning. Houses. Securities. Precious metals and stones. And also clothes and personal items. Cars depreciate at scary rates, but leasing just shifts the depreciation cost to the lessor and you end up paying it anyway.

Houses have mostly gone up in value, but perhaps not so much if measured in our depreciating money. Purchasing power of our dollar has dropped more than 98% since 1913 when the Federal Reserve was created, along with much other mischief.

You can probably own this home – debt-free, but you may not be too happy.
You can probably own this home – debt-free, but you may not be too happy.

What about securities?

We want to own securities – stocks, bonds, and the like – in the hope that these will increase in value, unlike cash (dollars). A great deal of money can be made by trading, either on one’s own or through an investment manager. Nice feeling to have a stack of stock certificates and bonds in your safe deposit box, yes?

Well, that was in the good old days. Today, handling huge amounts of financial paper is much too slow and costly. Instead, we buy and sell digitally, with a clearing house or equivalent holding the paper on our behalf. Good old days indeed.

Here is the article that got me worrying about ownership of financial assets. Bottom line here is that we mostly don’t.

You Already Own Nothing.
Webb’s book illustrates, among other things, how changes in the Uniform Commercial Code converted asset ownership into a security entitlement. The ‘entitlement’ designation made personal property a mere contractual claim. The ‘entitled’ person is a ‘beneficial’ owner, but not the legal one.”

“In the event a financial institution is insolvent, the legal owner is the ‘entity that controls the security with a security interest.’ In essence, client assets belong to the banks. But it’s much worse than that. This isn’t simply a matter of losing your cash to a bank bail-in. The entire financial system has been wired for a controlled demolition.”

With my apologies for including this rather obscure description, Smith continues:

“In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, G20 ‘leaders’ mandated all standardized Over The Counter (OTC) derivatives be cleared through central counterparties (CCPs), ostensibly to reduce counter party risk and increase market transparency. The best known CCP in the US is the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), which processes trillions of dollars of securities transactions each day.”

“Before 2012, OTC derivative trades were bi-lateral and counterparty risk was managed by parties to a transaction. When doing business directly with other firms, each had to make sure it was dealing with reliable parties. If they had a bad reputation or were not creditworthy, counterparties could consider them toxic and shut them out of trades. This, according to the wise G20 leadership, was too risky.”

“With the introduction of central clearing mandates, counterparty risk was shifted via CCPs away from the firms doing the deal to the system itself. Creditworthiness and reputation were replaced with collateral and complex models.”

“Brokers, banks, asset managers, hedge funds, corporations, insurance companies and other so-called ‘clearing parties’ participate in the market by first posting collateral in the form of Initial Margin (IM) with the CCP. It’s through this IM and a separate and much smaller Default Fund (DF) held at the CCP that counterparty risk is managed.”

If you followed this, you will probably want to read both the Smith article and Webb’s book.

I think that this means you get to own just the “benefits” of securities ownership – the gains and losses – while the “controlling entity” legally owns the underlying securities.

Do you still have any stock certificates in your safe deposit box? If so, you actually own these. Otherwise, you don’t own anything but a promise – a “security entitlement”.
Do you still have any stock certificates in your safe deposit box? If so, you actually own these. Otherwise, you don’t own anything but a promise – a “security entitlement”.

An example of the concept: Buying a car for cash

From Webb’s book [III. Security Entitlement, page 8]:

“The greatest subjugation in world history will have been made possible by the invention of a construct; a subterfuge; a lie: the ‘Security Entitlement.’

“Since their beginnings more than four centuries ago, tradable financial instruments were recognized under law everywhere as personal property (perhaps that is why they were called ‘securities’). It may come as a shock to you that this is no longer the case. In order to convey to you what has been done, let me start with an analogy:”

“Let’s say that you have purchased an automobile for cash. Having no debt against the vehicle, you believe that you now own it outright. Despite that, the auto dealer has been allowed by a newly invented legal concept to treat your car as his asset, and to use it as collateral to borrow money for his own purposes. Now the auto dealer has become bankrupt, and your vehicle along with all of the others sold by the dealer are seized by certain secured creditors of the dealership, with no judicial review being necessary, as legal certainty was previously established that they have absolute power to take your car in the event of the bankruptcy of the dealer.”

“Now, to be clear, I am not talking about your car! I am illustrating the horror and simplicity of the lie: You are led to believe that you own something, but someone else secretly controls it as collateral. And they have now established legal certainty that they have absolute power to take it immediately in the event of insolvency, and not your insolvency, but insolvency of the people who secretly gave them your property as collateral. It does not seem possible. But this is exactly what has been done with all tradable financial instruments, globally! The proof of this is absolutely irrefutable. This is wired to go now.”

