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Building Better Cities, Marxist-Style


[This week's commentary was written by David J. Isham a longtime subscriber to Rick's Picks. A real estate investor and trader, David lives with his family in Marin County.]

For Americans eager to embrace socialism, China's take on the so-called 15-minute city will warm your hearts. As an urban planning concept, the 15-minute city aims to put all of the usual neighborhood amenities within easy walking distance: grocery stores, parks, urgent care centers, banks, movie theaters, etc. Sounds like a great idea, right?  However, in the Peoples Republic of China, the government has been adding a digital innovation that Chairman Mao would have loved: scanners that require one to submit a QR code in order to move around. If you live in one of the newly wired cities and have criticized government policy on social media, or you haven’t received your latest booster shot, your impaired social credit score will prevent you from leaving your neighborhood zone.

Could it happen in the U.S.? Arguably, the idea had a test run when many Americans and their elected leaders clamored for vaccination passports and all kinds of access restrictions for the un-jabbed.  Fortunately, the former never came to pass and the latter did not spread into the American heartland. However, if implementing a social credit system were to be placed on a national ballot, does anyone doubt that it would garner almost as many votes as Biden supposedly received in the 2020 election?  Tune in to the discussion at @songpinganq on Twitter if you want a glimpse of what you may someday be up against.

Seeking Out Good Neighbors

Although a grim future is not set in stone, I've thought about a time when my children might not be allowed to work, to attend college or even enter a grocery store without a QR code. However, because there's nowhere to run, I’ve decided to stay put in Northern California, the land of fruits...and nuts, the better to seek out like-minded people in my area. We're going to need each others' support, both spiritually and financially, to survive what's coming. Just the other day, for instance, I visited a new dentist who never subscribed to vaccine-mania. Most businesses here in the Bay Area, especially health-related ones, are still masking, and so it was a relief to be greeted by a receptionist whose smile was visible and who doesn't let microbes rule her life.

Ending meat consumption is another dubious goal our leaders have in store for us, since they know that meat helps keep us strong and healthy. To ensure a healthful supply of animal protein for my family and neighbors, I’ve begun building relationships with local ranchers. Dining on grass-fed beef with friends recently, my wife remarked that it reminded her of how real beef tasted in Vietnam, where she grew up.

Trading to Survive

So how are we going to make a living if things get even crazier? One of the reasons I spend so much time at Rick’s Picks stems from my concern that there will come a day when survival itself could depend on my success at trading. I will do everything I can to teach my kids what I've learned about this work. I've discovered over time that exploiting even relatively small price fluctuations can provide a comfortable life -- comfortable enough that I have plenty of time to spend with my wife and kids.

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