the holistic radical

April 9, 2008

What is the Significance of the National Debt?

It’s a good indicator of how we ruined a once solid economy.

http://www.naturalnews.com/022931.html

Comments by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

As we wind our way towards an election between the professional liars that have been put forward as candidates for U.S. President, it seems to be a great time to remind us all about the issue being routinely ignored by virtually everyone (except Ron Paul, of course, who was never really embraced by the “please lie to me” mainstream public). To what issue am I referring? The national debt, of course.

As you can see in this bumper sticker, the way to annoy a liberal is to “get a job,” as the pop culture bumper sticker says. To annoy a conservative, all you have to do is “defend the Constitution.” But how do you annoy everybody? That’s simple: Explain the national debt.

Americans don’t want to hear about the national debt. It’s like a family living paycheck to paycheck, maxed out on their credit cards, trying to pretend the collection notices are all being lost in the mail. They don’t want to admit they have no ability to actually pay off the debt they’ve incurred by pursuing a flamboyoant lifestyle, blowing wads of cash on high-priced wines, luxury vehicles, and an occassional line of coke — they desperately want to imagine they can keep living on money that appears from nowhere, regardless of how much they owe to everybody else and the fact that their incomes don’t even come close to matching their expenditures.

Too bad every household in America doesn’t have its own Federal Reserve, huh? If it did, we could all just print money to pay off our debt, save our skins, and ignore the fundamentals of economics. But even in Washington today (and New York), the Federal Reserve is too busy bailing out greedy, criminally-operated banks to turn much attention to the much larger issue of the United States’ national debt. Apparently, saving the banks is more important than anything else, and the Fed is now committed to destroying the U.S. dollar through runaway hyperinflation in order to prevent a few rich bankers from facing the consequences of their outrageous sub-prime lending sprees.

America runs its finances like a crack addict

But let’s get back to the national debt for a moment. The United States government is broke. The only reason it’s been able to operate for this long is because other nations and foreign central banks have been foolish enough to keep lending the U.S. government more money. It’s like giving cash to a crack addict and hoping he will somehow seek out a drug rehab center on his own.

This is the person who never gets a job, never makes an honest living, but yet somehow manages to hit up everybody else for cash. You know how it works: “I need to buy a car to get a job,” they say. And then when you pony up the cash for their car, they get drunk and wreck the car, and they never try very hard to get a job in the first place. They keep spending and spending, tossing money down the drain on blows of crack, meth, heroin or booze. They promise to go into rehab someday, if you’ll only help them through “the next month” with a little more cash. This is the life of a drug addict. (Do you know one? Everybody does, it seems…)

America is that drug addict. It borrows cash from the central banks around the world, blowing it all on Medicare prescription benefits signed into law by Bush (money for drugs, see?). It spends trillions on military campaigns that accomplish nothing positive, yet enrage the global community and recruit lifelong enemies of this nation. Notice how the price of oil has more than tripled since the war with Iraq started? It’s so bad now that truck drivers are going on strike over the price of diesel.

America spends money not merely like a drunken sailor, but like a crack-addicted sailor with a wheelbarrel piled high with one-hundred dollar bills, locked in a room full of Gov. Spitzer’s favorite hookers and a suitcase spilling over with blow.

Don’t dare explain the national debt to anyone

But try to explain the simple workings of finance, debt and economics to the uninformed, and you’ll be accused of being a doomsayer, a pessimist, or — the worst insult in today’s fear-based society — unpatriotic! How dare you point out the economic truths that will soon bring this country’s federal government to its knees! Such blatant truths shall not be tolerated… especially not in a country whose entire financial system is based on a cascade of fictional financial instruments propped up by nothing more than wishful thinking and Enron-style accounting fraud.

Let me translate all this for you in serious terms: The United States is already broke. The Federal Reserve is destroying the currency. The U.S. dollar will soon be virtually worthless. There is no saving the dollar, and there’s no saving the savings of any U.S. citizen foolish enough to be holding dollars when the music stops. The Federal Reserve has already decided to do anything in its power to save the rich bankers; even if it means destroying the value of all the dollars held by hard-working Americans. The day will come, folks, when your savings accounts will all be “recalibrated” and you’ll be given ten cents on the dollar while the Fed slinks away with 90% of your savings, using it to bail out overpaid bank owners.

And the federal government? Under a long string of presidential crooks — Democratic and Republican alike — it has decided to pursue a dangerous experiment called, “What happens if we never pay our debtors while running up more debt?” That experiment, not surprisingly, will end in the financial demise of this nation. (But there’s good news: A new, better system may emerge from the dust of the greenback… keep reading…)

You can’t defy the laws of gravity… nor economics

These aren’t careless predictions, by the way. These are simple observations the follow the fundamentals. Why are the nations of the world fleeing the U.S. Treasury debt auctions? Why are dollars increasingly worthless everywhere except in the United States itself? The answer is because the Fed is hyperinflating the currency to save the banks, even while the government is snorting yet more crack and spending unprecedented levels of increasingly-worthless dollars on drugs and war (or, as they call it, “medication and defense”).

Hence the bumper sticker: Annoy everyone. Explain the national debt. People don’t want to hear this. They’d rather imagine none of these problems exist; that debt doesn’t matter; that unlimited dollars can be created out of nothing with zero impact on peoples’ savings; that the U.S. government is wise enough to avert financial disaster. These are the hopes of the deluded. These are precisely the ramblings of Enron’s accountants before the crash, or dot-com stock pushers before that crash. They’re the slobbering blatherings of all the people who said housing prices will never fall, and therefore everyone will get rich off the never-ending housing price booms!

Being right does not make you popular

I’ve spend many years pointing out the idiocies of the deluded. I publicly predicted the dot-com crash and began warning people to get out of the market in 1998 – 2001. (This is a matter of public record, not some wishful hindsight.) I also publicly predicted the collapse of the housing market right here on this website, beginning nearly two years ago. And now, those predictions that once seemed “radical” are the Wall Street Journal’s front page news. What am I predicting now? Like I said, it’s not a prediction, it’s just an observation.

It’s like observing gravity. If you toss something into the air, you can be confident it’s going to come falling back to the ground. You don’t have to “predict” gravity; it’s a law of the universe. It works by itself, like clockwork, regardless of what you want it do to (I’m ignoring near-light speed travel, relativity, quantum physics, and all that fun stuff for the purposes of this metaphor, by the way, for those readers who are physicists). Likewise, when you see a nation throw its dollars into the air, spending its way to oblivion, ignoring its debt and ramping up its spending to even higher levels, it doesn’t take much of a prediction to know that it’s all going to fall back to the ground in a grand economic collapse.

So I’m not even calling the coming collapse of the U.S. government a “prediction.” It’s just common sense. It’s as obvious as gravity. If you don’t believe me, do the math. There is no mathematical solution to the current financial crisis facing not merely the banks and the currency, but the federal government itself. The only unknown factor is WHEN things will happen. Can the Fed help the economy limp along in a state of near-collapse for another year? Perhaps. Five years? Maybe. Ten years? I doubt it.

