Bernie Sanders has pledged $19.6 TRILLION in new taxes – adding nearly 50 percent to what Washington takes in 

Bernie Sanders wants universal health care and a number of other programs that are politically aligned with his democratic socialist ideology and he’s going to pay for them by raising taxes.

The Washington Examiner conducted an analysis and found that Sanders’ plans will mean approximately $19.6 trillion in new taxes over the next decade.

Sanders, the Examiner found, will raise taxes by 47 percent over the current levels.  Continue reading

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Porn Stars Are Enraged That They’re Being Denied Loans And Bank Accounts

Chanel Preston

Chanel Preston knows not everyone approves of her chosen profession.

That’s one of the risks that go with being one of the biggest stars in porn.

But she never thought it would affect her ability to open a bank account.

Preston recently opened a business account with City National Bank in Los Angeles.

When she went to deposit checks into the account days later, however, she was told it had been shut down, due to “compliance issues”.

She found the manager she had originally worked with and asked what had happened. The bank, she was told, was worried about the Webcam shows she had on her site and had revoked the account.

(City National declined to comment on Preston’s accusations and on whether it had any policy regarding accounts tied to the porn industry.)

Preston is hardly the only porn star who has had trouble with the banking industry. Several performers and porn insiders (who were afraid to go on the record due to possible repercussions from their banks) said they have been denied accounts from a variety of financial institutions.

“The people within my [local] bank have urged me to downplay the nature of my business because corporate frowns on it,” said one long-time industry veteran.

The issue seems to be reaching a boiling point, though. Earlier this week, Marc Greenberg, founder of the soft porn studio MRG Entertainment, filed suit against JPMorgan Chase in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging the bank violated fair lending laws and its own policy for refusing to underwrite a loan for “moral reasons”.

Greenberg says he was approached by a representative of the bank about refinancing an existing loan. But once he started the process, he says he saw repeated delays for four months. That’s when he said he reached out to a JPMorgan vice president for an explanation.

The vice president “was evasive in his response to plaintiff’s application status requests and finally informed plaintiff during a telephone conversation that plaintiff’s loan application was refused due to ‘moral reasons,’ because of JPMorgan’s disapproval of plaintiff’s former source of income and occupation as an owner of a television production company that produced television programs that dealt with the subject of human sexuality,” the complaint reads.

(MRG was sold to New Frontier Media in 2006 for $22 million.)

Greenberg’s attorneys claim they were told by the vice president that the application was denied because of the potential “reputational risk” to the firm.

The rejection, noted the suit, was confounding since Chase had long held the original deed of trust on the home, without any comment on Greenberg’s career.

“JPMorgan purports to be so ashamed of nudity and human sexuality that it cannot process a refinance of a home loan of plaintiff, secured by plaintiff’s house, because plaintiff’s source of income six years ago included production of television programs that contained nudity and human sexuality,” the suit reads.

JPMorgan Chase declined to comment on the accusations due to the pending litigation.

Preston noted she, too, has been denied a loan because of her profession—though at a different bank.

“[The loan officer] asked me ‘are you affiliated with the adult entertainment industry?’ When I said yes, she said ‘We will not give you a loan.’,” she said.

Whether the decision to deny Preston’s business account or Greenberg’s refinance application is discriminatory lending is a matter of debate—and, in Greenberg’s case, something the courts will have to decide.

David Barr, a spokesperson for the FDIC, however, said institutions are permitted to make their own calls on who they work with to a certain degree.

“The decision to open or maintain an account is up to the individual institution,” he said. “The rules are not prescriptive, which means that the bank must make its own assessment to determine the risks associated with an account and whether that account should be terminated or not opened in the first place.”

And it is not uncommon for many businesses to take a moral stand about who they do business with. Indeed, some investment firms make it a point to avoid getting involved with tobacco producers or gun manufacturers because of the social issues tied to those industries.

Porn stars and adult entertainment industry insiders do note that the troubles they’ve experienced are tied to business—not personal—accounts. That may be because personal accounts are opened under their real names, which typically don’t raise an eyebrow, while business is done under more well-known pseudonyms, which is when people take notice.

“It’s kind of obvious about what I do when a young girl goes into a Valley bank with a different female name than the one on [their] driver’s license,” said Preston.

But such friction between people involved in the adult entertainment industry and banking institutions are likely to become more common. With the advent of the Internet, the $14 billion adult entertainment industry is undergoing a transformation.

Film and video distribution is giving way to Internet sites and Web cams. As a result, barriers to entry in the industry are being lowered and more of the industry is being based out of homes and being run through small business arrangements and partnerships, necessitating banking services.

Read more: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100746445#ixzz2TeWLGRAr

Payday Loan Companies Are Making Billions Preying On The Misery Of The Poor

Payday Loan Companies Are Making Billions Preying On The Misery Of The Poor - Photo by Vinceesq

Would you take out a loan that has an annual percentage rate of 391 percent?  Yes, I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but millions of Americans do it every single year.  The typical payday loan requires borrowers to pay about 15 dollars for every $100 that they borrow for two weeks.  That comes out to a yearly rate of about 391 percent.  And the payday loan companies know exactly who to target.  They have set up thousands of shops in the poorest communities all over the nation over the last several decades.  Each year, approximately 12 million Americans take out payday loans and they pay approximately 7.4 billion dollars in interest and fees on those loans.  Sadly, once you get hooked on payday loans they are very hard to stop.  In fact, one study found that only 13 percent of payday borrowers get two loans or less per year.  All other borrowers take out more loans than that.  In fact, more than a third of all payday borrowers take out between 11 and 19 loans during the course of a single year.  And as was mentioned earlier, the interest rates on these loans are beyond exorbitant.  Payday loans are estimated to be about  20 times more expensive than bank loans, with annual interest rates that are sometimes as high as 500 percent.  The payday loan companies circle the poor like vultures, because they know that the poor are the only ones desperate enough to agree to such terms.  This is why we need to shut them down.  The payday loan companies are making billions preying on the misery of the poor and it needs to be stopped.

And it just isn’t small, disreputable banks that are involved in these practices.  The truth is that some of the largest banks in Americaare now making payday loans…

Some, including U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank and Wells Fargo, offer payday loans under names such as Ready Advance, Fast Loan and Early Access, according to the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). They can carry interest rates averaging between 225 and 300 percent, CRL said.

Others major banks not making such loans directly, but instead they are investing millions of dollars in the companies that do make the loans.  Bank of New York Mellon Corp., JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are just some of the major banks that have invested large amounts of money in the payday loan industry.

These financial institutions are making billions of dollars by exploiting the people in our society that are the most vulnerable.  As I showed the other day, the bottom 90 percent of America is systematically getting poorer, and many Americans in desperate financial situations have found  the easy cash provided by the payday loan companies to be irresistible.  The following are some statistics about payday loans from a recent Pew Research study...

-Fifty-eight percent of payday loan borrowers have trouble meeting monthly expenses at least half the time. These borrowers are dealing with persistent cash shortfalls rather than temporary emergencies.

-Only 14 percent of borrowers say they can afford to repay an average payday loan out of their monthly budgets.

-Seventy-eight percent of borrowers rely on information from lenders—who sell these loans as a safe, two-week product—when choosing to borrow money. This reliance reinforces the perception that payday loans are unlike other forms of credit because they will not create ongoing debt. Yet the stated price tag for a two-week, $375 loan bears little resemblance to the actual $520 cost over the five months of debt that the average user experiences.

-While payday loans are often presented as an alternative to overdrafting on a checking account, a majority of borrowers end up paying fees for both.

-Some borrowers ultimately turn to the same options they could have used instead of payday loans to finally pay off the loans. Forty-one percent need an outside cash infusion to eliminate payday loan debt– including getting help from friends or family, selling or pawning personal possessions, taking out another type of loan, or using a tax refund.

-By almost a three-to-one margin, borrowers favor more regulation of payday loans. A majority of borrowers say the loans both take advantage of them and that they provide relief. Despite feeling conflicted about their experiences, borrowers want to change how payday loans work.

But those statistics don’t really convey the real world consequences that these predatory loans have.  Many Americans have lost everything that they had after they turned to payday loans.  In fact, it is estimated that at least 50,000 Americans a year go bankrupt due to payday loans.

A recent NBC News article profiled Raymond Chaney, a 66-year-old military veteran that had his life totally destroyed by these predators…

For Raymond Chaney, taking out a payday loan was like hiring a taxi to drive across the country. He ended up broke — and stranded.

The 66-year-old veteran from Boise lives off of Social Security benefits, but borrowed from an Internet payday lender last November after his car broke down and didn’t have the $400 for repairs. When the 14-day loan came due, he couldn’t pay, so he renewed it several times.

Within months, the cash flow nightmare spun out of control. Chaney ended up taking out multiple loans from multiple sites, trying to to stave off bank overdraft fees and pay his rent. By February, payday lenders — who had direct access to his checking account as part of the loan terms — took every cent of his Social Security payment, and he was kicked out of his apartment. He had borrowed nearly $3,000 and owed $12,000.

“I’m not dumb, but I did a dumb thing,” said Chaney, who is now homeless, living in a rescue mission in Boise.

Is there anyone out there that still wants to argue that we should not shut these predators down?

Sadly, many Americans in poor communities have very few alternatives to the payday loan companies.  In recent years, the large banking chains have been systematically closing down branches in poor neighborhoods while expanding in wealthy neighborhoods at the same time.  Since the Federal Reserve is paying banks not to lend money, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to make high-risk loans to poor Americans who may not be able to pay them back.  And recent regulations passed by Congress have made it not very profitable to offer checking accounts to poor people.  In many poor communities all over the country, it has now gotten to the point where it is becoming extremely difficult to find a bank branch anywhere.

So payday loan companies have been more than happy to fill the void.

But don’t look down on those that have taken out payday loans.  The truth is that almost all of us have willingly allowed ourselves to become enslaved to the system at one point or another.

For example, in a previous article entitled “Money Is A Form Of Social Control And Most Americans Are Debt Slaves“, I pointed out the utter foolishness of constantly carrying a balance on a credit card.  In that article, I included a great explanation from a former Goldman Sachs banker about how incredibly crippling credit card debt can be…

On the debt side of things, how much does your credit card company earn if you carry just an average of a $5,000 credit card balance, paying, say, 22% annual interest rate (compounding monthly) for the next 10 years?

In your mind you owe a balance of only $5,000, which is not a huge amount, especially for someone gainfully employed.  After all, $5,000 is just a quick Disney trip, or a moderately priced ski-trip, or that week in Hawaii.  You think to yourself, “how bad could it be?”

The answer, including the cost of monthly compounding, is $44,235, or about 9 times what it appears to cost you at face value.

This is why one of the top things that I recommend for getting prepared for the economic crisis that is coming is to get out of debt.

You do not want to be enslaved to financial predators when everything starts falling apart all around you.

So do any of you have any payday loan or credit card horror stories to share?  Please feel free to share what you have to say by posting a comment below…

Payday Loans - Photo by swanksalot
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/shut-them-down-payday-loan-companies-are-making-billions-preying-on-the-misery-of-the-poor/#oxUSJudmBzRCGJCd.99

UBS Analyst: Fed Tactics Might Have Sparked ‘Panic Selling’ in Gold

Gold headed for its biggest two-day drop in 30 years on Monday as funds accelerated their exits from the market, and investors also cut exposure to oil, copper and grain after underwhelming Chinese growth data.
The precious metal slid further into bear territory, dropping more than $30 in a matter of minutes at one point. Losses widened to more than 6 percent at the lows as prices breached support at $1,400 per ounce after falling 5.3 percent on Friday.

Oil fared scarcely better, dropping by as much as nearly 3 percent. Other precious metals were caught in the downdraft, with silver briefly dropping 10 percent, and industrial metals plummeted, with copper hitting its lowest in over a year. In the grains market, wheat, corn and soybeans fell.

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Both oil and gold have been under substantial selling pressure. Bullion has come off worst, shedding around 9.5 percent since last Monday’s close, while crude has lost about 3.5 percent.

China’s economy grew 7.7 percent in the first quarter, undershooting market expectations for an 8.0 percent expansion and frustrating investor hopes that the world’s No. 2 economy would rebound after posting its weakest growth in 13 years in 2012.

“If you want to be worried about China, there’s plenty to keep you awake at night,” said Sean Corrigan, chief investment strategist at Diapason Commodities Management in Switzerland.

Gold was already under pressure from a variety of factors, including a proposed sale of Cypriot gold holdings, and more fund-based investors headed for the exits on Monday.

Spot gold hit a two-year low at $1,384.69 an ounce.

“We have seen massive liquidation from all quarters — ETFs, funds, CTAs, specs and even Chinese and Indian physical buyers. This is a market that has only got one thing on its mind … get me out,” said David Govett, head of precious metals at Marex Spectron in London.

Brent crude oil sank below $101 a barrel to a nine-month low and was threatening to break below $100 for the first time since early July. It was down about 15 percent from this year’s peak of $119.17 reached in early February.

Prior to the latest Chinese and U.S. data, the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had already lowered their global oil demand growth for 2013.

China’s weaker-than-forecast GDP growth was backed by slower increases in industrial production and fixed-asset investment, despite strong lending growth in March.

“There are questions about the trend of bottoming in China’s economy and whether it can re-accelerate above 8 percent this year in a sustainable way,” said Vishnu Varathan, market economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank in Singapore.

PANIC

In gold, “what we now see is panic selling, perhaps triggered by the Fed’s stimulus view. The Fed has given the signal that there’s a possibility to reduce QE (quantitative easing), and that took a lot of trust out of gold,” said Dominic Schnider, an analyst at UBS Wealth Management.

“And people recognize that an environment where you have no inflation is a powerful driver to get out of the metal.”
Minutes of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s March policy meeting released last week showed some officials were keen on ending the stimulative bond-buying program this year, although those views were expressed ahead of last month’s poor non-farm payrolls data and Friday’s weak retail sales.

London copper fell to its lowest level in 1-1/2 years at $7,085 a metric ton, while aluminum hit a three-and-a-half year low.

China is the world’s biggest consumer of copper.

Soft commodities sugar, coffee and cocoa were the only commodities seemingly little affected by the market rout on Monday, with prices particularly for sugar and coffee already at low levels due to large surpluses.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.moneynews.com/Markets/gold-fed-panic-selling/2013/04/15/id/499425?s=al&promo_code=13286-1#ixzz2QeKnirDz
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ALL US WHOLESALERS SOLD OUT OF ALL PHYSICAL SILVER!!!

 

*UPDATE: ALL US WHOLESALE SUPPLIERS ARE NOW SOLD OUT OF EVERY OUNCE OF PHYSICAL SILVER & HAVE SUSPENDED ALL SALES!  SDBullion.com has closed due to lack of ANY AVAILABLE SILVER!

Two of the largest wholesale suppliers in the US, including Amark and CNT, who is the supplier of gold blanks to the US Mint for Gold Eagles, and is a registered COMEX depository, HAVE JUST SOLD OUT OF ALL PHYSICAL SILVER!!!
AND……IT’S GONE!!!!!

In the face of an EPIC TSUNAMI of gold and silver sales today as the cartel hammered the price of silver down over 12%, and off $6 from Friday’s open, we have just been informed at SDBullion upon trying to place a large inventory order that BOTH AMARK & CNT ARE SOLD OUT OF EVERY LAST OUNCE OF PHYSICAL SILVER!!!

Apparently the fact that one of the largest wholesale suppliers in the US is SOLD OUT, while simultaneously the 2nd largest silver mine in the US is offline perhaps permanently is of absolutely no consequence to the paper dumping cartel bullion banks.

Bullion bank silver shorts are most likely covering in mass RIGHT NOW, and we’ll soon have the data to make the case.  Many have speculated that the bullion banks are going to switch to a net long position. There couldn’t be a better time to do just that given that at $22/oz, pretty much all existing shorts taken out before this week will be in the money.

 

http://silverdoctors.com/cnt-sold-out-of-all-physical-silver/

Madoff Contacts Congress: ‘JPM Was Complicit In My Crime’

 

JPM knew all about my Ponzi.

Madoff sends info on Ponzi-complicit banks to Congress.

Bernie keeps banging the drum, this time with a letter from prison sent to Marketwatch editors, after already reaching out to CNBC and Fox Biz in the past 60 days.

 

Marketwatch

Bernard Madoff, speaking out from prison, says the banks knew of his Ponzi scheme all along.  The perpetrator of a history-making $50 billion Ponzi scheme wrote in a letter to MarketWatch from jail that he is now telling government committees the story.

