Is it just me, or are the signs of consumer collapse as clear as a Lowes parking lot on a Saturday afternoon? Sometimes I wonder if I’m just seeing the world through my pessimistic lens, skewing my point of view. My daily commute through West Philadelphia is not very enlightening, as the squalor, filth and lack of legal commerce remain consistent from year to year. This community is sustained by taxpayer subsidized low income housing, taxpayer subsidized food stamps, welfare payments, and illegal drug dealing. The dependency attitude, lifestyles of slothfulness and total lack of commerce has remained constant for decades in West Philly. It is on the weekends, cruising around a once thriving suburbia, where you perceive the persistent deterioration and decay of our debt fixated consumer spending based society.

The last two weekends I’ve needed to travel the highways of Montgomery County, PA going to a family party and purchasing a garbage disposal for my sink at my local Lowes store. Montgomery County is the typical white upper middle class suburb, with tracts of McMansions dotting the landscape. The population of 800,000 is spread over a 500 square mile area. Over 81% of the population is white, with the 9% black population confined to the urban enclaves of Norristown and Pottstown.

The median age is 38 and the median household income is $75,000, 50% above the national average. The employers are well diversified with an even distribution between education, health care, manufacturing, retail, professional services, finance and real estate. The median home price is $300,000, also 50% above the national average. The county leans Democrat, with Obama winning 60% of the vote in 2008. The 300,000 households were occupied by college educated white collar professionals. From a strictly demographic standpoint, Montgomery County appears to be a prosperous flourishing community where the residents are living lives of relative affluence. But, if you look closer and connect the dots, you see fissures in this façade of affluence that spread more expansively by the day. The cheap oil based, automobile dependent, mall centric, suburban sprawl, sanctuary of consumerism lifestyle is showing distinct signs of erosion. The clues are there for all to see and portend a bleak future for those mentally trapped in the delusions of a debt dependent suburban oasis of retail outlets, chain restaurants, office parks and enclaves of cookie cutter McMansions. An unsustainable paradigm can’t be sustained.

The first weekend had me driving along Ridge Pike, from Collegeville to Pottstown. Ridge Pike is a meandering two lane road that extends from Philadelphia, winds through Conshohocken, Plymouth Meeting, Norristown, past Ursinus College in Collegeville, to the farthest reaches of Montgomery County, at least 50 miles in length. It served as a main artery prior to the introduction of the interstates and superhighways that now connect the larger cities in eastern PA. Except for morning and evening rush hours, this road is fairly sedate. Like many primary routes in suburbia, the landscape is engulfed by strip malls, gas stations, automobile dealerships, office buildings, fast food joints, once thriving manufacturing facilities sitting vacant and older homes that preceded the proliferation of cookie cutter communities that now dominate what was once farmland.

Telltale Signs



I should probably be keeping my eyes on the road, but I can’t help but notice the telltale signs of an economic system gone haywire. As you drive along, the number of For Sale signs in front of homes stands out. When you consider how bad the housing market has been, the 40% decline in national home prices since 2007, the 30% of home dwellers underwater on their mortgage, and declining household income, you realize how desperate a home seller must be to try and unload a home in this market. The reality of the number of For Sale signs does not match the rhetoric coming from the NAR, government mouthpieces, CNBC pundits, and other housing recovery shills about record low inventory and home price increases.

The Federal Reserve/Wall Street/U.S. Treasury charade of foreclosure delaying tactics and selling thousands of properties in bulk to their crony capitalist buddies at a discount is designed to misinform the public. My local paper lists foreclosures in the community every Monday morning. In 2009 it would extend for four full pages. Today, it still extends four full pages. The fact that Wall Street bankers have criminally forged mortgage documents, people are living in houses for two years without making mortgage payments, and the Federal Government backing 97% of all mortgages while encouraging 3.5% down financing does not constitute a true housing recovery. Show me the housing recovery in these charts.

Existing home sales are at 1998 levels, with 45 million more people living in the country today.

New single family homes under construction are below levels in 1969, when there were 112 million less people in the country.

Another observation that can be made as you cruise through this suburban mecca of malaise is the overall decay of the infrastructure, appearances and disinterest or inability to maintain properties. The roadways are potholed with fading traffic lines, utility poles leaning and rotting, and signage corroding and antiquated. Houses are missing roof tiles, siding is cracked, gutters astray, porches sagging, windows cracked, a paint brush hasn’t been utilized in decades, and yards are inundated with debris and weeds. Not every house looks this way, but far more than you would think when viewing the overall demographics for Montgomery County. You wonder how many number among the 10 million vacant houses in the country today. The number of dilapidated run down properties paints a picture of the silent, barely perceptible Depression that grips the country today. With such little sense of community in the suburbs, most people don’t even know their neighbors. With the electronic transfer of food stamps, unemployment compensation, and other welfare benefits you would never know that your neighbor is unemployed and hasn’t made the mortgage payment on his house in 30 months. The corporate fascist ruling plutocracy uses their propaganda mouthpieces in the mainstream corporate media and government agency drones to misinform and obscure the truth, but the data and anecdotal observational evidence reveal the true nature of our societal implosion.

A report by the Census Bureau this past week inadvertently reveals data that confirms my observations on the roadways of my suburban existence. Annual household income fell in 2011 for the fourth straight year, to an inflation-adjusted $50,054. The median income — meaning half earned more, half less — now stands 8.9% lower than the all-time peak of $54,932 in 1999. It is far worse than even that dreadful result. Real median household income is lower than it was in 1989. When you understand that real household income hasn’t risen in 23 years, you can connect the dots with the decay and deterioration of properties in suburbia. A vast swath of Americans cannot afford to maintain their residences. If the choice is feeding your kids and keeping the heat on versus repairing the porch, replacing the windows or getting a new roof, the only option is survival.

US GDP vs. Median Household Income

All races have seen their income fall, with educational achievement reflected in the much higher incomes of Whites and Asians. It is interesting to note that after a 45 year War on Poverty the median household income for black families is only up 19% since 1968.

real household income

Now for the really bad news. Any critical thinking person should realize the Federal Government has been systematically under-reporting inflation since the early 1980’s in an effort to obscure the fact they are debasing the currency and methodically destroying the lives of middle class Americans. If inflation was calculated exactly as it was in 1980, the GDP figures would be substantially lower and inflation would be reported 5% higher than it is today. Faking the numbers does not change reality, only the perception of reality. Calculating real median household income with the true level of inflation exposes the true picture for middle class America. Real median household income is lower than it was in 1970, just prior to Nixon closing the gold window and unleashing the full fury of a Federal Reserve able to print fiat currency and politicians to promise the earth, moon and the sun to voters. With incomes not rising over the last four decades is it any wonder many of our 115 million households slowly rot and decay from within like an old diseased oak tree. The slightest gust of wind can lead to disaster.

Eliminating the last remnants of fiscal discipline on bankers and politicians in 1971 accomplished the desired result of enriching the top 0.1% while leaving the bottom 90% in debt and desolation. The Wall Street debt peddlers, Military Industrial arms dealers, and job destroying corporate goliaths have reaped the benefits of financialization (money printing) while shoveling the costs, their gambling losses, trillions of consumer debt, and relentless inflation upon the working tax paying middle class. The creation of the Federal Reserve and implementation of the individual income tax in 1913, along with leaving the gold standard has rewarded the cabal of private banking interests who have captured our economic and political systems with obscene levels of wealth, while senior citizens are left with no interest earnings ($400 billion per year has been absconded from savers and doled out to bankers since 2008 by Ben Bernanke) and the middle class has gone decades seeing their earnings stagnate and their purchasing power fall precipitously.


The facts exposed in the chart above didn’t happen by accident. The system has been rigged by those in power to enrich them, while impoverishing the masses. When you gain control over the issuance of currency, issuance of debt, tax system, political system and legal apparatus, you’ve essentially hijacked the country and can funnel all the benefits to yourself and costs to the math challenged, government educated, brainwashed dupes, known as the masses. But there is a problem for the 0.1%. Their sociopathic personalities never allow them to stop plundering and preying upon the sheep. They have left nothing but carcasses of the once proud hard working middle class across the country side. There are only so many Lear jets, estates in the Hamptons, Jaguars, and Rolexes the 0.1% can buy. There are only 152,000 of them. Their sociopathic looting and pillaging of the national wealth has destroyed the host. When 90% of the population can barely subsist, collapse and revolution beckon.

Extend, Pretend & Depend

As I drove further along Ridge Pike we passed the endless monuments to our spiral into the depths of materialism, consumerism, and the illusion that goods purchased on credit represented true wealth. Mile after mile of strip malls, restaurants, gas stations, and office buildings rolled by my window. Anyone who lives in the suburbs knows what I’m talking about. You can’t travel three miles in any direction without passing a Dunkin Donuts, KFC, McDonalds, Subway, 7-11, Dairy Queen, Supercuts, Jiffy Lube or Exxon Station. The proliferation of office parks to accommodate the millions of paper pushers that make our service economy hum has been unprecedented in human history. Never have so many done so little in so many places. Everyone knows what a standard American strip mall consists of – a pizza place, a Chinese takeout, beer store, a tanning, salon, a weight loss center, a nail salon, a Curves, karate studio, Gamestop, Radioshack, Dollar Store, H&R Block, and a debt counseling service. They are a reflection of who we’ve become – an obese drunken species with excessive narcissistic tendencies that prefers to play video games while texting on our iGadgets as our debt financed lifestyles ultimately require professional financial assistance.

What you can’t ignore today is the number of vacant storefronts in these strip malls and the overwhelming number of SPACE AVAILABLE, FOR LEASE, and FOR RENT signs that proliferate in front of these dying testaments to an unsustainable economic system based upon debt fueled consumer spending and infinite growth assumptions. The booming sign manufacturer is surely based in China. The officially reported national vacancy rates of 11% are already at record highs, but anyone with two eyes knows these self-reported numbers are a fraud. Vacancy rates based on my observations are closer to 30%. This is part of the extend and pretend strategy that has been implemented by Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, the FASB, and the Wall Street banking cabal. The fraud and false storyline of a commercial real estate recovery is evident to anyone willing to think critically. The incriminating data is provided by the Federal Reserve in their Quarterly Delinquency Report.

The last commercial real estate crisis occurred in 1991. Mall vacancy rates were at levels consistent with today.

The current reported office vacancy rates of 17.5% are only slightly below the 19% levels of 1991.

As reported by the Federal Reserve, delinquency rates on commercial real estate loans in 1991 were 12%, leading to major losses among the banks that made those imprudent loans. Amazingly, after the greatest financial collapse in history, delinquency rates on commercial loans supposedly peaked at 8.8% in the 2nd quarter of 2010 and have now miraculously plummeted to pre-collapse levels of 4.9%. This is while residential loan delinquencies have resumed their upward trajectory, the number of employed Americans has fallen by 414,000 in the last two months, 9 million Americans have left the labor force since 2008, and vacancy rates are at or near all-time highs. This doesn’t pass the smell test. The Federal Reserve, owned and controlled by the Wall Street, instructed these banks to extend all commercial real estate loans, pretend they will be paid, and value them on their books at 100% of the original loan amount. Real estate developers pretend they are collecting rent from non-existent tenants, Wall Street banks pretend they are being paid by the developers, and their highly compensated public accounting firm pretends the loans aren’t really delinquent. Again, the purpose of this scam is to shield the Wall Street bankers from accepting the losses from their reckless behavior. Ben rewards them with risk free income on their deposits, propped up by mark to fantasy accounting, while they reward themselves with billions in bonuses for a job well done. The master plan requires an eventual real recovery that isn’t going to happen. Press releases and fake data do not change the reality on the ground.

I have two strip malls within three miles of my house that opened in 1990. When I moved to the area in 1995, they were 100% occupied and a vital part of the community. The closest center has since lost its Genuardi grocery store, Sears Hardware, Blockbuster, Donatos, Sears Optical, Hollywood Tans, hair salon, pizza pub and a local book store. It is essentially a ghost mall, with two banks, a couple chain restaurants and empty parking spaces. The other strip mall lost its grocery store anchor and sporting goods store. This has happened in an outwardly prosperous community. The reality is the apparent prosperity is a sham. The entire tottering edifice of housing, autos, and retail has been sustained by ever increasing levels of debt for the last thirty years and the American consumer has hit the wall. From 1950 through the early 1980s, when the working middle class saw their standard of living rise, personal consumption expenditures accounted for between 60% and 65% of GDP. Over the last thirty years consumption has relentlessly grown as a percentage of GDP to its current level of 71%, higher than before the 2008 collapse.

If the consumption had been driven by wage increases, then this trend would not have been a problem. But, we already know real median household income is lower than it was in 1970. The thirty years of delusion were financed with debt – peddled, hawked, marketed, and pushed by the drug dealers on Wall Street. The American people got hooked on debt and still have not kicked the habit. The decline in household debt since 2008 is solely due to the Wall Street banks writing off $800 billion of mortgage, credit card, and auto loan debt and transferring the cost to the already drowning American taxpayer.

The powers that be are desperately attempting to keep this unsustainable, dysfunctional debt choked scheme from disintegrating by doling out more subprime auto debt, subprime student loan debt, low down payment mortgages, and good old credit card debt. It won’t work. The consumer is tapped out. Last week’s horrific retail sales report for August confirmed this fact. Declining household income and rising costs for energy, food, clothing, tuition, taxes, health insurance, and the other things needed to survive in the real world, have broken the spirit of Middle America. The protracted implosion of our consumer society has only just begun. There are thousands of retail outlets to be closed, hundreds of thousands of jobs to be eliminated, thousands of malls to be demolished, and billions of loan losses to be incurred by the criminal Wall Street banks.

The Faces of Failure & Futility

My fourteen years working in key positions for big box retailer IKEA has made me particularly observant of the hubris and foolishness of the big chain stores that dominate the retail landscape.  There are 1.1 million retail establishments in the United States, but the top 25 mega-store national chains account for 25% of all the retail sales in the country. The top 100 retailers operate 243,000 stores and account for approximately $1.6 trillion in sales, or 36% of all the retail sales in the country. Their misconceived strategic plans assumed 5% same store growth for eternity, economic growth of 3% per year for eternity, a rising market share, and ignorance of the possible plans of their competitors. They believed they could saturate a market without over cannibalizing their existing stores. Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowes have all hit the limits of profitable expansion. Each incremental store in a market results in lower profits.

My trip to my local Lowes last weekend gave me a glimpse into a future of failure and futility. Until 2009, I had four choices of Lowes within 15 miles of my house. There was a store 8 miles east, 12 miles west, 15 miles north, and 15 miles south of my house. In an act of supreme hubris, Lowes opened a store smack in the middle of these four stores, four miles from my house. The Hatfield store opened in early 2009 and I wrote an article detailing how Lowes was about to ruin their profitability in Montgomery County. It just so happens that I meet a couple of my old real estate buddies from IKEA at a local pub every few months. In 2009 one of them had a real estate position with Lowes and we had a spirited discussion about the prospects for the Lowes Hatfield store. He assured me it would be a huge success. I insisted it would be a dud and would crush the profitability of the market by cannibalizing the other four stores. We met at that same pub a few months ago. Lowes had laid him off and he admitted to me the Hatfield store was a disaster.

I pulled into the Lowes parking lot at 11:30 am on a Saturday. Big Box retailers do 50% of their business on the weekend. The busiest time frame is from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday. Big box retailers build enough parking spots to handle this peak period. The 120,000 square feet Hatfield Lowes has approximately 1,000 parking spaces. I pulled into the spot closest to the entrance during their supposed peak period. There were about 70 cars in the parking lot, with most probably owned by Lowes workers. It is a pleasure to shop in this store, with wide open aisles, and an employee to customer ratio of four to one. The store has 14 checkout lanes and at peak period on a Saturday, there was ONE checkout lane open, with no lines. This is a corporate profit disaster in the making, but the human tragedy far overrides the declining profits of this mega-retailer.

As you walk around this museum of tools and toilets you notice the looks on the faces of the workers. These aren’t the tattooed, face pierced freaks you find in many retail establishments these days. They are my neighbors. They are the beaten down middle class. They are the middle aged professionals who got cast aside by the mega-corporations in the name of efficiency, outsourcing, right sizing, stock buybacks, and executive stock options. The irony of this situation is lost on those who have gutted the American middle class. When you look into the eyes of these people, you see sadness, confusion and embarrassment. They know they can do more. They want to do more. They know they’ve been screwed, but they aren’t sure who to blame. They were once the very customers propelling Lowes’ growth, buying new kitchens, appliances, and power tools. Now they can’t afford a can of paint on their $10 per hour, no benefit retail careers. As depressing as this portrait appears, it is about to get worse.

This Lowes will be shut down and boarded up within the next two years. The parking lot will become a weed infested eyesore occupied by 14 year old skateboarders. One hundred and fifty already down on their luck neighbors will lose their jobs, the township will have a gaping hole in their tax revenue, and the CEO of Lowes will receive a $50 million bonus for his foresight in announcing the closing of 100 stores that he had opened five years before. This exact scenario will play out across suburbia, as our unsustainable system comes undone. Our future path will parallel the course of the labor participation rate. Just as the 9 million Americans who have “left” the labor force since 2008 did not willfully make that choice, the debt burdened American consumer will be dragged kicking and screaming into the new reality of a dramatically reduced standard of living.

Connecting the dots between my anecdotal observations of suburbia and a critical review of the true non-manipulated data bestows me with a not optimistic outlook for the coming decade. Is what I’m seeing just the view of a pessimist, or are you seeing the same thing?

