Emperor Barack Hussein Obama once again broke the U.S. Constitution this past week by illegally mandating that our laws as a sovereign country mean nothing. He illegally overstepped his office as president by using an executive order that takes the law into his own hands and away from “We the people.”
He insured that anyone who illegally jumps our borders, overstays a visa or crosses during pregnancy may become a U.S. citizen without warrant of any kind. Obama insured that millions of people expect to storm our borders in the coming years—thus rending our country—no longer a country, but a destination.
At this point in our “open borders” history, we find no purpose for the United States to maintain a military since our president and Congress refuse to secure our borders against the entry of illegal aliens and contraband.
Borders define a nation and the primary reason for our armed forces remains to keep our enemies as far from our shores as possible. Foreign nationals easily enter the U.S. today and evade the scrutiny of the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors at ports of entry. Terrorists, spies and enemy combatants easily enter our country and pose a threat to national security and public safety. But that doesn’t bother Obama or Congress. The past five presidents failed to secure our borders.
If history illustrates our predicament, the next five presidents and Congresses won’t secure our borders, either.
Any unilateral Executive action on immigration by Barack Obama is a blatant subversive act and an open attempt to usurp the constitutional authority of Congress. It may in fact rise to the level of an act of treason against the U.S. Constitution and the American people, as an overt breach of trust and violation of Barack Obama’s oath of office.
There is nothing in Article II of the U.S. Constitution granting the Oval Office the power to usurp, subvert or ignore the laws of the United States as established by Congress.
For America’s enemies, the goal of going behind ‘enemy lines’ equates with getting past our borders and the officials whose mission secures the borders. When aliens manage to evade the inspections process or otherwise gain entry into the U.S. intent on violating our immigration laws, an effective interior enforcement program must stand ready, willing, and able to identify these people, locate them, arrest them, and seek their removal from the U.S. to backstop the Border Patrol and the inspections process conducted at ports of entry.
Our immigration laws do not make any distinctions that involve race, religion, or ethnicity — only to keep out aliens, such as criminals and terrorists, who pose a threat to the safety and well-being of America and Americans. Title 8, U.S.C. § 1182 provides a list of the classes of aliens who are supposed to be prevented from entering the U.S. Without such an effective and credible program in place, for aspiring illegal aliens from around the world, the ‘finish line’ is the border of the U.S.
This past month, Obama mandated printing of 34 million Green Cards, but he tells us only 4.6 million illegals will enjoy amnesty. Is he a bald-faced liar? What do you think?
Why does Obama call them “immigrants”?
Trying to confuse “illegal aliens” with “immigrants” must be defined instead of painted over in glossy, rose-colored glasses. Obama says Americans welcome “immigrants” – “yes” – we welcome “immigrants” because “immigrants” arrive legally and they respect Americans by respecting our laws.
All 20 million illegal aliens jumped our borders, broke our laws, forged SS#’s, work and live in violation of our laws. They stole jobs from our citizens as well as shoplifting, murders, drunk drivers, rapes, driving illegally and using our welfare systems. You might give a word: Obama comment line: 1(202)456-1111 or 1414!
We now face a man in the White House who doesn’t mind breaking our Constitution, paid for with the blood of millions of men and women. In his youth, he chose to smoke pot, do drugs and lie his way through college and into Congress. He lacks any comprehension of what America stands for because he still hasn’t proven he’s an American.
History will discover his true identity at some point. History will prove where his grandmother lifted his Social Security Card number because he didn’t possess a valid U.S. birth certificate. He didn’t register for the draft, but somehow obtained a backdated draft card. He registered as a foreign student when attending Columbia and on to Harvard with grades that couldn’t get him out of high school.
At some point, the hammer of truth will descend on Obama. In the meantime, he violates our laws, he gifts lawbreakers with amnesty, and at some point, he better grant himself amnesty from his own larceny of the truth he keeps from the American people.
Historians will not be kind to the foremost liar in American history.
Does the Name “Strauss-Kahn” Ring a Bell?
The International Monetary Fund has finally admitted that it was wrong to recommend austerity as early as it did in 2010-2011. The IMF now agrees that it should have waited until the US and EU economies were on a sustainable growth-path before advising them to trim their budget deficits and reduce public spending. According to a report issued by the IMF’s research division, the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO): “IMF advocacy of fiscal consolidation proved to be premature for major advanced economies, as growth projections turned out to be optimistic…This policy mix was less than fully effective in promoting recovery and exacerbated adverse spillovers.”
Now there’s an understatement.
What’s so disingenuous about the IMF’s apology, is that the bank knew exactly what the effects of its policy would be, but stuck with its recommendations to reward its constituents. That’s what really happened. The only reason it’s trying to distance itself from those decisions now, is to make the public think it was all just a big mistake.
But it wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate and here’s the chart that proves it:
(Democrats Reap What They Sowed, Rob Urie, CounterPunch)
There it is, six years of policy in one lousy picture. And don’t kid yourself, the IMF played a critical role in this wealth-shifting fiasco. It’s job was to push for less public spending and deeper fiscal cuts while the Central Banks flooded the financial markets with liquidity (QE). The results are obvious, in fact, one of the Fed’s own officials, Andrew Huszar, admitted that QE was a massive bailout for the rich. “I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is,” said Huszar who actually worked on the program, “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.” There it is, straight from the horse’s mouth.
So now the IMF wants to throw a little dust in everyone’s eyes by making it look like it was a big goof-up by well-meaning but misguided bankers. And the media is helping them by its omissions.
Let me explain: Of the more than 455 articles on Google News covering the IMF’s mea culpa, not one piece refers to the man who was the IMF’s Managing Director at the time in question. Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd?
Why would the media scrub any mention of Dominique Strauss-Kahn from its coverage? Could it be that (according to NPR):
“The IMF’s managing director wanted to give Greece, Portugal and Ireland the time needed to put their accounts in order, and he also argued for softening the austerity measures associated with the bailouts for those countries.
Greek economists say that under Strauss-Kahn’s leadership, the IMF was a counterbalance to the strict austerity policies favored by northern European leaders. In fact, according to the daily Le Monde, Strauss-Kahn is fond of calling those who argue for tighter austerity “fous furieux,” which roughly translates as “mad men.”
Strauss-Kahn’s view is that shock-therapy measures imposed on Greece and other European countries with sovereign debt crises will lead only to economic recession and severe social unrest.
Several commentators pointed out Monday that at a time of turmoil in the eurozone and division among European leaders, it was the IMF, under Strauss-Kahn’s leadership, that kept the eurozone’s rescue strategy on track.
The Financial Times said that the IMF’s single most important influence in the resolution of the eurozone crisis was political — amid a lack of political leadership, the paper said, the IMF filled a vacuum.
(IMF Chief’s Arrest Renews Euro Debt Crisis Fears, NPR)
Ah-ha! So Strauss-Kahn wasn’t on board with the IMF’s shock doctrine prescription. In fact, he was opposed to it. So there were voices for sanity within the IMF, they just didn’t prevail in the policy debate.
But why would that be, after all, Strauss-Kahn was the IMF’s Managing Director, his views should have carried greater weight than anyone else’s, right?
Right. Except DSK got the ax for a sexual encounter at New York’s ritzy Sofitel Hotel. So the changes he had in mind never took place, which means that the distribution of wealth continued to flow upwards just like the moneybags constituents of the IMF had hoped for.
Funny how that works, isn’t it? Funny how it’s always the Elliot Spitzers, and the Scott Ritters, and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s who get nailed for their dalliances, but the big Wall Street guys never get caught.
Why is that?
The fact is, Strauss-Kahn was off the reservation and no longer supported the policies that the establishment elites who run the IMF wanted to see implemented. They felt threatened by DSK’s Keynesian approach and wanted to get rid of him. That’s it in a nutshell.
Do you know why the bigwig plutocrats hated DSK?
It had nothing to do with his sexual acrobatics at the Sofitel Hotel. Nobody cares about that shite. What they were worried about were his plans for the IMF which he laid out in a speech he gave at the Brookings Institution in April 2011, one month before he got the boot. The speech got very little attention at the time, but– for all practical purposes– it was DSK’s swan song. And, I think you’ll see why.
The experience must have been a real shocker for the gaggle of tycoons and hangers-on who attend these typically-tedious gatherings. Instead of praise for “market discipline”, “labor flexibility” and “fiscal consolidation”, Strauss-Kahn delivered a rousing 30 minute tribute to leftist ideals and wealth-sharing sounding more like a young Leon Trotsky addressing the Forth International than a cold-hearted bureaucrat heading the world’s most notorious loan sharking operation. By the time the speech ended, I’m sure the knives were already being sharped for the wayward Managing Director. To put it bluntly, DSK’s goose was cooked. Here’s a clip from the speech that will help to explain why:
“…The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes”…
Not everyone will agree with the entirety of this statement. But what we have learnt over time is that unemployment and inequality can undermine the very achievements of the market economy, by sowing the seeds of instability…
.. the IMF cannot be indifferent to distribution issues…
Today, we need a similar full force forward response in ensuring that we get the recovery we need. And that means not only a recovery that is sustainable and balanced among countries, but also one that brings employment and fair distribution…
But growth alone is not enough. We need direct labor market policies…
Let me talk briefly about the second lung of the social crisis—inequality…IMF research also shows that sustainable growth over time is associated with a more equal income distribution…
We need policies to reduce inequality, and to ensure a fairer distribution of opportunities and resources. Strong social safety nets combined with progressive taxation can dampen market-driven inequality. Investment in health and education is critical. Collective bargaining rights are important, especially in an environment of stagnating real wages. Social partnership is a useful framework, as it allows both the growth gains and adjustment pains to be shared fairly…
We have also supported a tax on financial activities (and) organized jointly with the ILO … to better understand the policies behind job-creating growth…
Ultimately, employment and equity are building blocks of economic stability and prosperity, of political stability and peace. This goes to the heart of the IMF’s mandate. It must be placed at the heart of the policy agenda. Thank you very much.” (The Global Jobs Crisis— Sustaining the Recovery through Employment and Equitable Growth, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director IMF, April 13, 2011)
Can you imagine the chorus of groans that must have emerged from the crowd when Strauss-Kahn made his pitch for “progressive taxation”, “collective bargaining rights”, “protecting social safety nets”, “direct labor market policies” and “taxes on financial activities”? And how do you think the crowd reacted when he told them he’d settled on a more enlightened way to distribute the wealth they’d accumulated over a lifetime of insider trading, crooked backroom deals and shady business transactions?
Do you think they liked that idea or do you suppose they lunged for their blood pressure medication before scuttling pell-mell towards the exits?
Let’s face it; Strauss-Kahn was headed in a direction that wasn’t compatible with the interests of the cutthroats who run the IMF. That much is clear. Now whether these same guys concocted the goofy “honey trap” at the Sofitel Hotel, we may never know. But what we do know is this: If you’re Managing Director of the IMF, you’d better not use your power to champion “distribution” or collective bargaining rights or you’re wind up like Strauss-Kahn, dragged off to the hoosegow in manacles wondering where the hell you went wrong.