Madoff: “From my first interview to the media I have said that ‘the banks must have known,’ and were complicit and contributing to my crime.”

In the emailed letter, he pointed to J.P. Morgan, Bank of New York, HSBC and Citigroup as having access to information about his scam.  He added that other banks also knew.

Madoff wrote that “the trustee seems unwilling to act on my offer” to help and is therefore “offering this information to the appropriate governmental committees in the hope that this information will prove helpful in future regulation of the appropriate institutions.”

The House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee had no immediate comment on whether they had received information from Madoff.  A spokesman for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency declined to comment.

Madoff’s comments come as prosecutors are looking at whether J.P. Morgan failed to fully alert authorities to suspicions about Madoff’s finances, according to a report in the New York Times on Wednesday.

J.P. Morgan is reportedly also embroiled in a squabble with regulators over a government probe into the institution’s relationship with Madoff.  According to a January report by Reuters, the OCC, J.P. Morgan’s chief regulator, has been unable to obtain documents it requested from the bank in connection with an investigation into its relationship with Madoff.

The report cites a letter from Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson to J.P. Morgan’s general counsel, Stephen Cutler, saying the OCC has been unable to obtain what it is seeking.  Madoff had an account at J.P. Morgan Chase that he used to transfer funds between offices.

The Great Global Tax Grab is Already Underway

The world will soon be facing a tsunami of defaults on bad debts. This will include municipal or local government defaults such as the one now occurring in Stockton California, governments “defaulting” on promises they’ve made to the people (Social Security, Medicaid), a default on the social contract between society and politicians such as the one in Cyprus (a default on the notions of private property and Democracy), stealth defaults on debts in the form of inflation and finally, of course, outright sovereign defaults.

However, the last option will be sovereign defaults; all other options will be tried first. The reason for this is that sovereign bonds are the senior most collateral posted by the banks for their hundreds of trillions of Dollars worth of derivatives bets.

The minute an actual sovereign default occurs in Europe, Asia or the US, then the large global banks will all be vaporized. End of story.  As is now clear, the Central banks do not care about ordinary citizens. They only care about propping up the big banks.

This is why Cyprus decided to default on the social contract with its people and steal their funds rather than simply instigating a formal default. And it’s why in general we’re going to see Governments implementing more and more theft in the form of “taxes” (Cyprus called its theft a tax) in the future.

This will be sold to the public as either an attempt to tax those with a lot of money because it’s only fair that they put in more to bailout the nation OR as a form of financial terrorism e.g. “either you take a 7% cut on your deposits and the bank stays afloat or the bank crashes and you lose everything.”

This will be spreading throughout the world, GUARANTEED.

Spain, Canada (which allegedly has the safest banks in the world), and New Zealand have already begun discussing confiscation schemes for depositors in the event of a banking crisis.

As Cyprus has shown us, when push comes to shove, rule of law goes out the window. I fully expect that when things get really bad in the financial system the money grabs will come fast and furious. Foreign accounts, including possibly even Gold held aboard, will come under attack. Heck, the US got Switzerland to throw its 300-year-old banking secrecy out the window…

The Swiss bank Wegelin is to close, after admitting that it helped about 100 US clients evade paying taxes.
The news that Switzerland’s oldest private bank will cease to operate has potentially huge implications for Switzerland’s entire banking sector, and for the long tradition of Swiss banking secrecy.
Thirteen other Swiss banks are under investigation by US authorities, among them Credit Suisse, a bank now termed “too big to fail” by the Swiss government.
When Wegelin’s managers pleaded guilty in a New York court, the case was watched with mounting horror by the financial communities in Zurich and Geneva.
Many had expected Wegelin to continue to try to fight the case. For months, the bank had failed to turn up in court, saying the summons had not been delivered correctly.
Instead, Wegelin’s guilty plea included the admission that it intentionally opened accounts for US citizens to help them avoid tax.

Yuan reaches record high against the US dollar

speculation_sin30_35169557.jpg

 

The yuan reached a record high yesterday as the central bank fixed its midpoint against the US dollar at the strongest level ever.

That sparked anticipation of further appreciation this year and stoked inflationary pressure on the mainland and Hong Kong.

The People’s Bank of China set the midpoint at 6.2506 yuan per US dollar – up from the fixing of 6.2578 on Thursday – ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Asia. The yuan jumped to 79.775 Hong Kong dollars per 100 yuan, just near the record of 79.729 on Wednesday.

China often allows the yuan to appreciate faster before visits by officials from Western countries, who usually push for exchange rate liberalisation.

However, the yuan is set to strengthen this year. Inflows of capital are expected to generate higher demand for the yuan than last year as the mainland economy recovers, economists said.

“In 2013 we’ll see greater risks of capital inflows to China, rather than two-way movements in the yuan exchange rate or capital outflows as last year,” said Chang Jian, an economist at Barclays Capital. Barclays expects the yuan to strengthen 2 per cent against the greenback this year, after considering China’s intention to protect exporters in the still shaky economic recovery.

The yuan rate in the spot market touched 6.1903 per dollar yesterday, the highest since 1994. The yuan spot rate has risen 0.6 per cent so far this year, after hitting highs in the past couple of weeks.

Economists at Standard Chartered forecast the spot rate for yuan would reach 6.18 by the end of June and 6.10 by the end of this year. They said China was unlikely to follow Japan in depreciating its currency, as Japanese exporters are not its major competitors.

Nathan Chow, a DBS Bank economist, expects the strengthening of the yuan to continue to put pressure on inflation in Hong Kong because the city’s currency is pegged to the US dollar.

“The inflationary pressure caused by the yuan appreciation is inevitable, as Hong Kong imports a variety of goods, such as food and medical supplies, from the mainland,” Chow said.

A 1 per cent rise in the yuan would result in a 0.05 percentage point increase in Hong Kong’s consumer inflation, the Monetary Authority says.

 

 

http://www.scmp.com/news/article/1213468/yuan-reaches-record-high-against-us-dollar

Study finds Haiti aid largely went to US groups

(AP) A new report on American aid to Haiti in the wake of that country’s devastating earthquake finds much of the money went to U.S.-based companies and organizations.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research analyzed the $1.15 billion pledged after the January 2010 quake and found that the “vast majority” of the money it could follow went straight to U.S. companies or organizations, more than half in the Washington area alone.

Just 1 percent went directly to Haitian companies.

The report’s authors said that a lack of transparency makes it hard to track all the money.

“It is possible to track who the primary recipients of USAID funds are, yet on what are these NGOs and contractors spending the money?” authors Jake Johnston and Alexander Main wrote. “What percent goes to overhead, to staff, vehicles, housing, etc.? What percent has actually been spent on the ground in Haiti?”

USAID did not respond to requests to comment on the report Friday.

Top bitcoin exchange freezes, arbitrarily shuts down, proving you will not be able to get out of bitcoin when you want to

It is now abundantly obvious that bitcoin has become an insidious “trap” that’s taking money from suckers who are deluded into believing the “bitcoin cult.” The top bitcoin exchange, MTGox, now openly admits that its trade engine crashed during the yesterday’s panic selloff, preventing people from being able to get out of the bitcoin market.

Today, MT.Gox now says, “Trading is halted until 2013-04-12 02:00am UTC to allow the market to cooldown following the drop in price,” meaning that the #1 bitcoin exchange has arbitrarily decided to stop processing orders just because it wants to!

It’s a bitcoin bank holiday! Don’t you just love holidays?

All this means three very concerning things:

#1) The bitcoin infrastructure cannot handle a selloff. Once the rush for the exits gains momentum, you will not be able to get out. Only those who sell early will be able to exit the market.

#2) The bitcoin infrastructure is subject to the whims of just one person running MTGox who can arbitrarily decide to shut it down whenever he thinks the market needs a “cooling period.” This is nearly equivalent to a financial dictatorship where one person calls the shots.

#3) Every piece of bad news will be “spun” by exchanges like MTGox into good-sounding news. As bitcoin was crashing yesterday by 60% in value in mere hours, MTGox announced it was a “victim of our own success!” So while bitcoin holders watched $1 billion in market valuation evaporate, MTGox called it a success. Gee, then what would you call it when bitcoin loses 99%? A “raging” success?

Keep in mind that MTGox makes money off bitcoin transactions, meaning the organization has every reason to spin bad news (just like Wall Street) and keep the market “churning” so that more transactions are taking place. Listening to bitcoin advice from people who are making money off bitcoin transactions is a lot like listening to Obama promise you how he’ll protect your liberty.

You are a fool if you believe anything now coming out of the “bitcoin cult.”

Check out this volatility. The time period for this chart is just 24 hours during which prices were swinging wildly:

Conclusion: Bitcoin is a failed currency experiment; not ready for prime time

Bitcoin is now officially a failed experiment. Thanks to the out-of-control hyping and “get rich” propaganda coming from its promoters, bitcoin has become nothing more than a pyramid scheme to take people’s money by suckering them into a currency scam that has no use in the real world. The wild market volatility of bitcoin now proves that merchants will not embrace this currency. There’s too much risk.

And that means bitcoins have little use in the real world, which also means that people are buying bitcoins for the sole purpose of selling bitcoins later — i.e. they are speculators playing the bitcoin casino. At this point, bitcoins might as well be widgets… or tulips.

Many bitcoin speculators are too young to have lived through the exact same mania with the dot com bubble, but believe me, it’s a nearly-identical repeat. …Millions of people all thinking they’re going to get rich without effort, suckering each other into a total delusion, displaying cult-like behaviors and irrational justifications while losing their shirts.

Ever pyramid bubble is wonderful as long as it keeps going up. Everybody thinks they’re rich, and the whole thing works great until it doesn’t. Once the delusion is shattered, everybody loses and the pyramid scheme collapses while the cult members stare in disbelief, unable to cash out because it’s already too late.

If you own bitcoins, SELL NOW while you still can

Get out of bitcoins. If you bought low, sell now while there are still suckers out there who think bitcoins will make them rich. If you bought high, sell now before it drops even further.

Oh, wait, I forgot: You can’t sell now, probably, because the #1 bitcoin exchange decided to close its doors. It’s the “bitcoin bank holiday!”

At this point you will hopefully realize that you traded dollars for a virtual currency that can be wildly manipulated, crashed, frozen and halted without your knowledge or input. If you bought in at anything over $20, you probably got suckered.

So my advice is to eat the losses, learn your expensive lesson, wise up and stop being such a fool in the future. Sell your bitcoins and focus on something more worthwhile.

The bitcoin cult is now the Jim Jones of currency, and everybody is drinking the kool-aid. It’s only a matter of time before they start dropping dead.

“It’s a holiday! A holiday!” – Gerald Celente, singing about the looming bank holidays that await depositors across the EU.

http://www.naturalnews.com/039880_bitcoin_bubble_panic_selling_accounts_frozen.html#ixzz2QBVdkNGk

BitCoin Down 50% In Massive Sell Off: Over $1 Billion Vaporized In a Few Hours

Just a few months ago the total net worth of all Bitcoins, a popular encrypted digital currency, was worth about $140 million. The non-tangible exchange mechanism is used by people all over the world to purchase everything from traditional goods and services, to illicit trade that may include drugs and stolen credit card numbers. The coins became a go-to digital store of wealth around the world after the meltdown of the Cypriot financial system, and was pushed as a ‘safe’ way to preserve wealth out of view prying government eyes. All of the excitement surrounding Bitcoin has driven the price of a single unit to in excess of $250, giving the total Bitcoins in global circulation a market capitalization of over $2.5 Billion in just a few months time.

Earlier this morning, Mike Adams of Natural News penned a warning to investors and those seeking privacy and wealth protection by utilizing the digitally encrypted BitCoin currency unit:

Bitcoin has become a casino. It is almost a perfect reflection of the tulip bulb mania of 1637 in these two ways: 1) Most people buying bitcoins have no use for bitcoins (just like tulip bulbs), and 2) The rapid increase in bitcoin valuations cannot be substantiated in any way that reflects reality.

In other words, there is no fundamental reason why bitcoins should be 2000% more valuable today than four months ago. Nothing has changed other than the craze / mania of people buying in.

When bitcoins were in the sub-$20 range, I was not concerned about any of this. I actually encouraged people to buy bitcoins and support the bitcoin movement. But alarm bells went off in my mind when it skyrocketed past $150 and headed to $200+ virtually overnight. These are not the signs of rational markets. These are warning signs of bad things yet to occur. (Via Infowars)

A few hours after Adams’ dire warning was posted, the crash he warned about has become a reality.

This morning, without warning, and moments after Bitcoin achieved its all time highs, the currency collapsed over 50%, essentially vaporizing upwards of one billion dollars in value.

This is what panic selling looks like – in real time:

Bitcoin-Collapse(Chart Courtesy Bitcoinbullbear.com)

And given that there are no protective mechanisms for the alternative free market Bitcoin trade, the crash may not yet be over.

Will it stage an amazing recovery? Alas, for this particular bubble, there are no NYSE circuit breakers nor is there a Federal Reserve-mandated “plunge protection team.” And why should there be? The central banks hate all currency alternatives. Firehats: on, especially since the volume is still relatively lite. (Zero Hedge)

The momentum for Bitcoin has now turned to the downside, much like it did in previous crashes where the currency achieved new highs, and was promptly sold off by those who bought into the bubble early at rock-bottom prices.

While BitCoin may be a preferred method of keeping payments for services and products private through its crypto-mechanisms, it is still a non-tangible asset and it require brokers and the internet to function properly.

Touted as a safe haven store of wealth and a “gold standard of the internet age” by Forbes, tens of thousands of investors bought into the hype.

Today they are paying the price.

During times of financial and economic stability BitCoin may function just fine as a suitable mechanism of exchange. But these are not ordinary times. Interesting, yes. Stable, no. And thus, exchanging one’s assets and turning them into digital Bitcoins may not be the best choice of asset protection during periods of financial, economic and political turmoil and uncertainty.

Only physical assets – the kind we can hold in our hand – can truly be called safe havens.

Food in your pantry that you can consume at anytime.

Skills and labor you can barter for other goods.

Precious metals, which have stood the test of time over thousands of years.

Land on which you can produce food and alternative power.

These are the assets that provide a realistic level of safety and security.

These are money when the system crashes and confidence in the paper ponzi schemes around the world is lost.

Bitcoin is fine for certain types of transactions. But having funds in Bitcoin is, obviously, no different than a deposit account at a bank which can go under or a stock marketprone to manipulation.

Get physical. It’s the only way to ensure your assets will really be there when you need them.

 

 

http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/bitcrash-down-50-in-massive-sell-off-over-1-billion-vaporized-in-a-few-hours_04102013

Big Banks Attempt Secret Coup Against Cheap Loans

Too Big Banks Try End Run to Kill Growing Public Banking Movement

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an international treaty negotiated in secret – hidden even from congressmen who oversee such treaties – which threatens to destroy national sovereignty.

Public banks – such as the Bank of North Dakota – can provide low-cost loans to Main Street, when Wall Street insists on high interest rates … or won’t even extend credit.

More and more states are considering launching their own public banks.

A 2011 study from Demos – a non-partisan public policy organization – in conjunction with the Center for State Innovation, analyzed the potential for “partnership banks” across the country, including numerous states already considering such legislation.   The study found:

Across the country, states are considering proposals to move general revenue deposits out of the Wall Street banks that dominate the banking business today, and use them to capitalize a new local public structure with a mission to grow the local economy. A “Main Street Partnership Bank” would be modeled on the nearly 100-year-old public Bank of North Dakota (BND). This public policy innovation—also known as a Public Bank or State Bank—could contribute to the health of local community banks, state budgets and small business job growth in an era of rapid banking concentration, budget deficits and disinvestment on Main Street.

Partnership Banks can raise revenue for states without raising taxes, and increase loans to small businesses precisely when Wall Street banks have cut back on lending and raised public borrowing costs. A Partnership Bank would act as a “banker’s bank” to in-state community banks and provide the state government with both banking services at fair terms and an annual multi-million dollar dividend.