Now for the good news: The good news is that the U.S. federal government will eventually go bankrupt. Yes, that’s the good news! Because after the financial chaos passes (which will not be fun, believe me), we have a chance to create a new society, a new currency and a new, honest system of government that actually represents the People for a change. The current cabal of corruption and criminal behavior that sits in Washington and pretends to protect the interests of the voters is about to find itself on the receiving end of an angry mob. The 200+ year experiment called The United States of America is in its final chapter. But out of its failure, we can learn important lessons. We can learn things that will help us create a better future society. Lessons like:

• Never let a private company (the Federal Reserve) control the money supply.

• Never let “representative” legislators vote in your place. Insist on a DIRECT Democracy in the next society. (We don’t need Senators and Congresspeople, folks. The whole concept is long since outdated, and most Senators and Congresspeople are crooks.)

• Never let a government abandon the gold standard for its currency. If you do, that government will inevitably hyperinflate the currency and leave the people broke.

• Never let corporations run the government. If you do, your government will become a branch of the corporations, and the regulators (like the FDA, USDA, etc.) will become agents of corporate-sponsored terrorism that abandon all ethics and destroy the health and safety of the People.

• Never allow the centralization of power in one branch of government. For example, do not allow the creation of Executive Orders we’ve seen signed by the President.

• Never allow one man (the President) to commit acts of war. Didn’t we learn this after Vietnam?

• Never allow people from industry to take jobs in the government where they become biased, pro-corporate pushers of everything from pharmaceuticals to beef.

• Never allow politicians to censor scientists.

• Never allow the population to be dumbed-down through sub-standard public schools that only raise a generation of obedient workers, not skeptical thinkers.

• Never allow the media to control the population through advertiser-supported propaganda and violent programming.

• Never allow politicians to destroy citizens’ rights. When they attempt to do so, march on your capitol (in a non-violent way, of course). Arrest the politicians. Prosecute them for crimes against the People.

• Never allow corporate lobbyists to have access to lawmakers. If you do, you’ll end up with a corrupt government that only protects corporations, not the People.

• Never allow your government to operate in secret, with secret prisons, secret wiretapping laws and secret war “evidence” that is never made public. Secrecy breeds corruption. Honest societies do not need to conduct their judicial processes in secret.

• Never allow corporations to play God with the food supply by genetically modifying the crops.

• Never allow corporations to be granted intellectual property ownership over seeds, genes, animals and medicines. If you do, you will one day wake up impoverished, “homeless on the continent your fathers conquered,” to quote Jefferson.

• Never allow banks to operate on a fractional reserve system of loans and money creation that’s just begging for a series of cascading failures.

… I could go on, but you get the point. We have learned some very tough lessons over the last 200+ years, and once this present government collapses, it is crucial that we apply those lessons in creating a new system that abandons tyranny and embraces genuine freedom. We will have this opportunity soon. Many Americans will lose their life savings on the journey towards this new opportunity, but if we maintain our collective vision of a brighter future society, I believe we can create something much better out of the ashes of this failed experiment called the United States of America.

Please note: In no way do I support violence of any kind in creating a new society in the aftermath of this current one. I only support collaboration, openness, freedom and great respect for all living creatures as well as our sacred planet Earth. I believe the passing of this failed government is a blessing, not a curse, and I believe the collapse of the U.S. dollar will ultimately help awaken many to the tough but rewarding decisions that will face us all in the very near future. We must consciously decide to take back our freedoms, our rights and our futures from a system of corporate and government control that has destroyed our planet, exploited our people, and stolen our savings. But if can make the rights decisions based on creating a more promising future for our children, then the rewards will be unimaginable.

We the People hold the power to create a new society based on the freedoms and promises once held sacred in this land. Be ready to play your role, a constructive role, in the aftermath of this current society. And do not be surprised when gravity kicks in and this entire fictional government charade comes crashing down along with the fractional reserve banking system, the criminal Federal Reserve, the war-mongering politicians and the endless, endless debt. There is no way out now other than collapse and rebirth.

I can’t say when it will come, or exactly how it will play out. I only urge us all to remain positive, informed and constructive. The coming chaos will be painful in the short term, but out of the ashes of a failed society, we can work together to rebuilt a new one based on real freedom, honest money, sensible medicine and limited government.

Excellent Piece on Food Imperialism

If you don’t think food production can be political, read this piece.

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The new rules of imperialism: Economic warfare, consumer products and disease exports

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 by: Mike Adams | Key concepts: America, consumer products and intellectual property

History tells us that imperialist nations quite predictably invade weaker nations on a regular basis… especially when those weaker nations happen to be standing on valuable natural resources like oil or uranium. Thanks to this desire for strategic control over territories, the twentieth century was the bloodiest in human history, with more people being lost to war, greed and conquest than during any single century in recorded history (including the centuries spanning Greek and Roman civilizations).

War remains as supported as ever today, and in fact, many nations actually thirst for war. Just look at the pro-war coverage on Fox News and the unending war games being played on computers and game consoles by young men who find entertainment in war. (In fact, the U.S. Army is actually recruiting young men now through a free, downloadable video game that teaches young boys how to pick up a rifle and kill people with it.)

Why some nations create war

The people of some nations actually create war (or support it) in their quest to express a sense of nationalistic heroism. Failing nations need heroes, and when those heroes are no longer found in the realms of science, art, politics or global achievement, they will be fabricated from the false victories of war.

The tearful American mom whose son dies in Iraq is, indeed, suffering a tremendous personal loss, but her loss is a necessary part of feeding the population’s desire to proclaim there are heroes among them. Through the sacrificing of young men who are killed in Iraq, the people of America can find common connection, righteousness, and purpose where none existed before. War gives meaning to empty lives, and it delivers a masochistic form of entertainment to those who are too young, too old or too wealthy to participate. This is precisely why, throughout human history, the leaders of failing nations have habitually turned to military imperialism as a method to distract the people from far more serious problems at home. When the sons of a nation are returning home in body bags, nobody pays much attention to failures in education or the economy.

This is not to say that there are not some instances in which going to war has genuine justification. When a nation is threatened by an invading force, for example, going to war to defend your own land against invading aggressors is not only necessary, it is also truly heroic. Defending your own land is courageous; invading your neighbor’s land is cowardly. (Some people claim, by the way, that the only way to protect America’s land is to invade other countries first. This concept, called “preemptive war” is based on mass distortions used to falsely justify actions of war.)

In America today, the thirst for war remains as strong as ever. But the real war being waged on the world right now by America is not merely found in the limited military action in the Middle East. That’s only the blunt instrument of this war. The real American invasion is happening through foods, medicines, personal care products, international banking and intellectual property law. Through the proliferation of fast food restaurants, pharmaceutical companies, chemically-contaminated consumer products and similar items invented in America, the world is being bombarded by systems of food, medicine and distorted intellectual property claims that are producing far more casualties than any bombs-and-bullets war.