DSK was probably done-in by the people who hated his guts. Now they want to polish-up their image by rewriting history.
And, you know, they’re rich enough to pull it off, too.
To many, the above title may seem much like speaking of the bright side to malignant cancer. And did it really come out of this writer’s pen? Long a staunch immigration critic, I’ve written many articles on the subject; Pat Buchanan used one of my lines in his book Death of the West; and Congressman John Conyers quoted me in the House on May 16, 2007, saying, “[C]onservative commentator Selwyn Duke just yesterday inveighed against any immigration (legal or not). He warned, ‘[R]eplace our population with a Mexican or Moslem one and you no longer have a Western civilization, you no longer have America. You have Mexico North or Iran West.’” (Conyers wasn’t exactly in agreement.) And, no, it’s not that a pod from outer space has taken over my body or, worse yet, that I’ve become a liberal. I inveigh against all immigration still. I still oppose amnesty in all forms and under all guises. Nonetheless, the latter would have, perhaps, a small bright side.
This cannot be understood without grasping that illegal migration is not the problem.
It is an exacerbation of the problem.
What does this mean? Aren’t the only problems posed by migration ones unique to the illegal variety, such as an uncontrolled entry into our country that can allow diseases, terrorists and WMDs to cross our borders?
The real problem — the only one that really matters over the long term — is that we are importing socialist-oriented voters with mindsets contrary to Western ideals. This is because of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (INA65), which created a situation wherein 85 percent of our new immigrants hail from the Third World and Asia. Moreover, the legislation has led to an increase in overall immigration from a historic average of 250,000 a year to approximately 1,000,000.
If you’re Obama and his fellow travelers and believe in “fundamentally” changing America, you love this because, upon being naturalized, approximately 80 percent of these newcomers will vote for you. You know Republicans get close to 90 percent of their votes from whites, so the formula for ideological conquest is simple: reduce the percentage of whites in America as much and as fast as possible. And INA65 certainly fits that bill. Non-Hispanic whites were close to 90 percent of the population in 1965.
Now they’re just under 63 percent.
And California is the model for the leftist hegemony in question. Once a solidly Republican state that launched Ronald Reagan to national prominence, it would not be carried by him in a presidential election today. The last time the state went Republican was 1988, when George H.W. Bush edged Michael Dukakis by four points. Since then no Democrat has carried the state by less than a double-digit margin; the best showing the GOP had was when it held Lurch-like John Kerry to 10 points. Obama won the state by 24 points in 2008 and 23 points in ’12. And in this year’s Republican wave election, it was considered an accomplishment that the GOP denied the Democrats supermajorities in CA’s legislative chambers.
Oh, did I mention that whites in CA are no longer even a plurality?
And here’s the reality:
Once the rest of the country looks like CA demographically, it will look like it politically.
This isn’t to say Republicans would disappear. They’d reinvent themselves as parties and politicians do, winning some elections by moving, to use our provisional terminology, “left.” It also must be mentioned that immigration isn’t the only factor in our decline; the media, academia and entertainment arena do a superb job fashioning leftist foot soldiers. And we should also note that with a world generally to the “left” of the US, it’s hard to imagine where we could find traditionalist immigrants; importing socialist Swedes, Germans and French is problematic as well. (A notable difference, however, is that while the latter assimilate into our more conservative white population, Hispanics often operate within America’s Hispanic milieu, which reinforces their socialist beliefs.)
Yet this is simply another reason why I adamantly oppose all (im)migration. When Ben Franklin famously answered the question of whether the 1787 Constitutional Convention had given us a republic or a monarchy by saying “A republic, if you can keep it,” there would have been no “ifs” about it if our nation had comprised mainly monarchical Englishmen. So the message here is simply a statement of the obvious: foreigners cannot be relied upon to preserve authentic Americanism because they’re not American. Full stop.
This is especially true when they harbor deep-seated un-American ideologies, hail from non-Western cultures and enter a multiculturalism-infected land that tells them “When in Rome…feel free to do as Ostrogoths would do.”
Despite this, most conservatives don’t get it. Imbued with what I’ve termed “immigrationism” and Proposition Nation pap, they’re very diligent about conserving the Immigration and Nationality Act status quo. An example that will shock many is Senator Ted Cruz, who last year proposed not only increasing the number of “high-skilled temporary workers fivefold” — as if there aren’t high-skilled Americans looking for jobs — but, unbelievably, also the doubling of legal immigration (the relevant portion of the video starts at 3:27).
Given that Cruz seems like a good man, I’ll just assume he’s out to lunch (in Tijuana) on this issue. But let’s be clear: if you had to pick your poison and choose just one culture-rending policy, a giant amnesty one year would be preferable to a giant legal-immigration increase applicable every year.
So what’s the bright side to amnesty? The well-known metaphor about a frog in a frying pan of water tells us that since frogs can’t sense incremental temperature changes, a very low flame under that pan may mean the creature will remain fixed in his position until he boils to death. In contrast, turn the burner up high enough and he’ll jump out and save himself.
Along with our many other problems, “Americans” (insofar as they still exist) are enduring the slow boil of cultural and demographic genocide. And executive amnesty, as with other kinds of leftist overreach, just may serve to turn that flame up high and rouse people from their torpor.
Yet this is the dimmest of bright sides, a 1-in-50 shot whose mention is mainly valuable in service to a larger point: we do need fundamental change. We need a revolution of mind, heart and spirit in which we return to our Christian foundation and dispense with moral relativism and all its corollaries — of which cultural relativism is one. Related to this, John Jay wrote in Federalist No. 2:
Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs….
The “American experiment” was never meant to be one in which we could learn if, for the first time in history, a nation could intensely balkanize itself and — by rebranding it “diversity” — survive.
I do not believe the US will survive long in its present form. And when chroniclers finally write The Rise and Fall of the American Republic, they may record that the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was the most destructive legislation in her history, a turning point from which there was no turning back.
How is your life going under the Global Empire? If you answer honestly, for non billionaires, the response must reflect disappointment if not immense distress. Middle America stands on the precipice of oblivion. While the recent past decades have shown steep declines in financial security and net wealth, the future looks much more ominous. The link between the shift to an internationalist de-industrialization economy and open border immigration has hit the United States hard. This harsh reality is routinely denied in the financial press, but the social chaos that engulfs society is largely caused by this betrayal mindset. Corporatists are waging war against the American public.
Summing up the battle lines is the quintessential voice of an America First philosophy. Pat Buchanan on Free Trade is a collection of quotations and references that should be a must read for every displaced citizen. And that group includes virtually everyone.
“Good for global business” isn’t necessarily good for US
“Global capitalists have become acolytes of global governance. They wish to see national sovereignty diminished and sanctions abolished. Where yesterday American businesses suffered damage to their good name for selling scrap iron to Japan before Pearl Harbor, today [war materiel is routinely exported] to potentially hostile nations. Once it was true that what was good the Fortune 500 was good for America. That is no longer true, and what is good for America must take precedence.”
Source: “A Republic, Not an Empire,” p.349 , Oct 9, 1999
The most puzzling malady that penetrates the “PC” culture is a fear of confronting the direct consequences of encouraging an invasion of illegal’s into the country. The disconnect that sweeps across national borders is not isolated just to the United States. Western Europe is not only in decay but is on the verge of social and economic collapse.
Demetrios Papademetriou, PhD, Director of the Migration Policy Institute, wrote in his Sep. 2005 Migration Policy Institute essay “The Global Struggle with Illegal Migration: No End in Sight”: How Are Illegal Immigration and Globalization Related?
“For nearly two decades now, capital and the market for goods, services, and workers of many types have weaved an ever more intricate web of global economic and social interdependence… No aspect of this interdependence seems to be more visible to the public of advanced industrial societies than the movement of people. And no part of that movement is proving pricklier to manage effectively, or more difficult for publics to come to terms with, than irregular (also known as unauthorized, undocumented, or illegal) migration…”
Dr. Papademetriou’s assumption that interdependency is the new normal may be supported with the procession of the Trilateral Commission’s “New International Economic Order”. Nonetheless, the destruction of national sovereignty is a price that no country can afford to adopt, much less pay and remain a nation. Interdependency is the death knell of traditional values, autonomous commerce and individual civil liberties. With the ringing of the bell at the NY Stock exchange, the sound of prosperity goes deaf for the populist, while globalist elites extract the last pound of flesh from an intentionally designed consolidation of a Corporatocracy economy.
The fate of the world is at stake if the forces of globalization are left to complete their total domination of monetary and financial control. It is just as important to prevent the next bipartisan arrangement to grant effective amnesty to millions of illegal foreigners, who have shown little interest to assimilate or adopt the heritage and values of our founding principles.
Warren Mass wrote over a year ago in Permanent Amnesty, Temporary Border.
“An important part of regulating legal immigration, in addition to evaluating each prospective immigrant’s ability to become a productive, law-abiding citizen, is to determine how many immigrants the United States is capable of absorbing each year, taking into consideration the impact on our nation’s economy and culture.”
If this standard needs to apply to those who apply for citizenship, by what absurd twist of logic or sanity pertains to President Obama’s intentions of issuing executive orders that are clearly unconstitutional? How insulting it is to hard press citizens, relegated to enduring impoverishment from off shoring livable wage jobs, while awarding effective amnesty to illegals.
Columnist Glenn R. Jackson review of author Kenneth Buchdahl’s book, Dismantling The American Dream: Globalization, Free Trade, immigration, Unemployment, Poverty, Debt, Foreign Dependency hits the mark.
“First and foremost it is good to see the recognition by Buchdahl of American culture as critical to the building of the American Dream. As Buchdahl writes the development of a culture is grounded in a unique American personality and intricate system of values and beliefs that is responsible for America’s enviable situation. And it is that enviable situation that has contributed to creating the forces that are working rapidly, knowingly or not, to dismantle the American Dream.
Dismantling the American Dream chronicles the unintended impact of America’s pop culture belief in globalization as a force for good in our economy and the failure of leadership to recognize that belief gone awry. America’s political leaders continued belief in free trade and give-away trade deals, in the face of the near deathblow of NAFTA to American manufacturing is but one of the delusions of globalization that Buchdahl lays bare.”
The interjection of cultural aspects may well be the missing link that escapes most chronicles on current events. Documenting the actual results from Free Trade Treaties, should in and of itself win the intellectual argument that economic destruction of Middle America has already happened. Add in the deliberate call for mass migration and social incentives to cross the border has created the latest flood in undocumented aliens.
When Democracy Now asks, Obama & McConnell Pledge Cooperation; Will Fast-Tracking Secretive TPP Trade Deal Top Their Agenda?, and presents Ralph Nader on TPP and the “Unstoppable” Left-Right Anti-Corporate Movement, one has hope that the Buchanan Brigades message is being heard.
With the celebrity coronation that the Democrats are showering on their new favorite daughter, the “Pocahontas Princess”, Elizabeth Warren’s Crusade Against Disastrous “Free Trade” Agreements, is welcomed.
An inquiry was made to NY Senator Charles E. Schumer on the TPA, Trade Priorities Act of 2014 (S.1900). His reply can be read on this link.
