Economics


Economics and Government and Social Issues13 Apr 2017 12:39 pm

The recent ascendency of the term “deep state” presents an opportunity to explore some of the elements which may comprise the entities that lay behind the term. Despite the long history of concerned politicians and citizens attempting to warn the public of the dangers and potential harms of a growing “shadow government” influencing international policy, such a discussion has largely existed under the radar of the general public.

One of the earliest and most public warnings came from president Eisenhower during his farewell address in 1961, when he cautioned us to become aware of the growing power and influence of what he termed “the military-industrial complex”. While the entire speech can be seen on You Tube or read on the web, the following quote will give you the gist of his message:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower believed that our freedoms and democracy were being threatened by the power and influence being wielded by the growing surreptitious alliances between the military and corporate/commercial entities. Soon these “special interest groups” would take hold of the behind the scenes world of lobbyists which forever pressure, seduce and bully our politicians into supporting their surreptitious goals and agendas.

Another major player in the shadow world of the deep state is the CIA and related intelligence agencies. In essence the intelligence world is an excessive perversion of the old maxim that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The benefits and goodness of the intelligence community is totally based on one’s perspective. The bulk of the surreptitious and immoral actions of the intelligence community violates every tenet of an open and free democracy, but is posed as necessary and vital for the long term success of our nation. As long as they are working on our side and defending our freedoms and democracy we excuse their methods and total lack of transparency and moral ethics.

Yet, each and every decade since the inception of the CIA there are major scandals that emerge which question both their usefulness and their benefit to our democracy and freedoms of US citizens. Many of the unsavory tactics including propaganda, assassinations, torture, control of the media, perceptual management, rigging of elections and sabotaging of the actions of populist movements abroad not only open us up to blowback, but are often exposed by investigative journalists as being used domestically on our own citizenry.
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Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues13 Oct 2015 07:14 pm

Wealth is not so much about how much money and assets you have but rather how much money and assets you have in comparison to others. In essence, wealth is about how big of a piece of the pie you possess.

The recent money printing mania of central banks has deeply distorted our concept of wealth. Over the last decade or so the size of the pie (money pool) has quintupled yet the majority of people’s wages and assets have stagnated or have grown at a moderate pace.

What this means is that if you’re personal wealth hasn’t ballooned by 500% over the last decade your relative wealth has decreased. If your savings have stayed pretty much the same it means that you are 1/5 as wealthy as you were a decade ago. Actually if one figures in the rise in inflation of food, energy, medical care and other necessities your wealth has plummeted even if your numerical wealth has doubled or even tripled.

Economic data suggests that as many as 20% of US citizens were experiencing expanding relative wealth in the early 80’s. Those treading water or enjoying a larger share of the pie fell to under 10% within a decade. The next decade saw the percentage of people’s wealth increasing drop to 5% and then down to 2%. Since the last financial crisis in 2008, the percentage of people enjoying a boost in relative wealth has gone from the infamous “one percent” to a fraction approaching 1/10 of one percent.

So even in the glory days of the middle class well over 50% of US citizens were experiencing a decline in relative wealth. Yet, due to advances in medicine and technology statistics supported the idea that the US and European middle class were experiencing a rise in their quality of life.
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Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues16 Jul 2015 02:22 pm

While greed and deception are accepted as practical business skills needed when one’s goal is to maximize profits, the majority of the populace feels that corporations and governments minimize these practices when it comes to advocating for the welfare of their citizens. There are those that understand that the profit of the few often comes at the expense of the many. Such individuals reach the logical conclusion that decisions made by governments are almost always based on pragmatic financial outcomes and seldom honor any ideals or concerns such as democracy, freedom or the quality of life of the masses. Those who do not expect the financial and political elite to sacrifice personal and national monetary wealth for the benefits of the general populace are generally considered cynical at best and more routinely labeled conspiracists.

Yet, the ability of the US to maintain its position of economic superiority would be difficult to accomplish if it spread the wealth around or had noble principles guide its actions. In order to remain the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on earth, they must make money wherever and however it is made.

The European Union, like all relatively sovereign entities, is struggling to keep from being entirely swallowed up by the US, or losing ground against the remaining competitors and major players in world finance.

Please read the link below for it is a rare and real look into the inner workings of international finance. It is a rather transparent peek behind the curtain of economic policy and its priorities. It shows how often the bullies of power force the vanquished into looking like the bad guys or to take credit for a heinous or unpopular position.

The attitude of the text and the annotated comments of the ex Greek finance minister depict a mandatory consensus, in which the people calling the shots demand those being bullied to agree to take full responsibility for the very actions they are opposed to implementing. Any mention of their concerns or the fact that they are not really the people implementing the harsh and unpopular measures would be considered a violation of the agreement and cause for additional and hasher measures to be taken. If the Greek government wants to be part of the European Union they must not only implement policies and measures which not only increase their debt problems and worsen unemployment and poverty, but they must speak and act as if it were their idea.

I am amazed at the level of care that the leaders of the European Union (namely Germany) put into the words they chose which artfully misrepresent their selfish and malevolent intentions. The only people who benefit from these measures are the creditors of the debt. The majority of which should not have purchased bonds since they were aware that the debt could never be paid off. The world would be quite a different place if our leaders put as much care and attention into working on our behalf, rather than trying to figure out ways to deceive and placate us.

In the modern world of politics consensus is acquired through those in power stubbornly dictating the terms forcing all others to quietly acquiesce or become an accomplice to their exploitative and inhumane policies and behavior.
A system that tolerates, encourages and at times even glorifies mechanisms of deceit and exploitation will always perform better and defeat systems that are fair, equitable and humane.

A person could always win the race when they are able to cheat and disable their competitors. A runner allowed to get a head start, take short cuts and have accomplices kick and grab the other runners could easily claim superiority. With this in mind it is easy to understand how a profit at all costs system of capitalism is able to “outperform” all other social systems.

 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-15…

Those who most benefit from the predatory system of competition and profit have convinced people that no other system would cultivate and utilize technology and the creative energies of man, despite the fact that there is ample evidence to the contrary. We do know that this system creates economic imbalances, is dependent on waste, and is rather blind to any long term variable producing harm. As we mentioned earlier, when one’s primary goal and concern is maximizing profit all other concerns take a back seat.

Documents which are designed to benefit the few by extricating the remaining wealth of the many are being written and made into law quite frequently. Excusing debt by taking over ownership of assets is the very definition of loan sharking, and has been a staple of greedy governments, individuals and institutions for centuries. The most admirable moments of human history have been when the masses have demanded that the quality of life and the standard of living for the many takes precedent over the greed and self-agrandizement of the few.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues15 Jul 2015 06:34 pm

The US continues to be the poster child for a profit based health care system. In such a system a person’s health takes a back seat to concerns regarding the bottom line. In fact, a healthy client often limits the ability for vested parties such as doctors, hospitals and insurance and pharmaceutical companies from making a profit. While “wellness” visits do generate a bit of income, the real money in a profit based system is made in the following ways:

Tests
Surgeries and procedures
Hospital Stays and emergency room visits
Prescriptions and medicines

Since the US is the most profit based health care system in the world, it is not surprising that we also lead the world in all four of the above services and interventions. Many tests, surgeries and procedures, hospital stays and medications are over used and misused. So while many people’s lives are prolonged and their quality of life improved by US medical care, these interventions are also a leading cause of death in the US.

Unnecessary tests and surgeries can often result in complications, harms and even death. Prescription medications and procedures are notorious for having deleterious and serious “side effects” which occur with a frequency superior to its resulting in a cure.