If modeled on the successful Bank of North Dakota, Partnership Banks in other states would:

  • Create new jobs and spur economic growth. Partnership Banks are participation lenders, meaning they partner—never compete—with local banks to drive lending through local banks to small businesses. If Washington State had a fully-operational Partnership Bank capitalized at $100 million during the Great Recession, it would have supported $2.6 billion in new lending and helped to create 8,212 new small business jobs. A proposed Oregon bank could help community banks expand lending by $1.3 billion and help small business create 5,391 new Oregon jobs in its first three to five years. All of this would be accom- plished at a profit, which Partnership Banks should share with the state.
  • Generate new revenues for states directly, through annual bank dividend payments, and indirectly by creating jobs and spurring local economic growth…
  • Lower debt costs for local governments. Like the Bank of North Dakota, Partnership Banks can get access to low-cost funds from the regional Federal Home Loan Banks. The banks can pass savings on to local governments when they buy debt for infrastructure investments. The banks can also provide Letters of Credit for tax-exempt bonds at lower interest rates.
  • Strengthen local banks even out credit cycles, and preserve real competition in local credit markets. There have been no bank failures in North Dakota during the financial crisis. BND’s charter is clear that its goal is to “be helpful to and to assist in the development of [North Dakota banks]… and not, in any manner, to destroy or to be harmful to existing financial institutions.” By purchasing local bank stock, partnering with them on large loans and providing other sup- port, Partnership Banks would strengthen small banks in an era when federal policy encourages bank consolidation.
  • Build up small businesses. Surveys by the Main Street Alliance in Oregon and Washington show at least 75 percent support among small business owners. In markets increasingly dominated by large corporations and the banks that fund them, Partnership Banks would increase lending capabilities at the smaller banks that provide the majority of small business loans in America.

These various proposals would “move general revenue deposits out of the Wall Street banks that dominate the banking business today, and use them to capitalize a new local public structure with a mission to grow the local economy.”

This would obviously cut into the big banks’ profits.  Indeed, the big banks have engaged in mafia-style big-rigging fraud against local governments (see thisthis and this), scalped local governments by manipulating interest rates, and engaged in all sorts of other shenanigans to fleece governments, businesses and citizens.

And the big banks are using dirty tricks to try to kill the growing public banking movement, so as to protect their racket.

Les Leopold writes:

Clearly, from Wall Street’s perspective, the North Dakota bank must go, and all other state efforts to replicate it must be thwarted. Wall Street’s stealth weapon may be lodged within the latest corporate trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which currently is being negotiated in secret. We already know that Wall Street is seeking to remove all tariff restrictions that prevent the U.S. financial services industry from doing business in countries like Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The biggest banks also want the treaty to eliminate “non-tariff” barriers including regulations that create “unfair” competition with state-owned financial enterprises.

Depending on the final language, it is possible that the activities of the Bank of North Dakota could be ruled illegal because “foreign bankers could claim the BND stops them from lending to commercial banks throughout the state” ….  How perfect for Wall Street: a foreign bank can be used as a shill to knock out the BND.

Truthout explains:

Legislators around the world are being kept in the dark about what they’re voting on until the deal [on TPP] is hammered out; it’s expected to be completed this year. When it’s finished, if the experience of Congress here is any indication, legislators will be feeling extraordinary pressure from corporate lobbyists and their heads of state to accept the deal without a fuss. [Indeed, lawmakers often vote on legislation without ever reading it.]

***

Publicly owned enterprises, for example, are being targeted by negotiators. One such entity in the United States that has been the subject of considerable interest in recent years is the Bank of North Dakota (BND) – the only fully publicly owned financial institution in the country. The BND, which is only allowed to lend wholesale, was a stabilizing force that helped keep the already energy-rich state insulated from the shock of the financial crisis (Alaska, for example, didn’t fare as well). It has also brought a small fortune to the state’s treasury – $340 million in net tax gain between 1997 and 2009. Legislators in at least 13 different states have proposed studying or emulating the North Dakota model – state-owned development of central-bank style institutions guaranteed by tax revenue. But if the TPP is passed, that option might not be available. [Barbara Weisel, the top American government  negotiator for TPP] said that State Owned Enterprises (SOE) are routinely “competing directly with private enterprises, and often in a way that is considered unfair.”

Some of the advantages that can be conferred on State Owned Enterprises are things like preferential financing,” Weisel said. “Those are things that wouldn’t be provided to private companies – preferential provision of goods and services provided by a government.”

She said that “State Owned Enterprises – which in some cases can comprise a significant percentage of an economy – can be used to undermine what we’re otherwise trying to gain from this free trade agreement.”

A spokesperson for the BND declined to comment on whether or not this outlook was perceived by the bank to be an institutional threat. But, depending on the report’s language, foreign bankers could claim that the BND stops them from lending to commercial banks throughout the state.

Citigroup’s Johnston [Rick Johnston is a a senior vice president and director for international government affairs at Citigroup], in response to another question from the audience, said that corporations weren’t exactly enamored of competition with publicly owned enterprises – and that they are prodding TPP delegates into doing something about it.

“The companies that are running up against the problem and the challenges of the state-owned enterprises, they obviously feel strongly enough about it that the problem is being addressed within the negotiations,” he said.

***

There can be no guarantee, until the draft is finally released, that the TPP will protect entities like the BND, especially when considering, as critics have contended, that the deal’s boosters are pushing an agreement that more firmly entrenches capital flow as a form of trade.

“When you hear the word ‘trade‘ in today’s business world, it doesn’t just mean goods moving across borders,” Johnston said. “It doesn’t even mean just services moving across borders. It also means investment. And that’s something where the TPP is really gonna make a big difference.”

Trade, according to Black’s Law dictionary, is defined as “Traffic; commerceexchangeof goods for other goods, or for money.” Yet this trade pact could usher in a rash of reforms, with minimal oversight and virtually no public hearings, treating investment rules as a trade issue, even though they haven’t traditionally been dealt with as such.

A lobbyist’s world-view on this issue is instructive.  As Michael Wendell told the Congressional Subcommittee on Trade:

SOEs [state-owned enterprises], by definition, are interested in promoting the interests of their home country, and are all too often guided by state interests, rather than commercial interests.

Why does this matter? Let’s consider a Chinese SOE. Chinese SOEs benefit enormously from below-market-rate financing by state-owned banks at rates well below what American companies pay. Many of these loans may not have to be repaid at all. How does a commercial entity here in the U.S. compete with the U.S.-based operations of an SOE that sets up shop here?

***

There are many ways that disciplines on SOEs can be developed as part of the TPP talks. The best approach would be to ensure that all transactions are based on commercial considerations.

Basing all transactions on “commercial considerations” may sound okay initially.  But that would – in essence – mean that the interests of the banks in making high-interest rate loans are more important than the interests of the people in obtaining cheap loans.

Moreover, America as a nation is arguably paying trillions of dollars to the big banks in unnecessary interest costs which public banks would render moot. See this and this.

And  remember, the Founding Fathers’ vision of prosperity was largely based around public banking.

However we decide to treat foreign state-owned enterprises, banks owned by the American people will help to create prosperity for we the people and our small businesses.

Indeed, both conservative and liberal economists point out that the big banks are already state-sponsored institutions … so the government should create a little competition through public banking.

State-owned public banks – like North Dakota has – would take the power away from the big banks, andgive it back to the people … as the Founding Fathers intended.

Don’t trust the federal government? That’s fine … we’re not talking about state – not federal – banks. Don’t trust your state?  Then support a county-level bank.

Postscript:  Obama is a shill for TPP.  So is Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who told the Senate:

As Deputy Secretary of the State Department, I actively promoted the United States’ entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

Bitcoin crashes, losing nearly half of its value in six hours

(arstechnica.com) On Wednesday afternoon, the Bitcoin bubble appears to have burst. As of this writing, its current value is around $160—down from a high of $260. (It fell as low as $130 today.) There is no obvious explanation for why the digital currency has fallen so far and so fast, although the market correcting after such a huge rise might be a good explanation.

Some redditors have taken solace in a comment thread entitled “Hold Spartans.”

“This is just the market venting some pressure after these huge gains,” wrote anotherblog. “To be honest I’m glad it’s happening now. If it recovers, it will demonstrate resilience in the market and give confidence to future buyers and current holders that they don’t need to panic sell, reduce the chances of a crash in the future.”

Coincidentally, the plunge came several hours after a reddit user by the name of “Bitcoinbillionaire” suddenly, spontaneously decided to give away around $12,000 (more than 63 BTC) worth of the digital currency. Bitcoinbillionaire rewarded 13 seemingly random redditors, then stopped the whirlwind spree after about eight hours. At the moment, no evidence links the currency’s plunge with this random reddit charity.

Bitcoinbillionaire took advantage of reddit’s Bitcointip mechanism, which allows users to send each other small amounts of cash (usually less than $5). The mysterious benefactor appears to have given away 20 BTC (now worth slightly less than $4,000) as his or her first gift to one Karelb. This gift happened under a comment titled: “I wish for the price to crash.” That comment now seems prophetic.

A look at the account transferring all this money shows that two hours before the giveaways began, Bitcoinbillionaire received 50 BTC (about $9,500) from another account without an IP address.

Business Insider reported that Bitcoinbillionaire has left hints that he or she was an “early adopter”and had forgotten he or she even had any bitcoins. Not much is known beyond that, as Bitcoinbillionaire vanished as suddenly as he or she appeared.

“You’ve made me change my mind about this whole thing,” Bitcoinbillionaire wrote. “I’m done.”

Don’t feel bad if you missed the action. Business Insider also notes that this pot of cash is now being “paid forward.”

Big Pharma made $711 billion overcharging seniors and disabled

AFP Photo / Justin Sullivan

 

(RT) The 11 largest drug companies have made $711 billion in profits in just a decade, largely due to overcharging Medicare, which does not seek out competitive prices and uses taxpayer funds to support Big Pharma.

Since Medicare is prohibited from purchasing drugs based on their cost, its prescription drug program has been making large payouts to drug companies that have overcharged the program for years, according to an analysis by Health Care for America Now (HCAN).

“There is nothing wrong with a company making profits – that’s what their supposed to do. But the drug industry’s profits are excessive as a result of overcharging American consumers and taxpayers,” writes Ethan Rome, executive director of HCAN, for the Huffington Post. “We pay significantly more than any other country for the exact same drugs.”

Rome notes that per capita drug spending in the US is 40 percent higher than in Canada, 75 percent greater than in Japan, and nearly 300 percent greater than Denmark.

The 11 largest global prescription drug companies have skyrocketed since the MedicarePart D prescription drug program was launched in 2006. The government health program enables seniors and the disabled to buy taxpayer-subsidized coverage for many of the most widely disseminated medicines. But Medicare is prohibited from negotiatingprices with pharmaceutical companies or seeking out more cost-effective drugs, thereby costing seniors, the disabled and American taxpayers billions of dollars more than some argue the drugs are worth.

Some lawmakers have recently urged Congress to consider changing the law, for the sake of cutting unnecessarily high costs. Wisconsin Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach told Wisconsin Public Radio that his state could save $1.2 billion over ten years if Congress were to allow Medicare to partake in prescription drug negotiations.

“I understand that pharmaceutical companies are for-profit companies,” he told the station last week. “I understand there’s a lot of research and development that goes into the products that they produce. All of that being said, it shouldn’t cost us more to get that kind of pharmaceuticals we need to have.”

But according to the HCAN analysis, Big Pharma spends very little on research and development. Even though pharmaceuticals cite research as a costly part of its operations, the money spent on this is exaggerated, Rome claims. Drug companies spend 19 times more on marketing than on research and development – another reason why the industry reaps so much in profits each year, he adds.

US President Barack Obama has long promised to repeal the prohibition on Medicarenegotiations with drug companies, but has so far failed to do so. The Veterans Administration currently negotiates drug prices, and manufacturers argue that lettingMedicare take over the negotiations would make no difference to the industry. Supporters of drug manufacturers also continue to emphasize the high costs of research and development.

But the Congressional Budget Office found that if Medicare were to receive the same bulk-purchasing discounts on prescription drugs that state Medicaid programs receive, the federal government would cut its spending by $137 billion over 10 years.

“Our politicians give all kinds of tax breaks and subsidies to big corporations that don’t need them: Big Oil. Wall Street. Companies that ship our jobs overseas,” Rome writes. “Every gift to a special interest, including allowing Big Pharma to overchargeMedicare, is an expenditure of scarce tax dollars. That’s called wasteful spending.”

The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America

The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America - Photo by Claude Le Berre

Did you know that there are thousands upon thousands of homeless people that are living underground beneath the streets of major U.S. cities?  It is happening in Las Vegas, it is happening in New York City and it is even happening in Kansas City.  As the economy crumbles, poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding and so is homelessness.  In addition to the thousands of “tunnel people” living under the streets of America, there are also thousands that are living in tent cities, there are tens of thousands that are living in their vehicles and there are more than a million public school children that do not have a home to go back to at night.  The federal government tells us that the recession “is over” and that “things are getting better”, and yet poverty and homelessness in this country continue to rise with no end in sight.  So what in the world are things going to look like when the next economic crisis hits?

When I heard that there were homeless people living in a network of underground tunnels beneath the streets of Kansas City, I was absolutely stunned.  I have relatives that live in that area.  I never thought of Kansas City as one of the more troubled cities in the United States.

But according to the Daily Mail, police recently discovered a huge network of tunnels under the city that people had been living in…

Below the streets of Kansas City, there are deep underground tunnels where a group of vagrant homeless people lived in camps.

These so-called homeless camps have now been uncovered by the Kansas City Police, who then evicted the residents because of the unsafe environment.

Authorities said these people were living in squalor, with piles of garbage and dirty diapers left around wooded areas.

The saddest part is the fact that authorities found dirty diapers in the areas near these tunnels.  That must mean that babies were being raised in that kind of an environment.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  In recent years, the tunnel people of Las Vegas have received quite a bit of publicity all over the world.  It has been estimated that more than 1,000 people live in the massive network of flood tunnels under the city…

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care – their 400sq ft ‘bungalow’ boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf.

Could you imagine living like that?  Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans a “normal lifestyle” is no longer an option.  Either they have to go to the homeless shelters or they have to try to eke out an existence on their own any way that they can.

In New York City, authorities are constantly trying to root out the people that live in the tunnels under the city and yet they never seem to be able to find them all.  The following is from a New York Post article about the “Mole People” that live underneath New York City…

The homeless people who live down here are called Mole People. They do not, as many believe, exist in a separate, organized underground society. It’s more of a solitary existence and loose-knit community of secretive, hard-luck individuals.

The New York Post followed one homeless man known as “John Travolta” on a tour through the underground world.  What they discovered was a world that is very much different from what most New Yorkers experience…

In the tunnels, their world is one of malt liquor, tight spaces, schizophrenic neighbors, hunger and spells of heat and cold. Travolta and the others eat fairly well, living on a regimented schedule of restaurant leftovers, dumped each night at different times around the neighborhood above his foreboding home.

Even as the Dow hits record high after record high, poverty in New York City continues to rise at a very frightening pace.  Incredibly, the number of homeless people sleeping in the homeless shelters of New York City has increased by a whopping 19 percent over the past year.

In many of our major cities, the homeless shelters are already at maximum capacity and are absolutely packed night after night.  Large numbers of homeless people are often left to fend for themselves.

That is one reason why we have seen the rise of so many tent cities.

Yes, the tent cities are still there, they just aren’t getting as much attention these days because they do not fit in with the “economic recovery” narrative that the mainstream media is currently pushing.

In fact, many of the tent cities are larger than ever.  For example, you can check out a Reuters video about a growing tent city in New Jersey that was posted on YouTube at the end of March right here.  A lot of these tent cities have now become permanent fixtures, and unfortunately they will probably become much larger when the next major economic crisis strikes.

But perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the massive number of children that are suffering night after night.

For the first time ever, more than a million public school children in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percentsince the 2006-2007 school year.

So if things are really “getting better”, then why in the world do we have more than a million public school children without homes?

These days a lot of families that have lost their homes have ended up living in their vehicles.  The following is an excerpt from a 60 Minutes interview with one family that is living in their truck…

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle,15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ‘em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

But after watching a news report or reading something on the Internet about these people we rapidly forget about them because they are not a part of “our world”.

Another place where a lot of poor people end up is in prison.  In a previous article, I detailed how the prison population in the United States has been booming in recent years.  If you can believe it, the United States now has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has about 5 percent of the total global population.

And these days it is not just violent criminals that get thrown into prison.  If you lose your job and get behind on your bills, you could be thrown into prison as well.  The following is from a recent CBS News article

Roughly a third of U.S. states today jail people for not paying off their debts, from court-related fines and fees to credit card and car loans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Such practices contravene a 1983 United States Supreme Court ruling that they violate the Constitutions’s Equal Protection Clause.