How to control a nation

In World War II, the Germans attempted to steal natural resources from neighboring nations by forcefully occupying and controlling the targeted territories. Today, war is far more sophisticated: America steals national resources by patenting seeds, genes, medicines and ideas, then applying economic and political pressure against targeted nations to forcefully take a cut of their productivity through the application of intellectual property law. Only Thailand has offered any sort of resistance in an attempt to protect its people from the predatory, monopolistic drug pricing of Big Pharma, for example, but most countries just go right along and pay tribute to the western world through outrageous patent royalties on medicines that should belong to the people.

If that’s not enough to dominate the targeted nation’s economy, America sends in the World Bank. The World Bank makes predatory loans to desperate nations, knowing full well they cannot pay them back. It then uses the leverage of debt to invade those nations with western financial institutions. Those banks and lending institutions subsequently turn around and engage in predatory financial practices that soak the people of the target nation, skimming off productivity and exporting it back to the West where rich white men cash in billions without a single honest day’s work.

The World Trade Organization, for its part, makes sure that targeted nations comply with imperialistic western trade practices. The huge push of Big Tobacco into Asia, for example, is the result of support by “world trade” proponents who threatened to impose trade sanctions against Asian nations if they tried to ban cigarette advertising. Today, more than a third of Chinese men are addicted to cigarettes, generating billions in annual profits for Big Tobacco companies who are right now producing more Chinese casualties than any war in China’s long history.

Western medicine is also invading the continents around the world, bringing its expensive, heartless and corporate-controlled system of medicine to nations who were actually far healthier, happier and more financially solvent before America showed up with all its patented chemicals. Chinese medicine, for example, is routinely discredited in China by arrogant Chinese doctors who went to med school in America then returned home to betray their own fellow citizens. Drug companies see China’s one billion people as nothing more than revenue-generating patients, and convincing all those people to take more medicines will require a well-planned, well-funded economic and philosophical assault on Chinese medicine. Essentially, Big Pharma must find a way to disconnect the Chinese from their heritage, turning them all into depressed, diseased “white” consumers whose medical mythology worships the falsehoods of western reductionism.

Consequences of the great American invasion

All around the world, America is invading nations through its foods, medicines, consumer products, dangerous economic practices, synthetic chemicals and intellectual property. And everywhere that American products are adopted, widespread disease and death soon follows.

Small island nations in the South Pacific, for example, had never heard of diabetes, heart disease or depression just two generations ago. But then American-made processed food products invaded their islands, edging out traditional foods like raw coconut, fresh fish, seaweed and taro. Today, South Pacific populations are suffering from widespread diabetes, depression, heart disease, learning disabilities, asthma and much more — all thanks to the “invasion” of American foods, medicines and products.

America is the world’s largest exporter of disease. Through our popular soda products, cigarettes, fast food chains and manufactured foods, we have caused more death and disease around the world than any nation in human history (including Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot). And it all remains perfectly legal. Our chemical companies even manufacture and export pesticide chemicals that have been banned in the United States. Poor agricultural nations openly use those deadly pesticides on their crops, then ship the produce back to the U.S. where consumers buy it at grocery stores. It’s all perfectly legal and, in fact, encouraged by U.S. political leaders.

Resistance is futile

It’s actually more than legal: It’s required! Any nation that says “no” to western products and intellectual property is immediately branded an enemy of world trade and is targeted for legal action by the WTO. Even creating pro-consumer safety standards such as banning aspartame, sodium nitrite or hydrogenated oils can be deemed a violation of international trade agreements. Product sales, you see, are the No. 1 priority, even when nations are being decimated by the products manufactured and exported by American companies.

Poor nations with undereducated populations suffer enormously under western economic imperialism. It’s easy to sell Pepsi, cigarettes and lotto tickets to people in a country like Panama, for example, where the education level remains low and people are easily tricked into thinking that western products will make them happier. Pepsi, in fact, is the dominant consumer product throughout most of Central and South America. You can hardly travel anywhere south of the U.S. / Mexico border without being inundated with Pepsi propaganda. The Pepsi logo is more prominent than images of the Virgin Mary or the Pope, even though many South and Central American populations are Catholic. (It’s quite clear what they actually worship!)

These international product invasions are important to the bottom line of U.S. corporations, of course, who are expanding their propaganda campaigns to non-U.S. countries following the wising up of American consumers. Only uneducated, ignorant consumers drink soft drink products in America these days. It’s the same crowd that buys lotto tickets, smokes cigarettes, watches TV infomercials and lives on frozen dinners. Smart consumers in America switched to healthier drinks long ago. That’s why soda sales continue to fall each year, and that’s why U.S. soda corporations have to increasingly crank up their marketing machines in countries that haven’t yet caught on to the toxicity of aspartame or the links between diabetes and high-fructose corn syrup.

The west is conquering the world

There’s no more need to drop tanks, soldiers and bombs on nations in order to conquer them. Countries can be controlled through economics, intellectual property law, banking and finance systems. Consumers can be controlled through advertising, publicity and corporate-fabricated fake news.

The corporations, as always, rake in the profits while the consumers pay the price all over the world. They eat their American hamburgers, drink their American sodas, take their American medicines and think they’re cool, sophisticated consumers even while their internal organs are beginning to fail from all the toxic chemicals. Soon, they will suffer from American diseases: Cancer, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity and violent, psychotic behavior. In fact, we’re already seeing it: Countries like Thailand and Japan are witnessing unprecedented obesity for the first time in history, and diseases like diabetes and depression are only a few years away from becoming pandemic throughout Asia. This is almost entirely from their adoption of western diets and medical practices.

Those nations that continue to worship western culture are engaged in a dangerous game of paying homage to precisely the wrong group. Worshipping American foods, products and medicines will only destroy the health and happiness of any nation, and mimicking American financial markets will only spell economic suicide in the long run. There is nothing good that can come of debt spending, intentional disease proliferation (through ignoring disease prevention programs), widespread chemical contamination and corporate dominance over the people and the government. These are the things that will come to destroy the world’s nations, probably starting with America.

The last days of America as we know it

The era of American dominance in the world is nearly over. It will likely be replaced by an era of Chinese dominance, in which western medicine, western science, western debt spending and western culture will ultimately be rejected by most world nations.

It’s time for Americans to face up to the reality of the country they’re living in. Take the issue of health care as a rather important example. Did you know that you can get better health care in Cuba than America? Did you know that the life expectancy of a Cuban citizen is the same as an American citizen, and yet Americans spend hundreds of times more money per capita on disease care and sickness care than Cubans? American medicine is an utter failure, and it’s destroying the economic viability of the entire country. Businesses are going bankrupt or moving offshore because of health care costs, and even those that can afford to operate on U.S. soil are faced with the reality that it’s almost impossible to hire employees who can actually think these days thanks to the widespread use of brain-damaging prescription drugs. Success stories like Google are increasingly rare.

