The economy has been debilitated by the offshoring of middle class jobs for the benefit of corporate profits and by the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing in order to support a few oversized banks that the government protects from market discipline. Not only does QE distort bond and stock markets, it threatens the value of the dollar and has resulted in manipulation of the gold price.
When US corporations send jobs offshore, the GDP, consumer income, tax base, and careers associated with the jobs go abroad with the jobs. Corporations gain the additional profits at large costs to the economy in terms of less employment, less economic growth, reduced state, local and federal tax revenues, wider deficits, and impairments of social services.
When policymakers permitted banks to become independent of market discipline, they made the banks an unresolved burden on the economy. Authorities have provided no honest report on the condition of the banks. It remains to be seen if the Federal Reserve can create enough money to monetize enough debt to rescue the banks without collapsing the US dollar. It would have been far cheaper to let the banks fail and be reorganized.
US policymakers and their echo chamber in the economics profession have let the country down badly. They claimed that there was a “New Economy” to take the place of the “old economy” jobs that were moved offshore. As I have pointed out for a decade, US jobs statistics show no sign of the promised “New Economy.”
The same policymakers and economists who told us that “markets are self-regulating” and that the financial sector could safely be deregulated also confused jobs offshoring with free trade. Hyped “studies” were put together designed to prove that jobs offshoring was good for the US economy. It is difficult to fathom how such destructive errors could consistently be made by policymakers and economists for more than a decade. Were these mistakes or cover for a narrow and selfish agenda?
In June, 2009 happy talk appeared about “the recovery,” now 4.5 years old. As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, “the recovery” is entirely the artifact of the understated measure of inflation used to deflate nominal GDP. By under-measuring inflation, the government can show low, but positive, rates of real GDP growth. No other indicator supports the claim of economic recovery.
John Williams writes that consumer inflation, if properly measured, is running around 9%, far above the 2% figure that is the Fed’s target and more in line with what consumers are actually experiencing. We have just had a 6.5% annual increase in the cost of a postage stamp.
The Fed’s target inflation rate is said to be low, but Simon Black points out that the result of a lifetime of 2% annual inflation is the loss of 75% of the purchasing power of the currency. He uses the cost of sending a postcard to illustrate the decline in the purchasing power of median household income today compared to 1951. That year it cost one cent to send a post card. As household income was $4,237, the household could send 423,700 postcards. Today the comparable income figure is $51,017. As it costs 34 cents to send one postcard, today’s household can only afford to send 150,050 postcards. Nominal income rose 12 times, and the cost of sending a postcard rose 34 times.
Just as the American people know that there is more inflation than is reported, they know that there is no recovery. The Gallup Poll reported this month that only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the economy. http://www.gallup.com/poll/166871/americans-satisfaction-economy-sours-2001.aspx?version=print
From hard experience, Americans have also caught on that “free trade agreements” are nothing but vehicles for moving their jobs abroad. The latest effort by the corporations to loot and defraud the public is known as the “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” “Fast-tracking” the bill allowed the corporations to write the bill in secret without congressional input. Some research shows that 90% of Americans will suffer income losses under TPP, while wealth becomes even more concentrated at the top.
TPP affects every aspect of our lives from what we eat to the Internet to the environment. According to Kevin Zeese in Alternet, “the leak of the [TPP] Intellectual Property Chapter revealed that it created a path to patent everything imaginable, including plants and animals, to turn everything into a commodity for profit.”
The secretly drafted TPP also creates authority for the executive branch to change existing US law to make the laws that were not passed in secret compatible with the secretly written trade bill. Buy American requirements and any attempt to curtail jobs offshoring would become illegal “restraints on trade.”
If the House and Senate are willing to turn over their legislative function to the executive branch, they might as well abolish themselves.
The financial media has been helping the Federal Reserve and the banks to cover up festering problems with rosy hype, but realization that there are serious unresolved problems might be spreading. Last week interest rates on 30-day T-bills turned negative. That means people were paying more for a bond than it would return at maturity. Dave Kranzler sees this as a sign of rising uncertainty about banks. Reminiscent of the Cyprus banks’ limits on withdrawals, last Friday (January 24) the BBC reported that the large UK bank HSBC is preventing customers from withdrawing cash from their accounts in excess of several thousand pounds.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25861717
If and when uncertainty spreads to the dollar, the real crisis will arrive, likely followed by high inflation, exchange controls, pension confiscations, and resurrected illegality of owning gold and silver. Capitalist greed aided and abetted by economists and policymakers will have destroyed America.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
Can the sharing economy movement address the root causes of the world’s converging crises? Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sustainability, then such claims are without substantiation – although there are many hopeful signs that the conversation is slowly moving in the right direction.
In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise. According to most general definitions that are widely available online, the sharing economy leverages information technology to empower individuals or organisations to distribute, share and re-use excess capacity in goods and services. The business icons of the new sharing economy include the likes of Airbnb, Zipcar, Lyft, Taskrabbit and Poshmark, although hundreds of other for-profit as well as non-profit organisations are associated with this burgeoning movement that is predicated, in one way or another, on the age-old principle of sharing.
As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media, a debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction. There is no doubt that the emergent paradigm of sharing resources is set to expand and further flourish in coming years, especially in the face of continuing economic recession, government austerity and environmental concerns. As a result of the concerted advocacy work and mobilisation of sharing groups in the US, fifteen city mayors have now signed the Shareable Cities Resolution in which they officially recognise the importance of economic sharing for both the public and private sectors. Seoul in South Korea has also adopted a city-funded project called Sharing City in which it plans to expand its ‘sharing infrastructure’, promote existing sharing enterprises and incubate sharing economy start-ups as a partial solution to problems in housing, transportation, job creation and community cohesion. Furthermore, Medellin in Colombia is embracing transport-sharing schemes and reimagining the use of its shared public spaces, while Ecuador is the first country in the world to commit itself to becoming a ‘shared knowledge’-based society, under an official strategy named ‘buen saber’.
Many proponents of the sharing economy therefore have great hopes for a future based on sharing as the new modus operandi. Almost everyone recognises that drastic change is needed in the wake of a collapsed economy and an overstretched planet, and the old idea of the American dream – in which a culture that promotes excessive consumerism and commercialisation leads us to see the ‘good life’ as the ‘goods life’, as described by the psychologist Tim Kasser - is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. Hence more and more people are rejecting the materialistic attitudes that defined recent decades, and are gradually shifting towards a different way of living that is based on connectedness and sharing rather than ownership and conspicuous consumption. ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials.
However, many entrepreneurial sharing pioneers also profess a big picture vision of what sharing can achieve in relation to the world’s most pressing issues, such as population growth, environmental degradation and food security. As Ryan Gourley of A2Share posits, for example, a network of cities that embrace the sharing economy could mount up into a Sharing Regions Network, then Sharing Nations, and finally a Sharing World: “A globally networked sharing economy would be a whole new paradigm, a game-changer for humanity and the planet”. Neal Gorenflo, the co-founder and publisher of Shareable, also argues that peer-to-peer collaboration can form the basis of a new social contract, with an extensive sharing movement acting as the catalyst for systemic changesthat can address the root causes of both poverty and climate change. Or to quote the words of Benita Matofska, founder of The People Who Share, we are going to have to “share to survive” if we want to face up to a sustainable future. In such a light, it behoves us all to investigate the potential of sharing to effect a social and economic transformation that is sufficient to meet the grave challenges of the 21st century.
Two sides of a debate on sharing
There is no doubt that sharing resources can contribute to the greater good in a number of ways, from economic as well as environmental and social perspectives. A number of studies show the environmental benefits that are common to many sharing schemes, such as the resource efficiency and potential energy savings that could result from car sharing and bike sharing in cities. Almost all forms of localised sharing are economical, and can lead to significant cost savings or earnings for individuals and enterprises. In terms of subjective well-being and social impacts, common experience demonstrates how sharing can also help us to feel connected to neighbours or co-workers, and even build community and make us feel happier.
Few could disagree on these beneficial aspects of sharing resources within communities or across municipalities, but some controversy surrounds the broader vision of how the sharing economy movement can contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For many advocates of the burgeoning trend towards economic sharing in modern cities, it is about much more than couch-surfing, car sharing or tool libraries, and holds the potential to disrupt the individualist and materialistic assumptions of neoliberal capitalism. For example, Juliet Schor in her book Plenitude perceives that a new economics based on sharing could be an antidote to the hyper-individualised, hyper-consumer culture of today, and could help rebuild the social ties that have been lost through market culture. Annie Leonard of the Story of Stuff project, in her latest short video on how to move society in an environmentally sustainable and just direction, also considers sharing as a key ‘game changing’ solution that could help to transform the basic goals of the economy.
Many other proponents see the sharing economy as a path towards achieving widespread prosperity within the earth’s natural limits, and an essential first step on the road to more localised economies and egalitarian societies. But far from everyone perceives that participating in the sharing economy, at least in its existing form and praxis, is a ‘political act’ that can realistically challenge consumption-driven economics and the culture of individualism – a question that is raised (although not yet comprehensively answered) in a valuable think piece from Friends of the Earth, as discussed further below. Various commentators argue that the proliferation of new business ventures under the umbrella of sharing are nothing more than “supply and demand continuing its perpetual adjustment to new technologies and fresh opportunities”, and that the concept of the sharing economy is being co-opted by purely commercial interests – a debate that was given impetus when the car sharing pioneers, Zipcar, were bought up by the established rental firm Avis.
Recently, Slate magazine’s business and economics correspondent controversially reiterated the observation that making money from new modes of consumption is not really ‘sharing’ per se, asserting that the sharing economy is therefore a “dumb term” that “deserves to die”. Other journalists have criticised the superficial treatment that the sharing economy typically receives from financial pundits and tech reporters, especially the claims that small business start-ups based on monetised forms of sharing are a solution to the jobs crisis – regardless of drastic cutbacks in welfare and public services, unprecedented rates of income inequality, and the dangerous rise of the precariat. The author Evgeny Morozov, writing an op-ed in the Financial Times, has gone as far as saying that the sharing economy is having a pernicious effect on equality and basic working conditions, in that it is fully compliant with market logic, is far from valuing human relationships over profit, and is even amplifying the worst excesses of the dominant economic model. In the context of the erosion of full-time employment, the assault on trade unions and the disappearance of healthcare and insurance benefits, he argues that the sharing economy is accelerating the transformation of workers into “always-on self-employed entrepreneurs who must think like brands”, leading him to dub it “neoliberalism on steroids”.
Problems of definition
Although it is impossible to reconcile these polarised views, part of the problem in assessing the true potential of economic sharing is one of vagueness in definition and wide differences in understanding. The conventional interpretation of the sharing economy is at present focused on its financial and commercial aspects, with continuous news reports proclaiming its rapidly growing market size and potential as a “co-commerce revolution”. Rachel Botsman, a leading entrepreneurial thinker on the potential of collaboration and sharing through digital technologies to change our lives, has attempted to clarify what the sharing economy actually is in order to prevent further confusion over the different terms in general use. In her latest typology, she notes how the term ‘sharing economy’ is often muddled with other new ideas and is in fact a subset of ‘collaborative consumption’ within the entire ‘collaborative economy’ movement, and has a rather restricted meaning in terms of “sharing underutilized assets from spaces to skills to stuff for monetary or non-monetary benefits” [see slide 9 of the presentation]. This interpretation of changing consumer behaviours and lifestyles revolves around the “maximum utilization of assets through efficient models of redistribution and shared access”, which isn’t necessarily predicated on an ethic of ‘sharing’ by any strict definition.
Other interpretations of the sharing economy are far broader and less constrained by capitalistic assumptions, as demonstrated in the Friends of the Earth briefing paper on Sharing Cities written by Professor Julian Agyeman et al. In their estimation, what’s missing from most of these current definitions and categorisations of economic sharing is a consideration of “the communal, collective production that characterises the collective commons”. A broadened ‘sharing spectrum’ that they propose therefore not only focuses on goods and services within the mainstream economy (which is almost always considered in relation to affluent, middle-class lifestyles), but also includes the non-material or intangible aspects of sharing such as well-being and capability [see page 6 of the brief]. From this wider perspective, they assert that the cutting edge of the sharing economy is often not commercial and includes informal behaviours like the unpaid care, support and nurturing that we provide for one another, as well as the shared use of infrastructure and shared public services.
This sheds a new light on governments as the “ultimate level of sharing”, and suggests that the history of the welfare state in Europe and other forms of social protection is, in fact, also integral to the evolution of shared resources in cities and within different countries. Yet an understanding of sharing from this more holistic viewpoint doesn’t have to be limited to the state provision of healthcare, education, and other public services. As Agyeman et al elucidate, cooperatives of all kinds (from worker to housing to retailer and consumer co-ops) also offer alternative models for shared service provision and a different perspective on economic sharing, one in which equity and collective ownership is prioritised. Access to natural common resources such as air and water can also be understood in terms of sharing, which may then prioritise the common good of all people over commercial or private interests and market mechanisms. This would include controversial issues of land ownership and land use, raising questions over how best to share land and urban space more equitably – such as through community land trusts, or through new policies and incentives such as land value taxation.
