Investing in Precious Metals 101 Ad
  • Podcast

    John Butman: New World, Inc.

    From its start, resources have driven America's fortunes
    by Adam Taggart

    Sunday, March 25, 2018, 11:23 PM

We all learned in grade school that the Pilgrims sailed to North America to escape religious persecution.

That's wasn't necessarily the case, explains author John Butman. At least, it certainly isn't the whole story.

In fact, the Pilgrim's voyage to the New World was a seventeenth-century entrepreneurial start-up. It was funded by nearly one hundred investors, who expected a profit on their contributed capital.

This fascinating re-visitation of the origins of America, told in full in Butman's book New World, Inc., highlights how nearly every human endeavor throughout history has been rooted in gaining or maintaining access to resources.

Of course, back in the days of the Pilgrims, there were only about 0.5 billion humans on the Earth. As we write about on this site, resources are likely to play an even more influential role in the future as the planet goes from 7.5 billion souls today to 10 billion by 2050…

By the 1500s, England's main export was woolen cloth, mostly to continental Europe. But in 1550, for a number of reasons, the bottom fell out of the market and they weren't selling enough, The merchants and the leading business people of the day,were very gravely concerned about the economics of the country. Population was on the rise at that point and there was a strong divide between the Gentry and the common people. And as the economics got worse, the social situation got very tricky, and there was really severe social unrest. So there was a real need to find new sources of revenue, new sources of jobs — and so that's what directed their focus overseas.

After 1600, there were many ventures to America. At first, they'd simply send ships over to America leaving early in the spring, ultimately March or April – the trip would take six to eight weeks. The plan was trade with the Indians for certain commodities like fish, furs and sassafras (which was a very prized herb, it was thought to cure almost everything), and then fill up the hull of their ships, get back, sell the goods in England and on the continent, and make a profit. But they discovered that it was just not sustainable. It was just too risky: on any given trip when sailing over to America, you couldn't be sure that you would get enough of what you needed to return with.

And so they realized they needed to establish settlements. They had to put people on the ground who would operate the business and obtain the goods. The ships would just be distribution: sailing over to pick up the stockpiles and then return to England. This idea of settlement orignated.

So Thomas Weston put together a group of seventy investors to put in money to fund the Pilgrims. They raised, we don’t really know how much money was raised, at least 1500 pounds (ssome claim as much as 7,000 pounds). So the Pilgrim's voyage to the New World was a funded venture, expected to be profitable (which took them a long time to become, in the end.

You have look at this whole process of America's settlement as one big startup. There was tremendous trial and error. There was so much failure along the way. It was just constant. The merchants who were putting money into these ventures had a diversified portfolio, so American development was really the higher risk part of it. They had other ventures and other investments — in fishing, in continuing to sell cloth on the continent, and so on. These business went up and down. so they rarely put all their money into America's development. It was just too risky.

But over seventy years, it worked. They learned a lot. They learned how to organize a settlement, how to make it sustainable, how to resupply it. They also got better at figuring out the cost per person. So they got better at understanding what the true costs and risks were, and kept iterating and improving the model. Just as what happens in modern investing today.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with John Butman (40m:27s).

Related content
» More

17 Comments

  • Mon, Mar 26, 2018 - 7:21pm

    #1

    Stabu

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 07 2011

    Posts: 96

    Didn't Get Much Out of This One

    Since no-one has said a word about this Featured Voices yet, I guess I’ll start. While there has been a few topics on Featured Voices before that I couldn’t get much out of (if anything), such as the discussion with Teal Swan, I always felt that those were mostly due to the lack of my own understanding/capability of understanding the whole being part in this story. In this John Butman discussion, however, the problem was that I didn’t really think he had much to say. The point seemed to be “humans go where there are resources”, which is pretty obvious to this crowd (but almost completely alien to the mainstream). This was probably not particularly constructive feedback, but I thought I’d utter it nonetheless for the sake of starting a conversation.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 26, 2018 - 7:59pm

    Reply to #1

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    I thought the take-away was

    I thought the take-away was that the quest for new resources is usually branded as something more glamorous than it actually is. I thought it was good; not all interviews have to be hard hitting.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 26, 2018 - 9:43pm

    #2
    Terry L

    Terry L

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 25 2009

    Posts: 17

    'Twas very appreciated by this member

    This podcast turned out to be much more worth my time than I expected.
    I appreciated:
    The much more accurate (I believe) story of the colonization of North America
    The reminder to me that the history we are taught (force-fed?) in school and the media is likely to be the history that the dominant players benefit from us accepting
    The differing views between this guest and the excerpt from a prior guest that Chris played, being another reminder to not uncritically accept any particular point of view (wouldn’t it be interesting to have both of them on to discuss their differences?)