An alliance among anti-free trade factions from all ideological camps is necessary to stop the globalist juggernaut. Even if such a coalition could be grown, the likelihood that linkage to the need to stop illegal immigration and opposition to amnesty, would be frosty.
This brings up the opportunity to interject the appeal, WE MUST NOT SURRENDER TO IMMIGRATION AMNESTY, by Frosty Wooldridge. ““Why would any member of Congress who opposes executive amnesty provide President Obama the funds to carry it out? A Republican majority must force congressional Democrats to answer this question through their votes”.
Likewise, why would as covered in the New American essay, Republicans to Obama: We Will Give You Trade Promotion Authority, patriots want to grant “fast track” authority to a President, who is defiant to congressional constitutional separation of powers?
“Fast track authority eventually expired on April 16, 1994, and was not reauthorized by Congress until the passage of the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act (BPTAA) of 2002. BPTAA reinstated fast track authority renamed as “trade promotion authority” (TPA), which expired in 2007. In 2012, President Obama requested renewal of TPA/fast track authority to complete negotiations for the TPP and TTIP.”
The answer should be apparent that any support of “fast track” or for TPP is a vote bought with globalist control. If it is so obvious that such influence is at play in trade deals, why are so many confused activists not able to see through the “Open Border” fraud and act upon the best interests for American workers and families?
That taboo culture factor, covered in the Buchdahl book explains the blind spot from the Loony Left. A review of a pro immigration site, Open Borders will demonstrate a systemic disconnect from reality. Often Libertarian purists, also fall under the spell of a transcendental fantasy. To their credit, Open Borders presents the concept of CITIZENISM and provides the following its key features.
Citizenism places substantially greater weight on the rights and interests of citizens than non-citizens, though it operates within moral side-constraints.
Citizenism is about current citizens, not about the people who may become citizens as a result of immigration or deportation policy.
Citizenism, as conceived by its original proponent Sailer, is both about the individual ethics of voters and about the responsibilities of elected representatives.
Citizenism is about loyalty, not admiration, toward one’s fellow citizens.
If you understand the destructive nature of corporatist trade agreements that only benefit transnational conglomerates, while poisoning economic commerce for Middle Americans, why would you not oppose the lunacy of unrestrictive mass migration? The imperative moral directive is to protect and defend your own nation, its traditional culture and responsible citizens.
Saving the world is a concept that resides in the sick minds of the Save the Planet Kill Yourself mindset. If they are so devoted to a globalist utopia, the influx of trespassers must be leaving their own homeland in better shape. Just how well is life south of the border doing?
There’s stupid. There’s really stupid. There’s really, really stupid.
Then there’s Democrat stupid.
A prime example is a Friday Wall Street Journal article titled “This Democrat Is Giving Up on ObamaCare.” It’s penned by one Burke Beu, someone I describe as “ethnically Democrat,” as he says “I grew up in a Democratic family. I have been a registered Democrat since age 18.” He also tells us, “[I was] a Democratic candidate for statewide office in Colorado and a party precinct captain in that caucus state. I’ve volunteered for numerous Democratic candidates and contributed to party causes and campaigns. The 2014 election results were extremely disappointing for me….”
And, of course, Mr. Beu has soured on ObamaCare. In fact, he wants it repealed. All good so far. Except that he doesn’t have any explicitly harsh words for Obama, hasn’t given up on his party, wants a single-payer system and seems to believe Hillary Clinton is the solution in 2016. (Note: In fairness, Clinton is different from Obama — she has two X chromosomes.) But here are the money lines:
I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, then lost my job in the Great Recession. I was lucky; my brother lost his job and his house. I survived on part-time jobs while paying out-of-pocket for my health insurance.
I voted for President Obama again in 2012, then received a cancellation notice for my health insurance. This was due to ObamaCare, the so-called Affordable Care Act. However, I couldn’t afford anything else.
Does this guy wear a “Kick me” sign?
He wears a “Kick me harder” sign.
There’s a saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” What do you say about a guy whose life consists of being fooled?
Beu believes Medicare should be “a model for health-care reform” and says “We Democrats need to get over ourselves, start anew on a national health-care policy, and return to our progressive principles.”
Actually, sir, you need to get over your party.
First, “progressive principles” is an oxymoron; liberals don’t have principles, but provisional positions. This is because they’re governed by emotion, which changes with the wind. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “Progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative.” No, I won’t explain that, Mr. Beu. You figure it out.
Beu also mentions the “stupidity of the American voter” remark by ObamaCare designer Jonathan Gruber, taking umbrage and saying “Such comments…are insults to every citizen regardless of party.” So Goober is offended by Gruber.
And Beu is one of those very “useful” people. He doesn’t get that elitist snobbery and superciliousness define the left. Just think of the revelations about socialist French president François Hollande, who is “a cold, cynical cheat and a Socialist who ‘doesn’t like the poor,’” writes National Post about insights provided by the leftist’s ex-girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler. “He presents himself as the man who doesn’t like the rich. In reality, the president doesn’t like the poor” and in private calls them “the toothless ones,” reports Trierweiler. Oh, too anecdotal? “Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned”? Then read the 2008 piece “Don’t listen to the liberals — Right-wingers really are nicer people, latest research shows.” It relates what some of us without “Kick me” signs figured out for ourselves long ago.
Beu also says, when pointing out that Democrats need to exhibit humility and admit error on ObamaCare, “We resent Republicans who act morally superior and pretend to have a monopoly on patriotism, but….”
It’s not pretense, Bucko. As this Pew poll from this summer shows, while 72 percent of “steadfast conservatives” and 81 percent of “business conservatives” “often feel proud to be American,” only 40 percent of “solid liberals” do. That, Mr. Beu, is by liberals’ own admission. (Pew also has a category in the poll called “Faith and Family Left.” I’ve never heard of such a thing — unless it refers to faith in government and the family of the person the liberal is cheating on his spouse with.)
Note also that when liberals and conservatives don’t feel proud to be American, it’s for very different reasons. Liberals don’t like what America was, was meant to be, and what they often imagine it to be (“We’re so Puritan!”); conservatives don’t like the cesspool the liberals are turning it into.
I know schadenfreude isn’t a feeling reflective of a charitable spirit, but the best I can say about the Beus of the world is that they need tough love. Mr. Beu reminds me of a guy who’s being held by the back of the neck, is being repeatedly and violently kicked, and complains about how something needs to be done about the foot. Tend to the foot. Regulate the foot. Repeal the foot.
Mr. Beu, that foot happens to be attached to a man, a being with intellect and free will. And he is not your friend.
“It’s not the underlying economics that’s driving things, it’s central bank liquidity.”
— Matt King, Citigroup
Soaring auto sales are not so much a sign of a strong economy as they are an indication of financial hanky-panky. We saw this same type of fakery play out in housing between 2004 – 2006, when prices went through the roof due to a mortgage-lending scam (“subprime”) that crashed the stock market and sent the economy reeling. Now the bigtime money guys are at it again, writing up auto loans for anyone who can sit upright in a chair and scribble an “X” on the dotted line. As a result, car sales have surged to over 16 million for the last 6 months. (A full 7 million more than the low point in January, 2009.) And it’s not hard to see why either. The finance gurus are packaging these sketchy subprimes into bonds, offloading them on eager investors, and recycling the profits into more crappy loans. It’s a perfect circle and it won’t end until the loans start blowing up, jittery investors head for the exits, and Uncle Sugar rides to the rescue with more bailouts.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First take a look at these charts by House of Debt which shows the disparity between auto spending and other types of spending since the end of the slump in 2009.
House of Debt: “New auto purchases have driven the consumer spending recovery to a large degree. The chart below shows the spending recovery for new auto sales and for all other retail spending…
From 2009 to 2013, spending on new autos increased by 40% in nominal terms. All other spending increased by only 20%. Further, excluding autos, 2013 saw lower growth in nominal retail spending than 2012…
The concern is that a lot of auto purchases are being fueled with debt, given a strong recovery in the auto loan market. Below is the net flow of auto loans from 2002 to 2013. It is a net flow because it includes pay downs in addition to new originations. As it shows, auto lending in 2012 and 2013 tops any other year during the previous expansion from 2002 to 2007 (although it is still below the amount of new auto loans in 2000 and 2001).
(“Another Debt-Fueled Spending Spree?” House of Debt)
How about that? So there’s a bigger debt bubble in auto loans today than there was before the bust. But why? Is it because demand is strong, jobs are plentiful, wages are rising, the economy is growing, and people are optimistic about the future?
Heck, no. It’s because rates are low, credit is easy, and dealers are ready to put anyone with a license and a heartbeat into a brand-spanking new car no questions asked. Here are the details from an article in the New York Times titled “In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates” by Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery:
”Auto loans to people with tarnished credit have risen more than 130 percent in the five years since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, with roughly one in four new auto loans last year going to borrowers considered subprime — people with credit scores at or below 640.
The explosive growth is being driven by some of the same dynamics that were at work in subprime mortgages. A wave of money is pouring into subprime autos, as the high rates and steady profits of the loans attract investors. Just as Wall Street stoked the boom in mortgages, some of the nation’s biggest banks and private equity firms are feeding the growth in subprime auto loans by investing in lenders and making money available for loans.
And, like subprime mortgages before the financial crisis, many subprime auto loans are bundled into complex bonds and sold as securities by banks to insurance companies, mutual funds and public pension funds — a process that creates ever-greater demand for loans.
The New York Times examined more than 100 bankruptcy court cases, dozens of civil lawsuits against lenders and hundreds of loan documents and found that subprime auto loans can come with interest rates that can exceed 23 percent. The loans were typically at least twice the size of the value of the used cars purchased, including dozens of battered vehicles with mechanical defects hidden from borrowers. Such loans can thrust already vulnerable borrowers further into debt, even propelling some into bankruptcy, according to the court records, as well as interviews with borrowers and lawyers in 19 states.
In another echo of the mortgage boom, The Times investigation also found dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, leading people who had lost their jobs, were in bankruptcy or were living on Social Security to qualify for loans that they could never afford.” (“In a Subprime Bubble for Used Cars, Borrowers Pay Sky-High Rates”, New York Times)
Can you believe that this kind of chicanery is going on in broad daylight without the regulators stepping in? Think about it for a minute: If the NYT’s journalists can find “dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment”, then why can’t the government regulators? It’s ridiculous. What we’re talking about here is a new version of “liar’s loans” where dealers are helping people who don’t have the means to repay the debt, to fudge the details on their loan application so they can drive off in a shiny new Impala.
Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Here’s more from USA Today: “In the first quarter of 2014, 24.9% of all new-car loans were 73 to 84 months long. Four years ago, less than 10% of loans were that long. In fact, such lengthy terms have pulled the average new-car loan to 66 months. That’s an all-time record.”
7 years to pay off a car? You got to be kidding me? It’s like a second mortgage. And there’s more, too. The average monthly payment and average amount financed hit record highs in the first quarter too. This is from Auto News:
“The average monthly new-vehicle payment was $474 in the first quarter, up 3.3 percent from a year ago. The average monthly used-vehicle payment was $352, up 1.1 percent, Experian Automotive said.