The politics of sharing
Furthermore, Agyeman et al argue that an understanding of sharing in relation to the collective commons gives rise to explicitly political questions concerning the shared public realm and participatory democracy. This is central to the many countercultural movements of recent years (such as the Occupy movement and Middle East protests since 2011, and the Taksim Gezi Park protests in 2013) that have reclaimed public space to symbolically challenge unjust power dynamics and the increasing trend toward privatisation that is central to neoliberal hegemony. Sharing is also directly related to the functioning of a healthy democracy, the authors reason, in that a vibrant sharing economy (when interpreted in this light) can counter the political apathy that characterises modern consumer society. By reinforcing values of community and collaboration over the individualism and consumerism that defines our present-day cultures and identities, they argue that participation in sharing could ultimately be reflected in the political domain. They also argue that a shared public realm is essential for the expression of participatory democracy and the development of a good society, not least as this provides a necessary venue for popular debate and public reasoning that can influence political decisions. Indeed the “emerging shareability paradigm”, as they describe it, is said to reflect the basic tenets of the Right to the City (RTTC) – an international urban movement that fights for democracy, justice and sustainability in cities and mobilises against the privatisation of common goods and public spaces.
The intention in briefly outlining some of these differing interpretations of sharing is to demonstrate how considerations of politics, justice, ethics and sustainability are slowly being allied with the sharing economy concept. A paramount example is the Friends of the Earth briefing paper outlined above, which was written as part of FOEI’s Big Ideas to Change the World series on cities that promoted sharing as “a political force to be reckoned with” and a “call to action for environmentalists”. Yet many further examples could also be mentioned, such as the New Economics Foundation’s ‘Manifesto for the New Materialism’ which promotes the old-fashioned ethic of sharing as part of a new way of living to replace the collapsed model of debt-fuelled overconsumption. There are also signs that many influential proponents of the sharing economy – as generally understood today in terms of new economic models driven by peer-to-peer technology that enable access to rather than ownership of resources – are beginning to query the commercial direction that the movement is taking, and are instead promoting more politicised forms of social change that are not merely based on micro-enterprise or the monetisation/branding of high-tech innovations.
Janelle Orsi, a California-based ‘sharing lawyer’ and author of The Sharing Solution, is particularly inspirational in this regard; for her, the sharing economy encompasses such a broad range of activities that it is hard to define, although she suggests that all its activities are tied together in how they harness the existing resources of a community and grow its wealth. This is in contradistinction to the mainstream economy that mostly generates wealth for people outside of people’s communities, and inherently generates extreme inequalities and ecological destruction – which Orsi contends that the sharing economy can help reverse. The problem she recognises is that the so-called sharing economy we usually hear about in the media is built upon a business-as-usual foundation, which is privately owned and often funded by venture capital (as is the case with Airbnb, Lyft, Zipcar, Taskrabbit et cetera). As a result, the same business structures that created the economic problems of today are buying up new sharing economy companies and turning them into ever larger, more centralised enterprises that are not concerned about people’s well-being, community cohesion, local economic diversity, sustainable job creation and so on (not to mention the risk of re-creating stock valuation bubbles that overshadowed the earlier generation of dot.com enterprises). The only way to ensure that new sharing economy companies fulfil their potential to create economic empowerment for users and their communities, Orsi argues, is through cooperative conversion – and she makes a compelling case for the democratic, non-exploitative, redistributive and truly ‘sharing’ potential of worker and consumer cooperatives in all their guises.
Sharing as a path to systemic change
There are important reasons to query which direction this emerging movement for sharing will take in the years ahead. As prominent supporters of the sharing economy recognise, like Janelle Orsi and Juliet Schor, it offers both opportunities and reasons for optimism as well as pitfalls and some serious concerns. On the one hand, it reflects a growing shift in our values and social identities as ‘citizens vs consumers’, and is helping us to rethink notions of ownership and prosperity in a world of finite resources, scandalous waste and massive wealth disparities. Perhaps its many proponents are right, and the sharing economy represents the first step towards transitioning away from the over-consumptive, materially-intense and hoarding lifestyles of North American, Western European and other rich societies. Perhaps sharing really is fast becoming a counter-cultural movement that can help us to value relationships more than things, and offer us the possibility of re-imagining politics and constructing a more participative democracy, which could ultimately pose a challenge to the global capitalist/consumerist model of development that is built on private interests and debt at the cost of shared interests and true wealth.
On the other hand, critics are right to point out that the sharing economy in its present form is hardly a threat to existing power structures or a movement that represents the kind of radical changes we need to make the world a better place. Far from reorienting the economy towards greater equity and a better quality of life, as proposed by writers such as Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly and John Cobb, it is arguable that most forms of sharing via peer-to-peer networks are at risk of being subverted by conventional business practices. There is a perverse irony in trying to imagine the logical conclusion of these trends: new models of collaborative consumption and co-production that are co-opted by private interests and venture capitalists, and increasingly geared towards affluent middle-class types or so-called bourgeois bohemians (the ‘bobos’), to the exclusion of those on low incomes and therefore to the detriment of a more equal society. Or new sharing technology platforms that enable governments and corporations to collaborate in pursuing more intrusive controls over and greater surveillance of citizens. Or new social relationships based on sharing in the context of increasingly privatised and enclosed public spaces, such as gated communities within which private facilities and resources are shared.
This is by no means an inevitable outcome, but what is clear from this brief analysis is that the commercialisation and depoliticisation of economic sharing poses risks and contradictions that call into question its potential to transform society for the benefit of everyone. Unless the sharing of resources is promoted in relation to human rights and concerns for equity, democracy, social justice and sound environmental stewardship, then the various claims that sharing is a new paradigm that can address the world’s interrelated crises is indeed empty rhetoric or utopian thinking without any substantiation. Sharing our skills through Hackerspaces, our unused stuff through GoodShuffle or a community potluck through mealshare is, in and of itself, a generally positive phenomenon that deserves to be enjoyed and fully participated in, but let’s not pretend that car shares, clothes swaps, co-housing, shared vacation homes and so on are going to seriously address economic and climate chaos, unjust power dynamics or inequitable wealth distribution.
Sharing from the local to the global
If we look at sharing through the lens of just sustainability, however, as civil society organisations and others are now beginning to do, then the true possibilities of sharing resources within and among the world’s nations are vast and all-encompassing: to enhance equity, rebuild community, improve well-being, democratise national and global governance, defend and promote the global commons, even to point the way towards a more cooperative international framework to replace the present stage of competitive neoliberal globalisation. We are not there yet, of course, and the popular understanding of economic sharing today is clearly focused on the more personal forms of giving and exchange among individuals or through online business ventures, which is mainly for the benefit of high-income groups in the world’s most economically advanced nations. But the fact that this conversation is now being broadened to include the role of governments in sharing public infrastructure, political power and economic resources within countries is a hopeful indication that the emerging sharing movement is slowly moving in the right direction.
Already, questions are being raised as to what sharing resources means for the poorest people in the developing world, and how a revival of economic sharing in the richest countries can be spread globally as a solution to converging crises. It may not be long until the idea of economic sharing on a planetary scale - driven by an awareness of impending ecological catastrophe, life-threatening extremes of inequality, and escalating conflict over natural resources – is the subject of every dinner party and kitchen table conversation.
Agyeman, Julian, Duncan McLaren and Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego, Sharing Cities, Friends of the Earth briefing paper, September 2013.
Bollier, David, Bauwens Joins Ecuador in Planning a Commons-based, Peer Production Economy, 20th September 2013, bollier.org
Botsman, Rachel, The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition: Giving Meaning to the Terms, Collaborative Lab on Slideshare.net, 19th November 2013.
Childs, Mike, The Power of Sharing: A Call to Action for Environmentalists, Shareable.net, 5th November 2013.
Daly, Herman and John Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Beacon Press, 1991.
Eberlein, Sven, Sharing for Profit – I’m Not Buying it Anymore, Shareable.net, 20th February 2013.
Enright, Michael in interview with Benita Matofska and Aidan Enns, Sharing, Not Buying at Christmas (Hr. 1), CBC Radio, 16th December 2012.
Friends of the Earth, Big Idea 2: Sharing – a political force to be reckoned with?, 26th September 2013.
Gaskins, Kim, The New Sharing Economy, Latitude, 1st June 2010.
Gorenflo, Neal, What’s Next for the Sharing Movement?, Shareable.net, 31st July 2013.
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Herbst, Moira, Let’s get real: the ‘sharing economy’ won’t solve our jobs crisis, The Guardian, 7th January 2014.
Jackson, Tim, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, Routeledge, 2011.
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“I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.” ― Emile Gauvreau
If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun. November and December retail sales account for 20% to 40% of annual retail sales for most retailers. The number of visits to retail stores has plummeted by 50% since 2010. Please note this was during a supposed economic recovery. Also note consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP. Also note credit card debt outstanding is 7% lower than its level in 2010 and 16% below its peak in 2008. Retailers like J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Sears, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble continue to report appalling sales and profit results, along with listings of store closings. Even the heavyweights like Wal-Mart and Target continue to report negative comp store sales. How can the government and mainstream media be reporting an economic recovery when the industry that accounts for 70% of GDP is in free fall? The answer is that 99% of America has not had an economic recovery. Only Bernanke’s 1% owner class have benefited from his QE/ZIRP induced stock market levitation.
The entire economic recovery storyline is a sham built upon easy money funneled by the Fed to the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks so they can use their HFT supercomputers to drive the stock market higher, buy up the millions of homes they foreclosed upon to artificially drive up home prices, and generate profits through rigging commodity, currency, and bond markets, while reducing loan loss reserves because they are free to value their toxic assets at anything they please – compliments of the spineless nerds at the FASB. GDP has been artificially propped up by the Federal government through the magic of EBT cards, SSDI for the depressed and downtrodden, never ending extensions of unemployment benefits, billions in student loans to University of Phoenix prodigies, and subprime auto loans to deadbeats from the Government Motors financing arm – Ally Financial (85% owned by you the taxpayer). The country is being kept afloat on an ocean of debt and delusional belief in the power of central bankers to steer this ship through a sea of icebergs just below the surface.
The absolute collapse in retail visitor counts is the warning siren that this country is about to collide with the reality Americans have run out of time, money, jobs, and illusions. The most amazingly delusional aspect to the chart above is retailers continued to add 44 million square feet in 2013 to the almost 15 billion existing square feet of retail space in the U.S. That is approximately 47 square feet of retail space for every person in America. Retail CEOs are not the brightest bulbs in the sale bin, as exhibited by the CEO of Target and his gross malfeasance in protecting his customers’ personal financial information. Of course, the 44 million square feet added in 2013 is down 85% from the annual increases from 2000 through 2008. The exponential growth model, built upon a never ending flow of consumer credit and an endless supply of cheap fuel, has reached its limit of growth. The titans of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington D.C. have wrung every drop of faux wealth from the dying middle class. There are nothing left but withering carcasses and bleached bones.
The impact of this retail death spiral will be vast and far reaching. A few factoids will help you understand the coming calamity:
- There are approximately 109,500 shopping centers in the United States ranging in size from the small convenience centers to the large super-regional malls.
- There are in excess of 1 million retail establishments in the United States occupying 15 billion square feet of space and generating over $4.4 trillion of annual sales. This includes 8,700 department stores, 160,000 clothing & accessory stores, and 8,600 game stores.
- U.S. shopping-center retail sales total more than $2.26 trillion, accounting for over half of all retail sales.
- The U.S. shopping-center industry directly employed over 12 million people in 2010 and indirectly generated another 5.6 million jobs in support industries. Collectively, the industry accounted for 12.7% of total U.S. employment.
- Total retail employment in 2012 totaled 14.9 million, lower than the 15.1 million employed in 2002.
- For every 100 individuals directly employed at a U.S. regional shopping center, an additional 20 to 30 jobs are supported in the community due to multiplier effects.
The collapse in foot traffic to the 109,500 shopping centers that crisscross our suburban sprawl paradise of plenty is irreversible. No amount of marketing propaganda, 50% off sales, or hot new iGadgets is going to spur a dramatic turnaround. Quarter after quarter there will be more announcements of store closings. Macys just announced the closing of 5 stores and firing of 2,500 retail workers. JC Penney just announced the closing of 33 stores and firing of 2,000 retail workers. Announcements are imminent from Sears, Radio Shack and a slew of other retailers who are beginning to see the writing on the wall. The vacancy rate will be rising in strip malls, power malls and regional malls, with the largest growing sector being ghost malls. Before long it will appear that SPACE AVAILABLE is the fastest growing retailer in America.
The reason this death spiral cannot be reversed is simply a matter of arithmetic and demographics. While arrogant hubristic retail CEOs of public big box mega-retailers added 2.7 billion retail square feet to our already over saturated market, real median household income flat lined. The advancement in retail spending was attributable solely to the $1.1 trillion increase (68%) in consumer debt and the trillion dollars of home equity extracted from castles in the sky, that later crashed down to earth. Once the Wall Street created fraud collapsed and the waves of delusion subsided, retailers have been revealed to be swimming naked. Their relentless expansion, based on exponential growth, cannibalized itself, new store construction ground to a halt, sales and profits have declined, and the inevitable closing of thousands of stores has begun. With real median household income 8% lower than it was in 2008, the collapse in retail traffic is a rational reaction by the impoverished 99%. Americans are using their credit cards to pay their real estate taxes, income taxes, and monthly utilities, since their income is lower, and their living expenses rise relentlessly, thanks to Bernanke and his Fed created inflation.
The media mouthpieces for the establishment gloss over the fact average gasoline prices in 2013 were the second highest in history. The highest average price was in 2012 and the 3rd highest average price was in 2011. These prices are 150% higher than prices in the early 2000′s. This might not matter to the likes of Jamie Dimon and Jon Corzine, but for a middle class family with two parents working and making 7.5% less than they made in 2000, it has a dramatic impact on discretionary income. The fact oil prices have risen from $25 per barrel in 2003 to $100 per barrel today has not only impacted gas prices, but utility costs, food costs, and the price of any product that needs to be transported to your local Wally World. The outrageous rise in tuition prices has been aided and abetted by the Federal government and their doling out of loans so diploma mills like the University of Phoenix can bilk clueless dupes into thinking they are on their way to an exciting new career, while leaving them jobless in their parents’ basement with a loan payment for life.
