Ironman Varoufakis’s Revolutionary Plan for Europe…
“The ongoing dispute between the German and Greek governments is nothing less than a democratic revolution against German hegemony and the attempt of the Germans and their paladins in the EU to dictate Greek domestic policy.”
–Mathew D. Rose, It’s a revolution, Stupid! Naked Capitalism
“Germany is eating itself over Greece. It is eroding its moral authority, and seems prepared to destroy the eurozone’s integrity just to make a point.”
–Paul Mason, Germany v Greece is a fight to the death, a cultural and economic clash of wills, Guardian
If you haven’t been following developments in the Greek-EU standoff, you’re really missing out. This might be the best story of the year. And what makes it so riveting, is that no one thought that little Greece could face off with the powerful leaders of the EU and make them blink. But that’s exactly what’s happened. On Monday, members of the Eurogroup met with Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, to decide whether they would accept Greece’s terms for an extension of the current loan agreement. There were no real changes to the agreement. The only difference was semantics, that is, the loan would not be seen as a bailout but as “a transitional stage to a new contract for growth for Greece”. In other words, a bridge to a different program altogether.
In retrospect, Varoufakis’s strategy was pure genius, mainly because it knocked the EU finance ministers off balance and threw the process into turmoil. After all, how could they vote “thumbs down” on loan package that they had previously approved just because the language was slightly different? But if they voted “thumbs up”, then what?
Well, then they would be acknowledging (and, tacitly, approving) Greece’s determination to make the program less punitive in the future. That means they’d be paving the way for an end to austerity and a rethink on loan repayment. They’d also be conceding that Greece’s democratically-elected government had the right to alter the policies of the Eurogroup. How could they let that happen?
But, then again, how could they vote it down, after all, it was basically the same deal. As Varoufakis pointed out in a press conference on Monday:
“We agree to the terms of our loan agreements to all our creditors”. And we have “agreed to do nothing to derail the existing budget framework during the interim period.”
See? It’s the same deal.
This is the conundrum the Eurogroup faced on Monday, but instead of dealing with it head-on, as you would expect any mature person to do, they punted. They put off the loan extension decision for another day and called it quits. Now maybe that was the smart thing to do, but the optics sure looked terrible. It looked like Varoufakis stared them down and sent them fleeing like scared schoolchildren.
Now, remember, Monday was the absolute, drop-dead deadline for deciding whether the Eurogroup would approve or reject the new terms for Greece’s loan extension. That means the Eurogroup’s task could not have been more straightforward. All they had to do was vote yes or no. That’s it.
Instead, they called ‘Time Out’ and kicked the can a little further down the road. It was not a particularly proud moment for the European Union. But what’s even worse, is the subterfuge that preceded the meetings; that’s what cast doubt on the character of the people running EU negotiations. Here’s the scoop: About 15 minutes before the confab began, Varoufakis was given a draft communique outlining the provisions of the proposed loan extension. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the document met all his requirements and, so, he was prepared to sign it. Unfortunately, the document was switched shortly before the negotiations began with one that backtracked on all the crucial points.
I’m not making this up. The freaking Eurogroup tried to pull the old switcheroo on Varoufakis to get him to sign something that was different than the original. Can you believe it? And it’s only because Varoufakis studiously combed through the new memo that he was able to notice the discrepancy and jam on the brakes. As it happens, the final copy was just a rehash of the same agreement that Varoufakis has rejected from the onset. The only difference was the underhanded way the Eurogroup tried to slip it by him.
Now you tell me: Would you consider people who do something like that “trustworthy”?
Of course not. This is how people behave when they don’t care about integrity or credibility, when all that matters is winning. If the Eurogroup can trick the Greeks into signing something that’s different than what they think they’re signing; then tough luck for the Greeks. “Caveat emptor”. Buyer beware. The Eurogroup has no problem with that kind of shabby double-dealing. That’s just how they play the game.
But their trickery and bullying hasn’t worked, mainly because Varoufakis is too smart for them. And he’s too charismatic and talented too, which is a problem for the EU bigwigs who resent the fact that this upstart Marxist academic has captured the imaginations of people around the world upsetting their little plan to perpetuate Greece’s 6-year long Depression. They never anticipated that public opinion would shift so dramatically against them, nor had they imagined that all of Europe would be focused laserlike on the shady and autocratic workings of the feckless Eurogroup. That’s not what they wanted. What they wanted was carte blanche to impose their medieval policies on the profligate Greeks, just like the good old days after Lehman Brothers tanked. After all, that’s how a “anti-democratic imperialist project” like the EU is supposed to work, right?
Right, except now Varoufakis and his Marxist troopers have thrown a wrench in the Eurogroup’s plans and put the future in doubt. The tide has turned sharply towards reason, solidarity and compassion instead of repression, exploitation and cruelty. In just a few weeks, the entire playing field has changed, and Greece appears to be getting the upper hand. Who would have known?
If you look at the way that Varoufakis has handled the Eurogroup, you have to admire the subtlety, but effectiveness of his strategy. In any battle, one must draw attention to the righteousness of their cause while exposing the flaws in the character of their adversary. The incident on Monday certainly achieved both. While David never really slayed Goliath, Goliath is certainly in retreat. And that’s alot better than anyone expected.
As for the “cause”, well, that speaks for itself. The Greek bailout was never reasonable because the plan wasn’t designed to create a path for Greece to grow its way out of debt and deflation. No. It was basically a public relations smokescreen used to conceal what was really going on behind the scenes, which was a massive giveaway to the banks and bondholders. Everyone knows this. Check this out from Naked Capitalism:
“According to the Jubilee Debt Campaign, 92% of €240 billion Greece has received since the May 2010 bailout went to Greek and European financial institutions.” (Naked Capitalism)
Yep, it was all just one big welfare payment to the moocher class. Meanwhile, the Greeks got zilch. And, yet, the Eurogroup wants them to continue with this same program?
As far as Greece’s finances are concerned, they’ve gotten progressively worse every year the bailout has dragged on. For example, Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio has gone from 115 percent in 2010 more than 170 percent today. The country is headed in the wrong direction, which is what makes Varoufakis’s remedies so compelling. It’s because everyone knows that ‘if you are already in a hole, stop digging’. That’s the logic behind Varoufakis’s position; he simply wants to “stop digging.” But that can’t be done by borrowing more money to repay debts that only get bigger with each new bailout. And it can’t be done by implementing excruciating belt-tightening measures that increase unemployment and shrink the economy. It can only be done by reducing one’s debts and initiating programs that help to grow the economy back to health. This isn’t rocket science, but it is anathema to the retrograde ideology of the European Union which is one part bonehead economics and one part German sanctimony. Put the two together and you come up with a pre-Keynesian dystopia where one of the wealthiest regions in the world inches ever-closer to anarchy and ruin for the sole purpose of proving that contractionary expansion actually works. Well, guess what? It doesn’t, and we now have six years of evidence to prove it.
It’s worth noting that the Eurogroup hasn’t budged one inch from its original position. In other words, there really haven’t been any negotiations, not in any meaningful sense of the word. What there has been is one group of pompous blowhards reiterating the same discredited mantra over and over again, even though austerity has been thoroughly denounced by every reputable economist on the planet. Of course that doesn’t matter to the ex-Goldman swindlers at the ECB or their hairshirt counterparts in Berlin. What they want is to extract every last drop of blood from their Greek victims. That’s their game. And, of course, ultimately what they want to do is annihilate the entire EU welfare state; crush the unions, eviscerate pensions, wages and health care, and privatize everything they can get their greasy hands on. That’s the real objective. Greece’s exorbitant debts are just a means to an end, just a way to decimate the middle class in one fell swoop.
Keep in mind, the EU just narrowly avoided a triple-dip recession in the third quarter, which would have been their third slump in less than six years. How do you like that track record? It just illustrates the stunning mismanagement of the Union’s economic affairs and the incompetence of the bureaucrats making the decisions. Even so, these same leaders have no qualms about telling Greece to step in line and follow their diktats to the letter.
Can you believe the arrogance?
Fortunately, Greece has broken from the herd and set out on a new course. They’ve disposed of the mealy-mouth, sellout politicians who used to run the country and put the A-Team in their place. And, boy, are they happy with the results. Syriza’s public approval ratings are through the roof while Varoufakis has become the most admired man in Europe. The question is whether this new troupe of committed leftists can deliver the goods or not. So far, there’s reason for hope, that is, if we can agree about what Varoufakis’s strategy really is.
In earlier writings, Varoufakis said that he wants a New Deal for Greece. He said:
“Unless we have a new deal for Europe, Greece is not going to get a chance….It’s a necessary condition that the eurozone finds a rational plan for itself…. until and unless the eurozone finds a rational plan for stopping this train wreck throughout the European Union, throughout the eurozone, Greece has no chance at all.” Naked Capitalism)
Okay, so Varoufakis wants to stay in the EU, but he wants a change in policy. (Reducing the debts, ending austerity, and boosting fiscal stimulus.) But he also has more ambitious plans of which no one in Brussels, Frankfurt or Berlin seems to be aware. He wants to change the prevailing culture of the Eurozone; gradually, incrementally, but persistently. He wants a Europe that is more democratic and more responsive to the needs of the member states, but he also wants a Europe that is more united via institutions and programs that will strengthen the union. He believes that success will only be achieved if concrete steps are taken “to unify the banking system”, mutualize debt (“the Federal Government having its own debt over and above states.”) …”And thirdly we need an investment policy which runs throughout the Eurozone… a recycling mechanism for the whole thing. Unless we have these things,… I’m afraid there is absolutely nothing to avert the continuation of this slow motion derailment.” (Naked Capitalism)
So, there you have it. Nationalize the banking system, create a Euro-wide bond market, and establish mechanisms for fiscal transfers to the weaker states like we do in the US via welfare, food stamps, gov contracts, subsidies etc. to create some balance between the very rich and productive states like California and New York and the poorer states like South Dakota and Oklahoma. That’s what it’s going to take to create a viable United States of Europe and escape these frustratingly recurrent crises. Varoufakis knows this, but of course he’s not pushing for this. Not yet at least.
Instead, he’s decided to take it slowly, one step at a time. Incremental change, that’s the ticket. Just keep plugging away and building support until the edifice cracks and democracy appears.
That’s Varoufakis’s plan in a nutshell: Revolution from within. Just don’t tell anyone in Berlin.
The United States of America is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It was never a Christian nation but it was infused with the burning coals of what had once been a raging fire – the coals have gone out.
First it was Japan; they made huge dents in the electronics and automobile industries and helped destroy the unions that were responsible for the vast middle class. Japanese manufacturers became wealthy by producing products cheaper and pegging the price just below domestic prices but at huge margins for themselves.
Then it was the Chinese; they slowly closed down American manufacturing by producing and shipping merchandise at a fraction of the cost of domestic goods. They destroyed American assembly workers with cheap Chinese labor and wrecked the manufacturing industry with price differentials. As the American standard of living plummets China is beginning to create a middle class.
As international competition was forced on the world’s wealthiest nation its industry began to move to lower wage nations. Countless manufacturing operations moved their entire operations to foreign soil leaving their entire American workforce jobless. A massive loss of middle class employment was a result.
As this robbery was In progress world social engineers pried open our borders and allowed our nation to be overrun by foreigners. The Mexican population in California threatens the sovereignty of the state. Many Americans are visiting doctors whose accented English is difficult to understand. Every city has wealthy Far East and Middle East immigrants driving Mercedes, Lexus, and Infinity cars. Immigrants from around the world have moved to the United States to rape the wealth that still remains.
As the standard of living deteriorates perpetual war is being used to pass oppressive laws that will make organized resistance impossible. At a cost of trillions of dollars we have been killing, maiming, and destroying property in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Pakistan. This war has gone on for over ten years. It is about power – tyranny over the nations involved.
The character of the United States of America has been irreversibly changed. It was the wealthiest and freest nation in the world. The wealth has been siphoned off to China and other third world nations and the remaining wealth is being exploited by hordes of foreign immigrants who are raping markets that were founded and developed by citizens whose ancestors lived and worked here for generations.
This massive affront to the wealth and social structure of the nation has been accompanied by a propaganda campaign that distorts and edits the news keeping the minds of our citizens filled with lies. Fraudulent dangers presented to the people have been used to pass laws that destroy their legal protection making way for the government to tyrannize, incarcerate, and annihilate at will.
Americans have forgotten that safety often results in a loss of freedom. A peaceful society needs strong deterrents to theft and violent crimes. Our jails are full because we expect our government to do what citizens themselves should do. Drug addiction and possession of drugs should be decriminalized and the frightening specter of sexual predators should be handled by local authorities. We need to clean out our jails and release prisoners who do not endanger others.
Colonial America was somewhat similar to the Wild West. Riots were frequent and ruffians were numerous. Policing was peripheral while freedom was expansive. As the nation has aged laws that seemed good for the social order have multiplied. Our people have (maybe inadvertently) allowed a desire for safety to push too far against freedom. This willingness to trade freedom for safety is to a great extent a result of a lack of religious faith. Government has used our aversion to danger and reluctance to personally confront evil to extend power over us allowing the peaceful birth of a police state.
When the government is allowed with impunity to murder its citizens as the Clinton/Reno cabal did at Waco, citizens can no longer expect to be free. Freedom cannot be sustained in a nation where men, women, and children that have not been convicted of any crime can be incinerated by their own government without massive protests from citizens.
The neocon cadre that exerts great power in America and around the world has subtlety created special classes. Blacks became a franchised race, then Jews, now, homosexuals are being crowned with special rights and a dagger is being thrust into the heart of Christianity. The Bramble men are exerting their will on people that are better and more productive than they.
