It’s all too customary for those analyzing the crises humanity faces to associate climate change, aka global warming, with whatever proximate cause they postulate for our imminent demise. John Tirman, for instance, in his book 100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World lists as the first way “Altering the Earth’s Climate”. Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute includes Climate along with Energy and Debt as the three problem areas which threaten our future. Nafez Mossadeq Ahmed, author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, integrates climate change with the other crises he believes civilization faces: the financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages. This linking of concrete, demonstrable societal ills with the less grounded, more debatable theory of global warming is an ill-considered, strategic mistake, I think, as I believe critics of the global warming theory, the so-called “deniers”, are going to win the debate, at least for the near future. It would be a tragedy if valid, much-needed warnings about the dangers haunting our future were to be discredited because of their being tied to discredited fears about climate change.
Here’s why I think this is likely to happen. The warming trend which the earth experienced in the thirty years before the turn of this century has virtually stopped. This “hiatus”, as it is called, has been going on for over a decade and is likely to continue for another two. Check out this graph from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
What do you see? I see a 60-year cycle in which a 30-year cooling period alternates with a 30-year warming period; to wit, from about 1880 to 1910 the mean global temperature went down, then from 1910 to 1940 the earth warmed up, then from 1940 to 1970, the earth cooled slightly, followed by the 30-year period from 1970 to 2000 when the earth warmed dramatically, and finally the dozen years from the turn of the century till now during which the mean temperature hasn’t risen (the hiatus). Given that the concept of a mean global temperature is an artificial construct subject to error and manipulation, just looking at this graph what would you predict for the near future? Wouldn’t you bet that for the next 20 years or so the earth is not going to get warmer, may even cool a bit?
If this does come to pass, what will be the consequence for the theory of global warming? Won’t it be viewed with increasing skepticism by the pubic at large, at least until the next warming demi-cycle commences 20 years from now? Won’t the discrediting of the global warming theory infect theories which have been linked to it? Are you willing to wait 20 years for your forewarnings of impending doom to be taken seriously?
Unless you have been following the issue as I have, you are probably not aware that the debate over the theory of global warming has been heating up (pardon the pun) of late, largely because of the prolonged global tepidness. If you believe the science is settled, consider that the “settled” science has generated a multiplicity of climate models which have done a terrible job of forecasting, invariably predicting warmer temperatures than what has actually occurred. If the science is so settled, why have global warming adherents only recently postulated that heat from the warming of the atmosphere is being absorbed by the oceans, their explanation for the hiatus? The models did not foresee this.What about that august body of climate scientists who comprise the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), you ask. Just recently the IPCC certified once again – with 95% certainty (whatever that means) – that human activities are causing global warming? We are told that 1800 scientists arrived at this conclusion; but, if you look into it, you will find the majority of the scientists on the panel are not climatologists and some not scientists at all. One scientist who served on the IPCC’s review committee called global warming fears the worst scientific scandal in history, predicting “When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”For one side in a debate to label the opposition “deniers” is a sleazy rhetorical gambit usually employed by the name-callers when they are losing the debate (equally true in the case of another group of iconoclasts routinely labeled “deniers”, but that’s a story for another day). Consider who some of these so-called “deniers” are:
Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT
Fred Singer, Professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia
Roy Spencer, former NASA Senior Scientist for Climate Studies
Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech
Pat Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists
Do you really believe such people deny science?
Perhaps you believe such credentialed skeptics are in the pay of Big Oil. It’s true that the global warming theory was once opposed by powerful interests who dominated the debate; but, when a former Vice President of the United States can win both an Academy Award and a Noble Prize for a highly tendentious film full of hyperbole and misinformation, you know there are powerful interests behind the global warming scare, too. If Big Oil has bought off the media, why is it that so many people are aware that sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest extent in modern times in 2012 but not that sea ice in the Antarctic was expanding at the same time or that ice in the Arctic made its largest rebound ever last year, approaching the average for the last thirty years? Why is every extreme weather event - even blizzards- attributed to global warming when, in fact, extreme events like hurricanes, forest fires, tornados and even record high temperatures are less prevalent today than in the past?
I’m not a climatologist, so I’m neither inclined nor competent to expound on the science of global warming, but I do hope to have convinced you that the science surrounding global warming is far from settled and consequently to hitch your wagon to that fading star is not a good idea. Please, at least listen to what the skeptics have to say – for instance, by consulting the websites I’ve cited – before you link the fate of your own doleful prophecies to that of climate change.
A book review: Who Lost America? by Bromwell Ault…
Part 2: Institutional failure, loss of enforcing the rule of law, injection of incompatible diversity.
History becomes the great mentor for any civilization hoping to outlast the ages. For all its bloody conflicts, history presents every country lessons from the past on how other nations failed to survive.
But in the 21st century, America’s leaders and its citizens ignore the lessons of history. And, ironically, as America becomes less and less of its own people and more and more of dissimilar people from around the world, it won’t be able to return itself to its intellectual, cultural, linguistic and spiritual foundation.
Former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm said, “If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time.”
Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall, and that, “An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.”
In his newest book, Who Lost America?—Yale University graduate Bromwell Ault, at 86 years of age, brings enormous historical perspective to the American predicament.
“History is an excellent teacher,” said Ault. “To some degree it is infallible. It is both the messenger and message, and writes our records. In the end, it determines who survives and who doesn’t, and more importantly, what is and what isn’t. It leaves little room for argument when it is being written and even less thereafter.”
Every high school student learns how Rome fell. Every student of history knows how Easter Island’s civilization collapsed into extinction. A quick reading tells all of us why the Mayan civilization vanished. Historical records show why the Pueblo people of Mesa Verde disappeared from their homes in the rock walls of that ancient civilization.
But do you think the citizens and leaders of America in the 21st century take note of the causes of those collapsed civilizations? Do you think we Americans are taking actions to avoid our own definite collapse of our civilization? The empirical and unavoidable answer: no! In reality, we follow in the footsteps of those ancient civilizations of history that collapsed.
“The legislative branch of our government, with the power and responsibility to create and pass our laws,” said Ault, “is riven with so many divisions that its 535 members in the House and Senate are more and more to be found at the far ends of the political spectrum without a refuge of reason at the center. In our time and place, it is a catastrophe. How did it his happen and why do we permit it”
When you look at our 10 million unemployed and 7 million underemployed, or 48 million citizens subsisting on food stamps, or our $18 trillion national debt, or our $315 billion annual trade deficit to China, or our useless 10-year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—you cannot help but lament the devolvement of our country into a horrendous geopolitical hole from which we may not recover.
When you look at our racial strife that dominates the headlines or our porous borders that our Congress facilitated to allow over 12 to 20 million people to cross without invitation or legality—you cannot help but wonder who pretends to be in charge of our laws. The agony of 68 percent of our African-American children being brought up by a single mother on welfare—speaks to something terribly wrong.
Who lost America? We citizens gave our country away to power mongers, to the military industrial complex, which foments foreign wars out of fabrications of fear, and to institutional failures.
“To protect ourselves, we must change our concept of power,” said Ault, “and elect as president, not someone who merely wants power, but someone who can wield it in a moral and balanced way…the great fault of government in America today is that it is considered a means, not and end. It means our elected representatives connive in the distribution of our national political and material resources to favored areas or interests. We have badly abused our democracy and in the process have done ourselves great disservice.”
In essence, we gave the military-industrial-complex a cart blanche pass to create Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq (twice). No one questions those dishonest wars even after the evidence shows that our leaders contrived those conflicts.
What causes those manufactured wars? Answer: money. Corporations make a lot of money. A lot of kids die for that money someone else makes.
Ault said, “Money flows in almost unimaginable amounts throughout our political process and is constantly directed and redirected by the same people to the same places.”
Ault describes how conflicted religions faced each other on the battlefields with swords, spears, maces and longbows. Their cruelty such as the Christians on the Crusades against the Muslims of the 11th, 12th and 13thcenturies engaged extreme barbarism on both sides. Today, Muslims commit horrific-barbaric acts against the West, but in return, the West bombs and kills hundreds of thousands of Muslims in their own lands. With countries like Syria, Muslims shoot, bomb, poison and kill each other with prolific enthusiasm.
Ault describes Rome’s fall to its endless immigration that destroyed its cohesive military into the chaos of the Goths, Visa-Goths and Vandals. Rome lost its cultural foundation along with its language.
“As to immigration, enter the Kudzu Curve,” said Ault. “Extend it another 50 years and our America will join the Easter Island sculptures looking for help that will not come.”
What Americans don’t realize continues at breakneck speed: America will change from a 90 percent European majority to a Latino majority by 2042—a scant 28 years from now. That means our major language, English, will share center stage with Spanish. Our national ethos faces radical change.
“Can this come to pass?” said Ault. “And why is it considered a very real possibility by many Americans. For an answer, it is only necessary to look to Europe. We have seats, front and center, to observe the deadly results of unchecked immigration in France, Germany, England, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and Italy where former colonial powers are being swamped by constant third world arrivals, mostly from Africa or the Near East, and mostly Muslims.
“The result has been extreme violence in the streets with random acts of murder, rape, torture and extensive property damage. To look at the European history, to listen to the arguments on both sides, to observe the results, and then to think it can’t happen here is sheer folly.”
By reading Ault’s book and watching television nightly, you cannot help but “connect the dots” on how we lost America and how fast we continue losing it even further to a peaceful, self-invited invasion via immigration.
Ironically, the latest S744 amnesty bill doubled legal immigration from 1 million to 2 million annually. If it passes, ultimately the rate of speed of immigration leading to an added 100 million immigrants by 2050 shall accelerate at twice the velocity.
Our ultimate destination places a special ring to Toybee’s words: “All great civilizations rise and fall, and that, an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.”
Part 3: Losing our national identity
Who Lost America? By Bromwell Ault
ISBN # 978-1-4634-7446-1
Price: $22.46, 284 pages softcover, Kindle $3.99
Publisher direct copies: 1 888 280 7715
A book review: Who Lost America by Bromwell Ault…
Part 1: How Americans lost their country like having the rug of their republic pulled right out from under them.
“The Americans cannot even conduct a military operation there,” said General Salami of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The conditions and the factors that facilitate the exercise of military power for them have for years been destroyed and today they (the Americans) are in an erosion of political, cultural, financial and military power.”
Military leaders in the Middle East know more about America’s weaknesses than we citizens understand about ourselves. We know we cannot trust anything the president or military tell us that happens in Iraq or Afghanistan. The same thing happened with Vietnam.
- Politically—after five years, our president staggers knee deep in quicksand while our U.S. Congress bogs down in muck so deep it can’t extricate itself to take meaningful or logical action.
- Culturally—we don’t know if we represent American citizens or illegal alien migrants or the America Way or Iranian-Americans or Coke’s Super Bowl version of our multicultural and multi-lingual morphing into a Muslim nation represented by an Islamic American female covered in a burka to turn her into a non-being.
- Financially—we drown in an $18 trillion national debt with no escape. Our third president, John Adams said, “There two ways to conquer a country: by the sword and by debt.”
- Military Power—We spent trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan with absolutely nothing to show for it but slaughter for our kids and untold PTSD chaos in our young soldiers that will linger for their lifetimes. We couldn’t defeat a goat-herder nation like Afghanistan for the past 11 years and counting.
Beyond the Iranian general’s understanding of our predicament, Americans in the past 45 years relinquished the American Way to the new Multicultural Way that forces us into hyphenated-Americans, confusing languages and lack of the cohesiveness of what an American stood for in this world.