The laughable jobs recovery touted by Obama, his sycophantic minions, paid off economist shills, and the discredited corporate legacy media can be viewed appropriately in the following two charts, that reveal the false storyline being peddled to the techno-narcissistic iGadget distracted masses. There are 247 million working age Americans between the ages of 18 and 64. Only 145 million of these people are employed. Of these employed, 19 million are working part-time and 9 million are self- employed. Another 20 million are employed by the government, producing nothing and being sustained by the few remaining producers with their tax dollars. The labor participation rate is the lowest it has been since women entered the workforce in large numbers during the 1980′s. We are back to levels seen during the booming Carter years. Those peddling the drivel about retiring Baby Boomers causing the decline in the labor participation rate are either math challenged or willfully ignorant because they are being paid to be so. Once you turn 65 you are no longer counted in the work force. The percentage of those over 55 in the workforce has risen dramatically to an all-time high, as the Me Generation never saved for retirement or saw their retirement savings obliterated in the Wall Street created 2008 financial implosion.
To understand the absolute idiocy of retail CEOs across the land one must parse the employment data back to 2000. In the year 2000 the working age population of the U.S. was 213 million and 136.9 million of them were working, a record level of 64.4% of the population. There were 70 million working age Americans not in the labor force. Fourteen years later the number of working age Americans is 247 million and only 144.6 million are working. The working age population has risen by 16% and the number of employed has risen by only 5.6%. That’s quite a success story. Of course, even though median household income is 7.5% lower than it was in 2000, the government expects you to believe that 22 million Americans voluntarily left the labor force because they no longer needed a job. While the number of employed grew by 5.6% over fourteen years, the number of people who left the workforce grew by 31.1%. Over this same time frame the mega-retailers that dominate the landscape added almost 3 billion square feet of selling space, a 25% increase. A critical thinking individual might wonder how this could possibly end well for the retail genius CEOs in glistening corporate office towers from coast to coast.
This entire materialistic orgy of consumerism has been sustained solely with debt peddled by the Wall Street banking syndicate. The average American consumer met their Waterloo in 2008. Bernanke’s mission was to save bankers, billionaires and politicians. It was not to save the working middle class. You’ve been sacrificed at the altar of the .1%. The 0% interest rates were for Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein. Your credit card interest rate remained between 13% and 21%. So, while you struggle to pay bills with your declining real income, the Wall Street bankers are again generating record profits and paying themselves record bonuses. Profits are so good, they can afford to pay tens of billions in fines for their criminal acts, and still be left with billions to divvy up among their non-prosecuted criminal executives.
Bernanke and his financial elite owners have been able to rig the markets to give the appearance of normalcy, but they cannot rig the demographic time bomb that will cause the death and destruction of our illusory retail paradigm. Demographics cannot be manipulated or altered by the government or mass media. The best they can do is ignore or lie about the facts. The life cycle of a human being is utterly predictable, along with their habits across time. Those under 25 years old have very little income, therefore they have very little spending. Once a job is attained and income levels rise, spending rises along with the increased income. As the person enters old age their income declines and spending on stuff declines rapidly. The media may be ignoring the fact that annual expenditures drop by 40% for those over 65 years old from the peak spending years of 45 to 54, but it doesn’t change the fact. They also cannot change the fact that 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next sixteen years. They also can’t change the fact the average Baby Boomer has less than $50,000 saved for retirement and is up to their grey eye brows in debt.
With over 15% of all 25 to 34 year olds living in their parents’ basement and those under 25 saddled with billions in student loan debt, the traditional increase in income and spending is DOA for the millennial generation. The hardest hit demographic on the job front during the 2008 through 2014 ongoing recession has been the 45 to 54 year olds in their peak earning and spending years. Combine these demographic developments and you’ve got a perfect storm for over-built retailers and their egotistical CEOs.
The media continues to peddle the storyline of on-line sales saving the ancient bricks and mortar retailers. Again, the talking head pundits are willfully ignoring basic math. On-line sales account for 6% of total retail sales. If a dying behemoth like JC Penney announces a 20% decline in same store sales and a 20% increase in on-line sales, their total change is still negative 17.6%. And they are still left with 1,100 decaying stores, 100,000 employees, lease payments, debt payments, maintenance costs, utility costs, inventory costs, and pension costs. Their future is so bright they gotta wear a toe tag.
The decades of mal-investment in retail stores was enabled by Greenspan, Bernanke, and their Federal Reserve brethren. Their easy money policies enabled Americans to live far beyond their true means through credit card debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, and home equity debt. This false illusion of wealth and foolish spending led mega-retailers to ignore facts and spread like locusts across the suburban countryside. The debt fueled orgy has run out of steam. All that is left is the largest mountain of debt in human history, a gutted and debt laden former middle class, and thousands of empty stores in future decaying ghost malls haunting the highways and byways of suburbia.
The implications of this long and winding road to ruin are far reaching. Store closings so far have only been a ripple compared to the tsunami coming to right size the industry for a future of declining spending. Over the next five to ten years, tens of thousands of stores will be shuttered. Companies like JC Penney, Sears and Radio Shack will go bankrupt and become historical footnotes. Considering retail employment is lower today than it was in 2002 before the massive retail expansion, the future will see in excess of 1 million retail workers lose their jobs. Bernanke and the Feds have allowed real estate mall owners to roll over non-performing loans and pretend they are generating enough rental income to cover their loan obligations. As more stores go dark, this little game of extend and pretend will come to an end. Real estate developers will be going belly-up and the banking sector will be taking huge losses again. I’m sure the remaining taxpayers will gladly bailout Wall Street again. The facts are not debatable. They can be ignored by the politicians, Ivy League economists, media talking heads, and the willfully ignorant masses, but they do not cease to exist.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
Source: The Burning Platform
The tradeoff for cheap goods and financial cronyism is coming back in a big way…
There is always a tradeoff in economics. The adage about a free lunch comes to mind to the rise of low wage capitalism in America. It is a complicated web driven by financial cronyism and a system largely driven by ignoring the plight of the working class. The story of US manufacturing is probably one tiny example of how we exported our middle class in exchange for cheaper goods and a massive amount of income inequality at the top. Yet there is a winner here as well. While the US middle class is shrinking the middle classes of China and India are growing and so is ourincome inequality. This trend tends to grow the economies overseas bus has placed a large burden on the unskilled and working class in the US. This is possibly an inevitably given the global nature of our markets. When you get addicted to low cost goods, you may find yourself in a race to low wage capitalism. In the US and Europe people would not take on the jobs that pay near wage-slave levels and have terrible working conditions in countries that are now booming. While the top wage earners in the US are doing fantastic protected by Wall Street and Washington D.C. (many are diversified across the world), those who get paid in US dollars and come from the working and middle class are having a tough time adapting. The tradeoff has been coming home to roost in a big way.
A low wage bias
While the recession ended in the summer of 2009, the jobs that have been added since then have largely tended to favor low wage employment. Hard to export cashiers and food service workers (although the industry is getting closer to automating those jobs as well). Nothing happens at once. The gradual erosion of the working and middle class goes back a generation. So it is no surprise that this recovery has largely been one of low wage employment. This is why young American workers are in such a tough position with student debt, wages, and being able to purchase a home.
The low wage hiring bias is evident:
A large amount of hiring has come in the form of lower paying and temporary work. You might say this is simply the modern way of things. Yet the massive financial bailouts during the crisis have protected the financiers of Wall Street to the point that they are fully recovered. The crisis occurred largely because they systematically gambled America away by creating instruments of debt to implode the economy. Some hedge funds actually made wealth by betting America’s economy would fail and encouraged the pushing of additional bad mortgage debt to increase their gains when things went bust.
The problem of course is that we have a system where austerity is the new game in town for working and middle class Americans while the financially connected get to fail and put the bill on those who least can afford it. Take a look at the drop in manufacturing jobs and the growth of our financial sector:
In 1960 you had roughly 8 manufacturing jobs for each one in finance. Today this is less than 2 manufacturing jobs per each job in finance. In the real economy, we still purchase goods that have to be made (i.e., cars, real estate, etc). Yet we have a giant industry that for the most part, is rent seeking. Is high frequency trading making things better? What about the crazy unrestricted derivatives market? With real estate most of the recent sales are going to investors. In other words, the shifting of current real assets in the world into the hands of fewer people.
Even in the once stable construction field, we see weak job growth in spite of a booming real estate market.
Why? Because most of the trading is going to investors looking for deals, not new families pushing for new demand on new homes. New home sales are still weak. Of course that should be expected when the typical American worker is making something like $27,000 a year and the median household income is $50,000 a year. Adjusting for inflation, this is now back to levels last seen in the 1980s:
The tradeoff has been tough but people like cheap goods. It is easy to offshore this development and have workers on the other side of the world work for menial wages so people can buy cheap goods. Yet at a certain point, the market hits an equilibrium and the pain comes back home. Once this happens it can be very quickly as we are seeing now with the middle class being hollowed out. At least we’ve done a good job exporting our middle class outside of the US.
Source: My Budget 360
Two rather interesting things have happened to me lately. First, I had one of my teeth pulled this week — totally not a fun experience. And, second, while still oozing pain and eating Hydrocodone and climbing the walls, I started reading a book about plants by Michael Pollan, entitled “The Botany of Desire”. So now I have suddenly become an expert on both pain-killers and gardens.
Having one’s tooth pulled is like, er, pulling teeth. It really hurts. So from now on I plan to brush and floss constantly and do whatever it takes to keep my remaining teeth healthy and clean. Someone recommended gargling with Bombay Sapphire twice a day. I’d try even that.
Even though the student doctor who pulled my tooth at the UCSF School of Dentistry was an angel of mercy combined with Dr. McDreamy, having one’s tooth extracted is never pretty. I kept reciting that mantra “Challenges make me stronger” in the dental chair and silently doing jin shin jyutzu – but even that didn’t work. I’m a wimp. And not only that but once the tooth was out, they wouldn’t even give it back to me to give to the Tooth Fairy. Rats.
Then, once finally back home and safely collapsed into bed, I took some of those “opioid” pain-killers they gave me — and dreamed that I was an escaped convict running a funeral parlor in my childhood hometown (Millbrae) and hiding under my daughter Ashley’s bed (probably from NSA). Forget that. No more weird Kubla-Khan dreams for me. I’m sticking with aspirin.
Now I’m wishing there was something I could do to replace my poor sweet little lost tooth, but there doesn’t seem to be anything. Getting a dental implant is expensive — $3,000 per tooth, even done by a dental student. Who can afford that? Not me. So now I’ve got a big gap in my teeth. How ugly is that! However, I won’t be alone for long. Two-thirds of America will soon be joining me in being gap-toothed as well unless affordable dental insurance becomes available reasonably soon. But if not, then we’ll all be totally ugly together, not just me. America goes third-world. Who would have thought.
I also have a postage-stamp sized garden attached to my apartment, which grows nothing. According to Michael Pollan, this shouldn’t be happening — unless there has been some really heavy-duty weed killer sprayed there at one time. Yes, there was. But not by me. So, apparently, what I need now is all new dirt. And at the rate that American agribusiness keeps using millions of tons of herbicides and pesticides each year, all of America will soon be needing all new dirt too.
“Actually, it’s not the heavy use of herbicides and pesticides that is causing the most problems on huge agribusiness farms,” to summarize one of Pollan’s chapters on the potato, “but rather the monoculture nature of their crops. Organic farmers can vary and rotate what they plant and thus stave off insect and fungal infestations — but if your main customer for potatoes is McDonalds, then you have to plant Burbank russets and only Burbank russets all of the time. So it is Americans themselves that are causing the major use of [stuff] like Roundup and Roundup-Ready GMOs.”
So if I promise to plant a huge variety of everything in my garden, from fingerling potatoes to roses to dandelions, then will at least SOMETHING finally grow?
And will I also be able to grow a new tooth?
Aside from Michael Pollan, why else have my thoughts been turning to gardening lately? In the middle of freaking January? Because this winter has been the sunniest one in Berkeley that I have ever seen. It’s like freaking summer here now, like July, every day — even going beyond April or May. www.weather.com even declared Berkeley a drought area the other day. Time to bust out the seeds.
Michael Pollan also wrote about cannabis in his book on plants. “Marijuana doesn’t make you forgetful of everything. It just makes you forget [stuff] that’s not important.” Interesting. I always forget names. So I guess names aren’t all that important or necessary for me to remember. Whew. I’m off the hook then. Am not getting senile dementia after all, just sorting out my priorities.
And maybe that’s why Alzheimer sufferers forget so much mental stuff too — they might be shutting down everything that won’t immediately help them to cope with this devastating disease (yes, I know that Alzheimers also rots its victims’ brains — but isn’t that just one more good reason for them to shut said brains down?)
With regard to raising the minimum wage here in soon-to-be-toothless America, wouldn’t it make more sense to just cut the rate of inflation instead? Starting by eliminating the Federal Reserve and its tendencies to print meaningless Monopoly money and to finance Endless War? And, while we’re at it, let’s stop giving out billions in “food stamps” to corporate welfare queens like Bank of America, BP, WalMart, Halliburton and Monsanto. Works for me. And can we also please bring our millions of jobs back from overseas too?
Back in 1963, I made $1.75 an hour while working in the post office on weekends and during summers. With this money plus some help from my parents (yes, they could also afford to help me back then), I was able to graduate from San Jose State College without requiring any student loans. And in 1966, when I got a big salary-bump to $3.50 an hour for working the stamp window instead of sorting mail, I was able put myself through graduate school at UC Berkeley, just by working during summer vacations. Can you even imagine staying alive and not homeless in Berkeley today on that kind of salary — let alone paying for your tuition at Cal as well.