R. J. Rushdoony coined the term “Bramble men” using the parable of the trees from Judges 9:15. Bramble men are power seekers. They do no productive work. They are leaches who exert their power over others who are productive. They are inferior people who cannot be trusted in word or deed. Bramble men have infiltrated the government, they manipulate the money, they seek positions of power where they can influence and control their fellow citizens. Powerful, ambitious Bramble men seek to control the world. They have no altruistic zeal; they are not interested in bettering the plight of their fellows, they seek only power. They are the Hitlers, Stalins, and Moes with expanded ambitions.
Bramble men rise to powerful positions when God’s legal structure is forsaken and replaced with the sentimental leniency of humanism. What seems right to men is often disastrous to their ultimate well-being. Justice comes from God and His word. Social confusion is directly proportional to injustice; as a society forsakes the immutable mandates of God and cleaves to the anarchic opinions of men chaos increases. The United States of America is a powerful, confused, chaotic nation that will soon encode laws on marriage that defy the created order and challenge the logic of mankind. A powerful, confused nation is a danger to the world; it cannot long endure.
Bramble men are in control of America; they control our government, press, and media. We elect some good men. They often start with good intentions. When they arrive in Washington they find the government is controlled by Bramble men who live outside its structure. Its leaders are puppets to Bramble men causing the entire organization to join the Bramble club. The United States Government no longer seeks the welfare of the nation and its citizens; instead it manipulates citizens to conform to the will of the Bramble power seekers.
Wake up America. Return to the righteousness of the One and Only God, seek His dominion and find the peace and freedom He intends for you!
I just finished reading an article by a guy who had accurately predicted the fall of the former USSR two whole years before it actually happened. However, nobody back then even believed him. “The USSR has over-extended itself and is going to collapse!” he kept telling people. But everyone who heard him just laughed.
Well. At this point in time, the USA has totally over-extended itself too. Like some addicted shopaholic set loose with questionable plastic at a shopping mall, the USA has over-charged every single one of its credit cards by at least eleven trillion dollars in order to buy its very favorite consumer product — endless war. And, in addition, the USA has also spent another ungodly number of trillions on making its uber-rich 1% even richer, and keeping its corrupt bankers happy as clams.
And so, like the former USSR back in 1991, now the USA also has nowhere to go but down either — due to its total over-extension. And you don’t even have to be a genius to do the math here. Anyone with a calculator app. on their iPhone can figure this one out. A couple hundred trillion $$$$ subtracted from zero equals what? Total collapse. This is pretty much a given at the rate that our “fearless leaders” on Wall Street and War Street are currently spreading their phony credit-card moolah around.
But what I really want to talk about here is what will actually happen to America (and to you and me) when our country suddenly does become referred to as “The Former USA”. To know that, all we have to do is look at a model already set before us — what had happened to the Former USSR after it had over-extended itself.
First, you gotta remember that ten percent of all citizens of the Soviet Union actually DIED after the USSR collapsed. Ten percent! One in ten. The old people went first. And the working poor. And the kids. That would be like having about 30 million Americans dead as a doornail because Wall Street and War Street didn’t behave themselves.
Second, a huge number of Soviet public buildings throughout Europe and Asia suddenly became “privatized” and were happily handed over to the lowest bidders — the oligarchs. But then that is happening here in the USA already. Let’s take my own downtown Berkeley post office for instance. It’s being practically given away to oligarchs even as we speak. And American schools, national parks, mineral-rich lands, public buildings and all kinds of other property that used to be held in the common interest is now not being held in the common interest any more. And when the USA becomes “Former,” this process will be speeded up even faster. Say goodbye to Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty and your local city hall.
Third, after the former Soviet Union fell, people’s teeth began to rot for lack of dental care there. Suddenly there were no affordable doctors and dentists in Russia, a trend that has also gotten a big head-start here in the soon-to-be Former USA already. If you don’t take care of your citizens, this is what you get. Sick people and rotten teeth.
Fourth? Unemployment in Russia. Of course we already have a head-start on that one as well. But it will be getting worse. Much worse.
Fifth, the USSR’s status as a world super-power suddenly collapsed as its wounded warriors painfully wound their way back home from places like Afghanistan. The same will happen in the former USA too.
Sixth: Before its collapse, the USSR used to be a “communist” state — in the sense that only a few people at the very top made all the decisions. And now, thanks to Citizens United, the USA has already gotten that way too. We are no longer a democracy either. So in that respect too we have already started to become like the Soviets right before their big fall. And it will get even worse here after the fall of the USA as well. Our current “deep state” shadow governments will be coming out of the shadows and cesspools for sure. Can you say “President-for-Life Cheney,” boys and girls?
But actually, back during the 1950s, it was America that had been the true communist state — after WW II had reshuffled the cards, dealt new hands to working folks, given our middle class a leg up and redistributed our wealth more equally by taking it from the uber-rich and giving it to the middle class. But Reagan’s tricky re-stacking of the deck in favor of Wall Street, and Bush’s ace-up-his-sleeve gifts to War Street and sleight-of-hand tax redistribution act of 2003 soon changed all that — and our wealth was then redistributed upwards to the uber-rich once again, ending “communism” in America forever. No, they don’t call it “capitalism” without reason. The uber-rich now own all the “capital”. We don’t.
In order to return to America’s former “communistic” economic glory of the 1950s, three things need to happen. We need to go back to giving America’s middle and working classes their former leg-up tax breaks — instead of only giving a huge tax leg-up to our 1% “Soviet Commissars” only. And we need to stop stacking the deck in favor of Wall Street’s insane profit margins. And we need to shut down War Street completely. Otherwise, after the USA falls too, we also are gonna have oligarchs coming out our ears — even more than they are now.
Seventh, the USSR ruble collapsed back then — just like the dollar is now collapsing already. It’s gonna be rather tough around here when the US dollar also becomes worth diddly-squat.
Eighth, consider that wise Biblical saying, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. And then become very afraid. From Hiroshima, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Africa and Latin America to the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, etc., the first thing that the USA and/or its surrogates do when they attack a country is to bomb its civilian population, take out the water supply, power plants and hospitals, and/or install a ruthless dictator. Let us just hope that the former USA will not fall into a position to be vulnerable to retaliation, that our former victims will show mercy and that “Do unto others…” will not apply to us like it did to the USSR.
And, ninth, the huge Soviet Union began to break up into smaller states and groups as it fell. That will definitely happen here too. Can’t exactly say that I will miss any of the Red States when they leave — but they will sorely miss not being part of the new American Blue States, their current life-line to prosperity. I can tell you that right now.
All the signs of the eminent collapse of the USA are already here right now, just like they were for the USSR back before 1991. Go ahead and laugh if you will, but hard times really are coming here too. The Former USA is practically upon us. We have already over-extended ourselves too deeply to rationally expect any other result. Sigh.
Let us just hope that America somehow manages to find another chess master like Putin to lead us After the Fall, and doesn’t get stuck with another drunk like Yeltsin!
15 Reasons Why Americans Think We’re Still in a Recession…
1: Wage Stagnation: Why America’s Workers Need Faster Wage Growth—And What We Can Do About It, Elise Gould, EPI
Economic Policy Institute:
“The hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity from 1948-1973. …. After 1973, productivity grew strongly, especially after 1995, while the typical worker’s compensation was relatively stagnant. This divergence of pay and productivity has meant that many workers were not benefitting from productivity growth—the economy could afford higher pay but it was not providing it.
Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew 64.9 percent, while hourly compensation of production and nonsupervisory workers, who comprise over 80 percent of the private-sector workforce, grew just 8.0 percent. Productivity thus grew eight times faster than typical worker compensation…” (EPI)
(Note: Flatlining wages are the Number 1 reason that the majority of Americans still think we’re in a recession.)
2: Most people still haven’t recouped what they lost in the crash: Typical Household Wealth Has Plunged 36% Since 2003, Zero Hedge
“According to a new study by the Russell Sage Foundation, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36% decline… Welcome to America’s Lost Decade.
Simply put, the NY Times notes, it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss. (chart)”
3: Most working people are still living hand-to-mouth: 76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, CNN Money
“Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday.
Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all…
Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.”
4: Millennials are Drowning in Red Ink: Biggest economic threat? Student loan debt, USA Today
“Total student loan debt has grown more than 150% since 2005… We have more than $1.2 trillion of student loan debt…
And while 6.7 million borrowers in repayment mode are delinquent, the sad fact is that many lenders aren’t exactly incentivized to work with borrowers. Unlike all other forms of debt, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Moreover, lenders can garnish wages and even Social Security benefits to get repaid…
In 2005 student loans accounted for less than 13% of the total debt load for adults age 20-29. Today, student loans account for nearly 37% of that group’s outstanding debt. Student loan debt’s slice of the total debt pie for the age group nearly tripled! The average loan balance for that age group is now more than $25,500, up from $15,900 in 2005.”
5: Downward mobility is the new reality: Middle-Class Death Watch: As Poverty Spreads, 28 Percent of Americans Fall Out of Middle Class, Truthout
“The promise of the American dream has given many hope that they themselves could one day rise up the economic ladder. But according to a study released those already in financially-stable circumstances should fear falling down a few rungs too. The study… found that nearly a third of Americans who were part of the middle class as teenagers in the 1970s have fallen out of it as adults… its findings suggest the relative ease with which people in the U.S. can end up in low-income, low-opportunity lifestyles — even if they started out with a number of advantages. Though the American middle class has been repeatedly invoked as a key factor in any economic turnaround, numerous reports have suggested that the middle class enjoys less existential security than it did a generation ago, thanks to stagnating incomes and the decline of the industrial sector.”
6: People are more vulnerable than ever: “More Than Half Of All Americans Can’t Come Up With $400 In Emergency Cash… Unless They Borrow“, Personal Liberty
“According to a Federal Reserve report on American households’ “economic well-being” in 2013, fewer than half of all Americans said they’d be able to come up with four Benjamins on short notice to deal with an unexpected expense…
Under a section titled “Savings,” the report notes that “[s]avings are depleted for many households after the recession,” and lists the following findings:
*Among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57 percent reported using up some or all of their savings in the Great Recession and its aftermath.
*39 percent of respondents reported having a rainy day fund adequate to cover three months of expenses.
*Only 48 percent of respondents said that they would completely cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money.
7: Working people are getting poorer: The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third, New York Times
“The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation.
Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially….“The housing bubble basically hid a trend of declining financial wealth at the median that began in 2001,” said Fabian T. Pfeffer, the University of Michigan professor who is lead author of the Russell Sage Foundation study.
The reasons for these declines are complex and controversial, but one point seems clear: When only a few people are winning and more than half the population is losing, surely something is amiss.”
8: Most people can’t even afford to get their teeth fixed: 7 things the middle class can’t afford anymore, USA Today
“A vacation is an extra expense that many middle-earners cannot afford without sacrificing something else. A Statista survey found that this year 54% of people gave up purchasing big ticket items like TVs or electronics so they can go on a vacation. Others made sacrifices like reducing or eliminating their trips to the movies (47%), reducing or eliminating trips out to restaurants (43%), or avoiding purchasing small ticket items like new clothing (43%).
3–To pay off debt…
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “the U.S. spends about $64 billion each year on oral health care — just 4% is paid by Government programs.” About 108 million people in the U.S. have no dental coverage and even those who are covered may have trouble getting the care they need, the department reports.”
9: The good, high-paying jobs have vanished: Recovery Has Created Far More Low-Wage Jobs Than Better-Paid Ones, New York Times
“The deep recession wiped out primarily high-wage and middle-wage jobs. Yet the strongest employment growth during the sluggish recovery has been in low-wage work, at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants.
In essence, the poor economy has replaced good jobs with bad ones. That is the conclusion of anew report from the National Employment Law Project, a research and advocacy group, analyzing employment trends four years into the recovery.
“Fast food is driving the bulk of the job growth at the low end — the job gains there are absolutely phenomenal,” said Michael Evangelist, the report’s author. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?”
10: More workers are throwing in the towel: Labor Participation Rate Drops To 36 Year Low; Record 92.6 Million Americans Not In Labor Force, Zero Hedge
“For those curious why the US unemployment rate just slid once more to a meager 5.9%, the lowest print since the summer of 2008, the answer is the same one we have shown every month since 2010: the collapse in the labor force participation rate, which in September slid from an already three decade low 62.8% to 62.7% – the lowest in over 36 years, matching the February 1978 lows. And while according to the Household Survey, 232,000 people found jobs, what is more disturbing is that the people not in the labor force, rose to a new record high, increasing by 315,000 to 92.6 million!
Bottom line: Unemployment has gone down because more people aren’t working and have fallen off the radar.”
11: Nearly twice as many people still rely on Food Stamps than before the recession: Food-stamp use is falling from its peak, Marketwatch
“Food-stamp use is finally moving away from the peak. At 46.1 million people, total food-stamp usage is down about 4% from its high in December 2012 of 47.8 million. Only eight states in March (the latest data available) were up from the same month of 2013.
It’s still not great news, however, considering there were 26.3 million people receiving food stamps in 2007…”
12: The ocean of red ink continues to grow: American Household Credit Card Debt Statistics: 2014, Nerd Wallet Finance
Nerd Wallet Finance:
U.S. household consumer debt profile:
*Average credit card debt: $15,607
*Average mortgage debt: $153,500
*Average student loan debt: $32,656
In total, American consumers owe:
*$11.63 trillion in debt
*An increase of 3.8% from last year
*$880.5 billion in credit card debt
*$8.07 trillion in mortgages
*$1,120.3 billion in student loans
*An increase of 11.5% from last year
13: No Recovery for working people: The collapse of household income in the US, World Socialist Web Site
“The US Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, released last Thursday, documents a devastating decline in economic conditions for a large majority of the population during the so-called economic recovery.