We’ve become a “schizophrenic or multiple-personality- disorder” country via our immigration system that pumped 100 million immigrants from all over the planet into American from 1965 to 2013 with another 100 million projected to arrive from 150 countries within the next 36 years.
As the Super Bowl Coke advertisement illustrated, we don’t know what we stand for as a culture, language or country. While the Islamic girl wore a headscarf, you see tens of thousands of Muslim women in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver and Chicago wearing black burkas with only slits for their eyes to see out. They remain non-beings with no identity within America. Their Muslim husbands subjugate them with fear and cultural dominance. Yet, they represent the beachhead for Islamic conquest in America in the 21st century. At 7 million Muslims in 2014, we must brace ourselves for their aggressive actions when they reach 20 million within two decades and 50 million soon after.
With one look at the Muslim conquest of Europe, an idiot can see Islam’s march, but we think ourselves immune. Such denial placed the United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Spain and Sweden reeling from the havoc created by Islamic immigrants. Lesson: Muslims never integrate into host countries. They create enclaves, which force those countries to tolerate and even adopt Sharia Law, which proves the most barbaric form of subjugation by any religion on the planet.
“Immigrants devoted to their own cultures and religions are not influenced by the secular politically correct façade that dominates academia, news-media, entertainment, education, religious and political thinking today,” said James Walsh, former Associate General Counsel of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. “They claim the right not to assimilate, and the day is coming when the question will be how can the United States regulate the defiantly unassimilated cultures, religions and mores of foreign lands? Such immigrants say their traditions trump the U.S. legal system. Balkanization of the United States has begun.”
Whether you stand as a liberal, conservative, libertarian or not-involved in our country’s future by your apathy—this multicultural train speeds into America with a load of cargo 100 million immigrants full, that no one understands—thus we face consequences of an overpopulated, fractured and fragmented culture society. And ultimately our civilization splinters and degrades.
Brilliant historian Bromwell Ault, at 84, and a graduate of Yale University, brings the brunt of what Americans face in his new book: Who Lost America? www.
He writes, “Can America’s democratic identity and government survive our ethical, political and economic failures?”
Ault begins, “During the State of the Union speech, the President declares that the “State of the Union is strong.” This has become a tradition and touches upon several emotions and strength; and it creates a sense of unity that binds us to each other and to our past. The problem is that it is a lie centered on its two key words—“union” and “strong”.
Via his extraordinary longevity in America’s story, Ault said, “Technology and progress have a way of overwhelming cultures that are not spiritually, geographically, economically or politically resistant. And it is the ever shifting mix of these elements which determines whether different cultures will succumb or survive.”
With an added 100 million legal immigrants from 150 countries from around the world about to be injected into the United States in the next three decades, can we survive the clash of civilizations they represent?
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations said, “It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation-states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
Ault stated the most obvious aspect of an “intact” civilization depended on its culture. With America scattering into hundreds of cultures within the next three decades, the question arises: can it survive its own lack of a single cohesive culture and people? Huntington’s research as well as Ault’s shows that the United States will not survive as a single united people or culture.
Ault asks, “Who lost America? Or, more specifically, who replaced the America we were, with what we have become? And, why? And, how?”
Part 2: How we lost the rule of law. Institutional failure. Transforming and devolving America via the culprits doing the dirty work.
Who Lost America? By Bromwell Ault
ISBN # 978-1-4634-7446-1
Price: $22.46, 284 pages softcover, Kindle $3.99
Publisher direct copies: 1 888 280 7715
Want to know the dates for the Blood Moons and total lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015? You’ve come to the right place…
We have been receiving a number of inquiries about some upcoming Blood Moons in the years 2014 and 2015. And we want to say, first of all, that the Blood Moons most people are asking about are not part of astronomy. Instead, their origin is religious, at least according to Christian pastor John Hagee, who wrote a 2013 book about Blood Moons. More about that below. Still, since they’re moons, and since people are asking us, we wanted to reply.
Follow the links below to learn more about Blood Moons.
View larger. | Hunter’s Moon collage from EarthSky Facebook friend Kausor Khan in Hyberabad, India. Notice that she choose reddish moons to depict the Hunter’s Moon. That’s because many people see the Hunter’s Moon low in the sky, and moons seen low in the sky appear reddish. In 2013, the Hunter’s Moon – sometimes called the Blood Moon – came in mid-October.
Why is a Hunter’s Moon linked in people’s minds with a red moon? First of all, in autumn, the angle of the ecliptic – or sun and moon’s path – makes a narrow angle with the horizon. Image via classicalastronomy.com.
Secondly, the narrow angle of the ecliptic means the moon rises noticeably farther north on the horizon, from one night to the next. So, every autumn, there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise. Around the time of full moon, many people see the moon low in the sky, around the time of twilight. At that time, the moon often looks reddish. Image via classicalastronomy.com.
Blood Moons in astronomy. In astronomical lore, all the full moons have names. The names typically coincide with months of the year, or seasons.
The Hunter’s Moon, in skylore, is also sometimes called the Blood Moon. Why? Probably because it’s a characteristic of these autumn full moons that they appear nearly full – and rise soon after sunset – for several evenings in a row. Many people see them when they are low in the sky, shortly after they’ve risen, at which time there’s more atmosphere between you and the moon than when the moon is overhead. When you see the moon low in the sky, the extra air between you and the moon makes the moon look reddish. Voila. Blood moon.
Harvest Moon: September 9
Autumn Equinox: September 23
Hunter’s (Blood) Moon: October 8
Autumn Equinox: September 23
Harvest Moon: September 28
Hunter’s (Blood) Moon: October 27
This book, published in 2013, is apparently what launched all the questions to our astronomy website about Blood Moons. We confess. We haven’t read it.
From what we’ve been able to gather, two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, use the termBlood Moon to apply to the full moons of the upcoming tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015. John Hagee appears to have popularized the term in his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.
Mark Blitz and John Hagee speak of a lunar tetrad as representing a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. After all, the moon is supposed to turn blood red before the end times, isn’t it? As described in Joel 2:31 (Common English Bible):
The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
That description, by the way, describes both a total solar eclipse and total lunar eclipse. Sun turned to darkness = moon directly between the Earth and sun in a total solar eclipse. Moon turned to blood = Earth directly between the sun and moon, Earth’s shadow falling on the moon in a total lunar eclipse.
This is what a total eclipse looks like. This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004 via Fred Espenak of NASA. Visit Fred’s page here. We astronomy writers often describe a totally eclipsed moon as appearing ‘blood red.’ Here’s why the moon turns red during a total eclipse.
We astronomy writers often describe total lunar eclipses as appearing blood red. Why red? They appear reddish because sunlight from all of Earth’s sunrises and sunsets is scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere and falls on the surface of the eclipsed moon. In years where volcanic activity is pronounced, however, a total lunar eclipse may appear more brownish or gray in color. Read more here: Why does the moon look red during a total lunar eclipse?
Total lunar eclipse: April 15
Total lunar eclipse: October 8
Total lunar eclipse: April 4
Total lunar eclipse: September 28
There are a total of 8 tetrads in the 21st century (2001 to 2100). But proponents of this Biblical prophecy regard the upcoming tetrad as especially significant because it coincides with two important Jewish holidays: Passover and Tabernacles.
The April 2014 and April 2015 total lunar eclipses align with the feast of Passover. The October 2014 and September 2015 total lunar eclipses align with the feast of Tabernacles.
The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. In any year, it’s inevitable that a full moon should fall on or near the feasts of Passover (15 Nissan) and Tabernacles (15 Tishri). Nissan and Tishri are the first and seventh months of the Jewish calendar, respectively.
It is somewhat ironic that three of these four lunar eclipses are not visible – even in part – from Israel. The only eclipse that can be seen at all from Israel is the tail end of the September 28, 2015 eclipse, which may be observable for a short while before sunrise.
How common is a tetrad of total lunar eclipses? Depending upon the century in which you live, alunar tetrad (four consecutive total lunar eclipses, spaced at six lunar months apart from one another) may happen fairly frequently – or not at all.
For instance, in our 21st century (2001-2100), there are a total 8 tetrads, but in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, there were none at all. If we include all the centuries from the 1st century (AD 1-100) through the 21st century (2001-2100), inclusive, there are a total of 62 tetrads. The last one occurred in 2003-2004, and the next one after the 2014-2015 tetrad will happen in 2032-2033.
However, if we want to know which tetrads specifically fell on the Jewish feasts of Passover and Tabernacles, there appear to be a total of 8 in these 21 centuries:
1. 162-163 C.E. (Common Era)
2. 795-796 C.E.
3. 842-843 C.E.
4. 860-861 C.E.
5. 1493-1494 C.E.
6. 1949-1950 C.E.
7. 1967-1968 C.E.
8. 2014-2015 C.E.
Why is the term Blood Moon being used to mean a full moon of a lunar tetrad? We can’t really tell you why more and more people are using the term Blood Moon to describe the four full moons of alunar tetrad. We don’t know why, exactly.
Here’s the definition of a lunar tetrad, again: four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons). There’s no obvious reason why Blood Moon should be associated with this term.
To the best of our knowledge, however, the use of the term Blood Moon to describe a lunar tetrad is of recent origin. It might have originated with John Hagee’s 2013 book.
We’re still not sure whether Blood Moon pertains to the full moon of any tetrad, or specifically to a tetrad that coincides with the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles.
Either way, I suspect the nouveau definition of Blood Moon will gain traction as we approach the tetrad, the four total lunar eclipses of 2014 and 2015.
Bottom line: The term Blood Moon in astronomy in sometimes used as another name for the Hunter’s Moon. The term Blood Moon in Biblical prophecy appears to have been popularized by two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee. They use the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the upcoming tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015. Astronomers will not be using the term Blood Moon to describe these four upcoming lunar eclipses.
The Fed’s easy money policies have pushed margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to record levels laying the groundwork for a severe correction or another violent market crash.
In December, margin debt rose by $21 billion to an all-time high of $445 billion.
Buying equities on margin, that is, with loads of borrowed cash, is a sign of excessive risk taking the likes of which invariably takes place whenever the Central Bank creates subsidies for speculation by keeping interest rates pegged below the rate of inflation or by pumping trillions of dollars into the bloated financial system through misguided liquidity programs like QE.
Investors have shrugged off dismal earnings reports, abnormally-high unemployment, flagging demand, droopy incomes, stagnant wages and swollen P/E ratios and loaded up on stocks confident that the Fed’s infusions of liquidity will keep prices going higher. It’s only a matter of time before they see the mistake they’ve made.
The chart below illustrates how zero rates and QE lead to excessive risk taking. The correlation between the stratospheric rise of margin debt and the Fed’s destabilizing monetary policy is hard to avoid. This is what bubblemaking looks like in real time.
Chart: Seeking Alpha.
In the minutes of the FOMC’s December meeting, FOMC officials acknowledge the froth they’ve created in financial assets which is why they’ve begun to scale back their asset purchases. The Fed hopes that by gradually winding down QE they’ll be able to stage a soft landing rather than a full-blown crash. Here’s an excerpt from the FOMC’s minutes:
“In their discussion of potential risks, several participants commented on the rise in forward price-to-earnings ratios for some smallcap stocks, the increased level of equity repurchases, or the rise in margin credit. One pointed to the increase in issuance of leveraged loans this year and the apparent decline in the average quality of such loans.”