I remember living in Taiwan in the 1990’s, and I paid something like $4 / month for health insurance coverage. A visit to the doctor cost me $2 out of pocket. Every person in Taiwan who has a job gets automatic health insurance coverage, and the nation has prospered economically over the last four decades in a way that the U.S. simply cannot match. The Taiwan people are innovative, resourceful and hard working. Of course, they’re also hopelessly corrupt when it comes to politics, but that seems to be a universal law: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

America’s reputation is in shambles

If you travel the world these days and ask about America, you might be surprised at the negative answers you’ll hear. This is not obvious to people living in America because, of course, they only have access to the controlled, pro-America news sources that dominate mainstream thinking. But the world opinion of America has already suffered a severe setback under the leaderhip of President Bush, and in time, the world will reject American intellectual property, the American medicine scam and the harmful effects of American foods and beverages.

History will reveal America to be a nation that burned itself out on drugs, debt spending and junk foods, destroying the health its own people until its population could hardly even reproduce without medical intervention. Lacking any useful ideas, steeped in the defense of the status quo and abandoning the true needs of its own people, American political leaders have set our nation on a destructive course that may prove impossible to reverse. And they seem to want to destroy as many other nations as possible along the way — as long as it generates more profits for U.S. corporations in the short term. “Poison the world and reap the profits!”

The future belongs to smart nations

Any nation that wishes to protect itself from the same fate America is headed towards would be wise to reject American foods, medicines, beverages, consumer products, intellectual property laws and financial practices.

The nations that survive and prosper over the next hundred years will be:

• Those nations that save money and invest in their future (rather then spending it on war or underfunded entitlement program).

• Those nations that reject western foods and pass laws to protect their populations from dangerous chemicals in foods, beverages and consumer products.

• Those nations that reject American intellectual property guidelines and ban corporations or private individuals from “owning” patents on medicines, seeds and genes.

• Those nations that invest in education, energy efficiency and environmental cleanup in order to create a better future for their children.

• Those nations that invest now in energy independence, teaching their people to use less energy while switching to vehicles that can run on electricity (which can be produced domestically in any country).

• Those nations that reject elite-controlled banking and money systems and restore the power of the currency to the people, where open trade can happen with zero inflation, creating enormous abundance for the people.

No nation will likely fully embrace all these points, but those that manage to fulfill at least some of them will do far better than those who don’t. What’s certain is that those nations attempting to mimic the culture of America will suffer the same fate as America — a fate that will soon be obvious to even the most insistent deniers who claim that environmental pollution, endless debt spending and the mass contamination of food and medicines with deadly synthetic chemicals are somehow sustainable practices. The end result of all this is not in question by any serious thinker: Widespread bankruptcy, disease pandemics, environmental collapse and a bursting of the food production bubble.

Papua New Guinea may ultimatey emerge as one of the few successful, sustainable nations in the world. If you’re not sure why, I urge you to read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and then study the history of human civilization from a geographic viewpoint. You will see that the only nations with any sort of future are those that protect and nurture the health of their people and their environment, taking a long-term perspective rather than short-term economic gain. America has no long-term vision other than controlling world oil resources. America has no investment whatsoever in the health of its people and virtually no effort to protect its environment. America is fixated on short-term thinking and stop-gap measures, ignoring the greater concerns of education, renewable energy, individual health and individual liberty. And finally, America is a bankrupt nation by any honest accounting method, and it is only by the grace of debt holders of Asia that America can continue to sell debt at all.

No wise nation will follow America into this quagmire (and why should they, when they have their own quagmires to explore?).

The good news in all this, by the way, is that you don’t have to follow the fate of your nation. By protecting your own health, saving your own wealth and investing in the future of yourself and your children (through education, fertile land, etc.), you can avoid the worst of what’s coming and actually thrive during difficult times. That’s why taking charge of your own life right now is more important than ever. Be independent from the mainstream. Learn how to protect your own health and reject medical propaganda. Understand the basic laws of economics and how debt is manufactured and sold. (A good book on that is called the Concise Guide to Economics and it’s available free at http://www.conciseguidetoeconomics.com ). Teach yourself the basic principles of sustainable living, green living and “hippie wisdom.” These are the things that will get you through the tough times ahead.

In terms of financial news, be sure to read the Daily Reckoning (www.DailyReckoning.com) if you want to hear the truth about world financial news. Also check out the book Empire of Debt, which earns my top recommendation for the best book available on the coming financial collapse of America.

I haven’t even mentioned peak oil yet, by the way. Ever wonder what happens when the oil runs out? Check out this page on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_oil

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About the author: Mike Adams is a holistic nutritionist with a passion for teaching people how to improve their health He has authored more than 1,500 articles and dozens of reports, guides and interviews on natural health topics, reaching millions of readers with information that is saving lives and improving personal health around the world. Adams is a trusted, independent journalist who receives no money or promotional fees whatsoever to write about other companies’ products. In 2007, Adams launched EcoLEDs, a manufacturer of mercury-free, energy-efficient LED lighting products that save electricity and help prevent global warming. He’s also a noted technology pioneer and founded a software company in 1993 that developed the HTML email newsletter software currently powering the NaturalNews subscriptions. Adams volunteers his time to serve as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and regularly pursues cycling, nature photography, Capoeira and Pilates.

http://www.naturalnews.com/021873.html

Shocker: Endless, Unjust Wars Lead to Economic Crisis

Vote Ron Paul or we’ll be in Iraq forever and watch our dollar go down with it.

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USA in Iraq: Recession in the Crosshairs
By Jean-Louis Denier
Marianne2

Sunday 30 March 2008

The exorbitant cost of the war in Iraq risks plunging the United States a little further into a recession catastrophic for it … and the rest of the world!

If one effects a comparative analysis with other conflicts, one realizes that the binomial, quagmire/occupation of a large territory is not economically neutral. The longer this kind of war lasts, the more it costs; the more it costs over a long period, the more it disturbs and distorts the economic machine, notably by the inflation and monetary depreciation it generates. The consequences of Operation Iraqi Freedom on the American economy seem, in appearance at present, to limit themselves to the sole question of the United States’ federal deficit, since the increase in military expenses, including those related to Iraq (total US federal budget for 2009: $3,100 billion, with a 7.5 percent increase in the Pentagon’s budget, which represents $515 billion, in addition to which a special supplement of $70 billion is reserved for Iraq and Afghanistan) has consequences.

The effects of this headlong rush:

  • A $410 billion deficit for the 2008 fiscal year (2.9 percent of American GNP) and another deficit of $407 billion for 2009 which the new administration will inherit next January. You will note that these sums are twice the size of the $162 billion deficit recorded for fiscal 2007 and approach the record $413 billion deficit recorded in 2004.
  • Dark dealings in the federal budget, such as the 22 percent reduction (to $2 billion only) in the amount available to help poor families pay their heating cost, or the 34 percent reduction in investments accorded Amtrak, the national passenger railway company.