The report reveals that between 2007 and 2013, the income of a typical US household fell 12 percent. The median American household now earns $6,400 less per year than it did in 2007.
Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances
Much of the decline occurred during the “recovery” presided over by the Obama administration. In the three years between 2010 and 2013, the annual income of a typical household fell by an additional 5 percent.
The report also shows that wealth has become even more concentrated in the topmost economic layers. The wealth share of the top 3 percent climbed from 44.8 percent in 1989 to 54.4 percent in 2013. The share of wealth held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33.2 percent in 1989 to 24.7 percent in 2013.”
14: Most people will work until they die: The Greatest Retirement Crisis In American History, Forbes
“We are on the precipice of the greatest retirement crisis in the history of the world. In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly Americans, the Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.
Too frail to work, too poor to retire will become the “new normal” for many elderly Americans.
That dire prediction… is already coming true. Our national demographics, coupled with indisputable glaringly insufficient retirement savings and human physiology, suggest that a catastrophic outcome for at least a significant percentage of our elderly population is inevitable. With the average 401(k) balance for 65 year olds estimated at $25,000 by independent experts …the decades many elders will spend in forced or elected “retirement” will be grim…
The signs of the coming retirement crisis are all around you. Who’s bagging your groceries: a young high school kid or an older “retiree” who had to go back to work to supplement his income or qualify for health insurance?”
15: Americans are more pessimistic about the future, Polling Report
According to a CNN/ORC Poll May 29-June 1, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree? The American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.”
According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). April 23-27, 2014:
“Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Because of the widening gap between the incomes of the wealthy and everyone else, America is no longer a country where everyone, regardless of their background, has an opportunity to get ahead and move up to a better standard of living.”Agree: 54%
Also, according to a CBS News Poll. Jan. 17-21, 2014. N=1,018 adults nationwide.
“Looking to the future, do you think most children in this country will grow up to be better off or worse off than their parents?”Better off: 34%
Worse off: 63%
The majority of people in the United States, no longer believe in the American dream, or that America is the land of opportunity, or that their children will have a better standard of living than their own. They’ve grown more pessimistic because they haven’t seen the changes they were hoping for, and because their lives are just as hard as they were right after the crash. In fact, according to a 2014 Public Religion Research Institute poll– 72 percent of those surveyed said they think “the economy is still in recession.”
Judging by the info in the 15 links above, they’re probably right.
On Wednesday, stocks were hammered after economic data showed that the US and global economies were headed for a major slowdown. By mid-day, the Dow was down 460 points before clawing its way back to minus 173 points. It looked like the market was set for another triple-digit flogging on Thursday when the Fed stepped in and started talking-up an extension to QE3. That’s all it took to ease investors jitters, stop the meltdown and send equities rocketing back into space. By the end of Friday’s session, all the markets were back in the green with the Dow logging an impressive 263 points on the day. Here’s more background from Wolf Street:
“But just when some profusely sweating souls on Wall Street thought that the bottom was falling out, a savior appears. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard got on Bloomberg TV and pressed the red panic button (and) handed them what they wanted….That was enough.
Using declining inflation expectations as a pretext, he proposed to delay the end of QE. The Fed should continue buying $15 billion in securities a month…. it instantly turned around the markets. The spoiled brats on Wall Street were ecstatic to imagine that the Fed might continue to deliver the goodies they’ve become addicted to, and without which life seems unbearable.” (This Market is Driven by Psychology and Momentum,’ which ‘Works Really Painfully on the Way Down, Wolf Street)
For those readers who still think that the Fed doesn’t meddle in the markets: Think again. Friday’s stock surge had nothing to do with productivity, price, earnings, growth or any of the other so called fundamentals. It was all about manipulation; telling people what they want to hear, so they do exactly what you want them to do. The pundits calls this jawboning, and the Fed has turned it into an art-form. All Bullard did was assure investors that the Fed “has their back”, and , sure enough, another wild spending spree ensued. One can only imagine the backslapping and high-fives that broke out at the Central Bank following this latest flimflam.
As most people now realize, stocks haven’t tripled in the last 5 years because the economy is expanding. Heck, no. The economy is still on all-fours and everyone knows it. The reason stocks have been flying-high is because the Fed added a hefty $4 trillion in red ink to its balance sheet. Naturally, when someone buys $4 trillion in financial assets, the price of financial assets go up.
Who would’ve known?
And here’s something else to chew on: On Thursday I wrote an article titled “Stocks Plunge 460 Points on QE Exit”. Among the 2 or 3 thousand other articles on the topic in the mainstream, not one mentioned the fact that QE was set to end at the end of October. Instead, they pointed to sluggishness in Europe and China, and weaker-than-expected economic data in the US as the proximate causes of the downturn.
So let me ask you this, dear reader, if the end of QE was not the real trigger for the Dow’s 460 point bungee jump, then why did the markets do a quick 180 right after Bullard made his statement on Thursday? In fact, the media even admits that point now. Check out this article on Marketwatch on Friday titled “Bullard’s surprise suggestion of continuing QE lifts markets”:
“A comment from a hawkish Federal Reserve official on Thursday that central-bank bond buying should continue beyond its scheduled end lifted stock markets and surprised many observers.
The Federal Reserve should consider extending its bond-buying program beyond October due to the market selloff to see how the U.S. economic outlook evolves, said James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, on Thursday. …
If the economy is still as robust as I am describing it, then I think we could just end the program in December. But if the market is right, and this is portending something more serious for the U.S. economy, than the committee would have an option of ramping up QE at that point,” he said.
The S&P 500 SPX, +1.65% jumped from its session low of a 0.9% drop after Bullard’s remarks came out.” (Bullard’s surprise suggestion of continuing QE lifts markets, Marketwatch)
How do you like that? Just one word from the Fed and the markets do an immediate about-face. Now that’s power.
It’s too bad the Fed can’t put in a good word for the real economy while they’re at it. But, oh, I forgot that the real economy is stuffed with working stiffs who don’t warrant the same kind of treatment as the esteemed supermen who trade stocks for a living. Besides, the Fed doesn’t give a rip about the real economy. If it did, it would have loaded up on infrastructure bonds instead of funky mortgage backed securities (MBS). The difference between the two is pretty stark: Infrastructure bonds put people to work, circulate money, boost economic activity, and strengthen growth. In contrast, MBS purchases help to fatten the bank accounts of the fraudsters who created the financial crisis while doing bupkis for the economy. Guess who the Fed chose to help out?
Do you really want to know why the Fed isn’t going to end QE? Here’s how Nomura’s chief economist Bob Janjuah summed it up:
“I want to remind readers of a message that may be buried in the past: When QE1 ended, the S&P 500 fell just under 20% in a roughly three-month period before the QE2 recovery.
When the QE2 ended, the S&P 500 fell about 20% in a three-month period before the next Fed-inspired bounce (aided by the ECB). QE3 is ending this month…”
Is that why the Fed started jawboning QE4, to avoid the inevitable 20 percent correction?
You bet it is. But what’s odd is that stocks hadn’t even dropped 10 percent before the Fed hit the panic button. Why is that?
Could it be that they have no confidence in the market? Could it be that they know that their loosy-goosey monetary policies have inflated the biggest bubble of all time which has created a fragile, crisis prone system that can’t even withstand a measly 10 percent drop before bank balance sheets start going up in flames and the whole wobbly financial house of cards comes crashing to earth in a thud?
Of course, it is. They’re scared sh**less, which is why they dispatched bigmouth Bullard to promise investors the moon as long as they keep loading up on equities. Yellen an Co. are going to do everything in their power to keep this runaway train from going off the cliff, even if they kill us all in the process.
Now check out this blurb from Allianz ‘s chief economic adviser, Mohamed A. El-Erian, one of the few analysts who got it right:
“Due to excessive confidence in central banks, investors eagerly decoupled high market valuations from what was warranted by the sluggish fundamentals.”… That disconnect has been undermined over the last few weeks by signs that the global economy’s fundamentals are weaker than they seemed and concern that the European Central Bank will not adequately fight that continent’s economic drift…” (New York Times)
What El Erian is saying, is that, stocks are vastly overpriced given “sluggish fundamentals”. The only reason investors have been buying is because the Fed has been shoving money into the market hand-over-fist. That’s what’s kept equities airborne. But on Wednesday, investors woke up and said to themselves, “Hey, the economy’s circling the plughole, the Fed is bailing out, and I’m left with a boatload of dodgy stocks that might be worth $.30 on the dollar. Maybe I’ll get out now while I still can.” That’s why the market tanked.
So, what’s the lesson here?
The lesson is that the Fed is driving the markets. The whole “free market” trope is baloney. No one is loading up on stocks because they’re a good deal or because they think the economy is going gangbusters. Investors are buying stocks because they still believe in the power of money. They still think the Fed can pump a few more wisps of helium into the equities balloon and keep the rally going for a bit longer. And that’s why stocks surged on Friday, because, at least for now, greed still trumps fear.
But what’s the overall effect of this loony policy on the economy, or is that a fair question to ask after 6 years of falling incomes, flatlining wages, widening inequality and widespread economic stagnation?
The truth is, we already know what the impact is: The rich have gotten richer while the poor have been shunted off to tent cities, food pantries and under freeway off-ramps. Isn’t that what’s happened? Get a load of this brief summary in Friday’s WSWS:
“The richest one percent of the world’s population now controls 48.2 percent of global wealth, up from 46 percent last year, according to the most recent global wealth report issued by Credit Suisse, the Swiss-based financial services company.
Hypothetically, if the growth of inequality were to proceed at last year’s rate, the richest one percent for all intents and purposes would control all the wealth on the planet within 23 years.
The report found that the growth of global inequality has accelerated sharply since the 2008 financial crisis, as the values of financial assets have soared while wages have stagnated and declined…
The study revealed that the richest 8.6 percent of the world’s population—those with a net worth of more than $100,000—control 85 percent of the world’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 70 percent of the world’s population—those with less than $10,000 in net worth—hold a mere 2.9 percent of global wealth.
The growth in inequality is bound up with a worldwide surge in paper wealth, fueled by the trillions of dollars pumped into the financial system by central banks via zero interest rate and “quantitative easing” policies…
As the report noted, “The overall global economy may remain sluggish, but this has not prevented personal wealth from surging ahead during the past year. Driven by … robust equity prices, total wealth grew by 8.3% worldwide … the first time household wealth has passed the $250 trillion threshold.” (Richest one percent controls nearly half of global wealth, Andre Damon)
That says it all, doesn’t it? The widening chasm between rich and poor is traceable to the policies that were adopted in 2008. That’s why things are so fu**ed up, it’s because the “surge in paper wealth, fueled by the trillions of dollars pumped into the financial system by central banks via zero interest rate and “quantitative easing” policies.”
In other words, it’s all deliberate. Robbing the poor and giving to the rich is all part of the plan.
That strikes me as an important point, and one that’s worth mulling over for awhile; that crushing the middle class isn’t an accident. It’s what they want. It’s the policy.
“…that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931)
The American Dream has been defined many ways by writers of both poetic and prosaic bent, but its essentials tend to involve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property, depending on your source).
The Declaration of Independence, upon which an entire nation was radically brought into existence, asserts that not only are all men created equal but that this is a “self-evident” truth. By this “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” a contract was agreed to, that their union would be founded on this principle. Thus, America was endowed with its dream at the moment of its conception: the freedom to succeed.
The United States has promoted a self-congratulating exceptionalism for decades, waving its Declaration and Constitution in the faces of other sovereign nations as if the latter had never considered such concepts. Our capital F “Freedom” sets us apart from the rest of the world, as the political rhetoric has repeated ad nauseam, no matter the freedoms enjoyed by democracies on almost every continent. And yet our basic freedom, the freedom to succeed, America’s contractual promise, has been shrinking for thirty years.
The freedom to succeed transcends economic systems but it is most potently expressed by capitalist gains. The ability to go “from rags to riches” is ingrained in this nation’s ethos and there is nothing intrinsically immoral about that goal. However, the current state of American inequality reveals a very real and expanding gap between the rich and poor that betrays the foundational endowment of this Union. When the freedom to succeed is denied every citizen, their equality is equally denied.
Recently, the Pew Research Center released a poll on what international citizens consider the greatest threat to the planet. Conducted between March 17 and June 5 of this year, the survey received answers from 48,643 respondents in 44 countries. In the U.S. and Europe, the growing gap between the rich and the poor was overwhelmingly considered the greatest danger to world prosperity. Over a quarter of Americans ranked “Inequality” as number one, above Religious & ethnic hatred, Pollution, Nuclear weapons and Infectious diseases.
This is hardly startling news considering that the median net worth of American households fell by 35 percent ($106,591 to $68,839) between 2005 and 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is, however, disturbing that inequality remains so prevalent five years after the Great Recession.
Capitalism is not the problem. The problem is that we have let inequality advance in this country so gradually that its obviousness is masked by its familiarity. Below, I outline eight facts about inequality in America that every American should know.
1) 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. This ratio has been verified by Politifact and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. To put it into context, last year the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were over 316 million people living in the United States. That means 400 Americans have more money than over 158 million of their fellow citizens. Their net worth is over$2 trillion, which is approximate to the Gross Domestic Product of Russia.