Also in the first quarter, the average amount financed on a new-vehicle loan was $27,612, an increase of $964, or 3.6 percent. For used vehicles, the average amount financed was $17,927, up $395 or 2.3 percent.”
So Americans are not just loading on more debt, they’re also assuming that they’re financial situation is going to be stable enough to make these large payments well into the future. Good luck with that.
It’s also worth noting that, in many transactions, dealers are actually lending more than the value of the vehicle. According to Reuters David Henry,
“The average loan-to-value on new cars rose to 110.6 percent… On used cars it rose to 133.2 percent…
Auto lenders often provide loans that exceed the value of cars they are financing because borrowers want cash to pay sales taxes and fees.”
(“U.S. car buyers borrow more as rates fall and standards loosen“, David Henry, Reuters)
Let me see if I got this straight: You walk onto a car lot without a dime in your pocket, and drive off in a brand new car with everything paid for upfront? Such a deal! Can you see why we think that the sales numbers are a big fake? This isn’t the sign of a strong economy. It’s the sign of another gigantic credit bubble rip-off. But what do the dealers get out of this thing? Is it really worth their while to botch the underwriting when they know that eventually they’ll have to repossess the vehicle? Sure, it is, because there’s big money in stuffing people into loans they can’t afford.
Here’s how the Times explains it: ”Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.”
Bingo. So not only do they make dough on the high interest rates they charge their subprime borrowers, (Sometimes 23 percent or more.) they also make it by selling the loan to investors who are eager to buy any manner of crappy bond provided it offers a better return than US Treasuries. This is the mess Bernanke created by fixing interest rates at zero for nearly 6 years. Zirp (zero interest rate policy) unavoidably leads to excessive risk taking by yield-crazed speculators. The voracious appetite for subprime securities (ABS–Asset-Backed Securities) has even surprised the bond issuers who are constantly beating the bushes looking for sketchier products. This is from the same article by the NY Times:
“Investors, seeking a higher return when interest rates are low, recently flocked to buy a bond issue from Prestige Financial Services of Utah. Orders to invest in the $390 million debt deal were four times greater than the amount of available securities.
What is backing many of these securities? Auto loans made to people who have been in bankruptcy.
An affiliate of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Prestige specializes in making the loans to people in bankruptcy, packaging them into securities and then selling them to investors.
“It’s been a hot space,” Richard L. Hyde, the firm’s chief operating officer, said during an interview in March. Investors are betting on risky borrowers. The average interest rate on loans bundled into Prestige’s latest offering, for example, is 18.6 percent, up slightly from a similar offering rolled out a year earlier…. To meet that rising demand, Wall Street snatches up more and more loans to package into the complex investments.” (NYT)
HA! Now there’s a good way to feather the old retirement fund; load up on bonds made up of loans to people who’ve gone bust.
This is the impact that zero rates have on investor behavior. The abundance of cheap and plentiful liquidity invariably leads to trouble. And there are victims in this Central Bank-authored gold rush too, namely the unsophisticated borrowers who pay prohibitively high rates on beater vehicles that are typically worth less-than-half the value of the loan. (Check the NYT article for examples.)
The Times also notes that the ratings agencies have been playing along with the finance companies just as they did during the subprime mortgage fiasco. Here’s more from the Times:
“Rating agencies, which assess the quality of the bonds, are helping fuel the boom. They are giving many of these securities top ratings, which clears the way for major investors, from pension funds to employee retirement accounts, to buy the bonds. In March, for example, Standard & Poor’s blessed most of Prestige’s bond with a triple-A rating. Slices of a similar bond that Prestige sold last year also fetched the highest rating from S.&P. A large slice of that bond is held in mutual funds managed by BlackRock, one of the world’s largest money managers.” (NYT)
Ask yourself this, dear reader: How are the ratings agencies able to give “many of these securities top ratings”, when the investigators from the Times found “dozens of loans that included incorrect information about borrowers’ income and employment, leading people who had lost their jobs, were in bankruptcy or were living on Social Security to qualify for loans that they could never afford”?
Let’s face it: The regulatory changes in Dodd-Frank haven’t done a damn thing to protect the victims of these dodgy subprime schemes. Borrowers and investors are both getting gouged by a system that only protects the interests of the perpetrators. The sad fact is that nothing has changed. The system is just as corrupt as it was when Lehman went down.
So, how long can this go on before the market implodes?
According to the Times:
“financial firms are beginning to see signs of strain. In the first three months of this year, banks had to write off as entirely uncollectable an average of $8,541 of each delinquent auto loan, up about 15 percent from a year earlier, according to Experian…
In another sign of trouble ahead, repossessions, while still relatively low, increased nearly 78 percent to an estimated 388,000 cars in the first three months of the year from the same period a year earlier, according to the latest data provided by Experian. The number of borrowers who are more than 60 days late on their car payments also jumped in 22 states during that period….” (NYT)
(According to Amber Nelson at loan.com: “In the second quarter, the value of all auto loans late by 60 days or more was more than $4 billion, up 27 percent from the prior year, according to Experian.”)
So, yeah, the trouble is mounting, but that doesn’t mean that this madness won’t continue for some time to come. It probably will. It’ll probably drag-on until the economy turns south and more borrowers start falling behind on their payments. That will lead to more defaults, heavier losses on auto bonds, and a hasty race to the exits by investors. Isn’t that how the subprime mortgage scam played out?
Indeed. But at least there are signs of hope on the regulatory front. Check out this clip from an article at CNBC:
“In August, both Santander Consumer and General Motors Financial Co. acknowledged receiving Justice Department subpoenas in connection with a probe over possible violations of civil-fraud laws. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both stepped up their scrutiny of the auto-loan market.” (“New debt crisis fear: Subprime auto loans“, CNBC)
So the SEC, the DOJ, and the CFPB are actually investigating the underwriting practices of these behemoth finance companies to see if they violated “civil fraud laws”?
Will wonders never cease?
Just don’t hold your breath waiting for convictions.
15 Reasons Why Americans Think We’re Still in a Recession…
1: Wage Stagnation: Why America’s Workers Need Faster Wage Growth—And What We Can Do About It, Elise Gould, EPI
Economic Policy Institute:
“The hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity from 1948-1973. …. After 1973, productivity grew strongly, especially after 1995, while the typical worker’s compensation was relatively stagnant. This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that many workers were not benefitting from productivity growth—the economy could afford higher pay but it was not providing it.
Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise over 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.0 percent. Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation…” (EPI)
(Note: Flatlining wages are the Number 1 reason that the majority of Americans still think we’re in a recession.)
2: Most people still haven’t recouped what they lost in the crash: Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003, Zero Hedge
“According to a new study by the Russell Sage Foundation, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36% decline… Welcome to America’s Lost Decade.
Simply put, the NY Times notes, it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss. (chart)”
3: Most working people are still living hand-to-mouth: 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, CNN Money
“Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday.
Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all…
Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.”
4: Millennials are Drowning in Red Ink: Biggest economic threat? Student loan debt, USA Today
“Total student loan debt has grown more than 150% since 2005… We have more than $1.2 trillion of student loan debt…
And while 6.7 million borrowers in repayment mode are delinquent, the sad fact is that many lenders aren’t exactly incentivized to work with borrowers. Unlike all other forms of debt, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Moreover, lenders can garnish wages and even Social Security benefits to get repaid…
In 2005 student loans accounted for less than 13% of the total debt load for adults age 20-29. Today, student loans account for nearly 37% of that group’s outstanding debt. Student loan debt’s slice of the total debt pie for the age group nearly tripled! The average loan balance for that age group is now more than $25,500, up from $15,900 in 2005.”
5: Downward mobility is the new reality: Middle-Class Death Watch: As Poverty Spreads, 28 Percent of Americans Fall Out of Middle Class, Truthout
“The promise of the American dream has given many hope that they themselves could one day rise up the economic ladder. But according to a study released those already in financially-stable circumstances should fear falling down a few rungs too. The study… found that nearly a third of Americans who were part of the middle class as teenagers in the 1970s have fallen out of it as adults… its findings suggest the relative ease with which people in the U.S. can end up in low-income, low-opportunity lifestyles — even if they started out with a number of advantages. Though the American middle class has been repeatedly invoked as a key factor in any economic turnaround, numerous reports have suggested that the middle class enjoys less existential security than it did a generation ago, thanks to stagnating incomes and the decline of the industrial sector.”
6: People are more vulnerable than ever: “More Than Half Of All Americans Can’t Come Up With $400 In Emergency Cash… Unless They Borrow“, Personal Liberty
“According to a Federal Reserve report on American households’ “economic well-being” in 2013, fewer than half of all Americans said they’d be able to come up with four Benjamins on short notice to deal with an unexpected expense…
Under a section titled “Savings,” the report notes that “[s]avings are depleted for many households after the recession,” and lists the following findings:
*Among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57 percent reported using up some or all of their savings in the Great Recession and its aftermath.
*39 percent of respondents reported having a rainy day fund adequate to cover three months of expenses.
*Only 48 percent of respondents said that they would completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.
7: Working people are getting poorer: The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third, New York Times
“The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation.
Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially….“The housing bubble basically hid a trend of declining financial wealth at the median that began in 2001,” said Fabian T. Pfeffer, the University of Michigan professor who is lead author of the Russell Sage Foundation study.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss.”
8: Most people can’t even afford to get their teeth fixed: 7 things the middle class can’t afford anymore, USA Today
“A vacation is an extra expense that many middle-earners cannot afford without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that this year 54% of people gave up purchasing big ticket items like TVs or electronics so they can go on a vacation. Others made sacrifices like reducing or eliminating their trips to the movies (47%), reducing or eliminating trips out to restaurants (43%), or avoiding purchasing small ticket items like new clothing (43%).
3–To pay off debt…
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care — just 4% is paid by Government programs.” About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental coverage and even those who are covered may have trouble getting the care they need, the department reports.”
9: The good, high-paying jobs have vanished: Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones, New York Times
“The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.
In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of anew report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.
“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”
10: More workers are throwing in the towel: Labor Participation Rate Drops To 36 Year Low; Record 92.6 Million Americans Not In Labor Force, Zero Hedge
“For those curious why the US unemployment rate just slid once more to a meager 5.9%, the lowest print since the summer of 2008, the answer is the same one we have shown every month since 2010: the collapse in the labor force participation rate, which in September slid from an already three decade low 62.8% to 62.7% – the lowest in over 36 years, matching the February 1978 lows. And while according to the Household Survey, 232,000 people found jobs, what is more disturbing is that the people not in the labor force, rose to a new record high, increasing by 315,000 to 92.6 million!
Bottom line: Unemployment has gone down because more people aren’t working and have fallen off the radar.”
11: Nearly twice as many people still rely on Food Stamps than before the recession: Food-stamp use is falling from its peak, Marketwatch
“Food-stamp use is finally moving away from the peak. At 46.1 million people, total food-stamp usage is down about 4% from its high in December 2012 of 47.8 million. Only eight states in March (the latest data available) were up from the same month of 2013.