There you have it, the Fed sees the results of its work; the distortions in P/E ratios, the exuberant stock buybacks (“equity repurchases”), the deterioration in the quality of leveraged loans, and the steady rise in margin debt. They see it all, all the bubbles they’ve created with their gargantuan $3 trillion surge of liquidity. Now they have started to reverse the policy by reducing their asset purchase from $85 bil to $65 bil per month, the effects of which can already be seen in the Emerging Markets.
The bubble in Emerging Markets has burst sending foreign currencies plunging and triggering a sharp reversal in capital flows. The hot money that flooded the EMs,–(which lowered the cost of borrowing for businesses and consumers)–is entirely attributable to the Fed’s policy. QE pushes down long-term interest rates forcing investors to search for higher yield in other markets. Thus, the cost of money drops in EMs creating a boom that abruptly ends when the policy changes (as it has).
Capital is fleeing EMs at an unprecedented pace precipitating a dramatic slowdown in economic activity, higher consumer prices and widespread public distress. The Fed is 100% responsible for the turmoil in emerging markets, a fact which even mainstream news outlets blandly admit. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Bloomberg just this week:
“Investors are pulling money from exchange-traded funds that track emerging markets at the fastest rate on record…More than $7 billion flowed from ETFs investing in developing-nation assets in January, the most since the securities were created, data compiled by Bloomberg show…
Emerging economies have benefited from cheap money as three rounds of Fed bond buying pushed capital into their borders in search of higher returns…
The Fed’s asset purchases had helped fuel a credit boom in developing nations from Turkey to Brazil. Accumulated capital inflows to developing-country’s debt markets since 2008 reached $1.1 trillion, or $470 billion more than their long-term trend, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund in October.” (“Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs on Lira Drop“, Bloomberg)
The Fed doesn’t care if other countries are hurt by its policies. What the Fed worries about is how the taper is going to effect Wall Street. If the slightest reduction in asset purchases causes this much turbulence abroad, then what’s it going to do to US stock and bond markets?
The answer, of course, is that stocks are going to fall…hard. It can’t be avoided. And while the amount of margin debt is not a reliable tool for calling a top; it’s safe to say that the recent spike in investor leverage has moved the arrow well into the red zone. Investors are going to cash out long before the Fed ends QE altogether, which means the selloff could persist for some time to come much like after the dot.com bubble popped and stocks drifted lower for a full year. Now check out this clip from Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage”:
“For the year, total margin debt usage jumped by an almost incomprehensible $123 billion, while cash balances declined by $19 billion. That $142 billion leveraged bet on stocks far surpasses any twelve month period in history. The only times that were even close to as leveraged were the year leading up to June 2007 (-$89 billion) and the twelve months preceding February and March 2000 (-$77 billion). Both of those marked significant tops in the market.” ( Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage“)
Repeat: “The $142 billion leveraged bet on stocks far surpasses any twelve month period in history.”
Investors are “all-in” because they think that the Fed has their back. They think that Bernanke (or Yellen) will not allow stocks to fall too far without intervening. (This is called the “Bernanke Put”) So far, that’s been a winning strategy, but that might be changing. The Fed’s determination to taper suggests that it wants to withdraw its stimulus to avoid being blamed for the bursting bubble. (“Plausible deniability”?) That’s what’s driving the current policy. Here’s more on margin debt from Wolf Richter at Testosterone Pit:
“On the New York Stock Exchange, margin credit has been hitting new records for months. All three mega-crashes in my investing lifetime have been accompanied by record-setting peaks in margin debt. In September 1987, a month before the crash, margin credit peaked at 0.88% of GDP. In March 2000, when the crash began, margin credit peaked at 2.7% of GDP. In July 2007, three months before the downdraft started, margin credit peaked at 2.6% of GDP. Now, margin credit has already reached 2.5% of GDP.” (“Plagued By Indigestion, Fed Issues Asset-Bubble Warning”, Testosterone Pit)
Stock market crashes are always connected to massive leverage, loosey-goosey monetary policy and irrational exuberance (“excessive risk taking”), the toxic combo that presently rules the markets. The Federal Reserve is invariably the source of all bubblemaking and financial instability.
As we noted earlier, equity repurchases or stock buybacks are another sign of froth. Here’s an excellent summary on the topic by Alhambra Investment Partners:
“In the third quarter of 2013, share repurchases totaled $128.2 billion, the highest level since Q4 2007. For the twelve months ended in September 2013, aggregate share repurchases were an astounding $445.3 billion; the only twelve-month period greater than that total was the calendar year of 2007 and its $589 billion.
The common argument advanced in favor of such share repurchases is that companies are using cash to recognize undervalued stocks, but that is total hogwash…
…corporate managers are no different than the reviled stereotypical retail investor. Both leverage themselves further and further as the market goes higher, not in recognizing undervalued stocks or companies but in full froth of chasing obscene values via rationalizations.” ( Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage”)
In other words, corporate managers are doing the same thing as your average margin investor. They are loading up on financial assets–not because they think they are a good value or because they expect higher earnings –but because Fed policy supports artificially-high prices. That’s what’s driving the bull market, the Fed’s thumb on the scale. Remove the thumb, and you have a whole new ballgame (as we see in the EMs). There’s also a bubble in high yield “junk” bonds which just had their second biggest year on record (Total issuance $324 billion) Investors are only too happy to dump their money into high-risk debt believing that companies never default or that the Fed will save the day again credit tightens and the dominoes start tumbling through the debt markets. According to Testosterone Pit:
“The cost of a high-yield bond on an absolute coupon basis is as low as it’s ever been,” explained Baratta, king of Blackstone’s $53 billion in private equity assets. Even the riskiest companies are selling the riskiest bonds at low yields… Why would anyone buy this crap?” (“Bubble Trouble: Record Junk Bond Issuance, A Barrage Of IPOs, “Out Of Whack” Valuations, And Grim Earnings Growth”, Testosterone Pit)
Why, indeed? Of course, the author is just being rhetorical, after all, he knows why people are piling into junk. It’s because the Fed has kept a gun to their heads for 5 years, forcing them to grab higher yield wherever they can find it. That’s how Bernanke’s dogwhistle monetary policy works. By slashing rates to zero, the Fed coerces investors to speculate on any type of garbage that’s available. That why junk “just had its second biggest year on record.” You can thank Bernanke.
Housing is also in a bubble due to the Fed’s zero rates, withheld inventory, government modification programs, and an unprecedented uptick in all-cash investors. Clearly, there’s never been a market more manipulated than housing. It’s a joke.
The surge of Wall Street liquidity has spilled over into housing distorting prices and reducing the number of first time homebuyers to an all-time low. The homeownership rate is actually falling even while prices climb higher, which is just one of many anomalies created by the Fed’s policy. (Who’s ever heard of a housing boom, where the number of firsttime homebuyers is dropping?)
Also, the Central Bank has purchased more than $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) via QE, which begs the question: How can housing prices NOT be in a bubble?
As we noted earlier, the Fed understands the impact its policies have had. They know the markets are overheated and they’re determined to do something about it. A recent article in Bloomberg explains the Fed’s plan for winding down QE “without doing damage to the economy”. Here’s a short excerpt from the piece:
“Janet Yellen probably will confront a test during her tenure as Federal Reserve chairman that both of her predecessors flunked: defusing asset bubbles without doing damage to the economy…
Yellen is ‘going to be trying to do something that no one has ever done,’ said Stephen Cecchetti, former economic adviser for the Bank for International Settlements, the Basel, Switzerland-based central bank for monetary authorities. She needs ‘to ensure that accommodative monetary policy doesn’t create significant financial stability risks,’ he said in an interview…
The Fed’s ‘first, second and third lines of defense” for dealing with such imbalances is to rely on supervision, regulation and so-called macro-prudential policies, such as mortgage loan-to-value restrictions, Bernanke told the Brookings Institution in Washington on Jan. 16. ….Only as a last resort would it consider raising interest rates.’ (“Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles“, Bloomberg)
You got that?
So the Fed is going into the “bubble-deflating” biz.
And uber-dove Yellen is going to put things right. She’s going to eliminate the price distortions and gradually return the markets to normalcy.
She’s going to wind down QE and start to reduce the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet.
And she’s going to do all of this without raising interest rates or sending stocks into freefall?
Right. It’s a pipedream. The first sign of trouble and old Yellen will be scuttling across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with a punch bowl the size of Yankee Stadium.
You can bet on it.
A few years ago, Reuters News reported that a nationwide poll conducted of the Russian people found that former dictator Josef Stalin was voted the third most popular historical figure. Over one-third of the Russian population participated in the poll.
See the report here:
Can you imagine? Stalin just might be the greatest mass-murderer in human history. Estimates of the body count during Stalin’s reign of terror range anywhere from 20-60 million, and that doesn’t include the millions of people who were starved, imprisoned, and tortured but who didn’t die. Only China’s Mao Tse-tung rivals Stalin’s butchery. Then, again, many Chinese people still love Mao Tse-tung, too.
How is it that people can laud and honor tyrants and butchers? How can people so easily submit to slavery and despotism?
No tyrant rises to power calling himself a tyrant. Tyranny is never sold as tyranny. Every tyrannical regime of history considered itself to be patriotic and compassionate; and the people who supported and submitted to such regimes considered themselves to be patriotic and compassionate, as well. The police state is never called that by those who promote it; they call it “law and order,” “keeping the peace,” “protecting the homeland,” etc.
Ask the average American today about the possibility that our country could become a police state and the common response is, “That could never happen here.” But, ladies and gentlemen, it is already happening here. And, furthermore, it seems that the vast majority of the American people are all in favor it. Republicans love it; Democrats love it; Christians love it; politicians love it; police officers love it; pastors love it; school teachers love it; businessmen love it; everyone loves a police state.
Threaten to remove Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, and Christians and conservatives come out of the woodwork in righteous indignation. Threaten to put a Nativity scene on some courthouse lawn, and Democrats and liberals come out of the woodwork in righteous indignation. But propose laws that strip the American people of their God-ordained liberties protected by the Bill of Rights, and conservatives and liberals alike, Christians and unbelievers alike, think it’s just about the greatest thing since sliced bread.
You don’t believe that? Try this news story on for size:
According to a World Net Daily report, “The 2014 NDAA was fast-tracked through the U.S. Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments, while most Americans were distracted by the scandal surrounding A&E’s troubles with ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson.
“Eighty-five of 100 senators voted in favor of the new version of the NDAA, which had already been quietly passed by the House of Representatives.”
The report continued saying, “Section 1021 allows the detention of anyone, including American citizens, by the military, if the president considers that person to have helped with terror.”
The report further said, “Congress specifically expressed its desire for the detention provision to apply to American citizens even on American soil by rejecting multiple amendments that would have exempted them.”
So, where are the notable leaders of the Religious Right? Where are the liberal groups? Where is the national media? Where are the talking heads from the right and the left? With precious few exceptions, they are absolutely silent on the subject. Why? Because they like it.
Liberals never met a big-government program or proposal they didn’t like. If it increases the size and scope of government, liberals love it. Conservatives love anything that smacks of “law and order.” (A word of caution: you never want to be the defendant in a courtroom where the jury is stacked with conservatives. If you do, you’re dead meat, friend.) And Christians get goose bumps up their spine about anything they think resembles Romans 13. Give government more power over our lives and listen to the Hallelujahs ringing out from the all of these 501c3 churches. And ditto for most of the talking heads on radio and television and the vast majority of the pundits and spokesmen from the national news media. Like I said, everyone loves a police state.