One explanation for the vast discrepancy in wealth is the definition of “worth,” which includes everything a person or household owns. This means savings and property but also mortgages, bills and debt. Poorer households can owe so much in debt that they possess a negative net worth.
2) America has the second-highest level of income inequality, after Chile. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development studies thirty-four developed countries and ranks them both before and after taxes and government transfers take effect (government transfers include Social Security, income tax credit and unemployment insurance). Before taxes and government transfers, America ranks tenth in income inequality. After taxes and transfers, it ranks second. Whereas its developed peers reduce inequality through government programs, the United States’ government exacerbates it.
3) The current state of inequality can be traced back to 1979. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the gap between the rich and the poor began to narrow. For fifty years, wages differed between the upper- and working-classes, but a robust middle-class took shape and there remained ample opportunity for working-class individuals to ascend.
In his book, “The Great Divergence,” journalist Timothy Noah traced today’s inequality to the beginning of the 1980s and the widening gap between the middle- and upper-classes. This gap was influenced by the following factors: the failure of American schools to prepare students for new technology; poor immigration policies that favor unskilled workers and drive down the price of already low-income labor; federally-mandated minimum wage that has failed to keep pace with inflation; and the decline of labor unions.
4) Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. The Economic Policy Institute claims that 20 percent of the growth in the wage gap between high-school-educated and college-educated men can be attributed to deunionization.
Between 1978 and 2011, union representation for blue-collar and high-school educated workers declined by more than half. This has also diminished the “union wage effect,” whereby the existence of unions (more than 40 percent of blue-collar workers were union members in 1978) was enough to boost wages in non-union jobs – in high school graduates by as much as 8.2 percent. Not only did unions protect lower- and middle-class workers from unfair wages, they also established norms and practices that were then adopted by non-union employers. Two prime examples are employee pensions and healthcare.
Today, about 13 percent of workers belong to unions, which has reduced their bargaining power and influence.
5) There is less opportunity for intergenerational mobility. In December 2011, President Obama spoke at Osawatomie High School in Kansas. He was very clear about the prospects of the poor in today’s United States:
“[O]ver the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class – 33 percent.”
As refreshing as that honesty is, Obama promised no fix beyond $1 trillion in spending cuts and a need to work toward an “innovation economy.”
In a speech one month later, Obama’s Chairman of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, elaborated on the dire state of America’s shrinking middle-class. The contraction, he stated, could partially be attributed to “skill-biased technical change”: work activities that have become automated over time, reducing the need for unskilled labor and favoring those with analytical training. He also highlighted the 50 year decline in tax rates for the top 0.1 percent, increased competition from overseas workers, and a lack of educational equality for children. Poor children are denied the private tutors, college prep and business network of family and friends available to their wealthier peers, which locks them into the class they are born into.
6) Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs. Krueger also revealed that the tax cuts of the 2000s for top earners did not improve the economy any better than they did in the 1990s (meanwhile, income growth was stronger for lower- and middle-class families in the 1990s than in the last forty years).
Tax rates for the top income earners in America peaked in 1945 at 66.4 percent. Following decades of gradual reductions, they have since been cut in half. During the same time, the payroll tax has increased since the 1950s and individual income tax has bounced between 40-50 percent through the present day. Conversely, corporate tax declined from above 30 percent in the 1950s to under 10 percent in 2011.
All of these tax cuts are made ostensibly to improve the economy and create jobs. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that it is young companies, “regardless of their size,” that are the real job creators in America. Tax cuts to the wealthiest do not create jobs.
7) Incomes for the top 1% have increased (but the top 0.01% make even more). Between 1979 and 2007, the average incomes of the 1 percent increased 241 percent. Compare that to 19 percent growth for the middle fifth of America and 11 percent for the bottom fifth. Put another way, in 1980 the average American CEO earned forty-two times as much as his average worker. In 2001, he earned 531 times as much.
Average income across the 1 percent is actually stratified into widely disparate echelons. Compare the $29,840 average income for the bottom 90 percent to the $161,139 of the top 10 percent. Compare the $1 million average income of the top 1 percent to the $2.8 million of the top 0.1 percent. Yet both still pale beside the $23 million average income of the top 0.01 percent.
If those numbers seem a bit overwhelming, Politizane has created a video that illustrates this staggering inequality:
8) The majority of Congress does not feel your pain. Empowered by the Constitution to represent their constituents, United States Congress members are, for the first time in history, mostly millionaires. The 2012 financial disclosure information of the 534 current Congress men and women reveals that over half of them have a net worth of $1 million or more.
After the past seven facts it is difficult to read this last one and believe that these 268 legislators have the best interests of the remaining 99 percent at heart. But if that is too presumptuous a leap, it is not too bold to say that wealthier donors, lobbyists and special interest groups enjoy greater access to these lawmakers than the average American.
In January, Congress failed to extend emergency benefits for unemployment, leaving 1.3 million people without federal aid. Congress then went on a weeklong recess that kept them from debating the issue until the end of the month. The bill was too divisive for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on, though unemployment was then above 7 percent nationally.
Thankfully, the unemployed have their Congress working for them. And at $174,000 annual pay, those representatives are sure to return from their vacations committed to fresh solutions.
When I saw the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” during one of my interminably-long plane rides back from Syria, I liked it so much that I actually went out and bought a copy of the 1964 “Mary Poppins” Disney classic it was based on — the one with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke frolicking across the rooftops of London.
And much to my surprise, I discovered that Mary Poppins might have been one of the world’s first hippies. Who woulda thought! And what was even more amazing is that Mary Poppins was one of the first people to warn us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
And fortunately for those of us living here in America one hundred years later, Elizabeth Warren has now become the new Mary Poppins — also warning us about the dangers and perfidy of big bankers and big banks.
If only Americans would start paying attention to Elizabeth Warren as much as they paid attention to Julie Andrews!
“Hey, Elizabeth!” I also want to shout on the rooftops like Dick VanDyke, “voters aren’t listening to you!” Maybe if Disney studios made a movie about you too? Then maybe voters would finally start to listen.
According to Warren, the American middle class has been absolutely decimated by the banking and credit-card lobbies.
And yet voters still keep falling for all those glossy ads and happy lies that still keep getting pro-big-bank candidates elected to the White House and Congress even though voters can clearly see that they themselves are losing their jobs, having their homes repossessed, becoming slaves to their student loans and getting ripped off bigtime by credit-card debt. But then I guess that those syrupy ads actually do prove that “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” after all.
In the heroic country of Iceland, their well-informed voters have vigorously fought back against bankster greed and have even re-written their constitution in order to make lending-bubbles and bank fraud illegal.
But in America, the opposite happens. Here in America our very own government, the very one that bank lobbyists have chosen for us to elect, is handing over billions of our very own hard-earned dollars to big banks just as fast as it can. And Congress is always writing new bankruptcy laws that favor banksters over the middle class every time. Mary Poppins would be livid, of course, but nobody else seems to even notice these days — except for Elizabeth Warren.
And even the Federal Reserve is dancing over the rooftops in glee as it too gives away our money to the banksters just as fast as it possibly can, singing “Step in Time” as gleefully hands over giant bags of taxpayers’ money to Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank and Goldman Sachs.
Plus the Senate just vetoed a bill that would have given students a break from paying up to 12% interest on their college loans too. According to Warren, “This isn’t complicated. It’s a choice – a choice that raises a fundamental question about who the United States Senate works for. Does it work for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to protect tax loopholes for billionaires and profits for the big banks? Or does it work for those who work hard, play by the rules, and are trying to build a future for themselves and their families?”
Not to mention the hidden (and not-so-hidden) fees that banks gleefully charge us customers for no reason at all.
To try to completely understand how banksters and their toadies in Congress and the Department of Justice are robbing the rest of us blind, you just gotta watch this video of Bill Moyers interviewing bank-fraud expert Thomas K. Black. Seriously. You really should watch this: http://vimeo.com/107916659
In this video, Black describes how Obama was elected by the banking industry and how Obama has totally paid back his debt to the banksters by handing them all “get out of jail free” cards. Is being elected president really worth selling us Americans out to the banksters? Apparently so.
“There’s no threat to capitalism like capitalists,” continues Black. “They are destroying its underpinnings. And when dishonest people gain an advantage in the marketplace, bad ethics drive good ethics out. This is why we need the rule of law.” Doesn’t Thomas K. Black sound just like Dick VanDyke, er, I mean Burt the Chimney Sweep here — as Black proposes that it’s high time to sweep clean our banks.
And now let’s talk about America’s ratings on the so-called “Misery Index”. Apparently America rates higher on the misery charts now than it ever has, even back in the Great Depression — and probably even as high as did Mary Poppins’s 1910 London. Thanks a lot, banksters.
Isn’t it time that American voters finally join up with Elizabeth Warren and Mary Poppins — and tell big banks and banksters to go “fly a kite!”
PS: Speaking of money, look how much of it is being spent in the Middle East — and not here at home where it is needed!
According to a recent blog-post at thehill.com, the first official estimates of the ISIS price tag from the Pentagon showed that, “the costs of intervention between mid-June and late-August was $7.5 million per day. At that rate, the U.S. has spent $850 million on operations against ISIS as of October 8, adding up to about $2.74 billion per year. The Pentagon has since revised the estimate up to as high as $10 million per day, or $3.65 billion per year. In reality, both of those numbers are quite likely to be underestimates of what’s to come.”
Looks like the US military is just as bad as the US banksters when it comes to cleaning out America’s pocketbooks — after they both have put us to sleep with false promises and false news https://www.youtube.com/watch?
What we Americans really need to do these days is to once again take Mary Poppins’s advice and “Stay Awake”! https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Thus far this election cycle has been a dud. Hardly a sweat is broken in the rarified air of partisan politics punditry. The only consistent factor that can always be counted upon to amuse is the reams of paper wasted on the false promises and prevarication made by the esteemed party regulars. It is easy to simply blame the entrenched incumbents or the current crop of insurgents, but it goes much deeper when an entire nation remains mute in the face of the worse run and most condemnable conduct, coming out of the District of Criminals in decades. The party in power traditionally will suffer huge losses in Congress, while the gang of “pols” out of power will start contacting real estate agents within the beltway.
What passes for political news today is not even fit to wrap fish. The meat and potatoes of journalism, once upon a time, were made up of scandals. Under the protection racket department of the media government alliance, the abuse of power never reaches the point of national saturation. The Obama administration has outdone the nastiest of offenses under Lyndon Johnson and William Clinton. The Democrats in the Senate allow Harry Reid to be the sickest dictatorial tyrant in living memory.
Customarily, the party with the majority takes the blame for failures. Yet, with each new transgression and unlawful activity, the purported opposition crew of RINOs shirks their constitutional responsibility and shutter out of fear of being labeled a racist. How sad. But that is exactly the condition and lack of courage out of the GOP leadership.
One might think the Democrats just keep digging the hole deeper that they created. Then again, many partisans will look to shift blame and pin shared responsibility on the Republican deadheads in Congress. Forgotten in the fog out of foggy bottom is that Obama owns the failed policies that have been followed after five and a half years in office.
The chaos at the border is intentional. Failure to revive the economy and implement policies that favor job creation is also deliberate. Perpetuating a foreign policy based upon defiance of international law is maintained in the proud tradition of interventionist empire building. Truly this is the institutional synergism, between both parties, that steer career politicians to the dark side. Lastly, the infamous and destructive Obamacare fiasco is the apex of social engineering.
So why won’t the political establishment respond to this laundry list of malfeasance and repeal bad legislation and caustic regulation or change the direction of national policy? It is very difficult for most Americans to accept that the political class is actively working for the downfall of the country and the substitution of a constitutional republic for the dictatorship of permanent privileged elites.
What makes this faction of ruling vermin different from previous ages is that the overriding sentiment for dominance is based upon the systematic dismantling of the nation state. The façade of protecting the homeland is pure hogwash. With the rise of the internationalism culture for governance, the motivation to legislate as if a representative was a sincere patriot has evaporated.
There are not many reasons to even project an appearance of restoring an independent and self-sustaining national economy, a civilization based upon individual liberties and a society where opportunity builds a viable middle class. No, the day that politicians had sincere respect and devotion to institutions of lawful administration and beneficial programs that actually advanced the public interest are long gone.
So why do the hard core political junkies get so exercised over the latest news on how a particular race is turning? With the bipartisan gerrymandering that takes places after each census, every state gets their chance to game the election system. Since there are a small number of elections that can be described as truly competitive, the attention garnished on the few races that could be decided by greater campaign efforts, goes under the microscope.
Back in 2010 the decisive involvement of the genuine grassroots Tea Party captured the House of Representative for the GOP. How did that work out? For traditional conservatives, this freshman class made a substantial attempt to rock the floor of the chamber. Nevertheless, let no good Congressperson go left unpunished. The leadership of the do nothing and gutless Republicans, could not bring themselves to demonstrate fiscal prudence or foreign policy statesmanship.
Sorry folks, the NeoCons are still very much in control.
For this election cycle, the Senate seems to be in play by nearly all accounts. Races for a Senate seat in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina and Kansas are most often talked about holding the keys to the cloakroom. It is incomprehensible that majority leader Senate Harry Reid could muster even the lowest level of respect for the way he has conducted himself in the role of the perfect obstructionist. Yet, Democrat loyalists come to the rescue of his tainted honor, no matter how offensive his behavior and conduct degenerates.
