Warfare, Welfare, and Wonder Woman – How Congress Spends Your Money

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Posted on 21st January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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By: Ron Paul | Sun, Jan 19, 2014

Supporters of warfare, welfare, and Wonder Woman cheered last week as Congress passed a one trillion dollar “omnibus” appropriation bill. This legislation funds the operations of government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Wonder Woman fans can cheer that buried in the bill was a $10,000 grant for a theater program to explore the comic book heroine.

That is just one of the many outrageous projects buried in this 1,582 page bill. The legislation gives the Department of Education more money to continue nationalizing education via “common core.” Also, despite new evidence of Obamacare’s failure emerging on an almost daily basis, the Omnibus bill does nothing to roll back this disastrous law.

Even though the Omnibus bill dramatically increases government spending, it passed with the support of many self-described “fiscal conservatives.” Those wondering why anyone who opposes increasing spending on programs like common core and Obamacare would vote for the bill, may find an answer in the fact that the legislation increases funding for the “Overseas Continuing Operations” — which is the official name for the war budget — for the first time since 2010. This $85 billion war budget contains $6 billion earmarked for projects benefiting Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and other big defense contractors.

Ever since “sequestration” went into effect at the beginning of last year, the military-industrial complex’s congressional cheering session has complained that sequestration imposed “draconian cuts” on the Pentagon that will “decimate” our military — even though most of the “cuts” were actually reductions in the “projected rate of growth.” In fact, under sequestration, defense spending was to increase by 18 percent over ten years, as opposed to growing by 20 percent without sequestration.

Many of the defenders of increased war spending are opponents of welfare, but they are willing to set aside their opposition to increased welfare spending in order to increase warfare spending. They are supported in this position by the lobbyists for the military-industrial complex and the neoconservatives, whose continued influence on foreign policy is mystifying. After all, the neocons were the major promoters of the disastrous military intervention in Iraq.

While many neocons give lip service to limiting domestic spending, their main priority remains protecting high levels of military spending to maintain an interventionist foreign policy. The influence of the neocons provides intellectual justification for politicians to vote for ever-larger military budgets — and break the campaign promises to vote against increases in spending and debt.

Fortunately, in recent years more Americans have recognized that a constant defense of liberty requires opposing both war and welfare. Many of these Americans, especially the younger ones, have joined the intellectual and political movement in favor of limiting government in all areas. This movement presents the most serious challenge the bipartisan welfare-warfare consensus has faced in generations. Hopefully, the influence of this movement will lead to bipartisan deals cutting both welfare and warfare spending.

The question facing Americans is not whether Congress will ever cut spending. The question is will the spending be reduced in an orderly manner that avoids inflecting massive harm on those depending on government programs, or will spending be slashed in response to an economic crisis caused by ever-increasing levels of deficit spending. Because politicians are followers rather than leaders, it is ultimately up to the people what course we will take. This is why it is vital that those of us who understand the dangerous path we are currently on do all we can to expand the movement for liberty, peace, and prosperity.

THE NEW NORMAL?

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Posted on 25th October 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Our government and financial “leaders” tell us that things are back to normal and we are well on our way to economic recovery. They report rising GDP, declining unemployment, and record corporate profits. The legacy media propaganda machines, controlled by corporations dependent upon the government and Wall Street to funnel them advertising dollars in return for reporting falsehoods and mistruths, have been informing the masses that all is well. Just go back to staring at your iGadgets and tweeting your every thought to your followers, because the best and brightest in D.C. and Wall Street have it all figured out. The new normal is here to stay.

I guess my interpretation of normal deviates slightly from our glorious leaders’ definition. During the long-term bond bull market, from 1982 until 2007 the 10 Year Treasury steadily declined from 16% to 5%. This was normal because inflation declined at the same rate. Inflation declined from 13% to 3% over this same time frame according to the BLS. In reality, measuring inflation as it was measured in the 80′s and early 90′s would have yielded an inflation rate closer to 6% in 2007. During the decade prior to 2007, which consisted of supposedly strong economic growth, the 10 Year Treasury ranged between 4% and 7%. Even during the 2001 recession, it never dropped below 3.5%.

In a normal world an investor in a 10 Year Treasury bond would require a yield 2% to 3% above the rate of inflation. If the yield was below the rate of inflation they would be guaranteed to lose money. Only a fool, Federal Reserve chairman, or a CNBC bubble headed bimbo would buy a bond yielding less than the inflation rate. The BLS reported inflation rate has been between 2.1% and 3.2% over the last two years. Over this time frame, the 10 Year Treasury  yielded 2% or below until the threat of tapering reared its ugly head this past summer. Would this happen in a normal free market? If things are back to normal, why aren’t supposedly free markets acting normal? The Chinese and Japanese reacted normally. They stopped buying Treasuries with a real negative yield.

The only fool willing to buy negative yielding Treasuries is none other than Ben Bernanke. He thinks they are the investment of a lifetime. He is so sure they are a can’t miss investment, he buys $2.5 billion of them per day, which just so happens to be the government deficit per day. Ben now has $3.8 trillion of bonds on his books, versus $900 billion in 2008. His balance sheet is leveraged 60 to 1, versus the 30 to 1 of Lehman and Bear Stearns prior to their implosions. When even the hint of reducing bond purchases from $85 billion per month to $75 billion per month caused 10 Year rates to jump from 1.5% to 3% in a matter of weeks, you realize how “normal” our economy and financial system is functioning.

If our financial system was functioning normally and free market capitalism was allowed to operate according to true supply and demand, the 10 Year Treasury would be yielding 4% to 5% and 30 year mortgage rates would be 6% to 7%. Think about that for a minute. This scenario was normal from 2002 through 2007. That is what normal looks like. Now open your eyes and observe what your owners are telling you is normal. The slight increase in mortgage rates from 3.5% to 4.5% has brought the Wall Street buy and rent housing recovery scheme to it knees. Imagine if mortgage rates were allowed to rise to their true market rate. Housing would collapse in a heap.

Allowing Treasury rates to adjust to a true market rate, based on true inflation, would double or triple the annual interest expense on the $17 trillion national debt and blow a gigantic hole in Obama’s already disastrous $1 trillion annual deficits. Does this sound like “normal” to a rational thinking human being with the ability to understand simple math? Luckily, there are very few rational thinking Americans left and even fewer with the ability to understand simple math. We have been programmed to believe rather than think. As long as the stock market continue to rise, then everything is normal.

Do you think Ben Bernanke and his cohorts at the Federal Reserve worry about the average person who doesn’t own stocks, has to fill up their gas tank, feed their kids, make the mortgage, auto, and credit card payments, and figure out Obamacare, while working two part time jobs? Quantitative Easing (MONEY PRINTING) has one purpose and one purpose only – to further enrich the owners of the Federal Reserve – Wall Street banks. The .1% own most of the stocks in this country and their greed and avarice can never be satisfied.

This artificial prosperity plan for Wall Street has the added benefit of allowing the captured politicians in Washington D.C. to continue their $1 trillion per year deficit spending with no consequences for their squandering of future generations’ wealth. Bernanke and Yellen will never taper, because they can’t. The Fed balance sheet will continue to grow by at least $1 trillion per year until they crash the financial system again. Except this time, there will be no money printing solution. We are all trapped like rats in this monetary experiment being conducted by evil mad scientists. No one will get out alive. Welcome to the new normal. Now eat your cheese.

YEAH – THEY’RE WORKING FOR YOU

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Posted on 20th August 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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I’m sure the hundreds of multi-millionaires slithering through the halls of Congress are looking out for the best interests of the common man. They are the status quo working on behalf of the status quo. Click the link below if you want the details about Issa, Feinstein, Pelosi, Rockefeller, and the rest of the snakes in Congress.

 

Issa tops The Hill’s 50 Wealthiest

By Kevin Bogardus and Megan R.  Wilson – 08/20/13 04:55 AM  ET

The chief inquisitor of President Obama’s White House is now Congress’s  richest man.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) saw his fortune  rise to at least $355 million in 2012, enough to take the crown on The Hill’s 50  Wealthiest list.

Issa, who made his riches with the Viper car security system, snatched the  No. 1 spot away from Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who came in second with a  net worth of at least $101 million.

Thirty-seven of the lawmakers on the list are from the House, with the  remaining 13 coming from the Senate.

While several high-profile lawmakers are among the wealthiest — including  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — most of the  leading contenders for the White House in 2016 missed the top 50.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2012,  reported a minimum net worth of $2.3 million, while conservative star Sen. Ted  Cruz (R-Texas) posted wealth of $1.5 million.

Two other rising GOP stars, Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.),  reported more modest financial means. While Paul’s wealth stood at about  $455,000, Rubio was in the red with a negative net worth of roughly  $190,000.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) stood out among possible 2016  hopefuls with a minimum net worth of $88.5 million, good enough for third place  on The Hill’s list.

Two other Democrats in the 2016 discussion, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)  and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), fell on opposite ends of the financial spectrum.  While Warren reported a portfolio worth at least $3.9 million, Gillibrand was  barely in the black with a net worth of $166,000.

The Hill’s Wealthiest list bid farewell to some familiar faces this year.

John Kerry — a perennial contender for richest lawmaker thanks to his wife’s  ties to the Heinz ketchup fortune — left the Senate this year to serve as  President Obama’s secretary of State.

Ex-Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and another  regular on the list, decided to retire after last year’s election.

And the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who was the first full-time  salesman for the payroll processing company Automatic Data Processing, died in  2013.

Taking their place are several lawmakers who are serving their first terms on  Capitol Hill.

Among the new additions is Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose $15.2 million  showing continues the tradition of having a wealthy member of the Kennedy clan  in Congress.

Other first-timers include Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), a former Microsoft  executive with wealth of at least $23.9 million; Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a  former businessman with $22.3 million; and Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), a former  tech entrepreneur with at least $9.2 million.

Other lawmakers earned a spot on the list after their assets climbed skyward.

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) saw his share in Kentucky and Tennessee farmland and real estate spike, helping to give him a net worth of $8.2 million. Rep. John Fleming’s (R-La.) wealth was $10.7 million in 2012 after his holdings in franchise development and properties soared in value.

But it’s Issa who stands as king of Capitol Hill, thanks in no small part to  the removal of $100 million in liabilities from his balance sheet on his 2012  form.

Issa listed several investment funds among his assets, including some that  are worth more than $50 million each. He also has properties valued in the  millions of dollars.