A few powerful men have hijacked our economic, financial and political structure. They aren’t socialists or capitalists. They’re criminals. They created the culture of materialism, greed and debt, sustained by prodigious levels of media propaganda. Our culture has been led to believe that debt financed consumption over morality and justice is the path to success. In reality, we’ve condemned ourselves to a slow painful death spiral of debasement and despair.

“A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, and fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” – Chris Hedges

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245 thoughts on “ARE YOU SEEING WHAT I’M SEEING?”

  1. Admin, what you’re seeing in fly over country has always been the case. West Virginia still looks like West Virginia. There’s no question there’s a middle class crisis. While a few boomers may have saved enough for retirement by striking it rich, SS hit the red this year, Medicare costs are sky rocketing, and Helicopter Ben has lifted off to save the banks.

    The 1%, in the meantime, continue to do quite well, as does the government sector, at least until declining revenues related to unemployment and declining sales catches up by the end of this fiscal year. They’re already behind in collections in my state. The feds, on the other hand, can borrow and spend until they can’t. They will be the last to wake up to the unmitigated disaster waiting to unfold on the American people.

    On the other hand, it still doesn’t hurt to be the international heavy weight in a global currency war. It sucks to get caught in the middle or the losing end. Since we will end up with 100% of GDP attributed to public sector spending, the feds need to get busy printing SNAP cards and hiring TSA employees.

    It’s only a shame the big box chains drove out all the mom and pop businesses. At least the landscape would have been a bit more interesting.

  2. This well-written article reads like a modern-day John Steinbeck novel. It’s been 73 years since The Grapes of Wrath was written and this article accurately demonstrates the plight of today’s Tom Joad. While technology may be linear, civilization is cyclical.

  3. I’m currently visiting the SF bay area. Even with the excessive regulation and taxation here in the late great state of californica the Lowes and Home Depots are doing well, judging by the packed parking lots. But then you see the masses of Mexican green card holders (or not) trying to wave down a $5 hourly wage (or less) as you exit the parking lot and it makes you wonder how real the facade really is. It might be that the more affluent areas will be the last to be hit; the cancer working it’s way in from the outskirts, slowly metastasizing as it goes.

  4. In Boston we are living in an island of stability so far.

    We have hospitals – not taxed. Colleges and Universities – supported by the gov. Finance – still thriving and stealing. Nonprofits and foundations – not in private sector. High Tech Knowledge industries – still doing well. And the FSA is still getting money from the government.

    Things are not so bad here – yet.

  5. We sure are seeing the effects of communism spreading across the face of America. Franklin Roosevelt sure didn’t do this country any favors about preserving the intent of our forefathers. To understand what is happening today one may want to read the book, “The Iron Curtain Over America” By John Beaty, Wilkinson Publishing Company 1952.

  6. [email protected] says:

    Texas is doing fairly well, not as many empty store fronts as before.

    I went to the 60 year anniversary of the local Catepillar dealer here in Houston this weekend. It was a big deal and the CEO of Catepillar came down from Illinois to speak. His name is Bob O-something, a real nice guy, very approachable.

    There was a great video of this dealership from its earliest days to the present, detailing all the projects, roads and buildings built with Cat machines. Basically, every single structure in Houston, Texas, used this company’s products in their construction. This dealership was started by 4 guys who got the capital together, a few bank loans and then developed their business. Granted they started before HIPPA, OSHA, Obamacare, the EPA, blah blah, but they have been able to negotiate all these changes and still be successful.

    Hell, yes, WE BUILT THAT, I thought as I stood there.

    The CEO’s speech was very interesting. He acknowledged the difficulties of 2008 and was very frank about the upcoming “storm” he saw on the horizon. Cat has moved 3 huge factories to Texas and I got the real impression that the HQ was next.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this, other than to say, that this event reminded me of how great things have been done in American in the past , how the parasites are trying to destroy it with their million stupid regs, and how pitiful our industrial might has become in the meantime.

  7. “a reflection of who we’ve become – an obese drunken species with excessive narcissistic tendencies that prefers to play video games while texting on our iGadgets as our debt financed lifestyles ultimately require professional financial assistance.”

    The best sentence in the whole piece. Human beings have been reduced to the equivalent of cattle or sheep; their only job in life is to consume, no, over-consume as much as possible, get as fat as possible, get in debt as much as possible, indulge in pride (narcissism), and be as lazy as possible. Boobus Americanus doesn’t deserve to be saved, they should be harvested and slaughtered, and they will be.

  8. I’ve been seeing it for over a decade now. Amazingly, it seems to keep growing worse, even after you believe that the worse has had to already happened.

    Empty stores, empty homes, empty parking lots.

    I have, and continue to, ask myself…

    Where have these people moved too? Is anyone tracking elementary enrollments to see where the families are going?

    Where are these people working? How are they still paying for their lives?

    Empty parking lots just remind me that when I look around and see any sign of life, it is increasing nothing more than proof of state employment and additional consumer debt.

    Michigan is the same as it has been ever since free federal $$$$ started pouring in, those connected to the stream are doing pretty well (while crying like bitches if anyone tries to show them math and pull back their free shit), those that aren’t are slowly, but surely, fading away.

    When I used to hear about the demise of the middle class, I thought, no way(!) would “we” allow it to happen. What I didn’t realize is that it wouldn’t come with a fury and a bang, but that we would just slowly fade away and disappear without even a eulogy.

    Except here, and a couple other places, Mr. Quinn is writing the eulogy one enlightened article at a time.

    Happy Monday all.

  9. Centrlal Texas is the temporary beneficiary of shifting demographics as people from areas like yours and many others like it move here in pursuit of jobs and lower taxes. In the long run climate change and water shortages may reverse that trend, but for the moment things look far better here than what you’re describing.

  10. I have not been off the mountain for a year, I think I would be even more surprised than I was last year with the lack of retail activity….

  11. I know the feeling. I walk into Home Depot or Lowes and see more employees than customers. I tell my wife, “this ain’t gonna last long”. I also noted who the employee’s were. Like you said, guys I used to work with. Its not just Home Depot and Lowes though, a lot of places I go I see middle aged people that are obviously working a job they are over qualified for. My take is that the biggest bubble of all time, the oil bubble, is starting to collapse. Its not the sole reason why, but it will become more dominant as we move forward. All the jobs they were created because of the cheap energy are now starting to become irrelevant. And then we will see the downside of the exponential function. That ain’t going to be pretty.

  12. The other consideration here has to do with the following facts:

    55,000 manufacturing facilities have closed in the U.S.
    8,000,000 jobs have been shipped overseas
    We’ve had 15 years or more of $500,000,000,000 trade deficits, and so have shipped $8 trillion dollars out of the country.

    WTF did you think was going to happen? A long, slow economic contraction now leading to depression for tens of millions. The signs are everywhere, 50% of the population getting money from the government, SNAP, more people getting on disability than getting jobs.

    Our economy has been gutted, the guts cut out, so the 1% could get even richer. We’re going to be lackeys to our owners, debt serfs. Every idiot bought the “service economy” storyline 25 years ago, and even that is drying up.

    Oh, and notice on the graph, Asians have a median income almost $10k higher than whites. Considering that’s where most of our money and jobs went, it’s not surprising. Asians have beat us. Just look around, the products, Wal Mart, Dollar stores, the cars, the only stores left open sell 90% Chinese crap.

  13. Well written article. The only class prospering from this rigged system are the super wealthy. My wife is an elementary teacher for a public school and she got a 2% salary increase this year. The necessities one has to live on is rising much higher than 2% due to inflation and people wonder why the middle class continues to shrink. This is a sad situation.

    We live below our means so we are fortunate to be in a good position in comparison to others. My wife was telling me the other day she doesn’t know how some of her co-workers make it financially. If you have a family, a house, 2 cars, 2 kids, and both parents have 2 middle class jobs, you are still struggling to make it each month.

    The Fed is the main reason why the middle class continues to shrink and until we address this problem, the middle class will continue to shrink. The game is rigged. Only a small percentage of Americans understand what is really going on. Most of those that don’t know what is going on probably wouldn’t have the means to protect themselves financially even if they were informed.

  14. Ive been seeing this stuff since 08.There are some brand new commercial buildings that have never been used. A month ago i went to Phoenix and needed something so i remembered a walmart along a major road.When i got there it was closed.I was amazed there was a no brand name grocery store in its place.
    This is the new normal.Closed commercial propertys and empty houses in neighborhoods.
    Everyone looking to make money has driven up housing propertys to a crazy level.Theres nice homes down the street that people want three hundred thousand for.The homes are reall worth mabe seventy grand.The crappier homes here are going for one hundred thirty thousand and are really worth thirty five thousand.Not to mention there are no jobs here.

  15. Prtrbd:

    They are busy, but not BUSY a la ’04

    I estimate 40% of work is for gov workers, 40% for property management, 10-20% for professionals and such. Give or take…

    SF high-end will always be fine, but that is the big money folks.

    I was thinking along the lines of this article as I passed the Metro mall Saturday. Some cars but maybe 25% capacity in the lots. Great article….

  16. Declining net energy = declining economic activity. The trend will continue.
    Sell your crap on eBay, learn a trade, live local, and enjoy life Stucky-style.

  17. I see it all the time: Best Buy is like a morgue, my local Vons stocked to the brim with food and a/c cranking with one lane open and 3 shoppers in the entire store. My last trip to Home Depot was interesting with about 10 guys in orange vests standing around and the only register open was the self-checkout lane. I know of two local shopping mall areas that were born in the boom but have never been completed and have zero tenants, who is eating those lease bills?

  18. Good article … enough that I was starting to get a little hopeful we might see a way out.

    Then I read comments like, “We sure are seeing the effects of communism spreading across the face of America. Franklin Roosevelt sure didn’t do this country any favors …”

    Then I realize that we truly are doomed.

  19. It is time to pin the tail on the donkey–Virtually all of the powerful individuals who have brought this situation about have a union–It is called the Council on Foreign Relations. The members of this organization of the wealthy elite : Greenspan, Bushes. Clintons, Cheney, Soros, Rubin, Summers, Biden, Welch, Rockefellers, have taken away the protections of smaller people/investors by repealing Glass-Steagall, and building the derivative fiasco among other rip offs such as High Frequency trading, and the elimination of the trading Uptick rule.

    These people have brought about the transfer of 40% of middle class wealth to the wealthy elite which was only equal to a negligible 2% increase for the elite–certainly not a needed increase.

    These elites own the big banks that own the FED. Their lusts for wealth and power are destroying the lives hundreds of millions of families worldwide. It is time that citizens become aware of how their lives are being affected and by who.

  20. Admin, I see you haven’t lost your mojo, but you’re being way too pessimistic.As soon as we bomb Iran into submission and recapture total control of all the oil reserve in MENA,we’ll be back in high cotton.You’ll see.

    Check the front page of Drudge for more info.
    The global war drums are just getting crunk up….won’t be long now.

  21. “I happen to believe that eventually we will have a systemic crisis and everything will collapse. But the question is really between here and then. Will everything collapse with Dow Jones 20,000 or 50,000 or 10 million? Mr. Bernanke is a money printer and, believe me, if Mr. Romney wins the election the next Fed chairman will also be a money printer. And so it will go on. The Europeans will print money. The Chinese will print money. Everybody will print money and the purchasing power of paper money will go down.”

    Marc Faber

  22. This is not a new trend…it has been trending this way for decades. The only new thing about it is that it coincides with a major downturn in the local as well as the global economy. Its causes are “all of the above” plus that image in the mirror – we have convinced ourselves over-consumption is the way to go and we have over-borrowed to do it.

    As to the major culprit, the Cat CEO implied it best…he is moving to Texas to escape taxes and regulations that are strangling his company. Taxes and regulations are responsible for moving the jobs out of the country. It appears to be too late to reduce regulations or even taxes enough to cure the problem.

    Hoard some junk silver, food, and supplies. It is going to be a long and cold winter.

  23. I’ve been saying the same about the unsustainability of unbridled consumption since 2004. Back then I witnessed people with no down payment, no savings and no income verification buy Cape Cod style homes in North Jersey for $450,000 and up. They would have 2-3 kids and $800/month in SUV leases sitting in the driveway. By 2008 it was foreclosure and eviction-and they were STILL employed! The damned banks just handed them 100-125% mortgages-even allowing them CASH OUT WITH THE PURCHASE! Then those absurd loans were bundled into mortgage backed securities, rated AAA investment grade and sold to the public. And the thieves who perpetrated this farce walked away with BILLIONS! No wonder here about cause/effect-this occurred long after our manufacturing base went into decline. Fast forward to today-these once happy homeowners have been unemployed for 3 years now. They and their children have moved in locally with mom, dad, aunt, uncle etc and continue to send their larva to the same schools. One guess who the schmuck is stuck with the 70% property tax increases that pay for the schools. Yours truly.

  24. Austin, TX is booming. The malls and home improvement stores are packed on the weekends, the traffic sucks and there is a thriving urban core.

    I don’t see what you see. Perhaps the lesson here is that economics is local.

  25. The only answer is to become one of them. Live below you means, and buy dividend paying stocks. You will be a part of the problem but at the same time profit from it. It may all still melt down, However you may end -up better than your non-divided receiving neighbor. I would suggest a better currency to be getting your dividends from. I work at a grocery store so not the best person to take advise from, just throwing in my opinion. If you start young the idea might just be crazy enough to work.

  26. The FED is NOT responsible for all the bubbles (as you suggest).
    – Before the crash of 1873 there wasn’t a FED and the US was NOT on a gold standard but there still was a bubble.
    – Before 1929 the US was on a gold standard and there was a FED and there still was a financial bubble.
    – Pull up a chart of the Debt to GDP ratio since 1945. Then you’ll see that from about 1950 up to say 1973 the Debt to GDP ratio remained flat. After 1973 that ratio started to take off. Not because of Nixon who took the USD off the gold (exchange) standard. But because the US started to use Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac to sell mortgage backed securities to foreigners.

  27. Balzytch says: “Asians have beat us. Just look around.”

    No, the communists (Bolsheviks) have beat us. We may have to hi-tail it to Asia to get out of their grip.

    McCarthy was right.

  28. Willy: Pull the crack out of your pipe and put this in to smoke it:

    “Financial Bubbles” in the gold standard era were caused by wars. They issued far more bills of credit. Financial “busts” in the gold standard era were caused by the discontinuing of printing or, as would often happen, holders of bills of credit would call bullshitz on the fractional reserve ponzi.

    Big difference, Willard. Look at the dates again there RumpleNardskin.

  29. “yojimbo” Travel down to” the Cape” and view all of the real estate still sitting empty and for sale. Things are not very good – you must have on your rose colored glasses !

  30. I was in a Lowes last week returning an item ; and the clerks were talking among themselves. I asked if I had heard right. They confirmed and complained that the manager was receiving a $20,000.00 bonus…………

  31. “Austin, TX is booming. The malls and home improvement stores are packed on the weekends, the traffic sucks and there is a thriving urban core”

    Most or all college towns are thriving. Student loan cash, more than $1 trillion of it, results in commerce baby, spend, spend, spend!

  32. Great, great article. Well written!

    “When you look into the eyes of these people, you see sadness, confusion and embarrassment. They know they can do more. They want to do more. They know they’ve been screwed, but they aren’t sure who to blame.”

    I feel for these people. They must be scared for their families. We are at the beginning of Great Depression 2, and they don’t even know it.

    Answer me this: has there ever been an ongoing, one-hour weekly TV drama about Wall Street, about bankers, about the world of finance? There have been shows about everything else (law, war, government, crime, the wealthy), but I can’t recall there ever being a show about bankers.

    How have they avoided our scrutiny, especially when they control our lives?

  33. Balzytch – “Asians have a median income almost $10k higher than whites. Considering that’s where most of our money and jobs went, it’s not surprising. Asians have beat us. Just look around, the products, Wal Mart, Dollar stores, the cars, the only stores left open sell 90% Chinese crap.”

    I read somewhere (correct me if I’m wrong and, no, DON’T STOMP ON ME) that 60% of all exports out of China were from American-owned manufacturers working out of China. Chinese workers are being used for cheap labour, and they’ll be lucky if they can breathe in a few year’s time from all the pollution.

    Chinese who come to the West most of the time do not go into trades, become school teachers, etc. They prefer becoming dentists, doctors, accountants (the highest paying professions). Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that their median income is higher. They seldom go into social services. Their families look down on those jobs.

    Once China is used up (their wages become too high), the manufacturers will move elsewhere and we’ll have crap coming from another country. The people must put an end to this and refuse to buy products not made in America.

  34. 40% of our economy is now financialization; parasite banksters feeding off the rotting, debt-ridden corpses of what’s left of the workforce.

    ZIRP wipes out interest income for savers, turning everyone into consumers. Consumers produce nothing, and are more than willing to go into massive debt to do so. A consumer society only benefits the rich, and those that produce the crap we consume (China, Korea, Japan).

    Banksters crashed our economy in 2008, were bailed out, and continue to get bailed out. What little saving and home equity the muppets had was wiped out. It’s all a great trick, by those ruthless rich folks and bankstas, to get all your money, with what’s left going to taxes to support the FSA and criminal politicians.

    Pass the Ambien…

    “The vampire squid, stabbing it’s tentacles into anything that smells like money”

  35. Balzytch – also re the Chinese: $120 BILLION has left China in the last year (by Chinese citizens). A lot of this money is corrupt money (from payoffs, bribes, fraud, ponzi schemes). If you are a member of the Communist Party (which only 75 million of the Chinese people are) and you are running the State Owned Enterprises, you are in a position to make some serious buck.