Doctors run tests on many ostensibly healthy patients in order to be “proactive” and possibly catch a serious disease such as cancer which has yet to manifest itself. Yet, many of the most popular tests used are often ineffective in their goal, while in some cases causing problems which would not have occurred otherwise.

The US profit based health care system is excellent for those who have serious and life threatening conditions, but can be extremely harmful to those who are generally healthy. A healthy patient who only goes to the doctor when ill, or for a physical every year or two is a drain on the profits of our health care system.

The health care system has a vested interest in making sure that tests and patient interviews reveal potential reasons for some lucrative or frequently reoccurring intervention to be administered. The pharmaceutical industry has made it near impossible for a citizen of the US to go through their lives without the need to take medications on a frequent basis.

The result of this obsession with making health care as profitable as possible is that Americans are the most medicated and over diagnosed populace. They have longer and more frequent hospital stays where exposure to drug resistant germs can result in serious illness and/or death. They are also badgered and bullied by an increasingly predatory health care system and threatened to be dropped by insurance providers if they resist to subject themselves to often unnecessary and potentially harmful tests and procedures whose sole goal is to detect the need for more tests or the ostensible existence of a serious illness such as cancer needing immediate and expensive attention.

The US health care system deserves a great deal of admiration for their ability to save those in the most dire of situations. Many grateful people owe their life and quality of life to their doctors and the modern technology it employs. Yet, many other people’s lives have been destroyed or prematurely terminated due to the health care system’s zealousness to generate substantial profits.

Statistics do not support the US health care systems boasts of being the best in the world. Other nations provide excellent health care at a fraction of the cost, and do not have any where near as many problems with drug resistant germs, life threatening side effects, and sizable portions of the populace incapable of receiving services. Our profit based health care system continues to plummet in its global standing in a number of important areas.

While the US probably leads the world in inaccurately representing its global standing in the realm of health care, its actual standing is falling preceptively on almost a yearly basis. The latest stats I’ve seen now ranks the US thirty-seventh in the world in terms of life expectancy and does not fare any better in terms of statistics geared to calculate quality of life from a health perspective.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Social Issues23 Jun 2014 03:07 pm

Since our global community seems to be moving in the direction of increased wealth and power going into fewer and fewer hands it is logical to conclude that there is a diminishing inner core of power lords disseminated about the planet.

If you were to teach a course on how to become a power lord or power broker, what would you advise? If we were to devise the typical or ideal personality profile what would it look like? While such an investigation could be quite elaborate and lengthy, we’ll offer some initial logical assumptions regarding the basic personality structure of your typical power lord.

Since power and wealth are the goal of many extremely competitive and ambitious individuals it is highly unlikely that a person lacking in these qualities would rise to the top of the power lord world, especially considering that our basic economic structures promote and reward selfishness, obsessiveness and hyper competitiveness.

It would seem safe to assume that empathy and compassion would be obstacles to the sort of self-aggrandizement and single mindedness it takes in order to rise to the top in the worlds of wealth and power. A person who is compassionate or egalitarian by nature would not be able nor willing to compete in the winner takes all manner that is the way of the most ambitious in the realms of wealth and power.

I think it would be safe to say that one doesn’t become or remain a power lord without an insatiable thirst for wealth and power. The key world here is insatiable. If one wishes to be a power lord there is no end point to their ambition. If there is, they will be defeated or replaced by someone who is more devoted to the task at hand.

The goal of the aspiring power lord is to win the moment. In almost each and every transaction and interaction they must come out the victor. In every defeat they are put at a greater disadvantage to their fellow competitors.

While strategy and planning are important and beneficial towards winning and staying on top, most power lords would have to be acutely aware that projections and predictions inherent in planning become less accurate in larger and larger time frames. Couple this with the uselessness of long term plans if you continue to lose in the present and this creates a very utilitarian obsession with the present.

In other words power lords by necessity of the dynamics of competition always have to remain relatively short sighted. Continued success often depends on their ability to access the necessary resources, technology and legal clout in order to deal with problems that arise. They have a utilitarian faith in progress and invention and can often point out how their critics and those predicting the end of the world have been wrong for generations and that the pragmatic optimism in “where there’s a will there’s a way” has served them well.

The irony for the aspiring power lord is that while they are playing an economic and political game of musical chairs in which they must be they last person seated, they also are dependent on business alliances and the general trust and support and trust of the general populace.

This basic fact of their dependency on the trust and support of others necessitates that they must hide their end goals from everyone, in some cases even from themselves. If not the top tier, at least the higher tiers in the race for wealth and power must be populated by con men and sociopaths. Even an obviously power grabbing dictator is dependent on an inner circle of compatriots that trust and believe that their loyalty and efforts will result in their sharing in the spoils.

The goal of power and wealth seems to require a very utilitarian view of others as a means to an end. Competition on this grand of a scale would make any genuine humanitarian feeling or bond with others a weakness supplying your adversaries with the means to defeat you. If the goal is defeating everyone to become the defending champion of ultimate wealth and power, then how can you be anything but cold and alone? The logical conclusion for the power lord is that success, wealth and power are their only remaining companions.

As far as we can tell their still is a community of power lords and a champion has not been declared. This could signal that at some point even the most ambitious and successful power lords find a need for friends and allies, or it could mean that the game still has farther to go.

One might conclude from the logic of the above discussion that I am a pessimist or feel that power lords are inevitable and the lot of the general populace are to be pawns at best and victims and casualties at worse. While ambitious and selfish people always have and most likely will exist, I feel that our current economic and political structures are custom made for power lords to exist and thrive.

The so called “capitalistic meritocracy” that we live in, is a paradise for sociopathic con men, selfish obsessive personalties, pirates, and all out exploiters. We could just as easily construct a society that rewards genuine humanitarianism, compassion and egalitarianism.

As Plato observed: “Power should be confined to those who are not in love with it.”

Our capitalistic economy fosters a sense of lack, a need to fill oneself through consuming. Business success often depends on convincing people that they need a product, that their lives will be less than if they do not make the purchase. Doesn’t this business reality make salesman into con man and exploiters of others? It seems probable if not inevitable that such logic fosters exaggeration, deception and misrepresentation?

It is relatively easy to be successful selling a product that is addictive, it literally sells itself. Is it then not logical that exploiting peoples addictions, compulsions and weaknesses becomes part and parcel of a lot of commerce?

The biggest and most deceiving sell job is that this system of exploitation and economic opportunism is both necessary and at the very core of progress. We are told that without economic competition and equality our quality of life would plummet.

The discontented currently rule the world, they are the power lords. They shape and control the message, and have the majority of people accept their lies and personally convenient world view. Here are the lyrics to a song of mine which are pertinent to this discussion.

The Discontented Rule the World                                                       8/31/13

A contented man seldom worries
A contented man does not hate
A contented woman needs no ambition
A contented woman is able to wait

The Discontended Rule the World

The contended man savors conversation
The contended man enjoys the day
The contented woman is open to pleasure
The contented woman finds joy in play

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The discontented cause us pain
The discontented mock the sane

My contentment nestled in delight
My contentment welling up inside
My contentment whispered in my sigh
My contentment permeates my life

The discontented are always plotting
contesting, battlings and forever defeating
The discontented are not to be trusted
they’ll never own enough even when you’re busted

The discontented rule the world
The discontented abuse the world
The contented have no urge to rule

______________________________________________

I’d like to expand on the last line of the song. While contented people likely have no need to rule over others, they often do enjoy serving and helping others. If our society was structured in a more compassionate and life enhancing manner than those elected would fulfill the role we originally envisioned for them. Elected officials could behave and aspire to truly be “public servants”. The current goals of capitalism make a mockery of the ideals of democracy.