Well, not everyone, thank God!
The same WND report mentioned above states, “Some of the nation’s most respected legal teams are asking the Supreme Court to take up a challenge to the indefinite-detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, charging the law has created the framework for a police state.
“The controversial provision authorizes the military, under presidential authority, to arrest, kidnap, detain without trial and hold indefinitely American citizens thought to ‘represent an enduring security threat to the United States.’
“Journalist Chris Hedges is among the plaintiffs charging the law could be used to target journalists who report on terror-related issues.
A friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case states: ‘The central question now before this court is whether the federal judiciary will stand idly by while Congress and the president establish the legal framework for the establishment of a police state and the subjugation of the American citizenry through the threat of indefinite military arrest and detention, without the right to counsel, the right to confront one’s accusers, or the right to trial.’
“The brief was submitted to the Supreme Court by attorneys with the U.S. Justice Foundation of Ramona, Calif., Friedman Harfenist Kraut & Perlstein of Lake Success, N.Y., and William J. Olson, P.C. of Vienna, Va.”
See the report here:
Believe it or not, there was a time in this country when people from both sides of the political aisle believed in freedom. I know it’s hard to imagine, but there was a time in this country when pastors from virtually every denomination believed in freedom. Not only did they believe in it; they fought for it. It seems like a long time ago.
Have you taken a close look at your State and local police agencies lately? More and more, our police officers and sheriff’s deputies resemble soldiers more than they do peace officers. I challenge you to Google “police abuse.” What you will discover will shock you. And, for all intents and purposes, the folks who live in many Northeastern states—along with California and Illinois–are already living in a State that is more controlled than many foreign countries, including some of the countries that we would call oppressive. And even our freer states are feeling the heavy hand of Big Brother more and more each day.
In fact, if you want to really get a taste of a police state, just move into some neighborhoods with their Gestapo-like Home Owner Associations (HOA). I’m telling you, some of these HOA rival anything Adolf Hitler could dream up.
Folks, take a good, hard look at reality: America is already in the beginning throes of a police state. Orwell’s “1984” and Huxley’s “Brave New World” are here. And far, far too many people seem fine with it.
I tell you the truth: I am to the point where I don’t know what to call myself. “Conservative” means nothing today. Nothing! One can be a “conservative” and believe in Big Government, undeclared wars of intervention, debt-driven economics, socialized medicine, increased taxes, and, of course, a police state. Likewise, “Christian” means nothing today. Nothing! One can be a “Christian” and believe in Big Government, undeclared wars of intervention, debt-driven economics, socialized medicine, increased taxes, and, of course, a police state. Oh, many “conservatives” and “Christians” might SAY they don’t believe in these things, but their actions (or lack of them) speak louder than their words.
A big THANK YOU is in order for Bill Olson, Herb Titus, Chris Hedges, et al. And THANK YOU to all of you folks out there who see what’s going on and are actively engaged in “the holy cause of liberty.” (Patrick Henry) I am your brother and compatriot, no matter what you call yourself. At this point, we aren’t conservatives or liberals, Christians or unbelievers; we are freedomists or statists.
Tyrants such as Joe Stalin and Mao Tse-tung might be popular with some people, and a burgeoning police state might be popular with some people, but there is a whole host of us in these United States who aren’t going to the gulags and gas chambers peacefully. And unlike the peasants of Europe and Asia, we aren’t surrendering our means of self-defense, either.
No, not everyone loves a police state.
The pressing question of this commentary: what are we doing to ourselves and why do we keep doing it?
In the past 50 years, scientists and chemists from all over the world created 80,000 different chemicals to work all sorts of havoc on Mother Nature. You can find pharmaceuticals and pesticides in Polar bears as well as seals and fish in the Southern Oceans of Antarctica.
Guess what? You can find many of the same chemicals in human beings. If you look across America’s landscape, 30 years ago, Autism affected 1 in 110,000 births. Today, it affects 1 in 110. (Source: CDC report)
When we poison the plants and animals of the food chain around the planet, we ultimately poison ourselves. Witness cancer rates skyrocketing around the world. Witness Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, lupus and other neurological maladies affecting millions of Americans.
Fukushima reactors spill billions of gallons of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. It circulates to all corners of the planet. But closer to home, we continue injecting drugs and chemicals into our own Great Lakes.
An International Joint Commission report, conducted by scientists from both the US and Canada, discovered that the Great Lakes region suffers severely contaminated waters replete with chemicals and prescription drugs that slipped past treatment methods at sewage treatment plants.
“The commission found that about half of all prescription drug and other chemical contaminants remain in sewage waste after it is treated,” said a Natural News report. “The situation is so dire that the commission is calling out for new water treatment methods, warning residents of the area of “chemicals of emerging concern” that may affect the health of both aquatic life and humans in negative ways.”
The Great Lakes – becoming a cocktail of pharmaceutical and chemical compounds
Antonette Arvai, physical scientist of the International Joint Commission, said, “It is hard to tell how one contaminate may affect the human body, let alone a whole mix of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The compounds, which can’t be seen, are showing up in mixed proportions at parts per billion or parts per trillion. As compounds combine randomly and in different proportions, water from the Great Lakes is becoming a wicked cocktail travesty of science.”
According to the commission, “A chemical flood of 4.8 billion gallons of waste water is treated and discharged into the Great Lakes basin every day. All the intermingling, parts per billion of untreated waste chemicals add up. The Great Lakes are basically becoming a pharmaceutical stew, a melting pot of side effects waiting to be drunk.”
This list shows chemicals and pharmaceuticals that accumulate in the Great Lakes region.
- A couple of antibiotics drugs and commercial antibacterial triclosan - Triclosan, the antibacterial compound found in commercial soaps, toothpastes and other body care products is a known toxin to algae and has been shown to be a hormone disruptor to fish. How might triclosan and other antibiotics spawn the creation of dangerous and evolved bacteria strains?
Diana Aga, chemistry professor and chemical researcher of the Great Lakes region said, “Even at low levels you don’t want to have people ingest antibiotics regularly because it will promote resistance.”
- An herbicide - How might this destroy nutritional algae and other beneficial plants, which are needed for a thriving ecosystem?
- Acetaminophen and an anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac. Dicolfenac accumulates in fish. How might continual dosing through water sources accumulate in the cells of humans and tax the liver over time?
- An estrogen, estriol - How might hormones in the water affect mating patterns in wildlife and in humans?
- An anti-seizure drug - How might drugs like these, with side effects including suicidal thoughts and behaviors, effect people over time?
Do you filter your water? Start today!
Commission board member and scientist for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center Michael Murray said, “Wastewater plants weren’t designed to handle these types of chemicals.”
As wastewater treatment plants fail to keep up with high levels of pharmaceuticals and chemical compounds, obtaining clean water will become the responsibility of the individual family.
Most municipal water sources suffer contaminating with fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals. You must filter your own water. Gravity-fed activated charcoal filtration devices are becoming more popular for their ability to eliminate pharmaceuticals and herbicides from tap water. Other filters that use reverse osmosis help eliminate fluoride and arsenic. Some water filtration systems utilize both methods to free water of practically all contaminates.
Finally, a friend of mine said that my quest to educate all Americans as to the ramifications of adding 138 million people within 36 years fails from the git-go. Most Americans and certainly our Main Stream Media cannot grasp the enormity of it, or if they do, they flee the subject because it proves extremely unsettling. Better to deny it today and deal with it tomorrow.
Unfortunately, that’s like driving a car toward a cliff at 100 miles per hour and start braking within 100 feet of the edge. You certainly know what happens to anyone in that car.
That’s why we need to take action today. We must stop mass immigration into America. We don’t want to become a “refugee nation” and we don’t want our civilization overwhelmed and unsustainable.
Call Speaker of the House John Boehner and demand he not pass S744 amnesty that will flood the country with two million immigrants annually and give amnesty to 20 million plus. The reasonable solution: enforce our current laws against employers. Call him: 202 225 0600.
Concerns about an imminent bank crash were further fuelled today at news that HSBC are restricting the amount of cash that customers can withdraw from their own bank accounts. Customers were told that without proof of the intended use of their own money, HSBC would refuse to release it. This, and other worrying signs point to a possible financial crash in the near future.
HSBC is scrambling to manage a seemingly terminal liquidity crisis (a lack of hard cash) that could see the bank become the next Northern Rock – and trigger a bank crash. The analyst’s advice is for shareholders to sell HSBC investments, and customers to move their accounts elsewhere before the crash.
This from the Telegraph:
Forensic Asia on Tuesday began its coverage of Britain’s largest banking group with a ‘sell’ recommendation, warning the lender had between $63.6bn (£38.7bn) and $92.3bn of “questionable assets” on its balance sheet, ranging from loan loss reserves and accrued interest to deferred tax assets, defined benefit pension schemes and opaque Level 3 assets.
According a report by the BBC’s MoneyBox Programme, HSBC customers have gone to withdraw cash from their accounts, only to find HSBC would not release the funds. Customers were told to make a bank transfer instead, unless they provided documentation proving the intended use of the money. Stephen Cotton attempted a withdrawal and told the programme:
“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”
Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’ “
He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.
As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change”
He wrote to complain to HSBC about the new rules and also that he had not been informed of any change.
The bank said it did not have to tell him. “As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account, we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change,” HSBC wrote.
Mr Cotton is not alone, with other customers seeking to withdraw cash amounts over £3,000 facing the same obstacles. While HSBC argue there is comes customer security interest here, the story simply doesn’t add up. Customer identification is required for large withdrawals, not customer intentions – a person’s cash is theirs to withdraw and place wherever they so wish. Instead, HSBC has been found to have a capitalization black hole (gap between actual cash and obligations) of$80bn. The message is simple, get your money out now.
The Gold Rush
The major banks and states appear to be preparing for impending crisis, while pretending to the public that the economic situation is improving.
There is a gold rush underway, with Banks and States frantically buying up as much gold reserve as they can, stoking fears that confidence in currency is at an all-time low. In recent months and weeks, banks like HSBC and JP Morgan, and states such as the US, Germany and China have joined the gold rush, making vast purchases of stocks.
Investment analysts at Seeking Alpha have been monitoring the strange activity on the COMEX, stating:
“keeping track of COMEX inventories is something that is recommended for all serious investors who own physical gold and the gold ETFs (SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), PHYS, and CEF) because any abnormal inventory declines may signify extraordinary events behind the scenes.”
Another Bank Crash? Why?
The crash is in some ways a replay of the last one. The US dollar is a fiat currency (as is the pound sterling, the euro and most other major currencies). This means, it is monopoly money. There is no gold reserve that its values are pegged to. It is simply made up. So how does money get made? A private, for profit central bank prints it and lends it to the government (or other banks) at an interest rate. So the Central Bank prints $100, and gives it to the government on the basis that it returns $101. You may have already spotted the first flaw in this process. The additional $1 can only ever come from the Central Bank. There is never enough money. The second issue is that all money is debt.
This used to be the way pretty much all of the money in circulation came to be. That is, until Investment and Retail Banks got tired of this monopoly on debt based currency, and kicked off thecommercial money supply. You might assume that when you take out a loan or other form of credit, a bank gives you that money from its reserves, and you then pay back that loan to the Bank at a given interest rate – the Bank making its profit on the interest rate. You would be wrong. The Bank simply creates that loan on a computer screen. Let’s say you are granted a loan for $100,000. The moment that loan is approved and $100k is entered on the computer – that promise from you to the bank creates $100k for the bank, in that instant. This ledger entry alone creates the $100k, from nothing. Today, over 97% of all money that exists, is made this way.
