Gary North---Self-Aggrandizing Jerk?

I subscribed to Gary North’s Reality Check a week or two ago, but only got a chance to read it today.

Here is a selection from today’s issue, a bit of advice to a young person from South Africa currently teaching in Taiwan:

Age: 24; occupation: BSocSci degree. Unqualified
teacher. Location: Taiwan. I speak a little Mandarin
and learning more. Occupation: Teaching in Taiwan. Net
worth 7000 US dollars; Salary: $2,000 US a month for
remainder of 2006/contract

 Should I return to South Africa (family pressure)
 for a teaching qualification or remain in Taiwan,
 learning Chinese? Teaching career's financial

 This is the most interesting question that I have been

sent. It involves politics, race, education, cultures, and

 I assume that you are male, although the concern --

family pressure – is more of a female concern. If you are
a female, the correct answer is: “Stay in Taiwan until you
are sure your marriage prospects are doomed. Then decide
what to do.” Actually, that’s not bad advice for you if
you are a male.

 Your question raises the question of the future of

South Africa. This is a question that white, middle-class
professionals in South Africa have answered for a decade by
emigrating. There is no nation on earth that has suffered
a greater brain drain than South Africa, except possibly
Zimbabwe, which is the IQ replacement pool for South
Africa. This brain drain has crippled the future prospects
of South Africa.

 There is a relationship between IQ and the wealth of

nations. There is even a book on this. I don’t care how
high the price of strategic minerals goes; the IQ brain
drain will cripple South Africa. So will the socialist
policies of the government, which build on the socialist
policies of the Afrikaner government that preceded it.

 To tell anyone except a missionary to return to South

Africa would be irresponsible on my part. Ignore your
family’s pleas. Do not go back. Don’t put your heirs back
into that environment.

 Learning Chinese is a positive thing to do, no matter

where you are. That is the second language of the twenty-
first century. English is the first. You will speak both.

 Plan to get out of teaching.  There is no future in

teaching. You are young. You can make contacts. Move
into business. Use your income and position as a teacher
to establish more contacts. Systematically compile the
equivalent of a Rolodex.

 Start a Web site or blog site.  It can be on anything. 

But your goal is to establish your reputation as a well-
read person living at the intersection of two
civilizations. Actually, in your case, three
civilizations: European, Chinese, and sub-Sahara African.

 Set dates for milestones: mastering a speaking

(dreaming) knowledge of Mandarin, then a reading knowledge,
then a new job in industry.

 Of course, the smartest thing you could do would be to

marry the daughter of a Chinese industrialist with several
factories on the mainland.[/quote]

So, if I understand Mr. North correctly:

  1. Marriage is to be avoided, unless it is to a rich person.
  2. One day, the only people left in South Africa will be people with lower IQs (apparently, because all of the smarter, white people will have left).
  3. There is no future in teaching. You should get into a career that makes you money. That career is business.
  4. Learning Chinese is a good thing, although it’s unclear as to why it’s a good thing.

What a load of hooey. I’ve unsubscribed to his poorly written, condescending, and hokum-ridden “advice” newsletter. When did “contrarian” become a euphemism for “dickhead?”

Before anyone makes any assumptions, I don’t feel personally attacked, I feel intellectually assualted by someone who masks his ignorance in blunt and marginally entertaining prose.

Sounds like reasonable advice to me. The marrying a rich gal’s just a throw away at the end. As for the situation in South Africa I think you’ll find most Saffies agree. It’s not just a white “brain drain”, many with the ability, ie black or white, seem eager to shift to a better/safer environment.

In any case, most of these kinds of punters are fancy word players rehashing crap from Bloomberg and elsewhere. Erh, I know that because I used to ghost write articles for one.

If you really want a good read on investing, check out - if you can - GREED & fear by CLSA’s global strategist Christopher Wood.


On other occasions he has explained that getting married usually locks one into stable, boring, salaried employment with little room for advancement, so one should delay marriage until after establishing oneself in some more risky but rewarding endeavor. Once you are married it becomes difficult to take these risks.

Alleycat makes some good pizza, doesn’t he?

Keep reading his newsletter and you’ll find him say the same thing about lots of professions, not just teaching. He doesn’t much care for salaried employment unless it can generate more than US$100k/yr with stable prospects and can’t be outsourced to India or China.

His newsletter is about making money, not about whether you think a particular profession is rewarding on some other level. And let’s face it, few teachers make that much money. Those teachers that do usually do so by… going into business.