I find it intriguing how often we view some of the most powerful and wealthy people on the planet as being incompetent and powerless. We invest these people with the purest of intentions and judge the success of their actions by these supposed goals and values.

While the actions of the president, congress and federal reserve almost always benefit the interests of the few or support the agenda of ruthless power, we view them as incompetent or failing to fulfill their objective to represent our interests. While almost every action of our government is most easily explained as successfully protecting the interests of the elite and the empire, we instead think that they have bungled their attempts to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world.

The actions of the federal reserve are easily viewed as consistent and successful when you evaluate their actions as a private banking cartel looking to maximize their profits and those of their associates rather than their attempting to mange inflation, boost the economy or assist the job market. Yet, despite these glaring contradictions we would rather view these highly intelligent, successful and powerful people as out of touch or misguided. We may insult their abilities, but we never question their intentions.

While one may conclude that I am not a big fan of the actions and goals of the power elite, I think the discussion above demonstrates that they are very gifted and dedicated people. They are in the position they are in because they are sophisticated and talented enough to know how to win and be successful. Their apparent failure and struggles of meeting their goals is very inconsistent with their nature and history. It is more probable that they are acting as con men getting us to believe or invest in them values and goals which are inaccurate, and they instead (the president, federal government, central bankers, and economic elite) are successfully fulfilling their actual goals.

I find this same mechanism present with a few of our more famous philanthropists. I’m not saying that philanthropy does not exist, but that sometimes people who claim to be philanthropist are power lords in sheep’s clothing. When a multi-billionaire claims to be giving back to the people through charity and works to improve the quality of life of those around the globe, but their net worth continues to expand, than that sounds more like a savvy investor and not a philanthropist.

A person who is doing charity and giving away millions and maybe even billions of dollars, while technically retired, should not be increasing their net worth. Investing is the very mechanism of giving away your money to a cause or venture which will give you a positive return on your money. If a power lord does this and calls this philanthropy it is essentially a PR maneuver or a means of taking advantage of tax breaks and other political channels allowing them access to a market that would not otherwise be able to profit from.

While it may be true that the discontent rule the world, it is only with our tacit acceptance and support. The first step towards improvement would likely involve our restructuring society in a more humanistic manner (not as hard as they would like you to believe), and for us to stop revering and trusting the very people who are ignoring and injuring our best interests. Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Psychology and Social Issues and Stock Market28 Feb 2014 01:45 pm

While most of our attention is focused on our “losing jobs” to China, India and many emerging or third world nations, we may be missing the more important ways in which our basic economic structure is changing. In many ways it appears that our Industrial Free Market Economy is being transformed into a economic system based on Financial Instruments.

Over the last number of decades we have been referred to as a consumer based economy in which the health of the economy was dependent on the increased velocity of money being fueled by strong and generally increasing expenditure and consumption. Recessions or down turns in the economic health of the nation was accompanied by drops in consumption and expenditures. The economy “contracted” at these time periods with businesses laying off workers in response to a drop in revenues and profits as consumption stagnated or decreased.

In a society in which its economic system is dependent on the consumption of goods and services there was always a need for people to be employed and for wages to increase to support their being able to continue to consume, invest and make major purchases to stimulate the economy.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution modern societies have found an increasing need for the vast majority of citizens to fulfill three roles, that being consumer, worker/producer and soldier. The woman’s movement almost doubled the pool of possible workers and with two pay checks per household as compared to one, allowed for a sharp increase in both production and consumption.

The rising populations throughout the industrialized societies impelled its economic and political leaders to support their consumer cultures by trying to monopolize the natural resources of the globe. A surplus of oil, foodstuffs, natural gas, minerals, potable water, etc. were all needed materials and essentials to keep the consumer based economies humming and expanding.

Many so called underdeveloped nations were somewhat opposed to their surrendering these resources or not having them be the main benefactors or their economic value. The wealthier industrialized nations felt they were the proper stewards of these precious and valuable commodities and felt other nations should trust in their proper management and global dissemination.

According to the industrial nations those envious of the industrialized nations must be subdued and forcibly assisted in becoming better and more moral nations. In this manner constant protection and advancement depended on forming the most formidable of military forces which then required the role of soldier to become paramount, rivaling both the roles of consumer and produces in their importance for the continued success and functioning of the consumer culture.

The industrialized world was led by “free democratic” societies who felt their way of life threatened by the existence of totalitarian, communist and even egalitarian socialistic societies. Such political and economic diversity was not tolerable for a social economic structure that was dependent on both the increased access to and dominance of food, energy, and industrial materials and technologies by the elite industrial nations. The equating of freedom and free trade made military might and superiority not only palatable but a moral imperative. Freedom and fighting for freedom became synonymous, and the possibility of freedom without war became a somewhat mocked and unrealistic ideal.

Protecting our freedom and way of life, from the morally bankrupt and evil despots led many to “proudly serve” in the military and to support our governments policies and political agendas. These people viewed themselves and their nation as the true bastions of freedom, justice and moral righteousness.
One of the true ironies of our sense of progress and the ideal of an ever expanding worker/producer consumer culture, is the role of technology and its impact on our lives. While it is true that every advance in technology creates jobs, it is also true that most advances in technology replace more jobs and human labor than they create. Machines and inventions have almost always increased production and made businesses less dependent on human labor, or at least reduced the number of man hours necessary to produce the same number of goods.

Increases in production via technological advances has been astounding often in a geometric progression. Likewise, the areas in which technology dramatically increased production is finding itself in not only almost every area of manual labor but also in the service economy.  While the possibility of our being able to create a fully automated society freed of human labor is still up for debate, the fact that each passing day the need for a smaller and smaller percentage and number of people working is a unavoidable reality. The old truism that automation only replaces unskilled labor and jobs unfit for human beings is no longer  accurate in any sense. In fact you could say that the last decade saw more highly skilled jobs, such as surgeons and systems analysts, being replaced by robots and computers that can deal with huge reams of information, microscopic precision and nanotechnology.

Modern technology, robotics and artificial technology are overcoming human error, limitations and vulnerabilities. In many industries we can produce in a matter of hours what we most likely will consume in months or even years. As technology becomes more gifted (as workers and producers) our role as workers and producers becomes more and more unnecessary and obsolete. While this is rather easy to fathom, it is harder for most people to recognize that our role as a consumer is likewise becoming increasingly unnecessary since the last recession.

Despite rather anemic growth in consumption accompanied by rising unemployment and falling wages the stock market and corporate profits are positively booming. Those working in the sweat factories abroad are now making maybe $200 a year rather than the $100 a year they used to make. These people are replacing jobs in the industrial nations that made anywhere from $18,000 to over $40,000 a year. So while the decreased wages are cutting down on overhead, they are also greatly reducing the pool of disposable income available to buy products that should be necessary for corporate profits and stock performance.

How are corporations able to make record profits if the consumers of their products and services are unemployed, making less money, and have less disposable income available? Add to this conundrum the fact that banks have drastically cut back the number of loans given out during this entire meteoric rise in corporate profits and the stock market. Well if people have no money to spend, and they can’t borrow it, where are these record profits and stock prices coming from?