Before coming to Congress, Issa was a successful chief executive who founded  Directed Electronics and served as chairman of the Consumer Electronics  Association.

The runner-up on the list, McCaul, owes much of his wealth to family trusts.  His wife, Linda, is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications founder Lowry  Mays.

To come up with its rankings, The Hill used financial disclosure forms  covering the 2012 calendar year. The reports are not perfect, because they  provide value ranges instead of exact figures.

The Hill adds up the low figures in each value range for every asset and  liability. Then, the sum of a lawmaker’s liabilities is deducted from the sum of  his or her assets to calculate a minimum net worth.

Some lawmakers provide lengthy bank statements or investment reports with  their annual financial statements. The Hill uses exact figures when  possible.

The methodology is designed to provide a conservative estimate of a  lawmaker’s worth, and it’s likely that many lawmakers, such as Issa and McCaul,  are wealthier than their reports indicate.

Read more: http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/317429-the-hills-50-wealthiest-lawmakers-#ixzz2cWbdZAwZ Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

THE GREAT POSTAL FRAUD

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Posted on 13th April 2013 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“One of the things the government can’t do is run anything. The only things our government runs are the post office and the railroads, and both of them are bankrupt.” – Lee Iaccoca

You may have heard that the U.S. Post Office lost $16 BILLION last year. You may also have heard that Congress snuck a requirement into a bill that had nothing to do with the Post Office, mandating that they must deliver on Saturdays, even though eliminating Saturday delivery would save the Post Office $2 BILLION per year. Congress evidently can’t read a financial statement or interpret a chart. I’m sure the trends detailed on this chart will reverse themselves shortly.

While reading an editorial today supporting the Post Office in its efforts to save money by eliminating Saturday delivery I saw another MASSIVE LIE perpetuated by the MSM and the government.

Here is the Orwellian statement:

“The U.S. Postal Service is an independent governmental agency that doesn’t take taxpayer funds.”

This is complete and utter bullshit. This statement also described Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until 2008. They were just little old independent government agencies helping out the housing market – until the shit hit the fan!!! Then they became albatrosses around the necks of the American taxpayer. You own them now. They have lost $200 billion of your tax dollars, and will lose billions more before all is said and done.

You can access the U.S. Post Office financial statements online. Here is their December 2012 report:

http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/financials/financial-conditions-results-reports/fy2013-q1.pdf

The honesty of the people writing this report is refreshing. They essentially admit they are BANKRUPT and unable to meet their financial obligations. In other words, a truly INDEPENDENT entity admitting they can no longer operate. How is this for honesty:

“The Postal Service continues to suffer from a severe lack of liquidity. The Postal Service held total cash of $2.9 billion and $2.3 billion as of December 31, and September 30, 2012, respectively, and had no remaining borrowing capacity on its $15 billion debt facility (See Note 3, Debt, for additional information). The increase in cash balances for the quarter is largely attributable to the seasonal impact of holiday mailings, along with additional revenue resulting from this year’s political campaign and elections. Cash balances generally decline during the remainder of the fiscal year, as revenue is not as strong in the remaining quarters. By the end of this fiscal year, the Postal Service projects it will have a liquidity balance that will be less than its average weekly expenses of $1.3 billion. This low level of available cash means that the Postal Service will be unable to make the $5.6 billion legally-mandated prefunding of retiree health benefits due by September 30, 2013. Further, this level of cash could be insufficient to support operations in the event of another significant downturn in the U.S. economy.

Through the three months ended December 31, 2012, the Postal Service has suffered 5 quarters of consecutive net losses and net losses in 14 of the last 16 quarters. The net loss of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of the year included $1.4 billion of expense accrued for the legally-mandated prefunding payment for retiree health benefits. The requirement of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Public Law 109-435 (P.L. 109-435) to prefund its retiree health benefit obligations, a requirement not shared by other federal agencies or private sector businesses, plus the precipitous drop in mail volume caused by changes in consumers’ uses of mail, have been the two major factors contributing to Postal Service losses since the recession ended in 2009. Without structural change to the Postal Service’s business model, it will continue to be negatively impacted by these factors and, absent legislative change, it anticipates continuing quarterly losses for the remainder of 2013.”

The politicians that are mismanaging this country use governmental accounting fraud to cover-up the fact that the obligations of this bloated pig of an operation are going to be paid by YOU, the taxpayers of the United States. Today, none of the past, current, or future liabilities of this INDEPENDENT GOVERNMENT AGENCY are reflected in the Federal budget projections or the National Debt calculation.

Do YOU want to know how much YOU really owe? Brace yourself.

  • In the past six years they have lost $41 BILLION and they have a cumulative deficit of $36 billion. How many INDEPENDENT organizations can run up deficits of $36 billion without going out of business? YOU are on the hook for these accumulated deficits, just like you were on the hook for all of the Fannie and Freddie backed toxic mortgages.
  • The Post Office will lose another $10 to $15 billion this fiscal year. You will be on the hook for that too.
  • They have $15 billion of debt on their balance sheet, with $9.5 billion payable in the next 9 months. How will this INDEPENDENT government agency that is losing $16 billion per year pay off $9.5 billion? They won’t. The government drones will pass a bill in the middle of the night extending the terms with no cash flow requirements or expectation of repayment. I wonder if I can get a loan like that?
  • The really interesting stuff is buried on page 42 of their report. I wonder why it is all the way back there? In addition to their $15 billion of debt, they have another $70.5 BILLION of unfunded future obligations. The two biggest are:
    • $33.9 Billion of payments for pension and health benefits for retirees, all due within the next 5 years. It’s not cheap providing gold plated benefits to government workers.
    • $25 billion for workers compensation and sick leave payments. Yikes!!! It must be all that stress, because the mail never stops. It keeps coming and coming. It’s almost enough to make someone go postal, or at least file a stress related workers comp claim.

This really sounds like a promising story. Mail volumes continue to plummet. Someone should tell Congress the internet age has arrived. The Post Office has thousands of money losing, unneeded outlets. It has 637,000 employees when it only needs 300,000. Over 70% of Americans favor ending Saturday delivery, so Congress passes a law making that impossible to implement, ensuring $2 billion more losses per year. That’s par for the course. Over 70% of Americans were against passing TARP too. And according to your leaders in Washington, and parroted by the MSM, you are not on the hook for their losses.

It’s beyond laughable, but so is most of what is going on in this tragedy of a country, disguised as a comedy. The truth is that you are on the hook for the $36 billion of accumulated deficits, the $85 billion of debt and contractual obligations, and the annual $16 billion losses they continue to pile up. But what’s $120 to $150 billion among friends? Bennie can print that out of thin air in a few days. Why run an operation efficiently at a surplus, when you can keep hundreds of thousands of union government drones employed (until they go on workers comp) by sticking it to the working American taxpayer. I sure hope I don’t get a visit from the Postmaster General because of this article.

 

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS – PART TWO

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Posted on 29th September 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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It is not easy to destroy the greatest empire in the history of mankind. The 20th Century was the American Century, but as with all empires, the combination of hubris, monetary debasement, imperial overreach and delusional overconfidence have set in motion the inevitable downfall of the American Empire. The policies, decisions, beliefs, and institutions implemented over decades have led the country to the threshold of financial disaster. Based on my observations, a catastrophic combination of demographics, fiat currency debasement, titanic levels of debt, smothering taxation, power in the hands of the few and Wall Street greed have led us to peak Empire. It will be downhill from here as we experience collapse, revolution and ultimately, retribution for the guilty and presumed guilty. I have already addressed the Baby Boomer generation’s contribution to our current plight, to the delight and accolades of Boomers across the land in For a Few Dollars More – Part One. The Boomers were a victim of their size and the timing of their arrival on the scene of empire collapse. Their delusions of debt based wealth and me first attitude could not have been satiated without the creation of the Federal Reserve and the institution of the personal income tax in 1913.

“When a man’s got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace.” – Joe – Fistful of Dollars

 

“Every town has a boss.” – Joe – Fistful of Dollars 

In the Old West of the 1800’s, before the creation of the Federal Reserve, money in your pocket meant gold or silver. If Joe were to repeat that line today, he would change it slightly:

“When a man thinks he’s got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate the good things in life like McMansions, BMWs, government provided retirement, government provided healthcare, and delusions of ever increasing wealth.”

Man made inflation is a glorious invention for the men who invented it. For the people who deal with it every day, not so much. Joe knew that every town had a boss. If you didn’t know who the boss was in the United States of America before 2008, you know now. Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States is the boss of this town.

Crony Capitalism Pays for the Cronies

Without Federal Reserve intervention in the financial markets since September 2008, the biggest banks in the world would have entered bankruptcy liquidation. The U.S. economy would have experienced a 10% to 20% fall in GDP. The unemployment rate would have soared above 15%. The stock market would have fallen 70%. Wealthy bondholders and stockholders would have seen their wealth cut in half. Incumbent politicians would have all been thrown out of office. The richest Americans, constituting the ruling class, would have borne the brunt of the pain.

In a true capitalist system, organizations and people who assumed too much risk and made poor decisions would have failed. But the United States does not have a capitalist system. We have a corporate fascist economic system where a small cartel of bankers, military weapons suppliers, and mega-corporations set the agenda for the country through their complete capture of politicians and the mainstream corporate media. At the height of the crisis in 2008, President George Bush revealed whose side he chose:

“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system, to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse. I feel a sense of obligation to my successor to make sure there is not a, you know, a huge economic crisis. Look, we’re in a crisis now. I mean, this is — we’re in a huge recession, but I don’t want to make it even worse.”

George Bush was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was not trying to save the free-market system, because we didn’t have a free market system. He was saving his fellow billionaires under the cover of saving the average American. Bush knew as much about saving our economic system as he knew about when to declare mission accomplished in Iraq. He turned the task of saving the free market system over to his multi-billionaire Goldman Sachs Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson and the real boss of Washington DC, Ben Bernanke. These noble American patriots proceeded to save the top 1% richest Americans on the backs of the American middle class. They did it under the guise of keeping the country out of a Depression. Those who committed the crimes and destroyed the worldwide financial system not only didn’t get punished, they were enriched by the actions of Paulson and Bernanke. This entire sordid chapter in the history of the American empire from 2008 until the imminent collapse, sometime before 2015, will leave future historians dumbfounded at the utter insanity and foolishness of the decisions that were made during the death throes of the empire. Not only did George Bush not save the free-market system, but he drove a stake thru its heart.