Optimism that Reid will be relegated to the closet motivates discontented votes in the few States that matter. OK, even if the slimy and seedy boss of the Democrat crime syndicate gets demoted, what might be reasonably expected from a Republican majority in the Senate?
Most would expect that the remainder of the Obama Presidency will be dead in the water. Oh, how nice if that would be true. However, be prepared. For what you have already seen from this pathological liar and pretender, who have more in common with Mobutu the African despot, may well foretell an explosive ending.
The nihilism and the mental illness that marks the behavior of this egomaniac gives little reason to think that anything will restrain his one man one rule arrogance. If you watched the blushing admiration that Barry Soetoro showered on the biggest crook that even headed up the Department of Injustice, Eric Holder; you know that this psychotic president flaunts his disgust for America, has more insults left to inflict.
The fact that Republican representatives had no stomach to impeach this madman illustrates the nature of the existential problem that plagues the very foundation of legitimacy and threatens the civil liberties of every honest citizen.
Would a GOP Senate interject backbone into the jelly spines of the legislature branch and commence a revival of in an era of “good government”? Excuse me again, only the dreamers believe that an ethical administration can and will emerge, when morality in its most basic application, is almost nonexistent in the popular culture and the secular society.
Back in the ancient days of the network news monopoly, the three broadcast organizations would sometimes pool their resources to access the same voter count. Tallying ballots always presented the risk of voter fraud. Now, the projection and predicting prognostications are so much more refined. Voter scams are so advanced, using electronic machines to program in the results that only a Boss Tweed could fully appreciate.
Ah, just knowing the time wasted on campaigning is reward enough for those who rate congressional candidates lower than your latest terrorist splinter group. The suspense for the 2014 season better start to build soon or the media moguls will need to invent a different realty show to stage.
Maybe a slight threat of citizen participation could have a remote chance to influence the results in a primary run, but that time has passed. Tuesday, the 4th of November has all the making of another day of shame. Not because there is no qualified champion to support, you already know that to be the case. But for the reason that the likelihood that if a “good” person could be elected, merely means that he or she will be destroyed by the professional caste of political untouchables.
Play ball or your days are numbered. That’s the game and what better chamber exemplifies the experience of blackmail than the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body”.
If some stubborn and obstinate reformer sticks to their guns, just bring in the NSA for the maximum level of authoritarian extortion.
By now you should all be psyched up for making your X. Soon the latest round of illegal invaders will be getting their identity credentials and drive on over to the booth to pick their macho man official. How many more of these futile elections will it take before the pretense of voting will be just as silly as those candidate projected appearances of being a trustworthy representative of the populace?
This year’s Election Day recommendation has not changed. Show up, be vocal, express your disgust, vote third party or make a point that none of the above is your real selection. The charade of a loyal opposition to the party in power has never been so clear for even the densest “true believer” to come to their senses.
Little ever changes for the good and nothing actually reverses the direction towards national suicide. The reason is clear, it is the plan and every system is firing on all cylinders. The rest of the Obama term is poised to have deceased Americans turning in their graves. For those who claim they are still alive, prove it – show your outrage.
Norman Rockwell’s America carried incredible nostalgia for the way this country once operated. “Father Knows Best” captured our understanding of “family” in America. Jackie Gleason on the “Honeymooners” along with Andy Taylor and Barney Fife instilled our mutual belonging. Bill Cosby brought us together with the “Cosby Show.” Everyone spoke English and everyone enjoyed employment and hope.
From the 50s to the 70s, most people worked a job, our Congress made laws to ensure our well-being along with a viable nationhood. Even with our racial strife, women’s rights, gay rights and battles over Roe vs. Wade—America allowed every citizen the right to pursue “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
After my latest bicycle journey across America this summer, we unknowingly bear witness to the greatest racial and demographic shift ever self-inflicted on one country in the history of the world. By 2042, the Pew Research Center reports that the current European-American majority (down from 90 percent in 1960 to 54 percent in 2014) faces the new Latino majority within 28 years. All of it created by endless legal and illegal immigration.
During the next 36 years, Americans face an added 100 million legal immigrants from 150 countries around the globe. They stream into America at blinding speed via our invitations, chain migration and birth rates. How can we equate adding 100 million immigrants? Answer: that number equates to doubling the size of our 25 most populated cities. It means New York City jumps from 8.3 million to 16.6 million, Chicago from 5.1 million to 10.2 million and on down the line.
What does such an immigration invasion mean to our communities? Our way of life? Our quality of life? Our standard of living? Our environment? Our educational systems?
Answer: as the numbers rise to that 100 million level, everything in our society degrades, devolves, degenerates and worsens.
You cannot stop a fire by spraying gasoline on it. You can’t solve California’s drought or wildfires by adding another 20 million foreigners to that state via immigration. We cannot EVER catch up to exponential growth because it outruns our ability to solve its endemic and systemic consequences.
And, oxymoronically, we can’t solve our predicament by passing S744 Amnesty Bill that doubles legal immigration to 2.0 million annually.
What’s the final equation? Since I traveled through dozens of third world countries in the last 40 years, I noticed they couldn’t solve their problems, either. They face(d) horrific food and water contamination, disease and shortages. Just look at Ebola in Africa along with AIDS that killed 15 million thus far. Their citizens face endless illiteracy because they can’t install a viable educational system. They face conflict over resources.
As you notice in such areas as Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Bangladesh, Indochina, Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and dozens of other countries—you see continual religious, resource, food and water conflicts.
That’s where the United States of America steams. You can see it in our ethnic conflicts today whether Ferguson, MO riots, Chicago featuring 50 gun fights over the 4th of July weekend, black on black killings into the tens of thousands over the past several decades, 76 percent dropout/flunkout rates for Detroit public schools, which creates over 60 percent illiteracy rates. Illiteracy remains the key indicator of a third world country. Once it takes hold, it becomes intractable.
One look at our welfare system shows 68 percent of African-American children reared by a single mother on welfare. We feed 48 million Americans and non-Americans with EBT or food stamps. We see a complete breakdown of our middle class with no way to fight joblessness, futility or obesity caused by illiteracy. Right now, obesity explodes as a national epidemic of health care nightmares for our citizens.
Question: how do you think any of our current sociological, environmental, water, energy, racial and growing religious strife can or will get better. With those 100 million legal immigrants, you may expect to see an increase of Muslims in our country from 7.5 million to well over 20-30 million by 2050. Sociologists reported that once Islam reaches 8 percent of the host nation’s population, they become violent, arrogant and use the system to back the host country down to agree to Sharia Law. Notice the riots in Sweden and two separate London’s. Look at France’s nightmare. Sharia law stands against every Western sensibility for women’s rights, gays’ rights, free speech, education, marriage choices and religious choice. Note that hundreds of Muslim-Americans signed up to join terrorists groups in the Middle East. What happens when they turn their terror toward us?
Australia discovered a major plot fomented by citizen Muslims to commit beheadings in the streets of Sydney this summer. If you think I am kidding, watch this short video:
Published on Sep 18, 2014: More than 800 Police in Australia have carried out anti-terror raids in Sydney (12 suburbs) sparked by intelligence reports that Islamic extremists were planning random killings (beheadings) in Australia:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0ctrDnM__4
Additionally, look for three major languages to create major chaos and loss of our national ethos in the coming decades. Look for linguistic confusion and separation from being a citizen of the United States because you speak Arabic, Spanish or English. In the end, we face becoming a nation of strangers.
What solutions might we enact to save ourselves?
- Immediate reduction of all legal immigration to less than 100,000 annually instead of the current 100,000 every 30 days from 150 countries around the globe.
- Immediate enforcement of our current work, rent and transport laws against employers of anyone illegally in the USA.
- Immediate discussion on “60 Minutes”; “Face the Nation” ; “Meet the Press” ; Charlie Rose; NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, CNN, Bill O’Reilly, Wolf Blitzer, Shepard Smith, Megyn Kelley and all talk radio shows on how many people can our country hold and what’s the point of adding another 100 million foreigners when we already face enormous problems with what we currently hold.
- Millions of Americans need to join www.NumbersUSA.org; www.CapsWeb.org and www.Fairus.org and www.TheSocialContract.com in order to grow you strength via collective empowerment.
Otherwise, we keep heading where we’re headed. And, we’ll end up just like any third world country. Crowded, scant opportunities, lack of education, water shortages, energy crisis, religious conflict, environmental degradation and worse. It’s inevitable if we fail to stop mass immigration. I am amazed that I am the only US journalist who sees this monster so clearly, yet I see no national movement to stop it. Result: we doom our kids to a very sobering future of a fractured and fragmented civilization that cannot right itself.
Is the fact that half of the Scots want to split from Britain and the news that hundreds of young Muslim Brits are fighting with Jihadi militant groups in Syria connected?
Of course they are. These two social phenomena are intrinsically linked, yet in the intellectual desert in which we live, no one dares to address the subject. The boundaries of our curiosity are limited by our deference to political correctness and Zionist sensitivities.
From a political perspective, Jihadi enthusiasm amongst young Western Muslims is an outcome of the emergence of tribalism in the West; but isn’t the call for Scottish independence driven by a similar tribal urge? From both a philosophical and dialectic perspective, Jihadi identification and the Scottish call for independence are the antithesis of the New Left and its corrosive Identity (ID) politics that have been spread in our midst for too long.
In the last five decades we have witnessed a relentless attack on nationalism and patriotic values. These attacks are commonly associated with the ‘New Left’ and have been led in large part by the Jewish intelligencia. It was the Frankfurt School’s thesis on Authoritarian Personality (Adorno & co) and Wilhelm Reich’s take on ‘Mass Conservatism’ that suggested that there was something wrong, dangerous and even vile to be found among the masses and their ‘reactionist’ political orientation. Contemporary Left cosmopolitan icon Noam Chomsky has been calling for the abolishment of borders and states (except, of course, the Jewish State* for many years. Chomsky is proudly hostile to patriotism and nationalism. Yet we must examine the alternative offered by Chomsky, The Frankfurt School, The New Left and The Guardian – the media outlet that enthusiastically disseminates these ideas.
For reasons that I have discussed numerous times, the New ‘Left’ and the Jewish intelligencia have vigorously advocated the replacement of the national patriotic discourse with ID politics. In practice, this was intended to break the cohesiveness of the working class and the national bond and replace it with a score of marginal and sectarian discourses. The Left that once claimed to be a universal voice for the working people was hijacked. It became the mouthpiece of ID groups, most of them defined by biology (gender, skin color and race), sexual preferences (LGBT) and even religion (Jews only).
The outcome has been devastating. ID politics that initially purported to promote authentic thinking ended up promoting the opposite. It dismantled authenticity and replaced it with ‘Identification.’ Instead of being who we really are (John, Sue, Nahida or Abraham) we’ve been trained to identify with group ideology. We adopted a new manner of speech. We convey our thoughts ‘as a’; ‘as a Jew,’ ‘as a woman,’ ‘as a gay,’ ‘as a black,’ instead of expressing our own and very personal authentic feelings and beliefs as we experience them in an unmediated existential mode.
In practice, we have replaced authenticity with detachment, alienation and mimicry. Instead of celebrating Being in the most existential manner we learned to pre-mediate what being a ‘woman’, ‘Jew’, ‘black’, ‘gay’ should sound like. We learned to envisage what our identification ‘may entail’ and to react as our identification demands. What I describe above is the practical result of the ‘forgetfulness of Being,’ a term coined by the great German philosopher Martin Heidegger. But it is at this point that tribal awareness; nationalism and patriotism are reinvigorated and seem to be gaining ground.
In order to explain this shift, l would like first to examine the case presented by Zionism, Israel and Jewish progressive politics.
Those who attend progressive meetings become accustomed to the righteous Jewish manner of speech. Many Jews launch their speeches with the ‘as a Jew’ cliché. Needless to mention, neither I nor any other scholar of Jewish ID politics have ever managed to figure out what this cliché means. The reason is that it doesn’t mean a thing.
For years I have asked many Jews to address this question and haven’t received a sound reply. The ‘as a Jew’ seems to convey a meaningful logos, but in practice it is used to block critical discussion of the emptiness of the notion of Jewish progressive ID. In truth, there is no Jewish value system and as the great Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz observed in the 1970s, there is no such a thing as ‘Jewish ethics.’ The Jew is expected to follow Mitzvoth and laws (halakha) instead of acting upon his ethical judgment. The conclusion is devastating – ‘as a Jew’ is an empty expression. It is a deceptive mode used to convey an image of a Jewish ethical heritage that doesn’t exist.
This is where Zionism and Israel intervene. They offer the Jew an opportunity to rid himself of the sham of clichés and offer a glimpse of authentic redemption. Zionism and Israel say to the young Diaspora Jew – instead of speaking ‘as a Jew’ why don’t you just ‘Be a Jew?’ – take the first El Al flight, come to Israel, join the IDF, learn how to drive a tank. By the time your transformation is complete you will be able ‘to pour your wrath on the Goyim’ in the name of the Jewish people and in accordance with Jewish heritage (as the Zionist interpret this heritage).
Whether we like it or not, Israel and Zionism give meaning to Jewishness.
The Zionist call is very appealing to young Diaspora Jews (American, British, French, Australian). The IDF is saturated with lone soldiers who arrived in the ‘promised land’ just to wear the uniform and serve their people.
Israel and Zionism provide an authentic patriotic answer to the anti-patriotic mode that has become the voice of the New Left.
ISIS and other Jihadi groups offer the young Muslim a similar product. Instead of talking ‘as a Muslim,’ a statement that means very little within a consumerist, materialist, multi cultural society, the Islamic State and other Jihadi organizations offer their young Western followers the opportunity to Be a proper Muslim. Instead of participating in the inauthentic ‘as a’ game, ISIS calls on its followers to participate in a holy war, the ultimate form of true spiritual fulfillment.