It’s still not great news, however, considering there were 26.3 million people receiving food stamps in 2007…”
12: The ocean of red ink continues to grow: American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2014, Nerd Wallet Finance
Nerd Wallet Finance:
U.S. household consumer debt profile:
*Average credit card debt: $15,607
*Average mortgage debt: $153,500
*Average student loan debt: $32,656
In total, American consumers owe:
*$11.63 trillion in debt
*An increase of 3.8% from last year
*$880.5 billion in credit card debt
*$8.07 trillion in mortgages
*$1,120.3 billion in student loans
*An increase of 11.5% from last year
13: No Recovery for working people: The collapse of household income in the US, World Socialist Web Site
“The US Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, released last Thursday, documents a devastating decline in economic conditions for a large majority of the population during the so-called economic recovery.
The report reveals that between 2007 and 2013, the income of a typical US household fell 12 percent. The median American household now earns $6,400 less per year than it did in 2007.
Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances
Much of the decline occurred during the “recovery” presided over by the Obama administration. In the three years between 2010 and 2013, the annual income of a typical household fell by an additional 5 percent.
The report also shows that wealth has become even more concentrated in the topmost economic layers. The wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 54.4 percent in 2013. The share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to 24.7 percent in 2013.”
14: Most people will work until they die: The Greatest Retirement Crisis In American History, Forbes
“We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.
Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the “new normal” for many elderly Americans.
That dire prediction… is already coming true. Our national demographics, coupled with indisputable glaringly insufficient retirement savings and human physiology, suggest that a catastrophic outcome for at least a significant percentage of our elderly population is inevitable. With the average 401(k) balance for 65 year olds estimated at $25,000 by independent experts …the decades many elders will spend in forced or elected “retirement” will be grim…
The signs of the coming retirement crisis are all around you. Who’s bagging your groceries: a young high school kid or an older “retiree” who had to go back to work to supplement his income or qualify for health insurance?”
15: Americans are more pessimistic about the future, Polling Report
According to a CNN/ORC Poll May 29-June 1, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree? The American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.”
According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). April 23-27, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Because of the widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else, America is no longer a country where everyone, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to get ahead and move up to a better standard of living.”Agree: 54%
Also, according to a CBS News Poll. Jan. 17-21, 2014. N=1,018 adults nationwide.
“Looking to the future, do you think most children in this country will grow up to be better off or worse off than their parents?”Better off: 34%
Worse off: 63%
The majority of people in the United States, no longer believe in the American dream, or that America is the land of opportunity, or that their children will have a better standard of living than their own. They’ve grown more pessimistic because they haven’t seen the changes they were hoping for, and because their lives are just as hard as they were right after the crash. In fact, according to a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute poll– 72 percent of those surveyed said they think “the economy is still in recession.”
Judging by the info in the 15 links above, they’re probably right.
“…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931)
The American Dream has been defined many ways by writers of both poetic and prosaic bent, but its essentials tend to involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property, depending on your source).
The Declaration of Independence, upon which an entire nation was radically brought into existence, asserts that not only are all men created equal but that this is a “self-evident” truth. By this “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” a contract was agreed to, that their union would be founded on this principle. Thus, America was endowed with its dream at the moment of its conception: the freedom to succeed.
The United States has promoted a self-congratulating exceptionalism for decades, waving its Declaration and Constitution in the faces of other sovereign nations as if the latter had never considered such concepts. Our capital F “Freedom” sets us apart from the rest of the world, as the political rhetoric has repeated ad nauseam, no matter the freedoms enjoyed by democracies on almost every continent. And yet our basic freedom, the freedom to succeed, America’s contractual promise, has been shrinking for thirty years.
The freedom to succeed transcends economic systems but it is most potently expressed by capitalist gains. The ability to go “from rags to riches” is ingrained in this nation’s ethos and there is nothing intrinsically immoral about that goal. However, the current state of American inequality reveals a very real and expanding gap between the rich and poor that betrays the foundational endowment of this Union. When the freedom to succeed is denied every citizen, their equality is equally denied.
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a poll on what international citizens consider the greatest threat to the planet. Conducted between March 17 and June 5 of this year, the survey received answers from 48,643 respondents in 44 countries. In the U.S. and Europe, the growing gap between the rich and the poor was overwhelmingly considered the greatest danger to world prosperity. Over a quarter of Americans ranked “Inequality” as number one, above Religious & ethnic hatred, Pollution, Nuclear weapons and Infectious diseases.
This is hardly startling news considering that the median net worth of American households fell by 35 percent ($106,591 to $68,839) between 2005 and 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is, however, disturbing that inequality remains so prevalent five years after the Great Recession.
Capitalism is not the problem. The problem is that we have let inequality advance in this country so gradually that its obviousness is masked by its familiarity. Below, I outline eight facts about inequality in America that every American should know.
1) 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. This ratio has been verified by Politifact and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. To put it into context, last year the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were over 316 million people living in the United States. That means 400 Americans have more money than over 158 million of their fellow citizens. Their net worth is over$2 trillion, which is approximate to the Gross Domestic Product of Russia.
One explanation for the vast discrepancy in wealth is the definition of “worth,” which includes everything a person or household owns. This means savings and property but also mortgages, bills and debt. Poorer households can owe so much in debt that they possess a negative net worth.
2) America has the second-highest level of income inequality, after Chile. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studies thirty-four developed countries and ranks them both before and after taxes and government transfers take effect (government transfers include Social Security, income tax credit and unemployment insurance). Before taxes and government transfers, America ranks tenth in income inequality. After taxes and transfers, it ranks second. Whereas its developed peers reduce inequality through government programs, the United States’ government exacerbates it.
3) The current state of inequality can be traced back to 1979. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the gap between the rich and the poor began to narrow. For fifty years, wages differed between the upper- and working-classes, but a robust middle-class took shape and there remained ample opportunity for working-class individuals to ascend.
In his book, “The Great Divergence,” journalist Timothy Noah traced today’s inequality to the beginning of the 1980s and the widening gap between the middle- and upper-classes. This gap was influenced by the following factors: the failure of American schools to prepare students for new technology; poor immigration policies that favor unskilled workers and drive down the price of already low-income labor; federally-mandated minimum wage that has failed to keep pace with inflation; and the decline of labor unions.
4) Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. The Economic Policy Institute claims that 20 percent of the growth in the wage gap between high-school-educated and college-educated men can be attributed to deunionization.
Between 1978 and 2011, union representation for blue-collar and high-school educated workers declined by more than half. This has also diminished the “union wage effect,” whereby the existence of unions (more than 40 percent of blue-collar workers were union members in 1978) was enough to boost wages in non-union jobs – in high school graduates by as much as 8.2 percent. Not only did unions protect lower- and middle-class workers from unfair wages, they also established norms and practices that were then adopted by non-union employers. Two prime examples are employee pensions and healthcare.
Today, about 13 percent of workers belong to unions, which has reduced their bargaining power and influence.
5) There is less opportunity for intergenerational mobility. In December 2011, President Obama spoke at Osawatomie High School in Kansas. He was very clear about the prospects of the poor in today’s United States:
“[O]ver the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class – 33 percent.”
As refreshing as that honesty is, Obama promised no fix beyond $1 trillion in spending cuts and a need to work toward an “innovation economy.”
In a speech one month later, Obama’s Chairman of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, elaborated on the dire state of America’s shrinking middle-class. The contraction, he stated, could partially be attributed to “skill-biased technical change”: work activities that have become automated over time, reducing the need for unskilled labor and favoring those with analytical training. He also highlighted the 50 year decline in tax rates for the top 0.1 percent, increased competition from overseas workers, and a lack of educational equality for children. Poor children are denied the private tutors, college prep and business network of family and friends available to their wealthier peers, which locks them into the class they are born into.
6) Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs. Krueger also revealed that the tax cuts of the 2000s for top earners did not improve the economy any better than they did in the 1990s (meanwhile, income growth was stronger for lower- and middle-class families in the 1990s than in the last forty years).
Tax rates for the top income earners in America peaked in 1945 at 66.4 percent. Following decades of gradual reductions, they have since been cut in half. During the same time, the payroll tax has increased since the 1950s and individual income tax has bounced between 40-50 percent through the present day. Conversely, corporate tax declined from above 30 percent in the 1950s to under 10 percent in 2011.
All of these tax cuts are made ostensibly to improve the economy and create jobs. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that it is young companies, “regardless of their size,” that are the real job creators in America. Tax cuts to the wealthiest do not create jobs.
7) Incomes for the top 1% have increased (but the top 0.01% make even more). Between 1979 and 2007, the average incomes of the 1 percent increased 241 percent. Compare that to 19 percent growth for the middle fifth of America and 11 percent for the bottom fifth. Put another way, in 1980 the average American CEO earned forty-two times as much as his average worker. In 2001, he earned 531 times as much.
Average income across the 1 percent is actually stratified into widely disparate echelons. Compare the $29,840 average income for the bottom 90 percent to the $161,139 of the top 10 percent. Compare the $1 million average income of the top 1 percent to the $2.8 million of the top 0.1 percent. Yet both still pale beside the $23 million average income of the top 0.01 percent.
If those numbers seem a bit overwhelming, Politizane has created a video that illustrates this staggering inequality:
8) The majority of Congress does not feel your pain. Empowered by the Constitution to represent their constituents, United States Congress members are, for the first time in history, mostly millionaires. The 2012 financial disclosure information of the 534 current Congress men and women reveals that over half of them have a net worth of $1 million or more.
After the past seven facts it is difficult to read this last one and believe that these 268 legislators have the best interests of the remaining 99 percent at heart. But if that is too presumptuous a leap, it is not too bold to say that wealthier donors, lobbyists and special interest groups enjoy greater access to these lawmakers than the average American.
In January, Congress failed to extend emergency benefits for unemployment, leaving 1.3 million people without federal aid. Congress then went on a weeklong recess that kept them from debating the issue until the end of the month. The bill was too divisive for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on, though unemployment was then above 7 percent nationally.
Thankfully, the unemployed have their Congress working for them. And at $174,000 annual pay, those representatives are sure to return from their vacations committed to fresh solutions.
When I saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” during one of my interminably-long plane rides back from Syria, I liked it so much that I actually went out and bought a copy of the 1964 “Mary Poppins” Disney classic it was based on — the one with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke frolicking across the rooftops of London.
And much to my surprise, I discovered that Mary Poppins might have been one of the world’s first hippies. Who woulda thought! And what was even more amazing is that Mary Poppins was one of the first people to warn us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
And fortunately for those of us living here in America one hundred years later, Elizabeth Warren has now become the new Mary Poppins — also warning us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
If only Americans would start paying attention to Elizabeth Warren as much as they paid attention to Julie Andrews!
“Hey, Elizabeth!” I also want to shout on the rooftops like Dick VanDyke, “voters aren’t listening to you!” Maybe if Disney studios made a movie about you too? Then maybe voters would finally start to listen.