During the time which we now refer to as the Great Recession we were told that our entire financial system was in crisis and the threat of total collapse was imminent. The stock market and financial systems survival was accomplished through a massive injection of money into the marketplace via bailouts, loans and ample money printing.

While the economy continued to struggle and unemployment rose, the financial and stock markets began to show signs of not only stabilizing, but regaining the majority of losses. While the financial press continued to debate the existence of “green shoots” and whether we’d have another recession, the stock market had already doubled since its low and the housing prices were beginning to inch back up. The “jobless recovery” has never really ended while the stock and financial markets are at new all time highs. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these new highs and corporate profits have been accomplished despite and maybe even because of a struggling economy.

In an industrial consumer economy there is a ceiling of how high profits can go in a high unemployment and low wage environment. Without jobs and expanding disposable income (higher wages) consumer spending is bound to slow down if not contract. Yet, one of the biggest and longest stock market runs in occurring in a stagnant or low growth economy where over 95% of financial gain has been acquired by the top 1% of the populace.
These facts seem to point to the fact that we no longer live in a consumer based economy and instead are experiencing the birth of a new economic model. Let’s look at some of the reasons this new model could be referred to as a financial instrument model.

The financial crisis was averted and the stock market rebounded when the Federal Reserve and other Central Banks began printing money and thereby “injecting liquidity into the marketplace”. The stock market was buoyed by relatively free money being used to buy stocks which had come down sharply in price. Troubled banks, financial institutions, and corporations were bailed out or give huge near zero percent loans to help them pay off their debts and stabilize their businesses.

While these extreme measures were implemented to avoid a catastrophe, the money printing, loans and bailouts have continued. In essence the financial behemoths which were declared too big to fail, have been receiving free freshly created money to use in any manner which they find beneficial.

Since many of these businesses are banks and other financial institutions which make no tangible merchandise or products, they have used this money to purchase financial instruments which are making a solid yield, repurchasing their own stock, and investing it in the financial world of stocks and bonds.

Many of the troubled financial institutions were saddled with bad loans and mortgages that were “under water” and had no hope of ever being paid off. The Federal Reserve took it upon themselves to purchase billions of dollars of this unserviceable through financial instruments such as mortgage backed securities to take these burdensome debts off of the books.

The transfer process was/is quite simple. The Fed would electronically create “print” money and use it to buy bad debt such as unserviceable bank loans. The debt purchased by the Fed would be transferred from the banks to the tax payer by being added to the
national debt.

The businesses and non financial corporations receiving newly created money via low interest loans and bailouts mainly chose to follow the path resulting in maximizing their short term financial gain. So, rather than lower their profit margins by increasing their overhead through building factories, hiring workers, increasing worker pay and expanding their businesses they mainly did the same as the banks and make most of their profits through stock buy backs, investing in financial instruments, and actually reducing overhead by closing factories, cutting wages and benefits, and when possible passing on expenses to the government (taxpayers).

Measures which were taken to avert an economic meltdown have now become business as usual. Money printing and financial instruments have become the way money is made by the top fraction of one percent of the populace. As long as money is being electronically created and injected into the marketplace via the coffers of the 1% there is little need for a consumer to spend his dwindling pennies on products and services. Every dollar printed just adds to the pool of money available and if that money is placed directly into the hands of the wealthiest their relative worth skyrockets as the relative wealth of everyone else plummets.

Is a Post Industrial Financial Instrument Economy sustainable? Are the financial elite going to eventually meet resistance or truly need the consumer, worker and soldier?

With each passing day advances in automation, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, surveillance, and military technology are making the roles of worker, consumer and soldier increasingly unnecessary for the acquisition and securing of wealth. Through debt, taxes, suspension of entitlements, destruction of worker rights and protections, the loss of privacy, and the legal erosion of our basic inalienable rights and freedoms we are losing any recourse we may have had to defend our role and purpose in this new global economy as well as any way to insure our economic self-determination.

The stock market is currently enjoying its longest stretch, some 60 months, without a correction of 20% or more. The longer this goes on the more it supports the possibility that we have truly entered a new economic paradigm in which automation, perceptual management and financial instruments have replaced the old rules and dynamics of an industrial based economy. While I personally think this economic paradigm coup is premature and ill fated, and the coming stock market crash will be historic in nature, I am unwilling to totally discount this new financial instrument based economy succeeding now or in the near future.

In such a world where the common man becomes superfluous at best and a burden at worst we may look back at Brave New World and 1984 as comparatively rosy views of the future.

Jim Guido

 

Economics and Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues17 May 2013 03:03 pm

My dad came to the US from Italy when he was 13 years old. My mom was born in the US in a small Italian community which was where my dad’s family eventually settled. My mom’s parents married shortly after they had come to America and quickly started a family.

My dad, who was 13 years older than my mom, lasted less than a year in public schools and began working to help support the family when he was 14. My mom lasted into her freshman year of high school, but too, had to quit school to help support the family.

My dad was a firm believer in the idea of coming to America to “make a better life”. He, like many of contemporaries, felt that hard work and sacrifice were necessary to accomplish this goal. Living in the US was seen as an opportunity to escape the poverty that had dominated his family for generations in southern Italy. Success, for him, was being able to provide for his family so that they had food on the table and would not have to spend their waking hours worrying about basic safety and survival.

After my parents married they moved to a nearby factory town on the shores of Lake Michigan. My dad took pride on his working his way up from the railway yards to become a ticket agent at a train station. He talked of his being fortunate of no longer having to do “menial labor” nor having to work in the factories that dominated local employment.

In my early years I rarely saw my dad for he found it necessary to  have a second job to make sure we could not only survive, but save some money for the future. My dad got up at four in the morning,  got ready for work and returned home about 3 in the afternoon as we were coming home from school, we than would eat before 4 so that my dad could make the evening shift at some restaurant or at the new fast food establishments.

On the rare evening my dad was at home he would take his slide rule and racing form to the kitchen table and spend hours doing the research that went into his small wagers on the horses. On weekends we either went to relatives houses many of which still lived in the Italian community a half hour away, or some relative would come to our house. Larger family parties occurred regularly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays and church functions. On Sunday mornings we always went to church before seeing relatives for the remainder of the day.

The men in my hometown talked about work and factory life far more than any other topic. Even in family gathering it was unusual that someone didn’t vent a little frustration over their work situation, boss or the lack of security in their employment. 

Maybe it was just what we chose to watch, but the topic of labor and work even seemed to dominate the entertainment industry. I remember movies and plays which dealt with coal miners, factory workers, union strikes and the plight of failure and emptiness in characters such as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

While Marx was not someone my blue collar world had read, people and TV often talked about feeling the “dehumanizing” role of factory work, or how mass production work was like living in a prison, or how insulting and degrading it was to have to kowtow to every boss or supervisor and how the work itself took away a man’s sense of dignity and self-respect. Even the popular comedies on TV made numerous jokes and references to the ever present possibility of being fired or laid off.

At a very early age I became highly fearful of ending up working in a factory, or being forced to engage in some labor of endless repetition. Even the professionals in town with careers or those in management positions seemed to be kowtowing to some boss and being tethered to a long and highly structured work week.  In my mind I began to equate work with a loss of freedom, autonomy and any hope of  a decent quality of life.

My mom had worked from the age of 15 until she got married in her late 20’s. She took pride in being a strong peasant woman and in the old world values of the immigrant mother’s she idolized. She liked the role of  mother and homemaker, and took a particular delight in cooking.