    China is a kleptocracy, and the West only looks different. As we go down, notice how our kleptocracy is tightening the screws on us.

  36. So take some of those debt-laden FRNs and trade a few of them for bitcoins. You can actually own your own money again.

    It’s really painful to watch people only complain about the evil paradigm we’re forced to live with rather than take an active step, no matter how small, to undermine the evil fcks.

  37. @Administrator: Excellent article but the FED is not responsible for creating bubbles. In order to get the money/credit out the door of the FED, the FED needs speculators that want to speculate with leverage (consumer credit, mortages, commercial loans etc.) and that requires rising asset prices. Do you want to go long Apple with leverage when that stock is tanking ?

    CPI is lower than in that graph because one of the components in CPI is OER. The government wonks assume the OER is still rising but in the real world rents are falling. So, CPI overstates inflation. If one would substitute OER with the Case Shiller index then in 2009 & 2010 CPI would have turned negative.

    What the FED should have done is increase reserve requirements.

    I see the same happening in the region I live. This year more shops have closed than in 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined.

  38. James,

    Whenever I read these retailer financial reports / expectations I always think of Perniller and her band of merry men @ IKEA. A bigger group of morons would be hard to throw together. Then I think of the management when I worked at Kmart – wow!

    Retail attracts them & all the Admins of the world don’t do any good if they don’t listen to them.

  39. Willy

    The deflation debate is over. Did you hear Bernanke last week? Your response above is completely backwards. The Fed manipulates interest rates which increases credit/money supply which creates speculation which creates higher asset prices.

    In regard to the CPI, your correct the numbers are manipulated. Where you are wrong is that the CPI is overstated. It is the opposite. Have you been to the grocery store lately or filled up your car? We are experiencing an inflation rate far higher than the CPI.

    I suggest you study this blog for awhile. You will become informed with the truth. Turn off CNBC and read the Creature from Jekyll Island in addition to the daily articles and comments on here. You will eventually see that you are confused.

  40. I grew up in Plymouth Meeting during the salad days IMO. Graduated from Plymouth Whitemarsh SR High, Class of ’72. Helped organize the first Earth Day ever. Even back then development seemed out of hand, driven by a hyper-ventilating panic of greed and avarice. A race to pave every open piece of land. And if you owned a farm that some developer coveted and didn’t sell fast enough you would be burned out. Philadelphia and the surrounding townships use to be arson capitals back in the 50s and 60s. The “Italian Land Mafia” developers were called.

    Even back then we didn’t much like the change we were seeing. Couldn’t see how it could possibly be sustained. We wondered how anybody could hate the past, and open land, and farms so much as to destroy everything. Back then you were living out in the rurals, while still being only a half hour away from Philadelphia.

    My dad graduated from Penn in ’59. We lived in Plymouth Meeting before the Mall went in in 1966. There was still a lot of open land in the ’60s. You would have a housing development and a farm right next to each other. Then one day the farm would disappear, replaced by another hundred or so brand new homes. Use to be orchards before the Plymouth Meeting Mall went in. Hard to believe that Germantown Pike use to be a two lane road. My friend and I use to take our 22-rifles down for walks in the woods, the fields and deserted orchards that would become the mall. When the mall went in, it had air-conditioning (back in the days when not many homes did (including our schools). Use to walk to the mall just to cool off.

    The family moved away in 1974. I go back every ten years (in 1984, 1995, 2005). Each visit the place keeps going more and more down hill. There was a large feed that had horses in it. The year after we moved away the field replaced with a new road and 17 new homes. Hardly any open land left. Norristown has been taken over by a hispanic population. It breaks your heart.

    Thank you for your well written article. Glad to know I wasn’t some grumpus trying to live in the past like I was often accused of. Compared to how things are today, my childhood was a paradise.

  41. Willy:

    Do you differentiate between investment and speculation? I’m curious.

    I see you speaka my language, so let’s discuss the Law Of Demand. Your explanation says that by demanding credit for speculation, a supply of money is created? Or is the supply of money created the fuel to create speculation?

    What is the flow variable for wealth? Is saving “speculation” or investment? By creating endless money as demanded by the government increase or decrease private saving? Government saving?

    Back to 101 for you.

  42. You are very deep in your research and I see the same things, especially in Florida. New York seems to be back to normal, but individuals like yourself and I are shut out of the mainstream media. OWS lacked focus which if they had depth of perception and were more aware of writers like you, John Williams and others, maybe the public would have a third political party to choose from as only 60% of the population partakes in voting. A third party of the people, by the people and most importantly for the people would win in a 40/30/30 split. JFL.

  43. Admin: great article. One issue I didn’t see you mention was that in 1971 the median household income was often from one bread winner while the spouse (mom?) stayed at home to help raise the little ones. Ffwd to ’01 now families need TWO!!! rats running the race while the kids are being raised by aftercare

  44. Brilliant essay Jim. Particularly poignant having grown up in Montco, witnessed its evolution and left for good as burgeoning suburbia eclipsed then overwhelmed the dairy farms, meadows, woods and streams so integral to my youth.

    As a region, for a time, it possessed everything conceivable to the American dream. Despite having left, your essay ignited both sadness and anger for those many who did not, who believed and strove to make good lives for their family’s future, that have been so betrayed by a vortex culture of excess, greed and malfeasance and will languish and suffer in the decline of the great debt trap.

    A deeper lesson in understanding when enough is enough is about to visit us all. Best wishes.

  45. It was fascinating that this article got a huge number of comments compared to the other articles. The description of the average strip mall with this sentence “an obese drunken species with excessive narcissistic tendencies that prefers to play video games while texting on our iGadgets as our debt financed lifestyles ultimately require professional financial assistance” was the best I’ve ever read.

    Four years ago I wrote to the on-line columnist of a well-known paper regarding food inflation, because his article on the economy never mentioned it. He wrote back and said he’d look into it. He never did. In fact, I’ve noticed that until now, I haven’t seen much at all about price inflation regarding food or anything else. It was though the media was in cahoots with the government–because every year the government statistics say inflation is very low but every year my cost of living skyrockets.

    The reason the consumer economy is taking is that nobody has any leftover money to spend once the necessities are paid for. And that’s only if you have a job and if your income is good enough. My Social Security no longer covers the bills, so now I leave the house only once a week to save on gas and cut down on spending. Everything I buy is second-hand (another reason why the retailers are in a panic) except for underwear.

    I’m selling off everything I can’t use or eat. I suggest everyone else do the same. It’s not going to matter who gets in (Romney or Obama), we’re still screwed.

  46. About a year ago I ran into a former employee of a major high tech firm. Met him at a party a few years earlier when his stock options and investments had him flying high and driving one of them Chrysler Prowler useless cars.

    Now he was working p/t at the Home Depot because they wont give him f/t work. No jobs for him — anywhere.

    I am one of the incredibly lucky who cashed out of a biz in ’07, and while the market took some of my cash, I kept enough and have invested enough to weather the storm. Not so good for so man others. I feel for them and every day think ‘there but the grace of God go I’.

    We live in a fairly affluent area, where the restaurants are full quite often, and house prices never really collapsed. Mine would sell for 2005 pricing at present. Our schools are good, though a recent way too expensive school bond failed. the roads are good, and you would almost think by traffic that there is nothing wrong in the world driving around here.

    But go off into the hiterlands, the local tourist traps, and you see empty storefronts where there used to be none. All is not well in Mayberry USA.

    I wonder how long it will take for the people of this nation to figure out they are lied to regularly by the big media, the Beltway, and just about everyone else in power or influence positions. QEInf is yet another bailout gift to the banks. It will not help employment, it will not do a damn thing for anyone but pump more money into the bank coffers for more risk.

    No one in DC cares about the voters as they are mere tools for re-election purposes. the system is broken.

    Like the old line:

    A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose it.

    Send the depression to DC, and lets vote out every incumbent evey year until they listen to the people, not th ebanksters and the Fed.

  47. I would like to add to the list of vacant properties I’ve seen, especially in the south: Large churches, car dealerships, and gas stations.

  48. almost 20,000 reads on ZH. More than the whole enrollment at some universities.

    Imminent Crucible says:

    Jim Kunstler likes to cuss? Well, yeah, but at least he knows how to use the shift key, unlike Junko-Tron.

    Mr. Quinn wants to know if he’s just a pessimist. Yes, Jim. You are definitely a pessimist. But that doesn’t make you wrong, it just makes you angry and depressed about the facts. And the Philly area is no doubt worse off than a lot of regions.

    There is a lot of work ahead of us, as most Americans are still half-asleep, with no more than a dim sense that something is terribly wrong with the country and that the White House, Congress, the Treasury and especially the Fed are powerless to do anything about it. What we have to do is get our neighbors to understand that the government and the Fed are exactly what is wrong with the country. And then we have to get them to understand that these criminals are not going to roll over and play dead for us. We’re going to have to take our country back the hard way.

    Step No. 1: Stop feeding the problem. Pull your business away from the major corporations, take your money out of the TBTF banks, arrange your affairs so that you pay as close to zero taxes as possible. This monstrosity is going to collapse under the weight of its own corruption, but you don’t want to be standing where it falls.

    I would think prudence would lead Jim Quinn to get himself and his family out of the Philadelphia area. That dump is going to turn into an apocalyptic nightmare when the EBT fountain runs dry.

  49. GDP up 70 percent while wages re stagnate. That tells you all youneed to know: government borrowing more than ten percent of gdp per year; consumers borrowing more; PLUS imports are having a huge impact as more imported goods go into the final products than ever before ( car parts, oil,etc.).

    The U S is screwed.

  50. The banks are foreclosure-stuffing, not allowing them to clear. No price discovery. Romney said he’ll let them clear. Wonder if the Banksters had their little talk yet. He’s backed off on firing Bernanke too.

    Americans took out $300-400bil a year from their home equity for what? five years? I know someone (Mr Quinn?) documented $8-10 bil spent on Starbucks alone. I can’t believe Bernanke thinks that’s going to repeat. NO WAY! No jobs, incomes are cut in 1/2.

    The real problem is the unemploymt extensions running off. This takes a few months to show up, it’s rippling thru. Many managed to get into Disability, with bogus claims. I think they’re cracking down, finally.

    It’s bad out there. The market conjob is only a disguise, headed for a blow-off top. Or oil traders kill all economies first. Nobody can drive around looking for a job when it’s either food or gasoline, and gasoline ETF speculation resulted in the 1st Sept over $4/gal in history, at a time when gasoline demand is at 2001 levels. The Cartels have it all rigged.

    The elites want to own more than the 80%+ of all stocks, bonds and property than they have now. They want serfdom for the rest. I have no doubt it’s a conspiracy.

  51. 1. CPI figures are both overstating (OER component) and understating (food & energy) inflation.
    2. Inflation is the situation where money/cash decreases in value against one or more asset classes (rising stocks, bonds, real estate, food ,energy prices)
    3. Deflation is the situation where money/cash increases in value against one or more asset classes (falling stocks, bonds, real estate etc.).

  52. Willy: I appreciate your explanation of inflation and deflation as well as your knowledge of the OER component. Unlike many others, I am also won’t to use profanity, so please explain further the adjustments made to CPI.

    When refering to a basket of goods, do you believe that tea is a perfect substitute for coffee?

    Further, do you believe that by buying a computer that computes at 10X the speed of the one I bought 5 years ago at half the price indicates deflation and that the sky is falling because the price of my bacon n’ eggs don’t count as much when adjusted? (Don’t assume I’m getting a better rate because they’re cooked by a woman in heels…. that doesn’t count as value added for simplicity’s sake)

    Most importantly, when viewing data computed in, let’s say 1931, do you believe that current data satisfies an “apples to apples” requirement for cogent conclusions?

    Just curious.

  53. I am trying to get my mind around the whole “the 1% are taking everything, the middle-class are getting screwed” thing. To me, people do not understand what capitalism is all about, and do not understand the global forces that are at work..

    Capitalism is about competition, and rewarding the smart, the hard-working, the experienced, and the lucky, and a leel playing field. The only problem is that today there is not a level playing field – influence is exerted by those with money, and so the playground is tilted. The tilt makes it near impossible for those in the “middle-class” to rise and replace those higher up the rung. Additionally, ridiculous and obscene government regulation makes the tilt even worse – small businessmen simply do not have the resources to keep abreast of all the regs and laws and costs associated with running a business, while megacorps do.

    But even if the playing field was level, the fact is in a global economy, the middle-class is screwed. And nothing is going to change that. The competition for middle-class jobs is fierce – there are literally billions of folks out their willing to do the work currently performed by the US middle-class, but for a lot less money. So middle-class incomes are going to be driven down, and there is no way around that. The middle-class have enjoyed a protected existence – protected as there has largely been no competition for their jobs. When you add in the factors that the Admin so eloquently lays out for us – debt, govt incompetence, free-shit, etc – the situation gets worse.

    Here is the deal. I will use me as an example. Let us assume the playing field is level in all ways. Someone new wants to come into the local manufacturing field where I play. He has to therefore play me – and I will be extremely difficult to beat on a level field. I am educated, I am smart, I have 35 years experience in manufacturing covering all functions (including sales and finance), I am cashed-up, and I have happy customers. Can I be beaten? Sure. But it will take someone extraordinary to do so, or it will take someone able to bring a lower cost stucture to bear against me – say someone from China who can overcome the logistical advantages that I still have today. So I am likely going to be the 1%, and the person taking me on is likely to go broke. Capitalism at its finest. I do not have an unfair advantage – I have advantages that I have earned through years of hard-work and via application of my natural abilities. It is totally fair and reasonable that I win, until such time as someone better comes along. Then it is fair that I lose.

    The middle-class similarly have to compete – and their main competition is from persons abroad, like it or not. These persons have a cost advantage – all things being equal, and assuming no logistical barriers to entry – that cost advantage will win out. So local employees will come under pressure to lower their prices (that is, their salaries), to the point where an equilibrium is reached. That point has not been reached as of yet – middle class wages will continue to plummet, and unemployment will increase. The middle class has no barrier to entry, and is under the strain of competition.

    What do I think is the price point that needs to be met to stop the bleeding? Probably an average wage around $25 -$30k, down from $55k currently. Even that may not be enough of a drop – it depends how long it takes for wages to rise elsewhere. This can be done in one of two ways – actual wage cuts, or defact cuts via Ben B via continuous printing of money and the subsequent devaluation of the dollar. So the dollar must fall by half, or actual wages must fall by half.

    The fact is, THERE IS NO SOLUTION. THERE IS NO SOLUTION that will return the status of the middle class. They have to compete and beat their competition. They do not have any natural advantages, save location, and in fact have many disadvantages – pick any one of the seven deadly sins: sloth, greed, gluttony, etc. And the fact is that they cannot beat their competition at the price point they currently have.

    It is what it is. That the middle class did well in the past is no predictor that the middle class will do well in the future. The fact is that the days of a middle class as US citizens know it are over. A pyramid will result – there will be no bulge in the middle as has been the case. The bulge in the middle will disappear, and what was known as the middle class will drop to the lower class levels, and the lower class will do it even tougher.

    Reality sucks. I am ready for the torrent of thumbs down – but anyone capable of telling me how this is not going to come to pass is welcome to try.

  54. 1. Rising taxation is, of course, a MAJOR factor in rising inflation, as well.
    2. Changing the compostion of the basket of goods also helps to understate CPI. It’s a scam as well.
    3. Tax laws should be changed as well. Every taxlaw that encourages taking on more debt (e.g. through one or more tax deductabilities) should be eliminated.

  55. Yes, I’m seeing what you are seeing. It’s going a bit slower here, but still headed for the abyss.

    To the extent possible, (nowhere near enough) I’m detaching from the vampire banks. I pay cash when I can, buy local when available, grow more than half my own veggies, fruit, and all my own meat and eggs, and have a cellar stocked with home canned food. I moved my accounts to a local credit union, buy cars w 100k miles and keep ’em for ten years, have NO debt. etc etc

    Other than detach (if possible), take care of ourselves and our loved ones, WTF can anyone DO about any of this??. The Demopublicans represent the problem, will keep doing what the bosses tell them, and they aren’t about to allow a true people’s party to gain traction. Votes for the Greens, Justice Party, or Libertarians are unlikely to get any notice. Violence, besides being wrong, is also futile; it will give them an excuse to crackdown, and expand their profitable prison gulag.

    Perhaps a boycott of everything advertized on their mouthpiece media might get their attention?? If so, I need a bot or someone to collect the sponsors for me, cause I won;t watch it.

  56. best post off of ZH by JuliaS

    “It’s the end of expansion. Nothing bad about zero or negative growth if you plan for it. It’s like the harvest – you know some years are going to be plentiful and others will yield nothing. You put enough seeds aside to last through the tough times and curb consumption when necessary. Physically it’s easy to accomplish. The problem is that our fiat fractional reserve baking system is built for exponential expansion only and cannot handle even a slightest slowdown. The interest on the debt and defaults end up consuming the monetary supply, destroying commerce. A well structured commodity based exhcange system (such as the gold standard) is able to handle each direction of the economy without imploding upon itself. Price stability and other guarantees fiat provides are nonsense. Prices should reflect conditions. If they don’t the economy does not work.

    When we go to war and engage in material destruction the feedback should be instantaneous. Prices should spike to reflect government spending. They don’t. Instead we get a stretched out buffer effect. Same with outsourcing of manufacturing. We don’t feel it right away because monetary inflation and credit boost consumption that should instead be declining etc.