According to Warren, the American middle class has been absolutely decimated by the banking and credit-card lobbies.
And yet voters still keep falling for all those glossy ads and happy lies that still keep getting pro-big-bank candidates elected to the White House and Congress even though voters can clearly see that they themselves are losing their jobs, having their homes repossessed, becoming slaves to their student loans and getting ripped off bigtime by credit-card debt. But then I guess that those syrupy ads actually do prove that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” after all.
In the heroic country of Iceland, their well-informed voters have vigorously fought back against bankster greed and have even re-written their constitution in order to make lending-bubbles and bank fraud illegal.
But in America, the opposite happens. Here in America our very own government, the very one that bank lobbyists have chosen for us to elect, is handing over billions of our very own hard-earned dollars to big banks just as fast as it can. And Congress is always writing new bankruptcy laws that favor banksters over the middle class every time. Mary Poppins would be livid, of course, but nobody else seems to even notice these days — except for Elizabeth Warren.
And even the Federal Reserve is dancing over the rooftops in glee as it too gives away our money to the banksters just as fast as it possibly can, singing “Step in Time” as gleefully hands over giant bags of taxpayers’ money to Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank and Goldman Sachs.
Plus the Senate just vetoed a bill that would have given students a break from paying up to 12% interest on their college loans too. According to Warren, “This isn’t complicated. It’s a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?”
Not to mention the hidden (and not-so-hidden) fees that banks gleefully charge us customers for no reason at all.
To try to completely understand how banksters and their toadies in Congress and the Department of Justice are robbing the rest of us blind, you just gotta watch this video of Bill Moyers interviewing bank-fraud expert Thomas K. Black. Seriously. You really should watch this: http://vimeo.com/107916659
In this video, Black describes how Obama was elected by the banking industry and how Obama has totally paid back his debt to the banksters by handing them all “get out of jail free” cards. Is being elected president really worth selling us Americans out to the banksters? Apparently so.
“There’s no threat to capitalism like capitalists,” continues Black. “They are destroying its underpinnings. And when dishonest people gain an advantage in the marketplace, bad ethics drive good ethics out. This is why we need the rule of law.” Doesn’t Thomas K. Black sound just like Dick VanDyke, er, I mean Burt the Chimney Sweep here — as Black proposes that it’s high time to sweep clean our banks.
And now let’s talk about America’s ratings on the so-called “Misery Index”. Apparently America rates higher on the misery charts now than it ever has, even back in the Great Depression — and probably even as high as did Mary Poppins’s 1910 London. Thanks a lot, banksters.
Isn’t it time that American voters finally join up with Elizabeth Warren and Mary Poppins — and tell big banks and banksters to go “fly a kite!”
PS: Speaking of money, look how much of it is being spent in the Middle East — and not here at home where it is needed!
According to a recent blog-post at thehill.com, the first official estimates of the ISIS price tag from the Pentagon showed that, “the costs of intervention between mid-June and late-August was $7.5 million per day. At that rate, the U.S. has spent $850 million on operations against ISIS as of October 8, adding up to about $2.74 billion per year. The Pentagon has since revised the estimate up to as high as $10 million per day, or $3.65 billion per year. In reality, both of those numbers are quite likely to be underestimates of what’s to come.”
Looks like the US military is just as bad as the US banksters when it comes to cleaning out America’s pocketbooks — after they both have put us to sleep with false promises and false news https://www.youtube.com/watch?
What we Americans really need to do these days is to once again take Mary Poppins’s advice and “Stay Awake”! https://www.youtube.com/watch?
You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).
You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.
You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?
You can’t believe the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. You can’t even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.
Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.
The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.
Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation. It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.
And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.
Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.
Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day.
Is the world actually so much more evil and scary today than it was in the 1950s of my upbringing, for which I grow more nostalgic with each new horror? Or is it that the horrors of today are so much better reported, as we swim in a sea of news and videos?
After seeing several ISIS videos on the Internet, filled with the most disgusting scenes, particularly against women, my thought is this: Give them their own country; everyone who’s in that place now who wants to leave, will be helped to do so; everyone from all over the world who wants to go there will be helped to get there. Once they’re there, they can all do whatever they want, but they can’t leave without going through a rigorous interview at a neighboring border to ascertain whether they’ve recovered their attachment to humanity. However, since very few women, presumably, would go there, the country would not last very long.
The Berlin Wall – Another Cold War Myth
November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?
First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:
1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.”
It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled , East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.” Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.”
It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”
It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one.
2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.
It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”
Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years.
Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.
Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.
For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it email@example.com. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.
Al Franken, the liberal’s darling
I receive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.
Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?
A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.” What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.
Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.
Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.”
While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.”
Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.
Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.
- Derived from William Astore, “Investing in Junk Armies”, TomDispatch, October 14, 2014
- New York Times, June 27, 1963, p.12
- USA Today, October 11, 1999, p.1
- Washington Post, May 12, 2009; see a similar story November 5, 2009
- Carolyn Eisenberg, “Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949” (1996); or see a concise review of this book by Kai Bird in The Nation, December 16, 1996
- See William Blum, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II”, p.400, note 8, for a list of sources for the details of the sabotage and subversion.
- The Guardian (London), March 7, 1985
- Washington Post, February 16, 2004
- Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26, 2009
- Huffington Post, June 2005
- Washington Post, February 16, 2004
Remember the days when an entrepreneur would perfect their whiz kid ideas in a garage and bring them to market? Did Steve Wozniak ever envision the behemoth that Apple would become and the cult camp that worships every new product that flows from their robotic coolie assembly lines? Riots Over Rotten Apple Mania describes an example of the forbidding underbelly of corporatist business model that Apple exemplifies so dramatically. Notwithstanding this record of 21th century sweat factories, do the venture vulture capitalists of Silicon Valley interject added value in the products and services they fund or do this culture of touting IPO offerings simply game a system to print money based upon imaginary dreams?
The Economic Policy Journal article, Silicon Valley Investor Joins The Corporatism March, cites Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley angel investor, who has backed many of the tech companies that we know and love.”
“Conway wrote a piece for Techcrunch where he’s calling for the other Fascism. Remember the Fascist Mussolini from Italy. It was he who said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
“Gone are the days when the tech community can innovate and run their businesses in spite of government. As we saw with the SOPA/PIPA debate, public policy has a direct and significant impact on startups and the investors who support them.
Whether it is regulations that stifle innovation or tax policies that hinder job creation, government has a major role in the success or failure of a startup. It is critically important for the tech community to engage in public policy.”
Silicon Valley companies are not limited to IT development, just as much as investment funding is not wholly occupied from Wall Street firms. The principle is the same wherever the money comes from, as the Rise of the “venture corporatists” explores in an account about John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“None of the alternative energy sources being developed today – solar, wind, geothermal, or biomass–is close to financial sustainability, which means that the supersize returns V.C. funds depend on will require massive government subsidies, regulations, and mandates… So Doerr has launched an audacious campaign to invest millions in handpicked political candidates and influential political action committees, to push for subsidies and pro-greentech policies and require the government to purchase the kinds of fuels and technologies his startups will be marketing. Since 2000, Doerr and his wife, Ann, have contributed more than $31 million to political candidates and causes.
In essence, Doerr is helping to create the biggest new market the world has seen since the dawn of the oil industry–and asking for taxpayer dollars to do it.”
“Green” alternative energy has more to do with replicating money than producing sustainable energy. Instead of writing code for computer-generated speech, the paradigm at play buys the ambassadors of government policy, circuitously as part of the business plan.
Lachlan Markay sums up the paradox for investors and the public in The Venture Corporatists. “As long as green technology remains not simply an economic venture but a moral one, taxpayers will continue to nobly lose money as politically connected “social entrepreneurs” reap a windfall.”
Here lies the rub. What exactly is the moral imperative? The lament of Alex Shud Bayley in No, I still don’t want to work for Google makes a universal point.
“Since I’ve been out of the Silicon-Valley-centred tech industry, I’ve become increasingly convinced that it’s morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the wellbeing of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I’ll say “people” in general, since it’s wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don’t — we’re all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that.”
The notion that Silicon Valley business enterprises automatically advance civilization and improve the human condition is one of the most disturbing viewpoints that have infected the smart phone sect. Placing the blame solely on tech executives avoids the reprehensible relationship that Ron Conway is so eager to exploit.
The article, Why DC And Silicon Valley Don’t Mix Well seems to agree.
“The thing that DC should be most focused on is “fixes to previous government efforts that tried but failed to fix a problem that turned out not to need a regulatory solution.” Other industries seem to want handouts and investments and the like, but you don’t see that much in Silicon Valley.”
However, some executives excel in screwing up a once reliable service. Silicon Valley corporatist companies often fail. The next likely candidate for a downfall is Yahoo. Marissa Mayer’s tenure as CEO may be numbered according to Eric Jackson, founder and managing partner of hedge fund Ironfire Capital.
“Jackson says that since Mayer took over she has spent $2 billion buying companies and that most of those acquisitions have been for naught.
“Can you name any other acquisition Yahoo has made besides Tumblr? If not, what does that say about them?” Jackson writes at Forbes. “If these small acquisitions were mostly talent-driven as characterized by management, why was it necessary to spend, say, $30 million to hire 3 people from a dying company? Was this really the best use of shareholder capital? Yahoo should not [be] responsible for bailing out VCs from their failed investments. This isn’t TARP.”
Deplorably, many tech corporatists are mismanaged like Yahoo. Divesting a significant portion of Yahoo’s stake at the Alibaba IPO, raises a much needed current valuation, but what does this transaction do to improve the service? The Corporatists only care about tapping the rigged markets for immediate gain.
It long ago became clear to me that, despite all the pretense, protesting and politicking, no one who has ever seriously thought about equality actually believes in it. When making this case, one could point to how Eric Holder’s DOJ is currently suing the Pennsylvania State Police for treating women equally (how dare they!), but there’s perhaps no better example than a recent BBC writer who asks, “Is sport sexist?”
The author, Aimee Lewis, poses the question because there are still sports where the women’s categories don’t precisely correspond to the men’s; for example, she mentions how women gymnasts and swimmers don’t always compete in the same kinds of events, the no-contact rule in women’s lacrosse and how in tennis, “While men play five sets at Grand Slams, women can only compete over three sets.”
Now, the last example well illustrates the convoluted thinking underpinning much of the equality movement. Is the correct way of framing this that “women can only compete over three sets”?
Or it is that men must compete over five?
This is especially relevant since the equality police long ago lobbied for, and succeeded in getting, equal prize money for women at the Grand Slams (Wimbledon, French Open, U.S. Open, Australian Open). In other words, the male players must now work longer for the same pay and thus are actually earning less per hour than the women.
The head of the Women’s Tennis Association, Stacey Allaster, was asked about this recently, called it “an old discussion” and said, “[W]e’re ready, willing and able to play five sets if that’s what they’d like us to play.”
Question: Years ago, did Allaster merely say, “We’re ready, willing and able to accept equal prize money if that’s what they’d like to offer”?
No, she zealously lobbied for it.