This is what drove the dodgy lending practises that created the last crisis. But since then, the failure to regulate the markets means that while bailouts hit public services and the real economy – banks were free to continue the same behaviour, bringing the next crash.
The world’s second richest man, Warren Buffet warned us in 2003 that the derivatives market was ‘devised by madmen’ and a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ and we have only seen the first blast in this debt apocalypse.
The news that should have us all worried is: the derivatives market contains $700trn of these debts yet to implode.
Global GDP stands at $69.4trn a year. This means that (primarily) Wall Street and the City of London have run up phantom paper debts of more than ten times of the annual earnings of the entire planet.
Not only can the Bankers not pay it back, the combined earning power of the earth could not pay it back in less than ten years if every last cent of our productive power went solely to pay off this debt.
This is why answering the issues with our currencies, our banking practices and economic system are not theoretical or academic – they are a matter of our very survival.
he media spin machine is again kicking into high gear, perfectly timed to accompany the “Geneva II” Syria peace talks. The lies are necessary to give the Obama administration an upper hand in the peace negotiations, which are not being used to pursue peace, but instead, to accomplish the Obama administration’s longstanding goal of Syrian regime change. Here are the top three Western media lies about the Syrian peace talks.
1) The removal of Syrian Bashar al-Assad was an agreed upon “precondition” for the Geneva II peace talks.
This lie has been repeated over and over by government and media alike. It has zero basis. The Obama administration claims that this precondition was expressed in the “Geneva communiqué,” which was a road map agreement meant to guide the Geneva II peace talks, agreed upon by some of the major parties of the negotiations, including Russia.
The communiqué does indeed call for a negotiated political transition, but nowhere does it state that such a transition cannot include President Assad. Such a condition would have been outright rejected by Russia.
In fact, the Geneva communiqué includes this crucial statement:
“[a transition government] could include members of the present [Syrian] government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.” Nowhere does it specifically mention or imply President Assad would have to leave power first.
The Los Angeles Times recently stepped out of line and exposed this lie:
“[John] Kerry regularly cites the “Geneva communiqué,” a kind of peace road map hammered out in June 2012 during a United Nations-organized summit. But the document does not explicitly call for Assad’s ouster.”
The Obama administration’s constant repeating of this lie only causes divisions in the peace process, undermining the chances that the peace process will succeed.
The Obama administration is especially adamant about this “Assad must go” precondition because it knows that, if free and fair elections were held tomorrow in Syria – as part of a UN-backed “transitional process” – President Assad would likely win. This is the result of the ethnic and religious minorities in Syria that have rallied behind President Assad, since they’ve witnessed the consistent religious sectarian atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed rebels (which the U.S. media loves to ignore or minimize).
Assad would probably win an election since there is also simply no one else on the government side or the opposition side with his name recognition or popularity. The U.S.-backed rebel war in Syria has vastly strengthened Assad’s political hand, but you wouldn’t know it from the Western, anti-Syrian media.
Demanding Assad’s ouster also does not reflect the situation on the ground. The U.S.-backed rebels have never controlled more than one Syrian city, namely Raqaa, which is dominated by al-Qaeda and is governed under a Taliban-style interpretation of Islamic law, which includes a strict ban on music. Thus, the rebels don’t have the ground power that would even enable them to make the demand that “Assad must go”.
2) The U.S.-backed rebel militias are “moderate” Islamic groups.
The fact that this lie can even be uttered publicly without encountering ridicule is a major success of Western media propaganda. The media narrative paints the U.S.-backed “good” rebels fighting both the Syrian government and the “bad” al-Qaeda linked rebels.
But the “good” rebels in the U.S.-backed Islamic Front share the same vision for Syria’s future as the al-Qaeda rebels: a fundamentalist version of Sharia law, where women live in virtual house arrest and where religious minorities are second class citizens (non-Sunni Muslims would simply be butchered, as they are on a regular basis in Syria, which is again minimized or ignored in the Western media.)
The “moderate rebel” lie was further exposed recently when a top leader in the most powerful militia, Ahrar al Sham, within the Islamic Front declared Ahrar al Sham to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria, as opposed to the rival al-Qaeda faction that the Islamic Front had recently begun fighting.
Ahrar al Sham has long been known to be an al-Qaeda type Islamist extremist group; the Western media simply chose to ignore it. But when it was recently made official, the US media chose to continue its ignoring stance, since actually reporting on it would destroy their “moderate rebel” lie. The Western media also continues to ignore the fact that the “moderate” U.S.-backed Islamic Frontissued a joint statement that aligned itself to the extremist views of Ahrar al Sham, the “real” al-Qaeda.
3) New Evidence of Syrian government “industrial scale” torture.
The Western media recently blasted the “breaking news” of brand new evidence showing massive “Nazi-like” torture and murder by the Syrian government, released at the beginning of the Syrian peace talks. This may or may not be true, but the lie here is that the Western media promoted the “evidence” as being unquestionably true, when the story doesn’t reach first base when it comes to evidence-based journalism.
All we really know is that there are hundreds of pictures of dead people that a “trusted source” says were killed by the Syrian government. The trusted source was designated as such by pro-Western intellectuals, who have earned professional “credibility” by helping convict war criminals in the International Criminal Court [ICC]. But as author Diane Johnstone pointed out in her excellent book “Fools Crusade,” about the war against Yugoslavia – as well as in other articles – the ICC has long been used by western powers as a tool to create a pretext for war, or a tool to justify a war after the fact.
The evidence of the “NAZI-like” atrocities was written in a study paid for by the government of Qatar, which has long funneled cash, guns, and Jihadis to Syria in aid of the anti-government rebels.
Again, we don’t know if the story is true or not. But such an important investigation should be conducted by the UN or another more objective institution. The same biased dynamic occurred in relation to the infamous chemical weapons attack, where no real evidence was provided, though an unending string of “experts” were quoted in the Western media, testifying to the guilt of the Syrian Government. But when Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Seymour Hersh reported that the Obama administration lied about the rebels not having the capacity to perform such an attack, the Western media simply ignored the legend of journalism. The wrench in the propaganda machine was simply dislodged.
How do these lies become such permanent fixtures in the Western media? An excellent article in the Guardian newspaper recently discussed in depth the principal sources the Western media has used to understand the Syrian conflict.
The article exposed the incredible bias of some of the most important Western media sources on Syria, which is why they were handpicked in the first place to be “expert” sources: they had political agendas that were aligned with the US government’s foreign policy decisions. The other side of the conflict was completely ignored, except when it was targeted for ridicule. Thus, Americans and Europeans have a completely one-sided, if not fantasy-based perspective of what is happening in Syria. This has been systematic since the beginning of the conflict, as happened with the Yugoslav, Afghan, Iraq, and Libya wars.
The result of this media-led ignorance could result in yet more unnecessary deaths in a country that now has millions of refugees and over a 100,000 dead. Obama seems like he intends to exploit these peace talks with the intention of blaming the Syrian government for their failure. Having failed to defeat Assad on the battlefield in a proxy war, the Obama administration is trying to win the propaganda war. And once peace talks have failed, talk of war will resume, since “all other options have failed.”
I used to really really hate housework but don’t hate it so much any more — ever since I developed my fabulous new housecleaning system wherein I just do 15 minutes of housework a day, but do it each day consistently, using a timer so as not to cheat.
You’d be surprised how much you can get done in just 15 minutes, but you gotta do it daily, no matter what — even if some newbee student dentist has just finished scraping all those extra bone fragments out of the socket of your recently-pulled (phantom) tooth and then practiced her rusty stitching techniques on your poor bleeding gums.
And here’s another added bonus to my housecleaning system: After having spent approximately 5,475 minutes a year for the past six years on trying to keep this damn place clean, I have actually sort of started to bond with my home.
So. A few days ago I was cleaning stuff out of an old filing cabinet, and came across a whole bunch of articles that I had written way back in the day — back before we had all kinds of self-publishing apps available online; and even back before there was FaceBook or blogs or Kindle or Twitter or even Instagram and YouTube.
And, way back in those old paleo days, writers such as myself had actually been forced to photocopy our articles, write up a cover letter and then send them all off to magazine editors with self-addressed stamped envelopes enclosed. Totally old school. Can you even imagine doing that now?
And there at the very bottom of one of those file drawers, I found over two hundred rejection letters from various editors and publishers. Amazing.
Dontcha just love publishing over the internet instead? (And thank goodness for net neutrality too — which is currently being threatened. Shouldn’t we start boycotting Verizon, AT&T and Comcast over this? C’mon, all you independent bloggers, Tweeters and self-publishers, let’s get off our butts and fight for less intervention and more high-speed!) http://www.latimes.com/
And speaking of the internet, those huge and powerful corporations which now own our government are still using it to spy on all of us — and not just us writers. Now why would corporations want to do that? Because they are paranoid. And greedy. And afraid.
I used to be paranoid and greedy and afraid too — but am now here to tell you that, in the long run, paranoia and greed and fear are just too damn much hard work. Wisdom and kindness are better. And easier too. Just ask Jesus. And Gandhi. And Martin Luther King Jr.
“But Jane,” you might say, “that kind of slacker attitude could get you killed.” True. It certainly got King and Gandhi and Jesus killed. But at least I would die while feeling all proud of myself as I cross over — not huddled up in some miserable isolated Midas-like earthly fortress while watching the rest of the world end before my very eyes and with only my black, ice-cold-hearted evil soul (that nobody else would ever want to spend time with, ev-ah) to keep me company. Yuck.
Anyway, back at the filing cabinet, I began reading through some of my old articles again — and some of them were really actually quite good. The one about my struggles to get my aging father into an assisted-care home was particularly poignant — and how my mean sister had dragged me through probate court after he died, just when I was grieving the most. I later published it on the internet, entitled “Probating the Family Feud” — and a lot of people actually read it there too. http://veracityvoice.com/?p=
And I also found something I had written back in 2005 — back when Fallujah was a horrible war-crime-induced hot mess; about all my efforts to embed with the Army there. And how I finally did embed with the Marines in Heet and Haditha two years later http://jpstillwater.blogspot.
But apparently Fallujah is still a war-torn hot mess even today; the only difference being that Iraqis, not Americans, are now doing most of the killing in Al Anbar province. So does that make all this current senseless slaughter of civilians less of a war crime — because civilians are now being senselessly slaughtered by local hordes instead of by American hordes? http://www.globalresearch.ca/
Ten years later, I still want to go to Fallujah.
Or as one friend in Iraq calls it, “Fallujahpaloooza”. Laughter through tears. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
And then I discovered, hidden back at the very bottom of my filing cabinet, a rough draft of my first novel. I loved that novel so much! But NOBODY would publish it. Nobody. That novel had everything — love, death, war, peace, history, philosophy, drama, even intergalactic travel — and even one fast-moving chapter on how wisdom and kindness always trumps greed, paranoia and fear. “Pictures of a Future World” was the title. I may get around to publishing it yet — but this time I’ll try Kindle.
PS: Here’s an excerpt from my old unpublished novel, “Pictures of a Future World”:
All eyes turn to the Shaman, who continues to speak from his deep trance.
The atmosphere in the sandstone kiva comes alive. The Shaman moves his mind to a new point of consciousness. Another one of his emanations begins to speak, this time in an intensely penetrating tone. ”There is a tree on the mesa top,” the deep voice slowly intones. ”It has watched the raider warriors kill our people one by one. It has seen us begin to build our houses here in the dark shadows of the canyon walls instead of up on the sunny mesa tops where they belong…so that we might be safe…from the raider warriors.