    The Roman Empire ended, but the city of Rome still exists. Argentina defaulted, but there’s still Argentina. USSR is gone, but the land and people are still around under a different set of flags. The end is of the old way of life.

    The end of banking in its current form is good. The bad thing is that transition will be painful and most people will be caught off guard. Those that have stolen the most under the old regime will blend in with the crowd and play victims. A decade later the old elite will crawl out of its hiding and through family ties re-establish influence (if we let them). I’ve lived though a collapse and seen it first hand. I know people that were stinkin’ rich but when the thunder strck put on robes and went into bread-n-soup lines just to be like everyone else. They were the ones scared shitless of change and of what others might do to them if true identities were ever exposed. Some got caught, others made it through and are now richer than they were under the old regime.”

  57. @ lipoh: If we had a government that represented us, we could tax the imports of corporations that offshored US jobs at a rate that removed the incentive. Since the government is in fact a PR front for the corporations we can forget that or import tarrifs though.

    Currently the average Chinese factory worker makes less for sixty hours than a twenty hour a week burger flipper at McD’s. He also usually has to deal with life threatening pollution and physical safety issues. The entire cost of a Chinese worker is lower than the regulatory, insurance and tax cost of a US factory worker. In other words, if a US worker wanted to and was allowed to work for one cent an hour, the Chinese worker would still net less total cost. It is simply not possible for a US factory worker to compete as things now stand.

  58. Fool on Hill – I know what you are saying in spades re compliance costs. It makes doing business almost unbearable.

    However, import taxes do not work – they will return the good old days of 1970’s American made cars (can you spell l-e-m-o-n?) – costs will skyrocket while quality will plumment, and the ability of the US to export will disappear. Any chance of remaining relevent over the long run will disappear – the world will bypass the US if it enters a trade war.

    Believe it or not, the US still exports a lot of goods. Further, the US relies on imports for stuff that it no longer manufactures. Tariffs will simply not work.

  59. ” Romney said he’ll let them clear. Wonder if the Banksters had their little talk yet. He’s backed off on firing Bernanke too. ”

    They’ll set him straight soon enough.

  60. lipoh…

    I remember driving in the 70s, and it was not all junk, though you’re right that there was a lot of junk on the road. I had a Dodge Dart with a small slant six engine, that would not die! Also drove taxi for awhile then, we were getting 250K miles from Plymouth Furies with the large slant six engine, Checkers with GM sixes did even better.

    As for import penalty fee/ tarrif suggestion, the point is to stop the offshoring of US jobs. Not establish a general tarrif, but a targeted penalty on corporations that offshore. Do you have a better suggestion? I’m not sure anything can can be done. There is NO chance of a corporate penalty law passing, since the corporations own CONgress.

    Those jobs that are gone are lost and likely won’t be back anytime soon, short of a major disaster in China, and maybe not even then, unless oil price or logistical problems (war) intervene.

  61. huhhhh…., resigned to consolidating fam. stockpiling food, arms and ammo, waiting on the inevitable, losing faith in the world, leaders, system.

  62. Fool on Hill – a target penalty will simply send those corps broke as they will be replaced by foreign companies.

    The fact is that the days of middle class affluence are coming rapidly to a close. The middle class does not generate enough of a return relative to their cost. It is really as simple as that. They cost too much, or generate too little, however way it sounds best to put it. And so something will have to give. The equilibrium between their cost and what they generate will be reached. And part of what they cost is indeed the regulated costs of OSHA, EPA, etc. Those costs need to come down as well. Or else the outflow of work will continue unabated.

    There is no answer for returning the good old days of the American dream of middle-class affluence. The answer is not what people want to hear, or will alow themselves to hear, and is not what politicians will tell them. No politician will stand up and say what have written – that middle class wages have nowhere to go ut down. And down they are going. They will be propped up by stupid policy instead of the truth, but that will only make the crash all the more devastating when it comes.

    It was great that the US was the most advanced economy on earth with no competition. Those days are gone, and the opportunities to build for the long run were squandered. The US can look forward to a very long period of economic decline. If positive policies were introduced today it would take decades to overcome the lack of spending on infrastructure, to unwind the welfare state, and to overcome of the educational deficiencies that have occurred in the last decades (and which if anything are accelerating).

    The youth of the US are going to have a very bad time of it. It is truly a sad thing.

  63. Those that borrowed to finance their consumption (and non-income producing housing constitutes consumption) need blame only themselves for being in a debt trap. That this was a mass phenomenon does not excuse them and make blaming others justifiable.

  64. I am a Christian and have worked in computers and electronics. I study everything including finance. I’m not a kook but well educated by doing every type of job, always avoiding debt. I am retired, lowering my bills asap so I will still be able to eat and share Christ. Those who see what is coming wonder what to do. Those who don’t have a clue will be taken by surprize and have no plan and won’t be able to implement a plan if they can think of one. My input to get to know God for he has the ability to navigate those who trust him to where they need to be physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It can be that those who caused this will be jumping out of windows as in 1929 while those who experience the effects are in perfect peace making it from day to day. I’m speaking of contrast not divine justice. We will all have to go through this together. In addition to all other preparations, get to know God who can give you hope and direction where the rubber meets the road. I have recently become aware of Joseph Prince of Singapore. He says it right. And he speaks English.

  65. I continue to say that the FED didn’t cause the bubbles and the inflation. It facilitated the inflation but that’s something quite different. US consumers who wanted to take on more and that willingmess ENABLED the FED to inflate.

    The CPI chart should have shown that CPI went down after the 2nd half of 2008. Remember falling oil prices and falling rents ?

    And what about rising taxation ? Is the FED responsible for rising taxation ?

  66. Willy2 – in the bubbliest states, almost half of the homes were bought by speculators, buying 2, 3, 4 or more houses. And why did the speculators enter the game? Because money was cheap and they were hoping for price appreciation. With little or nothing down, they entered big time; of course, they were also the FIRST to walk away, having no stake in the game. “No price appreciation? Well, I’m gone.”

    Because the speculators were taking so many homes off the market (waiting for their appreciation), the prices continued to rise, higher and higher. The average family, fearing (and this is really what the Fed relies upon) they would never be able to enter the housing market if they didn’t act fast (remember the realtors telling people they’d better get in before it was too late?), foolishly jumped in.

    Bush stood up and said all Americans should have the right to own a house, Greedscam held interest rates too low for too long, the bankers (securitizing like crazy out the back end) loaned money to people who should never have received loans.

    It was one big SUCK from the get go.

    No, I don’t really feel sorry for people who bit off more than they could chew, but I do feel sorry for people who have lost their jobs, jobs they’ve had for years.

    Fear is the biggest motivator, and in this case it was used brilliantly by all of the players who won. Many home buyers bought out of “fear”.

    This was a deliberately planned bubble.

  67. Not sure why but its different in Bay area. Homes prices are 10% higher from a year ago. People paying 100K above asking price. Stupid broken homes selling for 1 Mil. Low inventory of existing homes. Too much traffic every where with many driving new cars. Looks like booming economy here.

  68. “If You Want to Help the Poor and the Middle Class, Encourage Deflation” – Charles Hugh Smith – great article re how we’ve been brainwashed into believing deflation is bad.

    “Let’s consider a household that earns $1,000 a month that enables them to buy 100 goods and services. At 4% inflation, in five years the household will only be able to afford 80 goods and services, because inflation stole 20% of the value (purchasing power) of their income. Those producing and selling goods and services have lost 20% of their market.

    At 4% deflation, in five years they can afford 120 goods and services–20% more. If you are producing a good or service, your market has expanded by 20%.

    Let’s total the consequences of inflation and deflation. With 4% inflation, households are poorer, as they can buy fewer goods and services, and those producing goods and services see their market shrink by 20%. Inflation is a disaster for everyone but the banks.

    With deflation, households’ purchasing power increases by 20% and the market for goods and services also increases by 20%. If productivity rises more than 20% over five years, companies can actually produce and sell 20% more goods and make more profit than they did five years before.

    What the banks and their neofeudal enforcer the Federal Reserve want is for households to become poorer but more heavily indebted. They don’t want households to be able to afford more goods and services–they want households to have to borrow more money to buy more goods and services because issuing more loans is how banks make huge profits.”


    “If the Federal Reserve’s nightmare comes true and deflation occurs, something else happens that the banks fear and loathe: marginal borrowers default on all their debts. Rather than being easier to pay, the debts become more difficult to pay as money gains value. Marginal borrowers no longer get the “boost” of inflation, so they increasingly default on their loans.

    How is it bad for hopelessly over-indebted, overleveraged households to default on all their debt and get a fresh start? Exactly why is that bad? What is the over-indebted household losing other than a lifetime of debt-serfdom, stress and poverty?

    The banks have to absorb the losses, and since they are so highly leveraged, the losses drive the banks into insolvency. They are bankrupt and must close their doors.”

    ***READ THE WHOLE DAMN ARTICLE – it’s that good. Like Administrator, Charles Hugh Smith is a gem.

  69. init – I heard the Chinese have landed in the Bay area. They have the kind of money that makes overbidding fun. Have you seen this?

  70. Wall Street didn’t hold a gun to your head and said “Consume!”

    Maybe dial back the caffeine pils a little. A known side effect of caffeine is paranoia.

  71. init – also, the banks are purposely holding large amounts of inventory off the market. No, there’s no manipulation here, is there?

  72. DirkH – Wall Street holds all the cards in the game, always have. Heck, they MAKE the game. They’re speculating in commodities, driving prices up for everyone. They hoarding commodities in warehouses, driving prices up. They’re holding housing inventory off market in order to drive prices up. They sold securities to investors when they knew they were junk. They’re running Washington with their lobbyists and contributions.

    Maybe you should dial up the caffeine a little and get smart.

    Of course, I hope the people get smart too and read Charles Hugh Smith’s article above re deflation. I hope they stop playing the game, step off, stop consuming (which I totally agree with you there).

    Stop buying – just stop.

  73. We are in Dublin this week and you could change the names in Jim’s piece and it would read the same.

    The Irish people are some of the happiest and cordial folks we have meet traveling. They make fun of themselves and go out of their way to be helpful. That being said, after a few pints, they will tell you how bad things are here.

    When we walk the streets, every one has half a dozen “To Let” signs on business sites and offices.

    The most significant anecdotal thing repeated is, “The pubs are all now empty through the week because things are so bad folks stay home and drink at home because it is cheaper…they come out to the pubs only on weekends.”…This being Ireland where drinking in a pub the national pastime says a lot about just how bad it is.

  74. I went to the Fresh & Easy (Tescos experiment here in the states I have no idea where else they have them) market closest to me for the first time in a while today and I definitely clocked a shift in the people that work there (not many as it’s self-check out you bag it) but, as opposed to basically 100% of every other low-level service sector jobs in SoCal, these weren’t the young Latinos and Latinas I’d seen before, no, they were late-middle aged, very tired, burnt-out, and depressed looking white women. This is simply a sight not seen in LA, if you are of a professional class here (I don’t even think we have a middle class at all anymore per se) of which 75% of the white population belongs to, (the other 25% to the creative class I’d call it, most of whom never make it, but they wind up in coffee joints, tending bar, etc) it would be akin to social and genuine identity suicide to be seen falling to such depths. they looked like middle bank manager types who’d hit the skids. Reading about your Lowes experience…man, for many it’s going to be sustenance-level living with soul-killing jobs throughout those Golden Years…and they didn’t look angry, just…the living dead, nothing on behind the eyes. Maybe it’s why our depraved pop culture is so obsessed with Vampires (Wall St/FedGov) and zombies (us)…

  75. I love the Irish, Tator. They have been screwed so many times over the centuries they are accustomed to it. Their politicians are a heap of shit, even compared to the US Congress. Corruption is in the blood of the Irish elite. Poor bastards.

  76. Oh, and speaking of the Bay area, yes something very weird is going on with the RE market, my mother just sold her house in Berkeley to people that bid 100K over asking -with NO other offers on the table, and it was their OPENING OFFER. Total insanity, their agent should be sued for breach of duty, but my mom gladly took the offer and ran. Most bizarre thing I’d ever seen.

  77. Willy2 : Inflation is the increase in the money supply. Higher prices are the result of inflating the money supply.

    “One of the dangerous characteristics of monetary inflation is that it is never possible to know, in advance, exactly how it will distort the price system. What we do know is that a large increase in the money supply ALWAYS leads to large price increases somewhere in the economy.”

    To get a better understanding, here is an explanation.

  78. Llpoh says: I love the Irish, Tator. They have been screwed so many times over the centuries they are accustomed to it.

    I really have to agree. They are great folks all round.

    As for getting screwed…I had no idea to what degree. We have taken several bus tours to different areas of the country with drivers that recite the history for that area. They have been invaded and dominated so many times it is shocking.

    If you travel, put Ireland on your list of places to visit. Their history is rich and long (back to 5000BC) and the people are as friendly as any we have every met.

  79. Excellent article


    One quibble. RE: “sustained by prodigious levels of media propaganda”

    I would put the role of the media, owned by the very same powerful men mentioned, as the actual transmission devise used in the devolution of Americans from citizens to consumers.

    How would we, as a people, had even realized that consuming was our right, our privilege, our National responsibility if we hadn’t been PASSIVELY saturated with that message 24/7 from all sources. To understand what citizenship is one has to be ACTIVE, to know that consuming is the National pastime one only needs to be PASSIVE.

    Which then leads into the deliberate “Dumbing Down of America” where passivity is a virture.

  80. The FED did not hold interest rates “too low”. It was “Mr. Market” that pushed interest rates down and the FED was FORCED to follow.

    What also helped to fuel the real estate is that this “toxic waste” was sold to a lot of investors around the world. Thanks to the giant US Current Account Deficit.

  81. I live 5 minutes outside Montco. in Chester county and you are dead on. The Lowe’s in Pottstown is the same on a Saturday, very little customers. In this area it seems like they build all of the mega stores too close together as you described. Wegmans in Collegeville is always packed on the weekend, and they opened another one 2 exits up 422 in King of Prussia in what is supposed to be another huge strip mall (down the street from the enormous K of P Mall?!). My neighbor who is a college student worked at the K of P Wegman’s briefly as a waitress in their pub and quit because there was no business, therefore no tips at lunch hour. In my opinion, Wegman’s helped kill Genuardi’s. The type of customer who used to shop Genauardi’s is attracted to the style of Wegmans. I am hoping the vacant stores in Kimberton and Royersford are filled soon.

    This past weekend I went canoeing on the Schuylkill, near lock 60 in Mont Clair. Along the river bank you see many people fishing, most for fun but many Phoenixville area immigrant families fishing for what might be their next meal. This time we saw a man along the river, camped out in the woods with a tent made of a white sheet and a little hibachi type grill. Maybe homeless have been here all along and I never noticed, but it was a surprising sight. Camden, NJ has its own tent city but perhaps sadly this is a trend that is extending into white suburbia?

    1. Housefrau

      Have you been to the Providence Town Center in Collegeville? The developer spent $250 million to build it and no one came. It’s a beautiful Ghost Mall. At least 50% of the stores have never gotten a tenant. But the Movie Tavern is great.


    A vacant village
    Retailers lined up, then pulled out

    November 08, 2009|Diane Mastrull, Inquirer Staff Writer

    On 81 acres of former cornfields just off the Collegeville exit of U.S. Route 422, a town is taking shape. Or so it appears.

    It’s really a shopping center.

    But at 750,000 square feet, with stores and restaurants of varying heights arrayed along narrow streets and landscaped plazas to evoke a quaint village, Providence Town Center seems deserving of its own zip code.

    Brandon Famous would settle for more occupants.

    He is chief executive officer of Fameco Real Estate L.P., the Conshohocken retail broker in charge of leasing at Providence Town.

    “Two years ago, the lineup was spectacular,” Famous said of the proposed tenants, a variety of national chains.

    Then the recession hit, shoppers sliced spending, and retailers pulled back on expansion plans.

    “This was going to be a bookstore,” Famous said, pointing to a large empty building in the central plaza. “It still may be.”

    The center is currently 73 percent leased. But the spaces still not spoken for have prompted developer Brandolini Cos. to push off indefinitely a Phase II grand opening. Last month’s opening of a Wegmans supermarket, joined by a half-dozen large-scale retailers, was the Phase I debut.

    “We’re going to open [Phase II] when we think it’s appropriate for the tenants ready to go and the consumers ready to spend,” said Fred Snow, president of Brandolini.

    The 73-year-old company, based in Berwyn, owns 15 shopping centers, most of them in suburban Philadelphia, according to its Web site. Snow said Providence Town had the financial wherewithal to wait for the retail sector’s revival.

    “Whether it happens in six months or 24 months, we’re going to be there,” Snow said, defending his company’s decision to press on with construction of the $250 million center at such an ugly time for retail. On a recent afternoon, construction crews were putting roofs on unfinished units.

    “When the market does recover,” he said, “we will have the only site in town where tenants can act quickly and open stores quickly.”

    Exactly who those tenants are might be somewhat different from what was originally envisioned, with more of a “mix-and-match” of high-end stores and “value-oriented” retailers, Famous said. The white-hot popularity of the traditional “lifestyle center” has cooled somewhat, he said.

    “If you could see into the future two years ago, you would have never built this middle section,” he said, standing in Providence Town’s central plaza, lined with side-by-side storefronts.

    Current consumer trends would support that area’s being more of a big-box center with, perhaps, a Home Depot and a Costco, Famous said.

    But Providence Town Center’s Main Street design is what local officials wanted, he said, adding that he is “not the least bit concerned” about getting the center filled with a variety of retail and restaurants, and drawing enough shoppers and diners to support them.