To boil the entire 2008 financial collapse down to one word, it would be: DEBT.

Three decades of ever increasing levels of consumer, corporate, and government debt eventually led to an unprecedented implosion. It was as predictable in 2008, to those who understand the fiat monetary system, as it was to Ludwig von Mises decades ago: 

 “There is no means of avoiding a final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”    

Federal Reserve – Destroyer of Worlds

The 2008 crash and the 1929 crash were manmade disasters. Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke created the atmosphere and conditions that led to the risk taking by bankers, home buyers and consumers. Monetary expansion, excessively low interest rates, the Greenspan/Bernanke Put, disinterest in regulation, and pandering to politicians allowed the party to get out of control. Taking away the punch bowl never crossed their mind. The Federal Reserve is controlled by the major Wall Street banks. These banks were partnerships until the 1980s, with partners personally liable for the actions of their banks. Excessive risk taking meant possible personal bankruptcy. Once they became corporations, excessive risk meant excessive compensation for the executives, with the downside being borne by the shareholders.

But that wasn’t enough. The executives were large shareholders, so they convinced the Federal Reserve to bail their corporations out whenever they made bad bets. It was a sweet deal if you were a banker. Knowing their lackeys at the Fed had their back, the goliath Wall Street banks used their power and wealth to convince the SEC to waive the 12 to 1 leverage rules so they could leverage their balance sheets 40 to 1. This meant that a 5% loss in their capital and they would be insolvent. The Harvard MBA CEO titans of the financial world created the housing bubble through their creation of fraud inducing mortgage products, a bewildering array of derivative products that even their MBA geniuses didn’t understand, and betting against the derivatives they were selling to their clients. When this toxic brew of fraud and debt exploded in their faces, the value of the assets on their books plunged by 30% to 40% in 2008 and 2009. The 10 biggest financial institutions in the country were effectively bankrupt. An orderly bankruptcy liquidation that wiped out the bondholders, stockholders and top executives was the solution to excessive risk taking and failure.  

This was an unacceptable solution to the billionaire class that owns half the financial wealth in the country. The President was a multi-millionaire. The Treasury Secretary was a billionaire. There were 250 millionaires in Congress. The top executives of the banks that own and control the Federal Reserve are multi-millionaires. The owners and talking head pundits of the mainstream media are all in the billionaire/millionaire class. The cover story used to bilk $700 billion from middle class taxpayers into the coffers of Wall Street mega-banks was that if we didn’t hand over the loot, the financial system would collapse and a Great Depression would ensue. Every program, policy, and rule change that has been rolled out since September 2008 by the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and Congress has benefitted billionaires, bankers, and politically connected corporations. The Federal Reserve has printed over $2 trillion out of thin air to save the billionaires that have been pillaging the middle class for decades.

The Federal Reserve bought $1.25 trillion of toxic mortgages from Wall Street, allowed these banks to borrow at 0%, threatened the FASB into suspending mark to market accounting so banks could fake the value of their loans, instructed banks to rollover commercial real estate loans as if they weren’t really worth 40% less than the value on their books, and rolled out $600 billion of QE2 in order to create a stock market rally, benefitting their billionaire constituents. The $800 billion stimulus program was shoveled to the corporate friends (contributors) of Congressmen across the land. Cash for Clunkers benefitted government owned car companies. The home buyer tax credit and changing loss carry back rules benefitted mega home builders. Every one of these deeds enriched bankers and billionaires while further impoverishing the working middle class. Real middle class wages continue to fall, unemployment remains near record levels, real inflation in food and energy is running above 10%, senior citizens haven’t gotten a Social Security increase in two years, savers are getting .25% on their savings, home prices continue to fall, and future generations will be stuck with the bill for the billionaire bailout.

The standard of living for the average American continues to fall. Real household income is lower than it was in 1999. The only reason it increased in the 1980s and 1990s was the huge influx of women into the workforce. Two earners were needed to try and maintain a constant standard of living. Real average weekly earnings are lower today than they were in 1970, even using the government bastardized CPI calculation that has been so massaged since 1982 that it has only resulted in a happy ending for government bureaucrats at the BLS. Calculating the CPI exactly as it was calculated in 1980 reveals the truth of what the Federal Reserve has wrought on working class America, a drastic decrease in their standard of living. The insidiousness of Federal Reserve created inflation has sucked the life out of the middle class and enriched the cocktail party class.

Real Average Weekly Earnings

The stealth transfer of wealth from the working middle class to the richest in our society was done through convincing the middle class that buying things with debt made you richer. This delusion was sold by the billionaire owned corporate mainstream media and peddled by billionaire bankers to the masses through credit cards, “creative” mortgage products, easy access to home “equity”, auto leases, and easy financing products. Only in a society where a fiat currency could be printed by a central bank with no requirement that it be pegged to an anchor such as gold, could such a staggering amount of debt be accumulated.

Delusions of Debt

The bill that has been rung up is in the form of a national debt that has increased by $4.6 trillion since September 2008, a 48% increase in two and a half years. Over this same time frame real GDP has increased by $200 billion, a 1.6% increase in two and a half years. Over this same period, the Federal Reserve has tripled their balance sheet by adding $2 trillion of debt. Think about this for one second. The leaders of the great American empire have burdened future generations with $6.6 trillion of new debt and increased the Gross Domestic Product by $200 billion. Is this a good return on investment? Did the 30 million unemployed and underemployed Americans benefit? Did the 45 million people on food stamps benefit? Did the 11 million households who are underwater in their mortgage benefit? Did the 3 million people who lost their homes in foreclosure since 2008 benefit? Are Americans paying twice as much for groceries and gasoline benefitting? Did the Tunisians, Egyptians, and other poor people around the world benefit?

The answer to all these questions is NO. The only beneficiaries have been bankers, billionaires, mega-corporations and the politicians who were bought off by these greedy traitors to the Republic. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows the country got into this mess due to the issuance of mountains of debt that was un-payable based upon any reasonable assessment of future cash flows to service the debt. Consumers could never have increased their wages enough to pay off the credit card, mortgage, home equity, student loan, and auto debt they accumulated since 1980. The government could never collect the amount of taxes needed to pay for the $100 trillion of entitlement promises they have made over the last four decades. By 2008 we had reached peak debt delusion.

The only questions that remained were how would the debt be defaulted on and who would bear the brunt of the default. The Federal Reserve Chairman and the U.S. Treasury Secretary rolled out a master plan that revolved around convincing the masses they were being saved, while actually enriching their masters on Wall Street. Their PR machine and captured mouthpieces throughout the mainstream media and in Congress spun the fear mongering message of Depression if the mega-banks were not handed trillions of taxpayer funds.

The proof of what did not happen is borne out in the chart below, showing the total credit market debt in the U.S.at $52.6 trillion, $200 billion higher than it was in 2008. If those who had collected billions in fraudulent profits while using unprecedented levels of debt were rightfully required to take responsibility for the catastrophe they caused, the debt levels would have dropped dramatically. The losses would have been borne by those responsible. The economy would have taken a body blow, all Americans would have been hurt, and many billionaires would have become millionaires or even paupers. The debt would have been written off and lessons would have been learned. The remaining banks (there are 8,000 others besides the 10 who control 50% of the deposits) would have followed traditional risk mitigation methods and the economy would have recovered.

But, as you can see, debt was not written off. No bankers were harmed during the making of this fake recovery. No criminal bankers were prosecuted. No government drones took responsibility for their failure. While the masses were distracted by stimulus packages, mortgage moratoriums, Obamacare and reality TV, the debt was shifted from the criminally negligent banks to you. The proof is right on the Federal Reserve website for all to see:

  • Financial institutions reduced their debt from $17.1 trillion in 2008 to $14.2 trillion today.
  • The Federal & state governments increased their debt from $8.7 trillion in 2008 to $11.9 trillion today.
  • The GSEs (Fannie, Freddie, Sallie) increased their debt from $3.2 trillion in 2008 to $6.4 trillion today.
  • Corporations increased their debt from $7.0 trillion in 2008 to $7.4 trillion today.
  • Household debt declined from $13.8 trillion in 2008 to $13.4 trillion as the Federal Reserve backstopped the write-off of $600 billion of bad debt by the banks.

Over $6 trillion of toxic debt was shifted from the insolvent financial industries to the middle class taxpayers under the guise of “Saving the System”. Bad debt does not become good by shifting it to taxpayers. The story line about Americans embracing austerity is false. Household debt rose from $8 trillion in 2000 to $13.8 trillion in 2008, a 72% increase, and has declined by 3% due to write-offs, not austerity.

Champion of the Middle Class

By extending the debt, shifting it to the taxpayer and pretending it is payable, the Federal Reserve and your government have chosen, to use its weapon of choice since inception in 1913 – INFLATION, to default on the debt. It is not a new tactic, it is their only tactic.

The Federal Reserve has slowly and methodically destroyed the American middle class through relentlessly printing more money and purposefully creating inflation, since its reprehensible creation in 1913. For the last three decades only one voice in the wilderness of Washington DC has fought this banking cabal.

“Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, middle and working-class Americans have been victimized by a boom-and-bust monetary policy. In addition, most Americans have suffered a steadily eroding purchasing power because of the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies. This represents a real, if hidden, tax imposed on the American people.

From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the seventies, to the burst of the dotcom bubble last year, every economic downturn suffered by the country over the last 80 years can be traced to Federal Reserve policy. The Fed has followed a consistent policy of flooding the economy with easy money, leading to a misallocation of resources and an artificial “boom” followed by a recession or depression when the Fed-created bubble bursts. In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to stand up for working Americans by putting an end to the manipulation of the money supply which erodes Americans’ standard of living, enlarges big government, and enriches well-connected elites, by cosponsoring my legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve.” – Ron Paul – Sept 10, 2002

His colleagues in Congress did not stand up to the Federal Reserve in 2002. Instead, they cheered them on as Greenspan’s ultra loose monetary policy led to the greatest housing bubble in history and a financial collapse unparalleled in human history. As the collapse was hurdling down the track in 2006, Representative Paul once again rose in protest against an organization that is rapidly destroying the American dream.

“The coming dollar crisis is not likely to be “fixed” by politicians who are unwilling to make hard choices, admit mistakes, and spend less money. Demographic trends will place even greater demands on Congress to maintain benefits for millions of older Americans who are dependent on the federal government.