    Thanks Chris & Adam for providing this podcast! And my thanks to John Butman, too.
    Terry L
    P.S. I was amused to hear that my having an ancestor (two, actually) who came over on the Mayflower is something that I share with “only” 36 million other Americans!  Woohoo – Let’s have a Meetup 😉

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 4:28am

    #3
    PaulJam

    PaulJam

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 04 2016

    Posts: 69

    points desperately need more amplification

    Maybe not hard hitting, but the contains a profound question which can hardly be found elsewhere, and needs to be repeated as often as possible: what happens when we run out of new places to colonize.  Even if we can colonize Mars (which I’m skeptical of), this option will only be available to handful of people.  The other billions left here on earth will have to contend with the fact that western growth economies have literally run out of room.  It will be a complete train wreck of suffering if you consider human well-being composed of equal parts of meaning, connection, and lack of material poverty.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 5:58am

    #4

    Stabu

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 07 2011

    Posts: 96

    Colonizing Mars

    I must confess that colonizing Mars is a neat idea, but the combination of the dryness of the Atacama desert, temperatures of Antarctica, and the distance of being more than 200 times farther from Earth than the moon makes this neat idea completely impractical.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 6:48am

    #5
    Uncletommy

    Uncletommy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 03 2014

    Posts: 514

    Protecting your ass(ets).

    As a descendant of German peasants from the 1600’s, I am pretty familiar with the main reasons people emigrate, no matter what your situation:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/russians-malta-oligarchs-rich-citizenship-1.4483144  
    Probably explains a lot about what’s going on in the world. My slice of the pie?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 9:25am

    #6
    richcabot

    richcabot

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 05 2011

    Posts: 184

    Defecting to the Indians

    I recall in Howard Zinn’s “A Peoples History of the United States” he mentioned that the Pilgrims had a serious problem with settlers leaving to go live with the Indians.  It was such a problem that it became a capital offense.  I wonder if it wasn’t related to the view of settlers as being an investment that needed to be protected rather than outrage at their wanting to live with “heathens”.  

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 10:39am

    #7
    Mohammed Mast

    Mohammed Mast

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 17 2017

    Posts: 112

    Mars

    Colonizing Mars is about as stupid as it gets. Why not focus on getting this right here? Even if it is feasible (which I seriously doubt) why export our messes to the rest of the solar system. I have a dim memory of a quote that goes something like this ” whether man dives to the bottom of the deepest oceans or travels to the farthest regions of the universe he will find himself just as he is.” 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 11:19am

    #8
    Terry L

    Terry L

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 25 2009

    Posts: 17

    Earth First...

    … We’ll strip mine the other planets later
    (a bumper sticker)
    P.S. Obviously I totally agree that attempting to “colonize” Mars is nuts!

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 6:23pm

    #9

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    At the risk if going off on a

    At the risk if going off on a rant, colonizing Mars is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. Well, not really, but pretty far up there.
    Firstly, there’s the problem that those who want to go there won’t even admit the reason why humanity is failing on Earth: population growth and economic growth.
    Then there’s the basic physical problems. Mars has essentially no atmosphere. You die within 10 seconds of walking outside. So you would need to walk around in a space suit all the time. All human infrastructure would need to be in pressure-tight buildings. That’s not a trivial thing to design and build, for sizable structures.
    I recall reading an article where they were saying that for The Martian movie with Matt Damon they took the script to NASA to review to make sure it didn’t have obvious scientific errors. Well even NASA missed one because there is the scene where his bulkhead blows out and he patches the hole with a tarp and duct tape. Unfortunately, at 14 psi that 7 foot diameter hole is going to be exerting 78,000 pounds of force on that tarp. Must be a strong tarp…
    The problem is this: to survive on Mars would require highly advanced technology. To maintain and grow the colonies would require even more advanced technology. But the catch is you need to have a global economy like on Earth to manufacture that technology. People seem to have no concept of what it takes to manufacture high technology, and the greater economy that it must be a part of to drive it based on mass production and economies of scale. A few thousand people living there wouldn’t be much more “productive” than the early American settlers trying to compete in todays’ world. You’d need millions and millions of people there to be able to build an economy capable of building the infrastructure (you can’t build an IC chip with a soldering iron). That’s the Catch 22, because you can’t support millions of people without tons high tech infrastructure, which therefore must all come from Earth. And we are soon going to have problems of our own making thousands of cargo trips to Mars a little unrealistic…
    And where is the energy going to come from? Will they bring a thorium reactor over there? Great, but how are they going to get more energy beyond that thorium reactor? Build it over there? With what resources?
    Will the energy come from solar panels? Well we just heard about them in another article. Who is going to make them?
    Are they going to “terraform” and build an atmosphere to live in? Huh?!?!?!? We can’t even keep CO2 in check on Earth (0.04% of the atmosphere). So basically, the entirety of the history of human industry has only changed the atmosphere by about 0.02%. And some colonies are going to create an entire atmosphere???? Its absurd.
    And then there’s the radiation, which our planet does a good job of shielding us from.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 27, 2018 - 8:27pm