My mom’s life of a housekeeper mother was filled with menial labor and “drudgery”.  Yet, the ardor of her work load and the time required to complete a task seemed to lessen with each invention and advance in appliance technology. Going from washboard to wringer was not that drastic, but the jump to washing machine was dramatic and much appreciated. Even the advance in fabrics reduced ironing time. The list of appliances, technologies and “conveniences” which reduced housekeeping time and effort was expanding on a monthly basis. Even in lower middle class families such as ourselves the quality of life of the homemaker was improving greatly.

By the time I was four or five my mom was able to entertain herself with radio or TV while she tended to her household tasks and chores. She was able to take breaks to watch a favorite program or visit with a neighbor lady for an hour or so, and still get dinner on the table by 4.  My mom actually found enough “leisure” time to reengage in hobbies/crafts of her latter childhood such as embroidery and crocheting.

Most of her daytime TV was divided into two areas. One area of interest was quiz type of programs such as “Concentration” and the other were the emotional tearjerkers such as “Queen for a Day” or the “Millionaire”. 

While the advances in technology appeared to be a boon for the housekeeper, it did not seem to improve the quality of life for the factory worker. While advance in assembly line technology did reduce the physical demand on a worker, it also reduced the scope of their activity to one part or cog of a product. No longer could they even take pride in the completion of an entire product such as a clock, radio or car, but only in the installation of a front fender, minute hand, or some other part of the complete product.

While technology reduced the time it took to housekeep and the strain the tasks took on the body, in the factory it just increased production expectations and the fears that the technology would replace your need as a worker. Advances in technology made it possible for my dad’s work load to be decreased, and he could have theoretically played a radio while he worked. Yet, his “higher ups” sent out memo’s stating playing a radio would result in termination of employment, and the railroad found many new and additional tasks for him to perform to insure that he had no free time or that his work load was reduced in any fashion or form. To the contrary it seemed that each passing day my dad was required to do more, and be responsible for more, with no additional pay.

In general I found my mom’s life more tolerable than my dad’s. I found his perpetual working, subservience to bosses, and the lack of autonomy and development of outside interests to be boring at best and humiliating at worst. I could never reconcile my relatives story of my dad’s past with the dad I knew. The man who played trumpet, read philosophy, travelled the country, was an avid Ham operator, gambled, made his own sausage, cheese and wine, etc. was  nowhere to be seen. The last vestiges of that man were only seen at the rare moments he listened intently to the opera on the radio, or took time for himself to read reflective nonfiction.

The time I remember him being the most vibrant and alive was when I was 6 or 7 and his union went on strike. My dad become a leader of the workers at this time and set up camp at the downtown hotel in our town. He shined in the role of organizer, giving people instructions, speaking at meetings and being part of the negotiations with management. Though he was glad when the strike was over, I kind of missed the dynamic man who was my dad for a short time.

My dad’s sense of pride and self-esteem had him adopt the stay at home housewife preference. He felt it was his obligation and duty to be the “breadwinner” and that he would be a failure if his wife “had to work”. Yet, when I was 8 years old my mom decided that since all the kids (I was the youngest) were fairly self-sufficient that she wanted to do more to help make our family financially more comfortable. It took only a couple of weeks to convince my dad that she nor their friends would think she “had to work”, but that she just wanted a new challenge and it would allow my sister an opportunity to learn how to cook and manage a home.

My dad helped my mom get a job as a ticket agent at another station on the same line as my dad. She enjoyed the challenge and it gave them a shared interest which brought them closer together. Yet, it wasn’t long before the luster of the new job wore off, and my mom began to complain about the routine just like all the men. Yet, at the end of the day the sense of financial security she got from the job outweighed its deficits and she stayed on the job until about a year after she was robbed at gunpoint and never again felt safe at work.

By the time I got to high school I had made the following assessments of the world and lives of men and women.  I viewed being male as having almost no options and being destined to a laborious life spent in servitude, with little hope of privacy, autonomy or time for personal development. Most of the men I knew seemed empty, emotionally vacant and resentful. The boys my age were trying to sow a few wild oats before conforming to the fate of being male.

I did have some distant male relatives who lived in Italian communities or neighborhoods that seemed to truly enjoy their lives. They were artists, musicians, entrepreneurs (organized crime?), or individuals who somehow got by with minimal labor. They were fun loving, funny, emotional, and their lives seemed to be filled with meaningful relationships. Quality of life, joy and relationships were their priorities and they made you feel good just to be able to bask in their energy.

The Italian lover’s of life philosophy summed up by the colloquialism “dolce far niente”  (sweet idleness) was something that I harmonized with. Another version of this Italian art of living philosophy was offered by North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when after being diagnosed with cancer  said: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day…..You should laugh every day…You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”…

The life of most of the adults I knew seemed hollow and meaningless. Life seemed too incredible and precious to me, to waste it in toil or mindless activity. Most men were doomed to an empty existence of endless labor, we had no choice in the matter. Women on the other hand were beginning to have options, my mom could work or stay at home. Technology and social change were opening a whole new world to women in which they began to talk of issues such as“quality of life”, “consciousness raising”, “intimacy” and the richness of human emotion and experience.

Just when I was beginning to feel that I would have little or no opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rich existence the women’s movement emerged as a beacon for a vision of living a quality life. While the majority of men were consigned to a life of labor and subjugation, a growing percentage of women were entering a new age of self-exploration and enlightenment.

I remember watching the Phil Donahue show and feeling a growing sense of hope and optimism. Women were leading a discussion on the direction of society. The gospel of the women’s movement seemed to be that men were leading an empty life of labor, ambition and the thirst for power, and that women were in danger of leading a “shallow” and “superficial” life filled with pettiness and gossip. Women were being called upon to join together in a quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. A life of freedom, dignity, respect and personal development. 

The majority of my male friends in high school were either already becoming emotionally vacant and empty, or just partying until the music stopped. My female friends were more into self-disclosure and talking about their feelings. 

I became close to a small group of verbal guys who talked at length on science, philosophy and the future. I also found another mixed group of friends who talked about art, literature, music and social revolution. The majority of female friends I had, talked about relationships, human communication and the soap opera of adolescence. 

Though I sometimes found the conversation of my female friends to be petty or emotionally tedious it was far preferable to the alternative. I found myself introducing or advocating my female friends to become more engaged in the women’s movement and its basic philosophy.

Advances in technology were already showing that automation was the future, and that many factory jobs could be replaced by automated machines working faster and more efficiently than human workers. We already were showing signs of having too many workers for too few jobs, and that productivity goals could be met through less full time workers.

The women’s movement and pop psychology were informing us that “self-actualization” and “intimacy” were far more important than work/labor and making money. That, in fact, monetary ambition and long working hours were injurious to health, quality of life, and the development and maintenance of fulfilling friendships and enduring familial relationships.

Despite the murder of some very important leaders of social change much had been accomplished not only in the growth of the women’s movement, but civil rights, and the ecological and anti-war movements. Watchdog agencies, whistleblowers and journalists were exposing the corruption in government, business, medicine, finance, academia, the media and the military in a way that seemed to promise better management and accountability.

Human dignity and respect was on the rise for workers, women, minorities and students. Fear and hatred was being replaced by tolerance and understanding. The landing on the moon had been a sign that we can accomplish anything we commit ourselves to and that war, poverty, and world hunger were problems we could address and solve.

We are fond of saying that it is darkest before the dawn, yet one person’s dawn is another persons dusk. And just at the moment when I felt that the journey of self-actualization and quality of life was about to take flight, the forces of anger, control, hatred, and oppression seemed to silently turn us back towards the prison we just escaped.