Faced with uncomfortable financial realities, Congress will seek to avoid the day of reckoning by the most expedient means available – and the Federal Reserve undoubtedly will accommodate Washington by printing more dollars to pay the bills. The Fed is the enabler for the spending addicts in Congress, who would rather spend new fiat money than face the political consequences of raising taxes or borrowing more abroad.

The irony is that many of the Fed’s biggest cheerleaders are the same supposed capitalists who denounced centralized economic planning when practiced by the former Soviet Union. Large banks and Wall Street firms love the Fed’s easy money policy, because they profit at the front end from the resulting loan boom and artificially high equity prices. It’s the little guy who loses when the inflated dollars finally trickle down to him and erode his buying power. Someday Americans will understand that Federal Reserve bankers have no magic ability – and certainly no legal or moral right – to decide how much money should exist and what the cost of borrowing money should be.” – Ron Paul – July 11, 2006

The dollar crisis is upon us. Congress and President Obama are avoiding the day of reckoning. The Federal Reserve is enabling profligate spending by politicians, while at the same time enriching their masters on Wall Street. Everything being done in Washington DC seems to be the exact opposite of what should be done. I think the fable of the scorpion and the frog describes our situation best. The scorpion asks a frog to carry him across a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it stung, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and the scorpion stings the frog during the crossing, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature. The Federal Reserve is printing money, creating inflation, enriching billionaire bankers, and dooming the country to certain collapse because that is its nature.

My intentions have been foiled again. I realize that my attempt to put our current economic predicament into perspective will now need to be a five part series. . For a Few Dollars More addressed the Baby Boomer impact on America’s decline. A Fistful of Dollars examined how the Federal Reserve’s actions over the last few decades have impoverished the middle class and has placed the country at the brink of collapse,   The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly will address the nefarious creation of a central bank and the implementation of a personal income tax in the dreadful year 1913. Outlaw Josey Wales will scrutinize the looting of America by a small group of powerful, connected, super rich men lurking in the shadows, but pulling the strings on our puppet politicians. Lastly, Unforgiven  will detail the impending collapse of our economic system and the retribution that will be handed out to the guilty.

I can’t wait to see how it ends.

THE FRAUD & THEFT WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES

61 comments

Posted on 7th May 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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The BEA reported the latest figures for personal income, personal consumption expenditures and the savings rate last week. The government mouthpieces in the mainstream media obediently reported that personal income and expenditures reached an all-time high in March. The chart below shows the ever increasing level of expenditures by consumers since this supposed economic recovery began in the 4th quarter of 2009. All good Keynesian economists know that consumer spending is always good for America, no matter how it is achieved. We must be in a recovery if income and spending are reaching new highs, right? That is the fraudulent storyline being propagandized to the non-questioning lapdog public. A false storyline and data that has been massaged harder than a Secret Service agent by a Columbian hooker will not lead to a happy ending. Some critical thinking, a calculator, and some common sense reveal the depth of the fraud and expose the theft being committed by the avaricious governing elite at the expense of the prudent working middle class.

 

Digging into the data on the BEA website to arrive at my own conclusions, not those spoon fed to a willfully ignorant public by CNBC and the rest of the fawning Wall Street worshipping corporate media, is quite revealing. It divulges the extent to which Ben Bernanke and the politicians in Washington DC have gone to paint the U.S. economy with the appearance of recovery while wrecking the lives of senior citizens and judicious savers. Only a banker would bask in the glory of absconding with hundreds of billions from senior citizen savers and handing it over to criminal bankers. Only a government bureaucrat would classify trillions in entitlement transfers siphoned from the paychecks of the 58.4% of working age Americans with a job or borrowed from foreigner countries as personal income to the non-producing recipients. How can taking money from one person or borrowing it from future generations and dispensing it to another person be considered personal income? Only in the Delusional States of America.

If you really want to understand what has happened in this country over the last forty years, you need to analyze the data across the decades. This uncovers the trends over time that has led us to this sorry state of affairs. The chart below details the major components of personal income over time as a percentage of total personal income. It tells the story of a nation in decline and on an unsustainable path that will ultimately result in a monetary collapse.  

               
 

1970

1980

1990

2000

Apr-08

2010

Mar-12

Total Personal Income

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

Wages & Salaries

66.1%

60.2%

56.7%

56.2%

52.7%

51.9%

51.8%

Interest Income

8.3%

12.1%

15.5%

11.6%

11.2%

8.2%

7.4%

Dividend Income

2.9%

2.9%

3.5%

4.5%

6.5%

5.8%

6.2%

Government transfers

8.5%

11.3%

11.7%

12.2%

14.3%

17.9%

17.3%

It is always fascinating to compare data from 1970, prior to Nixon closing the gold window and allowing bankers and politicians to print and spend to their hearts delight, to present day. The chart above paints a picture of a nation of workers and savers descending into a nation of parasites and spenders. Any rational person knows that income comes from one of two methods: working or investing. A country can only grow by working, saving, investing and living within its means.  Money taken from workers and investors and transferred to the non-working and spenders is NOT INCOME. It is just redistribution from producers to non-producers. The key takeaways from the chart are:

  • Working at a job generated two-thirds of personal income in 1970 and barely half today. This explains why only half of Americans pay Federal taxes.
  • One might wonder how we could be in the third year of a supposed economic recovery and wages and salaries as a percentage of total personal income is lower than pre-crisis and still falling.  
  • Government transfers have doubled as a proportion of “income” in the last forty years. The increase since 2000 has been accelerating, up 122% in 12 years versus the 55% increase in GDP.  The slight drop since 2010 is the result of millions falling off the 99 week unemployment rolls.
  • Luckily it is increasingly easy to leave unemployment and go on the dole for life. The number of people being added to the SSDI program has surged by 2.2 million since mid-2010, an 8.5% increase to 28.2 million people. Applications are swelling with disabilities like muscle pain, obesity, migraine headaches, mental illness (43% of all claims) and depression. Our leaders have set such a good example of how to commit fraud on such a grand scale that everyone wants to get a piece of the action. It’s like hitting the jackpot, as 99% of those accepted into the SSDI program (costing $132 billion per year) never go back to work. I’ve got a nasty hangnail. I wonder if I qualify. I’d love to get one of those convenient handicapped parking spaces. Once I get into the SSDI program I would automatically qualify for food stamps, a “free” government iPhone, “free” government cable and a 7 year 0% Ally Financial (85% owned by Timmy Geithner) auto loan for a new Cadillac Escalade. The SSDI program is now projected to go broke in 2016. I wonder why?    

 

  • A nation that rewarded and encouraged savings in 1970 degenerated into a country that penalizes savers and encourages consumption. The government, mainstream media, and NYT liberal award winning Ivy League economists encourage borrowing and spending as the way to build a strong nation. Americans have been convinced that borrowing to appear successful is the same as saving and investing to actually achieve economic success.
  • Americans saved 7% to 12% of their income from 1960 through 1980. As Wall Street convinced delusional Boomers that stock and house appreciation would fund their luxurious retirements, savings plunged to below 0% in 2005. Why save when your house doubled in price every three years? Americans rationally began to save again in 2009 but Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy put an end to that silliness. Why save when you are being paid .15%? Buying Apple stock at $560 (can’t miss) and getting in on the Facebook IPO (PE ratio of 99) is a much better bet. The national savings rate of 3.8% is back to early 2008 levels. I wonder what happens next?

 

  • The proportional distribution between interest and dividends which had been in the 3 to 4 range for decades is now virtually 1 to 1, as Ben Bernanke has devastated the lives of millions of poor senior citizen savers while continuing to subsidize his wealthy stock investors buddies on Wall Street.

Now for the bad news. The Baby Boom generation has just begun to retire en masse. Government transfers will automatically accelerate over the next decade as Social Security and Medicare transfer payments balloon. Government transfer payments have already increased by 3,250% since 1970, while wages and salaries have increased by 1,250%. The non-existent inflation touted by Ben Bernanke accounts for 590% of this increase. We have passed a point of no return. As the number of Americans receiving a government EBT into their bank account grows by the day and the number of working Americans remains stagnant, the chances of a politician showing the courage to address our un-payable entitlement liabilities is near zero. Americans choose to deal with problems in a reactive manner rather than a proactive manner. Until the next inescapable crisis, the fraud and looting will continue until morale improves. 

 Billions of $

1970

1980

1990

2000

Apr-08

2010

Mar-12

Total Personal Income

$835

$2,257

$4,852

$8,548

$12,457

$12,361

$13,328

Wages & Salaries

$552

$1,358

$2,750

$4,800

$6,565

$6,413

$6,905

Interest Income

$69

$272

$753

$989

$1,397

$1,012

$984

Dividend Income

$24

$65

$169

$381

$810

$723

$821

Government transfers

$71

$256

$570

$1,041

$1,786

$2,217

$2,312

 

A Few Evil Men

“Every effort has been made by the Federal Reserve Board to conceal its powers, but the truth is the FED has usurped the government. It controls everything here (in Congress) and controls all our foreign relations. It makes and breaks governments at will… When the FED was passed, the people of the United States did not perceive that a world system was being set up here… A super-state controlled by international bankers, and international industrialists acting together to enslave the world for their own pleasure!” – Rep. Louis T. McFadden

  

The largest fraud and theft being committed in this country is being perpetrated by the Central Bank of the United States; its Wall Street owners; and the politicians beholden to these evil men. The fraud and theft is being committed through the insidious use of inflation and manipulation of interest rates. The biggest shame of our government run public education system is their inability or unwillingness to teach even the most basic of financial concepts to our children. It’s almost as if they don’t want the average person to understand the truth about inflation and how it has slowly and silently destroyed their livelihood while enriching the few who create it. Converting the chart above into inflation adjusted figures reveals a different picture than the one sold to the general public on a daily basis. Even using the government manipulated CPI figures from the BLS, the ravages of inflation are easy to recognize.