What has happened to all of America’s jobs and wealth since the 1960s, back when we were the richest country in the world? That’s a no-brainer. It’s all flown away into the pockets of Wall Street mega-bankers, the numbered Cayman accounts of war profiteers and the fat wallets of all those corporate welfare queens who currently own and run our government.
While it’s always a good idea to raise America’s minimum wage a few dollars, it’s also important to stop runaway inflation — and to also start lowering a certain type of maximum wage as well: The maximum amount that rich guys can steal from us before they get sent to jail.And we need to put some teeth into these new regulations too.
A month ago, a student toting a shotgun, machete and 125 rounds of ammunition marched into Arapahoe High School in Denver, Colorado. His target: to kill the debate teacher whom he felt treated him poorly.
On his way to the teacher, he shot a beautiful girl named Claire Davis in the face. She hung on for a week before dying of her wounds. The killer, a regular 17-year-old high school student, tall and lanky, with good looks, shot himself before Swat teams could reach him.
As a former teacher who started teaching in the 1970s, my colleagues and I could not imagine such violence. But here in Denver, we suffered Columbine shootings by Klebold and Harris when they mowed down a dozen kids and teachers. Another killer shot and killed “Emily” in Bailey, Colorado a few years back. Recently, James Holmes marched into a Denver movie theater to unleash his own killing spree on a bunch of innocent movie attendees.
Even more disturbing: bullied teachers–145,100 public-School teachers physically attacked by students and 276,700 threatened with injury every year.
Over 4,800,000 women, both girlfriends and wives, suffering beatings by their men annually in the United States—a beating every 15 seconds.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women suffer rape in the U.S. annually. That’s more than 600 women everyday.
The United States carried on two ten-year wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where we killed an estimated 250,000 civilians. We killed many more Muslim fighters by the tens of thousands. We destroyed their country with our bombs. Because those third world countries lack birth records, identification and death certificates—the numbers could be much higher.
In most large city in America, such as Denver, newscasters relate killings every night of the week. Chicago, Houston, Detroit and Los Angeles suffer gang killings nightly.
One in four children suffers bullying by a teen thug in high schools across America every day during school terms. In other words, our children cannot attend school without fear of being beat up, harassed, called names and demeaned by meaner, bigger students who have no other purpose in life but to manifest their thuggery.
What bothers me: we promote horrific violence via our continuous wars promoted by bankers and the military industrial complex that profit at the cost of human lives. We promote TV violence such as “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS” where lots of people commit diabolical mayhem. We support social media arcade games for kids like “Doom” and worse. Our movies feature horrific violence that pours into our kids minds and emotions. It’s like the 60s movie “Clockwork Orange” seems normal. You can watch television “Cops” where violence becomes normal. Our drones in the Middle East kill any number of humans without identity.
Today, 68 percent of African-American children grow up under the parenting of single mothers and most of them living on welfare and food stamps. Who babysits those kids? Answer: television. What do they see? Answer: violence. How do they respond? Answer: black flash mobs, “knockout” games, shoplifting and gang violence.
Over 2.3 million Americans languish in prison. We spent $1 trillion in the last 43 years on the “War on Drugs”, but a pittance for raising healthy kids. Why haven’t we spent as much money on discovering peaceful ways to rear our children as we spend on killing other people in contrived wars?
This information bothers me because Claire Davis could have been my daughter. Congresswoman Gabby Gifford could have been my friend. Your kid might be the one being bullied. I suffered bullying and getting beat up as a skinny kid in grade school and high school.
Question: are we a moral and ethical civilization or do we feature immorality and unethical behavior manifested in our wars and violence as stated above?
Today, 2014, one in six Americans faces hunger. That includes one in five children. (Source: www.feedingamerica.org)
What makes for peaceful, happy and contributing citizens? Answer: jobs for parents, homes for kids, excellent schools, playgrounds, after school activities and positive guidance by two parents.
What can we do to change course toward a moral, ethical, peaceful and happy nation?
- We need to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and other countries around the world. Let our fathers come back home to be fathers instead of fighting useless wars.
- We need to limit imports from China and other nations that take jobs away from our 14 million unemployed and 48 million citizens subsisting on food stamps. We can make all those manufactured products as well as Chinese workers.
- We need to stop importing 100,000 legal immigrants every 30 days into America that take jobs away from our own working poor.
- We need turn our war machine money into production for alternative energy, conservation and environmental balance.
- We need to pay teachers and educational professionals much better salaries in order to educate our children to the highest excellence for competing in the 21st century. We need classes to teach parents how to parent with respect, loving discipline and positive living. (Source: www.LoveandLogic.com)
- We need to examine how and why we create so much violence in our society. Then, we must take action to stop it such as stopping violent video games, stopping bullying by parenting peaceful kids, stopping TV violence seen by our young and stop glorifying war, violent movies and violent TV for children.
You can think of a dozen other ideas, but in the end, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we will continue to suffer daughters, sons, fathers and mothers involved in violence and death.
After having many positive views of New Jersey Governor Christie mainly because he seemed like a better kind of politician, maybe being someone the public could actually trust, I now see him as just another untrustworthy, dishonest politician.
As a political junkie I have followed very closely the whole bridgegate scandal. Today I closely listened to the two-hour press conference Christie held.
Despite all his apologizing, Christie looks absolutely terrible to all those with critical thinking capabilities.
First, though he fired his deputy chief of staff because she lied about her action as shown in an email wherein she triggered the action to close lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, he did not come close to saying she was also fired because of what she did. He was “saddened” because she lied and was disloyal, and acted stupidly, but not because of what she accomplished. He portrayed himself as a victim, while not expressing authentic guilt over the real victims, those impacted by the traffic gridlock, including school buses and ambulances, not just commuters.
Second, when the lane closings created an enormous amount of gridlock in Fort Lee, New Jersey, causing historic grief and hazards to huge numbers of people, Christie never acted as governor to demand corrective action from the New York – New Jersey Port Authority. He had two political appointees in high positions there, but he never told his senior staff to take action to remediate the problem, despite considerable negative impacts on citizens in his state that he professes to care so much about.
Even when there was considerable public and media noise about all the negative impacts of the lane closings that lasted for four days, Christie never looked beyond the story that the lane closings were a result of some traffic study. What kind of traffic study would ever be conducted on the busiest bridge in the world if it created such a total traffic mess? It is completely irrational to believe that Christie was so dumb as to buy that story, especially because considerable noise was being raised subsequently about a political cause of the bridge problem.
The governor talked a lot about the supposed traffic study, even speculating that perhaps there was a traffic study. But Port Authority officials had already clearly stated publicly that there had been no traffic study. So why keep talking about it?
When his two high level political appointed guys at the Port Authority resigned their high-paying jobs many weeks before yesterday’s disclosures of many incriminating emails why did Christie not make immediate calls to them. Why was he not interested in finding out exactly why they resigned? Why was he still willing to keep believing in the nonsense story about a traffic study? Why did he only focus in his press conference on his high level staff person who triggered the lane closings but not the man who received the email and actually implemented the plan to screw the mayor and people of Fort Lee?
State and probably federal investigations will keep the bridgegate scandal a big media story for some time, as it should be. Christie looks bad. He no longer looks like the kind of trustworthy politician that could be a viable Republican presidential candidate. He has lost me and, I suspect, millions of other independents. When someone in his inner circle who worked for him for five years acts so stupidly to exact political vengeance Christie has a lot more explaining to do. She did not act to please herself. She acted because she thought her action was what the governor wanted. The same goes for the idiot at the Port Authority, who executed the plan that clearly, according to the email, must have been discussed before the email was sent and acted on.
Not only has Christie lost his appeal for higher office, there should be more calls for his resignation from the governorship. He accepts responsibility for all the bad things that resulted from the lane closings. But verbal responsibility is really not all that impressive. More is needed. His willful ignorance of what was going on with at least four of his political appointees should wipe out his political ambitions for higher office. The sad victim and narcissist governor cannot escape his well deserved reputation as a bully. Yes, independents like his straight-talking image, but this bridge scandal demonstrates that Christie is a big fat loser.
Deregulation, Privatization, and Cheap Labor…
The man who promised to restore hope and bring change to America, has announced a plan to open five corporate plantations in the United States. On Thursday, President Barack Obama, whose policies have resulted in the greatest number of public sector job losses in US History (Public sector jobs have declined by 718,000 jobs since Obama took office.) announced the opening of five “Promise Zones” located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. According to an article in USA Today:
“Under the proposed Promise Zones, the federal government plans to partner with local governments and businesses to provide tax incentives and grants to help combat poverty.” (“Obama to name 5 ‘Promise Zones’ for assistance“, USA Today)
Combatting poverty’ has nothing to do with it. Obama plans to shower the nation’s biggest corporations–which recorded record profits in the last year and are presently sitting on more than $1.3 trillion in cash–with more lavish subsidies and tax breaks while providing an endless source of cheap slave labor to boost future earnings. The president believes that the wealth generated in these profit zones, er, promise zones will trickle down to the area’s residents, even though–as the Christian Science Monitor notes–”it can be hard to tell whether a program’s benefits reach the poorest people, rather than flowing largely into the hands of the business owners who get the tax credits.”
Here’s more from USA Today:
“Obama said his administration plans “to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet. We’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety, and education, and housing.” (USA Today)
Translation: The Obama administration is committed to assisting the corporate oligarchy whenever possible even if it means further eviscerating the rapidly-diminishing US middle class and reducing millions of hard-working Americans to grinding third world poverty. Deregulation will allow corporations to privatize policing, education and any other lucrative public resource or service. According to the New York Times: “White House officials said the Promise Zones initiative would not provide new money, rather it would be aimed at providing the local governments and agencies “aid in cutting through red tape to get access to existing resources.”
No new money??
How do you like that? So, the man that helped push through the multi-trillion dollar Wall Street bailouts is not going to give one red cent to the nation’s poorest and most needy people. Instead, he is going to do whatever he can to eliminate the rules that keep voracious corporations from feeding at the public trough.
Conservative Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — “praised the proposed Promise Zone for Eastern Kentucky saying:
“I wrote a letter last year supporting this designation because this region has suffered enormous economic hardship over the last several years,” McConnell said in a statement.”
Mitch McConnell likes Obama’s plan. That says it all, doesn’t it?
Plantations were a familiar feature of the antebellum South, but were abandoned following the Civil War. Now a new generation of corporate kleptocrats want to revive the tradition. They think that weakening consumer demand and persistent stagnation can only be overcome by skirting vital labor protections and shifting more of the cost of production onto workers. Obama’s promise zones provide a way for big business to slip the chains of “onerous” regulations and restore, what many CEO’s believe to be, the Natural Order, that is, a Darwinian, dog-eat-dog world where only the strongest and most cunning survive. This is a world in which Obama has done quite well, although he’s had to distance himself from his political base and throw friends under the bus (Jeremiah Wright) in his relentless climb to the top. Even so, selling out has never been an issue for Obama.
Special economic zones are not a new idea, in fact, they’ve been tried in the UK, Australia and other places where the global bank cartel exerts its grip. In Tokyo, last month, right-wing PM, Shinzo Abe announced the launching of his own “Special Economic Zones”. Here’s a short summary of Abe’s plan from an article in the Japan Times:
“Special zones aimed at spurring corporate investment through deregulation and tax incentives are to be created in Tokyo as well as Osaka and central Aichi Prefecture….Other deregulation steps to debut in such zones will let private firms operate public schools, let experts without teaching licenses teach classes, expand the scope of treatment that can be administered by non-Japanese doctors and nurses, facilitate the use of foreign drugs and increase the number of hospital beds.” (Japan Times)
Sound familiar? Deregulation, privatization, and cheap labor; the toxic coctail that has vaporized the US middle class and wiped out a good portion of the developing world.
Obama calls these promise zones. We think corporate plantations is a more fitting moniker.
What really happened in the Ukrainian crisis?
It is freezing cold in Kiev, legendary city of golden domes on the banks of Dnieper River – cradle of ancient Russian civilisation and the most charming of East European capitals. It is a comfortable and rather prosperous place, with hundreds of small and cosy restaurants, neat streets, sundry parks and that magnificent river. The girls are pretty and the men are sturdy. Kiev is more relaxed than Moscow, and easier on the wallet. Though statistics say the Ukraine is broke and its people should be as poor as Africans, in reality they aren’t doing too badly, thanks to their fiscal imprudence. The government borrowed and spent freely, heavily subsidised housing and heating, and they brazenly avoided devaluation of the national currency and the austerity program prescribed by the IMF. This living on credit can go only so far: the Ukraine was doomed to default on its debts next month or sooner, and this is one of the reasons for the present commotion.
A tug-of-war between the East and the West for the future of Ukraine lasted over a month, and has ended for all practical purposes in a resounding victory for Vladimir Putin, adding to his previous successes in Syria and Iran. The trouble began when the administration of President Yanukovich went looking for credits to reschedule its loans and avoid default. There were no offers. They turned to the EC for help; the EC, chiefly Poland and Germany, seeing that the Ukrainian administration was desperate, prepared an association agreement of unusual severity.
The EC is quite hard on its new East European members, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria et al.: these countries had their industry and agriculture decimated, their young people working menial jobs in Western Europe, their population drop exceeded that of the WWII.
But the association agreement offered to the Ukraine was even worse. It would turn the Ukraine into an impoverished colony of the EC without giving it even the dubious advantages of membership (such as freedom of work and travel in the EC). In desperation, Yanukovich agreed to sign on the dotted line, in vain hopes of getting a large enough loan to avoid collapse. But the EC has no money to spare – it has to provide for Greece, Italy, Spain. Now Russia entered the picture. At the time, relations of the Ukraine and Russia were far from good. Russians had become snotty with their oil money, the Ukrainians blamed their troubles on Russians, but Russia was still the biggest market for Ukrainian products.