    His challenge will be finding tenants for the relatively blah strip malls built decades ago that will not be able to compete with the polish and retail heft of complexes such as Providence Town.

    As the economy improves, Famous said, vacancies in those older centers are likely to be filled with nonretail uses: day-care centers and medical offices.

  83. There’s a direct correlation to the amount of times a writer uses the denigrating term “McMansion” with their level of envy they have for being unable to afford one.
    You cannot say “they’re cheaply built” as many often do since they are built to current codes (especially here in south Florida with its much higher hurricane resistance standards).

    As far as our “sancuary of consumerism lifestyle” goes, even a hundred years ago, there were women who bought yarn, needles, sewing machines or dresses (if they could afford one), furniture, China, tableware, linements, hair products, soaps, shampoos & generally spent too much if one asked their husbands.

    The men also bought well drilling tools, horse tack, ploughs, livestock, barbed wire, fence posts, handtools, lumber, nails, stoves, etc & the things they couldn’t do were purchased in towns nearby which offered other services, including food joints & bars.
    So let’s not pretend that this generation is the first to engage in that evil “consumerism”.
    The stench of envy can be pickd up a mile away in articles like this.

    1. The stench of Dave can be picked up from hundreds of miles away. You can envy my fat ass. I live in a 2,200 sq ft single family home in one of those suburban tracts. I bought it in 1995. I could have parlayed the doubling in price by buying a 3,000 sq ft McMansion with 0% down and a negative amortization loan.

      BUT I DIDN’T

      I choose to live beneath my means and save the difference. Assholes like yourself like to rationalize your debt financed lifestyle with bullshit excuses.

      You are too dense to connect the dots. Thanks for representing the ignorant masses in our comment section.

  84. Yes I have heard that Chinese buying a lot of properties in Bay Area. The bring in ALL cash, bid up the prices to crazy valuations, drive locals out. I don’t like it but oh well… On the positive side, it must be good for the country if money comes back from China to US?

  85. Wow, I hit a nerve!
    Not only have we discovered your envy with that childish first line, but we’ve also discovered your immaturity as well.
    You should be embarrassed.
    It’s true, speaking a truth will bring you much more venom than telling a lie…

    If one looks at the level of debt of the US government as compared to the levels of personal debt -which your article seemed to focus on – you could make a stronger argument for the existence of “parasitism” by the US population than for “consumerism” of the taxpaying masses.
    After all, most of our debt has been generated by social transfers from taxpayers to tax-consumers.

    As far as you refraining from buying a huge home during the boom, that’s mostly one of timing.
    I bought mine last home in 1993, but had I gotten married in 2004 or 5, it’s quite possible that I would be one of the underwater mortgage holders now as well.
    Let’s not forget the government meddling in the housing markets by forcing banks to loan to uncreditworthy borrowers due to their race & the artificial lowering of rates by Greenspan as well.

    For the recod; I have no mortgage, no student loans, no car payments (my 1997 Toyo 4runner has 396,000 miles on it & my wifes ’05 Accord has 102,000).
    The only debt I have at this moment is what’s been charged on my Visa for fuel since the last few fill-ups.
    Great way to screw up your evaluation of me!

    Now run off & engage in more of your envious nonsense of yelling at people for buying something, you big dumb kid

    1. The stench from Envious Dave grows ever more pungent, as his initial bullshit assumption was obliterated.

      I love when internet trolls like yourself, after being kicked in the balls for revealing their utter stupidity, then provide their life story as if I give a fuck about your personal debt situation.

      After reading your Fox News level drivel, I’m sure 98% of the people reading your worthless comments have no idea what point you are attempting to make.

      You’re a fine example of what our public education system has wrought – cluless morons who spew talking points they see on TV.

      Thanks for playing Envious Dave

  86. Init: At first I was going to say: “Ssshhhh! Don’t tell them how good we have it, they’ll come here and ruin it…. They think it’s all earthquakes and they’re afraid of homosexuals. Keep it that way!”

    But you saved the storyline…

    That’s right, folks, don’t come to SF. Nothing but earthquakes, homos, Mexicans and asians! Stay away for your own good! You’d HATE it!

  87. Jim, could you please publish a median net worth by age table. i believe this would be of interest to your followers. this net worth/house hold or net worth/individual (including primary house) would help suuport your assertion more fully.

  88. Fiat Money Is Immoral

    By Richard Russell09/12/2012

    The following is an excerpt from Richard Russell’s Dow Theory Letters

    “One Nation — SUBSIDIZED — How Big Government Underwrites Your Life.” From the cover of this week’s Time magazine.

    Russell goes moral — I may work my whole life and make an after-tax total of five million dollars. The Fed, with nobody working, can “create” 100 billion dollars out of thin air in a matter of a few seconds. To me, this is absolutely immoral. Furthermore, the Fed wants inflation to continue at 2% a year. Again, I maintain that this is immoral. It’s wiping out the middle class over time. I have a GI life insurance policy that was worth $10,000 when I took it out in 1945. At that time, the policy looked like big money. I scrimped and saved to buy and pay off that policy. What’s the policy worth today, after years of compounded 2% inflation? Not much — talk about legal robbery!

    A few American generations had a party after World War II. They borrowed and lived on a diet of steady inflation for over fifty years — until the present. Almost everything they did was inflated and subsidized by the government. Two or three generations voted themselves the good, inflated, subsidized life — and did they worry? Hell no, their kids and grandkids could pay for the fun later.

    Now, payback time has come for their kids and grandkids. And the nation is close to suffering a nervous, debt-filled breakdown.

    How will we ever pay off the debts the postwar generations ran up? Hey, no problem, we’ll just print the money.

    My take on this. The fiat money we print is immoral money. Nobody worked for it. I’m saying that the nation can’t bail itself out with immoral money. It won’t work. The Founding Fathers warned against fiat money, money that was backed by nothing, money that nobody worked for. If the Founding Fathers could see what has happened to their republic, they would roll over in their graves. “We give you a republic — if you can keep it,” said Ben Franklin.

    I am saying that we haven’t kept it. Franklin’s warning proved prophetic. We haven’t kept the republic that our forefathers created for us. Some gave their lives for our republic, all staked their sacred honor for it, and in our greed and stupidity we have failed them.

    I’m saying that the US can’t keep its current system if we depend on immoral money. I’m saying that we can’t print ourselves out of this mess. The Fed can print itself silly — it won’t work. The post World War II generations had their long, subsidized party. Now I’m afraid that we’re fated to take the pain. Unless, of course, we can print ourselves out of this disaster with worthless, immoral fiat money — money that nobody worked for.

    The Fed and its junk money made the current disaster possible. Now let’s see if the Fed can get us out of this miasma.

  89. would like to have seen a little on the inflation points and arguments. Inflation is truely eating us alive with wages lagging behind for so long. The future doesn’t look so good either for inflation with the QE3 bomb last week – yikes. I dodged the house buying bullet simply because I didn’t want to chase the prices – it was rediculous from 2000-2007 watching prices rise astronomically. So, I said screw it and deleveraged for 5 years and recent bought my first and last house. Timing is a factor but inflation knaws at the back of my mind.

    llpoh – had some good points on the middle class – times have certainly changed.

  90. “A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial. That is when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.”

    George Orwell

  91. @llpoh,

    Your post about the reduced competitiveness of the US middle-class is one of the most important points to consider when determining what is causing our decline. Manufacturing and construction used to be the foundation of our thriving economy, providing the vast majority of the readily-available and well-paying jobs. As technology and globalization have advanced, though, labor is not as valuable as it used to be, domestic automation and foreign labor having replaced much of it. The only option for the middle-class is to acquire new skill sets. Skilled trades, such as electrical work, machining, plumbing, HVAC, and other areas are some of the best routes to prosperity with the least time needed for the education associated with them. Outside of the skilled trades, the medical field always has high demand, although the highest paid positions there require the most time and education to qualify.

    For the rest of the middle-class, if unable to change to an entirely new career after having your old one rendered obsolete, one of the best ways to getting back the American dream is to cut back expenditures on luxuries, and use the extra money to buy stock in the best businesses out there. The 1% have prospered better than the rest, not because of any criminal activity or theft from the middle-class, but because they are in the best position to exploit market openings in the developing world. For the other 99% to get a piece of that, we need to all buy our way into ownership of it. That means using $500 to buy 20 shares of Intel stock (or some number of shares of another stock) rather than buying the new I-Phone. It will take time, but our wealth will grow again with some discipline. The system is broken, but we can only fix our own situations by adjusting to the new reality. No amount of government redistribution will ever fix it. It will only ensure continued malaise. Buy partial ownership of what has made the 1% rich, or start your own enterprise.


    No one held a gun to the heads of the middle-class who ran up irresponsible amounts of debt. Those whose wealth decreased because most of their wealth was tied up in a house that cost more than they should have ever paid for a house, while most of the things in the driveway and inside of that house were purchased with more debt, did so of their own volition. The more that society tells them that they are victims, the less that they will take steps to fix their own situations.

    Meanwhile, blaming corporations is the wrong answer. Yes, it is wrong that any corporations received any sort of bailouts. Those that required them got into their situations because they made poor decisions. They should have gone bankrupt, been liquidated, and been reborn under new leadership or absorbed by better enterprises. Corporations provide easy access to the things that we need or want at very cheap prices, and I am glad that they exist. However, those which are irresponsible are no less entitled to welfare than are individuals who are simply irresponsible. Demonizing corporations in general makes as much sense as demonizing any ethnicity in general.

  92. “Demonizing corporations in general makes as much sense as demonizing any ethnicity in general.”— Centerline

    I know corporations are people.

    But, just curious, what ethnicity is a corporation? (I think most corps are Pollacks.)

  93. @Center Line,

    You state, “… As technology and globalization have advanced, though, labor is not as valuable as it used to be, domestic automation and foreign labor having replaced much of it…”

    If that were completely true, then fuel costs and the like would start to make a difference – which it isn’t.

    Reality is that it is NOT the labor cost (paid to employees) that is the biggest reason for offshoring.

    Lack of regulation, lack of EPA, lack of OSHA, lack of benefits, lack of pensions, lack of layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of regulators is why companies (especially the mega-corps) offshored.

    Can’t imagine how much easier it would be to just have cash at the ready to pay off an official or two compared to the cost of the regulatory nightmare that doing business inside our borders has become.

    All the industries you tout have the same problem as manufacturing – they are being taxed, fee’d and regulated out of business within our borders.

    Gaining real skills is always a good thing. But thinking that with $10 gas and $1000 a month utility bills that there are still going to be 75 million American homes running furnaces and dishwashers while still affording to pay for repairs is beyond my scope of hopium.

    I hope to hell I’m wrong. But with NO ONE (except Ron Paul) talking about the REAL problems, I’ve concluded I’m probably being optimistic, how can we truly expect to fix problems we refuse to acknowledge?

    Nice to see you around.

  94. Centerline – I agree in part with what you wrote, but not entirely. I appreciate your thoughts, and encourage you to keep posting, despite the flack you may take from some folks (not TeresaE, by the way).

    Teresa – another big reason that corps move offshore is the fact that the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Admittedly, the manage to avoid most of it, but even the process of avoiding it is costly. Some companies are better at avoiding it, and use that fact as a competetive advantage. For those that are not good at it, offshoring is very enticing. And if you add to that the tax rate on dividends, it puts the total tax rate to shareholders vis a vis company profits at approx. 55 or 60% – which is simply not internationally competetive.

  95. Sir:

    Lets see…our writer is unhappy because the old addage “a fool and his money will soon be parted” is true. And what is the remedy for the present economic condition of Boobis Americanis? I really can’t remember. There are so many villians; the individual, corprations, government, unions (were’nt really prominently mention) that its a fools errand to attempt to prescribe any practical near term fix(es). A look backwards should point to the failure of the family (individual) as the place to start to fix responsibility. But don’t forget 70 years of believing that we can get something for nothing from government. Wasn’t true before the Great Depression and isn’t now.

    20 years ago I’d recommend buying Russian war bonds. Now…gold, silver, oil and other commopdities.


  96. Shamelessly hijacking (sort of) thread – MUST SEE :

    GEAB #67 just out:


    “For these reasons, LEAP/E2020 maintains its June 2012 Red Alert and estimates that, by the end of October 2012, the global economy will be sucked into a black hole against a backdrop of world geopolitics heated white-hot. Suffice it to say that the coming weeks will, according to our team, carry the planet away in a hurricane of unprecedented crises and conflicts.”

  97. @llpoh, TeresaE, and Stucky,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.


    It is true that the trades that I had originally mentioned in my first post are as heavily taxed as any industry in our country. Nevertheless, unless a catastrophic socio-economic collapse happens, people will still need to hire skilled tradesmen to keep their modern conveniences running. Although it is prudent, IMHO, to prepare for societal breakdowns to a certain extent, it is absolutely critical to devote more resources to being prosperous under the conditions that exist right now and for the foreseeable furture–not the ones that we hope will exist or that we simply believe we are doomed to experience at some point in the future. That means learning new skills and putting enough money to the side that you can put it to work for you.


    I was afraid that someone would go back to the Supreme Court decision about corporate campaign donations. I hadn’t really intended to cast corporations as people. They are entities, nevertheless, and as with any entities, biological or otherwise, we cannot generalize them. That is why I stated that demonizing them as a whole is the same as demonizing any entire ethnicity.

  98. Great article Jim. I was at that Lowe’s last night (Tuesday) and there were maybe 12 people in the whole store. I too cannot see it lasting very long.

    The old Genardi’s/Sears hardware strip mall down the street from there is really in bad shape. When I moved to towamencin in 1999, that place was really hopping. I don’t know what happened there but think it something to do with the traffic flow. Just not enough people pass by there to make it work.

    I am at the Kulpsville PO all the time, if I see you there I will buy you a beer. Good luck.

    1. Towamencin Mike

      We could have had that beer at Bones Grille, but it abruptly closed two months ago. Another one bites the dust. Restaurants always close abruptly when times are good.

  99. Good grief, that Bones place is huge. Looks like an elementary school with neon beer signs instead of handprint turkeys in the windows.

    Perhaps they would still be slinging the brewskies if they had chosen to not overcapitalize? Renovated an existing building instead of opting for new construction, or gone for half the square footage? Imagine the number of beers they needed to sell just to keep the lights on in that place.


  101. I hear Bones is going to become a Mexican restaurant, so I will buy you a Dos Equis, or Sangria or whatever. What doomed Bones, imho, was the food; it was awful. Also, again, the traffic patterns.
    I may be in a minority, but I think food and beverage places will be okay if they are run right. Been out lately? Places I go to are usually busy. Have you seen how many Chickie and Pete’s have opened in the past 2 years? I am not saying Crab Fries are going to save the economy, just that people will always want to get out of the house sometimes.
    I have a similar pessimistic view overall, due to the same reasons.

  102. The local Melbourne Square Mall here on the east coast of Florida is hanging in there. Four mall stores (or areas appear) to be doing the best:

    (1) The Armed Forces Career Center

    (2) A Shoe Repair Shop (21 years in the mall)

    (3) The Dollar Store

    (4) Stores in the Food Court

    Great essay.

  103. I’m seeing it Jim! Just saw this this morning…some cheery news before my morning commute to work…

    All these posers wearing gold chains….posing to be one of the “rich and famous”….these rich cocksuckers who hide their wealth and themselves away from what many consider “useless eaters!” OH the IRONY!

    if the video doesn’t post properly the link to the local fox station’s coverage is below:

  104. I see many pointing at the problem.

    But I also see many pointing at the wrong solution – gold. Coming from the other side of the atlantic, I notice that the US went off the gold standard just around the time when things took a turn for the worse. But – guys – there’s more countries in the world. Correlation is not causation. All the world didn’t leave gold standard at the same time.

    Open question: what happens when the population increases (or someone saves a lot of money) in a fixed currency system? Yes, obviously deflation. Who does that benefit? Think before you answer..

    I’d like to point to another more universal phenomenon: Automation and globalization. Yeah we are seeing a lot of western companies set up shop in low wage countries and profit hugely from the skewed exchange rates. But now, even China is going the automation route.

    What we have is over capacity. And no demand. Because producers don’t need to hire. How does a return to the gold standard fix that? Easy – it doesn’t.

    How does gold standard work in a globalized economy – especially in a country running a trade deficit? Ow. Ow. Ow.

    Privately controlled fractional banking of course is also an “interesting” contributor to our problems. But I still don’t see how reversing fractional banking equals a demand for gold standard.

    I think that many would benefit from taking a look at and the “Monetary Realism” papers. I think that they are a good description of how our economic system works today.

    As for things that might help us repair our disconnect between economy and real-life facts.. well.. shorter working week seems the obvious answer. But that would eat into the profit mountains so.. yeah 😉

    Other debate-worthy ideas include (full reserve banking with inflation targeting via debt-free new money to the state) and

    I fully expect the richest people in the world to utterly hate both of them. That tells me there’s useful ideas in there.

  105. It boggles the mind to see here in the Boise area new shopping centers going up when there are already so many empty store fronts all over the place. Doesn’t make any sense unless someone is simply building now with cheap credit in anticipation of things all going to hell. Then have a buddy swoop in and pick it up for cheaper still. Wouldn’t surprise me.

  106. Great article which reflects our situation in small town (20,0000) Central Illinois except we did not experience such a great boom and therefore do not feel much of a bust. Incomes have greatly declined with exceptions and health insurance rates have greatly increased.