But one should not trust appearances, for the deficit in American public finances interacts with the global economy as a whole. Since the American taxpayer does not have enough money to pay all the expenses of his federal government, that government turns abroad to borrow money and bring capital back to the USA. In this way, the savings of foreign countries are solicited – notably through the purchase of American Treasury bonds or other dollar-denominated assets – to cover purely American expenses. No comment up to there. Except that the foreign countries exporting capital to the USA are primarily Asian – with China in the lead – which countries profit from the financial flows created to align their currencies to the dollar – to undervalue it even – and thus put their own international trade competitiveness on steroids through that exchange rate chicanery. Moreover, overindebted and consequently overexposed vis-à-vis their creditors, the Americans are happy to reimburse them with worthless currency and consequently … to depress the dollar exchange rate – by reducing US interest rates – notably vis-à-vis other currencies, including the euro, but also against the British pound sterling.

And the Rest of the World in All This?

This vicious spiral (deficit plus dollar fall plus undervaluation of other currencies, like the Chinese yuan and the Japanese yen) has been ongoing for several years, but is especially dangerous:

  • For the USA’s creditors: The dollar’s nosedive entails the progressive devaluation of assets denominated in that currency; those who hold those assets find themselves less rich now than they were the day they bought them for more.
  • For the USA itself: How long will the USA’s creditors trust the USA and continue to cover its unbridled spending if the federal government seems too exposed through its abysmal debts? Moreover, the rise in foreign capital equates to increased dependence, even submission to foreign financial power. Finally, if $1,300 billion of subprimes generate $1,000 billion to $2,000 billion of losses and suffice to plummet global exchanges, what will happen when the markets realize that the war in Iraq could cost between $1,000 billion and $3,000 billion in the middle of a complete American economic recession, consequently with fewer fiscal revenues for the US federal government, consequently with more deficits?
  • For the Europeans, including the French: The depreciation of the dollar will never stop, since it results from a deliberate American strategy of lightening the federal government debt burden, a strategy that condemns the euro to an unremitting rise and European products to no longer being produced or even conceived in the euro zone, transforming said zone into an economic and social desert over the long term. More than ever, Europeans could hear: “The dollar is our currency; it’s your problem.”

Conclusion:

The Vietnam War, through its length and its cost, provoked the abandonment of the gold standard for the dollar, as well as strong American inflation, provoking a temporary crisis in the exercise of American hegemony over the world. The war in Iraq is taking the same path, with two exceptions, only worse: it combines with a mixed (American household and the federal government itself) overindebtedness and recession in the American economy against the background of a rampant global banking and financial crisis.

Consequently, all the ingredients for a crash followed by a wide-ranging and long-lasting depression (like the one of the 1930s) are potentially brought together. And this time the revision of American hegemony will not be temporary only. Will Osama bin Laden have won not only “his” war, but the war?


Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040108G.shtml

April 8, 2008

The greatest country in the world has 28 million on food stamps–but, hey, no recession here–just business as usual

The number of people on food stamps does not reflect the number of people who are malnourished because they do not qualify for food stamps–i.e., unsteady addresses, lack of documents, etc. Food is a human right. This is civilization?

USA 2008: The Great Depression
By David Usborne
The Independent UK

Tuesday 01 April 2008

Food stamps are the symbol of poverty in the US. In the era of the credit crunch, a record 28 million Americans are now relying on them to survive – a sure sign the world’s richest country faces economic crisis.

New York – We knew things were bad on Wall Street, but on Main Street it may be worse. Startling official statistics show that as a new economic recession stalks the United States, a record number of Americans will shortly be depending on food stamps just to feed themselves and their families.

Dismal projections by the Congressional Budget Office in Washington suggest that in the fiscal year starting in October, 28 million people in the US will be using government food stamps to buy essential groceries, the highest level since the food assistance programme was introduced in the 1960s.

The increase – from 26.5 million in 2007 – is due partly to recent efforts to increase public awareness of the programme and also a switch from paper coupons to electronic debit cards. But above all it is the pressures being exerted on ordinary Americans by an economy that is suddenly beset by troubles. Housing foreclosures, accelerating jobs losses and fast-rising prices all add to the squeeze.

Emblematic of the downturn until now has been the parades of houses seized in foreclosure all across the country, and myriad families separated from their homes. But now the crisis is starting to hit the country in its gut. Getting food on the table is a challenge many Americans are finding harder to meet. As a barometer of the country’s economic health, food stamp usage may not be perfect, but can certainly tell a story.

Michigan has been in its own mini-recession for years as its collapsing industrial base, particularly in the car industry, has cast more and more out of work. Now, one in eight residents of the state is on food stamps, double the level in 2000. “We have seen a dramatic increase in recent years, but we have also seen it climbing more in recent months,” Maureen Sorbet, a spokeswoman for Michigan’s programme, said. “It’s been increasing steadily. Without the programme, some families and kids would be going without.”

But the trend is not restricted to the rust-belt regions. Forty states are reporting increases in applications for the stamps, actually electronic cards that are filled automatically once a month by the government and are swiped by shoppers at the till, in the 12 months from December 2006. At least six states, including Florida, Arizona and Maryland, have had a 10 percent increase in the past year.

In Rhode Island, the segment of the population on food stamps has risen by 18 percent in two years. The food programme started 40 years ago when hunger was still a daily fact of life for many Americans. The recent switch from paper coupons to the plastic card system has helped remove some of the stigma associated with the food stamp programme. The card can be swiped as easily as a bank debit card. To qualify for the cards, Americans do not have to be exactly on the breadline. The programme is available to people whose earnings are just above the official poverty line. For Hubert Liepnieks, the card is a lifeline he could never afford to lose. Just out of prison, he sleeps in overnight shelters in Manhattan and uses the card at a Morgan Williams supermarket on East 23rd Street. Yesterday, he and his fiancée, Christine Schultz, who is in a wheelchair, shared one banana and a cup of coffee bought with the 82 cents left on it.

“They should be refilling it in the next three or four days,” Liepnieks says. At times, he admits, he and friends bargain with owners of the smaller grocery shops to trade the value of their cards for cash, although it is illegal. “It can be done. I get $7 back on $10.”

Richard Enright, the manager at this Morgan Williams, says the numbers of customers on food stamps has been steady but he expects that to rise soon. “In this location, it’s still mostly old people and people who have retired from city jobs on stamps,” he says. Food stamp money was designed to supplement what people could buy rather than covering all the costs of a family’s groceries. But the problem now, Mr Enright says, is that soaring prices are squeezing the value of the benefits.

“Last St Patrick’s Day, we were selling Irish soda bread for $1.99. This year it was $2.99. Prices are just spiralling up, because of the cost of gas trucking the food into the city and because of commodity prices. People complain, but I tell them it’s not my fault everything is more expensive.”

The US Department of Agriculture says the cost of feeding a low-income family of four has risen 6 percent in 12 months. “The amount of food stamps per household hasn’t gone up with the food costs,” says Dayna Ballantyne, who runs a food bank in Des Moines, Iowa. “Our clients are finding they aren’t able to purchase food like they used to.”

And the next monthly job numbers, to be released this Friday, are likely to show 50,000 more jobs were lost nationwide in March, and the unemployment rate is up to perhaps 5 percent.

——-

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040108T.shtml

March 20, 2008

Are US Taxes Legal?