Billions of Real $

1970

1980

1990

2000

Apr-08

2010

Mar-12

Total Personal Income

$4,937

$6,261

$8,569

$11,374

$13,304

$13,007

$13,328

Wages & Salaries

$3,264

$3,767

$4,856

$6,387

$7,011

$6,748

$6,905

Interest Income

$408

$754

$1,330

$1,316

$1,492

$1,065

$984

Dividend Income

$142

$180

$298

$507

$865

$761

$821

Government transfers

$420

$710

$1,007

$1,385

$1,907

$2,333

$2,312

CPI

38.8

82.7

129.9

172.4

214.8

218

229.4

Total wages and salaries have risen by only 112% on an inflation adjusted basis over the last 42 years. This is with U.S. population growth from 203 million in 1970 to 313 million people today, a 54% increase. On a real per capita basis, wages and salaries rose from $16,079 in 1970 to $22,060 today, a mere 37% increase in 42 years. That is horrific and some perspective will reveal how bad it really is:

  • The average new home price in 1970 was $26,600. The average new home price today is $291,200. On an inflation adjusted basis, home prices have risen 85%.  
  • The average cost of a new car in 1970 was $3,900. The average price of a new car today is $30,748. On an inflation adjusted basis, car prices have risen 33%.
  • A gallon of gasoline cost 36 cents in 1970. A gallon of gas today costs $3.85. On an inflation adjusted basis, gas prices have risen 81%.
  • The average price of a loaf of bread in 1970 was 25 cents. The average price of a loaf of bread today is $2.60. On an inflation adjusted basis, a loaf of bread has risen 76%.

In most cases, the cost of things we need to live have risen at twice the rate of our income. This data is bad enough on its own, but it is actually far worse. The governing elite, led by Alan Greenspan, realized that accurately reporting inflation would reveal their scheme, so they have been committing fraud since the early 1980s by systematically under-reporting CPI as revealed by John Williams at www.shadowstats.com:

       

The truth is that real inflation has been running 5% higher than government reported propaganda over the last twenty years. This explains why families were forced to have both parents enter the workforce just to make ends meet, with the expected negative societal consequences clear to anyone with two eyes. The Federal Reserve created inflation also explains why Americans have increased their debt from $124 billion in 1970 to $2.522 trillion today, a 2000% increase. Wages and salaries only rose 1,250% over this same time frame. Living above your means for decades has implications.   

 

The country, its leaders, its banks and the American people should have come to their senses after the 2008-2009 melt-down. Politicians should have used the crisis to address our oncoming long-term fiscal train wreck, the recklessly guilty Wall Street banks should have been liquidated and their shareholders and bondholders wiped out, the bad debt rampant throughout the financial system should have been purged, and American consumers should have reduced their debt induced consumption while saving for an uncertain cloudy future. These actions would have been painful and would have induced a violent agonizing recession. It would be over now. We would be in the midst of a solid economic recovery built upon reality. Iceland told bankers to screw themselves in 2008. They accepted the consequences of their actions and experienced a brutal two year recession.

    

The debt was purged, banks forced to accept their losses, and the citizens learned a hard lesson. Amazingly, their economy is now growing strongly. This is the lesson. Wall Street is not Main Street. Saving Wall Street banks and wealthy investors did not save the economy. Stealing savings from little old ladies and funneling it to psychopathic bankers is not the way to save our economic system. It’s the way to save bankers who made world destroying bets while committing fraud on an epic scale, and lost.

Despite the assertion by the good doctor Krugman that there are very few Americans living on a fixed income being impacted by Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy, there are actually 40 million people over the age of 65 in this country that might disagree. There are another 60 million people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old rapidly approaching retirement age. We know 36 million people are receiving SS retirement benefits today. We know that 49 million people are already living below the poverty line, with 16% of those over 65 years old living in poverty. Do 0% interest rates benefit these people? Those over 50 years old are most risk averse, and they should be. Despite the propaganda touted by Wall Street shills and their CNBC mouthpieces, the fact is that the S&P 500 on an inflation adjusted basis is at the same level it was in 1996. Stock investors have gotten a 0% return for the last 16 years. The market is currently priced to deliver inflation adjusted returns of 2% over the next ten years, with the high likelihood of a large drop within the next year.

Ben Bernanke’s plan, fully supported by Tim Geithner, Barack Obama and virtually all corrupt politicians in Washington DC, is to force senior citizens and prudent savers into the stock market by manipulating interest rates and offering them no return on their savings. A fixed income senior citizen living off their meager $15,000 per year of Social Security and the $100,000 they’ve saved over their lifetimes was able to earn a risk free 5% in a money market fund in 2007, generating $5,000 or 25% of their annual living income. Today Ben is allowing them to earn $150 per year. From the BEA info in the chart above you can see that Ben’s ZIRP has stolen $400 billion of interest income from senior citizens and prudent savers and dropped it from helicopters on Wall Street. This might explain why old geezers are pouring back into the workforce at a record pace. Maybe Dr. Krugman has an alternative theory.

          

Another doctor, with a penchant for telling the truth, described in no uncertain terms the depth of the fraud and theft being perpetrated on the American people (aka Muppets) by Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve, their masters on Wall Street, and the puppets in Washington DC:

“We are not doing very well. The economy is just coming along at a snail’s pace. The first quarter numbers that we just got last week were not very good at all. The GDP number was 2.2%. That was a disappointment, but you know, it was all automobiles. 1.6 out of the 2.2 was motor vehicle production. So, people were catching up after not being able to buy them the year before. So, this is a very weak economy… I think the real danger is that this is a bubble in the stock market created by low long-term interest rates that the Fed has engineered. The danger is, like all bubbles, it bursts at some point. Remember, Ben Bernanke told us in the summer of 2010 that he was going to do QE2 and then ultimately they did Operation Twist. The purpose of that was to make long-term bonds less attractive so that investors would buy into the stock market. That would raise wealth and higher wealth would lead to more consumption. It helped in the fourth quarter of 2010 and maybe that is what is helping to drive consumption during the first quarter of this year. But the danger is you get a market that is not with the reality of what is happening in the economy, which is, as I said a moment ago, is really not very good at all.” – Martin Feldstein

The entire bogus recovery is again being driven by subprime auto loans being doled out by Ally Financial (85% owned by the U.S. government) and the other criminal Wall Street banks. The Federal Reserve and our government leaders will continue to steer the country on the same course of encouraging rampant speculation, deterring savings and investment, rewarding outrageous criminal behavior, purposefully generating inflation, and lying to the average American. It will work until we reach a tipping point. Dr. Krugman thinks another $4 trillion of debt and a debt to GDP ratio of 130% should get our economy back on track. When this charade is revealed to be the greatest fraud and theft in the history of mankind, Ben and Paul better have a backup plan, because there are going to be a few angry men looking for them.

Henry Ford knew what would happen if the people ever became educated about the true nature of the Federal Reserve:

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”  



 

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

135 comments

Posted on 18th March 2012 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Americans have an illogical love affair with their vehicles. There are 209 million licensed drivers in the U.S. and 260 million vehicles. The U.S. has a higher number of motor vehicles per capita than every country in the world at 845 per 1,000 people. Germany has 540; Japan has 593; Britain has 525; and China has 37. The population of the United States has risen from 203 million in 1970 to 311 million today, an increase of 108 million in 42 years. Over this same time frame, the number of motor vehicles on our crumbling highways has grown by 150 million. This might explain why a country that has 4.5% of the world’s population consumes 22% of the world’s daily oil supply. This might also further explain the Iraq War, the Afghanistan occupation, the Libyan “intervention”, and the coming war with Iran.

Automobiles have been a vital component in the financial Ponzi scheme that has passed for our economic system over the last thirty years. For most of the past thirty years annual vehicle sales have ranged between 15 million and 20 million, with only occasional drops below that level during recessions. They actually surged during the 2001-2002 recession as Americans dutifully obeyed their moron President and bought millions of monster SUVs, Hummers, and Silverado pickups with 0% financing from GM to defeat terrorism. Alan Greenspan provided the fuel, with ridiculously low interest rates. The Madison Avenue media maggots provided the transmission fluid by convincing millions of willfully ignorant Americans to buy or lease vehicles they couldn’t afford. And the financially clueless dupes pushed the pedal to the metal, until everyone went off the cliff in 2008.

America is proving itself to be insane as described by Albert Einstein:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The 2008 cataclysm was created by the voracious greed and avarice of Wall Street, sustained by corrupt politicians in Washington, non-existent regulation by banking regulators, Federal Reserve easy money policies, unspoken guarantees of Fed bailouts if Wall Street excess risk taking blew up, and millions of delusional Americans with an unlimited credit line. Excessive debt created the problem. Adding debt is the present solution to the problem. And the accumulation of debt will lead to a tipping point that destroys the U.S. dollar and topples the Great American Empire.

This spiral of government sponsored debt financed debacles has shockingly accelerated as we have supposedly been experiencing an economic recovery for the last two years. The 2008 financial meltdown was the result of too much debt peddled to too many people who never had the means or intentions to repay the debt. The Wall Street peddlers of debt didn’t care if it got repaid because they had already packaged it, bribed Moodys and S&P to rate the toxic garbage as AAA, and sold it to their “clients”. Then they made derivatives bets that it wouldn’t be repaid and raked in billions more as their Ponzi scheme unwound. There was just one problem with their master plan. The Wall Street titans made their derivate weapons of mass destruction so complicated and confusing that their own evil organizations of Harvard MBAs didn’t understand them. Enough hubristic CEOs existed at enough financial firms (AIG, Lehman, Bear Stearns, Citicorp) to bring the entire system crashing down as the toxic derivatives intertwined every major institution in the worldwide banking cabal.

What has happened since those dark days of 2008 is mind blowing in its epic proportions and epic stupidity. To quote Doug Casey, “Not only haven’t we done the right thing, we’ve done the exact opposite of the right thing.” It is absurd and ultimately suicidal to cure a debt disease by administering massive doses of more debt. But that is exactly what those in power have done. The National Debt has risen from a $9.7 trillion to $15.6 trillion, a 61% increase in three and a half years, while our real GDP has grown by $244 billion, a 1.9% increase. Not exactly a fabulous return on investment. But at least there are 7 million less people employed today than there were at the peak in 2008. Plus, senior citizens and middle class savers have seen $450 billion of annual interest income they were earning in 2008 pilfered from their savings accounts and handed to the Wall Street banking elite through Ben Bernanke’s ZIRP.

The Federal Reserve has tripled their balance sheet (actually your liability) from $950 billion to $2.9 trillion. Various other Federal government controlled bureaucracies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA) have stealthily subsidized hundreds of billions in losses on behalf of the criminal Wall Street banks. Other Federal government run agencies (BLS, BEA, CBO) exist solely to massage, manipulate, misuse, and malign economic data and financial projections in order to muddle, misinform and mislead the American people about the true nature of our ongoing economic calamity. Propaganda and obfuscation are the scheme of choice by the powers that be. They are counting on decades of government run public education to insure that millions of non-critical thinking dullards will be unqualified or uninterested in the truth about our grim economic prospects. The oligarchy’s master plan has centered on houses, automobiles, and the illusion of a jobs recovery.