For Russia, the EC agreement meant trouble: currently the Ukraine sells its output in Russia with very little customs protection; the borders are porous; people move freely across the border, without even a passport. If the EC association agreement were signed, the EC products would flood Russia through the Ukrainian window of opportunity. So Putin spelled out the rules to Yanukovich: if you sign with the EC, Russian tariffs will rise. This would put some 400,000 Ukrainians out of work right away. Yanukovich balked and refused to sign the EC agreement at the last minute. (I predicted this in my report from Kiev full three weeks before it happened, when nobody believed it – a source of pride).
The EC, and the US standing behind it, were quite upset. Besides the loss of potential economic profit, they had another important reason: they wanted to keep Russia farther away from Europe, and they wanted to keep Russia weak. Russia is not the Soviet Union, but some of the Soviet disobedience to Western imperial designs still lingers in Moscow: be it in Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, Angola, Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the Empire can’t have its way while the Russian bear is relatively strong. Russia without the Ukraine can’t be really powerful: it would be like the US with its Mid-western and Pacific states chopped away. The West does not want the Ukraine to prosper, or to become a stable and strong state either, so it cannot join Russia and make it stronger. A weak, poor and destabilised Ukraine in semi-colonial dependence to the West with some NATO bases is the best future for the country, as perceived by Washington or Brussels.
Angered by this last-moment-escape of Yanukovich, the West activated its supporters. For over a month, Kiev has been besieged by huge crowds bussed from all over the Ukraine, bearing a local strain of the Arab Spring in the far north. Less violent than Tahrir, their Maidan Square became a symbol of struggle for the European strategic future of the country. The Ukraine was turned into the latest battle ground between the US-led alliance and a rising Russia. Would it be a revanche for Obama’s Syria debacle, or another heavy strike at fading American hegemony?
The simple division into “pro-East” and “pro-West” has been complicated by the heterogeneity of the Ukraine. The loosely knit country of differing regions is quite similar in its makeup to the Yugoslavia of old. It is another post-Versailles hotchpotch of a country made up after the First World War of bits and pieces, and made independent after the Soviet collapse in 1991. Some parts of this “Ukraine” were incorporated by Russia 500 years ago, the Ukraine proper (a much smaller parcel of land, bearing this name) joined Russia 350 years ago, whilst the Western Ukraine (called the “Eastern Regions”) was acquired by Stalin in 1939, and the Crimea was incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic by Khrushchev in 1954.
The Ukraine is as Russian as the South-of-France is French and as Texas and California are American. Yes, some hundreds years ago, Provence was independent from Paris, – it had its own language and art; while Nice and Savoy became French rather recently. Yes, California and Texas joined the Union rather late too. Still, we understand that they are – by now – parts of those larger countries, ifs and buts notwithstanding. But if they were forced to secede, they would probably evolve a new historic narrative stressing the French ill treatment of the South in the Cathar Crusade, or dispossession of Spanish and Russian residents of California.
Accordingly, since the Ukraine’s independence, the authorities have been busy nation-building, enforcing a single official language and creating a new national myth for its 45 million inhabitants. The crowds milling about the Maidan were predominantly (though not exclusively) arrivals from Galicia, a mountainous county bordering with Poland and Hungary, 500 km (300 miles) away from Kiev, and natives of the capital refer to the Maidan gathering as a “Galician occupation”.
Like the fiery Bretons, the Galicians are fierce nationalists, bearers of a true Ukrainian spirit (whatever that means). Under Polish and Austrian rule for centuries, whilst the Jews were economically powerful, they are a strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Polish lot, and their modern identity centred around their support for Hitler during the WWII, accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of their Polish and Jewish neighbours. After the WWII, the remainder of pro-Hitler Galician SS fighters were adopted by US Intelligence, re-armed and turned into a guerrilla force against the Soviets. They added an anti-Russian line to their two ancient hatreds and kept fighting the “forest war” until 1956, and these ties between the Cold Warriors have survived the thaw.
After 1991, when the independent Ukraine was created, in the void of state-building traditions, the Galicians were lauded as ‘true Ukrainians’, as they were the only Ukrainians who ever wanted independence. Their language was used as the basis of a new national state language, their traditions became enshrined on the state level. Memorials of Galician Nazi collaborators and mass murderers Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych peppered the land, often provoking the indignation of other Ukrainians. The Galicians played an important part in the 2004 Orange Revolution as well, when the results of presidential elections were declared void and the pro-Western candidate Mr Yuschenko got the upper hand in the re-run.
However, in 2004, many Kievans also supported Yuschenko, hoping for the Western alliance and a bright new future. Now, in 2013, the city’s support for the Maidan was quite low, and the people of Kiev complained loudly about the mess created by the invading throngs: felled trees, burned benches, despoiled buildings and a lot of biological waste. Still, Kiev is home to many NGOs; city intellectuals receive generous help from the US and EC. The old comprador spirit is always strongest in the capitals.
For the East and Southeast of the Ukraine, the populous and heavily industrialised regions, the proposal of association with the EC is a no-go, with no ifs, ands or buts. They produce coal, steel, machinery, cars, missiles, tanks and aircraft. Western imports would erase Ukrainian industry right off the map, as the EC officials freely admit. Even the Poles, hardly a paragon of industrial development, had the audacity to say to the Ukraine: we’ll do the technical stuff, you’d better invest in agriculture. This is easier to say than to do: the EC has a lot of regulations that make Ukrainian products unfit for sale and consumption in Europe. Ukrainian experts estimated their expected losses for entering into association with the EC at anything from 20 to 150 billion euros.
For Galicians, the association would work fine. Their speaker at the Maidan called on the youth to ‘go where you can get money’ and do not give a damn for industry. They make their income in two ways: providing bed-and breakfast rooms for Western tourists and working in Poland and Germany as maids and menials. They hoped they would get visa-free access to Europe and make a decent income for themselves. Meanwhile, nobody offered them a visa-waiver arrangement. The Brits mull over leaving the EC, because of the Poles who flooded their country; the Ukrainians would be too much for London. Only the Americans, always generous at somebody’s else expense, demanded the EC drop its visa requirement for them.
While the Maidan was boiling, the West sent its emissaries, ministers and members of parliament to cheer the Maidan crowd, to call for President Yanukovich to resign and for a revolution to install pro-Western rule. Senator McCain went there and made a few firebrand speeches. The EC declared Yanukovich “illegitimate” because so many of his citizens demonstrated against him. But when millions of French citizens demonstrated against their president, when Occupy Wall Street was violently dispersed, nobody thought the government of France or the US president had lost legitimacy…
Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, shared her biscuits with the demonstrators, and demanded from the oligarchs support for the “European cause” or their businesses would suffer. The Ukrainian oligarchs are very wealthy, and they prefer the Ukraine as it is, sitting on the fence between the East and the West. They are afraid that the Russian companies will strip their assets should the Ukraine join the Customs Union, and they know that they are not competitive enough to compete with the EC. Pushed now by Nuland, they were close to falling on the EC side.
Yanukovich was in big trouble. The default was rapidly approaching. He annoyed the pro-Western populace, and he irritated his own supporters, the people of the East and Southeast. The Ukraine had a real chance of collapsing into anarchy. A far-right nationalist party, Svoboda (Liberty), probably the nearest thing to the Nazi party to arise in Europe since 1945, made a bid for power. The EC politicians accused Russia of pressurising the Ukraine; Russian missiles suddenly emerged in the western-most tip of Russia, a few minutes flight from Berlin. The Russian armed forces discussed the US strategy of a “disarming first strike”. The tension was very high.
Edward Lucas, the Economist’s international editor and author of The New Cold War, is a hawk of the Churchill and Reagan variety. For him, Russia is an enemy, whether ruled by Tsar, by Stalin or by Putin. He wrote: “It is no exaggeration to say that the [Ukraine] determines the long-term future of the entire former Soviet Union. If Ukraine adopts a Euro-Atlantic orientation, then the Putin regime and its satrapies are finished… But if Ukraine falls into Russia’s grip, then the outlook is bleak and dangerous… Europe’s own security will also be endangered. NATO is already struggling to protect the Baltic states and Poland from the integrated and increasingly impressive military forces of Russia and Belarus. Add Ukraine to that alliance, and a headache turns into a nightmare.”
In this cliff-hanging situation, Putin made his pre-emptive strike. At a meeting in the Kremlin, he agreed to buy fifteen billion euros worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds and cut the natural gas price by a third. This meant there would be no default; no massive unemployment; no happy hunting ground for the neo-Nazi thugs of Svoboda; no cheap and plentiful Ukrainian prostitutes and menials for the Germans and Poles; and Ukrainian homes will be warm this Christmas. Better yet, the presidents agreed to reforge their industrial cooperation. When Russia and Ukraine formed a single country, they built spaceships; apart, they can hardly launch a naval ship. Though unification isn’t on the map yet, it would make sense for both partners. This artificially divided country can be united, and it would do a lot of good for both of their populaces, and for all people seeking freedom from US hegemony.
There are a lot of difficulties ahead: Putin and Yanukovich are not friends, Ukrainian leaders are prone to renege, the US and the EC have a lot of resources. But meanwhile, it is a victory to celebrate this Christmas tide. Such victories keep Iran safe from US bombardment, inspire the Japanese to demand removal of Okinawa base, encourage those seeking closure of Guantanamo jail, cheer up Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, frighten the NSA and CIA and allow French Catholics to march against Hollande’s child-trade laws.
What is the secret of Putin’s success? Edward Lucas said, in an interview to the pro-Western Ekho Moskvy radio: “Putin had a great year – Snowden, Syria, Ukraine. He checkmated Europe. He is a great player: he notices our weaknesses and turns them into his victories. He is good in diplomatic bluff, and in the game of Divide and Rule. He makes the Europeans think that the US is weak, and he convinced the US that Europeans are useless”.
I would offer an alternative explanation. The winds and hidden currents of history respond to those who feel their way. Putin is no less likely a roguish leader of global resistance than Princess Leia or Captain Solo were in Star Wars. Just the time for such a man is ripe.
Unlike Solo, he is not an adventurer. He is a prudent man. He does not try his luck, he waits, even procrastinates. He did not try to change regime in Tbilisi in 2008, when his troops were already on the outskirts of the city. He did not try his luck in Kiev, either. He has spent many hours in many meetings with Yanukovich whom he supposedly personally dislikes.
Like Captain Solo, Putin is a man who is ready to pay his way, full price, and such politicians are rare. “Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman’s mouth?”, asked a James Joyce character, and answered: “His proudest boast is I paid my way.” Those were Englishmen of another era, long before the likes of Blair, et al.
While McCain and Nuland, Merkel and Bildt speak of the European choice for the Ukraine, none of them is ready to pay for it. Only Russia is ready to pay her way, in the Joycean sense, whether in cash, as now, or in blood, as in WWII.
Putin is also a magnanimous man. He celebrated his Ukrainian victory and forthcoming Christmas by forgiving his personal and political enemies and setting them free: the Pussy Riot punks, Khodorkovsky the murderous oligarch, rioters… And his last press conference he carried out in Captain Solo self-deprecating mode, and this, for a man in his position, is a very good sign.
Ah, what a better world the Free Traders built. With the rush to the bottom, the commemoration of the NAFTA 20th anniversary is a most hollow celebration. Those who have a memory of an actual economic prosperity, lament that H. Ross Perot’s warnings were ignored. Business literates urged the public to elect Perot as President. Establishment corporatist interests and corruptacrat officials joined forces to write a blueprint for economic consolidation and political futility. The fruits of this endeavor only satisfy the appetites of the select cabal of manipulation.
Heed well the undeniable results.
On The Issues, provides valuable resources. In their section, Ross Perot on Free Trade, the perceptive Texan foretold the future in his NAFTA summary.
“NAFTA is really less about trade than it is about investment. Its principal goal is to protect US companies and investors operating in Mexico. The text of the agreement is contained in two volumes covering more than 1,100 pages. The text is mind-numbingly dull. Large portions of it are written in the type of obscure legal terms found on the back of an insurance policy. Buried in the fine print are provisions that will give away American jobs and radically reduce the sovereignty of the US.
[When the Mexican media announced NAFTA, they] did not identify the tiny handful of people in Mexico who would gain the most from this trade pact. They are the 36 businessmen who own Mexico’s 39 largest conglomerates. Collectively, their companies control 54% of Mexico’s Gross National Product. These companies dominate virtually every sector of the Mexican economy of any consequence. When the Mexican government sold off big chunks of Mexico’s state-run companies in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this tiny handful of people quickly acquired control.”
Watch the video Ross Perot in 1992 on NAFTA and the “Giant Sucking Sound”, and appreciate the difference in prosperity if these destructive trade agreements, that solely benefit the globalist, never came about.
The Business Insider in Looks Like Ross Perot Was Right About The “Giant Sucking Sound”, acknowledges the incontestable.
“Both of Perot’s opponents (George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton) argued that NAFTA would create jobs in the U.S. because of business expansion.
However, the goods balance of trade for the U.S. with Mexico has been negative and steadily growing over the years. In 2010 it amounted to $61.6 billion, which was 9.5% of the total goods trade deficit last year.
So Perot has been vindicated in his opinion; expanded free trade has not been accompanied by an increase in jobs in the U.S. relative to the vast numbers of jobs created in the rest of the world as NAFTA became just a stepping stone on the pathway to global commerce.”
From a different political persuasion, Public Citizen comes to much of the same conclusion in their research paper, NAFTA at 20: One Million Lost U.S. Jobs, Higher Income Inequality, Doubled Agriculture Trade Deficit With Mexico and Canada, Displacement and Instability in Mexico, and Corporate Attacks on Environmental Laws.