    #10
    itse ye ye

    itse ye ye

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 11 2017

    Posts: 4

    John Butman , newworld inc.

    Great interview.having just read the book”1491″ by Charles mann , I found the discussion interesting.”1491″ looks at what people were here and what they were doing,how they lived,etc., Before and after the arrival of Europeans.ill probably read “new world inc.” It’s interesting to look at the colonization of the Americas through the lens of the three “E” s. European nations ,low on resources, mired in debt, go looking for a fresh start.They sail west.after a rocky start,it’s the same exponential growth all over again.malthus is right again.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 28, 2018 - 2:38am

    Reply to #9

    Michael_Rudmin

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 25 2014

    Posts: 836

    I agree Mars is a no-brainer

    That said, if you want to colonize mars, the obvious starting point is to colonize the moon; and if you want to colonize the moon, the obvious starting point is to send bots to do a lot of the early work remotely.
    That eliminates waste problems.
    And you can handle the radiation by going underground.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 30, 2018 - 2:46am

    Reply to #9

    SingleSpeak

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 30 2008

    Posts: 162

    With Amazon Prime

    2-day free-shipping (from Earth), most of the problems outlined above would be solved. Get with the program. wink

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 30, 2018 - 4:38am

    #11
    brushhog

    brushhog

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 06 2015

    Posts: 45

    The sad reality of mars

    The sad reality is that the whole idea of “colonizing mars” just reflects how desperate and out of touch with reality we have become. With our heads in cyberspace and our reality collapsing down around us we are dreaming of flying off to outerspace to colonize “mars”. We do not have the technology to do anything close to that and we do not have the mental capacity to comprehend the tremendous cost of energy and resources that “colonizing” a planet with no WATER, no ATMOSPHERE, no FOOD SOURCES, and no ENERGY supply would entail. If we could comprehend those realities we’d be busy making the actual world better and more sustainable.
    Guy’s, Elon Musk is a salesman. We dont really have the technologies that he talks about…it’s called “creating a buzz”. Driverless cars are still DECADES away IF EVER. AI isn’t really what you think it is. And, no, robots do not exist that can do all our work for us. As a farmer I used to be surprised at how many people actually believe that robots do all our farming now.
    We havent even been able to get back to the moon, assuming we ever went in the first place which is slowly starting to become a very real possibility. The robots, the driverless cars, the AI, and the impossible colonizations of planets with no atmosphere is a symptom of a sort of collective dillusion that is starting to affect our society. Fueled by the internet, movies, smartphones, and computers, we are abandoning reality and seeking solace in sci-fy fantasies. There is a difference between reading a sci-fy book to get a temporary escape from the world, and actually BELIEVING that you really live in that book.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 30, 2018 - 9:26am

    Reply to #11

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 278

    brushhog wrote: The sad

    brushhog wrote:

    The sad reality is that the whole idea of “colonizing mars” just reflects how desperate and out of touch with reality we have become. With our heads in cyberspace and our reality collapsing down around us we are dreaming of flying off to outerspace to colonize “mars”. We do not have the technology to do anything close to that and we do not have the mental capacity to comprehend the tremendous cost of energy and resources that “colonizing” a planet with no WATER, no ATMOSPHERE, no FOOD SOURCES, and no ENERGY supply would entail. If we could comprehend those realities we’d be busy making the actual world better and more sustainable.
    Guy’s, Elon Musk is a salesman. We dont really have the technologies that he talks about…it’s called “creating a buzz”. Driverless cars are still DECADES away IF EVER. AI isn’t really what you think it is. And, no, robots do not exist that can do all our work for us. As a farmer I used to be surprised at how many people actually believe that robots do all our farming now.
    We havent even been able to get back to the moon, assuming we ever went in the first place which is slowly starting to become a very real possibility. The robots, the driverless cars, the AI, and the impossible colonizations of planets with no atmosphere is a symptom of a sort of collective dillusion that is starting to affect our society. Fueled by the internet, movies, smartphones, and computers, we are abandoning reality and seeking solace in sci-fy fantasies. There is a difference between reading a sci-fy book to get a temporary escape from the world, and actually BELIEVING that you really live in that book.

    Exactly, I blame equally the masses who accept without question what we are being fed in movies and the media, as well as the elites who are intentionally misleading people. Rather than focus on what we should be — sustainability and the insane economic system we are part of — we are focusing on fake mass shootings and Muslim hating (and repealing the second amendment) and dreaming of reaching the stars inspired by a fake Moon landing and current real expeditions into space that serve no practical purpose, while our own existence down here is crumbling away.
    I looked into the Moon landing hoax and yes, you don’t have to look far to find slam dunk evidence that it was fake.
    I’m not sure driverless cars are decades away though. They have been on the roads for a while now. I just don’t see their purpose — so people can waste even more time on their phones? Purportedly self driving cars will lower overall crash rates which may be true, but they have some tricky legal issues to sort out with the recent incident in Arizona. And since when did the elites ever care about people dying?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 30, 2018 - 11:24am

    Reply to #11
    brushhog

    brushhog

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 06 2015

    Posts: 45

    Mark, well said. I agree that

    Mark, well said. I agree that the moon landing most likely never happened.The evidence is there, but the biggest telltale is that no other country got to the moon in all these years and we never went back…REALLY?…after 60 years? Not even once? Japan tried, the Russians tried, and nobody else could figure it out? It seems pretty obvious that it was a cold war hoax to one-up the Russians.
    I disagree about driverless cars. There have been no driverless cars on the streets accept in controlled testing. The ones you hear about have drivers in them to take over when the computer malfunctions…as happened recently in Arizona where a woman was killed crossing the street…even WITH a driver ready to take over. They cant make a computer or a smartphone without bugs and problems. The idea that they can put a fully autonomous car on the road, driving with nothing but a computer, that has the capacity to cause massive deaths, is nothing short of lunacy.
    My prediction; In ten years [ when according to many we are all going to be driven around by self-driving cars] they wont even be talking about them anymore. You might hear a comedian joke about ‘remember when we all thought we’d be in driverless cars ten years ago”. LOL. Driverless cars are about as likely as the jet packs we were promised in the 1960s.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Apr 01, 2018 - 5:16am

    #12
    xhidarta

    xhidarta

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 15 2013

    Posts: 1

    "Houston, we have a problem"

    This may not have been a groundbreaking interview but it does provide a much needed revision of the official story repeated ad infinitum from church pulpits and political venues alike: that this was a country founded exclusively as a Christian nation by pilgrims escaping religious persecution and they celebrated happily with the natives the bounty of the land at the Thanksgiving table.  Never mind that the slaughter started in earnest.  A little detail that this author glances over pretending that the Anglos were more humane to the injans than the brutish Conquistadors.  Good try.
    Anyhow, the story repeats itself since the beggining of time.  When I left my land of birth at the South cone of America the only oriental people I ever knew were the corner Japanese cleaner and a few others that owned nurseries.  FF 30 years and the Chinese have taken over by storm all the neighborhood grocery stores historically owned by Spanish immigrants and turned them into mini-markets.  It’s just a perfect storm, on the one hand a no-man’s land kinda environment because the “leadership” could care less about who or how anybody and everybody comes into the country and the most Overpopulated and Polluted country in the world desperately trying to shed population and at the same time expand geopolitical reach.
    Humanity will keep doing this, until it can’t.  It’s obvious that moment has arrived.  It’s just a Wile e Coyote moment.

    Login or Register to post comments

Login or Register to post comments