It would be foolish to tag ISIS Western combatants as “bad Muslims” or ‘evil fundamentalists’ while turning a blind eye to the rising popularity of Jihadi culture within Muslim communities in the region and in the West. I recommend that we examine the popularity of ISIS amongst young Muslims in the light of the popularity of the Zionist cause within Western Jewish communities. I can’t see why a young British Muslim fighting in Iraq is worse than a Jewish British citizen serving in the IDF and ruining the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
The rise of nationalism and tribalism is prevalent throughout Europe and much of the world. This week Britain is on the verge of breaking up. Half of the Scots prefer to split from the Kingdom. What is going on in Scotland is a repetition of the same pattern. Instead of subscribing to a watery meaningless British ‘collectivism;’ Scotland, as a unifying symbolic bond has much more to offer its people.
To sum up, it seems that the attempt by the New Left to weaken the Nation state by promoting ID politics has backfired. It has led toward a sharp rise of tribal orientation and local patriotism. This reading may also help us to grasp the historical failures of the New Left and its mentors at the Frankfurt School. As we know, the masses never joined the Left. The promised revolution never occurred either. And the reason is plain: real working people didn’t have cause to impersonate working people – they were the working people.
The Left’s advocacy of mimicry was not without its benefits. It brought itself some popularity amongst middle class Guardian readers and progressive Jews. But the current outburst of tribalism suggests that our society is changing direction. Society may never be the same, and this may be a very positive occurrence.
“I liken the economy to a car on a flat road that has no momentum. When you take your foot off the gas, the car just stops moving.” — Stephanie Pomboy, Interview Barron’s
If you follow the stock market, you probably think the economy is sizzling. But if bonds are your thing, then you probably think we’re still in recession.
So which is the better gauge of what’s going on in the real economy; stocks or bonds?
The bond market is more accurate. And recently, long-term yields have been dropping like a stone which is not a good sign for the economy. Investors seem to think that slow growth and low inflation are here to stay, and they could be right. According to Bloomberg, “Falling yields on longer-term Treasuries historically reflect periods of lackluster growth. Since 1960, they have predicted seven of the last eight recessions when 10-year yields fell below 3-month bill rates.” As of today, the benchmark 10-year UST is a dismal 2.44 percent.
The reason investors have been piling back into Treasuries is because is the labor market is weak and there’s no sign of inflation anywhere. When wages stagnate and incomes drop–as they have since the slump ended– then there’s no upward pressure on prices because everyone is making less dough, so there’s less demand, less growth and, hence, less inflation. Of course, Obama could have fixed the situation by holding off on slashing the deficits or by increasing the amount of stimulus in his fiscal package. That would have circulated more money into the economy boosting employment and revving up growth. But that would have put the economy back on its feet again which was not what he wanted. What he wanted was to grind working people into the ground by keeping the economy on life-support while his chiseling Wall Street buddies made out like bandits on the latest stock market bubble. The Wall Street Journal explains what’s going on:
“Bond yields are – once again – plunging worldwide. The reason for this revived buying among fixed-income investors is that central banks are – once again – signaling their intent to ease monetary conditions in yet another bid to kick-start sluggish economies and forestall a downward spiral in prices, or deflation. The prospect that central banks will continue to inject money into the world’s bond markets…has acted as a green light for the world’s bond buyers.”
So investors think the Fed will have to taper the “Taper” and start buying more government paper. But why?
Because they have no choice. Many of the usual buyers of US Treasuries have cut back on their monthly purchases or stopped buying altogether. That means that rates will have to rise to attract more buyers unless the Fed makes up the difference. Check out this blurb from Barron’s interview with Stephanie Pomboy:
“Foreigners are buying about $10 billion a month of Treasuries. This compares with deficit financing needs for the U.S. government of roughly $40 billion a month, based on this year’s deficit. So the Fed needs to pick up roughly $30 billion a month in slack. When the Fed slashed its buying to $25 billion, effective this month, it for the first time opened up a demand deficit for Treasuries. If they continue to taper, that gap will expand, and things could get bumpy in the Treasury market. Rates won’t go up five basis points before the Fed would start talking about more QE.” (Barrons Interview Posits Weak US Economy, Barron’s)
It’ll get bumpy alright, real bumpy. Higher rates will send housing and stocks into freefall. The Fed will have no choice but to step in to stop the bleeding.
The economy is already suffering from chronic lack of demand. Add higher rates to the mix, and cost-conscious consumers are going to cut back on everything from auto loans to nights-on-the-town. Yellen’s not going to let that happen. She’s going to come up with some cockamamie excuse for buying more USTs and hope-like-hell that wages and incomes rebound so she can start tapering again.
This illustrates the conceptual flaw in Central Bank policy. QE and zero rates are supposed to reduce the price of money, thereby enticing consumers to take out loans and spend like crazy. That, in turn, is supposed to generate more activity and stronger growth. But there’s a slight glitch to this theory, that is, consumers aren’t the brain-dead lab rats the Fed thinks they are. Most people don’t base their spending decisions on price alone. Sometimes, for example, it doesn’t make sense to borrow money no matter how cheap it is. The average working stiff doesn’t give a rip if he can get a loan at 3.5 percent when his credit card is already maxed out and the only job he can find is working graveyard at Jack in the Box. That guy doesn’t need more debt, he needs a decent paying job. Here’s how the managing partner of MBMG Group, Paul Gambles explained the phenom in an interview on CNBC:
“People and businesses are not inclined to borrow money during a downturn purely because it is made cheaper to do so. Consumers also need a feeling of job security and confidence in the economy before taking on additional borrowing commitments.” (Washington’s blog via Zero Hedge)
Bingo. Of course, the members of the Fed know that this whole “cheap money” thing is bogus, but they keep reiterating the same blather so they can keep the wampum flowing to their crooked friends on Wall Street. It’s worth noting that: since the end of the recession, “one-third of all income increases in this country went to just 16,000 households, 95 percent of it went to the top 1 percent, and the bottom 90 percent’s incomes fell, and they fell by 15 percent.”
In other words, the Fed knows exactly how QE works, (and who benefits) and it has nothing to do with extending credit to working people. That’s malarkey. It’s all about providing limitless liquidity for financial speculators so they can send stocks into the stratosphere and rake in record profits. Here’s a blurb from a piece by Zero Hedge that helps to illustrate what’s going on:
“According to the most recent CapitalIQ data, the single biggest buyer of stocks in the first quarter were none other than the companies of the S&P500 itself, which cumulatively repurchased a whopping $160 billion of their own stock in the first quarter!
Should the Q1 pace of buybacks persist into Q2 which has just one month left before it too enters the history books, the LTM period as of June 30, 2014 will be the greatest annual buyback tally in market history.” (Here Is The Mystery, And Completely Indiscriminate, Buyer Of Stocks In The First Quarter, Zero Hedge)
Why are companies buying shares of their own stock, you ask, when buybacks add no productive value to a company at all?
It’s because it gooses stock prices which makes shareholders happy. It’s a complete scam. And it’s a huge scam, too. Currently, total stock buybacks represent a whopping $4 trillion or 20 percent of the total stock market value. Just think of the walloping prices are going to take when these same shareholders decide it’s time to bail out? Look out below!
Now get a load of this clip from Action Forex:
“Disappointment over the pace of economic growth explains at least some of the downturn in yields. The U.S. economy very likely contracted in the first quarter of the year, perhaps by as much as 1.0% annualized … Even with a strong bounce back in the second quarter … – the average pace of growth in the first half of the year will be a tepid 2.0%, about the pace it’s been since the end of the recession…
The retrenchment in yields also reflects events abroad … However, there is perhaps another reason for the decline in yields that is more pernicious. There is the realization that even after the recovery has run its course, economic growth is likely to be slower than it has been in the past. Slower growth means that as the fed funds rate eventually moves off the floor, it will not go back to the 5.25% it was prior to the Great Recession or even the 4.0% it averaged over the quarter of a decade prior. Expectations of “lower forever”…increasingly appear to be built into longer-term interest rates.” (A year in the bond market, Action Forex)
Did you catch that part about “lower forever”?
What the author means is that the economy has reset at a lower level of activity and will not return to normal. This is an admission that the managers of the system have no intention of fixing what’s wrong; cleaning up the banks, writing down the debts, regulating the system, increasing workers buying power (boosting demand) or providing sustained fiscal stimulus until unemployment and growth are back where they should be. Instead, basic macro has been replaced with public relations, that is, a swindle that’s spearheaded by faux-liberal icons Krugman and Summers who are pushing the “secular stagnation” folderol which is just a lame excuse for maintaining the status quo plus a few anemic add-ons, like infrastructure projects. Big whoop. It’s all a fig leaf for maintaining the same wealth shifting monetary policies that are in place today.
So this is it? Are we really doomed to a future of high unemployment and slow growth?
The IMF seems to think so. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Nick Beams which gives a rundown on a recent IMF report that was ignored by the media. The article is titled “No end to economic breakdown”:
“Almost six years after the eruption of the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has effectively ruled out any return to the economic growth rates that preceded September 2008.
Two major chapters of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook … provide a gloomy assessment of the state of the world economy. In the advanced economies, investment is falling as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), while in the “emerging markets,” there is no prospect for growth rates to return to pre-2007 levels.
The IMF notes that real interest rates have been declining since the 1980s and are “now in slightly negative territory.” But this has failed to boost productive investment. On the contrary, what it calls “scars” from the global financial crisis “have resulted in a sharp and persistent decline in investment in advanced economies.” Between 2008 and 2013, there was a two-and-a-half percentage point decline in the investment to GDP ratio in these countries. The report adds that ratios “in many advanced economies are unlikely to recover to pre-crisis levels in the next five years.”
This conclusion is of immense significance given the critical role of investment in the functioning of the capitalist economy … Investment…is the key driving force of capitalist economic growth … But if investment stagnates or declines, the circle turns vicious. This is what is now taking place.” IMF report: No end to economic breakdown (april), wsws
So no return to normal, after all. The American people are now facing a long period of high unemployment and slow growth that will shrink the middle class and change the country in ways we can hardly imagine. It’s unavoidable. It’s the policy.
NOTE: As this piece was going to press, the Wall Street Journal announced that “revised” First Quarter GDP contracted at a 0.6% annual rate. So while stocks have been setting records almost daily due to the massive injections of money from the Fed, the economy is steadily sliding towards recession.
“Comrade Wolf knows who to eat, and he eats without listening to anyone.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin referring to the United States…
The Ukraine crisis has its roots in a policy that dates back nearly 20 years. The origins of the policy can be traced to a 1997 article in Foreign Policy magazine by Zbigniew Brzezinski, titled “A Geostrategy for Eurasia.” The article makes the case that the United States needs to forcefully establish itself in Central Asia in order to maintain its position as the world’s only superpower. While many readers may be familiar with Brzezinski’s thinking on these matters, they might not know what he has to say about Russia, which is particularly illuminating given that the recent uptick in violence has less to do with Ukraine than it does with Washington’s proxy-war on Russia. Here’s what Brzezinski says:
“Russia’s longer-term role in Eurasia will depend largely on its self-definition…Russia’s first priority should be to modernize itself rather than to engage in a futile effort to regain its status as a global power. Given the country’s size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, A Geostrategy for Eurasia, Foreign Affairs, 76:5, September/October 1997.
So is this the goal of US policy, to create “A loosely confederated Russia” whose economy can be subsumed into America’s market-based system?
Notice how easily Brzezinski chops Russia into smaller, bite-size statelets that pose no threat to US imperial expansion. Brzezinski undoubtedly envisions a Russia that will sell its vast resources in petrodollars and recycle them into US Treasuries further enriching the corrupt rent-skimmers in Washington and Wall Street. He foresees a Russia that will abdicate its historic role in the world and have no say-so in shaping global policy. He imagines a compliant Russia that will help facilitate US imperial ambitions in Asia, even to the point where it will pay to police its own people on behalf of US oligarchs, weapons manufacturers, oil magnates, and 1 percenters. Here’s the paragraph in Brzezinski’s piece that sums up Washington’s objectives in Ukraine, Russia and beyond. It is fittingly headlined with the following words in bold print:
“Defining the substance and institutionalizing the form of a trans-Eurasian security system could become the major architectural initiative of the next century. The core of the new transcontinental security framework could be a standing committee composed of the major Eurasian powers, with America, Europe, China, Japan, a confederated Russia, and India collectively addressing critical issues for Eurasia’s stability. The emergence of such a transcontinental system could gradually relieve America of some of its burdens, while perpetuating beyond a generation its decisive role as Eurasia’s arbitrator. Geostrategic success in that venture would be a fitting legacy to America’s role as the first and only global superpower.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, “A Geostrategy for Eurasia,” Foreign Affairs
Translation: The United States will police the world, dispatch troublemakers, and eliminate potential threats wherever it finds them. It will impose its neoliberal dogma (Austerity, privatization, structural adjustment, anti labor reforms, etc) across-the-board and on all participants. Also, minor partners–”Europe, China, Japan, a confederated Russia, and India”–will be expected to provide security for their own people at their own expense in order to “relieve America of some of its burdens.”
Nice, eh? So you even have to pay for your own jailers.
And what is “Transcontinental Security” anyway? Isn’t it just a fancy way of saying “one world government”?