Almost overnight the messages of personal development, quality of life, human intimacy, freedom and autonomy were being subtly modified and replaced with messages speaking of consumption, making money, and national and cultural superiority. 

The advertising and business world targeted minorities, women, and students as emerging lucrative consumer markets. Equating new found freedoms and social status with making money, consumption and having a new and expensive image. Drinking malt liquor and wearing specific clothes became synonymous with being a hip and successful black person. Virginia Slim’s proclaimed, “you’ve come a long way baby”, to hawk a product “designed for the modern woman”. 

Soon the women’s movement humanistic message of quality of life and intimacy became lost in the desire for equal pay and full employment. Entering the evil and destructive male dominated world of power, money, servitude and labor became the goal and battle cry of the movement. 

While I fully supported equality and rights for all, I felt stunned that the goal had now become for all to become slaves to money, labor and subjugation to corporate owners be they white male, female or minority. I personally cared little if the warden were black, white or female, I just wanted out of prison. My concern was in the quality of our lives and in our ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships and a societal respect for my and your privacy and autonomy.

Now forty years later I still have the same longings, desires and goals. I look back at the women’s movement like a photograph of an old girl friend who ended up sleeping with my old tormentor. We could have shared so much together, we could have had made the world an intimate caring place. Instead we now live in a society in which two paychecks don’t even have the purchasing power of one back in the 50’s or 60’s.  And where quality of life, life expectancy, health, happiness quotients, and leisure time have been on the decline and falling behind other more “socialistic” nations around the globe.

While I look back at what I experienced as a lost opportunity its hard not to be frightened by our surveillance society and the loss of all the freedoms and privacy we struggled to achieve and the fact that the only real growth industry left in our decayed capitalistic system of empire is fear mongering , prejudice and intolerance. 

Jim Guido

 

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues07 Apr 2013 02:45 pm

At some point in time after WWII the US decided that it would accept no deviation from its social, political and economic agenda. In every area of life either you’re with us or you are against us. The “us” was theoretically the US, but as time has gone on the “us” has morphed into a small club of the financial elite (who are not all necessarily of the US).

The US, the financial, political and military superpower, has the wherewithal and the disposition to engage in war with all. Most empires throughout history have enjoyed the spoils of war, yet no empire in history has had the maintenance of their empire more directly tied to the concept of perpetual war and plunder.

We justify our aggressive policing of the entire globe through rhetoric espousing freedom and the spread of democracy. We hide behind such lofty ideals to excuse our governments complete intolerance with the possible existence of other political, social or economic systems.

While, following WWII most nations feared and treated war as a desperate action of last resort, the US relished and glorified the concept of war. Even before the radioactive clouds completely cleared, we were having war with anything that moved, or possibly impacted our existence. We were the good nation, and all others were either just like us, or evil.

We framed and posed everything in and outside our society in terms of battles and wars. We had wars on poverty, crime, drugs, communism, socialism, illiteracy, obesity, and atheism. Labor unions and management were always doing battle before the government convinced us that labor unions were unpatriotic. Our friends and family waged war and had battles with tooth decay, polio, mental illness, cancer and laziness.

Even our recreational life was framed in war vernacular. Major sporting events were always battles and wars. Soon even the most mundane contest or competition got “elevated” to war status. If it wasn’t a war, it was neither worthy of our attention, interest or appreciation.

Despite the benefits and blatant success garnered through mediums such as mediation, diplomacy and negotiation we slowly were convinced that such strategies were dangerous and counterproductive. The gains in worker and civil rights, the women’s and peace movements, and the ecological movement were examples of generally non-violent forms of social improvement.

The US government steadily embraced an inflexible policy of seeing any form of negotiation as a sign of weakness and a horrendously bad precedent. This was true not only internationally but domestically as well. As forms of social advocacy have not only fallen out of favor but have become increasingly dangerous or illegal.

US journalists, union organizers, humanitarian workers and clergy working abroad have reported being targets for US and US backed forces for assisting “leftist” groups for decades. Now, domestically we increasingly treat the participation of peaceful demonstrations and non-violent protests as a quasi-illegal act, where participants are video taped and become subjects for Homeland Security and FBI investigation.

The perpetual war on terrorism is being used as a vehicle to destroy and remove many of our basic civil liberties. The new laws allowing American citizens to be imprisoned and even executed without a trail or even official charges being brought forth are very disturbing. The whistleblowers of corruption and immoral behavior, which were treated as heroes a few decades ago are being imprisoned and demonized. All dissent is being viewed as an aid to terrorism and, therefore, fit to be treated as an act of terrorism.

While we trumpeted freedom, democracy and national sovereignty we have practiced keeping every nation on a short pragmatic and ideological leash. Any nation placing the needs and rights of their citizens over US interests were intimidated or forced to show due respect to the US.

Leaders of nations who oppose our economic and political agendas are labeled evil tyrants, even when they are democratically elected and loved by their people. Some of the leaders who we have tried to assassinate and overthrow have done wonders in the areas of health, civil liberties, education and standard of living for the majority of the nation’s population. This is not to say that they are wonderful people, but only to acknowledge the incongruity of our nation’s despising them, and the practical and functional benefit their leadership has provided its citizens.

In a few instances our government has gone so far as insinuate or even call a leader of an unfriendly or enemy nation crazy. We are then told that we must take action against this country due to their capabilities or ambitions for weapons of mass destruction. Yet, who in their right mind would publicly insult a truly crazy leader who had the capabilities of waging nuclear warfare, or engaging in terrorist activities killing many US citizens.

Either our leaders are themselves lacking mental stability or they know that these so called evil leaders are harmless and using the “war” of words to validate our harming that leader, his people or the land they live on. Yet, when these insane maniacs show impressive restraint from our insults and accusation, we up the ante by engaging in intimidation and bullying techniques such as imposing economic sanctions, international trade restrictions, devaluing their currency endangering resulting in the pain and suffering and eventual death of millions of innocents.

The US currently has military bases and presence in near 160 countries. When one considers that there are less than 200 nations one could say we are pretty much everywhere. The original list of nations named as part of the “axis of evil”, were the last remaining nations without a capitalistic central bank. Economic allegiance seems to be even more important to the US than political format. Many of our most valued allies are nations headed by despots and non democratic leadership, but none of our allies have a economic system separate from ours.

The land of freedom and defender of human rights has a higher percentage of its populace imprisoned than any other. While we fight to protect our freedom we are the most monitored society on the planet. One must always keep in mind that the internet was and always will be a Pentagon project.

As I type, each keystroke is documented and filtered through a host of systems alerting the authorities to the level of concern they should have. Almost all our communications are monitored and documented, likewise our activities and interests. With GPS, smart phones, etc. it is hard for us to keep private even for a brief moment our exact whereabouts.

Despite this pervasive surveillance we see a need to imprison a higher percentage of our populace than any other nation on the planet. Though we rank far down the list in terms of violent crimes, we still find a reason to deny the freedom of more people than the harshest dictatorship.

In a land that loves war, is economically dependent on war, and uses war as a way of controlling its people and getting complete economic and social compliance the war on the citizen will not end until economic domination is complete. Any penny left in your name represents a battle to be fought and a contest to be won.

Each victory just gives the economic and military elite more wherewithal to conduct their war with all.

Much of the progress of human society has been in our efforts to work together and lend each other a helping hand. Yet, lately when we ask our government for a hand, apparently all they feel they can afford is to give us the finger.