Whenever I’m trying to understand the motivations of the sociopathic Washington politicians, Wall Street bankers and mega-corporation CEOs, I always come back to the words of master manipulator Edward Bernays:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

The relatively small number of wealthy men thinks they are smarter than the masses and can manipulate them through their control of the government, the financial system and the media. The players in this game remain the same, but they have switched positions. The debt accumulation which led to the 2008 collapse was heavily concentrated on the books of the ruthless Wall Street psychopathic banks and on the backs of a readily pliable public. Today, the Federal government and the Federal Reserve have switched positions with their banker puppet masters, essentially shifting all past and future debt onto the backs of the American middle class. The Federal Reserve Flow of Funds Report, issued two weeks ago, reveals the extent of this blatant scheme to screw the American people in order to save and further enrich the Wall Street psychopaths who won’t be satisfied until their looting and pillaging leads to complete collapse and the world erupting into a world war. The despicable facts are as follows:

  • Total U.S. credit market debt has RISEN from $50.9 trillion in 2007 to $54.1 trillion as of 12/31/11, a $3.2 trillion increase.
  • Household debt has declined from $13.8 trillion in 2007 to $13.2 trillion as of 12/31/11. The mainstream media would point to this $600 billion decline as proof that Americans have embraced austerity and have learned their lesson. Of course that would be a lie. The Wall Street banks have written off $200 billion of credit card debt and the 5 million completed foreclosures extinguished another $800 billion of mortgage debt. The truth is that consumers have continued to pile up debt.
  • Much has been made of corporate America being flush with cash. If they are so flush, why have they added $900 billion of debt since 2007, an increase of 13% to an all-time high of $7.8 trillion?
  • The revealing data shows up in the financial company data. These Wall Street national treasures have reduced their debt from $17.1 trillion in 2008 to $13.6 trillion as of 12/31/11. How were they able to do this, while writing off $1 trillion of consumer debt?
  • You guessed it. They dumped it on the American taxpayer. The Federal government increased their debt from $5.1 trillion to $10.5 trillion. And our old friends called government sponsored enterprises (Fannie, Freddie, Student loans) increased their debt from $2.9 trillion to $6.2 trillion. Wall Street banks and millions of deadbeats who chose to game the system and live the good life have effectively foisted their $4.5 trillion of debt upon the backs of middle class taxpayers who lived within their means. Another $4.2 trillion has been pissed down the toilet by Obama with his $800 billion Keynesian porkulus program, home buyer tax credits, cash for clunkers, green energy boondoggles, 47 million people on food stamps success story, 99 weeks of unemployment, doubling of SSDI membership, and his multiple wars of choice in the Middle East.

The average hard working, taxpaying American has been enslaved in debt of such proportions that they will never be able pay it off. Your share of the $15.6 trillion National Debt is now $50,000, and growing by $4,500 per year. Your share of the future unfunded liabilities, created by the people you elected, is approximately $350,000. This crushing burden is in addition to the $13.8 trillion of mortgage, credit card, student loan, and auto loan debt Americans have accumulated in the last three decades of delusion. Forty percent of all credit card users do not pay-off their credit card every month and carry an average balance of $16,000 at an average interest rate of 15%. Good to see the Wall Street banks passing along some of their 0% borrowing windfall to their “customers”.

Source: TF Metals Report     

Pedal to the Metal

You may have noticed the corporate mainstream media, crooked politicians and lying Wall Street shills attempting to pound the economic recovery storyline into the consciousness of a terminally distracted populace. This is part of the Bernays inspired master plan of a small cabal of powerful men to control the public mind and keep our mass consumer society functioning smoothly so these corporate fascists can continue to gorge upon the carcass of a once vital republic. Decades of mass media consumer indoctrination, dumbing down of children through public school education and the conscious manipulation of attitudes and opinions of the malleable masses has succeeded. The invisible government of the rich and powerful has effectively converted responsible citizens into mindless consumers of products, bought with debt, peddled by associates of the invisible government. The crowded shopping malls, automobile showrooms, and restaurants are a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual bankruptcy of a vast swath of the American population.

Only psychopaths would encourage and condone behavior that would financially enrich themselves while destroying the lives and personal wealth of millions. The invisible government (Wall Street bankers, D.C. political hacks, mega-corporate executives, mass media titans) exhibits all the traits of a psychopath as described in a recent Harvard Business Review article:

  • Glibness and superficial charm
  • Lack of empathy
  • Consistent decisions in their self-interest, even where it is ethically questionable
  • Chronic, sometimes transparent lies, even with regard to minor things
  • Lack of remorse
  • Failure to take responsibility for their actions, and instead blaming others
  • Shallow emotions
  • Ignoring responsibilities
  • Persistent focus on gratifying their own needs at the expense of others
  • Conning and manipulative behavior

Do you recognize any of these traits in our president (Obama), congressmen (Weiner, McCain) Wall Street bankers (Dimon, Blankfein), corporate CEOs (Immelt), and mass media titans (Murdoch)? These people and many more like them will stop at nothing to further their self-serving agenda. They are intelligent and highly skilled at lying and manipulation. They lack empathy and don’t care what others think as they relentlessly pursue riches and power no matter the damage they inflict upon the people they so casually abuse, scorn and look down on. These are the people attempting to convince you that the path to economic recovery is through increased spending by consumers, utilizing debt supplied by them.

The entire recovery theme is a sham, financed by the Federal government with your tax dollars and the tax dollars of future unborn generations. I’ve arrived at this conclusion after pondering what I’ve been seeing with my own two eyes and through the insightful analysis found in the non-mainstream media (Zero Hedge, Jesse, Mish and many others). The mantra being pounded relentlessly by the mainstream media is that retail sales are booming and the unemployment rate has declined significantly, therefore an economic recovery is at hand. The chart below reveals the dramatic surge in vehicle “sales”. The annual pace is all the way back to 15 million, from the low below 10 million in 2009. The brief surge in mid-2009 was due to Obama’s highly successful Cash for Clunkers program that cost taxpayers $2.8 billion or $24,000 per car sold. It was highly successful for Government Motors (GM) and their union workers (Obama voters).

This rapid surge in auto sales has also resulted in a boost to overall retail sales, which have reached an all-time high. Automobile “sales” make up 18% of the retail sales number, by far the largest segment. The “record” retail sales are the result of surging gasoline sales, swelling food inflation, and a somewhat confusing cascade of car sales. It’s somewhat confusing until you realize how and why the 50% rise in vehicle sales has been accomplished by our Bernaysian masters. Retail sales in the first two months of 2012 are up 8.2%, led by a 9.2% wave of motor vehicle sales. Auto sales are at levels last seen in early 2008. This seems peculiar, since there are still 7 million less employed people in the country than in early 2008 and the real median household income is 9% lower than it was in early 2008. Real average hourly earnings have fallen for the last three months and are 1.2% lower than they were in October, 2010. A critical thinking person might ask himself, how could American households with less jobs and lower wages increase their purchases of automobiles by 50% in the last two years?

The answer is just what you expected. A phenomenal amount of debt peddled to people without the means or intent to ever repay the debt by the usual suspects: Ally Financial, Capital One, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Bank of America. These fine upstanding institutions control 25% of the auto loan market. They doled out $24 billion of new car loans in the 4th quarter of 2011, with an outpouring of loans to those downtrodden subprime borrowers and an extension in the average loan length beyond 6 years. Subprime borrowers now account for 45% of all auto loans. As a refresher, subprime borrowers generally have little or no assets, have a history of late payments or defaulting on obligations, and have low incomes. No worries there. When has making hundreds of billions in subprime loans ever caused a problem before. Ally Financial CEO Michael Carpenter had this to say about the market:

“We have seen crazy, irrational competition in the subprime end of the marketplace, which is one reason why more banks are targeting the lower end of the market.”

Bank of America and Capital One increased their market shares of the auto loan market by 40% in the 4th quarter as they attempt to keep up with Ally Financial in reckless lending to deadbeats. If you aren’t familiar with Ally Financial, then you should be. You own 74% of this POS. Here is a brief summary:

  • GMAC, after contributing mightily to the financial crash of 2008 through their reckless subprime mortgage (Ditech) and auto lending and requiring a $16 billion bailout from American taxpayers, changed its name to Ally Financial in 2009. It’s sort of like John Dillinger using acid to try and change his fingerprints.
  • Ally Financial provides financing for all GM and Chrysler customers and dealers and is the market share leader in auto lending.
  • Ally Financial still owes the American taxpayers $12 billion.
  • Ally Financial is a ward of the Federal government and will do anything it is told to do by Obama. The recent foreclosure fraud settlement required Ally to pay $250 million to the customers it defrauded. They will only pay $110 million based on their inability to pay $250 million. Sounds like a company that should be increasing their subprime loan portfolio. Obama and his minions instead received a commitment from a lender they own and control to cut principal for delinquent borrowers and refinance underwater borrowers. And Obama didn’t even offer us a cigarette afterwards.
  • Ally Financial, along with Capital One, failed the Federal Reserve stress test last week. Ally, Capital One, Bank of America, and Citicorp are dead banks walking. Brilliant bank analyst Chris Whelan succinctly sums up their fate after analyzing the Federal Reserve stress test results:

“When you get to junior liens and HELOCs you will understand why I have been saying that Ally Financial and BAC need to be restructured. With a plus 20% loss rate on second liens, Ally has substantial capital issues to put it mildly. But look at C right behind them with a loss rate in the mid-teens followed by BAC. Yikes. This type of loss rate is typical for credit cards and both of these second lien portfolios are > $100 billion.

And the real lesson, dead friends, is that the good old USA is a subprime nation, a society of individuals whose aggregate probability of default is probably around a “B” to “CCC.” Convert the loss rates in the stress tests to bond ratings using the break points from Moody’s or S&P and tell me what you see.

Last point on Ally Financial: Yikes. Probably the weakest results of the whole group. Memo to POTUS: File Ch. 11, sell auto biz and bank to GM in 365 sale. Liquidate ResCap. Declare success. But do not be surprised if BAC follows if Ally goes into bankruptcy. The one thing that the Fed almost completely ignores is the vast financial risk facing BAC and Ally, and to a lesser degree, WFC, JPM and C.”