“Given NAFTA’s devastating outcomes, few of the corporations or think tanks that sold it as a boon for all of us in the 1990s like to talk about it, but the reality is that their promises failed, the opposite occurred and millions of people were severely harmed.”
Proponents of NAFTA often claimed that the Mexican economy would make great strides. In the video, 20 Years on, Mexico is NAFTA’s Biggest Lie, the facts demonstrate a very different record. The Campaign for the Future adds to this conclusion in NAFTA: 20 Years of Spin for America’s Failed Globalization Model.
“NAFTA’s promoters also claimed that NAFTA would be a huge benefit to Mexico, stemming illegal immigration to the U.S., drug trafficking and other corruption, and other ills. (How is that working out?) But even with Mexico’s $1 trillion NAFTA surplus with the U.S., Mexico still suffers a chronic global trade deficit as China and other countries use it as a back door to the U.S. Last year Mexico paid $60 billion for imports of mostly manufactured goods from China while earning only $6 billion from exports of mostly mineral and agricultural commodities to China.”
Folks, this globalization model flops for the most simple of all reasons. Allowing the world economy to reward the neo-feudal system produces only societies that control their populations as serfs. Economists and business journalists that ignore the collapse of real income purchasing power by the vast majority, practice their trade for the conglomerate captains of commerce.
The reason that Free Trade agreement swindles, detested by the suffering public, is such a dramatic failure is that twenty years of diminished wealth hits everyone’s pocketbooks. No longer can the dreadful results from the hidden fine print of treaty documents stay secret from the impoverished middle and underclass.
People are now aware that the former ”giant sucking sound“ has turned into a universal welfare dependency economy of lower expectations. As the global financial system descends into bankruptcy and default, the United States economy will fall even faster than that of poorer nations.
NAFTA is a prime contributor to the dramatic trade deficits that suffocates entrepreneurial ventures that could expand productive growth and achieve a higher standard of living. A Corporatocracy economic system, in union with authoritarian governmental regimes, seeks to rule a world of docile plantation peons.
What is next? CAFTA: Wall Street vs Main Street, proposed back in 2004, and now we have TPP and TTIP on the agenda. The last two decades did not satisfy the greed of the plutocrats. Only total control of transnational business traffic will complete the international trade agreement deals.Absorbing the whole of transaction cash flow into a system of strictly regulated commerce is the economic end game of the globalists. When will people rebel against this bankster’s usury model of business? The darling companies that are approved NAFTA ventures are beholden to the worldwide elites of economic fascism. Perot was right on mark. Oppose future free trade treaties.
The War Is Against Paganism…
Crowns and thrones may perish.
Kingdoms rise and wane
But the Church of Jesus constant will remain
Gates of Hell can never
‘Gainst the Church prevail
We have Christ’s own promise
And that cannot fail
“To gain this victory, we must wage the war. Too many want victory without the war, as though eloquence, patriotic or religious gush, ever overcame an enemy.” R. J. Rushdoony,” Numbers” Pg. 270
Patty and I spent Christmas in Destin, Florida. Destin is an upscale resort town named from a Yankee fisherman who settled there in the mid-Nineteenth Century. It is home to one of the nation’s largest outlet malls.
In one of the shoe outlets we met a clerk from Maine. Her story is typical of many who have been victimized by the massive changes that have been foisted on the world. Born, raised, and married in a shoe prosperous Maine town, she and her husband had two children and were living lavishly. He was a manager at a shoe manufacturing plant where she also worked. Their combined income was in the high six figures providing them a luxurious lifestyle.
As the inexorable Asian labor monster invaded the shoe industry her husband lost his job. The entire industry shrunk and he was unable to find work. She became the sole wage earner under a company promise that there would be no additional lay-offs. The promise was broken and shortly her job was also moved offshore. They lost everything: their home, their car, and their ability to support two children. Without prospects of employment in Maine they moved to Florida where they are now working at dramatically lower incomes. They have re-established their family and, though far less affluent, are again living an orderly life. Since many employees of Maine factories are still struggling, they consider themselves fortunate.
Their story can be multiplied hundreds-of -thousands of times as industry after industry has been devastated by the planned economic reorganization of the world.
Maine is one of a number of areas that have been severely affected. The Northeast quadrant has been hardest hit with factory closings and the accompanying disruption of the social order. Some attempt to cite automation as a culprit but automation provides a social benefit while wholesale robbery is a devastating crime.
The current economic disaster was preceded by an earlier mini-disaster when the Japanese were given free access to our markets. Now, Asians in several countries have entered the fray and despite efforts by the compliant media to cover it up debilitating disruption is clearly evident.
Since 1950 into the first decade of the Twenty-First Century Detroit, Michigan has lost over 61 percent of its population, Gary, Indiana 55 percent, Youngstown, Ohio over 60, Flint, Michigan over 43, Cleveland, Ohio over 56, Dayton, Ohio over 46, Canton, Ohio over 37, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over 54. Though it is growing in income Chicago has still lost over 25 percent of its population.
The kettle holding the United States population was put over very low heat in the 1950s. The drum beat of women’s liberation began and continued relentlessly until after several decades single income homes became archaic being replaced by a household income that included two working adults. This malicious manipulation was imposed without adequate confrontation.
Then we began to hear about the competitive nature of the American work force and how they could successfully compete in the new world market. Soon the Japanese had usurped a major percentage of the automotive industry forcing the irascibly persuasive Lee Iacocca to shame the congress into loaning Chrysler enough money to keep it afloat.
But the bloody Japanese axe that struck the auto industry was only the beginning. The Chinese horde soon followed and suddenly every “Made in USA” product disappeared from our stores. Faced with labor costs a fraction of U. S. standards, industry after industry moved manufacturing to Asia.
The competition was not over the ability of American workers to produce goods as efficiently as Asian labor, as it had been framed. It was instead over the standard of living Americans had enjoyed compared to the standard of living of Chinese peasants. As the Twenty-First Century arrived, a multitude of Americans were like the family from Maine working in retail, health-care or fast food for wages of half or less than their previous employment.
Current propaganda tells us our economy is improving and new jobs are being created. It is all propaganda; don’t believe it! In the new world order competition will force labor costs to parity and parity is lower still.
Though they have prepared for an uprising the powers behind centralization want to maintain peace as long as they can continue extending world domination. The media, a propaganda arm of world government, will continue to report improvement as long as people can be convinced.
Human efforts are useless in stopping this onslaught. The battle is between Christianity and paganism. The only effective weapon against paganism is the God of the Bible and His Law.
Rousas Rushdoony explains, “When men forsake God, they forsake all truth, because for them there is no difference between good and evil, nor between truth and lies”. “Numbers” Pg.316
The Bible, Old and New Testament, Law and Grace, comprise the full gospel. The full gospel would have stopped tyranny in its infancy, but we have forsaken the full gospel and replaced it with the “creative word” of men. I received an email today from my kid sister entitled “What a Church Service”; a video of Andre Rieu leading a musical worship service for a large congregation. Beautiful it is, but an appropriate church service it is not. It is a secular multicultural extravaganza with beautiful music.
Christians who seek to be entertained with music and praise and do not have ears to hear what God requires of His people are useless in stopping the advance of Satan. It is truth and justice and the seating of King Jesus at the throne of power that should be the objective of every Christian congregation. Lies, fantasy, and all the manipulations of arrogant men should be confronted from our pulpits and by our congregations. It is our Christian duty to counter the evil establishment bringing their wrath against the power of the Church of Jesus Christ. When the Christian religion fails to create wrath in God’s enemies there is a serious problem in the Christian religion.
We are being overrun by the minions of evil. We should be fighting a war. We need preachers whose intrepid denouncements will inspire us to enter the battle on the side of the God of the Bible.
The enemy controls our television stations, our newspapers, our government, and, sadly, most of our churches. The voices of dissent are few. Wake up Christians and hear the call to battle!
When a newspaper erroneously contends our economy is improving our pulpits must present Christians with the statistics that prove otherwise. Christians are truth-tellers! When the Media promotes homosexuality our pulpits must denounce it with God’s Words from the Bible. Christian duty requires that we confront evil.
Muslims are busy fighting for control of the Middle East. They appear to be overcoming the secular tyrants. Islam is a false religion and an enemy to Christianity but it is not the core danger to world freedom. In that battle Islam is an ally against the wicked forces of the new world order.
It is time to stop playing church. It is time for every Christian minister to disregard reputation and directly confront the secular forces that threaten peace and order God intends for His creation.
Churches that concentrate on the end times, on tongues and prophecy, evangelism, or on being theologically reformed should forsake their niche religions and confront the secular minions with the full gospel. The size of a church or its growth is of no importance; what is important is its strength against the forces of evil. Reputations must be sacrificed; our God and King is being threatened and we are His soldiers. It is our duty to fight for the elevation of His government– both civilians and rulers are subject to the rule of King Jesus.
As Patty and I exited a restaurant in Destin late in the afternoon on Christmas day we noticed a table of 8 young men with their heads bowed. We thought it wonderful that all these young people were honoring the One True God. However, on second look they were honoring the IPhone god instead.
Millions of older Americans say they will never be able to retire. They simply don’t have the savings. According to CNN, “Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings…50% have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all….” (“76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck“, CNN Money)
“No savings at all”?
That’s right. So retirement is out of the question. A sizable chunk of the adult population is going to punch a clock until they keel-over in the office parking lot and get hauled off in the company dumpster. And those are the lucky ones, the so called baby boomers. By the time we get to the millennials it’ll be even worse because the economy will have been ravaged by 25 or 30 years of austerity leaving the proles to scrape by on hardtack and gruel. Pensions are already being looted, Social Security is under fire, and any small stipend that supports the poor, the unemployed, or the infirm is going to be terminated. That’s why everyone is so down-in-the-mouth, because their expectations of the future are so bleak. Check this out from Business Insider:
“For millennials, the situation is even more grim. Compared to their parents at their age, the under-30 set is worth only half as much. And while this is a sobering reminder of the scale of the Great Recession’s impact on younger generations, it’s not the whole story. These households were actually falling behind even before the stock market and housing crash, researchers found.
Young people not only saw their wages stagnate or drop but also suffered a rise in fixed costs. They leave college with an average $27,000 debt load and have a harder time finding jobs that pay well, while facing more expensive health care and housing costs.
“If these generations cannot accumulate wealth, they will be less able to support themselves when unexpected emergencies arise or when they eventually retire,” the study authors said. “This financial uncertainty could reverberate throughout the economy, since entrepreneurial activity, saving, and investment tend to build on a base of confidence and growing wealth.”(“AMERICA IN DECLINE: Young People Are Much Worse Off Than Their Parents Were At That Age“, Business Insider)
An entire generation of young people have been raped and discarded by their government and all the author cares about is the impact it will have on personal consumption.
Go figure. And there’s a larger point here too, which is that Americans have always believed that their children would enjoy a higher standard of living than their own. Until now, that is. Now most people think things are going to get worse, much worse. You see it in all the surveys. Expectations have changed, the future looks darker than ever before, and people are scared. Check this out from CNN:
“Things appear to be looking up for the economy.
On Wednesday the Federal Reserve felt confident enough to begin slowly withdrawing the huge economic stimulus the central bank has been pumping into the economy.
Unemployment is the lowest in five years. Economic growth picked up recently. The housing sector — which got us into this mess in the first place — is bouncing back. Home sales, prices and construction are all on the rise.
Auto sales recently had their strongest growth since 2006. Gas prices have fallen dramatically this year, and the stock market has risen sharply.
And there’s some reason to be hopeful for next year too. The Fed announced a slightly improved outlook for unemployment in 2014.
But things aren’t always as good as they seem. For many Americans, all the good news in the larger economy isn’t translating over to everyday life. Only 24% of the public believe economic conditions are improving, while nearly four-in-ten say the nation’s economy is actually getting worse, according to a recent CNN poll.” (“Is the economy as good as it looks?“, CNN Money)
That’s right; no one is buying the “recovery” crappola any more. They all know it’s BS. And a closer look at the CNN survey tells you why.
“Looking specifically at the economy, 39% feel that the economy is still in a downturn, up six points from April. Only 24% believe that an economic recovery is under way. Thirty-six percent are in the middle – they don’t think we’re in a recovery but they believe conditions have stabilized.” (CNN Politics)
So, 3 out of 4 people think we’re either still in a severe slump or running in place.(stagnation) That’s your recovery in a nutshell. And it explains why people hate bankers, Wall Street, and Congress. It also explains why millennials have given up on Obama after finally acknowledging that the man is a bumptious blowhard who’s never lifted a finger to help the people who shoehorned his worthless keister into office. Take a look at this from Policy Mic:
“Debt-weary millennials are disillusioned with Obama’s performance with regard to the economy, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, his handling of foreign relations”…
A new poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics has revealed that young Americans’ support for President Barack Obama has reached the lowest point yet. According to the poll, only 41% of Americans aged 18-29 approve of Obama’s performance in office, an 11% drop since April.” (“Millennials officially hate Obama. Here’s why“, policymic)
Ahhh, so people are finally waking up to what an unprincipled phony this guy is. Good!
Unfortunately, ripping Obama won’t pay the bills, which is why so many people are making painful adjustments in their own lives to make ends meet. Aside from cutting back on trips to the doctor and setting the thermostat on “Off”, America’s plenteous graybeards are staying on the job longer than ever. Here’s a clip from an article in Forbes:
“An alarming 37% of middle class Americans believe they’ll work until they’re too sick or until they die.
Another 34% believes retirement will come at the ripe age of 80…
It’s a grim look at the state of retirement which seems to be getting worse for middle class Americans.