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Social Issues03 Feb 2013 03:07 pm

Imagine if you were in a casino and you were able to gamble with house money or money given to you by investors of your business. Your winnings in this casino are yours except for any chips you want to give to investors of friends. Yet, if you lose, the casino’s bank would bankroll you for more, and pass on your debt to investors and to the public at large (taxpayers).

The above image pretty well captures the practices of modern capitalism in our current economy. The leaders of industry who are too big to fail are receiving huge loans and gifts to use at their discretion, and who can depend on bailouts and additional loans if they were to fail with the money currently in their possession. In addition, all of their debts are excused or passed on to the tax payers (government) on a regular basis and not just during a crisis.

One way in which this is happening is through the Federal Reserve and its various forms of quantitative easing and the buying of Mortgage Based Securities (debt). First the Fed further tilts the tables in the uber-wealthy’s favor by giving them almost all the newly printed money (liquidity) at near zero interest with no demand that they “trickle down” this money through job creation, loans or expansion. Then the Fed buys their bad debt and unserviceable mortgages and while keeping ownership of the assets passes on the responsibility to pay off these toxic debts to the government (tax payers).

This taking from the poor and giving to the rich has been running at full speed since early in 2009 in response to the financial crisis. How long can this go on you might ask? Well, this grandest heist in all of economic history can last as long as the American taxpayers allow it to, and as long as the economy does not substantially improve.

If the economy improved it would be harder to justify bailouts, endless money printing and trillions of dollars in loans to the wealthy. If the economy improved interest rates would rise making it harder to rationalize low interest loans to the wealthy, and the rise in interest rates would make their loans harder to pay off.

The fact of the matter is that the stock market is not rising in spite of the struggling economy, but because of the struggling economy. Since 2008 the stock market’s steepest rallies have come on the heels of the Fed’s announcing that low interest rates (hence free liquidity) would continue, or sky rocketed following a poor economic report. While the media is fond of saying the stock market rallies are counterintuitive, climbing a wall of worry, or they have already discounted the bad news, the truth of the matter is that the market is rallying because the economy is poor.

A poor economy means low interest rates, more money printing, more potential of bailouts, no need to expand business (low overhead), and the more likelihood that the shifting of debt and responsibility to the public can continue unabated. In addition to this, the poorer the economy the easier it will be for the wealthy via the government to raid the last remaining storehouses of wealth of the 99.999% of the people that being social security, and the other social safety nets which come out of our paychecks.

So a short recap to this point is that our economy has become a casino in which the casino continues to print money to greatly enlarged the pool of money with which to gamble. Almost all of this new casino money is given to the wealthiest gamblers via near zero interest loans. The wealthy recipients are then free to raise the stakes in their gambles and make quite a killing. If they fail, they receive more newly printed money via bailouts, or their debt is purchased by the casino and passed on to the people in the community via the national debt.

Okay lets use a few more images to highlight and expand upon a few points regarding the social/economic road we’re on.

In many ways it appears as if those in the know feel that our current monetary system is unsustainable and that they are grabbing as much money and ownership as they head for the exits. It is as if the Titanic is going down and they are getting on their life jackets and getting into life boats. The irony, is that only the captains and crew are getting into the boats and all the women and children are being left on the sinking ship.

While the captain and the crew continue to get the proverbial “golden parachutes” as they cash out during the coming collapse, the overwhelming majority of us will be lucky to retrieve a snot ridden hanky.

It is amazing to me how many people support the financial elite and act as if they are themselves a member of the 1%. Ten years ago we talked of the top 10%, soon it became the top 5%, now we speak of the top 1%. Yet, each day when the market closes and the business day ends the music stops and more chairs are removed from the dance floor. The 1% is already the .1% and the zeroes in front of the decimal point will grow at a mind numbing speed. The number of chairs when the music stops is getting close to a handful, and the problem with this dance game is there is no intention to start over when there is a lone standing winner.

Those left in the dance are the biggest and most ruthless risk takers who have no social conscious or fear, and depend on others fears and ethics making their future success possible. It is like two speeding cars heading towards each other in a game of chicken waiting for the other driver to swerve out of the way to avoid their demise.

The truly successful businesses are the large ones who are hoarding cash making their money through loans, bailouts, and the use of financial instruments. Their businesses are similar to the old mafia fronts in which the business was used to detract attention from their true forms of money making. In some ways you need to have a business to use as collateral for the obscene loans or to go into bankruptcy to qualify for a bailout.

As the title of this post states, heads they win tails you lose. This is definitely the game that the financial and political elite are playing. Lucky for the elite we have a president who is gifted at this game, while appearing to most to be a humane and caring person. When watching him speak it is easy to get that impression, but when you look at his actions, policies, and the people he surrounds himself with his true alliances are hard to ignore.

At certain moments in history the financial and political elite make statements which seem to reveal their deepest feelings and convictions I’ll leave you with two quotes attributed to the Rothschild family, who are still reportedly the richest family in the world and deeply imbedded in the world of central banking.

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.”

“I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, …The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire. And I control the money supply.”

Jim Guido

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues30 Dec 2012 09:48 am

We tolerated and turned a blind eye to the predatory practices of the IMF and World Bank as they destroyed national economies by burying them in unserviceable debt. In lieu of payment they then extricated and transferred the assets and resources of the beleaguered nations into their corporate and private coffers.

Now, that the american consumer is no longer needed as producer and consumer the very same strategies and techniques are being used on us to procure, extricate and transfer all of our assets into the personal and corporate coffers of the bankers and financial elite.
The title of this post is taken from a quote attributed to Mike Ditka former player and coach of the Chicago Bears. In a society that fosters and is based upon individual interests, exploitation and capitalization the statement that you get what you tolerate is especially true. A society which fostered and promoted egalitarian and social rights over individual rights would be far more humane and trusting than modern America. Yet, a society that prides itself in the victory of the one over the many is always going to have its icons of success view the masses as its profitable prey.

The US was a nation whose wealth and power was derived from pirates, robber barons and conmen. Since we lived in a ostensible democracy the continued success of these exploitative conmen depended on their obtaining our trust and belief in them. In fact, belief and trust are the trade and currency of the successful conman. It is for this very reason that our perceptual managers and state propagandists groomed us into being a nation of believers trusting in God and Country.

Ever since the government became actively involved in the shaping and influencing of the public mind in quasi-military programs such (Committee on Public Information, Writers War Board, COINTELPRO, etc.) propagandists have capitalized on the interweaving of religious belief and government. It is true that we were a nation founded on religious freedom, yet that freedom was to protect people from being persecuted and harassed for their beliefs. Yet, now the entwinement of belief and government causes those who believe differently than the accepted state beliefs to be threatened, demonized and persecuted.

While the effectiveness of propaganda depends on a certain amount of denial of its existence, the arrogance of those who think they can control the hapless masses causes them to make verbal declarations proudly revealing their true intentions. One such example is the 1981 quote by William J. Casey then director of the CIA stating “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the US public believes is false”.

Currently the state propaganda is trying to convince us that the demise of the American middle class is both inevitable and the fault of the average american. Misinformation and half truths are found everywhere in the pseudo-debate between Democrats and Republicans trying to convince us that economic realities demand our compliance with the loss of our civil liberties, entitlements, worker and consumer protection agencies and our rights to a basic standard and quality of life.

While it is true that some industrial jobs have been lost to nations such as China where workers will work for a fraction of what Americans got paid, it is misleading to think that this is the true cause of the demise of the middle class and industrial base. The fact of the matter is that the US and China continue to dominate in terms of industrial production.