Some states apply “poverty penalties,” such as late fees, payment plan fees and interest, when people are unable to pay all their debts at once. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. In North Carolina, people are charged for using a public defender, so poor defendants who can’t afford such costs may be forced to forgo legal counsel.

The high rates of unemployment and government fiscal shortfalls that followed the housing crash have increased the use of debtors’ prisons, as states look for ways to replenish their coffers. Said Chettiar, “It’s like drawing blood from a stone. States are trying to increase their revenue on the backs of the poor.”

If you are poor, the United States can be an incredibly cold and cruel place.  Mercy and compassion are in very short supply.

The middle class continues to shrink and poverty continues to grow with each passing year.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  And if you throw in those that are considered to be “near poverty”, that number becomes much larger.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

For many more facts about the rapid increase of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.

But even as poverty grows, it seems like the hearts of those that still do have money are getting colder.  Just check out what happened recently at a grocery store that was in the process of closing down in Augusta, Georgia

Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”

Can you imagine watching that happen?

But of course handouts and charity are only temporary solutions.  What the poor in this country really need are jobs, and unfortunately there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States since the recession ended.

In fact, the employment crisis looks like it is starting to take another turn for the worse.  The number of layoffs in the month of March was 30 percent higher than the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, small businesses are indicating that hiring is about to slow down significantly.  According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses in the United States are extremely pessimistic right now.  The following is what Goldman Sachs had to say about this survey…

Components of the survey were consistent with the decline in headline optimism, as the net percent of respondents planning to hire fell to 0% (from +4%), those expecting higher sales fell to -4% (from +1%), and those reporting that it is a good time to expand ticked down to +4% (from +5%). The net percent of respondents expecting the economy to improve was unchanged at -28%, a very depressed level. However, on the positive side, +25% of respondents plan increased capital spending [ZH: With Alcoa CapEx spending at a 2 year low]. Small business owners continue to place poor sales, taxes, and red tape at the top of their list of business problems, as they have for the past several years.

So why aren’t our politicians doing anything to fix this?

For example, why in the world don’t they stop millions of our jobs from being sent out of the country?

Well, the truth is that they don’t think we have a problem.  In fact, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently said that U.S. trade deficits “don’t matter”.

He apparently does not seem alarmed that more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been shut down in the United States since 2001.

And since the last election, the White House has seemed to have gone into permanent party mode.

On Tuesday, another extravagant party will be held at the White House.  It is being called “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul”, and it is going to include some of the biggest names in the music industry…

As the White House has previously announced, Justin Timberlake (who will be making his White House debut), Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, and others will be performing at the exclusive event.

And so who will be paying for all of this?

You and I will be.  Even as the Obamas cry about all of the other “spending cuts” that are happening, they continue to blow millions of taxpayer dollars on wildly extravagant parties and vacations.

Overall, U.S. taxpayers will spend well over a billion dollars on the Obamas this year.

I wonder what the tunnel people that live under the streets of America think about that.

Living Underground - Photo by Patrick Cashin
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/the-tunnel-people-that-live-under-the-streets-of-america/#y0LM9Kvua2B11raq.99

SENATOR: “Banks Still Owe Us For The Bailouts!”

(Daily Bail) “Hank Paulson is the world’s greatest salesman.  We gave $700 billion to Wall Street and nobody cares.”

Outstanding new interview.  Inhofe beats on Henry Paulson.

Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change interviews Senator James Inhofe about his opposition to TARP and martial law threats he received from Henry Paulson.

Not stopping TARP was my biggest failure.

“Think about how big it was — $700 billion given to an unelected bureaucrat, with no accountability, to do anything he wanted with it.  Can this happen?  It did.”

Communists Stand in Defiance of Bill of Rights

(fromthetrenchesworldreport.com) The communist insurgents within the United States continue their push to disarm we American nationals, even to the point of presenting poll numbers which have been proven to be false via their own previous admissions.  Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of ex-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was making the rounds over the weekend, spouting his sedition while trying to present himself as some kind of American hero.

Let’s look at this logically and ask the question. Does the government grant the people their rights?  Was the Bill of Rights written by the government to outline the privileges they were to bestow upon us, said privileges of course to be revoked, altered, or regulated at the government’s whim?

This is the position the government would like to establish.  It is however absolutely a fiction.  This government did not grant us our rights, as all power within this nation resides in the people.  We granted the government limited power, which they have distorted.  Our rights are inalienable, they cannot be removed as we are born with them and they stay with us until our deaths.

The 2nd Article to the Bill of Rights states in part: “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This is an absolute statement and there is no way it can be misconstrued.

Infringe is defined as: “Act so as to limit or undermine; encroach on”, therefore any government action that alters, in the smallest degree, any American nationals right to arm, as he or she sees fit, is by definition an infringement and is not law, but rather an act of sedition.

The infringements that have been levied upon our Bill of Rights are too numerous to count.  These infringements have in fact brought us to the precipice of slavery.  The only thing standing in the way of a complete takeover of the people by the government is our possession of our firearms which have not yet been made a part of the infringements.

This is not just about our 2nd Article right.  This is about our freedom and liberty, et.al.  A person who is governed by another person is not free.  This is why our Republic emphasizes self governess of, by, and for the individual.

Mark Kelly spouted the lie that 92% of the American people support universalbackground checks, which can only be accomplished through universal registration.  Again, this is a lie, but even if it were not, it would not matter.  If 99.999% supported it, no one of us can alter the rights of another.

Our employees in the government are forbidden by law to advocate in any way to alter our Bill of Rights. The 1934 Gun Control Act was and is an infringement, and tell me how bold would these actors within this police state be in attacking our homes, if we still had our machine guns and hand grenades?  The 1968 Gun Control Act was and is an infringement, as the 2nd Article to the Bill of Rights does not say “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except for those who are felons. “

These communists are parasites of the lowest degree and have sleazed their way into our lives in taking our kindness for weakness, said kindness fostered in reality via stupidity as the most feared threat to our safety is an armed government wielding tyranny over an unarmed population.

These present infringements have been put forth for no other reason than to segment another portion of our population to be without their inalienable rights.  And with the new mental health aspect, hell you do not even have to be accused of harming anyone.  Now, instead of being dispossessed of our rights via conviction, which again is unconstitutional, we are to be disarmed for what could happen: an ‘if’ or a ‘maybe’.

We must stand firm in our defiance of universal background check registration and let these communists know that not only are they going to cease and desist in their attempt at further infringement, but we demand that all past infringements be removed as a precursor to their trials for sedition.

God bless the Republic, death to the international corporate mafia, we shall prevail.

The Anger Phase Of Humanity Is Coming

Do not use Safety Deposit Boxes

(dinarvets.com) U.S DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY HAS TOLD BANKS – IN WRITING – IT MAY INSPECT SAFE DEPOSIT BOXES WITHOUT WARRANT AND SEIZE ANY GOLD, SILVER, GUNS OR OTHER VALUABLES IT FINDS INSIDE THOSE BOXES!

According to in-house memos now circulating, the DHS has issued orders to banks across America which announce to them that “under the Patriot Act” the DHS has the absolute right to seize, without any warrant whatsoever, any and all customer bank accounts, to make “periodic and unannounced” visits to any bank to open and inspect the contents of “selected safe deposit boxes.”

Further, the DHS “shall, at the discretion of the agent supervising the search, remove, photograph or seize as evidence” any of the following items “bar gold, gold coins, firearms of any kind unless manufactured prior to 1878, documents such as passports or foreign bank account records, pornography or any material that, in the opinion of the agent, shall be deemed of to be of a contraband nature.”

DHS memos also state that banks are informed that any bank employee, on any level, that releases “improper” “classified DHS Security information” to any member of the public, to include the customers whose boxes have been clandestinely opened and inspected and “any other party, to include members of the media” and further “that the posting of any such information on the internet will be grounds for the immediate termination of the said employee or employees and their prosecution under the Patriot Act.” Safety deposit box holders and depositors are not given advanced notice when failed banks shut their doors.

If people have their emergency money in a safe deposit box or an account in a bank that closes, they will not be allowed into the bank to get it out. They can knock on the door and beg to get in but the sheriff’s department or whoever is handling the closure will simply say “no” because they are just following orders.

Deposit box and account holders are not warned of the hazards of banking when they sign up. It is not until they need to get their cash or valuables out in a hurry that they find themselves in trouble.

Rules governing access to safe deposit boxes and money held in accounts are written into the charter of each bank. The charter is the statement of policy under which the bank is allowed by the government to do business. These rules are subject to change at any time by faceless bureaucrats who are answerable to no one. They can be changed without notice, without the agreement of the people, and against their will. People can complain but no one will care because this is small potatoes compared to the complaints that will be voiced when the executive order that governs national emergencies is enforced.

That order allows the suspension of habeas corpus and all rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights.

A look at the fine print of the contract signed when a safety deposit box is opened reveals that in essence the signer has given to the bank whatever property he has put into that deposit box. When times are good people will be allowed open access to their safe deposit box and the property that is in it. This also applies to their bank accounts.

But when times get really bad, many may find that the funds they have placed on deposit and the property they thought was secured in the safe deposit box now belong to the bank, not to them. Although this was probably not explained to them when they signed their signature card, this is what they were agreeing to.

During the Great Depression in the early 1930’s people thought that many banks were going to fail. They were afraid they would lose their money so they went in mass to take it out, in what is known as a run on the banks. The government closed the banks to protect them from angry depositors who wanted their money back. Throughout history, governments have acted to protect the interests of banks and the wealthy people who own them, not the interests of depositors or box holders.

In a time of emergency, people will have no recourse if access to their safe deposit box and bank accounts is denied. If they are keeping money in a bank that would be needed in an emergency or in a time when credit is no longer free flowing, they may not be able to get it out of the bank. The emergency may occur at night or on a weekend or holiday when the bank is closed.

The solution is to take emergency cash or valuables out of the safe deposit box or bank account and secure them somewhere else, like in a home safe. An even better idea may be to close the safe deposit box account completely, letting someone else entertain the illusion of safety.

Americans have learned a few things since the Great Depression. They now have the FDIC to liquidate any failed banks.

The FDIC promises to set up a series of dates and times when safe deposit box renters can access their boxes by appointment to remove their property and surrender their keys. The FDIC also promises to mail bank customers an announcement of the dates for such events and include a question and answer page that addresses safe deposit box access.

The people have the FDIC to give them back the money they had on deposit that they were unable to get out of any failed bank that carries FDIC insurance. Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC, promises that depositor`s money will be available in 24 hours or less. But people should remember that the FDIC is just another bureaucracy, and it`s probably best not to rely on a bureaucracy in an emergency.

THE SAME HOLDS TRUE FOR STORAGE FACILITIES

DON’T PUT ANYTHING VALUABLE AND/OR NON-REPLACEABLE IN ANY BANK OR STORAGE FACILITY

 

Note: We’ve been asked to site sources for this article but we did not write it, the source in which it came from is at the top. Also see this,  http://investmentwatchblog.com/u-s-department-of-homeland-security-has-told-banks-in-writing-it-may-inspect-safe-deposit-boxes-without-warrant-and-sieze-any-gold-silver-guns-or-other-valuables-it-finds-inside-those-boxes/

‘Bedroom tax’ will hit single parents and disabled people hardest

single mother with baby

(Guardian) Single parents with spare bedrooms in social housing will soon be around £700 poorer per year.

Nearly a quarter of those due to be affected by the so-called “spare bedroom tax” will be single parents, according to new research.

Government figures show that 150,000 of the 660,000 people expected to have their benefits reduced because they have at least one unused room are lone parents under 60, Labour claim.

The average amount taken from each person per week is £13, which amounts to £676 a year, according to the party’s analysis.

The claim comes amid new concerns that disabled people will also be disproportionately affected by the change in benefit rules, due to be introduced in April.

New rules state that housing benefit and universal credit claimants deemed to have one unused bedroom in their council or housing association home will lose 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more will lose 25%.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that 660,000 people living in social housing will lose an average of £728 per year as a result of the change.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “David Cameron promised to stand up for parents, but his bedroom tax is a £100m tax bombshell for single mums and dads.

“The bedroom tax has now been exposed as a chaotic disaster, but it’s not too late for the prime minister to do the decent thing, admit he has got this wrong and think again.”

The planned changes will also affect hundreds of thousands of disabled people, according to the National Housing Federation.

A fund to help people eligible for disability living allowance was given a £30m boost this year by Cameron. But an analysis of figures by the federation claims that this will leave a £100m shortfall which will have to be made up by claimants.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “The bedroom tax is ill-thought and unfair as thousands of disabled people will have no choice but to cut back further on food and other expenses in order to stay in their own homes.”

20 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading For Big Trouble In The Months Ahead

 

20 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading For Big Trouble In The Months Ahead - Photo by Frank Kovalchek

(Economic Collapse Blog) – Is the U.S. economy about to experience a major downturn?  Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of signs that economic activity in the United States is really slowing down right now.  Freight volumes and freight expenditures are way down, consumer confidence has declined sharply, major retail chains all over America are closing hundreds of stores, and the “sequester” threatens to give the American people their first significant opportunity to experience what “austerity” tastes like.  Gas prices are going up rapidly, corporate insiders are dumping massive amounts of stock and there are high profile corporate bankruptcies in the news almost every single day now.  In many ways, what we are going through right now feels very similar to 2008 before the crash happened.  Back then the warning signs of economic trouble were very obvious, but our politicians and the mainstream media insisted that everything was just fine, and the stock market was very much detached from reality.  When the stock market did finally catch up with reality, it happened very, very rapidly.  Sadly, most people do not appear to have learned any lessons from the crisis of 2008.  Americans continue to rack up staggering amounts of debt, and Wall Street is more reckless than ever.  As a society, we seem to have concluded that 2008 was just a temporary malfunction rather than an indication that our entire system was fundamentally flawed.  In the end, we will pay a great price for our overconfidence and our recklessness.

So what will the rest of 2013 bring?

Hopefully the economy will remain stable for as long as possible, but right now things do not look particularly promising.

The following are 20 signs that the U.S. economy is heading for big trouble in the months ahead…

#1 Freight shipment volumes have hit their lowest level in two years, and freight expenditures have gone negative for the first time since the last recession.

#2 The average price of a gallon of gasoline has risen by more than 50 cents over the past two months.  This is making things tougher on our economy, because nearly every form of economic activity involves moving people or goods around.

#3 Reader’s Digest, once one of the most popular magazines in the world, has filed for bankruptcy.

#4 Atlantic City’s newest casino, Revel, has just filed for bankruptcy.  It had been hoped that Revel would help lead a turnaround for Atlantic City.

#5 A state-appointed review board has determined that there is “no satisfactory plan” to solve Detroit’s financial emergency, and many believe that bankruptcy is imminent.  If Detroit does declare bankruptcy, it will be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

#6 David Gallagher, the CEO of Town Sports International, recently said that his company is struggling right now because consumers simply do not have as much disposable income anymore…

“As we moved into January membership trends were tracking to expectations in the first half of the month, but fell off track and did not meet our expectations in the second half of the month. We believe the driver of this was the rapid decline in consumer sentiment that has been reported and is connected to the reduction in net pay consumers earn given the changes in tax rates that went into effect in January.

#7 According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence in the U.S. has hit its lowest level in more than a year.

#8 Sales of the Apple iPhone have been slower than projected, and as a result Chinese manufacturing giant FoxConn has instituted a hiring freeze.  The following is from a CNET report that was posted on Wednesday…

The Financial Times noted that it was the first time since a 2009 downturn that the company opted to halt hiring in all of its facilities across the country. The publication talked to multiple recruiters.

The actions taken by Foxconn fuel the concern over the perceived weakened demand for the iPhone 5 and slumping sentiment around Apple in general, with production activity a leading indicator of interest in the product.

#9 In 2012, global cell phone sales posted their first decline since the end of the last recession.

#10 We appear to be in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“.  It is being projected that Sears, J.C. Penney, Best Buy and RadioShack will also close hundreds of stores by the end of 2013.

#11 An internal memo authored by a Wal-Mart executive that was recently leaked to the press said that February sales were a “total disaster” and that the beginning of February was the “worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

#12 If Congress does not do anything and “sequestration” goes into effect on March 1st, the Pentagon says that approximately 800,000 civilian employees will be facing mandatory furloughs.