Indeed, it is. It’s the very same thing. Here’s more from Brzezinski:
“Failure to widen NATO…would shatter the concept of an expanding Europe… Worse, it could reignite dormant Russian political aspirations in Central Europe.”
This is an oddly convoluted statement. In the first sentence, Brzezinski supports the idea of an “expanding Europe”, and then in the next breath, he worries that Russia might want to do the same thing. It’s another case of the pot calling the kettle black.
What’s clear, is that –in Brzezinski’s mind– EU and NATO expansion will help Washington achieve its hegemonic aspirations. That’s all that matters. Here’s what he says:
“Europe is America’s essential geopolitical bridgehead in Eurasia…A wider Europe and an enlarged NATO will serve the short-term and longer-term interests of U.S. policy… A politically defined Europe is also essential to Russia’s assimilation into a system of global cooperation.”
“Bridgehead”? In other words, Europe is just a means to an end. But what would that “end” be?
Global domination. Isn’t that what he’s talking about?
Of course, it is.
What makes the Ukrainian crisis so hard to understand, is that the media conceals the policy behind the impenetrable fog of daily events. Once the fog lifts though, it’s easy to see who’s causing all the trouble. It’s the party that’s calling the shots from abroad, the good old US of A.
Putin doesn’t want this war and neither do most Ukrainians. The whole thing was conjured up by Uncle Sam and his minions to stop the flow of Russian gas to Europe, to push NATO further eastward, and to break the Russian Federation into little pieces. That’s what it’s really all about. And these madmen are willing to raze Ukraine to the ground and kill every living organism within a 3,000 mile radius of Kiev to get their way. After all, isn’t that what they did in Iraq? They sure did. And did I mention that, according to this week’s Wall Street Journal, “Iraq’s Oil Output Surged to Highest Level in Over 30 Years” with all the usual suspects raking in hefty profits.
The point is, if they’d did it in Iraq, they’ll do it in Ukraine too. Because what Washington cares about is constituents not carnage. Carnage they can handle.
Brzezinski is not the only one supporting the current policy either. There’s also fellow traveler, Hillary Clinton. In fact, it was Secretary of State Clinton who first used the term “pivot” in a 2011 article in Foreign Policy Magazine titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Clinton’s op-ed described a “rebalancing” plan that would open up new markets to US corporations and Wall Street, control the flow of vital resources, and “forge a broad-based military presence” across the continent. Here’s an excerpt from the text of Clinton’s seminal speech:
“The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.
As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…
Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…
…as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it is for the United States to expand our exports and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.” (“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)
“Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama”?
Does that sound like someone who wants to cultivate a mutually-beneficial relationship with their trading partners or someone who wants to move in, take over and run the show?
Washington’s plan to shift its attention from the Middle East to Asia is all about money. Clinton even says so herself. She says, “The region generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade…Asia’s markets … provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and…a vast and growing consumer base.”
Money, money, money. The upside-profit potential is limitless which is why Madame Clinton wants to plant Old Glory right in “the center of the action”, so US corporations can rake in the dough without fear of reprisal.
Brzezinski says the same thing in his magnum opus “The Grand Chessboard” Here’s an excerpt:
“A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives”, page 31)
Get the picture? It’s a gold rush! Having successfully looted every last farthing from the battered US middle class and left the economy in a ghastly shambles, Brzezinski, Clinton and Co. are headed for greener pastures in Central Asia, home of the world’s largest oil producing nation, boundless reserves in the Caspian Basin, and zillions of voracious consumers who’ll need everything from I Pads to leisure wear, all graciously provided by US-owned corporations. Cha-ching!
So don’t get tripped up on the daily events in Ukraine. This isn’t a clash between pro-government forces and anti-government activists. This is the next big phase of Washington’s plan to conquer the world, a plan that will inevitably pit Moscow against the amassed military power of the United States of America. This is David vs. Goliath, Mother Russia vs. the Great Satan, Vladie Putin vs. Comrade Wolf.
Ukraine is just Round 1.
The enormous energy spent on analyzing candidates and predicting elections is time wasted when the actual decisions are predetermined before the voting takes place. Even excluding voter fraud from the final count, the party selection process has made the decision. The pretense that primaries reflect the will of the electorate deceives the registered voter, amuses the party insiders and benefits the advertisement and media moguls. Ideas, policy positions and core principles take a back seat to the art of spinning and negatively defining the opponent.
Rivals start within your own party. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Republicans Tighten Grip on Debates in 2016 Race.
“Party leaders want to tighten their grip on a presidential primary season they believe has grown unruly and too long. This year, the party moved to set the nominating calendar by scheduling the first four contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — for February, allowing other states to begin voting in March and holding winner-take-all primaries starting March 15.
Taken together, these procedural steps could thwart an underfunded insurgent who needs the free exposure of televised debates and would be hurt by a series of rapid-fire contests in March that could be tilted toward an establishment-backed contender.
A few conservative stalwarts on the committee are nervous about the establishment’s consolidation of power over the primaries. “Do we want a committee of the national committee, which will surely be controlled by the national chairman, picking which candidates participate in all Republican presidential debates?”
This point is illustrated in the AP report RNC Changes debate Rules for 2016. “The RNC rules panel endorsed the creation of a 13-person committee that would limit how many presidential debates can take place and who can ask the questions. The full committee on Friday went along with that plan to ban candidates who participate in scofflaw debates from future RNC-backed sessions, by a 152-to-7 vote.”
Before the usual ceremonial indignation takes hold, ask yourself what is exactly sacrosanct about a stacked primary system that has little to do with an open contest. Patricians that make up the GOP establishment long ago graduated from the country club set.
Nonetheless, the bleeding hearts over at Salon would have you believe that the Democrats operate by different rules. Why Democrats need a primary, too offers advice why the anointed “Queen of Mean” that Rodman woman, would attain a benediction from going through an orchestrated charade before her canonization.
“Clinton would benefit from that input just as all incumbents and other party luminaries do, despite the fact that they would rather not have to have that fight. It is not good for a president to take the office without having taken the temperature of his or her supporters and understanding what they care about and what they expect. During a tempestuous period like this one, it’s even more important than usual. It would only be to her advantage to have a challenger who could bring forth those issues and allow the public to see them argued before she goes up against a Republican.”
Lost in the fervor of progressive rhetoric is that the Democratic Party is just as elitist as the Republicans are. Both operate as useful idiots and corporatist tools of a system that has long ago abandoned the practice of free enterprise.
Contrast this American version of a Punch and Judy show that has an elephant bully bemoaning the folk hero Robin Hood, who actually resembles an ass, with the exceptional Broadway Play, “The Best Man” by Gore Vidal. Watch the 1964 movie version and consider just how far the political system has collapsed in half a century.
The basic assumption in the play and movie is that the nominee of the Democratic Party will handedly beat their Republican opponent. Characterizing convention ballot voting by delegates as a genuine selection process may be strange to those who were raised on the myth that registered voters in a state primary really has a voice in the inauguration of the next President.
A system of party bosses and smoke room dealmakers, surely must be far worse from the televised mortifying pilgrimage and penitent self-flagellation that goes into winning the party’s nomination? Or, is it . . .
Remember the way the primaries served the faithful Democrats in 2008.
“According to news reports, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went out of their way to hold their long-awaited private meeting in a very specific location – not at Hillary’s mansion in Washington – but in Northern Virginia, which also just happens to be the scene of the 2008 Bilderberg meeting.The neo-liberal website Wonkette, which had previously ridiculed “conspiracy theorists” for ascribing power to Bilderberg, seemed to take a somewhat different tone when it made the connection between Obama and Hillary’s meeting and the Bilderberg Group.”
Orders from on high or more to the point, international deciders had their “heart to heart” with Hillary, passing her over, and giving her a maybe for 2016. George W. Bush liked to call himself the decider, but we all should know that decisions out of Skull and Bones are not based upon primary results.
Vidal’s screenplay portrayed a party convention as a real nomination fight. To whatever slime degree existed in the horse-trading to win delegates back then, the appearance in today’s selection makes no pretext of concealing the hidden hands behind picking the next President.
The partisan politics protection racket has but one goal; namely, serve and safeguard establishment interests of the elites, who really command the ultimate power. In addition to the Presidency, Congress shares broad similarities in their version of The Incumbent Protection Racket.
“In the U.S. House of Representatives, over the past five elections, incumbents have been re-elected at an average rate of 96 percent. According to my unscientific calculations, a congressman is more likely to be eaten by a polar bear while panning for gold in Key West than to be voted out of office.”
Serious challenges in Congressional district primacies are rare. The exception was in 2010 with the success of Tea Party candidates. However, such expression of the will of the people cannot stand in the polluted Potomac sewer that passes for representative democracy. Just look at the concerted efforts to sabotage populist support to retool the excesses in the federal government. Party Goers – What Do You Take With Your Tea?, indicates that all the sugar in the Caribbean will not prevent the political diabetes disease from going into shock. The bipartisan protection con knows how to close ranks among the political class.
“When main street middle class beleaguered taxpayers resonated that, the system was out of whack, the damage control team went into overdrive. This background helps to explain why the face of unprompted Tea Party individualism must be distorted, maligned and redirected.”
Great disappointment among Tea Party activists in the hostile welcome from establishment NeoCons has set in. The alternative to playing the no win beltway game provided in Dissecting U.S. Elections – the People vs. the Pols, best states the rational solution.
“What if a real grassroots national movement emerged that supersedes all ideology with a singular purpose – remove all careerist “pols” from office. Forget about the phony No Labels effort to diffuse popular disgust. The solution is to attract the very citizens who NEVER vote in elections.
A national campaign – No Confidence – would be the clear message that the arrogant confidence game crooks could understand.”
Drawing upon a universal appeal to break from the travesties of the two party frauds is necessary to register countrywide outrage. Only through vigorous dissention will The Meaning of Third Parties in America, bring the necessary pressure to collapse both the Democrat and Republican Parties.
“The solution to implement meaningful reform is to defuse the political power that is presently concentrated within the ‘Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle Dee’ parties. The notion that differences between them are based upon core principles, denies the unending descent into ‘collectivism’. The edges have varied shapes, but the centers are formed from the same sponge.”
You can always resolve that either party will never nominate “The Best Man”. If you are so delusional to believe that a woman is the answer in the oval office, look in a different direction. Elizabeth Warren the self-proclaimed Pinocchio-hontas, is a sorry excuse for an accomplished liar. Flush with law school disingenuous skills, this want-a-be feminine messiah would have you believe that Hillary is the New World Order’s favorite grandmother.
Nonetheless, fake opposition simply projects the image that there is a choice in candidates. Noam Scheiber, in the New Republic writes, “A Clinton-Warren matchup would have all sorts of consequences, none of them especially heartwarming. The most immediate is that Warren would probably lose.” Well so much for a contest between squaws, better suited for commitment to the Hiawatha Insane Asylum.Partisan politics is mostly a ruse designed to divert attention from service to the substantial interests of establishment globalists. The noise generated around campaigns and media coverage, ignores or conceals the existent deals that serve the real goals and intentions of the master puppeteers. The terminal lesson is that establishment politics treats the public as reservation squatters.
Quite a stir occurred with the academic presentation, How Technology Is Destroying Jobs, by Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee. Both “have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.”
“Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence, according to Brynjolfsson, is a chart that only an economist could love. In economics, productivity—the amount of economic value created for a given unit of input, such as an hour of labor—is a crucial indicator of growth and wealth creation. It is a measure of progress. On the chart Brynjolfsson likes to show, separate lines represent productivity and total employment in the United States. For years after World War II, the two lines closely tracked each other, with increases in jobs corresponding to increases in productivity. The pattern is clear: as businesses generated more value from their workers, the country as a whole became richer, which fueled more economic activity and created even more jobs. Then, beginning in 2000, the lines diverge; productivity continues to rise robustly, but employment suddenly wilts. By 2011, a significant gap appears between the two lines, showing economic growth with no parallel increase in job creation. Brynjolfsson and McAfee call it the “great decoupling.” And Brynjolfsson says he is confident that technology is behind both the healthy growth in productivity and the weak growth in jobs.”
Building upon this study, MSM provides a three part series on, Loss of middle-class jobs compounded by tech advances. The following admission by the technological behemoth should give pause for future generations.
“Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market. What’s more, these jobs aren’t just being lost to China and other developing countries, and they aren’t just factory work. Increasingly, jobs are disappearing in the service sector, home to two-thirds of all workers.
The global economy is being reshaped by machines that generate and analyze vast amounts of data; by devices such as smartphones and tablet computers that let people work just about anywhere, even when they’re on the move; by smarter, nimbler robots; and by services that let businesses rent computing power when they need it, instead of installing expensive equipment and hiring IT staffs to run it.”
This reality is all around us, but the full impact yet appreciated, is that the cloud of computing is not increasing business employment for the main street economy. For more bad news look at the results from the Associated Press analysis of employment data from 20 countries in, Can smart machines take your job? Middle class jobs increasingly being replaced by technology, which found that “almost all the jobs disappearing are in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000. Jobs that form the backbone of the middle class in developed countries in Europe, North America and Asia.”
“In the United States, half of the 7.5 million jobs lost during the Great Recession paid middle-class wages, and the numbers are even more grim in the 17 European countries that use the euro as their currency. A total of 7.6 million midpay jobs disappeared in those countries from January 2008 through last June.”
The article then goes on to cite that more information now crosses the Internet every second than the entire Internet stored 20 years ago. Other examples note that:
- The British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto announced plans last year to invest $518 million in the world’s first long-haul, heavy-duty driverless train system at its Pilbara iron ore mines in Western Australia.