Um, I guess you missed the part about Chinese being the second language of the coming century, so that knowing both Chinese and English would be a large advantage.

The question I’m wondering is… which Forumosan sent in that question? It’s too much of a coincidence that his newsletter was mentioned here just before some expat from Taiwan wrote in.

Yes, his style is fairly direct and might offend your sensibilities, but you will probably learn something about making money.

I know a bloke who married a girl from a super rich family in Taiwan. He was from South Africa and he was an English teacher. He was a fantastic guy and now he is a fantastically rich guy. He emigrated from South Africa to Australia but he would still like to live in Africa. I don’t know if he is any happier now than he ever was before, I think he’s about the same or if anything feels a little isolated living in Australia which is so painfully similar to SA in someways, but devoid of his mates and family.

Yeah, but as much as I like the man I would never suggest he’s part of the South African braindrain. :smiley:

Especially if he happened to be black! A black man driving a rich man’s car is likely to be routinely stopped and questioned! Especially in WA or Qld.


Most of his advice was actually quite good in my opinion, but… I found the comment of the “IQ drain” to have strong racist overtones… and its not really an IQ drain, but a brain drain…and it refers to well educated / skilled labour etc moving. IQ has far less to do with it.

My specific issues with this bit of “advice”:

  1. Marriage is not for everyone, but there are plenty of people who are actually aided in their entreprenuerial aspirations by the fact that they are married. People can get married and then hold off for a bit before having kids if they want to take risks in business. A couple can build a business together–happens all of the time in Taiwan. A person’s spouse may have the means to support the other spouse as he/she starts a business. A person’s extended family (after marriage, the number of relatives roughly doubles) can be a source of start-up capital for a new venture. Again, happens all of the time in Taiwan. I find his assertion that marriage is the bane of financial success ridiculous.

  2. His comments on the IQ drain out of South Africa were in fact quite racist in tone and content. The white, middle class people are leaving, so there’s nobody smart left in SA? For writing that, he deserves excoriation. As for his “Ditch your family, save your kids’ future” advice, yeah, brilliant. Nevermind that the kids won’t know their extended family members. Yep, that’s a really good idea. No support system for the kids. Abandon

  3. Jlick makes a good point about the wealth of those in the teaching profession. Most of them aren’t wealthy, but many are stable, secure, and building something for the future. There are those who do have the ambition and the know how to take 5-10 years of teaching experience and parlay it into a consulting career, a school (or a chain of schools), a career in textbook writing, a career as a well-known test preparation class teacher, etc. Let’s say that someone doesn’t want to do that, but is still ambitious and skilled. Someone with a little bit of experience and skill can eventually earn NT$800-900 per hour. Taking $850 as an average, if this person works 40 hours a week (may need to take two jobs, obviously, or one 30 hour a week job with some privates or a part-time job), he will earn NT$140,000 a month before taxes. If living expenses, travel savings, and taxes take $70,000 a month, he’s left with NT$70,000 a month for debt payoff, savings, investments. How many people back home have an extra US$2,200 per month available for getting ahead? Very, very few. Yes, this person may not arrange 40 hours a week, but by the same token, he/she may also be a bit more ambitious and sign up for 50 hours a week. He/she can be married, work 10 hours a day (9am to 8pm), and still have time for exercise in the morning and a full two weekend days off. So, Mr. North’s contention that there is no future in teaching seems a lot of hooey to me. People should do what they are energized by, apply some ambition, and reap the rewards.

  4. I didn’t miss anything about his recommendation to learn Mandarin. I took issue with the vague nature of his advice. “Yeah, great! Learn Chinese. Very important. Lots of people speak it.” Well, numbnuts, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, keep your advice to yourself. For a native speaker of English, Mandarin is extremely difficult to learn with any degree of proficiency. If you have a passion for learning it and are willing to spend the time and effort to learn it well, go for it. There is no elite club here–it is open to anyone with the discipline to make it happen.

Then there’s the issue of what you’re going to do with your Mandarin skills. If you’re planning to move home to SA, or to Aus, what are you going to be doing? If you want to start a design business that focuses on local clients, then Mandarin may not help you much. If you’re going to start an import/export business, work as an engineer in China, etc., then yes, learning Mandarin is an excellent idea. My point is, don’t invest all of that time and effort unless you’ve got some sort of idea as to how you’re going to use your language skills. Nobody is going to learn without a very concrete and strong motivation for doing so anyway.

Sorry, I think this guy is full of beans.