When you understand this background, anecdotal evidence that seems absurd starts to make sense. I spend two hours per day on the road and have plenty of time to observe my surroundings. I drive through the Mantua section of West Philadelphia every day. The average household income in this neighborhood is $16,000. The average home value is $25,000. The true unemployment rate exceeds 40%. At least 20% of the properties are vacant and the neighborhood resembles Baghdad. Last week, I counted six brand new vehicles with registration tags in their back windows in a one block radius of this neighborhood. Every block has newer model Ford Expeditions, GMC Sierras, BMWs, Acuras, Cadillacs, and Mercedes sprinkled among the squalor. Someone is loaning these people the money to buy these $40,000 vehicles or approving them for leases. This neighborhood puts the SUB in subprime. No financial firm worth spit would make a six year $35,000 auto loan to someone in this neighborhood unless they were instructed to do so by the Federal government or were guaranteed that the future loss would be borne by someone else – YOU.

The GM, Chevy and Chrysler car dealer ads in my local paper actually have the following headline in bold:

Have credit problems? NO PROBLEM

Most of the ads don’t even list the prices of the vehicles. They either tout the 72 month 0% financing or they list the monthly lease cost. It seems that virtually any vehicle can be leased for $300 per month or less these days. This might explain why 25% of all vehicles are leased today. In reality, 25% of the cars being “sold” today are really just being rented for three years. Both the lessors and lessees are basing these transactions upon delusions and assumptions which will likely blow up in their faces and again cost – YOU.

An auto lease payment is based upon interest rates, the cost of the car, subsidies from the auto makers, and the expected residual value of the vehicle at the end of the three year lease. When have financial companies ever miscalculated any of these assumptions? How about 2001-2002 and 2008-2009? The reason auto leases are ridiculously low is because Ben Bernanke’s zero interest rate policy is providing free money to Ally Financial and the rest of the Wall Street zombie banks and creating huge mal-investment – Again. The auto makers see no risks, as the used car market has been extremely strong for the last year and they anticipate continued strong demand for cars as they come off their three year leases. Therefore, they have estimated the residual values three years out at a very high level. The strong used car market may have been slightly impacted by the destruction of 700,000 vehicles under Obama’s Cash for Clunkers debacle. The combination of excessively low interest rates and excessively high residual value estimates leads to ridiculously low lease rates. The sales statistics for the first two months of 2012 reveal why this will blow up in the faces of lessors and the predictably incompetent financial drug dealers.

Feb-12

% Chg Feb’11 YTD 2012
Cars

612,145

23.9

1,080,466

Midsize

304,601

25.6

532,818

Small

225,061

26.5

397,838

Luxury

81,476

22.7

147,647

Large

1,007

-85.8

2,163

Light-duty trucks

537,251

7.6

982,217

Pickup

148,956

13.8

273,430

Cross-over

225,621

0.4

412,974

Minivan

64,849

15.3

111,764

Midsize SUV

54,827

15.3

101,813

Large SUV

16,783

-5.4

31,566

Small SUV

13,926

24

25,951

Luxury SUV

12,289

12.4

24,719

 

It seems the delusional American public and their love affair with big SUVs, pickups, and their 8 cylinder luxury wheels will continue until they are hit over the head with the baseball bat of $5 a gallon gas. The Madison Avenue Bernays disciples have molded the minds and formed the opinions of millions of easily influenced, financially ignorant superficial Americans into believing the vehicle they drive is a true measurement of success. These people choose being up to their eyeballs in auto debt or perennial renters of luxury vehicles to appear prosperous to their neighbors and coworkers rather than actually achieving real success through the time honored tradition of earning more than you spend and saving the difference. The fact is that 80% of all the vehicles being sold in the U.S. are SUVs, pickups, crossovers, minivans, and larger cars that get 25 mpg or less.

As gas prices continue to rise towards $5 per gallon, a war with Iran looming in the near future, interest rates beginning to rise, and the country headed back into recession (MSM is wrong about the recovery), the car makers are poised to again experience enormous losses. Auto makers will have a sense of déjà vu as they have committed an epic blunder by overestimating the future value of the gas guzzlers they have been leasing. As a result, when the leases expire and auto makers take back the SUVs and pickups that get 15 mpg and attempt to resell them, the losses will run into the billions of dollars. There will be no one buying used gas guzzlers, with gas costing $5 per gallon. As the millions of subprime borrowers realize they can’t afford car payments, paying 40% more for gas, and trying to put food on the table, auto loan delinquencies will soar. This is as predictable as the housing market collapse in 2005. None of this matters to the psychotic governing elite who only care about the illusion of recovery today. These vampire squids will not be satisfied until every drop of blood is sucked out of the national carcass.

Ally Financial is part of the Federal Government and is being used to promote the agenda of the governing elite. They join Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal student loan peddlers as the primary tools of the corporate fascist powers that control this country. The nominal private ownership of these companies is a sham, as the state dictates how they will be run and who they will benefit. This corporate fascist empire is built upon an unholy alliance between big banks, big business, big media and big government, with each protecting and enriching each other. The psychopaths who are drawn to these organizations want to control people. They desire power, wealth, and the ability to manipulate public opinion. Their tactics include spreading fear and an atmosphere of paranoia in order to convince the populace that more government action will improve their lives. We are headed towards economic and financial collapse as these psychopaths will never willingly reverse course and the majority of our population has become so degraded (have you been to a Wal-Mart lately) that they are incapable or unwilling to confront the psychopaths.

Doug Casey in the latest Casey Report explains how evil and stupidity are a deadly combination:

“I would like to suggest that what really distinguishes political elites from normal people is not just a predilection for stupidity but a real capacity for evil. Evil might best be defined as the intentional and usually gratuitous commission of acts that are cruel or unjust. A person who commits many evil acts is a sociopath. The sociopaths who are naturally drawn to government eventually come to dominate it. They’re very dangerous people. They reset the social mores of the country they control. After a certain point, a critical mass is reached, and it’s GAME OVER. I suspect we’re approaching that point.”

The next time you hear a government drone, Wall Street shyster, or corporate mainstream media whore declare we are experiencing an economic recovery try not to laugh out loud. Their agenda doesn’t include making your life better. You are not in the club. Prepare accordingly.  



 

BREAD, CIRCUSES, SPENDING CUTS, UNICORNS & THE APPEARANCE OF WEALTH

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Posted on 5th August 2011 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses” - Juvenal – 100 A.D.

 

 

Juvenal makes reference to the Roman practice of providing free wheat to Roman citizens as well as costly circus games and other forms of entertainment as a means of gaining political power through populism. Roman politicians devised a plan in 140 B.C. to win the votes of the poor: giving out cheap food and entertainment, “bread and circuses”. The Roman politicians realized this would be the most effective way to rise to power and stay in power.

With the revolting display of political theater in the last few weeks, I couldn’t help but consider the parallels between the Roman Empire and the American Empire. The entire debt ceiling farce was a circus on an epic scale – The Greatest Show on Earth. The American public was treated to high wire acts of near debt experiences, Senators putting their heads into the mouths of lions, and hundreds of clowns riding tiny bikes with squeaking horns. In the end, American politicians did what they do best - pretended to solve a spending problem without cutting spending. Only in America could politicians put the country on course to increase its national debt from $14.5 trillion to $23 trillion by 2021 and declare they are cutting spending. For those that need to visualize the lies of politicians, take a gander at this chart and try to find the cuts in spending.

You have a better chance of finding a unicorn in your backyard than finding actual cuts in spending from the corrupt clowns inhabiting the halls of Congress. If you are driving your car towards a brick wall at 120 mph and you slow down to 118 mph, the ultimate result will be the same. The only way to avoid disaster is to jam on the brakes. But, the liberal and conservative politicians are both enjoying the ride fueled by millions in corporate, union, Wall Street and a thousand other special interest payoffs.  

The Roman authorities provided free wheat to the peasants as a superficial means of appeasing the masses and distracting them from the fact that public policy and public service had failed, as corruption and decadence engulfed those in control of government. Free bread, chariot races, and feeding Christians to lions kept the small-minded peasants satiated and ignorant of their civic duty. Today, the authorities don’t hand out bread they hand out EBT cards to 45.5 million Americans, or 14.6% of the entire population.

There are almost 5 million Americans on welfare. There are 50 million Americans on Medicaid. There are 8 million Americans receiving unemployment compensation. There are 10.5 million Americans on Social Security disability. This is the symbolic bread being provided to the masses to keep them tranquilized, pliable, satisfied and ignorant of their civic duty. The government has renamed bread as “social benefits” and now distributes $2.3 trillion of bread per year to the “needy”. This constitutes 15% of the country’s GDP and will continue to grow for decades or until the American Empire collapses.

Aldous Huxley in his 1958 assessment of his 1931 novel Brave New World - Brave New World Revisited said that “any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded. If the bread is supplied regularly and copiously three times a day, many of them will be perfectly content to live by bread alone – or at least by bread and circuses alone. ‘In the end,’ says the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s parable, ‘in the end they will lay their freedom at your feet and say to us, make us your slaves, but feed us.” Bread is not the opiate of the masses, it is the cyanide. Huxley saw the Welfare state arising before it really got kick started in the late 1960s. By trying to support the less fortunate by transferring trillions to them, with no strings attached, we have insured the ultimate bankruptcy of our country. Americans have willingly sacrificed liberty, freedom and civic responsibility for safety, security and bread.

Huxley hadn’t lost all hope. He seems to have foreseen the rise of the Tea Party and the coming revolution, led by the youth of this country who are being left with the bill for the bread and circuses promised by myopic politicians over the last four decades:

“When things go badly, and the rations are reduced, the grounded do-dos will clamor again for their wings… The young people who now think so poorly of democracy may grow up to be fighters for freedom. The cry of ‘Give me television and hamburgers, but don’t bother me with the responsibilities of liberty,’ may give place, under altered circumstances to the cry of Give me liberty or give me death.”

I hope Huxley is right. The welfare state is bankrupt. The rations are going to be cut. There is no choice. The money is gone. The jobs are gone. The do-do’s that haven’t flown in years are unlikely to clamor for their wings. They are already clamoring when even the potential of cuts in their bird feed are mentioned. The Millenial generation is our last great hope to reverse our decline. They have not become addicted to “social benefits” yet. Their parents and grandparents are handing them an un-payable bill as they graduate college with no jobs. A generational war is in the offing. I for one will side with the youth against the Boomers. The future of the country depends upon the outcome of this war.