“Essentially all securities ‘owned’ by the public in custodial accounts, pension plans and investment funds are now encumbered as collateral underpinning the derivatives complex, which is so large—an order of magnitude greater than the entire global economy—that there is not enough of anything in the world to back it. The illusion of collateral backing is facilitated by a daisy chain of hypothecation and re-hypothecation in which the same underlying client collateral is reused many times over by a series of secured creditors. And so it is these creditors, who understand this system, who have demanded even more access to client assets as collateral.”

No problem here, right?

Well, it seems that this is true so long as the unbelievably huge derivatives market does not collapse. Unfortunately, one of the steps on our road to the WEF’s “Great Reset” is a financial collapse intended to shock – force – the transition to a One-World-Order-and-Everything. My last post had a look at the mechanics of such collapses.

The derivatives market would of course be collapsed as part of the broad financial system collapse, or more accurately, transition to a New World Order. It is impossible to predict how such a transition might play out, except for the virtual certainty that we-the-people will not end up owning the securities that we thought we owned. Big surprise, yes?

Is this a prediction, or maybe an order from the WEF?
Is this a prediction, or maybe an order from the WEF?

We seem to be well along the road to owning nothing, but will we be happy?

It is very hard to see where any of this ends up happy for us we-the-people folks. For me, anyhow. The good news short term may be that our dwindling real ownership will remain largely hidden until made visible by a major happening. Such as a global financial collapse (transition).

In the event of a global financial collapse, ownership of then-mostly-worthless securities may be the least of our concerns. Our money could become valueless, or even more valueless than it is today – having lost over 98% of its purchasing power value since 1913.

With various nefarious actors pushing hard today for world domination, it seems likely that the outcome will not be what they plan. Instead, they will cause a world system breakdown that results in chaos and huge restructuring. Absent, of course, a real nuclear World War III. There is no happy-making in any of this. Or is there?

In the prior post (link is above), I noted that empire declines or collapses made rulers unhappy but made many of the common folk much happier. When empires get into serious difficulties, they eventually reach a breaking point after which the decline begins. Bad news for the emperors and followers, good news for the oppressed.

So, if we are close to or at such a breaking point, might we not also be facing much-needed changes that improve our situation? Changes don’t occur without prior stress and turmoil reaching peaks.

Perhaps we can actually be happy even if we end up owning “nothing”, as in the WEF sense.

Being happy in our own way, not the WEF’s way

What makes each of us happy? Everyone is probably different in this respect. Happy is personal. Happiness can sometimes be shared, but it cannot in general be ordered. For most of us, if we are lucky, happiness comes and goes. It is not a consistent state of mind, of heart.

If someone asked you what would make you truly happy, my guess is that you would either have to step away for a bit and think deeply, or maybe just deflect the question with platitudes or fakery.

What is “happiness” in practice, in reality? Oxford dictionary offers this unhelpful wisdom: happiness is … “the state of being happy”. Umm … are you really sure about this? A somewhat better definition from Positive Psychology: “What is happiness?”:

“Happiness can be defined as an enduring state of mind consisting not only of feelings of joy, contentment, and other positive emotions, but also of a sense that one’s life is meaningful and valued (Lyubomirsky, 2001).”

“Martin Seligman (2002) argued that happiness has three dimensions that can be cultivated:

  1. The regular experience of pleasantness (the pleasant life)
  2. The frequent engagement in satisfying activities (the engaged life)
  3. The experience of a sense of connectedness to a greater whole (the meaningful life)

Although each dimension is important, the happiest people tend to be those who pursue the full life— they infuse their life with pleasure, engagement, and meaning (Seligman et al., 2005).”

The three dimensions of happiness, according to Positive Psychology. Count them – all four of the three.
The three dimensions of happiness, according to Positive Psychology. Count them – all four of the three.

My take here is that happiness in practice is an enduring state of mind, not something that comes and goes regularly, and it is an emotion, a feeling, a sense.