Why isn’t she lobbying now for equal work for her players’ equal pay? Sure, it’s human nature to want the benefits others have but not their liabilities. But if you really believe in Equality™, you don’t just shout the word in an effort to institute a different model of inequality, one that benefits you or your agenda.
Having said this, I agree with Lewis’ implication: sport is “sexist.” After all, there is a separate realm of athletics that’s protected from the best competition and is only available to one sex. It is, of course, called women’s sports.
This isn’t just snark. There’s a simple answer to any feminist complaint about inequality in sports: You want the men’s money, exposure, standards, respect or something else?
Compete in men’s sports.
And women have the opportunity. Golfers Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie have received “sponsor’s exemptions” to play in PGA (men’s) events. Women have tried out for the NBA and have attempted to work their way up to baseball’s major leagues through the farm system. The door, Ms. Allaster, is open — you just have to be ready, willing and, most importantly, able to walk through it.
The point is this: It’s silly and hypocritical to lobby for equality within an inherently unequal system while simultaneously supporting that system. And if you do, do you really believe in equality in principle? Or only as ploy?
To arbitrarily say that female athletes should earn the same as male ones is like saying that lightweight boxers should have the same purses as heavyweights. It’s like saying the best handicapped “differently abled” athletes (as in the Special Olympics) should not only get paid, but they should earn the same as the able-bodied. And what of elite high-school athletes? The mile record for 15-year-old boys is better than the women’s world record, and the boys’ American high-school record is considerably better. And with some variation, these gaps hold across sports, yet most of these hard-working male athletes will never succeed in the men’s professional ranks and will never earn even what the women do. Should these young sportsmen not only be paid but be compensated as handsomely as the pros?
The answer is simple: If the market — which is just economic democracy expressed through purchasing decisions — valued events for the handicapped or juniors as highly as it does professional men’s sports, those arenas would command the same revenues. The same is true of women’s sports, of course, but in that case we’re expected to offer a special dispensation from the market forces that apply to anyone and everyone else. We’re also supposed to ignore professions in which women are paid more, such as modeling, in which 2013’s 10 top-earning female models commanded 10 times as much as their male counterparts.
The reason why heavyweight boxers have always received more money and exposure (satisfied the market more) than lightweights is because the heavyweight world champion is the world champion. This is the same reason men’s professional sports command greater revenue and exposure than athletic arenas for juniors, the handicapped or collegians — or for women. The best male athletes are the best athletes. Other sports categories exist to provide other people with opportunities to compete, have fun and build character. They are not jobs programs.
The truth is that not just sport but all of nature’s and man’s world is a place defined by varying degrees of quality, not equality. This is no doubt why the Bible barely mentions the notion, except when referring to weights and measures. It’s also why I tend to doubt that anyone who has ever pondered equality deeply actually believes in it. It sure is a great rallying cry, though, when trying to overturn the status quo and institute a special-interest-group favoring system of inequality.
For this reason it actually would be beneficial to eliminate sex-specific categories in sports, let everyone compete together and allow the cream to rise to the top. After all, to use a twist on Lincoln’s observation about laws, the best way to eliminate a bad social movement is to apply its tenets strictly. If we actually had to live with the reality of “equality” instead of just its rhetoric, lobbying for equality might go out the window really, really fast.
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000
In 1932, the third year of the Great Depression, 25 thousand homeless and destitute WWI veterans and their families camped around Washington, DC urging the government of President Herbert Hoover to make an immediate payment of about $500 which had been authorized by the Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924 but was not due until 1945. Socialism had no yet grown roots and when these veterans lost their jobs they quickly fell into severe circumstances. They called themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force (BEF).
Drew Pearson wrote that they were “ragged, weary, and apathetic”. Will Rogers said they held, “the record for being the best behaved” of any “hungry men assembled anywhere in the world.” Though the soldiers and their families had no weapons and could not even be called able bodied the government acted as if it was under siege.
Yes, they were a nuisance. They stank and some of them begged. The government spread the rumor that they were Communists. Business men complained that they hurt business.
Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur and his assistants Major Dwight Eisenhower and Major George Patton were assigned to rid the city of the vermin. Eisenhower’s friend Brigadier General George Moseley suggested they arrest the BEF and others “of inferior blood” and ship them off to one of the remote Hawaiian Islands where “they could stew in their own filth”.
President Hoover announced that veterans were “entirely of the Communist element” and troops would “put an end to the rioting and defiance of civil authority”. Presently, led by Major Patton, troops of the 3rd Cavalry marched down Pennsylvania Avenue brandishing sabers followed by a machine gun detachment, men from the 12 Infantry, and six tanks. Major Patton’s cavalry turned and charged directly into the crowd of unarmed protestors shouting “clear our”. Tear gas was thrown and men women and children began a disorderly flight. Three children were killed.
The main BEF camp was across the Eleventh Street Bridge. In spite of the fact the MacArthur had been ordered not to cross the bridge, according to Eisenhower, he defied the order and allowed Patton’s cavalry to march into the camp throwing tear gas and burning everything that was combustible.
William Manchester tells this story at the beginning of his two volumes “The Glory and The Dream”. He writes that “well to do Washingtonians in yachts cruised close to look at the show. And at 11:15 P.M. they had watched Major George S. Patton, Jr. lead his cavalrymen in a final destructive charge. Among the ragged bonus marchers routed by their sabers was Joseph T. Angelino, who, on September 26, 1918, had won the Distinguished Service Cross in the Argonne Forest for saving the life of a young officer named George S. Patton, Jr.
As the book progresses Manchester supplies the detailed results of the Great Depression. In 1932, stocks listed on the Big Board had lost 80 percent of their value. General Motors and U. S. Steel were at 8 percent of their 1929 value. Five thousand banks failed. The Gross National Product fell from 104 billion dollars to 41 and 273,000 families were evicted from their homes.
Farm prices fell so that it was cheaper to burn corn than to sell it and buy coal. Thousands of mortgage foreclosures made farm families homeless. But in spite of the rural catastrophe city dwellers could still not afford .39 cent butter, .21 cent prime rib, or .20 a dozen eggs.
Men left their families and rode freight trains to other town seeking work; they got a free ride but no work. Some school teachers worked without pay and many schools were closed. One percent of the population owned 59 percent of the wealth.
While this tragic devastation was in full swing the nation’s newspapers were singing songs of recover. “BUSINESS PULSE BEATING FASTER, factories reopening all over the country”; “BOOM AWAKENS TEXTILE PLANTS IN NEW ENGLAND, capacity production reported in some cities”; “TRADE UPTURN WITHIN 90 DAYS NOW EXPECTED”. Manchester writes, “Nowhere in any of these newspapers was there mention of the remarkable fact that in the United States of America, the richest country in the world, more than 15 million men were looking for jobs that did not exist.”
The suicide rate tripled and thousands packed union square in New York to hear Communist speakers. When upstart Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected by a landslide it was noted that the popular vote for Norman Thomas tripled. In some cities mobs broke into grocery stores and rifled the shelves, state houses were occupied, in Chicago teachers broke into the banks.
Peacenik Henry Ford began to carry a gun. The moneyed gentry retreated to their country homes and mounted machine guns on their roofs. The fuse was short and the nation was near anarchy when Roosevelt took over the presidency.
The Great Depression was an effective instrument to increase control over the populace by creating a dependent class. If that was the goal, it was a great success. President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed dictatorial powers with the blessing of many elected officials of both parties. This situation was dire and volatile. Roosevelt was able to remove the fuse and to employ an array of Socialist programs that became permanent parts of American life.
Jumping ahead to the present era, the United States of America, formerly the richest country in the world, is now a tyrannical socialist state where millions of citizens depend on government welfare. The current depression is not yet as brutal as its predecessor but in spite of the propaganda that things are getting better millions of Americans remain out of work and millions more are severely under employed. Now, as then, veterans have become social flotsam and are often treated with suspicion by the government they served.
If severe economic depressions are unavoidable and not intended by devious power centers with ulterior motives, government assistance has been beneficial; so far we have survived without the guillotines of the French Revolution. Martial law would have been imposed long ago if government support had not calmed the populace. As the strong arms of government keep us from falling it must be noted that the cost of the strength of governments must be paid by its citizens – governments produce nothing.. When the wealth well runs dry the inevitable results of bankruptcy will explode and government will have secured ultimate power.
There are glaring parallels between our current situation and the 1929 debacle. Depressions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
America’s armed forces are attempting to subdue the Muslim world which forbids usury and is less susceptible to the Currency Lords. This strategy will destroy America and subdue Islam killing two major impediments to world government.
When governments wiggle out from under the dominion of the One True God (Lex Rex) and begins to see themselves in divine terms (Rex Lex) the world begins to march down a deadly road. It has been marching down that road for several decades and we are beginning to see the mother of all empires in the distance.
The current attempt to subdue the entire continent under a single Rex Lex government is a deadly misadventure that the One True God is allowing because the citizens of the world have forsaken His dominion in favor of the dominion of men.
We are living under a tyrannical government because we have chosen to rule our own lives and to appoint human rulers who rule according to their evil proclivities. When God’s people begin to humble themselves and seek His Will (obedience to His Law) instead of their own faulty reasoning we will be able to progress toward freedom.
Nations, rulers, leaders, pastors and citizens must attend to the Law of the Creator if we ever expect to see freedom again.
Maybe it’s Time to Take Back the Government…
Paul Craig Roberts is not a fool. Nor is he a card-carrying Communist. His conservative credentials at least once were impeccable – a senior researcher at the Hoover Institute, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, one of the economists responsible for President Reagan’s supply-side economics, and Reagan’s Assistant Treasury Secretary for economic policy, working for development of the tax policies that were central to everything that followed in the US.
That is why he cannot be dismissed lightly when he says the United States and Russia are already at war over the Ukraine, and the US is planning nuclear war, based upon a transparent pretense. He is not alone. Now there are almost daily expressions of concern that the US is positioning itself to take the first strike in a nuclear war with Russia; see, e.g. Stern,”Threats Against Russia Increase Danger Of Nuclear War ,”http://www.countercurrents.
Nuclear war between the United States and Russia has been hanging over our heads now for over half a century. The great majority of the world’s humans have had that possibility lurking in the background of everything they do for all their lives – the knowledge that if they live in any major urban area they are subject to annihilation by nuclear weapons on perhaps half an hour’s notice., and that those who are far enough away from urban centers to survive that half hour are facing unknown terrors such as the abrupt disappearance of modern civilization and/or “nuclear winter.” This is totally insane, and is pretty much proof positive that President Kennedy was wrong in his immortal American University speech (perhaps not coincidentally shortly before he was assassinated,) .
Kennedy described the insanity as all of us have lived with it for most of our lives:
“Total war makes no sense in an age where great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age where a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the Allied air forces in the second world war. [The US and Russia are now in possession of comparable numbers, with a total of ninety thousand Allied World War IIs, by Kennedy’s count, http://www.armscontrol.org/
factsheets/ Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat.] It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.”