#13 Barack Obama is admitting that the “sequester” could have a crippling impact on the U.S. economy.  The following is from a recent CNBC article

Obama cautioned that if the $85 billion in immediate cuts — known as the sequester — occur, the full range of government would feel the effects. Among those he listed: furloughed FBI agents, reductions in spending for communities to pay police and fire personnel and teachers, and decreased ability to respond to threats around the world.

He said the consequences would be felt across the economy.

“People will lose their jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate might tick up again.”

#14 If the “sequester” is allowed to go into effect, the CBO is projecting that it will cause U.S. GDP growth to go down by at least 0.6 percent and that it will “reduce job growth by 750,000 jobs“.

#15 According to a recent Gallup survey, 65 percent of all Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of “economic difficulty“, and 50 percent of all Americans believe that the “best days” of America are now in the past.

#16 U.S. GDP actually contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.  This was the first GDP contraction that the official numbers have shown in more than three years.

#17 For the entire year of 2012, U.S. GDP growth was only about 1.5 percent.  According to Art Cashin, every time GDP growth has fallen this low for an entire year, the U.S. economy has always ended up going into a recession.

#18 The global economy overall is really starting to slow down

The world’s richest countries saw their economies contract for the first time in almost four years during the final three months of 2012, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.

The Paris-based thinktank said gross domestic product across its 34 member states fell by 0.2% – breaking a period of rising activity stretching back to a 2.3% slump in output in the first quarter of 2009.

All the major economies of the OECD – the US, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and the UK – have already reported falls in output at the end of 2012, with the thinktank noting that the steepest declines had been seen in the European Union, where GDP fell by 0.5%. Canada is the only member of the G7 currently on course to register an increase in national output.

#19 Corporate insiders are dumping enormous amounts of stock right now.  Do they know something that we don’t?

#20 Even some of the biggest names on Wall Street are warning that we are heading for an economic collapse.  For example, Seth Klarman, one of the most respected investors on Wall Street, said in his year-end letter that the collapse of the U.S. financial system could happen at any time

“Investing today may well be harder than it has been at any time in our three decades of existence,” writes Seth Klarman in his year-end letter. The Fed’s “relentless interventions and manipulations” have left few purchase targets for Baupost, he laments. “(The) underpinnings of our economy and financial system are so precarious that the un-abating risks of collapse dwarf all other factors.”

So what do you think is going to happen to the U.S. economy in the months ahead?

CNN: For the average American, all this couldn’t be happening at a worse time: Large home heating bills, smaller paychecks, looming budget cuts and skyrocketing gas prices… Gas prices rise 32 days straight, Increase 51 cents in 2 months.

$5.00 a gallon gas hits California…32 days of higher gas prices comes at tough time…

(Investment Watch) For the average American, all this couldn’t be happening at a worse time.

Most of the country’s 160 million workers are taking home less pay each week since the payroll tax cuts expired last month.

The government in 2011 had temporarily lowered the payroll tax rate for the first $113,700 of annual earnings in an effort to keep more cash in the pockets of Americans and provide a boost to the economy.
Now, workers earning the national average salary of $41,000 are receiving about $60 less on every monthly paycheck.

Smaller Payday Trims Workers’ Splurges as U.S. Tax Breaks Expire

Phoenix high school teacher Kenny Williams said he’s cutting back on his “family splurge fund” for movie and sports outings after the reinstated U.S. payroll tax lowered his first paycheck of the year by $30.

The 46-year-old single dad of two was shopping at the 99 Cent Only store in Phoenix last week to save money on groceries and partly offset the $60-a-month cut he expects in his take- home pay. Dinners out also will go, he said.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-14/smaller-payday-trims-workers-splurges-as-u-s-tax-breaks-expire.html

 

Increase 51 cents in 2 months

Consumers are taking another huge hit in 2013. First, the two percent Social Security tax hike began the year. Now, gas prices are soaring ever closer to $4 a gallon and have jumped 51 cents a gallon since Dec. 20.

According to the Oil Price Information Service, the national average for a gallon of unleaded was $3.21.9 on Dec. 20, 2012. Today, that price is $3.73.0. While there has been a steady increase, prices shot almost 9 cents just over the weekend.

This President’s Day also marked a full month of rising gas prices every single business day, following a very small early year drop. Gas prices began rising Jan. 18, from $3.29.3-a-gallon, and have soared since. If this increase continues, gas prices could threaten or even top the all-time high price of $4.11, set in 2008.

http://cnsnews.com/blog/julia-seymour/gas-prices-soar-51-cents-just-two-months

Up 96% under Obama…

(CNSNews.com) – The average price of a gallon of gas has increased 96 percent since President Barack Obama first took office in 2009, according to figures from the Energy Information Agency (EIA).

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/price-gallon-gas-96-under-obama

 

$5 Gas Returns To Southland

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gas prices in Southern California rose again on Monday, leaving some drivers paying over $5.00 per gallon.

CBS2?s Amber Lee reports the average price of a gallon of gas in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area climbed for the 25th consecutive day to $4.29 – over 50 cents higher than last month, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

One gas station in downtown Los Angeles was offering regular unleaded at $5.19 on Monday, prompting at least one potential customer to exit his vehicle, snap of a photo of the station’s prices – and then drive off in search of cheaper gas.

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/02/18/5-gas-returns-to-southland/

 

Gas Prices Surge To Highest Ever On This Day At Fastest Pace In Four Years

Despite being weeks away from the start of the driving season proper, gas prices – at the pump – have been surging recently. With premium now over $4 nationwide (over $5 in SoCal – up 25 days in a row), this is the most expensive gas has ever been for the second week in February despite gasoline being relatively well supplied.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-02-18/gas-prices-surge-highest-ever-day-fastest-pace-four-years

 

Why 8% Unemployment, Or More, Could Lie Ahead

 

Severe fiscal tightening in the U.S. will lead to no growth or a contraction in the first two quarters of 2013 and will push unemployment over 8 percent, according to Lombard Street Research.

Is It Fair For People On Food Stamps To Buy Prime Rib And Lobster While Working Families Barely Survive?

1a

(Michael Snyder) -Should we all quit working and jump on board the Obama gravy train?

Of course I am being facetious, but when you are barely surviving does there come a point when it just becomes easier to give up and totally rely on the government?

Today, the federal government runs nearly 80 different means-tested welfare programs, and many state and local governments have their own welfare programs on top of that.  If you become an expert on those programs and you learn how to game the system, can you live more comfortably than someone that lives honestly and works as hard as they can and yet still makes less than 10 dollars an hour?

Now, right from the outset of this article, let me make it abundantly clear that I do not believe that most people are abusing the system.  As I have written about over and over, the number of Americans living in poverty is rapidly increasing because there are not enough jobs.  There are not enough jobs because we are shipping millions of them out of the country to the other side of the globe, and we are also losing millions of jobs to technology.  There have always been those that need our help, and because of the foolish decisions that we have made as a nation, the ranks of the poor will continue to expand.  But it is also true that there are some people out there that are very brazenly abusing the system.  For example, is it really fair for people on food stamps to buy prime rib and lobster while many working families barely survive?  People like that are taking advantage of their fellow Americans, and they are making it harder for the people that really need the help to be able to get it.

Unfortunately, we are rapidly becoming an “entitlement society”.  Close to half the country lives in a home that receives some sort of monetary benefits from the federal government each month at this point.

In particular, the food stamp program has experienced explosive growth in recent years.  Since Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has grown by more than 49 percent, and more than 11,000 people a day have enrolled in the food stamp program since Obama entered the White House.

And if you can believe it, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of Spain.

Will we all eventually be on food stamps?

Actually, the truth is that there are millions upon millions of hard working American families that are desperately trying to make it on their own and that don’t want to become financial dependents of the federal government.  Unfortunately, it can be a little disheartening when you are barely making it from month to month and yet you see others using government benefit cards to buy luxury items.

The other day my wife came across a discussion on Facebook that really caught her attention.  I thought that I would share with you all the post that got that discussion going.  As far as I can determine, this woman shared what she believed she actually saw at her local grocery store, but I have no way of determining if this story is true or not.  But I have seen quite a few similar stories of food stamp abuse in the past.  Either way, I think the following story will be good to help spark a conversation about whether our current system is broken or not.  All of the names have been removed so as to protect the identity of the woman that originally posted this on Facebook…

Okay…so, I’m going to go on a rant for a minute…just to get it off my chest…

**** & I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things because we were getting low…sooo, we pick up our 40% off chicken and buy one get two free items and proceed to checkout.

There is a woman ahead of us with a child about 4 years old. The woman, I couldn’t help but notice….had beautiful fingernails, clearly professionally done…and I also noticed her brand new IPHONE…which she was talking on, and I think that is rude while you are being checked out. Her little girl was commenting on the TWO live lobsters in a bag on the checkout, asked if it was going to hurt when they get cooked, her mom brushed her off…at that time I took a look at what else she had on the counter…A HUGE roast, sirloin tips, shrimp, beef ribs and pork ribs…only the prime cuts… I thought to myself….mmmmmm someone is having a yummy dinner and must have a great job as I could not afford these things (not that I’d get my nails done anyway)….

So…the cashier gives her a total and what does she pull out of her wallet but a BENEFIT card!!!!!!! I had all I could do to contain myself…

Sometimes people need help, and I’m okay with that, and those who need it should get it….BUT…if you can afford the latest IPHONE and fancy nails then why in the world are the taxpayers paying for your LOBSTER?!!!! If she really needed help and food, she should have been buying the “sale” items…40% off chicken, buy one get one free cheese ravioli…you know, like the rest of us working class have to buy!

It especially makes me mad because there ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP and can’t get it…My son and his girlfriend and brand new baby aren’t eligible for an ounce of help…they tried, she works days and he works nights so that they don’t have to pay for day-care, they use inexpensive diapers and try to save money anyway they can, they struggle to make ends meet and to pay for their straight talk phones and to boot are paying off college loans…but they supposedly make too much…c’mon, really, he works at McDonalds and she works in a nursing home…lets be real here…those are the type that SHOULD get help…UGHHHH Our system is broken and something needs to be done about it!!!

There, that’s my rant…kudo’s to you if you managed to read the whole thing as I know it was an awful long rant….Gotta go work now, ;)Thanks for listening.

In response to her story, dozens of people posted comments.  Quite a few people said that they had seen similar things where they lived.

And the truth is that food stamps are accepted just about wherever you look these days.  Just check out this shocking article: “Obama’s food-stamp nation: ‘We accept EBT’ signs are everywhere“.

So is this kind of thing fair?

If not, what can be done about it?

What everybody can agree upon is that the number of food stamp recipients is absolutely exploding.  The following is from a recent CNS news article

When Obama entered office in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012—the most recent data available—there were 47,692,896 Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

But this didn’t just start under Obama.  Back in the year 2000, there were just 17 million Americans on food stamps.

30 million more have been added to the program since then.

And of course food stamps is not the only federal welfare program that is being abused.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a tremendous amount of abuse in the free cell phone program as well.

The U.S. government spent about $2.2 billion last year to provide phones to low-income Americans, but a Wall Street Journal review of the program shows that a large number of those who received the phones haven’t proved they are eligible to receive them.

The Lifeline program—begun in 1984 to ensure that poor people aren’t cut off from jobs, families and emergency services—is funded by charges that appear on the monthly bills of every landline and wireless-phone customer. Payouts under the program have shot up from $819 million in 2008, as more wireless carriers have persuaded regulators to let them offer the service.

A lot of people refer to those free cell phones as “Obamaphones”, but the truth is that the program has been going on for a long time.  It just has accelerated greatly under Obama.

So what is the solution to all of this?

Well, what we really need are a lot more jobs, but in the State of the Union address last night Obama simply rehashed a lot of the same tired proposals that he and our former presidents have been promoting for years.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

There is a reason why the percentage of the civilian labor force in the United States that is employed has been steadily declining every single year since 2006.  We keep pursuing foolish policies, and those policies are steadily destroying our economy.

Sadly, many of our politicians appear to be engaged in some form of “doublethink”.  The things that they tell us will solve our problems are actually the things that are making our problems even worse.

For example, Barack Obama says that we need even more “free trade agreements” and that we need to integrate our economy into the emerging one world economic system even more deeply.

But as I have shown in article after article, the “free trade” agenda of the global elite has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of U.S. businesses and millions of good paying U.S. jobs.

For much more on this, please see the following article: “55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America“.

And of course Obama once promised that he would never “rest” until he had fixed our employment problems, but that hasn’t exactly been the truth either.  The following is from a recent article by Dan Gainor

Back in 2009, the president promised never to “rest” until the job situation was fixed. Nearly four years later, he’s done a lot of resting.

According to The Weekly Standard, Pres. Obama has had 83 vacation days overall and Factcheck.org says he took 26 of those in 2009. That means the president has taken at least 57 vacation days since his vow not to “rest.”

But hey, he needs his rest.  Life is rough.  U.S. taxpayers only spendabout a billion dollars a year on the Obamas.  How is he supposed to scrape by on such limited resources?

Meanwhile, Americans are still incredibly pessimistic about the economy.  The following is what one recent survey found…

  • Eight in 10 Americans are skeptical that career and employment opportunities will be better for the next generation.
  • More than half of Americans say the economy will not fully recover from the 2007-2009 recession for another six years; 29% believe the economy will never fully recover.
  • 73% of Americans were directly impacted by the recession: individuals surveyed had either lost a job themselves or a family member/close relative had been out work because of the economic downturn.
  • The majority of survey participants said college would become unaffordable for most young Americans.
  • 56% reported having fewer savings than before the recession.
  • More than half of those who were laid off or lost a job said they cut back on medical treatment or doctor visits.
  • 40% of Americans have borrowed money from family or friends.
  • Nearly 25% of participants said they have sought professional help for stress or depression.

And as you can see from the charts in this article, U.S. businesses remain very pessimistic about the future of the economy as well.

Unfortunately, those that are pessimistic about the economy have very good reasons to be so.

And as bad as things are right now, they are going to be getting much, much worse.

That means that millions more Americans are going to be wanting to sign up for food stamps and other welfare programs.

But what will happen someday when the safety net breaks and all of those welfare programs start getting cut back dramatically?

What kind of riots will we see in major U.S. cities when the international community insists that the U.S. implement its own version of “austerity” in response to a massive debt crisis?

Will we eventually end up just like Greece and Spain or even worse?

Please share this article with as many people as you can, and please feel free to leave your thoughts on this article above by posting a comment below…

Attention shoppers: Another credit card fee is here

(NBC News) They agreed to change the rules and allow the surcharge as part of the settlement of an antitrust suit brought by retailers.

The surcharge is supposed to equal the actual cost of processing the credit card transaction, which is typically 1.5 to 3 percent. Under the agreement, the fee is capped at 4 percent. The surcharge can vary based on the type of card. For example, it could be higher for a rewards card or premier card.

Merchants still cannot add a surcharge to debit card transactions.

The big question is: Will any stores do this? Should you worry about paying a credit card surcharge?

“We have discussed the settlement with many, many merchants, and not a single merchant we have spoken to plans to surcharge,” Craig Sherman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation (NRF), said in a statement. The NRF was not involved in the class action lawsuit.

Image:NBC News contacted some of the country’s largest retailers. Wal-Mart, Target, Sears and Home Depot said they have no plans to add a credit card surcharge.

Credit card surcharges are banned by law in 10 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.

Visa and MasterCard have rules that require retailers to handle credit cards the same way in all of their stores across the country. That means a chain with stores in any of the 10 states where a surcharge is banned would not be able to have a surcharge at any of its stores.

The National Retail Federation points out that under terms of the settlement, a merchant who adds a surcharge to purchases on a Visa or MasterCard would have to do the same with American Express cards. But AMEX prohibits surcharge fees. So a merchant who accepts American Express as well as Visa/MasterCard would not be able to surcharge any of those cards.

“The bottom line is that very few retailers would be able to surcharge under the settlement, and that the vast majority don’t want to surcharge even if they could,” the NRF’s Sherman said.

Ed Mierzwinski, Director of Consumer Programs at U.S. PIRG agrees.

“In the brick-and-mortar world, no one who does any sort of volume business is going to want to surcharge because it will drive their customer crazy and slow down transactions,” Mierzwinski said.

In fact, most consumer advocates believe that except for some small retailers, a credit card surcharge is a non-issue in the short-term.

But Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org, worries that over time surcharges will gain traction.

”It’s predictable what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re at the top of the hill and we’re going to start going down that slippery slope.”

Dworsky points out that stores factor in the cost of processing credit cards when they price their merchandise. Charging for that again, he said, would be double-dipping, unless stores rolled back their prices – which no one expects them to do.