What are our “emotions” – officially? Well, here is a list of 21 emotions that can supposedly be recognized by facial expressions: “Happily disgusted? Scientists map facial expressions for 21 emotions”:

“Here is the full list of emotional states identified by the scientists from facial expressions:
Happy, sad, fearful, angry, surprised, disgusted, happily surprised, happily disgusted, sadly fearful, sadly angry, sadly surprised, sadly disgusted, fearfully angry, fearfully surprised, fearfully disgusted, angrily surprised, angrily disgusted, disgustedly surprised, appalled, hatred, awed.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d have to take lessons to come even close to being able to express all of these emotions facially. Even then, my facial expressions would probably have very little to do with what I might actually be feeling at any moment. It might be worth defaulting to “disgusted” or even “appalled”.

Are we allowed to be neither happy nor unhappy?

Happy to me seems a clearly positive emotion or state of mind. Unhappy then would be a negative emotion or state of mind. Relatively persistent. But what if I am neither in general? Not happy, not unhappy. Just “okay” in some neutral sense.

What if when I am ordered by the WEF to be “happy”, the best I can manage is to be “okay”? What if my “okay” is effectively a “disengaged” state of mind?

This may well spell trouble in the New World Order. Or perhaps not, so long as I don’t do anything that is prohibited while in whatever state of happiness I happen to be in.

Or, as seems much more likely, the WEF doesn’t care at all about how we feel. The “be happy” term is their code for “be obedient” and “don’t complain or otherwise be troublesome”?

If so, this means that I’ll own nothing (or do own nothing today) and I’ll keep silent about whatever I may feel about the situation.

Okay, maybe we got through the “happy” part – figuring that “be happy” really means “be obedient, and this will make us (WEF) happy” in practice. What’s next? Well, back to the “you’ll own nothing” dictate (or prediction).

What might we own that can’t be taken away from us?

While they can’t force us to be “happy”, they can force us to be at least minimally “obedient”. Up to some point. And depending on whoever “they” are.

This gets us back to the much more difficult problem of ownership. Even though it appears that much of what people formerly owned is being transitioned to renting or leasing – or effective confiscation via a “beneficial interest” rather than a legal ownership of securities, there are still a few things that we can truly own. What might these be?

  • Skills
  • Contacts
  • Experience
  • Knowledge
  • Beliefs
  • Courage
  • Thinking

Perhaps there are a few others, but these will serve to illustrate what we can own in practice under all but the very the worst of circumstances.

These I believe are the most important things you can own. They make you useful and of value to others, assuming that the uses are themselves essential. Medical care skills that are based on knowledge and experience are nearly always vital, essential, and valued. Skills associated with product design, manufacture, repair, and operation are similarly vital and valued so long as the product involved is essential. What is “essential”? See my post on essential for some ideas.

People you know and trust, and people who know and trust you, can be extremely valuable in many difficult situations. Trust is built up over time via many interactions and trials. It can be destroyed quickly by carelessness or intent, but so long as trust exists, it can be a great strength and foundation for action.

Experience related to skills can be very important. Using your skills builds experience and knowledge that cannot be gained in any other way, and that cannot be taken from you.

Knowledge related to skills and experience is part of the set of useful personal strengths that you own and that cannot be taken from you. It may most often be about how to design, build, or operate using your skills and experience.

Beliefs are personal. They provide inner strength and direction that is vital to using your skills, experience, and knowledge.

Courage is part of human nature, and is essential in so many cases. Actions based on your personal strengths and beliefs may not be welcomed by others, and may well be strongly opposed in some cases.

Unfortunately, many people prefer to follow others or orders rather than thinking things through for themselves. Beliefs, courage, and thinking seem to me to be a personal package that makes whatever you do with your skills, contacts, experience, and knowledge effective and valuable.

An often valuable composite of these can be found in many small businesses and organizations. “Small” here refers to wholly-owned by those active in the entity.

This is a very brief explanation of what I see as things that you can own regardless of the machinations of others, and that cannot be taken from you. These may even provide a foundation for happiness – real happiness.

You will truly own something of great value, and you will truly be happy.

Bottom line:

Turns out that we really don’t own much of anything these days. Even corporate stocks and securities where we “own” only a “security entitlement” on the agent-held underlying security. So much of what we “buy” today is a subscription, lease, rental, or collateralized loan (e.g., on a home) where we mostly own the use of, not the item itself. Are we happy yet? Klaus Schwab and his WEF must surely be.

This quasi-owning situation seems unlikely to change appreciably in the near-future, except maybe to get worse – increased non-ownership. For those who enjoy and take pride in real ownership, things look pretty bleak to say the least.

What we can own, however, is a set of personal abilities and knowledge – things that are inside and part of us. Skills, contacts, experience, knowledge, beliefs, courage, and thinking belong only to each of us, and cannot be taken away. Real ownership can be derived from these.