The data is available which shows that then US has enjoyed steady growth in industrial production since WWII. While Japan had and China now shares the stage with the US, the US is still the industrial force. What has decreased is not the amount of production happening in the US, but in the number of jobs and pay. We have not only lost jobs to cheap labor forces abroad, but also cheap domestic labor such as the escalating prison population in for-profit prisons.

Yet, we are losing far more jobs to automation than to any human cheap labor force. The publicity over jobs lost overseas is just a smokescreen to hide the fact that we are losing jobs to machines and robots. Since the birth of mass production most advances in technology reduce the need for human labor. So, while some advances do create jobs they usually remove the need for more jobs than they create.

Years ago the lack of sophistication and autonomy of the machines made it necessary for workers to run and monitor them. In most cases the machines were tools to be used by and for people.

Until recently workers were also necessary as consumes as well as producers. Even as technology advanced and machines became less dependent on people to monitor and fix them, the workers were needed to receive pay to purchase the products being produced. It is still popular to say that consumers make up 70% of the economy, though I doubt if that is any longer true.

There are plenty of fine articles being written about the facts behind both manufacturing and the rise of automation. You could start with The Myth of US Manufacturing Decline by John V. Walsh.

Our vital role as consumer/producers is being attacked on two fronts. One is the whole concept of global marketing in which one makes profits through volume over price (the basic Walmart business model). What this means is that large global corporations can still make increasing profits even as our wages and disposable income dwindle. The second front involves the entire money printing based economy where money printed goes right into the pockets of the 1%.

Each dollar printed and distributed to the few reduces the relative wealth of the 99.9% of the people not receiving the new liquidity. Yet, that isn’t the worst of it. We are paying off all the debts of those “too big to fail” or too wealthy to jail. Each day that this goes on the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich becomes closer to completion.

You may ask what they will do when they have sucked us of our last pennies. Well, the short answer is that there is no limit to IOU’s and they will just position themselves to be in line to get every penny your grandchildren and great grandchildren stand to make. Yet, in all likelihood, automation will make it hard for a job based economy to last anywhere near that long. The logical conclusion is that everything will be owned by a select few and everyone else will be indentured servants or culled in some form or other so as not to waste resources.

In an article entitled Manufacturing Poverty by Cheri Honkala she notes the many ways that disinformation is being used by government and corporate america to pillage the 99 percent in favor of the one percent. Ms. Honkala for those who do not know was the vice-presidential candidate for the Green Party in the last election. The following two paragraphs are from the article.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and affordable housing have been and are now fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income taxes, and are supported by an overwhelming super-majority of voters. They are the property of the American people and the inheritance we have prepared for our children and grandchildren. A “grand bargain” or any other kind of compromise that in any way diminishes or weakens these programs in order to enrich corporations is totally unacceptable.

The idea that America has become so impoverished that it can no longer afford the most elementary necessities of its people is patently absurd. As a nation we are richer and more productive than ever. Despite declining industrial employment, our manufacturing OUTPUT is higher now than it has ever been, thanks to the technological revolution. The attacks on the safety net are deliberate efforts to artificially introduce poverty in the midst of plenty.

In the article Ms. Honkala points out that the major entitlements currently being taken for granted as needing to be cut (both short and long term) are “fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income tax”. So, it is an outright lie to suggest that cutting these entitlements will directly effect the national debt which is at the base of the so called “fiscal cliff”. Elsewhere in the article she notes that “Social Security currently runs a 2.7 trillion dollar surplus, is a separate fund that by law cannot increase the deficit, and in fact has never contributed a penny to the deficit in its entire 77-year history”.

So, in an honest society any discussion of how to reduce the deficit or how to curtail debt would not involve any of the major entitlements and safety nets programs funded by workers and tax payers for their own benefit. The only conceivable goal of putting social security on the auction block is to allow the wealthiest to raid the 2 trillion surplus.

Yet, even if our entitlement programs were to some day become insolvent, what would be gained by cutting them? If people got less money through social security, or no longer used money from previous taxes on their paychecks to help with health care, than where are they going to get money to use as consumers to stimulate the economy? I guess the answer is that they are never supposed to retire or get sick or in their elder years.

If we were able to bail out banks and corporations by printing money and giving out interest free loans, then how come we couldn’t do that to fund or save social security? We could fund and save millions of americans from poverty and suffering at a fraction of the cost that we used to bail out a handful of banks and businesses. Yet, that, of course, could not become part of the dialogue.

We do, as members of the 99+% get what we tolerate. We in general are too busy trying to survive to pay much attention to the devious devices of propaganda and misinformation wielded by the perceptual managers working on the behalf of the economic elite. We are no match for the devious devices of propaganda they contrive with the benefit of endless funds.

After all who is looking out for our interests? Well, the propagandists and government perceptual managers are making sure that all of our support systems and advocates are becoming extinct. According to them all of those people are corrupt and or a threat to our nation and way of life.

Anyone concerned for our health, welfare and protection are just self-serving charlatans or fanatics with no sense of the real world. People protecting the quality of our air, water and food are ignorant at best, and sabotaging our quality of life at worst. Any union or group designed to advocate for our interests at the workplace, are corrupt megalomaniacs who are causing us to lose jobs overseas, and intimidate us into giving up our “right to work”. And who doesn’t know that all lawyers, environmentalists and green merchants are just greedy exploiters who are trying to make a buck.

I read an article recently by a retired union organizer. In it he stated that, “the only purpose for unions was to improve the standard of living of workers”. I would agree that for many that is the premise behind unions, I would also add that unions were designed to also advocate and protect the interests of the labor class.

We live in a representative democracy. Our entire electoral process is built on the idea that our elected officials represent and protect our interests. There is no denying that there has always been corruption in politics and unions. Yet, it seems foolish to respond to such corruption by completely removing the advocate, protector, representative and the peer group for workers and citizens.
The “right to work” movement is in reality the right to go it alone, be enslaved, and the right to have work go to the lowest bidder of services. The end of collective bargaining, and unions is the right for the owners to maximize their profits and minimize their overhead.

The current trend regarding government policies is very clear in its intent to saddle us with unserviceable debt and extricate our remaining assets. We are getting what we are tolerating, and it is amazing how easy it appears for many of us to support the dismantling of our basic rights and standard of living. Each passing day we are allowing our dwindling assets to be taken by the financial elite while at the same time supporting the removal of all our advocates and support systems.

As many of you know the federal reserve is a private cartel of bankers whose wealth and power often are attained at the expense of the 99%. I will end by referencing an article I read which I cannot find who to credit (please write me if you know what article this is taken from). The quote does appear to be from The Big Picture, but that is all I know.

The questions contained are excellent one’s and are deserving of our scrutiny.

Why, for example, would the Fed want to reduce unemployment if high unemployment pushes down labor costs and boosts profits for its corporate constituents? And why would Bernanke want to rev-up the economy when the ongoing crisis creates the rationale for gutting social programs and slashing public spending? And why would the Fed want to normalise interest rates, when the low rates force savers and retirees on fixed income back into the stock market, while–at the same time– provide unlimited sums of money to the banks at zilch cost to themselves?

The wretched state of the economy is no accident. It is by design. And it’s easy to figure out who’s benefiting from the present arrangement by tracing the torrent of capital that flows upwards to the corporate boardrooms and off-shore hideaways where the 1% stash their loot. Check this out: “Corporate profits as a share of GDP is at an all-time high while wages and salaries are at all-time lows“, The Big Picture)


Jim Guido

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