Wells Fargo WFC -0.09% interviewed 1,000 Americans between age 25 and 75 and with household income ranging between $25,000 and $99,000. More than half (59%) said their top day-to-day financial concern is paying the monthly bills; that’s up from 52% who said the same last year.
“We do this survey every year and for the past three years, the struggle to pay bills is a growing concern and the prospect of saving for retirement looks dim, particularly for those in their prime saving years,” Laurie Nordquist, head of Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust, says in the report.
And here’s something for leaders in Washington DC to consider: One third of those surveyed said their primary source of retirement income will come from social security. That figure gets even bigger for those who make less than $50,000–48% of those earners say social security is going to be their primary retirement income.” (“Work Until You Die? More Middle Class Americans Say They Can Never Retire“, Halah Touryalai, Forbes)
How do you like that, eh? So nearly half the people who make less than $50,000 are counting on Social Security as their “primary retirement income.” At the same time, our old buddy Obama is planning to cut Social Security to keep his criminal friends on Wall Street happy.
That means a whole lot of us are going to be stuck bussing tables at Olive Garden until they carry us out feet first.
Your doing a hechuva job, Barry!
In 33 years of forecasting trends, the Trends Research Institute has never seen a new year that will witness severe economic hardship and social unrest on one hand, and deep philosophic enlightenment and personal enrichment on the other. A series of dynamic socioeconomic and transformative geopolitical trend points are aligning in 2014 to ring in the worst and best of times.
Ready or not, here they come.
March Economic Madness: One of the most difficult aspects of trend forecasting is getting the timing right. And when it comes to economics, there are many wildcards that can stall or detour any on-rushing trend. We called the Crash of ’87, the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis and the Panic of ’08 (we even established the domain name in 2007) right on the button. But we missed the mark with our Crash of 2010 prediction.
Why? The Federal Reserve and central banks around the world were secretly pumping tens of trillions of dollars into a failing financial system. These were, at the time, unimagined schemes for nations that pride themselves on capitalism. And while we are not naïve to the dirty dealings of the financial industry, rigging the daily multi-trillion dollar LIBOR and FOREX markets was not on our radar. Thus, what we believed to be economic truths and hard facts were, in fact, cover-ups and lies….
Such unforeseeable factors aside, we forecast that around March, or by the end of the second quarter of 2014, an economic shock wave will rattle the world equity markets. What will cause this econo-shock? How can you prepare for it? It’s a Top Trend of 2014. Read about it in the Winter Trends Journal.
Global Chinatowns: Name the continent or pick a country, every one contains its own brand of Chinatown. The Chinese global buying binge, now in its early growth stage, will noticeably accelerate in 2014. From coal mines in Zambia, to Borscht Belt resorts in New York, to factories in Italy, and to farmlands in Ukraine, a seemingly endless variety of Chinese development projects are being incubated around the world. If there is a deal to be had and a need to be filled, Chinese players are increasingly at the front of the line.
Wealthy investors, college graduates without jobs, skilled and unskilled laborers will be migrating out of their overpopulated, congested and highly polluted nation to foreign shores. Where are the new growth areas? What actions will be taken to stop or control the trend? Who will benefit? Who will lose? And what are the dangers and opportunities? You’ll find the answers in the Winter Trends Journal.
Wake Up Call: Last year we forecast the Great Awakening 2.0, a period reminiscent of the first Great Awakening that provided the intellectual, philosophical and spiritual ammunition that ignited the American Revolution. The “Awakening” has begun. Throughout 2014, and beyond, you will hear the Wake Up Call. It will be loud and distinct.
In 2013, the White House and Congress proved their extreme incompetence with a series of public failures. From closing down the government, to the debt ceiling debacle, to the aborted attack on Syria and, ultimately, to the disastrous launch of Obamacare, the ineptness of our political leaders was overwhelming. As polls show, a majority of citizens registered levels of scorn and ridicule unparalleled in modern America.
But this phenomenon is not limited to America. Around the world, citizen distrust has turned into universal disdain for entrenched political parties whose draconian austerity measures and punishing economic policies have thrown millions into poverty and pushed millions of protesters into the streets. Civil wars, civil unrest, revolts and revolutions will be just some of the cards dealt by an angry public that has lost everything and has nothing left to lose.
Will those in power hear the Wake Up Call? Or will they attempt to stamp it down and drown it out? Hear it or not, the movement is unstoppable. It will be a battle of the classes. What will it mean? Where will it take the biggest toll? Can the protests and disturbances of tomorrow bring peace and enlightenment that will lead to the Great Awakening 2.0? It’s all in the Top Trends 2014 Winter Trends Journal.
Seniors Own Social Media: Seniors now comprise the fastest-growing user segment of the social media world, and the year ahead will see the retail, business, political, health and entertainment industries evolve aggressive strategies to realize the robust economic potential in engaging seniors.
The gamut of possibilities is so grand that we forecast technological and product advances that impact everything from nursing home life to political campaigns and causes. Read the Winter Trends Journal to pinpoint how this trend will unfold and affect you and your interests.
Populism: Regardless of how professional politicians deride it or how the traditional media describe it, “populism” is a megatrend sweeping Europe, and it will soon spread across the globe. Mired in prolonged recession, disgusted with corrupt political parties, and forced to follow EU, ECB and IMF austerity dictates, populist movements are seeking to regain national identity and break free from the euro and Brussels domination. These movements are positioned to bring down ruling parties and build up new ones.
The discontent of the one-size-fits-all Euro Union formula is so deep that populists are expected to gain some 25 percent of the European Parliament seats in next year’s elections. “We have the big risk to have the most ‘anti-European’ European Parliament ever,” cried Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. “The rise of populism is today the main European social and political issue,” Mr. Letta added. “To fight against populism, in my view, is a mission today – in Italy and in the other countries.”
Already, some nations, such as Spain, have passed new laws restricting public demonstrations while imposing police-state measures to stamp out dissent. What is the future of populism? How far will it spread? Will it lead to the formation of new parties, or lead to civil wars? Read about it in the Trends Journal’s Top Trends 2014 edition.
Trouble in Slavelandia: Even as total US personal wealth soars above a record high of $77 trillion, fueled by the stock market’s own record highs, life for the growing number of have-nots in Slavelandia has become more desperate. In today’s Plantation Economy – driven by the bottom line needs of multinationals and flailing austerity-prone governments – low-paying service jobs and reduced hours engineered to evade corporate responsibility to provide benefits, are making it tough for the working poor, a group that now includes debt-burdened and underemployed college graduates and seniors as well as the traditional underclass.
Nearly half of the requests for emergency assistance to stave off hunger or homelessness comes from people with full-time jobs. As government safety nets are pulled out from under them – as they will continue to be for the foreseeable future – the citizens of Slavelandia will have no recourse but action. The fast-food worker strikes of 2013, seeking a higher minimum wage, were just a mild taste of what is to come. Learn more in the WinterTrends Journal.
The New Altruism: Several burgeoning trends identified for 2014 will coalesce in a welcome trend toward selfless concern for the wellbeing of others and an interest in the common good. Across the age divide, from people in their youth to those of advanced years, the search for meaning will intensify and become more widespread in response to waning resources, want, and an over-commodified culture. As despair quietly takes more prisoners, Doing Good will be recognized as the key to escape.
Ironically, the Internet that has been much maligned for currying narcissism will make the donation of money, time and talents so easy that people will be able to enact their better natures without resistance. Be they Boomers in renaissance or populists in revolt, people will discover and expand the humanist side of globalism and act accordingly. See why in the Top Trends of 2014 Winter edition of the Trends Journal.
Private Health Goes Public: While the world focused on the blockbuster NSA surveillance revelations and other cyber-snooping episodes of 2013, another powerful trend line was firmly planted: Your health data has been progressively mined, assembled and made accessible to a widening group of interested parties.
While signing up for the Affordable Care Act brought some attention to this developing trend, around the globe, data on individuals’ health status, behaviors, prescriptions and even their genetic indicators have been funneled to a wide range of databases. Those databases have many purposes and a growing number of hands on them.
The positive and negative implications of this trend are equally powerful. Individuals and their health care providers can more easily tie vital physical data with worldwide medical databases to anticipate and potentially prevent disease. But, in the wrong hands, the data can be used to exploit, damage and take advantage of individuals and their families. Security concerns will rise in equal importance with the potential benefits of this critical trend line.
What does this mean for you, your family, or your business? The Winter Trends Journal will provide the answers.
Boomer Renaissance Arrives: Distinct and strengthening economic, lifestyle and societal determinants are building a creative foundation for the older population as it discovers new approaches to work and finds long-elusive contentment in the process.
You already know that older workers, seeing their retirement plans shattered, have to work beyond traditional retirement years. You also know that those same economic dynamics are forcing aging Boomers to entirely rethink retirement. And, of course, you know that as Boomers are living longer, traditional thinking about retirement has been stood on its head. What you might not realize is how these factors are compelling Boomers to unearth potent creative energies not only to survive, but to realize potential that evaded them in traditional work roles.
In 2014, we will see growing evidence of this Boomer Renaissance, accentuated by waves of self-guided entrepreneurism that alchemizes commerce, survival and self-actualization into a new world and self view. The Winter Trends Journal will explore this compelling 2014 trend in depth.
Digital Learning Explodes: Fears that online educational platforms fall short of providing depth and effectiveness in the learning experience will all but disappear. Across the entire educational spectrum, online learning will expand to include not only course instruction, but also a wealth of real-life learning experience, with considerable participation by the skills-hungry business community.
For individuals, educational institutions, industries, small businesses and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, the implications are enormous. From traditional degree-based education to very specific micro skills-based learning, this trend line explodes. The Trends Research Institute will break down the implications for individuals, business professionals and a range of industries in its Winter Trends Journal.
How do you sum up 2013 as a year for the United States and her citizens? What criteria do you use? Good, bad and ugly? As Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limitations. Well, do ya’ punk?” The same could be said for our country. Do we understand our limitations?
On the immigration front, 20 million illegal aliens “itched” to get themselves legalized so they could continue their “Aztlan Reconquista” of the four southwestern states. Spanish co-equals English in America because Congress runs from any sense of responsibility to our immigration laws and the English language that built America. As their numbers grow, illegal migrants march toward their goal with the help of President Barack Obama, himself a non-citizen, the ACLU, and 535 Congressional critters that refuse to enforce our Constitutional laws.
After 11 years replete with $1 trillion wasted, our military men and women remain in the Islamic insane asylum of Afghanistan doing nothing but pouring money and lives down the rat-hole. The military industrial complex works its wonders with Obama and Congress to start a war with Iran. The bankers and moneychangers lick their chops at the thought of endless and meaningless wars overseas. As General Smedley Butler said in his memoirs, “War is a racket for bankers and politicians.”
Psychologists expect anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 young men will commit suicide from their senseless service in the Islamic nuthouse of the Middle East. Endless forms of PTSD cause broken marriages, fatherless families, alcoholic & drug addicted soldiers and nonstop misfortune for our military veterans.
For a 5th straight year, Barack Obama proves himself an inept, incompetent and totally lackluster president of the United States. Food stamp recipients charged from 36 million at the beginning of his first term to 48.1 million subsisting on food stamps today. He drove the federal deficit from $12 trillion in 2008 to its current $18 trillion in 2013. More blacks suffer unemployment, poverty, incarceration and welfare than under any other president.
While 14 million Americans remained unemployed and 7 million under employed, Obama and Congress imported over 2.0 million legal and illegal immigrants into America in 2013. Obama and Congress failed to create jobs for the 48.1 million Americans living on food stamps, but they increased section 8 housing, “free” school lunches, medical care and ESL courses for illegal foreign children.
Because the U.S. continues as the third largest and fastest growing country because of immigration, we also accelerate global carbon footprint with millions of added car exhausts, chimneys and factories that acidifies our oceans and causes such horrific weather changes that create Hurricane Sandy, Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan. With the expected 100 million additional immigrants in the next 36 years, we can expect Mother Nature to respond commensurately.
On the sociological front, we saw Hispanic George Zimmerman kill one young thug named Trayvon Martin that created national headlines while 1,400 black Americans killed another 1,400 black Americans—but no one at the national level, the Black Caucus or Al Sharpton made a mention of blacks slaughtering blacks. Meanwhile, the mainstream media made not one mention of “Black Flash Mobs” or “Black Knockout Games” where American blacks run around killing whites for the fun of it. Three blacks in Oklahoma killed a white Australian college baseball player, “For the fun of it.”
If you look at the dropout/flunkout rates in our educational systems such as a 76 percent high school dropout rate in Detroit, Michigan to 60 percent flunkout rate in Mexican-dominated Los Angeles, we continue on our downward spiral of a “functionally illiterate” civilization where dumb people outnumber educated people, but enjoy endless welfare, food, cell phones, medical care and housing on the backs of those of us who study, work and contribute.
On the federal level, we see a culture of corruption in the Obama White House and Congress that gave us incompetence, malfeasance and covered up the Benghazi murders, Fast and Furious gun running, NSA spying, 22 Islamic jihad compounds now operating in America and imported tens of thousands of Muslims via legal immigration that will end up undermining our country’s culture, language and laws.
Sharia Law charges into our country as fast as their numbers grow. Obama features eight Islamic staff working full time in the White House. In the next three years, we will see countless tens of thousands of Muslims imported into America to bring “hope and change” for Islam in America. At some point, Muslims will bomb our electrical grid with multiple-coordinated teams, which will make 9/11 look like a garden party. Few of us realize our vulnerability, and remember, when jihad warriors succeed, they enjoy 72 virgins in Islamic heaven.