    Our largest and most profitable enterprise the local private non -profit (a joke) hospital (1500 employees) still has record earnings, record bonuses for administrators and doctors, and record fees. It receives all local, state, fed tax exemptions yet discloses nothing to public. Yes, the top 5% have it rigged.

  107. It is so sad to observe the current decline of once rich country. And it is even more sad to see how some people talk badly about the socialism, which they can´t even define. It is funny because more and more people submit to go to live to Canada, which has higher taxes. The worst thing I can see is the lack of any meaningful change. Political parties have almost no power and their expenses force them to play along the big businesses. Two year election term for Congress makes it a constant struggle among the political class to look, behave great. White teeth instead of new ideas, sexy housewives instead of any plans for the future. Who is able to predict anything in this country? Maybe the Chinese…

  108. Article picked up on LewRockwell.

    Nice job James! Kind of nostalgic reading your trip up my old commute from Pottstown to Plymouth Meeting. I assume the Trappe is still open. Bars are the last to go.

    On another note, kind of happy to be living in Wyoming at this point.

    1. Wyoming Mike – Formerly Arizona Mike – Formerly Pottstown Mike

      The Trappe Tavern is still alive and kicking. People still need to drown their sorrows with booze.


    City may sue developer who spent $20,000 to remove 40 tons of trash from vacant lot
    By Eric Pfeiffer

    A business developer in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Point Breeze is facing legal action after voluntarily cleaning up more than 40 tons of trash from a vacant lot neighboring his local business.

    As the old adage goes, no good deed goes unpunished. Ori Feibush says he visited the local offices of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority four times, sent in seven written requests and made 24 phone calls to the agency asking them to take care of a major eyesore: an empty lot next to his coffee shop was home to more than 40 tons of debris.

    Not only did the agency fail to act but it also denied Feibush’s offer to clean up the mess himself.
    But the Daily News reports that Feibush went ahead with his plans anyway, reportedly spending more than $20,000 of his own money not only to remove the trash but also to level the soil; add cherry trees, fencing and park benches; and repave the sidewalk.

    “This was a lot of garbage,” local resident Elaine McGrath told the paper. “Now it’s gorgeous. I’m excited.”
    However, the city agency was less excited, demanding that Feibush return the vacant lot to its previous condition and saying it is considering legal action against him.

    “Like any property owner, [the authority] does not permit unauthorized access to or alteration of its property,” Paul D. Chrystie, director of communications at the Office of Housing and Community Development told the paper. “This is both on principle (no property owner knowingly allows trespassing) and to limit taxpayer liability.”

    And the situation is not without irony. Feibush says he received a citation in August 2011 from the city for litter on the same lot that the city now points out is not his property. Nonetheless, the city’s request puts Feibush in an unusual position. In theory, he committed a good deed, investing his own time and money to improve the condition of his neighborhood when city authorities refused to step up to the plate. But he also knowingly did so after the city refused his request to intervene.

    The situation is almost like a reverse case of eminent domain, in which a private owner is attempting to revitalize a piece of public property.

    For his part, Feibush thinks the city agency is jealous.

    “For a private developer to create a garden, it’s a question of who gets credit. To do it without their blessing, you’re basically insulting them,” he said. “I’m not looking for a thank-you, but I’m not looking for a big F.U.”


  110. What I’m seeing is the banksta ass-sucking neo-cons about to get exactly what they been pining for ….WWIII

    I hope they well enjoy it..,.it”ll be their last.

    IRAN: Hundreds chant ‘Death to France,’ ‘Down with the U.S.’…
    IRAQ: PM condemns U.S. over YOUTUBE anti-Islam film…
    INDONESIA: U.S. consulate shut for second day amid protests…
    AFGHANISTAN: Hundreds chant anti-American slogans…

    U.S. Embassy Under Siege In Kabul
    U.S. Embassy in Tunis Engulfed in Black Smoke as Protests Rage
    US Embassy in Yemen stormed; protests spread through Muslim world

    Chinese protesters attack car of US ambassador in Beijing
    Anti-US Protests Spread to More Than a Dozen Countries – ABC News

  111. Yes, the bars will always do well, either from people celebrating with some drinks, or drowning their sorrows with some drinks – can’t lose.
    Here in Dallas, TX I am seeing somewhat empty Lowe’s and Home Depot parking lots, although not as bad as in the Northeast . Now, on the other hand our Walmart, on the weekends and after five on weekdays, is busy as hell with all the food-stampers buying tons o’ groceries. I guess that makes Walmart a government funded program.
    A big factor in storefronts closing is due to online commerce. I buy a lot of stuff online and have it shipped to my house via Ebay or Amazon, or if I want something really cheap I deal for it on Craigslist and go pick it up. Ebay, Amazon, and Craiglists made the second market takeoff – what you use to give to Goodwill you can now sell for a decent price. You can see the Corporate State trying to attack this second hand market now, with attempts to criminalize selling used items via copyright laws. The City of Dallas, Texas has attacked garage sales now by requiring purchase of $15 per garage sale license.

  112. Chris — you must be a Newbie. This is a place not for hope, but doom and gloom, and rightfully so.


    The state of the nation – violation!
    A broken promise is as good as a lie.
    The hell is humongous, the devil’s among us
    and we will burn because we won’t unite!

    What are we conceding for our freedom?
    Why does anybody think we need ’em
    I would rather fight,
    than let another die.
    We’re the problem,
    but we’re also the solution.

    If you want it come and take it from me.
    If you think you can, you still don’t know me.
    Let me tell you, man, when I said it, I meant it
    and I will always have the right to defend it.

    Fifty seconds, a hundred murders.
    The bill of rights is a bill of sale.
    What will you do when the war is over?
    What will you do when your system fails!?

    We have made the present obsolete.
    What do you want?
    What do you need?
    We’ll find a way,
    When all hope is gone!

    We’ve seen the fall of the elite,
    Bury your life, take your disease
    We’ll end the world,
    When all hope is gone!

    The wretched are the wounded,
    The hungry starve to death,
    In a place where no one goes,
    The air itself is a final breath,
    So discontinue, the anti-septic, care charade,
    As a cry of justice comes,
    A malignant fire fades.

    I am the reason your future suffers,
    I am the hatred you won’t embrace
    I am the worm of a pure gestation,
    I am the remedy, spit in my face.
    All your laws and rules are outdated,
    All your subjects are killing the kings,
    I can rattle off a million other reasons why,
    But does it matter when the only thing we love will die?

    We have made the present obsolete.
    What do you want?
    What do you need?
    We’ll find a way,
    When all hope is gone!

    We’ve seen the fall of the elite,
    Bury your life, take your disease
    We’ll end the world,
    When all hope is gone!

  113. I am a Christian libertarian and an adherent of the Austrian “school” of economics. I agree with much of the article and with many of the comments by readers. One reader spoke of Jesus Christ in a favorable way, but his comments received more unfavorable “votes” than favorable ones. However, most Americans do not know who Jesus really is. The book of John (fourth book of the Bible’s New Testament) section is a good place to start remedying that. Read it, pray for enlightenment, confess sins to God (rather than to another human), and ask God for mercy. Those things I did as a young man of nearly 22. The result? In answer to my repentant spirit and plea for mercy, God caused me to understand the gospel (“gospel” means “good news”) and to receive His “only begotten son” (John 3:16) as my savior. That was 54 years ago; yet, I have had no regrets about that heavenly transaction or the resultant, still occurring changes to my heart, mind, and life. “This is a trustworthy statement that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (I Timothy 1:15).

  114. Happy Texan

    Sometimes Jesus HIMSELF posts here, ususally as ‘Jesus, Son of God’. Believe it or not, he gets quite a few thumbs down. Tough crowd, is all I got to say.


  115. I’ve been out and about, placing door-hangers on homes for get Out the Vote effort. We canvassed a very upscale town. Lots of big homes, on big lots. Affluent.

    Yet, I’d say about 50% of the homes needed a really good power wash. Many of the homes have algae covering the stucco and vinyl siding. Lawns that were formerly pristine were overgrown.

    The town looked frayed, tired and shoddy. Just like our local economy.

    NJ is #2 in foreclosures and #1 in unemployment. Maybe someday we’ll be #1 in throwing all the bums out and starting over.

  116. Happy Texan: I’m a Christian. Here’s my blog I post to infrequently:
    But thanks for the encouragement.

    Administrator: “The economy is great and everyone’s happy. Plus everyone carries a gun. What’s not to like?” I’m also thinking seriously of moving to Texas. Working on selling the house right now. Your picture of the Norelco razor gave me a good chuckle. Thanks.

    Stucky: Yeah, I’m new. Lew Rockwell posted this article today so that’s how I got here. Thanks for the info. Love the reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Tough read. I admit I haven’t made it through it yet.

  117. I just turned 60. In the 1970s I was in my twenties and attended a State university. I was able to entirely support myself, maintain a couple of old cars, rent apartments and houses, and pay my tuition with no loans nor subsidies. I supported this by working as a waiter and bartender. I didn’t graduate in four years but then I took some time to travel and do other things.

    About a year ago I went to a restaurant and chatted with the waiter. Reflecting about the old days when I earned $11 per hour in the 1970s, the young man admitted he would quit his current job in a second if he could make that much today. I was stunned because that was a living wage in the 70s but a poverty level wage today.

    We had a higher standard of living which enabled a person to pursue dreams such as education, or maybe to be an artist or musician while paying the bills with part time work. Today only the rich kids can do what I did.

  118. Do you see what I see? “Are You Seeing What I’m Seeing” can be seen on today (Sept. 20, 2012) – Also see some of the Big A’s seasoned columns in LewRockwell’s columnists’ archives on that site.

    Not bad for a guy who wanted to chuck it all in a few weeks ago, huh?

  119. What I want to know is how/when all the goodies are going to run out. Is the government going to keep doling out unlimited SS, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. until we’re all so broke there’s no more money to take? Or will there be a major backlash against government spending when all the zombies wake up and realize they’re being parasitized? How long is change going to take?

  120. Suburban Sprawl isn’t dead; it’s just moving. It’s always been that as economies grow and die the support structure evolves and moves-often very quickly. While many communities may not transition to ski resorts-as the old western mining towns have done- the ones that attract current industries (like Irvine, CA )will continue to thrive, and build box stores to replace the ones going bankrupt in dying locations. Families with children thrive in the suburbs-as long as they exist-we’ll have them.

  121. Gonatly says, “… Families with children thrive in the suburbs-as long as they exist-we’ll have them…”

    As long as what exists, families, or the ‘burbs?

    Families will always exist – else nothing else matters, but the ‘burbs? I doubt it.

    The ‘burbs were created for a cheap-petroleum based world. One way or the other, that world is changing.

    Why wouldn’t the way we live change with it?

    What you have is called “normalcy bias,” look into it, I beg you.

  122. Diane, if we knew that, we would be too rich and busy to be hanging out here talking about it.

    Read “When Money Dies” if you see the Amazon link above, click on it, search and have a look.

    What I think will happen is that the cost/availability of items we need/use on a daily basis will become unreachable for many Americans, so the government will print a few trillion extra bucks and gift them out, which will make our money worth less, which will make things cost more and become more scarce, which will make the government print more worthless bucks, maybe add a few zeros to the end (like bread costing $3,000,000).

    Or not. We live in different times than Weimer Germany did.

    Take a deep breath, sleep on the info, decide to be an ostrich and go back to yesterday before you opened your eyes – and risk total destruction if the worst happens – or, take what you now see and go forth and find out how to protect you and your family – or at least try, whom truly knows if you can be prepared for something like this.

    Good luck to you Diane. And the rest of us too. Enjoy today, plan for tomorrow. That’s the best I can do for ya’. Maybe another member is willing to prognosticate more.

  123. The Khazars have taken over America. They forcefully took over Russia in the Bolshevik revolution and bankrupted it. Then Roosevelt gave them Eastern Europe in the Yalta agreements and they bankrupted that place. Then while they ravaged Eastern Europe the Truman Administration allowed many of them to come to America and they have bankrupted us. They control many high positions in government.

    They control the media and altered the historical record in our mainstream history books, and have over the years censored the truth to Americans so at this time many don’t know what has happened and blame the wrong circumstances. We call for America to wake up but how can people wake up when they have been deliberately misinformed all along?

  124. Thunderbird quit reading Mein Kampf, take off the tin foil hat and stay away from electronics. Your conspiracy bullshit isn’t going to cut it here.

  125. CHRIS: I’m glad that you were encouraged by my comments. You mentioned a blogsite, so I read some of what you posted there. You are in the household (Gal. 6:10). I’ll read more of your writings when I can. Happy Texan Jim.

  126. What I think is going on is a restructuring of American life, back to a time and way of living from around 1900. Smaller towns, smaller homes, jobs that don’t pay as much but more people are growing their own food and bartering for the things they need.

    I live in a smaller town in Nevada, hard hit if you believe the news by foreclosures. Yes, there are foreclosures, but the inventory of properties is actually quite small. People are moving in from the country closer in to town and on to 1/4 acre lots or bigger where they can grow gardens. They are moving into town and commuting around by bicycle. Barter and trade are getting to be a way of life. The photographer for my daughters wedding is being paid with a couple of gallons of home made Mead, as one example.

    And yes, some of the big box retailers are having it rough—good riddance! The local Lowes (only one in the area) is doing O.K., but the much smaller Ace hardware with it’s old time selection is much busier. These smaller businesses in my area are doing better, on average, than the big box stores. Folks are fed up with cheap goods and are buying quality, or they are having things repaired/refinished at a local shop. There are two cobbler and leather shops in the area, busy as they can be. There are at least four bicycle shops, and the repair sections are so busy they can’t hardly keep up.

    So yes, I see a bit of what you are seeing, but I also know just how resourceful Americans can be. There’s still plenty of us in our forties and up who know how to make do with skills taught us by our relatives who came through the Great Depression. The youngsters under forty are quick learners and they’ll also figure out how to survive. And if the dollar continues to decline, trade will continue in alternate currencies or in gold and silver while the dollar becomes irrelevent. It’s going to be a tough transition, but I have hope for the future.

  127. Pat,
    I agree with you. Opportunity is always out there but its much more difficult to take advantage of than back in the 70’s and 80’s. I graduated from high school in 73 and worked while I lived at home and split expenses with my mom for about two years. I started my business with $1800, an abundance of enthusiasm, near fanatical determination and a line of nave horseshit three miles long.

    It’s not just that wages today have not kept up. There are many regulatory obstacles that have been put in place over the past 30 years that have made the bar very high for anyone to be able to start off like we did. Much more debilitating than a lack of decent income. The regulations really protect no one that much but preform an anti competition function by blockading legal paths to funding projects with OPM.

    Today you could still put deals together with a relatively small amount of money but you would have to stay under the radar somehow until you can establish a good stream of income to afford the lawyers you will surely need and fines you might even have to pay. If they peg your ass too soon and you don’t have the cash to pay out and they will shut you down before you ever have a chance to make it.

    I don’t want to say it was all a cake walk back then but you did not have to walk through as thickly a laid minefield of probable almost unavoidable regulatory offenses or possible criminal charges.

    Also back then as long as you were running a tight ship and doing what you contracted to do the FED and State SEC just looked the other way if you had to bend a few rules here and there to get the deal done. Now they are the attack dogs for the securities dealers and investment bankers who are sent after anyone who dares to raise money on their own and cut the finance boys out of commissions, fees, charges, costs, and other expenses. Of course if you are a banker or securities dealer then the regulators still look the other way as much as they can even if you are running a crooked shop.

    Any more unless you have a five million or higher deal the bankers don’t want sell it because it’s to small for them to skim enough off to be worth it. Even five million might not get them too excited. So It’s damn hard to do deals that only cost a million or so unless the investment bankers can figure a way to jack it up four or five times The securities guy will tell you to fuck off with your puny deal but you can really get rat fucked by their government goons if you try to get your own investors for yor puny deal. This trend started to really set in during the 80’s. It’s the main reason I’ve have not gone back into my original field since I sold my business in 88 even though there have been several opportunities.

    Also the minimum net worth and income requirements have been raised by the FEDs and most states to the point where even many professionals and small business people who are the mainstay of local and small project investment no longer meet the financial requirements to buy into a private offering. This regulates investment opportunities to fewer people, keeps more projects without the securities dealer fluff pack off the street and channels more investment into manipulated registered wall street type offerings and the rigged stock market that allows anyone and everyone to invest.

    This is yet another way government is killing real investment with real risks and real rewards for smaller people and smaller guys who do the deals. Deals that make jobs and cause money to flow at the more local or non corporate banker levels. No one really talks about this that much, but I’m sure if you consider it nationally it’s a huge problem.

    If its a monetary transaction of any kind the Squids have found a way to get in on it and jack up the fees. Look at how much of our economy is biased on the financial industry. A good part of that is money could have been invested directly with lower costs probably with out any greater risk and much higher rewards by many more individuals. Why shouldn’t Joe Six pack be able to take a shot and put $500 or $1000 bucks in to some local real estate deal, and oil and gas well, convenience market, restaurant, titty bar or what ever if he wants to and why shouldn’t anyone who has the will and ability put together a deal they believe can work legally sell it to him. In the end after winners and losers everyone stands a better chance to profit than with the stock market or low interest savings schemes.

    Why is investment the domain of Banks, securities dealers and the very wealthy? Because they own the government maybe? We already have laws against fraud so whats the deal? If we need exchanges for some vehicles why don’t we have local or state exchanges that have no connection with wall street or the federal government to handle small investment projects or companies.

