In conclusion, we hope this book has helped open your eyes a little bit.

Not just to the threats you face as a twenty-first-century saver and investor—as many as there are—but also to the opportunities as well, the unconsidered possibilities of a world with unparalleled access and communication. Because it's only when you pull back and really consider the long term, as we have in these pages, that you can make the most informed decision. And we believe that it is possible to insure your future.

It's true that, historically speaking, the United States seems to be heading the way of so many other empires.

America's rise to global superiority began in a time much like today, when another empire overstretched its bounds and the financial world imploded. Against the backdrop of funny-money loans and financial witchcraft, America stood alone—a bastion of free enterprise, where each person had the right to conduct his business unobstructed and unharassed. Americans worked hard for low wages, they saved diligently, and they endured hardship to build tremendous wealth within their country.

But then, as we know all too well, it gradually took a turn for the worse.

Hard work, true grit, and determination carried America as far and as fast as it could go, but like so many other nations before us, we demanded more. And we got it in the form of paper money, deficit spending, and revolutionary new entitlement programs. Hard times during the Depression ...

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