Ron Paul is the only candidate standing up to this. Watch “America: Freedom to Fascism.” Go to restoretherepublic.com. Learn about the Federal Reserve and how our tax dollars are feeding the bankers.

——-

http://www.naturalnews.com/z022856.html

NaturalNews.com printable article

Originally published March 18 2008

Americans Question the Legality of the Income Tax

by Barbara L. Minton (see all articles by this author)

(NaturalNews) There’s nothing that gets me all tingly like the coming of spring. It’s always been my favorite time of the year. Just one problem stands between me and total rapture – the need to complete a tax return and file it along with the money I always owe. This year the filing of the tax return feels particularly odious, because this year is when I began to find out that there is no law that actually requires me to file a return, and no law that actually requires me to pay tax on what I earn.

It all began when I saw the feature film/documentary, America: Freedom to Fascism directed by six time academy award nominee Aaron Russo, a self-described freedom fighter. The troublesome central point of this film is that Americans are not required by law to pay a federal income tax. It is overwhelming to think that such a fraud as this could have been perpetuated on the American people for so long. In the film, Russo expresses this feeling to IRS employees and simply asks them to cite where it says an unapportioned income tax is required of all of us. And incredibly, they can’t.

One telling segment involves Sheldon Cohen, former IRS commissioner, who goes so far as to reject Supreme Court rulings and the Constitution as benchmarks over what is legal with regard to taxation. The film also includes interviews with members of the Tax Honesty Movement as well as former IRS agents who concur that there is no law on the books that requires any US citizen to send the government part of his hard earned paycheck. Russo also highlights court cases where those accused of tax evasion have won their cases precisely because the prosecution could not provide evidence of a legal federal income tax law.

The film hammers you again and again with endless examples of people who figured out what was up and have not paid taxes for years. By the time it’s over, you feel like a big fool who has thrown money away year after year for nothing.

Since feeling foolish doesn’t do much for my ego, I got online to see for myself that there really is a law the says I have to pay income tax. Here’s what I found.

The Case of Joe Banister

On June 23, 2005, a federal jury found former IRS Criminal Division Special Agent and CPA Joseph Banister not guilty of all counts of criminal tax fraud and conspiracy related to actions he took on behalf of a California business owner who had openly defied the IRS over several years by discontinuing withholding of income and employment taxes from the paychecks of his employees.

The Department of Justice was unable to present any evidence that Banister had either acted in a conspiracy or had acted unlawfully when he advised Thompson that based on findings from his legal research, he had no obligation to withhold taxes from his employees. The Justice Department also concluded that when Banister filed corrected tax returns for Thompson claiming that Thompson’s taxable income was zero, rather than the $42,251 he had claimed on his first filing, he was operating within the framework of the law.

Banister, who was forced to resign from the IRS in 1999 after questioning IRS officials about their legal authority, gave Thompson’s employees a presentation in 2000 detaining his investigative research of US tax law. Findings were that not only did the IRS lack any authority to impose income taxes on workers, but there was no legal requirement for the business to withhold any taxes from the employee’s paychecks.

Banister is reportedly part of a nationwide effort seeking to force the US government to respond to a series of detailed legal Petitions for Redress of Grievances directly challenging the authority of the IRS. The We The People Foundation has initiated a landmark lawsuit with 2000 plaintiffs against the government because it has refused to answer the Petitions. This Right-To-Petition lawsuit, of which Banister is a plaintiff, is the first time in the history of the US that the courts have been asked to define the meaning of the final ten words of the First Amendment.

Conclusions of the We The People Foundation

The website of the We The People Foundation begins with the premise that there is no law that requires most citizens to file and pay federal income taxes. They summarize the key steps of their argument:

There is a federal law that imposes a requirement upon some citizens and foreigners to file and pay an income tax. The question is, to what proportion of citizens does the requirement apply? We The People answers that question with an examination of statutes and regulations, despite the lack of direction supplied by the IRS.

They conclude that “no tax liability applies to the vast majority of citizens, who have been misled into believing they must file and pay income taxes noted in section 61, the section that calls for determination of “gross income”. Instead, tax liability applies to US citizens only insofar as they have foreign earned income. This tax liability also applies to aliens and foreign companies doing business in the US. In fact, the Secretary of the Treasury acknowledged that Form 255 was the form most frequently required to be filed by citizens, and only if they had foreign income.

They elaborate, “We can see that the government, by means of such a circuitous and disconnected trail of rules and regulations, has made it extremely difficult for most ordinary people to figure out that they are not liable for the income tax. We can see that the government is duping most people into voluntarily filing returns, assessing themselves, waiving their 5th amendment rights, and erroneously paying an income tax for which they are not liable.” They note that statutes and regulations for other taxes are clearly stated, without ambiguity, concluding that “This trickery and deception serves a function of avoiding violations of the Constitution which would be more transparent otherwise.”

Additionally, they conclude that “employers are being duped into submitting false information about most employees, withholding their money, making it appear they are liable, and thereby putting them on the defensive, since they must then dispute that their wages are taxable.”

Finally, a look at the laws regarding liability for the Social Security tax reveals that they are derived from the International Labor Agreement of the 1930s and do not apply to most US citizens, but to aliens and to some citizens based on foreign income or income from US overseas possessions.

And Then There’s Irwin Schiff

Irwin Schiff is billed as the nation’s leading authority on income tax and how the government illegally collects it. He is the motivating factor of the Tax Honest Movement, and claims to have written more books on the subject than any other American. His most recent book The Federal Mafia promises to show you how you can immediately stop having income taxes taken from your pay, get back every dime you paid in income taxes this year, stop IRS agents from seizing your property because they have no power to do so, and break “offer and compromise” agreements you might have made with the IRS, since these agreements were entered into on the basis of fraud and intimidation.

Among the arguments raised by Schiff are: (1) that no statutory deficiency in Federal income tax can exist until an assessment has been made (2) that no tax assessment can be made unless a tax return has been voluntarily filed (3) that the IRS, in enforcing the income tax seeks to impose a tax not authorized by the taxing clauses of the US Constitution (4) that the US has no jurisdiction, and (5) that the US Tax Court is not a court.

Another argument made by Schiff is that on the Form 1040, you should report ‘zero’ income regardless of how much you received in: wages, commissions, interest, alimony, capital gains or from operating a business. For tax purposes, ‘income’ only means corporate ‘profit’. Therefore, no individual receives anything that is reportable as ‘income’. This argument has been rejected by the lower courts, as well as the US court of appeals.

What Schiff is seeking to accomplish will not be accomplished easily. In the 1970’s, Schiff made an appearance on The Tomorrow Show where he argued his views on federal income tax. This appearance was followed six days later by his being charged for willful failure to file tax returns, for which he was convicted. During the 1980’s and 90’s additional convictions were obtained and upheld, proving that what Schiff is seeking to do will not be done easily.

In February, 2006, at the age of 78 years, Schiff was sentenced to 12 years, 7 months in prison and was ordered to pay over $4.2 million in restitution to the IRS. He was also sentenced to an additional 12 months for contempt of court.