  • Michael Rectenwald, Chief Academic Officer, American Scholars, writing in Imprimis (Hillsdale College) in December 2021 provides some interesting background on the WEF and The Great Reset: “What Is the Great Reset?”:

“Is the Great Reset a conspiracy theory imagining a vast left-wing plot to establish a totalitarian one-world government? No. Despite the fact that some people may have spun conspiracy theories based on it—with some reason, as we will see—the Great Reset is real.”

“Indeed, just last year, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF)—a famous organization made up of the world’s political, economic, and cultural elites that meets annually in Davos, Switzerland—and Thierry Malleret, co-founder and main author of the Monthly Barometer, published a book called COVID-19: The Great Reset. In the book, they define the Great Reset as a means of addressing the ‘weaknesses of capitalism’ that were purportedly exposed by the COVID pandemic.”

“But the idea of the Great Reset goes back much further. It can be traced at least as far back as the inception of the WEF, originally founded as the European Management Forum, in 1971. In that same year, Schwab, an engineer and economist by training, published his first book, Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering. It was in this book that Schwab first introduced the concept he would later call ‘stakeholder capitalism,’ arguing ‘that the management of a modern enterprise must serve not only shareholders but all stakeholders to achieve long-term growth and prosperity.’ Schwab and the WEF have promoted the idea of stakeholder capitalism ever since. They can take credit for the stakeholder and public-private partnership rhetoric and policies embraced by governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and international governance bodies worldwide.”

“The specific phrase ‘Great Reset’ came into general circulation over a decade ago, with the publication of a 2010 book, The Great Reset, by American urban studies scholar Richard Florida. Written in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Florida’s book argued that the 2008 economic crash was the latest in a series of Great Resets—including the Long Depression of the 1870s and the Great Depression of the 1930s—which he defined as periods of paradigm-shifting systemic innovation.”

“Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.”

“This is the vision of the Great Reset, according to globalist leaders. While proponents of the Great Reset push slogans like ‘Build Back Better,’ ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ and ‘A New Normal,’ the Reset is nothing short of a rebranded Soviet system, threatening to strip away property rights, restrict freedom of movement and association, and radically reshape our diets and way of life.”

“In The Great Reset: Global Elites and the Permanent Lockdown, bestselling author and publisher, Marc Morano, unveils the origins of the Great Reset, who is behind it, how it is being implemented, and how COVID-19 and the alleged ‘climate emergency’ accelerated its imposition on the United States.”

“Packed with telling statistics and damning quotes, The Great Reset is the essential handbook for the public, the media, and activists on how to critically analyze and expose the tyrannical policies silently strangling our liberties today.”

“The circular economy promises to bolster sustainability by abandoning the linear value model of ‘take, make, waste’ and adopting a circular model of ‘take, make; take make,’ according to Accenture.”

“In circular economy business models, I would like products to come back to me as the original designer and manufacturer, and once you get your head around that notion, why would I actually sell you the product if you are primarily interested in the benefit of the product? Maybe I can stay the owner of the product and just sell you the benefit as a service” — Frans Van Houten, WEF, 2016

“With the circular economy, there is a heavy emphasis on recycling and reusing materials instead of using them once and throwing them away. Sounds great, right?”

“But beneath the surface, the circular economy’s Product as a Service business model ensures that you and I will truly own nothing while corporations retain ownership of all products they rent out to us as services.”

“Why would I actually sell you the product if you are primarily interested in the benefit of the product?” — Frans Van Houten, WEF, 2016

“As Royal Philips Electronics CEO Frans Van Houten explained to the WEF in 2016:”

“In circular economy business models, I would like products to come back to me as the original designer and manufacturer, and once you get your head around that notion, why would I actually sell you the product if you are primarily interested in the benefit of the product?”

“Maybe I can stay the owner of the product and just sell you the benefit as a service,” he added with a grin.”

The five circular business models Image: WEF via Accenture.
The five circular business models Image: WEF via Accenture.

“The circular economy is one approach that can enable us to keep pace with technological innovation, support integrated and sustainable ecosystems, and move us towards a brighter future” — Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum

“The World Economic Forum has teamed up with Accenture on a startup accelerator for the circular economy called the Circulars Accelerator, which directly supports the ‘you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy’ agenda that seeks the destruction of individual ownership in favor of a rent-based, circular economy where you will own nothing and all products have become services.”

“The Circulars Accelerator is a collaboration between the World Economic Forum, Accenture, Anglo American, Ecolab, and UpLink — the WEF’s innovation platform for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).”