Striking Similarities to Rome

“There are striking similarities between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government”. -David Walker

 

David Walker, the former head of the GAO from 1998 until 2008, compared the U.S. Empire to the Roman Empire in August 2007. He has been warning the country about our unsustainable fiscal path for over a decade.

  • Since August 2007 the National Debt has increased from $8.9 trillion to $14.6 trillion, a 64% increase in four years.
  • We’ve increased our cumulative expenditure on our wars of choice in the Middle East to $1.3 trillion since 2001.
  • Our annual military spending rose from $653 billion in 2007 to the current $966 billion, a 48% increase in four years.
  • Federal government transfers for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment, Veterans, Food Stamps, and Welfare increased from $1.7 trillion in 2007 to the current level of $2.3 trillion, a 35% increase in four years.

It goes without saying that Mr. Walker’s advice was not heeded. And regarding declining moral values and political civility, I would point you to the fine examples of morality displayed by Wall Street since 2007 along with the display of civility seen in Washington DC over the last few weeks. The striking similarities that David Walker acknowledged are in full bloom for the world to see.

English historian Edward Gibbon wrote his masterpiece The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776, ironically in the year the American Empire was born. He detailed the societal collapse encompassing both the gradual disintegration of the political, economic, military, and other social institutions of Rome and the barbarian invasions that were its final doom in Western Europe. Gibbon concluded there were five marks of the Roman decaying culture:

  1. Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth.
  2. Obsession with sex and perversions of sex.
  3. Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original.
  4. Widening disparity between very rich and very poor.
  5. Increased demand to live off the state

Gibbon’s analysis captured the essence of what happens to all empires. It subsequently happened to the Dutch, Spanish and British empires and has been eating away at the greatest empire of all over the last several decades. Larry Elliot, writer for the UK Guardian, recently described the rot that has destroyed every empire in history:

“The experience of both Rome and Britain suggests that it is hard to stop the rot once it has set in, so here are the a few of the warning signs of trouble ahead: military overstretch, a widening gulf between rich and poor, a hollowed-out economy, citizens using debt to live beyond their means, and once-effective policies no longer working. The high levels of violent crime, epidemic of obesity, addiction to pornography and excessive use of energy may be telling us something: the US is in an advanced state of cultural decadence.

Empires decline for many different reasons but certain factors recur. There is an initial reluctance to admit that there is much to fret about, and there is the arrival of a challenger (or several challengers) to the settled international order. In Spain’s case, the rival was Britain. In Britain’s case, it was America. In America’s case, the threat comes from China.”

For the last forty years America has shifted from a society that created goods into a society that created debt. Displays of affluence like McMansions, Mercedes, BMWs, Rolexes, summer mansions in the Hamptons, designer clothes, granite and stainless steel kitchens, and 85 inch HDTVs, all purchased with debt provided like candy by the Wall Street banks and their sugar daddy – the Federal Reserve, have trumped true wealth building. The result is a nation with $52.6 trillion of debt outstanding, or 350% of GDP. The basic rule for maintaining a healthy economic system requires the population to spend less than they earn and save the difference. The savings can then be invested in domestic companies, plants and equipment which keep the country growing. Americans bought into the lie that purchasing cheap foreign goods with cheap credit was as valid as actually building wealth. The national savings rate, which exceeded 10% in the 1970s and early 1980s, dropped to less than 1% by 2005. Why save when you could whip out one of your 13 credit cards.

America’s obsession with sex and perversion of sex makes Caligula look like a Boy Scout. There are 4.2 million pornographic websites serving 72 million visitors per month and generating $5 billion of revenue for these fine capitalists. More than 40% of internet users view porn. What passes for art today is a crucifix in the artist’s urine. The true art of the American empire consists of reality TV shows like Jersey Shore and Housewives of NY, OC, NJ, Miami, and Atlanta. America has taken shallow, mindless, and superficial to an empire crushing low.

The disparity in wealth between the super rich and the working class has never been greater. The working middle class that built this country has been systematically destroyed as the super rich have used inflation and debt to lure them into servitude, while the unproductive parasites have learned it is easier to feed off their middle class host than work for a living. It is clear to anyone, except a Republican ideologue, that when the top 10% richest Americans abscond with 50% of the income in the nation through their control of politicians, Wall Street and the few mega-corporations that set the economic agenda, a convulsive change is necessary. It is not a coincidence  the heyday of the American Empire was from 1946 until 1971 when the working middle class was able to advance their station in life through education, hard work and a level playing field.

The playing field got tilted against the working middle class in the late 1960′s with LBJ’s Great Society welfare state and got turned upside down in 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window and allowed bankers and politicians unfettered access to money printing with no immediate consequences. The result has been a slow steady descent into hell as politicians have made $100 trillion of unfunded promises of bread to the masses and bankers have gorged themselves with riches from peddling debt to the same masses, so they could enjoy the circuses. We are now left with the top 1% hoarding 33.8% of the wealth and the top 10% clinging to 71.5% of the wealth in the country. The bottom feeders are thrown scraps of bread in the form of food stamps, welfare, disability payments, and unemployment compensation. They have grown dependent and no longer participate in productive society. With more than 50% of adults paying no income tax, they vote for politicians that promise to not “cut” their social benefits.  

 

When you see your leaders take actions that clearly are not in the long term best interests of the American people, you need to ask why. Since September 2008 your leaders have funneled trillions of dollars to the Wall Street bankers that nearly destroyed the worldwide economic system. They have funneled billions into the coffers of the mega-corporations that outsourced your jobs to Asia. They ramped up their wars in the Middle East to reward their friends in the military industrial complex. And lastly, they handed out a few hundred billion more to the masses to keep them from rioting in the streets.

We know for a fact QE2 was designed to prop up the stock market because Ben Bernanke told us so. And it worked. From the day he announced he was going to do it at the annual meeting of the ruling moneyed classes at Jackson Hole until it ended on July 1, 2011, the market went up 30%. The average American dealt with the 30% to 50% increases in food and energy costs, while the richest 1% partied like it was 1999. Considering they own 50.9% of all the stocks in the country, the last couple years of free money and stock appreciation created by the Federal Reserve have been a windfall for the privileged moneyed class. The bottom 50% who own 0.5% of the stocks in the country haven’t fared so well. 

When you watch the talking heads and contemptible pundits on Fox, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN and the other mainstream corporate media spinning our economic situation in a positive way, remember that every person you are listening to is a member of the top 1% richest Americans. They have large portfolios of stocks and will not let reality or truth interfere with their ambitions of further wealth and power. This country is controlled by the few for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. Less than ten banks control more than 50% of deposits and 75% of the lending in the country. One private banking organization – the Federal Reserve – controls the currency of the country. A handful of mega-corporations control the commerce of the country. Less than ten arms dealers dictate the war spending in the country. A few media conglomerates control the message fed to the masses. A few hundred corrupt politicians pay off their corporate and banking masters with laws, tax breaks, and pork. These people make up the ruling class of America.

As their messages of “efficiency” and “job creation” have proven to be lies, the financialization of America by the ruling class is almost complete. Real earnings for real people are 10% lower than they were in 1972. They have transformed a productive society based on saving and investment into a hollowed out shell of a society based on financial manipulation and debt. The endgame approaches.

The moneyed interests have gone too far. The debts are too large. The burden placed on the middle class is too great. The Federal Reserve has proven to be the lackeys of the Wall Street fat cats and the slithering political class in Washington DC. QE2 was a miserable failure. The American middle class is angry. Their anger could lash out in many possible directions. Their benefits will be cut. Their home values will fall. Their 401ks will be cut in half. Their standard of living will fall. Will they accept this fate without a fight? I doubt it.

Democracy Never Lasts Long 

The decline of the American Empire may be a surprise to those who cling to the laughable American Exceptionalism dogma, but every previous empire in history has declined. The Dutch Empire lasted for just over a century. The Spanish Empire survived for just over two centuries. The British Empire reigned for just over three centuries. And the Great Roman Empire ruled for almost five centuries.

The American Empire has been expanding for over 220 years, but based on all indications has peaked. Were we destined to implode as all previous democracies have done, as described by Greek historian Polybius?

“Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series.” -The Histories 6.4.7-13

As a democracy this country was supposed to be governed by the people, for the people. We were supposed to have an equal say in how we were governed and participation in adopting the laws of the land. Over time civic duty was outsourced to politicians that promised the masses safety and security at the expense of liberty and responsibility. The general population has grown accustom to the bread and circuses provided by their “protectors”. The fledgling democracy has degenerated into a corporate fascist oligopoly that benefits the few in control. Recent events prove beyond a shadow of doubt the privileged few are losing control of the situation. A worldwide upheaval is brewing as the toxic debt is strangling the economic systems of the world. Confidence in this ponzi finance system is waning. The American population is beginning to realize their fatal mistake in trusting bankers and politicians to do what was right for the country.

Polybius believed that democracies always killed themselves:

“And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.” - The Histories 6.9.7-9

The average American does not understand what is swirling around them. They have a sense of unease, but they are still receiving their government issued bread and their 52 inch TV is providing 24 hours of circuses. The monetary system upon which that bread and those circuses are based is collapsing as we speak. Ernest Hemingway captures what is happening to the American Empire in one brief quote from his novel The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways, gradually and then suddenly”

As the political theater of the absurd played out last week in Washington DC, it became clear to me the ruling class has no intention of changing our path. Politicians will keep spending and central bankers will keep printing more money. There are people like David Walker that will continue to sound the alarm:

“We are less than three years away from where Greece had its debt crisis as to where they were from debt to GDP. With the recent increase in the debt ceiling and continued higher budget deficits at the federal level, the US is on course for its own crisis. We are not exempt from a debt crisis. We’re never going to default, because we can print money. At the same point in time, we have serious interest rate risk, we have serious currency risk, we have serious inflation risk over time. If it happens, it will be sudden and it will be very painful.”

But, it appears we are destined to commit suicide as a nation. I doubt the American Empire will linger on for centuries. The world moves rapidly. The Vandals (Goldman Sachs) and the Huns (JP Morgan) are at the gates. The final battle is underway – the battle for the soul of America. When the existing social structure is swept away by the tsunami of un-payable debt, who and what will replace it? Will the American people turn to someone that promises them liberty and freedom with no promises of bread and circuses? Or will they turn to a strong demagogue that promises them more safety and more security?

What do you think?

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”  – John Adams, Letter, April 15, 1814