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using “alternative” treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
 

March 12, 2008

How do you spell “Recession”? D-I-S-C-O-N-T-E-N-T

and P-O-V-E-R-T-Y.

from truthout.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/013108B.shtml

America’s Middle Classes Are No Longer Coping
By Robert Reich
The Financial Times

Tuesday 29 January 2008

It is an election year and the US economy is in peril of falling into recession or worse. Not surprisingly, Washington is abuzz with plans to prevent it. President George W. Bush has proposed a $150bn stimulus package and all the main presidential candidates are offering similar measures, including middle-class tax cuts and increased spending on infrastructure.

Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve have reduced interest rates another three-quarters of a point. But none of these fixes will help much because they do not deal with the underlying anxieties now gripping American voters. The problem lies deeper than the current slowdown and transcends the business cycle.

The fact is, middle-class families have exhausted the coping mechanisms they have used for more than three decades to get by on median wages that are barely higher than they were in 1970, adjusted for inflation. Male wages today are in fact lower than they were then: the income of a young man in his 30s is now 12 per cent below that of a man his age three decades ago. Yet for years now, America’s middle class has lived beyond its pay cheque. Middle-class lifestyles have flourished even though median wages have barely budged. That is ending and Americans are beginning to feel the consequences.

The first coping mechanism was moving more women into paid work. The percentage of American working mothers with school-age children has almost doubled since 1970 – from 38 per cent to close to 70 per cent. Some parents are now even doing 24-hour shifts, one on child duty while the other works. These families are known as Dins: double income, no sex.

But we reached the limit to how many mothers could maintain paying jobs. What to do? We turned to a second coping mechanism. When families could not paddle any harder, they started paddling longer. The typical American now works two weeks more each year than 30 years ago. Compared with any other advanced nation we are veritable workaholics, putting in 350 more hours a year than the average European, more even than the notoriously industrious Japanese.

But there is also a limit to how long we can work. As the tide of economic necessity continued to rise, we turned to the third coping mechanism. We began to borrow, big time. With housing prices rising briskly through the 1990s and even faster between 2002 and 2006, we turned our homes into piggy banks through home equity loans. Americans got nearly $250bn worth of home equity every quarter in second mortgages and refinancings. That is nearly 10 per cent of disposable income. With credit cards raining down like manna, we bought plasma television sets, new appliances, vacations.

With dollars artificially high because foreigners continued to hold them even as the nation sank deeper into debt, we summoned inexpensive goods and services from the rest of the world.

But this final coping mechanism can no longer keep us going, either. The era of easy money is over. With the bursting of the housing bubble, home equity is drying up. As Moody’s reported recently, defaults on home equity loans have surged to the highest level this decade. Car and credit card debt is next. Personal bankruptcies rose 48 per cent in first half of 2007, probably even more in the second half, which means a wave of defaults on consumer loans. Meanwhile, as foreigners begin shifting out of dollars, we will no longer have access to cheap foreign goods and services.

In short, the anxiety gripping the middle class is not simply a product of the current economic slowdown. The underlying problem began around 1970. Any presidential candidate seeking to address it will have to think bigger than bailing out lenders and borrowers, or stimulating the economy with tax cuts and spending increases.

Most Americans are still not prospering in the high-technology, global economy that emerged three decades ago. Almost all the benefits of economic growth since then have gone to a small number of people at the very top.

The candidate who acknowledges this and comes up with ways not just to stimulate the economy but also to boost wages – through, say, a more progressive tax, stronger unions and, over the longer term, better schools for children from lower-income families and better access to higher education – will have a good chance of winning over America’s large, and increasingly anxious, voters.

———

The writer is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He is former US secretary of labour and author of Supercapitalism


    Go to Original

Pro-Business Bias Survives Economic Bust
By Max J. Castro
Progresso Weekly

31 January to 05 February 2008 Issue

Boasting about the strength of the economy has been a staple of Bush administration propaganda for a long time. In fact, while the rate of economic growth and the level of unemployment have been pretty good for the last few years, throughout the Bush era the economy has been “strong and getting stronger” only for those at the very top of the income distribution.

It is a trend that began long before George W. Bush became president but which has been aggravated by his policies. Since 1973 and especially in the last ten years, those in the top one-tenth of one percent of income earners have done spectacularly well. Those in the top one percent of the income ladder have done very well, and those merely in the top ten percent have made much less impressive but real gains in income. In contrast, and in spite of vast economic growth, between 1973 and 2005 everybody else, the remaining 90 percent of the population, experienced a significant drop in real income!

The current administration’s policies of giving huge tax breaks to the very rich, restricting government spending on middle class and low income programs, and giving business a free hand in every sphere have been a major factor in bringing about the obscene levels of inequality in existence today. But these policies have done more than just deepen inequality. By undermining regulation and oversight, these policies have led to many corrupt and irresponsible business practices, with results such as the Enron scandal and the current sub-prime lending crisis.

The regulatory mechanisms that emerged in the wake of the 1929 Wall Street crash and the Depression of the 1930s were not the product of a socialist conspiracy or anti-business ideology. They were lifesaving devices for the capitalist system and the American economy.

The administrations that have run the country for the last three decades seemed to have forgotten this and, in a frenzy of free market faith that has been particularly intense during Republican rule but has also been present during Democratic presidents, have poked huge holes not only in the social safety but also in the economic and financial safety net.

Now the myth of a perfectly self-regulating market has burst, starting with the housing market crisis and spreading through the economy. Many analysts are predicting a recession. The Federal Reserve Board, which usually acts with caution, was so alarmed as to carry out a record decrease in interest rates in order to boost the economy and prop up sinking stock market prices. The administration acted too, but as usual it saw the drama of millions of Americans in danger of losing their houses and their jobs as first and foremost an opportunity to further its ideological agenda in line with the interests of corporations and the very rich. The Democrats in Congress pushed a different set of policies to ward off recession, but in the end once more largely caved in to Congressional Republicans and the administration.

Democrats in Congress wanted to increase food stamps and extend unemployment benefits, measures that would have helped those hurt worst by an economic downturn but also the groups most likely to spend any additional income quickly, exactly what is needed to give the economy a quick boost.

Republicans were adamant against this approach. The GOP’s priority was to continue and expand tax cuts for business and the rich. The Republican argument is that this will stimulate the economy by encouraging investment.

Despite controlling Congress, the Democrats ultimately gave in on almost every issue except making the 2001 Bush tax cut permanent, which the Republicans dropped. The compromise that was approved by the House of Representatives and Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not include increased funds for food stamps or unemployment benefits. It does include new tax breaks for business investment. Pelosi did manage to obtain some payments for those too poor to pay taxes and to reduce tax rebates for households with higher incomes.

Despite these small Democratic wins, the irony is that a program intended to provide relief for a looming crisis caused to a significant degree by policies wildly biased in favor of business is itself rife with some of the same biases.

An economy in which income is increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and that withholds its rewards from the vast majority of the population even in the best of times is not sustainable politically, socially, economically, or morally. The lesson of the compromise economic stimulus package is that neither Republicans nor Democrats are ready to confront this reality.