And he gave his prognosis for ending the insanity:
“Our problems are man-made. Therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” www.countercurrents.org/
In the last half century, little has changed about the insanity of nuclear war, but our ability and determination to solve the problem has waned and it no longer appears within our capacity. We are no longer certain man-made problems can be solved by man, and in particular, the worst of all, that we may be unable to undo catastrophic global warming, which threatens to turn our lush, green, beautiful world into a hot, dry uninhabitable wasteland.. But let’s leave that aside for the moment and focus on nuclear war.
We have all lived with the threat of nuclear war for all or most of our lives, but it has only been a threat. What Kennedy described has always been a threat to winner and loser alike. Realistic visions of the outcome include destruction of all the major cities of both Russia and the United States, followed by possible “nuclear winter” everywhere – instant destruction of the urban half of each nation involved, and slow destruction by starvation and undoubted socioeconomic chaos of much of the other half in months and years to follow. Not most folks’ idea of a win, even for the sociopaths presumably involved in the planning of our wars.
“Our” wars? Perhaps not. We have “outsourced” to China millions of jobs that will never come back because we cannot compete with Chinese wages. We have given to China, with the resettlement of the likes of Pfizer, rights to uncounted numbers of patents developed as a result of centuries of carefully nurtured American ingenuity. . We left in Afghanistan and Iraq, after “our” wars, hand chosen pawns who sold Afghanistan’s immense copper resources at pennies on the dollar, the great preponderance of Iraq’s petroleum, and who knows what else, to China. We have left troops in both countries to provide security for Chinese industrial establishments. “China won the war,” as the Kabul press said, made possible by a trillion dollars in bonds sold to China. See Arguimbau, “That much petroleum is that much bullshit,” www.countercurrents.org/
So if “we” gave away our jobs, gave away our major corporations, gave away our trade secrets, gave away access to the natural resources assumed to be the spoils of war, donated our military men to protect Chinese industry in Afghanistan and Iraq, and charged our taxpayers over a trillion dollars for accomplishment of these tasks, then who will determine the use of our nukes? A fair question, isn’t it? A nuclear war between the United States and Russia would likely leave China and our emigrated industry, the corrupters of Congress, untouched, at least physically, and would make it overnight the unquestioned dominant economic power in the world. So perhaps we cannot assume that our government is giving full consideration to the dangers to the US itself of nuclear war with Russia.
American politics of both parties at this time portray a nation bent on self-destruction. For instance, the Republican Party, which as a practical matter is the controlling party today, “is divided between the ‘hope America fails’ Republicans, who appear to actively want joblessness to rise to seek political gain, and the radical Republicans who adore Ayn Rand, like Paul and Ryan, who favor extremist economic policies that would make America fail .” Budowsky, ” July 4 Infamy: Republicans Try to Destroy America’s Economy,” And the Democrats, with as much or more support from Wall Street than the Republicans, elected a candidate for two terms whose political strategies (e.g. assertion of the existence of a Senate “super majority”) have assured Republican control, whose name alone uniquely qualifies him to be controversial and misunderstood, and whose very first day in office was spent openly and deliberately rejecting central campaign promises that he could as easily have kept, “What Fools We Are,” . Has it not come to anyone’s mind that Wall Street may have intentionally engineered a politics of failure for the United States, and that the Republicans’ willingness to destroy the American economy is Wall Street’s as well ?
And how better quickly to engineer a lasting failure of America, than to steer it into a nuclear first strike after resettling the great corporations thousands of miles away, leaving them free to pick up the spoils in two or three newly-vacated subcontinents? Doesn’t that make this nuclear confrontation uniquely dangerous?
These are insane questions, and one who poses them must question his own sanity, but they are no more nor less insane than the question, to which we now casually assume the answer: “Aren’t Wall Street and the world’s political and corporate leaders steering us into ultimately catastrophic climate change?”
I don’t know what’s going on here, but I know the people had better regain control of the nuclear weapons, and fast.
Life In 500 Square Feet…
One Hundred and Twenty Thousand results to a Google search on “city is more competitive”. The oligarchs who currently control our world intend to herd people in cities where inter-city contests will keep everyone producing at a high level.
Read how this is already being implemented in China.
More and more of the land is falling under government control and hundreds of thousands of homes have been repossessed. American citizens own fewer homes and less land. If this scenario is successful the earth will be enjoyed by elite overseers while the proletariat toils and lives in tiny cubicles in crowded cities.
I wrote recently about our connection to land
In his daily devotional books R. J. Rushdoony (These books are tightly connected to daily behavior and provide usable righteousness for the Christian seeker. Buy them here .)describes Rogation Sunday and its practice by early Americans. 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.”
Land plays a primary role in the Biblical narrative. The occupation of the Promised Land, the events the preceded, and the battles that followed make up a significant part of the Old Testament. The earth is the Lord’s and it is to be carefully maintained. He provided land for His people and it was apportioned to the Twelve Tribes. He provided the Year of Jubilee to provide stability and prevent a permanent centralization of wealth and power.
Borders of land are related to God’s Law – both are meant to restrain.
In some of America’s Western States 80 percent of the land is owned by the Federal Government. Alaska’s land is mostly government property. Oil drilling rights are controlled in Washington. If these rights were released United States would be energy independent. Reliable sources claim the government owns about 30 percent of the entire United States land mass.
There is evidence that powerful elite bankers may be conspiring to take over large tracts of land as collateral for debt. As our government obligates our posterity for trillions of dollars of debt some of it could be paid by sacrificing government owned land. This could be the genesis of the recent squabble over cattle grazing. .
In His provisions for the lands 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 than owned and cultivated land. Though often overlooked it is still the same today; the cultivation of land provides sustenance for the populace of the earth.
Water and food are products of the earth. They sustain life. Without food and water death comes quickly. Control over access to water and food is power over life and death. The earth belongs to The Lord we are short term custodians. God tells us that those who do not work should not eat. It is the ability to produce food that is everyone’s God given right.
Robots are being touted as a means of reducing the need for human labor. The analyzer failed to address the fate of displaced workers. As technology replaces human labor a problem develops over the use of displaced workers. When Wal-Mart replaces cashiers with do-it-yourself checkout stations they realize an additional profit but the displaced cashiers are faced with the emergency of being deprived of their livelihood.
Societies benefit from technical progress and work that benefits the general population is deserving of reward. However, when technical improvements displace energetic workers the workers must be provided with the means of working to earn food and lodging for themselves and their families.
What is to be done with the leisure time our technical progress is giving us? For many it will be used for self-indulgence. Most of us work to provide the necessities of life but constantly pine for leisure time. But if leisure time is not filled with activity we soon hope for something to do. We were created for activity and when we are full of sleep we crave it.
Wealth provides a person with activity choices. Some wealthy individuals find productive activities; others waste their time in sinful indulgences. A few amass wealth consistently over several generations and use this tacit control of human life to manipulate world powers with an objective of world domination.
We are created beings vested with the mandate to live under the Law our Creator has provided. The Law is not an impediment to our happiness; obedience is the vehicle to righteous, peace, joy, and prosperity. God brings blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
It is not only difficult to experience but hard to believe that the United States of America is being gutted and destroyed on the altar of world government. Though the mainstream media is complicit and refuses to publish the atrocities the signs are everywhere. How can airplanes clearly visible to the entire population fly over our nation and spray long trails of an unknown cloud-like substance while the people, the weather channels, and the major news sources never acknowledge their presence? How can an entire government, 435 congressional representatives, 100 senators, and one president ignore hundreds of engineers and piles of evidence that the 9/11 attack was false flag operation and allow the policies of our government to be based on its authenticity? And most shocking of all, how can voters continue with confidence to cast ballots for candidates that invariably betray their trust?
U. S. Voters are like battered spouses that continue to return to the battering partner. It makes no sense to observers but to the voters its must seem like the only alternative. An intervention is sometimes the only solution – but how?
The United States of America has been filled with alien immigrants whose only interest is to rape its wealth. It is engaged in constant wars that sap its strength and destroys its youth. It has been saturated with pornography and bludgeoned into sodomy. For many years its citizens have been exposed to the most aggressive use of incarceration in the entire world. It has piled up debt that probably cannot be repaid but will enslave its children for generations. It is home to so many diverse and ineffective religions that the anarchy of secular humanism is helping push it into tyranny. Liberty has been lost to the lust for power and we now live under a police force that regularly kills citizens that do not obey.
More and more Americans are becoming concerned with our progressive downfall. They see the clouds of tyranny approaching and they feel the winds of turmoil. They are beginning to understand that their government has betrayed them and are apprehensive that unseen forces are overshadowing us. But in spite of this approaching avalanche they are unable to discern the hand of God.
During the 1930s in the small towns of Central United States a deep depression afflicted everyone. We were grateful to be able to eat from a 25 pound bag of oatmeal three times a day. Men without work hitched rides on railroad trains that took them to other areas where they hoped to find work. Those who had food to eat shared with the transients who would often do add jobs in payment.
In the little town where I lived an Evangelical pastor was called to our protestant church. In an effort to bring the congregation closer to the God of the Bible he began having altar calls. The altar call was too confrontational for the church leaders whose brush with Christianity consisted of a Sunday School Bible studies where God’s Word could be judged by the participants and they could decide whether they believed it or not. This minister was soon replaced with one who did not upset the status quo.
Before the Evangelical minister left there was a miracle at my mother’s home. She has been a Methodist all of her life and following my conversion we sometimes discussed religion. On this particular day she was sitting in her antique platform rocker in the living room when she asked me about conversion. I said, “The Bible says you must be born again”. At that very moment there was a knock on the front door. It was the recently dismissed minister. He came in and sat down. In familiar fashion mother said, “Now, Albert, tell the minster what you were telling me. I did, the minster affirmed it, and Mother said, “I don’t believe I have ever done that”. We bowed our heads and mother accepted Christ as her Savior. The minister left without ever mentioning why he had knocked on our door.
Neither my mother nor I made much progress in the Faith since correct Christian theology was not readily available and when it was preached it usually fell on deaf and recalcitrant ears. We are a nation of nominal Christians whose faith is selfish and sinful. We say we believe in God and have accepted Christ as our Savior but instead of becoming obedient servants we expect Him to serve us
During the 1930s there was a Christian patina that covered heavy layers of humanism. My mother was a good, dependable woman. She had earned a college degree from University of Illinois but with my father out of work and not having today’s labor saving devices she was forced to work hard to keep up our home and keep food on the table.
For a time my father worked in the WPA but for the most part society during the depression was free from government interference. Nevertheless, a pride-filled humanism had taken over the country and the seeds for our current tyrannical government were beginning to grow.
Evangelical Christianity brings the good news to individuals but when they are converted the lack of a solid theological base leaves them in a moral limbo that fails to bring change to society. Once our sins are forgiven and we are made new by the Blood of the Savior God seeks obedience as He always has. The Jews failed to obey God’s commandments and their disobedience broke the Covenant. All of God’s blessings are the result of obedience to His Law.
God will not long allow an oligarchy of wealthy humanistic elitists to control His creation. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and He will bring blessing from this unprecedented quest for world domination. Unfortunately Christians who have failed to work against encroaching evil will be severely judged and will not see the blessing in store for His faithful servants.