    More and more the investment opportunities are being locked up and limited by the securities people and the regulations they either author or block. If you are well connected or can get some help from someone who is then you can get still get around them with out much trouble. But few of us have those connections to start with. Most of us have to go out and find them and most of the ways to do that are illegal now and enforced in “the best interest of the public.” It does little to stop the scammers and probably to a large degree just channels them into the financial industry and then gives them a license. There may be fewer decent paying jobs but there are also fewer avenues for the people to make deals that create jobs and real main street economic activity.

  128. “abalama says:

    I was in a Lowes last week returning an item ; and the clerks were talking among themselves. I asked if I had heard right. They confirmed and complained that the manager was receiving a $20,000.00 bonus…………”

    Jealous much? Managing one of those stores is a large responsibility. How do you know the manager wasn’t working 60-80 hrs/week? 20K is not a huge sum of money for a yearly bonus. I like this site but just like, there are a lot of envious people that seem to frequent here.

  129. Bust up the golden calves, bust up the big banks, bust up the big corporations, bust up big government. We did not have those when the middle class was making a good wage and it was easy to go into business. When large sums of money are pooled together; as it is abundantly so today, and enter the market for investment it creates an unfair playing field. The big guy controls the local market (global corporations and big box stores) and drives every small guy out of business.

    Moses was angry when he came down from the mountain and saw the golden calf that the Hebrews made in the wilderness. He busted it up into rubble and had those responsible killed. Now our society is doing the same thing and we are wondering what went wrong that many can’t earn a descent wage? These golden calves of today are getting bigger and sucking all remaining wealth to themselves because their leverage in the markets have the power to do it. It is time to break them up before we become a plantation society with few owners and armies of economic slaves to them.

  130. Rob in Nova scotia:

    “quit reading Mein Kampf? conspiracy?”

    My uncle spent five miserable years in Siberia fighting for his country and died shortly after. My grandfather on my mothers side was stripped of his wealth by the soviet communists (Khazars) and my mother had to flee her country and ended up in America.

    You talk of conspiracy? You bet, it is a real conspiracy! Do some research. My aim is to warn America of what has been going on all these years since Roosevelt; to undermine us. I Love America and spent more than the usual time in the military defending her. The cold war is real. It never ended when the iron curtain went down. The Khazars are real and have been subverting this country since WW1.

    Take off your rose colored glasses and get an education.

  131. Graet article and great comments. At this point in history it is inconcievable to me, people can not comprehend the degree to which they have been decieived by the “Khazars”. But who am I to talk, I shot a President all by myself!

  132. Over the past 14 years, God Almighty has spoken to this ministry about America. Our president has defiantly contradicted Him, most recently at the World Trade Center on Flag Day. Here is the CNN account:

    Dateline New York World Trade Center worksite, 14 June 2012, Flag Day
    According to reporters at the scene, Obama wrote on the steel beam: “We remember we rebuild we come back stronger! Barack Obama”

    But here is what the Lord said just recently, and it corresponds to many similar things He has spoken over the years:


    Monday, 13 August 2012:

    “I am planning an immense fall for America, says the Lord, a fall that will desolate and amaze her people. I am sending America sliding over the cliff into financial ruin. America’s fall has only begun, and there are many more chapters to be written before the tale is told. I am bringing financial ruin to this nation. And when I am through, her wealth will be scattered and gone, and she will sell herself for a piece of bread.

    “Walk softly before Me in these days, says the Lord. For I am forming My people into My image even as I bring down America around you, says the Lord Who has mercy on you. Amen and amen.”

    On 13 September 2011, the Lord spoke these chilling words:

    “Defenses are futile against Me, says the Lord. When I am determined to fight against a nation, no power can overcome Me. I obliterate everything in which man trusts, and I do unto that nation as I please.

    “I am hammering your nation and destroying your defenses. I am undermining every vain thing in which you trust and bringing down every stronghold on which you rely. When I am done, a breath will bring you down, O America. Your destruction will be complete and will horrify the world. And I will not stop or turn aside until all My will is fulfilled, says the Lord of hosts this day. Amen and amen.”

    Notice the “a breath will bring you down” phrase. When we saw the reference in the article to “a gust of wind,” we knew what it meant. The author may not know the Lord, but the Holy Spirit has used people unawares many times, even in the New Testament, to speak His Words.

    For God’s perspective of what is going on in America, please read The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn. It will explain the whys and wherefores of the 9/11 attack and the Wall Street crash of 2008. It will also show clearly why there must be a bigger, more devastating stroke of God’s judgment on this nation. For that scenario, google A.C. Valdez. Then repent and call on the Lord Jesus for salvation. Amen.

  133. This is not going to be popular, but here it goes:

    People cry their jobs are being shipped overseas. But this is important to get through thick skulls => the American people did it to themselves.

    They won’t buy American because American products tend to cost a little more. Result: companies are FORCED to relocate to Asia, or else go out of business.

    Remember the “Live Better, Shop Walmart” saying? How did that work out for ya?

    Example: Vermont Tubbs snowshoes were once proudly made in Vermont. Not anymore. Why? Because Asian knock-offs were selling for 2/3rds the price so most Americans stopped buying the Tubbs brand.

    American purchasing habits forced Tubbs to move operations overseas. It was either that or go out of business because Americans were choosing the cheaper Asian-made product. Multiply that by a million other businesses.

    So your neighbors working in big box stores are a result of their own purchasing decisions! It caught up with them, driving their own jobs overseas and leaving only the sales positions (selling Asian products) in the USA big box stores.

    Corporations did not move jobs overseas => the actions of Americans did.

  134. Ron,

    Nice reasoning. You might be right.

    But I find it hard to blame Americans for wanting to save a few bucks, especially in this time of ever increasing wages and near zero inflation.

    1. Wal-Mart’s advertising campaign in the early 1990s revolved around them only selling products made in America. They could have maintained that policy and it would have been hugely beneficial to manufacturing in the U.S. as Wal-Mart quadrupled in size. They didn’t switch this policy until Sam Walton died.

      In the mid-1990s, Walmart had a “Buy American” campaign. Yet by 2005, about 60% of Walmart’s merchandise was imported, compared to 6% in 1995. In 2004, Walmart spent $18 billion on Chinese products alone, and if it were an individual economy, the company would rank as China’s eighth largest trading partner, ahead of Russia, Australia, and Canada. One group estimates that the growing US trade deficit with China, heavily influenced by Walmart imports, is estimated to have moved over 1.5 million jobs that might otherwise be in America to China between 1989 and 2003.

  135. Well, duh.

    Profit seeks cheap labor.

    And declining wages seek cheaper consumables.

    Its a race to Platocracy.

    Ewe Dammed iStupad Sheople.

  136. Thunderbird Have have one degree and three diplomas. So don’t worry about my education. As far as your grandparents I don’t fucking care if they broke rocks on the moon. You talk conspiacy bullshit please so provide facts. Better still please explain to everyone how this has anything to do with what was written by Admin.

  137. I was driving by a scrap yard today and saw that scrap prices are still at their all time highs. I was wondering if the whole world is slowing down why are junk prices still so high?

  138. You know, the root of all this was summed up about a century ago by an Englishman named Rudyard Kipling in a poem titled “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”. For your consideration…

    AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

    We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
    That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
    But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
    So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

    We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
    Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
    But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
    That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

    With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
    They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
    They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
    So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

    When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
    And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
    That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

  139. Rob in Nova scotia:

    No need to convince you. Already get your drift. Words are like shadows on the wall. Those that turn around and look at who is casting the shadows; and why, will see the truth.

  140. @Administrator: From about 1980 up to say 2008 CPI understated inflation because food and energy are not included. But from about 2008 CPI understated inflation because rents started to fall in say 2006 or 2007. The BLS still assumes rents are rising (OER component) but in the REAL world rents are falling.

    1. Apartment rents heading higher for 3rd year in a row
      By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY

      Apartment rents are expected to jump again this year as the U.S. economy creates more jobs and demand for rental housing grows.

      2012 increase would make the third straight year of rising rents. More annual increases are expected as apartment builders hustle to catch up with demand.

      “You could see 10 years of a strong apartment market,” says Ronald Johnsey, president of apartment market researcher Axiometrics.

      The firm, which surveys 20,000 properties a month, expects apartment rents to jump 5.5% in 2012. MPF Research sees a 4.5% increase, while researcher Reis expects a 3% increase, although that forecast may change, says senior economist Ryan Severino.

      Reis estimates rents rose 2.3% last year. Axiometrics says 4.4%, and MPF says 4.7%.

  141. For most small farms there never was a lack of work or things to do … from one season to the next. Each one of use should imagine ourselves trying to make a living on that basis … surviving by the
    sweat of our own efforts and the occasional contribution of a family member or an assistant, friend, hired hand or a fellow farmer. When we begin to think that this is hard work and go to town to get a job, we immediately lose our independence and self reliant nature. WE also go into a WORLD of greater dependence on each other and THE FEW GOOD JOBS THAT EXIST. Make no mistake about your expectations; if you are in the city, you are totally dependent on someone else for your survival.
    Your ability to save for the future becomes even more uncertain. Do you have a small farm or even a
    garden? Do you know how to grow your own food? Does your small plot of land have its own water
    source to nourish your garden/farm land? Living in the city allows us to ignore these minor
    considerations … going without in the city allows us more time to think how can I steal from my
    neighbor and that is where we are … No Farm/No Job … NO PLANS !!!

  142. Well, if rents are rising then these landlords are setting themselves up for a BIG disappointment. because more and more americans won’t be able to afford to those higher rents any more. Do combine that with government cutbacks and one has a recipe for disaster.

    In the region I live rents have been falling since early 2010. And those landlords that initailly refused to lower rents have seen their vacancy rates go up.

  143. Rob in Nova scotia says:

    “please explain to everyone how this has anything to do with what was written by Admin” that is, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

    Admin is seeing reality while we have and are being told not to believe what we are seeing. They use words with double meaning (shadows on the wall) to tell us everything is OK while they are eating us alive. I am saying, turn around and look at who is casting these shadows on the wall; and why. I point out one way to start your education in a very well documented book, “The Iron Curtain Over America,” by John Beaty. Then me lists the word “Khazar” for anyone to look up and find all the documentation and history of this word so people can begin to break through all the years of censorship the american public has endured so these people can hide their deeds in the layers of misinformation and word fog (propaganda) their controlled media spews out. One thing they did not count on is the openness of the internet to investigate and find the truth among all the misinformation.

    Admin is showing us the reality of a contracting economy. My comments are offering the why of our contracting economy. Let anyone who looks make their judgment of the validity of my comments. Facts are only points of view. My point of view is anti-communist. What’s yours?

  144. Khazars — Turks that converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages …. buffer state between the Islamic world and the Christian world …. Khazaria prevented Islam from significantly spreading north of the Caucasus Mountains … instrumental in the formation of capitalism … supposedly sculted the modern world to a remarkable degree …. supposedly they are the REAL Jews, while Zionists are fake Jews …… pretty much wiped out by 965.


    Fucking fascinating. Groovy shit. Conspiracies out the asshole. Did I mention … fucking fascinating?

    Whatever the fuck this has to do with Admin’s post will remain a mystery wrapped inside T-bird’s neurons. The rest of us will just have to try to fuckin guess what the hell he’s talking about … or, not. Fucking fascinating.

  145. Thanks Stucky for nice graphic. The only reason I originally called bullshit on Thunderbird was because he made allegation that Roosevelt’s deal with Stalin at Yalta was influenced by the Khazars. He made statement without any facts to back it up.
    Putting myself in Roosevelt’s shoes for a minute what choice did he have but accept deal laid out for him. Stalin had several million pissed off soldiers raping and pillaging there way across Europe and he needed to get them to stop somewhere around Berlin. The only other choice he had was to sue for peace with Hitler and start WW3.

    Anyway according to T-Bird we can blame everything (30 blocks of squalor, made in China junk at Wal-mart, sub-prime lending and on and on.) on the Khazars. I wonder how many in the welfare/moocher class can even point to Europe on a map let alone know of a group of people who by all accounts have dissappeared over a 1000 years ago.

    I still would like to thank Thunderbird at least now when I forget to take garbage out on Thursday I’ll have an excuse when wife asks me why I forgot.

  146. Very good Rob and Stucky. You just need to update your new education of the Khazars. The Khazar Empire was crushed by Russian and Byzantine forces and so they migrated all through Eastern Europe and Russia. In Russia the Khazars became known as the Bolsheviks, then when they took over Russia and converted it to the atheist Soviet Union they became communists. So Roosevelt’s deal with Stalin at Yalta was influenced by the Khazars; but under the name of communists.

    The Khazars are not related to the Jewish people by birth and are not descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Keep up the good work!

  147. Thunderbird you should have been drowned at birth. Roosevelt didn’t have a deal it was a fait accompli. The Khazars became the Bolsheviks. Oh my god he has spoken once again and not presented a shred of evidence. My fuck Thunderbird you are about the smartest person I have had pleasure of coming across. What the fuck did this cabal of world dominating losers do for 1000 years between getting crushed by Russia and Byzantium and taking control of Soviet Union in 1917. Oh I know they hid in caves to wait for their chance to seek power. And who cares from who they are descendant.

    Arguing with you is like trying to reason with HAL-9000 in 2001. The only solution is to pull the plug and watch the lights go out. Problem is I doubt very much if they were ever on to begin with.

  148. QE3 will lower the value of the dollar. In this way, it will increase inflation commodity and related inflation. However, general inflation may not occur. The best example is the Japanese economic stagnation due to government manipulation of low interest rates during the 10 plus years that has not dramatically increased general inflation. The basic reason is that demand for money (increased velocity of money) has remained low because demand for goods and services and investment has remained low. This is the same impoverishment of the most people due to excessive government intrusion in the economy that is occurring under the Obama administration. A real improvement in the economy will not occur until socialist economic and societal government policies are reversed. The signal for an improving economy will be increased net new business investment, not the phoney government investment proclaimed by socialists like Obama.

  149. In the last paragraph, I see, “A few powerful men have hijacked our economic, financial and political structure.” I’m wondering if people have considered that the structure might be part of the problem ? Hierarchical structure sucks in regards to the uneven distribution of power. The evil is in the imbalance, particularly at/close to the apex where we find the greatest assistance to “the greed factor”. Greed in of itself is harmless. It is only greed combined with the leverage of position that creates a problem for the rest. You cannot pour new wine into old wine skins.

  150. Rob, I am not arguing with you. I presented the path for looking into the truth of history. I don’t expect you to agree for your own reasons and bias; but it is there weather you like it or not.

    The “NOW” is formed by the past as the future will be formed by the “NOW” and the “PAST.” History paints the picture for those that want to know. Then there are those that don’t want the truth spoken.

  151. Thunderbird you are an idiot. I took your advice regrettably and read the Beaty rant. It can best be described as the coles notes version of Mein Kampf. How would I know this you ask well I read that fucking book too! If this helps let me peer into the gaping void between your ears than I have to go back to what Stucky said “a mystery wrapped inside T-bird’s neurons” and ask like he did the following question. What the fuck does this have to do with an empty parking lot at Lowes on a Saturday. Please don’t give me this passive aggresive condesending follow the path bullshit either. My ex-wife used to do that to me, it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

  152. Greetings and salutations Admin et al
    I can sincerely identify with the author here. I grew up in Blue Bell, Pa. A once shining example of an agrarian/equestrian countryside in the 60’s and 70’s. I had the benefit of an excellent education in Chestnut Hill and Pottstown. Within 20 years, however, “progress” could be distinctly measured by urban/commercial sprawl replacing farm land, and high property taxes converting once proud farming/equestrian estates into sub-divisions.

    In the years that followed, my tenure as a central banking policy “interpreter”, petroleum economist, and corporate underwriter, slowly but surely lifted the wool over my eyes. The rampant rage of mergers and acquisitions in the 80’s and 90’s, linear progression of technology molding business models, and regulatory/policy mandates convoluting the entrepreneurial spirit and robbing the citizenry blind became mind numbing.

    On my trips back to Blue Bell over the last 20 years, the people have become increasing despondent, businesses struggle, and conspicuous consumption is ever more prevalent. A sad state of affairs, indeed. And as the author points out, the real suffering is just only beginning.
    While the author is quite realistic in his assessment, I can only hope the citizens of this nation can come to their senses and identify those solutions that are in their best interest, starting with survival. The big question that remains, however, will they be allowed to do so? If they are not… the “Haves” will simply leave, with their money… and the “Have-Nots” will suffer an even greater economic demise.

  153. “What the fuck does this have to do with an empty parking lot at Lowes on a Saturday.” —- Rob in Nova Scotia


    1. Turkey
    2. Turkey folks covert to Judaism, circa 750AD, call themselves Khazars
    3. Joo Khazars cease to exist, circa 970AD
    4. Joo Khazars move to Bulgaria and surrounding nations
    5. Rename themselves Bolsheviks around 1917 for no real fuckin reason
    6. Lowe’s founded in 1946 by a Joo from Bulgaria
    7. Lowe’s stock in 2012 is crap.
    8. Lowe’s = turkey.

    Hope this helps.

  154. It is amazing how the thought patterns of certain different cultures of the past never change. The Muslims have their thoughts and beliefs and the Klazars had theirs coming from the Babylonian Talmud which they adapted. The Klazars changed their identity as they migrated into different parts of the world; including America where many of them Americanized their last names.

    A feature of the Babylonian Talmud is the many thousands of laws; some contradictory, about how people are supposed to live and conduct their lives. Isn’t it ironic how our laws here in this modern country are being used to tell us all how to live, down to personal details. Every year thousands of laws and ordinances are made that intrude into our lives. Where is God in all this?