“They are killers.
“We are prey.
“So has it always been. So shall it always be.
“There is no place that we can go on the face of this earth that is safe from them…either now or in the far distant future… when even our mesa-top trees are dead.
“Raiders will always hunt peaceful men.
“They will find us, and they will kill our bodies just as the coyote kills the hare.”
Absolute silence falls like a black shroud inside the kiva.
Everyone waits for the Shaman to speak again. Even the Shaman himself waits. Is this all that he is going to say? By now the ceremonial kiva is as bright as day, the elders rigid with attention.
“Of these things we must never be afraid, ever,” the Shaman continues. ”The raiders may search us out, the barbarians may chase us down and trap us and corner us like rats…from now until the end of time.
“The needy ones, the greedy ones will hunt us in order to make our wisdom and our abundance their own. They will act out of evil caused by envy, jealousy or need. Whatever their reasons — that is the way of it. No place is safe. We must be prepared to give up our bodies at any time, willingly and without fear or regret.
“Because our bodies are not us.”
The Shaman breathes slowly now, and the clan members sense that he is struggling within himself, trying to clarify what he alone is seeing, forcing himself to go on. A moment passes. The mask presses heavily upon him. Finally he continues: ”We of the pueblo all know this. We are all made brave because of this knowledge. This we know: That always men of peace will die bravely. That always barbarians will try to kill us and to take our spirits.
“All of us know that the spirit of a man of peace can never belong to a barbarian and can never be harmed. Ever. It is this knowledge that gives us the courage to continue to live without fear in a world exploding with enemies, enemies gone mad with their own anger and need and violence and lust for our blood.”
The air inside the womb-like kiva begins to take on a life of its own; humid, dense, and pulsing.
Inside the ponderous deer-head mask, the Shaman tries to refocus his energy. He watches his body and his mind divide into a series of complex grids. Each one of these grids contains an image of himself. A part of him wonders which grid is his real self. A part of him knows that his real self is all of them — or none.
More chanting fills the air. The Shaman forgets about the raider warriors. They are a part of life. They will always be there…like the trees. Like the mesa.
Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction.
In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.
As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.
Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser - is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.
However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.
Two sides of a debate on sharing
There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.
Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.
Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.
Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.
Problems of definition
Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.
Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.
This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.
The politics of sharing
Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.
The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.
Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.
Sharing as a path to systemic change
There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.
On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.
This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.
Sharing from the local to the global
If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.
Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale - driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.
Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.
Bollier, David, Bauwens Joins Ecuador in Planning a Commons-based, Peer Production Economy, 20th September 2013, bollier.org
Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition: Giving Meaning to the Terms, Collaborative Lab on Slideshare.net, 19th November 2013.
Childs, Mike, The Power of Sharing: A Call to Action for Environmentalists, Shareable.net, 5th November 2013.
Daly, Herman and John Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Beacon Press, 1991.
Eberlein, Sven, Sharing for Profit – I’m Not Buying it Anymore, Shareable.net, 20th February 2013.
Enright, Michael in interview with Benita Matofska and Aidan Enns, Sharing, Not Buying at Christmas (Hr. 1), CBC Radio, 16th December 2012.
Friends of the Earth, Big Idea 2: Sharing – a political force to be reckoned with?, 26th September 2013.
Gaskins, Kim, The New Sharing Economy, Latitude, 1st June 2010.
Gorenflo, Neal, What’s Next for the Sharing Movement?, Shareable.net, 31st July 2013.
Grahl, Jodi (trans.), World Charter for the Right to the City, International Alliance of Inhabitants et al, May 2005.
Griffiths, Rachel, The Great Sharing Economy, Co-operatives UK, London UK, 2011.
Grigg, Kat, Sharing As Part of the New Economy: An Interview with Lauren Anderson, The Solutions Journal, 20th September 2013.
Heinberg, Richard, Who knew that Seoul was a leader in the sharing economy?, Post Carbon Institute, 12th November 2013.
Herbst, Moira, Let’s get real: the ‘sharing economy’ won’t solve our jobs crisis, The Guardian, 7th January 2014.
Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.
Johnson, Cat, From Consumers to Citizens: Welcome to the Sharing Cities Network, Shareable.net, 9th January 2014.
Kasser, Tim, The High Price of Materialism, MIT Press, 2003.
Kisner, Corinne, Integrating Bike Share Programs into a Sustainable Transportation System, National League of Cities, City Practice Brief, Washington D.C., 2011.
Martin, Elliot and Susan Shaheen, The Impact of Carsharing on Household Vehicle Ownership, Access (UCTC magazine), No. 38 Spring 2011.
Matofska, Benita, Facing the future: share to survive, Friends of the Earth blog, 4th January 2013.
Morozov, Evgeny, The ‘sharing economy’ undermines workers’ rights, Financial Times, 14th October 2013.
Olson. Michael J. and Andrew D. Connor, The Disruption of Sharing: An Overview of the New Peer-to-Peer ‘Sharing Economy’ and The Impact on Established Internet Companies, Piper Jaffray, November 2013.
Opinium Research and Marke2ing, The Sharing Economy An overview with special focus on Peer-to-Peer Lending, 14th November 2012.
Orsi, Janelle and Doskow, Emily, The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, Nolo, May 2009.
Orsi, Janelle et al, Policies for Shareable Cities: A Sharing Economy Policy Primer for Urban Leaders, Shareable / The sustainable Economics Law Centre, September 2013.
Orsi, Janelle, The Sharing Economy Just Got Real, Shareable.net, 16th September 2013.
Quilligan, James B., People Sharing Resources: Toward a New Multilateralism of the Global Commons, Kosmos Journal, Fall/Winter 2009.
Schor, Juliet, Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, Tantor Media, 2010.
Simms, Andrew and Ruth Potts, The New Materialism: How our relationship with the material world can change for the better, New Economics Foundation, November 2012.
Standing, Guy, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.
Tennant, Ian, What’s in it for me? Do you dare to share?, Friends of the Earth blog, 8th January 2014.
Wiesmann, Thorsten, Living by the Principle of Sharing – an interview with Raphael Fellmer, Oiushare.net, February 2013.
Wilkinson, Richard and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, Penguin, 2010.
Yglesias, Matthew, There Is No “Sharing Economy”, Slate.com, 26th December 2013.
The worst fears of all free speech proponents are upon us. The Verizon suit against the Federal Communications Commission, appellate decision sets the stage for a Supreme Court review. The Wall Street Journal portrays the ruling in financial terms: “A federal court has tossed out the FCC’s “open internet” rules, and now internet service providers are free to charge companies like Google and Netflix higher fees to deliver content faster.”In essence, this is the corporate spin that the decision is about the future cost for being connected.
“The ruling was a blow to the Obama administration, which has pushed the idea of “net neutrality.” And it sharpened the struggle by the nation’s big entertainment and telecommunications companies to shape the regulation of broadband, now a vital pipeline for tens of millions of Americans to view video and other media.
For consumers, the ruling could usher in an era of tiered Internet service, in which they get some content at full speed while other websites appear slower because their owners chose not to pay up.
“It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory,” said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality.”
What the Journal is not telling you is that this “uncharted territory” is easy to project. If ISP’s will be able to charge varied rates or decide to vary internet speed, it is a very short step towards selectively discriminate against sites based upon content. Do not get lulled into thinking that constitutional protective political speech is guaranteed.
Once again, the world according to the communication giants paint a very different interpretation as the article, Verizon called hypocritical for equating net neutrality to censorship illustrates.
“Verizon’s argument that network neutrality regulations violated the firm’s First Amendment rights. In Verizon’s view, slowing or blocking packets on a broadband network is little different from a newspaper editor choosing which articles to publish, and should enjoy the same constitutional protection.”
The response from advocates of the Net Neutrality standard, that is about to vanish, sums up correctly.
“The First Amendment does not apply, however, when Verizon is merely transmitting the content of third parties. Moreover, these groups point out, Verizon itself has disclaimed responsibility for its users’ content when it was convenient to do so, making its free speech arguments ring hollow.”
Prepare for the worst. The video, Prepare To Be Robbed. Net Neutrality Is Dead!, which includes frank language and expletives, provides details that place the use of internet access into question coming out of this appellate decision.Analyze the implications logically. It is one thing to charge a for profit service like Netflix a higher fee to transverse the electronic bandwidth of a communication network. Selling a membership to an end user is the source of their cash flow. However, most activist political sites usually provide internet users free access to their particular viewpoint and source links.
Your internet service provider controls the pipeline that feeds your devices and data connection. No matter which company you pay for this service, you are dependent upon this union. A free WiFi link may well become a memory. Beaming a satellite signal, mostly is an alternative, when DSL, cable or other broadband is not available.
No matter what method is used to surf the net, this decision clearly implies that internet access is now a privilege, at the effective discretion, if not mercy; of a provider that allow an account for service.
Next, consider the implication that search engines will use this decision to re-work their algorithms lowering their spider bots selection of sites that challenge the “PC” culture. Restrictive categorization used for years by Google, Yahoo and Bing can use this decision as cover to purge dissenting sites even more from their result rankings.
It is common knowledge that YouTube censors and targets certain uploads. One particular subject that experiences technical glitches is Fukushima. The video You Tube Censoring Truther Channels explains the drill. Add to the frustration are the ads, especially the ones with no skip option and imagine future requirements for uploading approval. What is next, a paid subscription to use and upload to the service?
Yes, the Ending Net Neutrality Signals A Digital Paradigm Shift. It also means that they could unfairly push sites like (add the name of your favorite sites) out of the way of users if they (the “PC” protectors) didn’t like them, acting as effective censors.Stephen Lendman writes in Digital Democracy vs. Corporate Dominance: R.I.P. Internet Neutrality?
“Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will be able to devise new schemes to charge users more for access and services, making it harder for us to communicate online – and easier for companies to censor our speech.”
Corporate gatekeepers will control “where you go and what you see.”
Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable “will be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic…”
They’ll be able to “reserve the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders (while) sticking everyone else with the slowest.”
Doing so prohibits free and open communications. Censorship will become policy. Net Neutrality is too important to lose.”
Ready yourself for the inevitable results! According to Michael Hiltzik, Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords.
“In the U.S., there’s no practical competition. The vast majority of households essentially have a single broadband option, their local cable provider. Verizon and AT&T provide Internet service, too, but for most customers they’re slower than the cable service. Some neighborhoods get telephone fiber services, but Verizon and AT&T have ceased the rollout of their FiOs and U-verse services–if you don’t have it now, you’re not getting it.
Who deserves the blame for this wretched combination of monopolization and profiteering by ever-larger cable and phone companies? The FCC, that’s who. The agency’s dereliction dates back to 2002, when under Chairman Michael Powell it reclassified cable modem services as “information services” rather than “telecommunications services,” eliminating its own authority to regulate them broadly. Powell, by the way, is now the chief lobbyist in Washington for the cable TV industry, so the payoff wasn’t long in coming.”
In a digital environment, access to an internet that provides uncensored content at the lowest costs is a direct threat to the corporate economy. Innovation and creative cutting-edge services are clearly marked as competing challenges to the Amazon jungle of merchandising. The big will just get bigger.
Then the unavoidable effects from the “all the news fit to report” mass medium, intensifies their suppression of honest investigative journalism. Filtering out the alternative and truth media is the prime objective of this ruling. Eliminating political dissent from the internet is the ultimate implication. What would the net be like without access to the Drudge Report?