Dworsky points to Australia, where surcharging credit card use began in 2003. At first, few merchants charged the fee.  His research shows that approximately one-third of the sellers there – including some hotels, supermarkets, department stores and utilities – now charge extra to use a credit card.

What about disclosures?
The advocacy group Consumer Action has published a booklet on credit card checkout fees. It warns shoppers to be on the lookout for these fees and advises them to express their dissatisfaction.“Customers shouldn’t stand for it,” said Ruth Susswein Consumer Action’s deputy director of national priorities. “Our advice is to tell them you don’t like the fee and this makes you want to take your business elsewhere.”

The new rules from Visa and MasterCard require retailers who apply a credit card surcharge to post a notice at the store’s entrance. The exact percentage of the surcharge does not need to be disclosed until the point of sale. The customer receipt must list the amount of the surcharge.

Online stores with a surcharge will not be required to have a notice on the home page. They only need to alert shoppers about this when they reach the page where credit cards are first mentioned. In most cases, that means the final step of checkout when the purchase is being completed.

Not the end of this story
The settlement that allows merchants to impose a surcharge is only preliminary. The court has yet to issue its final ruling in this case. That’s expected later this year.

Once that happens, various retailers and business groups plan to challenge the settlement. That could drag into late 2014.

For now, the possibility that the settlement could be modified will probably keep most businesses of any size from instituting credit card fees.

“We’re not convinced this is going to be an issue,” Consumer Action’s Susswein told me. “They may never do it, but as individual consumers we need to be aware.”

US banks shaken by biggest deposit withdrawals since 9/11

(RT) US Federal Reserve is reporting a major deposit withdrawal from the nation’s bank accounts. The financial system hasn’t seen such a massive fund outflow since 9/11 attacks.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP The first week of January 2013 has seen $114 billion withdrawn from 25 of the US’ biggest banks, pushing deposits down to $5.37 trillion, according to the US Fed. Financial analysts suggest it could be down to the Transaction Account Guarantee insurance program coming to an end on December 31 last year and clients moving their money that is no longer insured by the government.

The program was introduced in the wake of the 2008 crisis in order to support the banking system. It provided insurance for around $1.5 trillion in non-interest-bearing accounts with a limit of $250,000. It was aimed at medium and small banks as the creators of the program believed bigger banks would cope with the crisis themselves.

So the current “fast pace” of withdrawal comes as a surprise to financial analysts because the deposits are slipping away from those banks which supposedly were safe. Experts expected savers in small and medium banks would turn to bigger players come December 31.

There are a number of reasons behind this unpredicted fund outflow. Some experts believe it has to do with the beginning of the year when the money is randomly needed here and there. Others have concluded the funds are getting down to business and being invested.

Another set of data from the US Federal Reserve shows some deposits may have moved within the banking system from one type of account to another.

Dish to kill 3,000 jobs and close down 300 Blockbuster stores

A Blockbuster sign on a store is seen in Barre, Vt., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010.

 

DENVER — Dish Network Corp. says it plans to close about 300 Blockbuster stores across the country, losing about 3,000 employees.

Company spokesman said Monday that the closures will leave about 500 Blockbuster locations in the U.S. Blockbuster is owned by Dish Network.

Dish Network last year also shuttered about 500 underperforming Blockbuster locations. Hall says the stores that will be closed in coming weeks are either underperforming or nearing the end of their leases.

He says the 3,000 employees were informed about the latest closures on Friday. The store locations have not been announced.

Colorado-based Dish Network in March 2011 bought the then-bankrupt video rental chain for $320 million. It plans to move Blockbusters’ headquarters from Texas to Colorado’s Douglas County.

Illusion of Choice By George Carlin, Ron Paul, and Judge Napolitano

The Federal Government Hands Out Money To 128 Million Americans Every Month

 

The Federal Government Hands Out Money To 128 Million Americans Every Month

(Economic Collapse) -The number of Americans receiving money directly from the federal government has grown from 94 million in the year 2000 to over 128 million today.  A shocking new research paper by Patrick Tyrrell and William W. Beach contains that statistic and a whole bunch of other very revealing numbers.  According to their research, the federal government hands out money to 41.3 percent of the entire population of the United States each month.  Overall, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to what they call “dependence-creating programs”.  It is the most massive wealth redistribution scheme in the history of the world, and it continues to grow at a very rapid pace with each passing month.  But can we really afford this?  Of course we never want to see a single person go without food to eat or a roof to sleep under, but can the federal government really afford to support 128 million Americans every month?  If millions more Americans keep jumping on to the “safety net” each year, how long will it be before it breaks and it is not there for anyone?  The federal government is already drowning in debt.  This year the U.S. national debt will easily blow past the 17 trillion dollar mark and we are rapidly heading toward financial oblivion.  We are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day with no end in sight.  If we don’t get our finances in order as a nation, what will the end result be?

According to Tyrrell and Beach, federal spending on entitlement programs has been rising more than 6 times as fast as population growth has in recent years…

Between 1988 and 2011, spending on dependence-creating federal government programs has increased 180 percent versus “only” a 62 percent increase in the number of people who are enrolled in federal government programs, and a 27 percent increase in the population. Not only are more people enrolled in government programs than ever before, but more US taxpayer dollars are being spent on each recipient every year.

But even though the numbers that Tyrrell and Beach present in their paper are incredibly shocking, the truth is that they have probably underestimated the true scope of government dependence in America today.  Just consider the following numbers…

Food Stamps

Back in the year 2000, there were about 17 million Americans on food stamps.  That number has exploded to more than 47 million today.

Medicaid

If you can believe it, today more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

Social Security

Right now, there are more than 53 million Americans on Social Security, and that number is projected to absolutely explode as huge waves of Baby Boomers retire in the coming years.

Medicare

As I wrote about in a previous article, the number of Americans on Medicare is expected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

And those are only four examples of government programs that have seen their numbers explode in recent years.  There are so many more that could be mentioned.  Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs“, and almost all of them are experiencing explosive growth.

So is the “128 million” figure that Tyrrell and Beach have come up with actually too low?  I believe that it is.  But in any event, nobody can deny that the “welfare state” in the U.S. has absolutely mushroomed in size since the turn of the century.

According to one recent poll, 55 percent of all Americans say that they have received money from a safety net program run by the federal government at some point in their lives.  We are a nation that has become very comfortable leaning on Uncle Sam for help.

And poor people from all around the globe see how good things are here and they are eager to get a seat at the table.  In a previous article, I talked about a federal government website (“WelcomeToUSA.gov“) that actually teaches new immigrants how to apply for welfare once they are able to get into the United States.

Will we all eventually becoming dependent on the government?  If that happens will we still be free men and women?

Once someone is dependent on the government, they become forced to do what the government tells them to do in order to survive.  If we all eventually become dependent on the federal government, how much power will that give them over us?

That is something to think about.

Another thing to ponder is how the U.S. middle class is rapidly disappearing.

There will always be poor people, and we should always take care of them, but what we should be truly alarmed about is how the middle class in America has been dramatically shrinking in recent years.

One of the biggest reasons why so many Americans are applying for government assistance these days is because there simply aren’t enough jobs for everyone.  Politicians from both political parties have fully embraced the one world “free trade” economic agenda of the global elite, and as a result millions of our jobs are being shipped out of the country.  Big corporations can either choose to pay U.S. workers a living wage with benefits, or they can choose to set up shop on the other side of the globe where it is legal to pay workers slave labor wages with no benefits.  Plus there are much fewer taxes and regulations to deal with typically on the other side of the globe.

As long as this nation pursues this “one world economic agenda”, there will never be enough jobs in the United States ever again.  Chronic unemployment will become the new normal.  Our formerly great manufacturing cities will continue to degenerate into gang-infested war zones.

Apologists for the current system continue to insist that the answer is “more education”, but the truth is that government dependence is even exploding among those with advanced degrees.  The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article on The Chronicle Of Higher Education

People who don’t finish college are more likely to receive food stamps than are those who go to graduate school. The rolls of people on public assistance are dominated by people with less education. Nevertheless, the percentage of graduate-degree holders who receive food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.

During that three-year period, the number of people with master’s degrees who received food stamps and other aid climbed from 101,682 to 293,029, and the number of people with Ph.D.’s who received assistance rose from 9,776 to 33,655, according to tabulations of microdata done by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. He drew on figures from the 2008 and 2011 Current Population Surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor.

After reading that, does anyone still believe that “more education” is the answer to our problems?

What we need is more jobs, and lots of them.  Unfortunately, our politicians continue to pursue policies that absolutely kill American jobs.

So the number of Americans that are forced to turn to the government for assistance will continue to grow, as will our national debt.

Sadly, most Americans still don’t realize what is happening.  Most of them are still listening to those in the mainstream media that are insisting that everything is going to be just fine.

For example, the most famous economic journalist in the country, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, recently wrote that the deficit crisis has been “solved”…

True, there are projected problems further down the road, mainly because of the continuing effects of an aging population. But it still comes as something of a shock to realize that at this point reasonable projections do not, repeat do not, show anything resembling the runaway deficit crisis that is a staple of almost everything you hear, including supposedly objective news reporting.

So you heard it here first: while you weren’t looking, and the deficit scolds were doing their scolding, the deficit problem (such as it was) was being mostly solved.

Oh really?

I don’t know how in the world Paul Krugman can get paid to write such nonsense, but the truth is that our government debt problems are only just beginning.

In a previous article, I explained that the unfunded liabilities of the federal government are growing so rapidly that we could not cover them even if we raised the highest tax rate to 100%…

According to Chris Cox and Bill Archer, two men who served on Bill Clinton’s Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, there is no way in the world that we could raise taxes high enough to pay for all of the obligations that we are currently taking on.  They say that even if we taxed all corporations and all individuals at a 100% tax rate on all income over $66,193,  “it wouldn’t be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities.

Yes, Paul Krugman, we do have a spending problem.  Even if Bill Gates gave every single penny of his fortune to the federal government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for about 15 days.  We simply cannot go on spending money like this.

If anyone out there believes Paul Krugman and is convinced that the federal government is no longer facing a massive debt problem, please read this article: “55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know“.

But if we can’t afford to do all of this spending, then why are we doing it?

Well, it is because there are a whole lot of people out there that are really hurting.  Poverty in the U.S. is absolutely exploding, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor has grown to unprecedented heights.

According to a recent article posted on Economy In Crisis, the bottom 60 percent of all Americans only own 2.3 percent of all the financial wealth in the nation combined.

That is astounding.

If you live in a wealthy area of the country, you may look around and things may look really good to you.  But in many other areas of the country things are worse than they have ever been in the post-World War II era.  For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

Can you imagine that?  We have over a million kids that are attending our public schools that do not have a home to go back to at night.

Our economy desperately needs more jobs, but we just continue to lose more of them.  On Thursday, it was announced that American Express is eliminating 5,400 more jobs.  More announcements like this come out just about every day now.  65 percent of all Americans expect 2013 to be a year of “economic difficulty”, and there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to be optimistic about things at this point.

When you lose your job, it can feel like your entire life is falling apart.  The competition for jobs is absolutely fierce, and a lot of workers have fallen through the cracks.  In this rough economic environment, there are millions of Americans that have never been able to put the pieces of their lives back together.  A recent CNN article profiled a 42-year-old woman up in Oregon named Lynette who has had her life totally turned upside down by unemployment…

I’m a single mom with a son in high school.

Three years ago, I was laid off from a job working at a propane company. I had just gotten back on my feet after battling breast cancer, then cervical cancer, but the economy tanked, and I was the first to go.

I am now 42, and the cancer is gone. But it appears my employability is also gone.

She used to work in a position that helped others find government assistance, but now she is the one who has been forced to seek it…

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I worked for the state of Oregon and was the number one service manager for the Department of Human Services. My job was to help low income families find work and get food stamps and insurance. Now, I cannot even get a job at McDonalds, and I’m the one living on social assistance.

US cities with the highest and lowest unemployment

CAV logo
By the Associated Press
Unemployment rates fell below 7 percent in a majority of U.S. cities in November, evidence that steady job gains are benefiting most parts of the country.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that rates fell in November from October in 215 of the 372 largest metro areas. Rates were unchanged in 33 and rose in 124.

Rates dropped below 7 percent in 192 cities. That’s the first time since the recession ended that more than half of large cities had rates below that threshold.

Here are the 10 cities with the highest unemployment and the 10 with the lowest:

Best and Worst Metro areas
Figures are in percentages
 
Highest unemployment rates Nov. 2012
Yuma, Ariz. 27.5
El Centro, Calif. 26.6
Yuba City, Calif. 15.8
Merced, Calif. 15.7
Ocean City, N.J. 14.5
Atlantic City-Hammonton, N.J. 14.5
Modesto, Calif. 14.5
Visalia-Porterville, Calif. 14.5
Fresno, Calif. 14.4
Stockton, Calif. 14.1
 
Lowest unemployment rates Nov. 2012
Bismarck, N.D. 2.6
Fargo, N.D. 3
Lincoln, Neb. 3
Midland, Texas 3
Ames, Iowa 3.1
Lafayette, La. 3.1
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, La. 3.1
Iowa City, Iowa 3.2
Grand Forks, N.D. 3.4
Odessa, Texas 3.6

If Obama Can Just Create A Trillion Dollar Coin, Then Why Do We Have To Pay Taxes?

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(EconomicCollapse) -If Barack Obama can “solve” the debt ceiling crisis by printing up some trillion dollar coins, then why does the federal government need our money?  As another debt ceiling showdown approaches, many in the liberal media are suggesting that if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling that Obama should just have the U.S. Treasury create a trillion dollar platinum coin and use it to pay our bills.  It sounds crazy, but many notable voices (including Paul Krugman of the New York Times) are supporting this idea.  But if the federal government has had the power to create trillion dollar coins out of thin air all this time, then why do we have to pay taxes?  Not only that, why do we have a national debt?  If the federal government can just create money whenever it wants, then why does the federal government ever have to borrow it from others?  The U.S. Constitution actually grants Congress the power to “coin money”, so why is the Federal Reserve doing it?  Those are some very important questions.  Most Americans don’t even realize that the U.S. government never actually needed to borrow a single penny from anyone else.  The U.S. Congress has the authority to create debt-free money whenever it wants to.  Conceivably, the entire federal government could be funded without ever borrowing a single dollar and without ever receiving a single dollar from any of us in taxes.  Just imagine that – a nation without a single penny of national debt, no income tax and no IRS.  What a wonderful world that would be.  Of course there would be other potential dangers under such a system (such as runaway inflation), and those dangers would have to be addressed.  But the truth is that we don’t have to have an income tax or 16 trillion dollars of government debt.  We only have those things because we have chosen to have those things.

Sometimes, a crisis can illuminate options that most people had not considered previously.  As another debt ceiling crisis draws closer, many are looking for ways for the U.S. government to be able to continue to pay its bills if Congress does not authorize an increase in the debt ceiling.

If a debt ceiling agreement is not worked out, the U.S. government will soon only be able to pay about half the bills that are coming due after interest payments on the national debt (which will almost certainly be prioritized) are made.

That is why a lot of people on the left are pushing the “trillion dollar coin” alternative.  So how would this work exactly?  The mechanics were recently explained by Jim Pethokoukis on his American Enterprise Institute blog

There are limits on how much paper money the U.S. can circulate and rules that govern coinage on gold, silver, and copper.  BUT, the Treasury has broad discretion on coins made from platinum.  The theory goes that the U.S. Mint would create a handful of trillion dollar (or more) platinum coins.  The President would then order the coins deposited at the Fed, who would then put the coin(s) in the Treasury who now can pay all their bills and a default is removed from the equation.  The effects on the currency market and inflation are unclear, to say the least.

In my opinion, if anyone in the federal government is going to be creating money out of thin air, it should be the U.S. Congress.  After all, according to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, it is the U.S. Congress that has been granted the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.

But those that are pushing Obama to create a “trillion dollar coin” point to a law that Congress passed that allows the U.S. Treasury to mint platinum coins.  The following is from a recent CNN article

Normally, the Federal Reserve is charged with issuing currency. But U.S. law, specifically 31 USC § 5112, also grants Treasury permission to “mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins.”

This section of law was meant to allow for the printing of commemorative coins and the like. But the Treasury Secretary has the authority to mint these coins in any denomination he or she sees fit.