    The subversion of America is not coming from truly American thought; but from the thoughts of immigrants wanting to change us. Thoughts passed on from generation to generation of foreign immigrants ending up in America.

    America began as a Christian nation with Christian thought and values. All these laws that intrude into our lives are foreign creatures. With Christian values we can live by grace. The ten commandments sum it up. All these other laws we now live under do not come from Christian values; they are man generated with all our human flaws ingrained in them. They are designed to give control to a few over the many.

  155. Okay at lunch today I promised I’d be civil to everyone for rest of week. Maybe Stucky can add something to this because I give up.

  156. @Mikael Olsson:

    Your conclusions and criticisms, based on your obviously Keynesian theories, just don’t hold water.

    “…Correlation is not causation. All the world didn’t leave gold standard at the same time.”

    Essentially, the world did leave the gold standard at the same time. In 1940, prior to Bretton Woods, the US held about 2/3 of all world government gold reserves. European countries had gone off the gold standard during WWI. When US left the gold standard in 1971, that left most of the industrialized world with fiat currencies backed by nothing but smoke and mirrors.

    … what happens when the population increases (or someone saves a lot of money) in a fixed currency system? Yes, obviously deflation.”
    A currency backed by something besides “faith & credit” doesn’t necessarily make it fixed. Gold, or other forms of real asset backing, can be produced and increased, so currency backed by those assets can be increased in amount also, even if the currency/commodity exchange rate is fixed. The growth of the money supply though, would be limited by the availability of the backing commodity, so growth is restrained by real production. Your statement that this “obviously” produces deflation is false. It would only lead to deflation if the supply of other goods/services for which the currency may be exchanged grows at a faster rate than the production of the commodity(ies) backing the currency.

    “Who does that benefit?”
    I assume you’re referring to deflation with your question, even though your assumption of deflation with a backed currency is wrong. Deflation benefits savers, i.e. those who postpone consumption, by making their labor, stored for future use in the form of money, worth more in goods/services at a later time. This is as it should be, in order to balance the human desire for immediate graitification with the human need to postpone some consumption in order to provide for a time in which they’ll not be able to produce enough daily labor to meet their needs (retirement). Saving also makes greater amounts of capital available for business and economic expansion, because that saved money is generally invested somewhere (banks, brokerages, etc.) by its owners until desired for consumption. Remember that people do not desire money – they desire the things money can buy. A greater supply of economic capital makes the production of desirable goods/services easier and less costly, until the price of those goods becomes too low to resist, thus rebalancing supply and demand.

    “What we have is over capacity. And no demand.”
    Wrong. If what you say was true prices would be falling. (They aren’t). People desire all the stuff they can get their hands on (demand exists) . They just can’t afford all they desire.

    “Because producers don’t need to hire.”
    Wrong again. It is people’s productive labor in one form or another that produces profit, so producers DO need to hire if they want to produce goods/services from which they may profit. They won’t do so however, if the likelihood of profit is curtailed by a high cost of production, and by a lack of saved capital that may be used to purchase the finished goods. Production costs are high in the US because labor demands are high, regulatory expenses are ridiculously high, and capital is being hoarded by the banks rather than loaned to businesses. (Why would banks loan to a business with default risk when they can loan to government at a perceived zero risk?)

    “How does a return to the gold standard fix that? Easy – it doesn’t.”
    Wrong once more. The return to a gold standard prevents the Fed from creating money from nothing. and giving the banking system money at 0% interest. If the banks can’t get money at 0% from the Fed, they’ll have to actually pay people a market rate of interest for deposits, that they can lend to earn a profit. The gold standard also prevents the government from borrowing until they’re blue in the face, because there would be a market rate of interest charged on borrowing that they couldn’t inflate away. The government would have to live within its means. Banks would have to lend to someone besides the government to make a profit. Business growth is fueled. Jobs are created.

    “How does gold standard work in a globalized economy – especially in a country running a trade deficit? Ow. Ow. Ow.”
    This was Nixon’s excuse for closing the gold window. Pure bull. Has eliminating the gold standard reduced the trade deficit? Hell, no. A backed currency works BETTER in a globalized economy than in a non-global one because nations with unbacked currencies would see their currencies become worth less when compared to a fully backed dollar. Our rising dollar would buy lots more great stuff than ever before, thus raising the US standard of living. Yes, other nations would find it more expensive to buy stuff produced in the US when priced in their own currencies, but they’d soon realize they’d rather have the “stuff” than the crummy unbacked currency of their own country. Don’t forget that it’s not money that makes you wealthy, it’s the “stuff”.

    “I fully expect the richest people in the world to utterly hate both of them. That tells me there’s useful ideas in there.”
    This is the most telling comment you made, and proves your bias, not your understanding of economics. Just because a given economic policy isn’t detrimental to those with money and “stuff”, doesn’t automatically make it good social policy.

  157. While much of everything here is right on, the entire blame cannot be foisted on others. It is you, the American consumer, that added much fuel to the fire and continue to do so.

    You ran to the internet and to big box stores, thus wiping out the small, community owned shops.

    It was you who bought everything you could not really afford, thus running up debt you didn’t need.

    It was you who bought things made overseas because they were cheaper or the newest electronic toy (al la the new i-phone 5, made overseas).

    Yes, the greedy pigs and bankers did their share, but if you want to see the equally bad offenders, go look into the mirror.

  158. DrJCA1: You are assuming the general public act on their intellect and reason… they don’t but rather act on emotion. This is why it is important that we have leaders with wisdom to lead the herd. Instead we have gangs of suited men with amoral criminal minds running everything.

    With a gold standard we are forced to spend within our means and save money for the high ticket items we desire. We are forced to build or purchase a small house at first and add to it or trade up later when we can afford it. We are disposed to purchase high quality durable goods that last a long time.

    Are we not seeing the demise of a plastic society built on fantasy rather than sound monetary policy?

    When the dust settles and the fiat currency fails we can rebuild with a solid foundation providing we no longer listen to the lies we are being fed by the current crop of politicians that sold us out for their own gain.

    Many of us have lot’s of stuff that we can trade or barter to get through the rough times when the currency fails and trade stops. We are rich with stuff. This country is the largest producer of food which we are lucky to have. When the currency fails all transactions will have to stop in the fiat dollar until other gold backed currency is created and distributed by the various States.

    Imports will slowdown to raw materials that we will have to pay for by gold. Deflation will at first be the norm until production at the local level increases. Demand will spar production which will create jobs… not from the corporations; which will be closed down, but from small business which will return.

    New silver and gold mines will open in the west (California, Nevada, Arizona) / because the demand will be there. New communities will come into existence due to the increase in mining in the inter-mountain states.

    the evil system in place that controls us at all levels of government cannot be maintained for much longer. We have been duped into believing that we need this system. We do not. This system rules by fear and the use of fiat money system. When this money system collapses it is all over for the wizards behind the curtain.

    In the past we had civilizations that thrived without electricity, computers, or the internet & iphones. I am not advocating that we go back to that as it is an advantage our civilization has over the past ones. I am just pointing out that a collapse of our corrupted system will not be the end of the world… and we can then build a better one.

    The young people have to take the ball and run with it.

  159. Thunderbird you forgot to mention we were on gold standard in 1929. However being a wise moral christian it must have just slipped your mind.

  160. Rob iNs calls Tbird out and forgot:

    George Carlin – “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

    and then proves the quote with the 1929 reference.

    Meanwhile, Dr~ loves aggregates and cannot see his reflection. Transylvania much?

  161. Novista!

    Where’ve you been? I was afraid the reaper caught you looking….

    Hey, your “Money In America” posts have me far ahead in a class. Except for a “progressive” undertone, as most classes have, I have been answering questions like a nerd. Prof was amazed someone knew what bimetalism was.

  162. @Administrator: I don’t believe the CPI graph, you posted earlier, because it doesn’t show the impact of falling commoditiy prices in the 2nd half of 2008 and the 1st half of 2009.

  163. Great article, but I would argue the problems are even deeper and there is a wider assignment of culpability that needs to be considered. It not just the .1%. Labor bears a large part in the current situation as well. This 11 percent fights innovation, encourages the belief in entitlement in its membership and has never embraced white color worker “college boys”. Like any political organization, union leadership is more interested in maintaining its head count and getting votes than any real interest in furthering middle class interests. And as bad as the Wall Street crowd is, the middle class and organized labor are not groups of children and I ask, where is their responsibility as it relates to our Republics decline.

    With 8 billion people, labor is a pure commodity. However skilled labor, in great shortage in the US, goes uncultivated by both the political system and Unions.

    Further issues with our future remains with college and our children’s academic choices. We saddle families with debt so our kids can be marketing and PR majors (who doesn’t like TV and shopping) instead of desperately needed skilled labor such as developers and engineers. More narcissism in the golden age of narcissistic pursuits.

    The final, untenable issue I would mention is simply put, the culture of us vs. them. The society is rife with criminal thinking, not just Wall Street. The overarching attitude is cheating – be it in the form of unethical financial policies, or cheating the clock at work and rigging overtime – is given moral cover throughout our society now as “the other guy started it”. We are not a homogenous people and increasing rob from each other with justification, because our neighbor started it. Short of something like WWII, we will continue our descent as a people, eating each other’s lunch.

  164. Novista have to thank you again for George Carlin quote it made my day. I just got done arguing with the boss’s son at work about how to layout a truss assembly drawing for shop expansion. Anyway I’m a drafter and have been for long time. He tried to explain to me how drawing should be done. Eventually I cried uncle after remembering the quote.

    Part of the reason I like coming to site like this is because Jim takes time to back up his observations with facts and charts. I am not an expert on economy but reading articles like the ones here gives me a chance to view current events with a camera eye. It has made slighly jaded about how society works. Part of the problem, I think, is the complete disconnect now between money and work caused by debt. I am currently working on a road project here in county of Antigonish, a distance of about 14km. Not sure what that works out to in miles but by the time all the bridges and new highway are completed we will have spent nearly 200 million dollars. My point is the county has less than 20,000 people living here and once you take away all the people too lazy, too old or too sick to work it doesn’t leave many left to pay for it. The standard response I hear from wonks in these parts is funding is coming from federal and provincial governments. As if that makes cost of road somewhat more palatable. Problem is every other one horse town in this country is trying to do same thing. There is no grand conspiracy just local vanities trumping common sense when it comes to spending money. I guess that in a nutshell sums up the insanity of world right now.

  165. Colma!

    I had a visit from my best friend that I last saw 40 years ago. Finally tracked him down with some clever googles late last year, and the outcome was he arrived first part of month and was here three weeks.Everything else went by the wayside, now I’m back.

    Glad my narrative history has proved useful for you; call me a cynic but I’m amazed the progressive prof knew what bimetallism was. Heh.

    I’ll have to catch up with the BR posts I missed.

    Rob in Nova Scotia

    LOL, the opportunity to launch that quote was too good to miss; wasn’t really a sideswipe at T-bird just an opportunity. STMs do that, nothing personal. And it proved its value. 🙂

    I see a thumb whore above and at the risk of being a blog whore, I ask if you perchance have seen my “Money in America” series here. No, I am not an expert on economics (is anyone?!) but I do careful research, thus a narrative.

    14 km = 8.7 miles. I’d say you got a bargain estimate, even with bridges to nowhere. Then again, I am not a civil engineer — or an uncivil one. Hmmm, some in my former field might disagree.

    Argh, the naive belief in ‘government money’ … it’s like, when they hang up the piñata, everybody wants a whack at it. Not many understand what money really is; a medium of exchange, yes, but in the final analysis, sound money is a measure of productivity. Go back to the barter days, and one comes to market with some corn, then needs to find someone who wants that commodity until you find someone and trade for something someone else wants -and- has what you really want.

    That’s where the ‘medium of exchange’ notion comes from. OTOH, if you come to the market with a ”need’ and no product, you’ll go away empty-handed. Unless you find the ‘kindness of strangers.’

    Meanwhile, a government produces nothing but dead trees and impediments to the productive and then taxes them to help the unproductive, wage pointless wars, subsidize cronies, shred that goddamn piece of paper on a daily basis, meddle in every aspect of life and generally manage to fuck up a wet dream. The one thing you can say is, they are consistent in their ineptitude.

  166. Novista you were only pointing out the obvious. As for the highway I suppose it is needed but when government cannot pay the bills it already has I find it hard to understand taking on more debt. You say government produces nothing the minister in charge of highways would disagree. There is a sign at beginning of road construction. The sign gives cost of project plus a line from the Minister of Infrastructure stating “Providing Good Jobs for Nova Scotians”. I laugh everytime I drive by it but it seems that I’m the only one that gets the joke. What’s a fella to do, I have to admit it is providing a job for me. I do worry about my unborn grand-children won’t be able to put food on table 30 years from now because of something I’m doing right now. However everything is buy now pay later so I should not be surprised that we are doing the same thing with jobs as well.

    I’ll have to check out the series and get up to speed on economy. I’m sure it will be better than last book I read. How do I go about getting a download. Cheers.

  167. Pet food sales are up 400% since 2001. [Type in “dog food sales” on the Google search line to see the charts.] That’s a consumer expense Administrator (selectively) forgot to chart. My guess is that bicycle sales and Goodwill Stores sales are up too. The three are indicative of strong food, transportation, and soft consumer goods sales which make up the lion’s share of the consumer market.

    As for my own personal experience, costs for yard maintenance, cleaning help, and servants are stable. Country club dues have declined. Spending by my friends is still strong. New cars, second homes, and travel are all eminently affordable. As I see it the economy is robust.

    I think the Administrator needs to take a different route to work. If, when the Schuykill is blocked , he took the right turn instead of toward those who choose to be left behind, the Administrator would have a much different view of the world. And as for the charts he presents, we all know how easy it is to lie with statistics.

  168. I look down at the Progressives who desperately need ‘the rich’ to pay their fair share (never defined) as they look up with anger tinged with envy.

    I look at Elizabeth “the rest of us” Warren with her faux populist rhetoric and her ranking in the 1%.

    I think of those below the poverty line and wonder what they think as they look up.

    And I look with the third eye and see a number of Cyclops.

  169. From ICSC SCTWeek 9 28 12 – I’m not buying it

    ICSC predicts 3% Christmas sales rise, 8.8M hirings
    U.S. Christmas sales during November and December will increase 3 percent over last year’s season, according to ICSC. Shopping center sales will hit $463 billion, up from $454 billion a year ago. Issues affecting sales for better or worse are improving housing values, rising gas prices and the presidential election, notes Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and vice president of research. GAFO (General Merchandise, Apparel and Accessories, Furniture and Other Sales) retailers themselves are helping boost sales by hiring 8.8 million seasonal workers, up 0.4 percent from a year ago, according to ICSC Research. Underscoring the continued strength of brick-and-mortar retailing over Internet sales, the survey by Philadelphia consulting firm Hay Group found that 74 percent of these workers will work in stores and 12 percent in distribution centers. To help with the Christmas rush, Kohl’s is adding 52,000 seasonal jobs (10,000 more than last year), Walmart is creating 50,000 (slightly more than last year), and Toys ‘R’ Us will hire 45,000 (up by 5,000 from a year ago). Some of these jobs will translate into permanent employment, according to Hay Group — Target retained 30 percent of its seasonal workers last year, the firm says, and Toys ‘R’ Us kept 15 percent.

  170. I really enjoy reading your articles, always on point. I wrote a song that kind of echoes this sentiment exactly. I put it to a beat but I am working with a musician to create an even better production. If anyone is interested, check out my feature video on my youtube channel, I would love to hear what you think.

    Here’s the lyrics:

    Armed with knowledge I enter the lair of a corrupt system feeling quite laissez faire,
    A free market army is guarding my back, as the mainstream media begins their attack,
    silver and gold are my weapons of choice, backed by the power of the truth in my voice,
    My only chance for change is to awaken the masses,
    It’s time to take off all your rose colored glasses.

    There’s nothing at stake, except the future of man,
    and all our bought leaders, they don’t have a plan,
    they just know there’s profit in a war with Iran,
    All men of good conscience must join me and stand.

    Stand for your right for individual choice,
    stand for your right to listen to any voice,
    stand for your right to protect your family,
    stand for your right to protest peacifully,
    stand for your right for personal privacy,
    stand for your rights, because the people are we.

    Filled with fury, the further I go, deeper down the rabbit hole, I find our true foe,
    It came from Jekyll island in the dark of the night
    the very creature our forefather’s did fight.
    A central banking system owned by the elites
    wholly owned governments chained at their feet.
    Their shackles of debt enslave the populations,
    as their financial con games bankrupt our nation.

    When bankers are gangsters, and lobbyists rule,
    and they buy politicians, who just become tools,
    to the corporate interests and the bubbles they blow,
    and the government wants you to be too dumb to know,
    all the ways that they steal the bread off our table,
    and when you point it out, it’s a fantastic fable,
    but knowledge is golden, ain’t that right Pony Boy,
    and I know too much to share in the medias joy,
    when they all point out that our economies fine,
    Please don’t ask questions, just get back in line,
    But anger is just when it is righteous, enough is enough, let’s get off the back of the bus,
    let liberty serve us, defend our constitution, there’s no time like right now
    to start a revolution.

  171. I’ll be really pissed if they close the Lowes-I was just there today. Not very crowded like you said. I have noticed some nice low income rental unit going in closer to home :). Aside from banks and pharmacies, not much going on in the area over the past few years.

  172. I just gave up on this country 4 years ago, packed my bag with what little i had left and moved to costa rica. things are better here.


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