- Dirk Vander Kooij’s furniture-making company in the Netherlands needs only a skeleton crew — four people. The hard work at the Eindhoven-based company is carried out by an old industrial robot that Vander Kooij fashioned into a 3D printer.
Soon to come are pilotless airliners joining the several Japanese rail lines already run by themselves. Add the smart utility meter deployment and soon the employee reader, banished to a wax museum, becomes just another sign of “so called” progress.
Missing in all this corporate excitement for slashing payroll is the indisputable fact that the general standard of living is dropping like a rock for the average family. Couple this deadly trend with the unnerving prospects forecasted by Bob Lord in, Our First Trillionaire: Only a Matter of Time.
“The unavoidable result: Wealth at the top is growing at a faster rate than aggregate wealth. That’s where the arithmetic comes in to play. If the wealth of one group within a nation grows at a faster rate than the nation’s aggregate wealth, that group’s share of the aggregate wealth must increase over time. That’s a mathematical certainty. And the level of subsequent wealth concentration has no limit.”
Technological development coupled with favorable political treatment is regularly the formula for massive accumulation of fortune. However, the horrendous social distortions that inexorably follows such distortions in income, much less the fact that the disappearance in living wage employment of the masses cannot be ignored without fundamental political upheaval.
Once innovated technology of a Henry Ford raised the living standards and was a benefit for society. Today’s objective is to remove or eliminate the middle class as the gap in meaningful employment widens. Added leisure time has no significance if spent on playing games on an IPAD, while living off welfare government programs.
Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s breakdown is a chilling look at a bleak future and the goodbye kiss to a populist beneficial economy.
All the attention over the epoch vote by Crimean’s to leave the Ukraine makes for a timely review of other separatist factions that are seeking a similar resolution. The List of active separatist movements in Europe is exhaustive. The immediate impression is that a pervasive discontent, shared by legions of subjects, who want independence and self-determination, will be hard to derail. When European autocratic and aristocrats ruled, the only option was revolution. Today the descendants of the old regimes still wheeled power under the guise of democratically elected authorities. However, separatist sentiment does not mean the same to every splinter group.
Examine Europe’s Latest Secession Movement: Venice, for a telling indicator.
“An organization representing a coalition of Venetian nationalist groups, held an unofficial referendum on breaking with Rome. Voters were first asked the main question -“Do you want Veneto to become an independent and sovereign federal republic?” -followed by three sub-questions on membership in the European Union, NATO, and the eurozone . . .
As the referendum’s organizers announced the results: 2,102,969 votes in favor of independence—a whopping 89 percent of all ballots cast—to 257,266 votes against. Venetians also said yes to joining NATO, the EU, and the eurozone.”
Note the significance of wanting to be part of NATO and the EU.
Next, look at the more widely reported effort, in the land of “Braveheart” William Wallace. Scottish secession remains unlikely, but momentum is with the schismatics provides a more stately viewpoint from the Commonwealth.
“After months of comfort for the pro-unionist ‘Better Together’ campaign, the most recent polls point to a tighter race with 40 percent of Scots supporting secession. With six months to go, the momentum appears to be with those seeking an amicable divorce.
Scottish independence would not lead to a republic. Queen Elizabeth II (I of Scotland) would remain head of state, a smart move by the ‘Yes’ campaign to de-radicalize independence and make the electorate feel more comfortable with a vote for change. The debate has therefore become more focused on incrementalism, with plans for an independent Scotland retaining both membership of NATO and the European Union, a common currency with the rest of the UK, and open borders.”
A video from the Carnegie Council gives a spin in Which Separatist Movements Will Succeed, which plays down the urgent motivation for “FREEDOM” for an evolutionary approach.
An essay out of Wharton, Is Secession the Answer? The Case of Catalonia, Flanders and Scotland, points out the obvious, while illustrating the problematic.
“It may seem paradoxical in an age of global communications, but the revival of regionalism “is a global phenomenon,” notes Jacob Funk Kierkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington, D.C. think tank. Today’s high-speed technologies, including the Internet, “enable people to start a campaign and get out their message” quickly and repeatedly to like-minded people who might have harbored such desires in private.
Beyond its unique constitutional challenges, Catalonia faces another hurdle: The eurozone has a de facto veto over its independence. “If Catalonia becomes independent, will they [still] be part of the eurozone?” Kierkegaard asks, adding that, if Catalonia votes to secede, the EU response could be that “you will have to issue your own currency, and your banks will have no access to the European Central Bank. You won’t automatically have a seat on the ECB governing council.”
The Spanish situation, by contrast, the establishment would have you believe the militant Basques ETA nationalists harbor violent resolve. The YouTube Thousands March In Spain In Support Of ETA, reports that the EU labels this movement as terrorists. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Catalan Sovereignty Claim Blocked by Spain Constitutional Court, is but a spillover effort to discredit the Catalonia’s claim. “Sovereignty is “not contemplated in our constitution for nationalities and regions that make up the state” and no one can break the principle of the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation,” the ruling said.Such illustrations, all exhibit unique local concerns and grievances, while sharing a basic distrust of national authority. What stands out is an anserine eagerness to remain part of the EU and NATO. This factor may be a distinctively European trait, which seems to be lacking in the proper understanding that the surrender of national authority to a body of central banksters, social technocrats and empire military mercenaries, is the fundamental cause of popular dissatisfaction.
Pat Buchanan in the article, Is Red State America Seceding?, provides numerous other European examples of discontent, then goes on to cite secession initiatives in the United States. It is striking that our countries unique experience has a shape difference from the blue-blooded patricians’ clashes that mark the history of Europe. Because of this difference, the indigenous cultures on the continent have never developed the same passion of individual liberty, which is inborn in the American revolutionary spirit.
Applying the same principles defended in the View from the Mount essay, Secession Movement Ready to Take Hold, would serve our European cousins well, in breaking up the EU and their NWO oppression.
“Governments fall, while a consensual nation state can still survive. With the destruction of an accepted traditionalistic national identity, time-honored heritage becomes the target of dictatorial “do gooders” who facilitate subjugation of independent self-governing states.
Blowing out the candles of federal absolutism is the imperative of our age. Secession is not a dirty word, but is an indispensable solution. Dissolving the union of the suppressed, under the auspices of the subverted elite, is the path to social freedom and human liberty.”
Libertarian and author L. Neil Smith argues, “What happened in America in the 1860s was a war of secession, a war of independence, no different in principle from what happened in America in the 1770s and 1780s.” Compare most of the secession movements in the 21th century as half measure efforts that are not willing to take on the yoke of the globalist central banking financial system. The lessons presented in the Radical Reactionary article, Representation, Secession and Taxation, should be applied and adopted by the European secession movements.
“As discontent rises and practical solutions evaporate, that dirty historic sentiment begins to bubble to the surface, SECESSION. Russell D. Longcore provides a standard, when secession is a vital and justified option that many would accept.”Secession should be solemnly deliberated by the elected representatives and the state citizens. Secession should be initiated at the moment that any state reaches the point at which it will no longer accept the despotic tyranny and laws coming from the US Federal Government in Washington, DC. Or, secession should be initiated upon a collapse of the Dollar, or the imposition by Washington DC of martial law in the event of social upheaval.”
Discontent is not enough to overthrow the tyrants, who have definitively proven, that a European Union based upon top down authoritarianism is a lawful substitute for locally ruled government based upon common ethics and cultural heritage.
The dramatic rise in opposition to the ruling elites is most encouraging in the eternal struggle against despotism. However, the European socialist welfare model has produced generations of soft stock and irresponsible subjects. Surrendering national sovereignty was the monumental failure of the post war era. Open borders to a confederation of dissimilar ethnic groups, attracts the disparate and incongruent, which builds even more pressure for secession.
As it stands today, the prospects for successful secession movements to attain their independence and autonomy are slim because each are fragmented. The correct and necessary element for separation, must be based upon, the dissolution of the European Union and the elimination of the central banking system, under the control of the international banksters.
Countries need to exercise their proper authority to coin their own currencies and maintain low taxation levels that fund minimum governmental functions.
While such a goal and objective is justified, the globalist controllers will not allow a serene exit from the monolith that they created. Marginal regional self-rule may eventually be reluctantly recognized, only if the basic leviathan structure remain intact and accepted by disgruntle camps. Notwithstanding, that approach can and will never bring about a restoration of national self-determination.
It is time for secession movements to unit and coalesce around a few fundamental principles, which they all share. The regional concerns are issues for local administration. Taking on the monster of globalist governance is a universal task.
Consequently, the undertaking domestically is to build ground swell defiance that moves past a modest grassroots opposition to incorporate the bulk of the rapidly declining middle class. This genuine moral majority must be willing to marginalize the federal government and restore the rightful authority of individual state jurisdiction.
If timid and docile Europeans are engaging in secession movements in such significant numbers, what is the excuse for industrious and energetic Americans from doing the same? This was the country for the home of the brave. Now is the time to restore that outlook with direct action.
Debt is everywhere but it just does not seem to matter. Thanks to the folks at Zero Hedge, you get the account Global Debt Crosses $100 Trillion, Rises By $30 Trillion Since 2007; $27 Trillion Is “Foreign-Held” – “Total global debt has exploded by 40% in just 6 short years from 2007 to 2013, from “only” $70 trillion to over $100 trillion as of mid-2013, according to the BIS’ just-released quarterly review“. They make this assessment:
“Not surprisingly, given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers (Graph C, left-hand panel). They mostly issue debt in domestic markets, where amounts outstanding reached $43 trillion in June 2013, about 80% higher than in mid-2007 (as indicated by the yellow area in Graph C, left-hand panel). Debt issuance by non-financial corporates has grown at a similar rate (albeit from a lower base).”
There seems only one valid conclusion drawing upon these figures. Whatever economic activity exists is based upon government expenditures and that corporations have lowered their interest rates on their outstanding debt. The former is most disturbing, while the latter, under normal circumstances, would offer a promise of an expanding economy.
Since the former middle class has endured the greatest loss of income and experiences a distinct lowering in their standard of living since the financial meltdown, the prospects of main street prosperity seems remote at best. Corporations, as a whole, have improved their balance sheets as they lower their debt service, accompanied with cost efficiencies and reduction in employee costs. The day of the upward mobility career looks like a distant memory for the working class.
Government employment is growing, but such a public sector economy never produces actual wealth. Only a disturbing burden of welfare obligations of all kinds and an increase in state debt comes out of this pattern of a false and unsustainable economy.
On the contrary, is that ultimate collapse inevitable when the paper financial system just keeps churning out a rise in the stated 40% increase in debt in just 6 years? Why not just continue the quantitative easing influx of funds to roll over past debt and purchase the new bonds needed to run the State/Corporate economy. If this irrational strategy is not working, why has the bottom not dropped out of the world economy?
This is a very sobering viewpoint that defies the normal predictability of mathematical consequences. Surely, there can be no debate that this 100 Trillion indebtedness will never be paid off. However, the political accommodations always seem to invent another rescue plan that prevents the wheels of commerce from stopping.
The reason why the elites are able to get away with this practice of delaying the inescapable is that they make the rules of how to elude the last constrains that would impose accountability. The financial game is like a moving target that never flies out of range. The quarry just changes direction and speed. Requirements for default are rewritten and the next imposition of austerity packages demands even more harsh burdens for the taxpayers. Net result from this tactic is that the purchasing power of all paper currencies loses value.
Possessing a monopoly on money means that this alarming world indebtedness only requires a periodic company bankruptcy that liquidates the stockholder equity or a governmental devaluation of its currency, which further impoverishes its citizen’s wealth.
Remember that the Bank of International Settlement is the central bank for all the other banksters’ own fiat fractional reserve branches. The essential question to investigate is why does every readjustment of national borders with the creation or demise of a particular country, immediately establish a national bank that conforms to the standards of the banksters’ financial system?
The obvious reason lies within the control of debt created currency. Not until every facet or deed of possessions is encumbered with a property lien, will the debt total be modified to superimpose a new financial order.
The uber-rich are not a function of amassing wealth alone. Titans of financial oppression are manipulators of the political banking system. Being part of the decisions that expropriate from the common-man and consolidates greater control under the auspicious of an evil elite, is the chart that needs to be tracked.
Funny money always buys fewer possessions. However, global indebtedness diminishes human freedom on a far more vast scale. While the economics of inconceivable debt defies intellectual acceptance, the absurdity of the geo-politics moves further to an institutional enslavement that is even more unimaginable to the naive laborer in a corporatist environment.
How many times have you heard soothsayers and investment guru’s forecast that the collapse is imminent? By all logic, they should be right. Nonetheless, there is to all intents and purposes, no end to the economic and governmental subjugation that continues uninterrupted.
Public and private debts are ultimately satisfied when insolvency turns into liquidation. Lawful and legal procedures do not apply when entire countries and economic alliances go on the chopping block. In the end, the trillions in unpaid debt instruments will continue to accrue interest from the theft of several billion peons that are afraid of resisting the established global order.
Economic prosperity is possible, but only after the chains of financial incarceration is broken. Within this zero interest rate backdrop, the acumination of untold fortunes grows as the people sink into a greater poverty. This plan is working well for the banksters.
Next, the winds of war are on the horizon to ratchet up another phony conflict in order to sell an even greater austerity to the public. It is very plausible that a 100 trillion measure will be but a long forgotten barrier when the gnomes of financial pillage ramp up their next rescue scheme.
Never underestimate the creative criminal wizardry of the central banksters to sell their next round of thievery or the gullibility of the masses to obey the dictates of outlaw governments.