When the cable or satellite services bundle their programming into a “take it or leave it” format, the choices for the consumer becomes a major financial burden just to watch the few channels that have interest. Applying this pattern to the internet will cause even greater resentment.
Just look at the disaster from the Yahoo retooling. That Ms. “wicked witch” MM have pushed up the stock price, but ask any yahoo group member what they think of the new format. This is a classic example of how to turn off users and ruin your product.
Subscription services are playing with fire. With the collapse of the main street economy, the added fees to access content that is mediocre at best, is the actual fallout. Like the dinosaur TV networks, the corporatist sites risk total rejection from internet visitors.
Totalitarian culturalists are rejoicing with this latest damper on free speech. News by way of government press releases is pure propaganda. How did this happen?
For a short explanation history, Nilay Patel writes in The Wrong Words: How The FCC Lost Neutrality And Could Kill The Internet.
“The FCC tried to appease the out-of-control corporate egos of behemoths like Verizon and Comcast by pretending internet providers were special and classifying them as “information service providers” and not “telecommunications carriers.” The wrong words. Then, once everyone was wearing the nametag they wanted, the FCC tried to impose common carrier-style telecommunications regulations on them anyway.”
Credo Action believes that “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler can undo the Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband Internet providers and allow them to operate outside of the legal framework that has traditionally applied to companies that offer two-way communication services.”Such optimism seems naive in light of the real controllers of policy, much the same, for the Supreme Court coming to the rescue. Mark this court decision as the strategic destruction of the internet as a beacon of unfeigned free expression of information and open political speech. The programmers will be working overtime to set up layers of tasks, restrictions and huddlers to jump over. If you think Facebook censorship is bad, get ready for a purely governmental approved net along the Chinese model.
Just sit right back
And you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip…
(Theme song from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island”)
You’re probably familiar with the “scientific” expedition from Australia which got stuck in the ice in Antarctica last Christmas Eve, but you may not be aware what a rollicking good tale it is. “You’re sure to get a smile,” as the show’s theme song promises, but I promise you more than just a chuckle. There’s a moral to the story as well.
The first comic relief – other than the fact it’s summer down under, mate – comes with the introduction of the organizer of the “Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE)”, Chris Turney, self-described “scientist, explorer, writer” and ardent global warmist. Christened “The Spirit of Mawson” after an Australian scientist who led an expedition to Antarctica in 1911, the expedition’s purpose was to “meld science and adventure, repeating century old measurements to discover and communicate the changes taking place in this remote and pristine environment”. Despite the scientific veneer, the make-up of the 50-odd person crew resembled more the complement of the good ship Minnow (“The millionaire and his wife; The movie star; The professor and Mary Ann”) than that of Mawson’s S. Y. Aurora. The pseudo-scientific antics of this menage a trois of scientists, journalists, and tourists made the voyage look more like Winter Carnival at Dartmouth than Darwin aboard the Beagle.
Comments on Turney’s website (“marked shift in westerly winds… melting large sections of the Antarctic ice sheet” ) suggest he expected to find more open water than had Mawson a century earlier. Why Turney hoped to find open water when it was well known sea ice in the Antarctic was setting records is a mystery. I suspect he’d been led astray by fellow warmists like Al Gore, who predicted in 2008 “the entire North Polar ice cap may well be completely gone in five years” . Gore almost achieved prophet status in 2012 when Arctic ice shrank to its smallest extent since modern recordkeeping began, but last year the ice made a huge comeback and is now almost back to normal.
Whatever the case, the expedition’s Russian ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, got stuck in the ice. The Australian government sent out its ice breaker, the Aurora Australis, to rescue the ship, but they could come no closer than 10 miles from their fellow countrymen. A larger icebreaker, the Chinese Xue Long, got within six miles but could get no further. The decision was made to helicopter the stranded Aussies to the Chinese ship, leaving the Russians to their fate. But for days bad weather forced postponement of the airlift.
Meanwhile, aboard the Shokalskiy it wasn’t exactly “No phone, no lights, no motor car; Not a single luxury; Like Robinson Crusoe; It’s primitive as can be”, but then our castaways weren’t exactly basking in the tropics, either. The first mate and his Skipper too, will do their very best to make the others comf’terble in their tropic island nest (make that “antipodal mess”). Courageously ignoring their life-threatening predicament (or too drunk to remember they were in one), the boozy explorers partied as if there were no tomorrow (which might be true if the weather didn’t break and the heat ran out). On New Year’s Eve the ice-olated penguin-huggers celebrated with a concerned world through
YouTube (a bit nerdy, almost makes them look like scientists).
Unable to get a good weather forecast, the expedition contacted a San Diego TV station and asked if they could help. The station’s weatherman, John Coleman, contacted some colleagues knowledgeable on the Antarctic, who came up with a
forecast which held out the hope the wind might shift to offshore, causing the ice to break up and free the vessel. But before that could happen, the expedition opted for evacuation by helicopter when the weather improved sufficiently a day or two later.
From the Xue Long, the now world-infamous Australasian Antarctic Expedition was transferred to the Aurora Australis, which then continued on its original mission to re-supply an Australian Antarctic base. Meanwhile, the Xue Long now became stuck in the ice. Fortunately, the wind shift postulated by the weathermen came to pass, and both stuck ships, the Xue Long and the Akademik Shokalskiy, were able to free themselves. As it turns out, our intrepid explorers would have gotten home sooner had they not abandoned ship as the Shokalskiyarrived back in Australia while our parka-clad party animals were still stuck in Antarctica waiting for a ride home.
If all this hasn’t given you a chuckle, you’re a diehard warmist with no sense of humor. One last attempt to tickle your funny bone. The meteorologists who predicted the weather might improve sufficiently for the Akademik Shokalskiy to free itself are global warming skeptics, or, as the still unbowed leader of the AAE might say, deniers.
Not so funny (even by my warped standards) is the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of dollars someone, maybe the Australian taxpayer, is going to have to ante up to cover the cost of the rescue. The AAE vowed prior to departure to plant trees in New Zealand to offset the carbon emissions resulting from their expedition. Adding in the emissions spewed out by the fossil fuel-guzzling icebreakers, this should result in a forest of taigan proportions, which, like its Siberian counterpart, will be a tribute to the awesome, fear-inspiring forces of nature.
On the bright side, the expedition fared better than Mawson’s in one respect: they all came back alive. Mawson and two companions were forced to make a 300-mile trek across the ice back to their base camp. Losing his companions to the harsh conditions along the way, Mawson stumbled into the camp after a months-long trek only to see the S. Y. Aurora steaming away in the distance. Living off the provisions left behind, Mawson spent the winter alone on Terra Australis, dreaming of that other “Land of the South” from whence he came and to which he would belatedly return the next summer.
The moral of the story? Global warming is real. Just kidding. The true moral is not to defy settled science, the science that is settled being that there is a lot about the climate we don’t understand. To see everything through the prism of a still young, still baffling warming trend is to risk, to put it ironically, snow blindness. The attribution of the recent Polar Vortex-induced cold wave in the United States to
global warming is a case in point. An obsessively global warming-centric view of the world can lead to errors of the fatal variety, as almost befell our Gilliganesque lot, but perhaps even more dangerous in the long run, to errors of science.
I wrote previously about our cultural fantasy that forgets we are totally dependent on soil and water. At the end of his Commentary on the Book of Numbers R. J. Rushdoony writes as follows: “For modern man land has become a commodity and an investment, not essentially a faith inheritance. Our modern outlook thus warps our perspective. For this reason, our federal government thinks nothing of allowing in as immigrants an increasing number of people who are religiously and racially hostile to us. They see no relationship between faith and land. As a result the United States and the Western world have embarked on a suicidal course. They reject the concept of Christendom and embrace instead the humanistic “family of man” and thus immigration policies in the U.S. and Europe are based on myths and illusions of a destructive nature. Because neither land nor inheritance is now seen from the perspective of faith, we have problems in these spheres. The modern state sees itself as the primary owner, and hence eminent domain is basic to its life, and it therefore views itself as the primary heir with death taxes. Both a tax on the land and death taxes are anti-Biblical.”
I am not sure that linking our immigration problem to a lack of understanding of the relationship between land and faith is entirely true. Immigration in America is Balkanizing the nation and destroying the culture. It is satanic in nature and is being promoted by powerful forces that seek world government without national borders. The Christian religion itself is a target for destruction.
Nevertheless, human beings are land based creatures and Christianity is a land based religion. We are but sojourners in a world that God created. We are vested with the responsibility of passing God’s land to the next generation in an untainted condition.
When we hear of conversations in elite circles about the need to exterminate millions of useless eaters because the world is overpopulated we can, in part, attribute this arrogant discussion to our inattention to our earthly umbilical cord.
This separation from terra firma has been enhanced by modern farm machinery which allows planting and reaping with very little contact with the media. Farmers with soil on their clothing and on their persons were ever aware of the element that grew their crops. Now air conditioned tractors provide comforts on a par with the offices of business executives.
Please understand, I am not advocating a return to the horse and buggy. Mechanical inventions are a boon to mankind and we are blest to have them. The problem is with the egomania these marvelous inventions have created, making gods of men and enhancing the humanism that is responsible for creeping despotism.
Without the absolute legal standards of the God of the Bible human beings with their diverse opinions and desires are incapable of peaceful existence. We are more like devils than gods and when we give in to the sinful desire to be like God we inevitably create confusion and misery. We were made to be obedient to our Maker and are unable to live in freedom without adhering to His commandments.
The terrifying dangers of men beginning to act as gods are becoming apparent in our manipulation of our soil and seeds. We started by ignoring God’s Sabbath for the land. The practice of allowing land to lie fallow for one year in every seven was abandoned and fertilizers and chemicals were added to allow the production of continuous annual crops. Now we are manipulating seeds creating mutations that are designed to produce beneficial protections. We have appropriated the right to manipulate the creation as if it belonged to us. The results of this arbitrary manipulation can be catastrophic.
Social sophisticates often view farmers with disdain. Farming is considered an occupation of dull, dirt tainted, bumpkins that do not fit into the upper classes of our culture. This Pharisaical spirit elevates urban life and bears responsibility for the detrimental error of forgetting the source of our sustenance.
My mother was born and raised on a farm. She walking four miles each way to attend a school that housed 8 grades. She graduated from University of Illinois in the early years of the Twentieth Century and her sister, who was educated in that same humble classroom, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Northwestern University. There were two boys in that Irish led family. The boys remained with the land but the two girls married professional men. The two boys were my uncles. One died early without progeny the other had one son who with a college degree in Agriculture remained in farming. He produced a girl and a boy. The son remained on the farm and produced a son who has no interest in agriculture. All of the land my Grandfather homesteaded will soon be leased out.
Mother’s family was Methodist. She dominated my father. Methodism stressed human control of behavior rather than obedience to God and His Law. Land was a commodity rather than an intricate part of the Christian religion.
Government has been busy acquiring land in the United States. Estimates place the total U. S. land at about 2.25 billion acres and the total federal and states ownership at close to 45 percent; The Federal Government owns about 700 million acres and rising. In thirteen Western states two thirds of the entire land mass is Government property; 87.5 percent of the State of Arizona and over 90 percent of the State of Nevada. The United States Government owns a larger percentage of the nation’s land than do the Communist regimes in Russia and China.