But it wouldn’t quite be that easy.  According to a recent ABC News article, some elements of the coin design would have to be determined by legislation…

The more difficult part comes sometime after the decision is made to coin the platinum and before the Mint gets to work in sculpting the pieces.

At that point, the American people must decide whose face will adorn the trillion dollar trinket. The process to determine the “specs” of the coin, U.S. Mint Public Affairs Specialist Genevieve Billia warns, must be “determined by legislation,” creating the potential for another congressional impasse.

So we would likely end up back at square one.

But if printing up a “trillion dollar coin” does not work out, Paul Krugman of the New York Times has come up with another option

Don’t like the platinum coin option? Here’s a functionally equivalent alternative: have the Treasury sell pieces of paper labeled “moral obligation coupons”, which declare the intention of the government to redeem these coupons at face value in one year.

It should be clearly stated on the coupons that the government has no, repeat no, legal obligation to pay anything at all; you see, they’re not debt, and therefore don’t count against the debt limit. But that shouldn’t keep them from having substantial market value.

Of course there is a very, very low probability that any of these wild ideas will ever be tried, but this debate has raised some very interesting points.

The truth is that we do not have to have a system where more money is only created when more debt is created.  We could have a system where the federal government directly creates debt-free money that is spent directly into circulation by the federal government.

In fact, this has happened before.

As I have written about previously, during the presidency of JFK a limited number of debt-free United States Notes were issued by the U.S. Treasury and spent by the U.S. government directly into circulation without any new debt being created.  In fact, each bill said “United States Note” right at the top.

Unfortunately, after JFK’s presidency no more debt-free United States Notes were ever issued.

But even before JFK, there were times when debt-free United States Notes were being used.  According to Wikipedia, United States Notes were first used during the Civil War….

They were originally issued directly into circulation by the U.S. Treasury to pay expenses incurred by the Union during the American Civil War. Over the next century, the legislation governing these notes was modified many times and numerous versions have been issued by the Treasury.

So why are we using debt-based Federal Reserve Notes today instead of debt-free United States Notes?

If the Federal Reserve did not exist and the U.S. government directly created money instead of borrowing it, it is conceivable that we could have a national debt of $0.00 today instead of $16,432,707,263,449.56.

Which option do you think our children and our grandchildren will wish that we had opted for?

In a system where the government directly created money, it is also conceivable that we could completely do away with the income tax and the IRS completely.  The U.S. once prospered greatly without an income tax, and it could do so again.

And the truth is that our system of taxation is broken beyond repair.  If you doubt this, just read this article.

So what would the downside be to such a system?  Well, of course rampant inflation would be a huge danger.  Allowing Congress to print up money whenever they wanted to would be playing with fire.  That is why it would be imperative for there to be a hard cap on what the federal government could spend.  For example, you could set the cap on spending by the federal government at 20 percent of GDP.  That way we would hopefully never end up looking like the Weimar Republic.

And the current federal debt could be paid down a little at a time using newly created debt-free currency.  This would have to be done slowly to keep inflation under control, but it could be done.

Of course if you wanted to continue to fund the federal government through taxation, there are other options that would still allow you to do away with the income tax.  For example, one of the ways that our founders intended for the federal government to be funded was through tariffs, and we could definitely raise a lot of money that way.  Plus, that would have the added benefit of making American companies much more competitive again and it would reduce the flow of American jobs out of the country.

So am I in favor of having Barack Obama create a trillion dollar coin to get around the debt ceiling crisis?

Most definitely not.  If it does not violate the letter of the Constitution (which I believe it does), it sure does violate the spirit of it.

But if the U.S. Congress decided to shut down the Federal Reserve and the IRS and they decided to abolish the income tax, and instead they started directly issuing debt-free currency directly into circulation, that is something I would very much be in favor of.

Yes, that system would not be perfect either, but it would be far more preferable to what we have today.

So what do you think?  Should we keep our current system of debt-based money, or would a system of debt-free money be better?

Meet Jack Lew: Tim Geithner’s Replacement

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(ZeroHedge) – Bloomberg is out after hours with news that was expected by many, but which was yet to be formalized, until now: namely that following today’s flurry of contntious nomination by Obama, the latest and greatest is about to be unveiled – Jack Lew, Obama’s current chief of staff, is likely days away from being announced as Tim Geithner’s replacement as the new Treasury Secretary of the United States. In other words, Jack will be the point person whom the people who truly run the Treasury, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, chaired by JPM’s Matt Zames (who just happens to also now run the notorious JPM Chief Investment Office which uses excess deposits to gamble – yes, you really can’t make this up) and Goldman’s Ashok Varadhan, global head of dollar-rate products and FX trading for North America (recently buying a $16 million pad at 15 CPW) will demand action from.

President Barack Obama is close to choosing White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew for Treasury secretary with an announcement as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter.

 

Selecting Lew to replace Timothy F. Geithner would also require Obama to install a new chief of staff, the first step in a White House staff shuffle for his second term. Many of the president’s senior aides may be taking new roles as the president recasts his team, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters.

 

While Obama hasn’t made a final decision to pick Lew, his staff has been instructed to prepare for his nomination, said one of the people. Among the leading candidates to replace Lew as Obama’s chief of staff are Denis McDonough, currently a deputy national security adviser, and Ron Klain, who had served as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff.

 

The next Treasury secretary will play a leading role in working with Congress to raise the government’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. The U.S. reached the statutory limit on Dec. 31, and the Treasury Department began using extraordinary measures to finance the government. It will exhaust that avenue as early as mid-February, the Congressional Budget Office says.

 

Geithner plans to leave the administration by the end of January even if the debt ceiling issue hasn’t been settled.

Somewhere, Larry Fink, and Jamie Dimon just exhaled (not to mention Mark Zandi whose stomp to the Great Barrier Reef brought him nothing but more seasonally adjusted disappointment).

So who is Jack Lew?

Here is an extended profile by Sam Stein, which however, will likely leave as many open questions as it answers:

White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew has been an unassuming figure during the Obama years. His media appearances are dull; his presentation is a bit bookworm-ish — as if Harry Potter grew up and replaced his magic wand with Excel spreadsheets. When he speaks, the tone is usually measured and unemotional.

Behind the scenes, however, Lew has proven to be Obama’s most skillful consigliere in matters of political trench warfare. Time and again during the debt ceiling debate, as Republicans attempted to get the administration to bend on top domestic priorities, it was Lew who proved to be a stick in the mud. Then serving as Office of Management and Budget Director, his insistence on playing out the practical impact of those cuts irritated Republicans to no end.

“What is infuriating to Republicans is that no one knows the federal government, the budget, these policies, better than Jack Lew,” Kenneth Baer, a former senior adviser to Lew, told The Huffington Post. “Just as I imagine it would be frustrating to hit batting practice off Sandy Koufax.”

Below are just a few excerpts from Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics”:

[Brett] Loper [House Speaker John Boehner’s policy director] found Lew obnoxious. The budget director was doing 75 percent of the talking, lecturing everyone not only about what Obama’s policy was, but also why it was superior to the Republicans’.

[Barry] Jackson [Boehner’s chief of staff] found Lew’s tone disrespectful and dismissive.

Lew was incredulous when he considered the Republican proposal as a whole. The changes they were considering sounded simple. But the speaker’s office was laying down general principles and looking to apply them to extremely complex programs. The devil was always in the details.

Boehner was sick of the White House meetings. It was still mostly the president lecturing, he reported to his senior staff. The other annoying factor was Jack Lew, who tried to explain why the Democrats’ view of the world was right and the Republicans’ wrong.

‘Always trying to protect the sacred cows of the left,’ Barry Jackson said of Lew, going through Medicare and Medicaid almost line by line while Boehner was just trying to reach some top-line agreement.

[Ohio Governor John] Kasich called [economic adviser Gene] Sperling at the White House, suggesting that he meet with Boehner. Lew, he said, did not know how to get to yes.

Sperling realized it was not a compliment that they wanted him. It essentially meant, ‘Lew’s being too tough. Can we get Sperling?’

Lew’s wonky stubbornness during those negotiations didn’t make him a progressive hero. In private caucus meetings, congressional Democrats laced into him for keeping them out of the loop and placing sacred cows on the negotiation table. But it did establish Lew as a true hub of power within the administration, and it showed that he, perhaps more than any other top adviser, had Obama’s ear.

“I was in many meetings,” Sperling recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post, “where Jack would say, clear as a bell, ‘Mr. President, I think we can accept this. I’d have to go through all these little tiny cuts and stuff.’ And the president would say, ‘Jack … you know my values. I trust your values.'”

For someone in a position of immense power, Lew remains a difficult figure to pin down philosophically. His youth was spent in New York City where — as a June 2011 Politico profile noted — he rallied against the Vietnam War and touted the import of immigration and public housing while serving as the editor of his high school newspaper. At Carleton College, his faculty adviser was Paul Wellstone, then a political scientist and later a famously liberal senator. Lew worked with Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), another unapologetic progressive, before gravitating towards more moderate, establishment ground. He went to work with Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass.) and then took a job with House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.).

Along the way, his view on D.C. politics changed. “[T]here’s a space in Washington that is not deeply populated, which is a bridge between the highly technical and the political,” he would tell Politico. “[I]f you could be fluent in both worlds and respected enough in both worlds, you could have an opportunity to be a translator and to make a difference.”

Those who worked with him during that time period recall a type of pragmatism that seems antiquated today.

“It was a much different world, with a lot of collegiality amongst the Senate and House, the Republicans and Democratic staff people,” said Lynn Sutcliffe, chief executive officer of EnergySolve, LLC, who worked with Lew while general counsel of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. “It was the art of the possible, not the art of promoting oneself or your boss’ re-election.”

Lew’s work would prove influential in forging the famed Social Security deal made between O’Neill and Ronald Reagan in 1983. And when he departed the Hill in 1986 to join the lobbying shop that Sutcliffe once helped run, it was an important enough development to merit a small item in The New York Times.

Lew returned to government during the Clinton years, gradually rising to the ranks of OMB Director. He packed in long hours six days a week, taking off every Saturday to observe the Sabbath (he is an Orthodox Jew), honing the type of negotiating acumen that would prove useful for Obama. In talks with House Republicans, Lew would use fluency in economics — despite not being an economist — and a mastery of budget details to essentially out-will the president’s priorities into legislation.

“What makes him a tough negotiator is not that he can’t get to yes or that he’s some kind of bulldog,” Sperling said. “What makes him a tough negotiator is he knows his stuff so well … He negotiates well by being a master of the detail.”

In the Obama administration, Lew has been comfortable working largely in the shadows. His predecessor as OMB Director, Peter Orszag, matched his budget expertise with a sharp media savviness. His two predecessors as chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley, were veritable celebrities.

Lew stepped into that position after the high-profile budget and debt ceiling fights of 2011 had passed. But aides and friends stress that he’s been handed heavy tasks: not just managing a White House with half of its focus on the reelection campaign, but also restoring damaged relations with congressional Democrats.

“[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid didn’t know much of Jack Lew until he started having to deal with him because he couldn’t trust Daley,” said Jim Manley, Reid’s former top spokesman. But once he did, a strong relationship was established. In a private meeting shortly after the debt ceiling deal was concluded, it was Lew who helped convince attendees that the final legislation wasn’t such a bitter pill.

“Democrats soon became comfortable with it because he outlined the blow back or ping pong effect that would occur,” Manley said. “He knew his facts cold. And he knows his stuff better than Boehner and just about anyone else on Capitol Hill.”

Still, it’s tough to tell what type of ideological imprint Lew has had on the administration. Aides credit him and Sperling with scoring major victories during the government shutdown debate in the spring of 2011 and the debt ceiling debate later that summer. House Republicans left the former thinking they’d secured $100 billion in savings, only to discover, upon closer inspection, that it was $32 billion. The $1 trillion sequester included in the debt ceiling deal included defense cuts, while leaving out top Democratic priorities like Medicaid (in one late-stage phone call with Republican aides, Lew screamed down attempts to make that program part of the trigger).

But in each instance, the broader debate was waged on Republican terms: additional stimulus spending took a backseat to deficit reduction. One Lew confidant said that Lew personally views himself as a progressive, despite having a reputation as a Clinton-era, new Democrat budget hawk. Sperling would only describe him as someone who straddles, if not outright ignores, the labels and lines.

“I’ve worked with Jack a large part of my adult life and I mean, he is what you see,” he said. “He is very serious about deficit reduction but he operates from core progressive principles. In other words, he is not the type of person who either lets conservatives pressure him into backing down on basic issues of fairness, but on the other hand, he is never beholden to litmus tests from progressive groups that he does not believe are reasonable from a policy context.”

Job Growth Cools Slightly as Economy ‘Just Muddling Through’

1e

(MoneyNews) – The pace of hiring by U.S. employers eased slightly in December, pointing to a
lackluster pace of economic growth that was unable to make further inroads in
the country’s still high unemployment rate.

Payrolls outside the farming
sector grew 155,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. That was in
line with analysts’ expectations and slightly below the revised gain of 161,000
reported for November.

The report reinforces expectations of 2 percent
economic growth this year, unlikely to quickly bring down the unemployment rate
or make the U.S. Federal Reserve rethink its easy-money policies anytime soon
despite growing unease by some policymakers over a bond-buying
program.

“The U.S. economy is
just muddling through,” said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Navigate
Advisors in Stamford, Connecticut.

The jobless rate held steady at 7.8
percent in December, down nearly a percentage point from a year earlier but
still well above the average rate over the last 60 years of about 6
percent.

The Labor Department raised its estimate for the unemployment
rate in November by a tenth of a point to 7.8 percent, citing a slight change in
the labor market’s seasonal swings.

Most economists expect the U.S.
economy will be held back by tax hikes this year as well as by weak spending by
households and businesses, which are still trying to reduce their debt
burdens.

Friday’s data nonetheless gave signals of some momentum in the
labor market’s recovery from the 2007-09 recession.

Gains in employment
were distributed broadly throughout the economy, from manufacturing and
construction to health care.

Also, many economists had expected
December’s payroll gains to be padded by one-time factors like the recovery from
a mammoth storm that hit the East Coast in late October.

The government
had said last month the storm had no substantial impact on the November data,
and many economists expected the government on Friday to recant by revising
downward its estimate for payroll gains in November. Instead, the government
revised November payrolls upward by 15,000.

Average hourly earnings rose
0.3 percent last month, slightly more than analysts had expected, while the
length of the average workweek was unchanged.

“This shows the economy is
chugging along, with payroll gains at about the average it has been over the
past year,” Tom Porcelli, an economist at RBC Capital Markets in New
York.

Analysts appeared divided over whether the number points to the Fed
scaling back its plans to buy bonds, perhaps as soon as the second half of this
year.

Porcelli said December’s unspectacular payroll gains should
reinforce expectations the Fed will continue with the program. However, Craig
Dismuke, a strategist at Vining Sparks in Memphis, Tennessee, said the current
pace of job creation will raise pressure on the Fed to stop bond purchases after
the middle of the year.

The Fed has kept interest rates near zero since
2008, and in September promised open-ended bond purchases to support lending
further. On Thursday, however, minutes from the Fed’s December policy review
pointed to rising concerns over how the asset purchases will affect financial
markets.

U.S. S&P stock index futures added to gains after the data,
while U.S. Treasuries prices erased most of their losses.

AUSTERITY’S
BITE

Despite the signs of some momentum in hiring, a wave of government
spending cuts due to begin around March loom over the economy.

Many
economic forecasts assume the cuts – which would hit the military, education and
other areas – will ultimately be pushed into next year as part of a deal sought
by lawmakers to reduce gradually the government’s debt burden.

Initially,
the cuts were planned to have begun this month as part of a $600 billion
austerity package that also included tax hikes.

Hiring in December may
have been slowed by uncertainty over the timing of the
austerity.

“Companies were very worried about the fiscal cliff, so it’s a
good number that they were still hiring,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist
at BNP Paribas in New York.

Congress this week passed legislation to
avoid most of the tax hikes and postpone the spending cuts.

Even with the
last-minute deal to avoid much of the “fiscal cliff,” most workers will see
their take-home pay reduced this month as a two-year cut in payroll taxes
expires.

Austerity already held back the U.S. economy in 2012. In
December, government payrolls shrank by 13,000.

That leaves the Fed’s
efforts to lower borrowing costs as the main program for stimulating the
economy.