On the health-care front, Obamacare stumbled, faltered and fell on every level. Ironically, Americans show they don’t care about their health, as over half of our population grows intolerably obese. Fifty millions Americans smoke, 10 million alcoholics abound while diabetes became a national epidemic. Cancer continues as the number one killer, but few connect it to our contaminated air, water and soil via endless chemicals injected into our biosphere.
On the trade front, China owns us. They buy U.S. companies, land and entire office districts here in the USA. By the time they get done, they will dictate what we do, who we are and how we operate.
As we transform and deform into a polyglot, chaotic, multi-lingual and multicultural society, we continue to watch the Middle Class degrade into non-existence. We watch the American flag become the Mexican flag, the Middle Eastern flag and hundreds of other flags from immigrants that could care less about America.
On the international front, no one suspects or reports on the growing radioactive plume originating from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. That radio-active water circulates into all the oceans—contaminating every living creature below the waters around the world—and contaminating all the fish and marine life we use for food. That event will prove the greatest ecological debacle for humanity for all of history. Cancers, destroyed eco-systems, degraded oceans and much worse await humanity.
What’s amazing about 2013? Men wasted 29 hours weekly watching the idiot box as to football, baseball, hockey and basketball. For the Americans with jobs, we partied, played and ordered pizza. We drove around without the faintest clue as to what Congress and Obama continue accomplishing: utterly and completely ignoring our sacred Constitution and Bill of Rights.
As we dance into 2014, I can only appreciate that our country faces financial collapse, sociological degradation, environmental deterioration, accelerated immigration numbers to 2.0 million annually, millions of jobless whites, blacks and Hispanics, energy exhaustion, environmental breakdown and resource depletion.
Will 2014 get better? This should foreshadow the answer as Mark Twain said, “Suppose you were an idiot; and suppose you were a member of Congress; ah, but I repeat myself.”
Another Facebook writer said, “Obama is what you get when you allow idiots, illegals and welfare recipients to vote.”
According to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, Barack Obama now ranks among the least popular presidents in the last century. In fact, his approval rating is lower than Bush’s was in his fifth year in office. Obama’s overall approval rating stands at a dismal 43 percent, with a full 55 percent of the public “disapproving of the way he is handling the economy”. The same percentage of people “disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president”. Thus, on the two main issues, leadership and the economy, Obama gets failing grades.
An even higher percentage of people are upset at the way the president is implementing his signature health care system dubbed “Obamacare”. When asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling “implementation of the new health care law?” A full 62% said they disapprove, although I suspect that the anger has less to do with the plan’s “implementation” than it does with the fact that Obamacare is widely seen as a profit-delivery system for the voracious insurance industry. Notwithstanding the administration’s impressive public relations campaign, a clear majority of people have seen through Obama’s health care ruse and given the program a big thumb’s down.
Of course, Obamacare is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The list of policy disasters that preceded this latest fiasco is nearly endless, including everything from blanket pardons for the Wall Street big-wigs who took down the global financial system, to re-upping the Bush tax cuts, to appointing a commission of deficit hawks to slash Social Security and Medicare (Bowles-Simpson), to breaking his word on Gitmo, to reneging on his promise to pass Card Check, to expanding to wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, to droning 4-times as many civilians as the homicidal maniac he replaced as president in 2008.
Obama’s treatment of undocumented immigrants has been particularly shocking although the details have been kept out of the media, presumably because the news giants don’t want to expose the Dear Leader as a heartless scoundrel who has no problem separating mothers from their children, locking them up in privately-owned concentration camps and booting them out of the country with nothing more than the shirt on their back. Check out this blurb which sums up Obama’s “progressive” immigration policy in one paragraph:
“Obama is on track to deport 3 million immigrants without papers by the end of his second term, more than any other president. George W. Bush deported about 2 million over two terms. Obama will likely hit that mark this month….. The average daily count of immigrants in detention now is about 33,000. In 2001, it was 19,000. In 1994, it was 5,000, according to the Detention Watch Network. Almost all of the detainees and deportees are Latino. True, the population of illegal immigrants has also doubled in that time to more than 11 million. But the detainee and deportee counts have escalated more than twice as fast.
“He could go down as the worst president in history toward immigrants,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of the liberal activist group Presente.org.
Hooray for the Deporter in Chief! You’re Numero Uno, buddy. You even beat Bush! Is it any wonder why the man’s ratings are in freefall?
All told, Obama has been bad for the economy, bad for civil liberties, bad for minorities, bad for foreign wars, and bad for health care. He has, however, been a very effective lackey-sock puppet for Wall Street, Big Pharma, the oil magnates, and the other 1% -vermin Kleptocrats who run the country and who will undoubtedly attend his $100,000-per-plate speaking engagements when he finally retires in comfort to some gated community where he’ll work on his memoirs and cash in on his 8 years of faithful service to the racketeer class.
But, let’s face it; no one really gives a rip about “drone attacks in Waziristan” or “hunger strikes in Gitmo”. What they care about is keeping their jobs, paying off their student loans, putting the food on the table or avoiding the fate of next-door-neighbor, Andy, who got his pink slip two months ago and now finds himself living in a cardboard box by the river. That’s what the average working stiff worries about; just scraping by enough to stay out of the homeless shelter. But it’s getting harder all the time, mainly because everything’s gotten worse under Obama. It’s crazy. It’s like the whole middle class is being dismantled in a 10-year period. Wages are flat, jobs are scarce, incomes are dropping like a stone, and everyone’s broke. (Everyone I know, at least.) Did you know that 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Check it out:
“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.”
Are you kidding me? What’s that? Who do you know that’s able to save money in this economy? Maybe rich uncle Johnny whose lived on canned sardines and Akmak for the last 50 years, but nobody else can live like that. Subtract the rent, the groceries, the doctor bills etc, and there’s barely enough leftover to fill the tank to get to work on Monday. Saving just isn’t an option, not in the Obamaworld, that is.
Now check this out from Business Insider:
“Thousands of Americans aged 55 and older are going back to school and reinventing themselves to get an edge in a difficult labor market, hoping to rebuild retirement nest eggs that were almost destroyed by the recession….
According to the Federal Reserve, household financial assets, which exclude homes, dropped from a peak of $57 trillion in the third quarter of 2007 to just over $49 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year, the latest period for which data is available.
A survey to be released this summer by the Public Policy Institute of AARP, an advocacy group for older Americans, found a quarter of Americans 50 years and older used up all their savings during the 2007-09 recession. About 43 percent of the 5,000 respondents who took part in the survey said their savings had not recovered.” (“Unemployed Baby Boomers Are Getting Hired By Going Back To School”, Business Insider)
Sure they’re going back to work. What do you expect them to do? They’re broke! They got wiped out in Wall Street’s mortgage laundering scam and they’re still behind the eightball five years later. And what’s left of the money they set aside for retirement is yielding a big zilch thanks to the Fed’s zero rate policy which is forcing people back into another decade of penal servitude at minimum wage. That’s why you see so many hunched over graybeards in red vests with “Happy to Serve You” splattered on their chests lugging shopping bags out to the cars for old ladies. Because they’re broke and out of options. Everyone knows someone like this unless, of course, they’re one of the fortunate few who make up the Nobel 1%; aka–The Job Cremators. Then they don’t have to fret about that sort of thing.
Here’s another gem you might not have seen in USA Today a few months back:
“Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend….
Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63% of whites called the economy “poor.”
“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend, but it doesn’t generate much income….
Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15% of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white…
“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.” (“4 in 5 in USA face near-poverty, no work”, USA Today)
Does Obama have any idea of the damage he’s doing with his Rich-First policies? The country is in a terrible state and yet Obama continues to approve bills that throw millions of people off unemployment benefits, sharply cut government spending, or undermine vital safetynet programs that keep the sick and the elderly from dying on the streets. It’s like he’s trying to reduce 300 million Americans to grinding third world poverty in his short eight-year term. Is that the goal?
Did you know that–according to Gallup–20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year? Or that –according to a Feeding America hunger study–more than 37 million people are now using food pantries and soup kitchens? Or that one out of six Americans is now living in poverty which is the highest level since the 1960s? Or that the gap between the rich and poor is greater than any in history?
Everything has gotten worse under Obama. Everything. And, not once, in his five years as president, has this gifted and charismatic leader ever lifted a finger to help the millions of people who supported him, who believed in him, and who voted him into office.
These latest poll results indicate that many of those same people are beginning to wake up and see what Obama is really all about.
Let’s think about all those trillions of dollars that have been constantly pouring into war profiteers’ pockets ever since they invented Vietnam. All those trillions must have come from somewhere. Of course we all know that some of them came from the Federal Reserve where they print Monopoly money like crazy. And, ironically, some of them have also come from multiple humungous loans from China. Plus some of that money also found its way into the pockets of War Street at approximately the same time that “all the gold in Fort Knox” mysteriously disappeared. And a few trillion also seems to have just materialized out of thin air — as if there was some ethereal war-profiteer fairy out there happily waving her magic wand. But a lot of this destructive blood-money also came out of the pockets of us American taxpayers. Trillions of dollars. From you and me.
All too many of us hard-working Americans have been forced to gird up our loins and go without so that war profiteers can afford to live like kings, buy multiple yachts, drink Veuve Clicquot champagne and smoke Cuban cigars.
You and I have gone without jobs, schools, roads, police, fire departments, hospitals, etc. in order to pay handsomely for War Street’s right to kill babies and Live Large.
And, apparently, we are also being forced to live without the high-quality court system that we here in California had grown accustomed to. How do I know this? Because the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association just told me so!
At a recent luncheon meeting of BABA at the famed Berkeley City Club (designed by Julia Morgan herself) and over roast chicken, fruit salad and pie, a judge from the Alameda County Superior Court gave us a talk on the struggles that Alameda County is going through just to keep its court system working and its courthouse doors open these days.
“One billion dollars was lost in the budget last year,” the speaker told us. “This is the toughest time financially in the history of this court. We have never has to worry about money before — but now we worry about money all of the time. It is very difficult to juggle to keep all of our programs alive.” http://www.courthousenews.com/
“For instance, there have been 26 furlough days this year, where court employees didn’t get paid. Courthouses are closed. We used to have 72 judges and nine commissioners. Now there are 18 vacancies this year. We went from 940 employees to 720 employees. We need 104 more just to operate. There used to be seven civil court locations. Now there are only two. Four family courts have been reduced to one family court. Four probate locations have been reduced to one.” Heaven forbid that you should have to die and your ghost be forced to stand in line for hours at probate court.
“And if you get a traffic ticket anywhere in the county, you will have to drive all the way down to Fremont to contest it. People stand in line for blocks at 5 am to get their tickets handled — and may still have to come back. And the only reason Alameda County is barely keeping its head above water right now is because we have so many employees who are dedicated to bringing access to justice for all. Sacramento County, for instance, doesn’t even have a civil filing office bull pen. You just leave your unfiled summonses, pleadings and other documents in a drop-box. Some counties have over 5000 unfiled documents right now.”
And where is the money from all those unpaid salaries going? As far as I can tell, it is going into the pockets of tax-dodging corporate welfare queens and heartless and immoral war profiteers. Christmas is coming up. Would Jesus approve of all this random bloodshed and not-random greed? Can you actually imagine Him saying, “I am Jesus and I approve this message.” No way!
“Then there is the problem of criminal realignment. 30,000 prisoners have been released but next year there will be no money for their realignment — so more petty thefts will occur. This will be very interesting to see.” In other words, 30,00 prisoners will get out of jail with only bus fare and the clothes on their backs.
And also court electronic data systems have suffered. “In some smaller counties, the filing system consists of putting papers in a box. And our county no longer has the personnel to support inter-court filing of documents either.” So you have to go to one specific court if you want to file a complaint or a probate document or a traffic ticket protest or an unlawful detainer.
And speaking of unlawful detainers (that’s where people who don’t pay their rent get invited to court by their landlord), the California court system has been flooded with them. “There are so many banks with foreclosures. These are our priority cases. And 95% of them are getting settled because judges from other departments volunteer to help out and get these cases heard — because where else are people being threatend with foreclosure evictions going to go if they lose their homes?”
PS: At its next monthly luncheon meeting, BABA asked a federal judge to speak — only he talked about an excess of money in America instead of a dearth of it, and how there have been whole tornadoes and hurricanes of money, flooding down on the USA like hailstorms ever since Citizens’ United took effect.
“And there is the additional problem of having individuals with unlimited personal bank accounts now running for office,” said the judge. “When all this money flows into the election system, only wealthy people are elected.” And why shouldn’t rich people invest in buying elections? For every dollar a huge corporation or war profiteer spends on buying an election, he gets a 5000% return in pork-barrel dollars sent his way.
“Swing states are already saturated with money on the presidential-campaign level,” and so any more money being poured into those campaigns will have decreasing effectiveness. “But large sums of money have an overwhelming effect on local elections. But even though voters aren’t stupid, even when being constantly bombarded with expensive ads, fair elections are still impossible under the current system,” said the judge as I happily ate roast beef, baby spinach and cheesecake.
“We in America have a very narrow view of what constitutes corruption.” It’s not corrupt to buy an election any more — just as long as you use the new Supreme Court guidelines or have a friend at Diebold. You can’t just slip a poll-worker a fin any more. That’s corrupt. You gotta be new-school about it. http://readersupportednews.
“Chief Justice Roberts stated that, ‘The Supreme Court doesn’t make the laws. We just call balls and strikes’. That is wrong.” Especially when the current Supreme Court continuously calls out “strike!” even after a batter has obviously hit a home run. http://jpstillwater.blogspot.
PPS: “So, Jane. What’s your moral here?” The moral here is that we need to protect the integrity of our court system at any cost — even if it means that a few more war profiteers have to go without one of their yachts. And also that I love all those Berkeley-Albany Bar Association luncheons.