A Google search on “city is more competitive” produced over a hundred thousand results. The elite pagans who currently control our world would like to herd people into cities where an intercity economic competition would keep everyone striving. More and more of the land is falling under government control and hundreds of thousands of homes have been repossessed. The intent seems to be for wealthy lords to live handsomely on the labor of the world’s serfs who would exist in tiny cubicles in crowded cities.
In ancient Israel God allowed the permanent sales of urban properties but had rural lands returned to their original owners in the year of Jubilee. Stability was vested in the families that owned and cultivated land. Though the processing, packaging, and merchandising of food has blurred the connection it is still the same today; the cultivation of land remains the source of sustenance for the world’s population..
In one of his daily messages in “A Word in Season” Rushdoony relates the early American practice of Rogation Sunday. In the evening following Sunday prayer for the harvest “each farmer and his family walked the boundaries of their property and gave thanks for the good earth. As they walked, the boy of the family was ‘bumped’ against the landmarks, the boundary stone, or against a boundary tree. If a pond or stream marked the boundary he was ducked into it. Then the boy who was bumped or ducked was given a small gift. The purpose of the ‘bumping’ and of the gift was to make the boy remember the boundaries of the land he would someday fall heir to.”
We are prone to forget that the One True God is still sovereign over His creation. His perspective is infinite and ours is miniscule it is often difficult to see His participation. Nevertheless, He does not change and He still punishes those who presume on His authority. Human control of His creation will ultimately fail and the ravages of Hell await the perpetrators.
Wicked, ungodly men and women have risen to positions of power in our time. These “sons of
Belial” are attempting to turn God’s creation into a vicious police state; a hell on earth designed by evil minds to accommodate deviant lusts.
Extensive, mysterious efforts to control the weather are being conducted in our skies. Though they are visible to everyone, thousands of weather forecasters never acknowledge their existence. Our citizens, too, are frightened and often reluctant to comment on these brazen experiments. It is frightening to see such a massive manipulation play out above us. The beautiful deep blue of space and the billowy, floating clouds that have treated our views for millenniums have been replaced by man-made lines haphazardly drawn over God’s creation.
God’s Word is full of promises of favorable weather in return for diligent obedience and men who attempt to control what God has claimed as His own are at war with God.
Though we common folk appear to be the victims of the new world order’s Procrustean bed we too are culpable. We have failed to abide by God’s law concerning His creation. Farmers willingly till their soil without giving it rest. Local authorities levy taxes against farm land interfering with the ownership and stability God intends. We have broken God’s Law and have elected rulers that do so as well. Captivity is God’s punishment for intractable sin and the solution is to return to a proper relationship with our Creator. Repentance involves understanding that we are servants and He is our Master and our King. It is our duty to worship and obey Him. Attempts to manipulate God will fail. The Bible is not an instrument for discussion but for obedience. We are appointed to judge the world by the yardstick of God’s Law. First we ourselves obey then seek to bring our nation into obedience.
It is foolhardy to pray for a nation of sinners who disregard God’s sovereignty and ignore His commandments. God is bringing captivity on the world because His people made in His image, sin against Him by living their lives independent of His Will. The world falls deeper into sin as each day passes. Instead of hearing and obeying every word that comes from the mouth of God, we insult Him by picking apart His Word and deciding what we will believe and what we will ignore. We treat the Christian religion like a toy that is fun for a season but that we can put aside whenever we wish.
Two rather interesting things have happened to me lately. First, I had one of my teeth pulled this week — totally not a fun experience. And, second, while still oozing pain and eating Hydrocodone and climbing the walls, I started reading a book about plants by Michael Pollan, entitled “The Botany of Desire”. So now I have suddenly become an expert on both pain-killers and gardens.
Having one’s tooth pulled is like, er, pulling teeth. It really hurts. So from now on I plan to brush and floss constantly and do whatever it takes to keep my remaining teeth healthy and clean. Someone recommended gargling with Bombay Sapphire twice a day. I’d try even that.
Even though the student doctor who pulled my tooth at the UCSF School of Dentistry was an angel of mercy combined with Dr. McDreamy, having one’s tooth extracted is never pretty. I kept reciting that mantra “Challenges make me stronger” in the dental chair and silently doing jin shin jyutzu – but even that didn’t work. I’m a wimp. And not only that but once the tooth was out, they wouldn’t even give it back to me to give to the Tooth Fairy. Rats.
Then, once finally back home and safely collapsed into bed, I took some of those “opioid” pain-killers they gave me — and dreamed that I was an escaped convict running a funeral parlor in my childhood hometown (Millbrae) and hiding under my daughter Ashley’s bed (probably from NSA). Forget that. No more weird Kubla-Khan dreams for me. I’m sticking with aspirin.
Now I’m wishing there was something I could do to replace my poor sweet little lost tooth, but there doesn’t seem to be anything. Getting a dental implant is expensive — $3,000 per tooth, even done by a dental student. Who can afford that? Not me. So now I’ve got a big gap in my teeth. How ugly is that! However, I won’t be alone for long. Two-thirds of America will soon be joining me in being gap-toothed as well unless affordable dental insurance becomes available reasonably soon. But if not, then we’ll all be totally ugly together, not just me. America goes third-world. Who would have thought.
I also have a postage-stamp sized garden attached to my apartment, which grows nothing. According to Michael Pollan, this shouldn’t be happening — unless there has been some really heavy-duty weed killer sprayed there at one time. Yes, there was. But not by me. So, apparently, what I need now is all new dirt. And at the rate that American agribusiness keeps using millions of tons of herbicides and pesticides each year, all of America will soon be needing all new dirt too.
“Actually, it’s not the heavy use of herbicides and pesticides that is causing the most problems on huge agribusiness farms,” to summarize one of Pollan’s chapters on the potato, “but rather the monoculture nature of their crops. Organic farmers can vary and rotate what they plant and thus stave off insect and fungal infestations — but if your main customer for potatoes is McDonalds, then you have to plant Burbank russets and only Burbank russets all of the time. So it is Americans themselves that are causing the major use of [stuff] like Roundup and Roundup-Ready GMOs.”
So if I promise to plant a huge variety of everything in my garden, from fingerling potatoes to roses to dandelions, then will at least SOMETHING finally grow?
And will I also be able to grow a new tooth?
Aside from Michael Pollan, why else have my thoughts been turning to gardening lately? In the middle of freaking January? Because this winter has been the sunniest one in Berkeley that I have ever seen. It’s like freaking summer here now, like July, every day — even going beyond April or May. www.weather.com even declared Berkeley a drought area the other day. Time to bust out the seeds.
Michael Pollan also wrote about cannabis in his book on plants. “Marijuana doesn’t make you forgetful of everything. It just makes you forget [stuff] that’s not important.” Interesting. I always forget names. So I guess names aren’t all that important or necessary for me to remember. Whew. I’m off the hook then. Am not getting senile dementia after all, just sorting out my priorities.
And maybe that’s why Alzheimer sufferers forget so much mental stuff too — they might be shutting down everything that won’t immediately help them to cope with this devastating disease (yes, I know that Alzheimers also rots its victims’ brains — but isn’t that just one more good reason for them to shut said brains down?)
With regard to raising the minimum wage here in soon-to-be-toothless America, wouldn’t it make more sense to just cut the rate of inflation instead? Starting by eliminating the Federal Reserve and its tendencies to print meaningless Monopoly money and to finance Endless War? And, while we’re at it, let’s stop giving out billions in “food stamps” to corporate welfare queens like Bank of America, BP, WalMart, Halliburton and Monsanto. Works for me. And can we also please bring our millions of jobs back from overseas too?
Back in 1963, I made $1.75 an hour while working in the post office on weekends and during summers. With this money plus some help from my parents (yes, they could also afford to help me back then), I was able to graduate from San Jose State College without requiring any student loans. And in 1966, when I got a big salary-bump to $3.50 an hour for working the stamp window instead of sorting mail, I was able put myself through graduate school at UC Berkeley, just by working during summer vacations. Can you even imagine staying alive and not homeless in Berkeley today on that kind of salary — let alone paying for your tuition at Cal as well.
What has happened to all of America’s jobs and wealth since the 1960s, back when we were the richest country in the world? That’s a no-brainer. It’s all flown away into the pockets of Wall Street mega-bankers, the numbered Cayman accounts of war profiteers and the fat wallets of all those corporate welfare queens who currently own and run our government.
While it’s always a good idea to raise America’s minimum wage a few dollars, it’s also important to stop runaway inflation — and to also start lowering a certain type of maximum wage as well: The maximum amount that rich guys can steal from us before they get sent to jail.And we need to put some teeth into these new regulations too.
Ever since Ariel Sharon began rising up through the ranks of Israeli neo-con politics by hook or by crook, I’ve always viewed him as a Bad Guy. But maybe he wasn’t all that bad after all — at least not within the time-frame right before his sudden stroke. According to former IGF officer Roi Tov, Sharon might have finally seen the light and started actually implementing some of the few hopeful features of GWB’s ill-conceived “Road Map,” now a document as long-forgotten as Mr. Bush himself.
Tov is an Israeli journalist who I always love to read because he always seems to have juicy insider knowledge of all the latest hot gossip about what is going on in the highest Israeli neo-con circles. And according to Tov, Sharon had been taking the Peace Process a little bit too seriously right before his sudden stroke and, like Rabin, needed to be stopped. http://www.roitov.com/
Sharon himself must have constantly been aware, like all good neo-cons everywhere have known since way back in JFK’s day, that when you play in neo-con Big Leagues, you gotta toe the current party line or else. But at least Sharon, there toward the end, might possibly have tried at long last to do the Right Thing toward establishing peace with Palestine — perhaps knowing full well that doing so would cause him to tangle with the Shin Beth. Perhaps I should give Sharon snaps for that. Taking on the Shin Beth is not for the timid of heart.
Perhaps Sharon finally wanted to atone for being the Butcher of Sabra and Shatila. Hey, it could happen.
But, if so, Sharon must have also forgotten the Number One neo-con rule: “Cross us and you are a dead man. We eat our young.” Sucks to be you, Ariel Sharon!
Anyway. We may never know the whole story. Neither Sharon nor Rabin are talking. And neither is the Shin Beth.
Israeli politics are so much fun to watch — almost as much fun as watching American politics. Which brings me to the subject of Chris Christie. “What did he know and when did he know it?” seems to be the big question on everyone’s lips. But, for me, the real question here should be, “Why the freak do Americans continue to passively put up with all of America’s constant and soul-killing traffic jams in the first place?”
If Christie and/or his loyal staff hadn’t caused the Fort Lee traffic jam, then something else would have caused it.
There are traffic jams all over America right now, night and day. 24/7. And nobody seems to even notice or care. We all just passively endure wasting hours and hours of our life each day that we will never get back.
For instance, the new San Francisco bay bridge is awesome to look at, but as a vehicle-mover, it sadly fails. The old bridge handled up to one-third more cars-per-hour than this new, spectacular one.
But all these new bridges and old bridges and freeways and rush-hour traffic jams all beg the huge major question, which is: “What kind of harsh air-pollution hazards are all these idling, gridlocked vehicles creating? And when are we going to finally take climate change seriously and start eliminating the use of pollution-causing motor vehicles entirely?”
This new scandal regarding Governor Christie and Fort Lee might be offering us a really good opportunity to start a national dialogue with regard to, first, the development of more public transportation options in order to alleviate traffic jams and save the air, and, second, finally doing something about the limited safety and diminishing returns of using cars themselves in this disastrous day and age of life-threatening climate change.