Government Dependents Outnumber Those With Private Sector Jobs In 11 U.S. States

The Number Of People On Welfare Exceeds The Number Of People With Jobs In 11 States

(TheEconomicCollapse) -America is rapidly becoming a nation of takers.  An increasing number of Americans expect the government to take care of them from the cradle to the grave, and they expect the government to dig into the pockets of others in order to pay for it all.  This philosophy can be very seductive, but what happens when the number of takers eventually outnumbers the number of producers?  In 11 different U.S. states, the number of government dependents exceeds the number of private sector workers.  This list of states includes some of the biggest states in the country: California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico and Hawaii.  It is interesting to note that seven of those states were won by Barack Obama on election night.  In California, there are 139 “takers” for every 100 private sector workers.  That is crazy!  The American people have become absolutely addicted to government money, and it gets worse with each passing year.  If you can believe it, entitlements accounted for 62 percent of all federal spending in fiscal year 2012.  It would be one thing if we could afford all of this spending, but unfortunately we simply cannot.  We are drowning in debt, and we are stealing more than a hundred million more dollars from future generations with each passing hour.  No bank robber in history can match that kind of theft.

Yes, we will always need a safety net.  There are many people out there that simply cannot take care of themselves.  We certainly don’t want to see anyone sleeping in the streets or starving to death.

But if the number of people jumping on to the safety net continues to grow at the current pace, the net will break and it will not be available for any of us.

For example, the number of Americans on food stamps grew from about 17 million in 2000 to more than 47 million today.  It nearly tripled in just 12 years.

What will happen if it nearly triples again over the next 12 years?

The federal government even has a website (benefits.gov) that guides people through the process of figuring out what welfare programs they can take advantage of.

Overall, the federal government runs nearly 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” and more than 100 million Americans are already enrolled in at least one of those programs.

Yes, I realize that figure is very hard to believe.  I had a hard time believing it when I first came across it.

And it is even more shocking when you realize that the figure of 100 million Americans does not even include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare.

Today, there are 56.76 million Americans on Social Security.

To support all of those Americans on Social Security, there are only about 94.75 million full-time private sector workers.

So there are just 1.67 full-time private sector workers to support each American that is on Social Security.

Medicare is also growing like crazy.  As I wrote about the other day, the number of Americans on Medicare is expected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

How much farther can we push things before the entire system collapses?

In order to support this exploding entitlement system, we need a lot more Americans to be working good paying jobs.

Unfortunately, millions of good paying jobs continue to be shipped overseas and they aren’t coming back.

We are even losing good jobs to our own prisoners.  The United States has the largest prison population in the world by far, and the exploitation of that low wage labor pool has become a boom industry in America.  Even Microsoft and Boeing are using prison labor now.  Just check out this video.

Meanwhile, there are millions upon millions of law-abiding Americans that cannot find jobs and that cannot take care of their families.

So poverty and dependence on the government are absolutely exploding.  We have a system that is so messed up that it is hard to even put it into words.  The middle class is being viciously shredded, and most Americans just continue to applaud the politicians from both parties that are doing this to us.

Our economy is being gutted at the same time that the welfare state is experiencing unprecedented growth.  Instead of giving us real answers, our “leaders” just continue to borrow, spend and print more money.  We are about to hit the debt limit again, and the Obama administration is saying that we should just do away with the debt limit permanently.

Most of our politicians don’t seem to understand that they are systematically destroying our economy and the bright futures that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.

But there are some politicians out there that get it.  Unfortunately, many of them live in other countries.  For example, Canadian MP Pierre Poilievre seems to have a firm grasp on what debt is doing to the United States.  The following are some excerpts from one of his speeches…

“By 2020, the US Government will be spending more annually on debt interest than the total combined military budgets of China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, Turkey, and Israel.”

“Through government spending the indulgence of one is the burden of another; through government borrowing, the excess of one generation becomes the yoke of the next; through international bailouts, one nation’s extravagance becomes another nation’s debt”

“Everyone takes, nobody makes, work doesn’t pay, indulgence doesn’t cost, money is free, and money is worthless.”

You can see his entire speech right here.

And if we continue down this path it is most definitely true that our money will eventually become worthless at some point.  Just today I was down at the grocery store, and a can of chili that I was able to get on sale for 75 cents a couple of years ago now has a “sale price” of $1.69.  If the Federal Reserve keeps recklessly printing dollars, eventually we will be fortunate to get a can of chili for 10 bucks.  Things cost too much already, and the Fed seems absolutely determined to cut the legs out from under the U.S. dollar.

Unfortunately, printing money is the only way that we are going to be able to service the gigantic amounts of debt that we are accumulating.

According to Chris Cox and Bill Archer, two men who served on Bill Clinton’s Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, there is no way in the world that we could raise taxes high enough to pay for all of the obligations that we are currently taking on.  They say that even if we taxed all corporations and all individuals at a 100% tax rate on all income over $66,193,  “it wouldn’t be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities.

Are you starting to get an idea of how much trouble we are in?

We don’t have enough money to pay for all of this.

We are broke.

Our current economy is a debt-induced illusion, and we will soon be waking up to a tremendous amount of pain.

Are you ready?

25 Facts That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Really Want To Talk About Right Now

1ac(Endoftheamericandream) -For decades, the mainstream media in the United States was accustomed to being able to tell the American people what to think.  Unfortunately for them, a whole lot of Americans are starting to break free from that paradigm and think for themselves.

A Gallup survey from earlier this year found that 60 percent of all Americans “have little or no trust” in the mainstream media.  More people than ever are realizing that the mainstream media is giving them a very distorted version of “the truth” and they are increasingly seeking out alternative sources of information.  In the United States today, just six giant media corporations control the mainstream media.

Those giant media corporations own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many prominent websites.  But now thanks to the Internet the mainstream media no longer has a complete monopoly on the news.  In recent years the “alternative media” has exploded in popularity.

People want to hear about the things that the mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about.  They want to hear news that is not filtered by corporate bosses and government censors.  They want “the truth” and they know that they are not getting it from the mainstream media.

We are watching a media revolution happen, and many in the mainstream media are totally freaking out about it.  In fact, some in the mainstream media have even begun publishing articles that mock the American people for not trusting them.  For example, a recent CNN article entitled “Still ‘paranoid’ after all these years” portrayed Americans that don’t trust the media as paranoid conspiracy theorists that have left rationality behind…

Ever have the feeling you’re being lied to by the news media, the authorities, the corporate world? That somebody — or something — is out to get you?You’re not alone.

Welcome to 21st-century America.

Look around. Trust is hitting historic lows. Just a third of Americans have a favorable viewof the federal government, a decline of 31% since 2002, according to the Pew Center for People and the Press. Gallup has Congress’ approval rating is in the low 20s, after nearing single digits last summer. And the news media aren’t much better off.

“Negative opinions about the performance of news organizations now equal or surpass all-time highs on nine of 12 core measures the Pew Research Center has been tracking since 1985,” a Pew report said.

The article goes on to make it sound like it is very irrational not to trust the media, but in this day and age it is imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves.  Blindly trusting someone else to do your thinking for you is very dangerous.

Anyone that does not acknowledge that the mainstream media has an agenda is not being honest with themselves.  The mainstream media presents a view of the world that is very favorable to their big corporate owners and the big corporations that spend billions of dollars to advertise on their networks.  The mainstream media is the mouthpiece of the establishment, and the worldview being pushed on the big networks is going to be consistent with the economic, financial, political and social goals of the establishment.  The mainstream media loves to talk about things that fit with that agenda, and they don’t like to talk about things that suggest that there is something wrong with that agenda.

The following are 25 facts that the mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about right now…

#1 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that gun sales are absolutely skyrocketingin the aftermath of the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

#2 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that disarming the population has resulted in some of the most horrific massacres in human history.  The following is from the Warrior Times

1911 – Turkey disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1915 – 1917 they murdered 1.5 million Armenians.

1929 – Russia disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1929 – 1953 they murdered 20 million Russians.

1935 – China disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1948 – 1952 they murdered 20 million Chinese.

1938 – Germany disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1939 – 1945 they murdered 16 million Jews.

1956 – Cambodia disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1975 – 1977 they murdered 1 million Educated people.

1964 – Guatamala disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1964 – 1981 they murdered 100,000 Mayan Indians.

1970 – Uganda disarmed it’s citizens, and between 1971 – 1979 they murdered 300,000 Christians.

#3 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that a bill allowing for the “indefinite military detention of US citizens on American soil” was passed by the U.S. Senate on Friday.

#4 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that volcanoes all along the Ring of Fire are roaring to life.  It seems like a new eruption is being reported every few days now.  In fact, a red alert has just been issued for a massive volcano that sits along the border between Chile and Argentina.

#5 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the use of genetically engineered seeds has caused on explosion of new “super weeds” that are incredibly difficult for farmers to kill.

#6 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that renowned trends forecaster Gerald Celenteis predicting a “financial disaster” in 2013.

#7 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that it is easier to get into Harvard than it is to get a job as a flight attendant in America today.

#8 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that nearly 400 TSA employees have been fired for stealing from travelers since 2003.

#9 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that giant corporations such as Facebook are funneling gigantic amounts of money through offshore banking havens such as the Cayman Islands in an effort to avoid taxes.

#10 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the U.S. dollar is in danger of losing its status as the primary reserve currency of the world.

#11 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that Barack Obama has gone off to vacation in Hawaii while the rest of the nation hopes for a fiscal cliff deal to get done.  Of course the mainstream media has to mention that he is on vacation because they always keep track of what the president does, but they are not making a big deal out of it because they love Obama.  And it sounds like Obama is having quite a good time on his little vacation

The president is expected to indulge in some of his favorite pastimes on the island where he was born and raised: golf, an expedition for the local treat “shave ice,” and an evening out with family and friends. He hit the links at the nearby Marine Corps base under sunny skies on Saturday afternoon.

#12 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that there are government websites that give immigrants instructions about how to come over to our country and apply for welfare.

#13 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the U.S. economy is losing millions of jobs to nations where it is legal to pay workers slave labor wages.  The mainstream media is totally married to the one world economic agenda that their corporate owners make so much money from, and so they say nothing as a steady stream of businesses and jobs continue to leave the country.

#14 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the recent tax increase is causing large numbers of wealthy individuals to consider moving out of the state of California.

#15 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that hunger and poverty are absolutely exploding in the United States at the same time that they are telling us that the economy is “recovering”.

#16 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that North Korea now has a three-stage rocket with enough range to potentially hit the western United States.

#17 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the United States Postal Service is losing25 million dollars a day and is on the verge of financial collapse.

#18 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that our biggest oil supplier in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, still kills people for changing religions.

#19 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that political correctness is taking over America.  The truth is that the media does not see any problem with that at all.

#20 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that nearly half a million employees of the federal government are making more than $100,000 a year.

#21 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the birth rate in the United States fallen to an all-time low.  The elite are actually absolutely thrilled that less babies are being born.

#22 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that violent crime in the United States increased by 18 percent in 2011 and that many major U.S. cities are seeing violent crime totally spiral out of control.

#23 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that Barack Obama received more than 99 percent of the vote in more than 100 precincts in Ohio on election day.

#24 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that during the first four years of the Obama administration, the U.S. national debt grew by about as much as it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that George W. Bush took office.

#25 The mainstream media doesn’t really want to talk about the fact that the Federal Reserve created the conditions for the last financial crisis and their mismanagement of the economy has now brought us to the verge of another horrible economic downturn.  According to the mainstream media, the Federal Reserve is “above politics” and should not be criticized.

It Is Five Time More Difficult To Get An Attendant Job At Delta Airlines Than Enter Harvard

 

(ZeroHedge) -There is a reason why the monthly BLS JOLTS jobs supply/demand survey – which supposedly shows an “improving” labor picture because more people are willingly leaving their (temporary) jobs, and there are more job openings – is so laughable it is not even worth reporting. The reason is the following: practical, non-massaged reality, such as this report confirming how great the demand for any real job openings is. According to Bloomberg Delta, the world’s second-largest carrier, received 22,000 applications for about 300 flight attendant jobs in the first week after posting the positions outside the company. The applications arrived at a rate of two per minute, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told workers in a weekly recorded message. Applicants will be interviewed in January and those hired will begin flying in June, for the peak travel season. Said otherwise, the previous few lucky hires will have overcome an acceptance ratio of 1.3%. Putting this into perspective, the acceptance ratio at Harvard, the lowest of any university, is 5.9%. In other words, it is 4.5x easier to enter Harvard than to get a job at Delta. As an attendant. And there is your jobs supply-demand reality in one snapshot.

The good news? This is actually an improvement from 2 years ago, when the Atlanta-based carrier received 100,000 applications for 1,000 jobs when it last hired flight attendants in October 2010.

But wait there is hope: a spokeswoman, said it could reach 400, pushing the acceptance ratio to a whopping 1.8%. All the successful applicants will need to do is speak Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin or Portuguese.

And now back to your Orwellian reality where the unemployment rate is falling, and there is absolutely no secular mismtach between job skills and demands in today’s centrally-planned economy.

A Gallon Of Milk May Soar To $8 If Congress Doesn’t Act Before The New Year

(CNBC) -Forget the fiscal crisis and the automatic budget cuts. Come Jan. 1, there is a threat that milk prices could rise to $6 to $8 a gallon if Congress does not pass a new farm bill that amends farm policy dating back to the Truman presidency.

Lost in the political standoff between the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans over the budget is a virtually forgotten impasse over a farm bill that covers billions of dollars in agriculture programs. Without last-minute Congressional action, the government would have to follow an antiquated 1949 farm law that would force Washington to buy milk at wildly inflated prices, creating higher prices in the dairy case. Milk now costs an average of $3.65 a gallon.

Higher prices would be based on what dairy farm production costs were in 1949, when milk production was almost all done by hand. Because of adjustments for inflation and other technical formulas, the government would be forced by law to buy milk at roughly twice the current market prices to maintain a stable milk market.

But the market would be anything but stable. Farmers, at first, would experience a financial windfall as they rushed to sell dairy products to the government at higher prices than those they would get on the commercial market. Then the prices customers pay at the supermarket would surge as shortages developed and fewer gallons of milk were available for consumers and for manufacturers of products like cheese and butter.

For dairy farmers like Dean Norton in upstate New York, who are struggling with high feed costs caused by this summer’s drought, a jump in prices would be welcomed.

“But it would be short-term euphoria followed by a long hangover that would be difficult for us to recover from,” said Mr. Norton, who is president of the New York Farm Bureau. “I don’t think customers and food processors are going to pay double what they are paying now for dairy products.”

The Senate passed a farm bill in July. A House version of the bill made it out of committee, but House leaders have yet to bring its version to the floor.

Under the current program, the government sets a minimum price to cover dairy farmers’ production costs. If the market price drops below that, the government buys dairy products from farmers to buoy prices and increase demand. Since milk prices have remained above that minimum price in recent years, dairy farmers usually do better by selling their products commercially rather than to the government.

But if 1949 rules go into effect, the government would be required to buy dairy products at around $40 per hundredweight — roughly twice the current market price — to drive up the price of milk to cover dairy producers’ cost.

“It would be bad for consumer demand in the long run,” said Chris Galen, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents more than 32,000 dairy farmers.

Mr. Galen and others in the dairy industry said reverting to 1949 policies could probably force the makers of butter, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products to look for cheaper alternatives, like imported milk from countries like New Zealand.

Most dairy companies declined to discuss plans to buy dairy supplies from abroad if they are forced to pay higher prices for milk.

But Land O’ Lakes, a dairy company based in Arden Hills, Minn., said the 1949 law could be potentially disruptive for dairy industry operations.

“Congress needs to pass a comprehensive farm bill that helps farmers continue to feed the world, keeps food prices affordable and provides farmers some financial stability in the very unpredictable profession of farming,” said Rebecca Lentz, a company spokeswoman.

In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, said the department was exploring all its options to deal with the possibility of the 1949 law going into effect.

“We will do whatever we are legally obligated to do,” said Mr. Vilsack, who declined to say what specific steps the department would take to prepare for what dairy lobbyists and industry officials are calling the “milk cliff.”

Among the options: the agriculture secretary could drag his heels on the milk purchases until Congress passes a new farm bill or an extension of the 2008 one that expired in September, said Vincent Smith, a professor of agriculture at Montana State University in Bozeman.

“This is a totally antiquated law that has nothing to do with farming conditions today,” Professor Smith said. “It was put as a poison pill to get Congress to pass a farm bill by scaring lawmakers with the prospect of higher support prices for milk and other agriculture products. Letting it go into effect for even a few months would be particularly disastrous for consumers and food processors.