GNP not an indicator of reality–more proof economics is elitist code/lingo–fight for progress

from truthout:

Our Three-Decade Recession
By Robert Costanza
The Los Angeles Times

    Monday 10 March 2008

The American quality of life has been going downhill since 1975.

    The news media and the government are fixated on the fact that the U.S. economy may be headed into a recession – defined as two or more successive quarters of declining gross domestic product. The situation is actually much worse. By some measures of economic performance, the United States has been in a recession since 1975 – a recession in quality of life, or well-being.

    How can this be? One first needs to understand what GDP measures to see why it is not an appropriate gauge of our national well-being.

    GDP measures the total market value of all goods and services produced in a country in a given period. But it includes only those goods and services traded for money. It also adds everything together, without discerning desirable, well-being-enhancing economic activity from undesirable, well-being-reducing activity. An oil spill, for example, increases GDP because someone has to clean it up, but it obviously detracts from well-being. More crime, more sickness, more war, more pollution, more fires, storms and pestilence are all potentially positives for the GDP because they can spur an increase in economic activity.

    GDP also ignores activity that may enhance well-being but is outside the market. The unpaid work of parents caring for their children at home doesn’t show up in GDP, but if they decide to work outside the home and pay for child care, GDP suddenly increases. And even though $1 in income means a lot more to the poor than to the rich, GDP takes no account of income distribution.

    In short, GDP was never intended to be a measure of citizens’ welfare – and it functions poorly as such. Yet it is used as a surrogate appraisal of national well-being in far too many circumstances.

    The shortcomings of GDP are well known, and several researchers have proposed alternatives that address them, including William Nordhaus’ and James Tobin’s Measure of Economic Welfare, developed in 1972; Herman Daly’s and John Cobb’s Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare, developed in 1989; and the Redefining Progress think tank’s more recent variation, the Genuine Progress Indicator. Although these alternatives – which, like GDP, are measured in monetary terms – are not perfect and need more research and refinement, they are much better approximations to a measure of true national well-being.

    The formula for calculating GPI, for instance, starts with personal consumption expenditures, a major component of GDP, but makes several crucial adjustments. First, it accounts for income distribution. It then adds positive contributions that GDP ignores, such as the value of household and volunteer work. Finally, it subtracts things that are well-being-reducing, such as the loss of leisure time and the costs of crime, commuting and pollution.

    While the U.S. GDP has steadily increased since 1950 (with the occasional recession), GPI peaked about 1975 and has been relatively flat or declining ever since. That’s consistent with life-satisfaction surveys, which also show flat or dropping scores over the last several decades.

    This is a very different picture of the economy from the one we normally read about, and it requires different policy responses. We are now in a period of what Daly – a former World Bank economist now at the University of Maryland – has called “uneconomic growth,” in which further growth in economic activity (that is, GDP) is actually reducing national well-being.

    How can we get out of this 33-year downturn in quality of life? Several policies have been suggested that might be thought of as a national quality-of-life stimulus package.

    To start, the U.S. needs to make national well-being – not increased GDP – its primary policy goal, funding efforts to better measure and report it. There’s already been some movement in this direction around the world. Bhutan, for example, recently made “gross national happiness” its explicit policy goal. Canada is developing an Index of Well-being, and the Australian Treasury considers increasing “real well-being,” rather than mere GDP, its primary goal.

    Once Americans’ well-being becomes the basis for measuring our success, other reforms should follow. We should tax bads (carbon emissions, depletion of natural resources) rather than goods (labor, savings, investment). We should recognize the negative effects of growing income disparities and take steps to address them.

    International trade also will have to be reformed so that environmental protection, labor rights and democratic self-determination are not subjugated to the blind pursuit of increased GDP.

    But the most important step may be the first one: Recognizing that the U.S. is mired in a 33-year-old quality-of-life recession and that our continued national focus on growing GDP is blinding us to the way out.

    ——–

    Robert Costanza is the director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont.

January 18, 2008

Still the economy, stupid—Will this election help the middle class and the poor?

Without a stable middle class, this country has no reason to survive, and there will be mass discontent.

As this article points out, making a middle class salary no longer signifies that one can have a middle class quality of life due to inflationary pressures. In other words, a dollar worth less makes survival difficult for everyone, especially the middle class and the poor.

Maybe the dollar’s so low because we have a huge national debt and because we import almost everything, making few products here. That’s how buying American-made whenever available really does matter–it’s not jingoistic as much as it is good economic and environmental policy. When we lose our manufacturing infrastructure, all we have are desk-jockey jobs, inequitably distributed to those who have “educational,” family-based or other connections–the precise opposite of a meritocracy; instead we have a hierarchy based on appearances and credentials which are purchased more than earned. That’s why, unfortunately, an American education still means nothing.

The bubble is beginning to burst. With this election, we have out last chance to set priorities, make changes, and fix inequities. The middle class and the poor are beginning to not be so distant–and as such, they need to align politically in this election to help each other out. If they can move beyond racism and geographical and local segregation to see their common interests (and please not vote for Giuliani or Clinton, picking Obama, Paul, or Kucinich instead), real change can finally begin to happen with those numbers.

If we decide to do nothing, or keep doing what we have been doing, things will only get worse.

One problem: where is Ron Paul in this article?

newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-opwhe165539332jan16,0,7517032.story

Newsday.com

Candidates lack concrete plans to aid middle class

BY JENNIFER WHEARY AND THOMAS SHAPIRO

Jennifer Wheary is a senior fellow at New York-based public policy organization Demos, and Thomas Shapiro is director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University’s

January 16, 2008
The primary election results so far show that candidates need to work harder. The fact that the race is still open does not mean we voters can’t make up our minds. It means we are thinking very carefully about what’s best for the country and what policies will bring about true change.

Addressing economic insecurity among the middle class has been a recurring theme among the contenders and a top concern in the polls.

Candidates have played to this concern, but only superficially. Politics often turns into a game of appearances, so that it’s not about who has the solutions but who has the best sound bites.

We’ve seen a large sampling of sound bites from candidates from both parties about what it takes to strengthen the middle class. This has mostly amounted to bickering about whether tax reform or a massive mortgage bailout or better trade policy or health care reform is the magic bullet.

What we haven’t seen from anyone is a true understanding of what being middle class means, and what it should be.

Being middle class means having financial security. That security requires the education level necessary to find a good job and the ability to afford housing and essential living expenses. It requires having enough financial assets to provide a safety net for troubled times and a nest egg for the future. It means having adequate health insurance to ensure that financial stability is not eroded in the event of an unforeseen illness.

Tens of millions of American families earning a middle-class salary are unable to meet these basic conditions.

Only about one in three middle-class families has the critical mass of financial assets, higher education, affordable housing, adequate income and health insurance needed for long-term economic security. In fact, one out of four families is so weak in these areas that it is in danger of slipping out of the middle class.

The troubling signs do not stop there.

More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever or debt levels that exceed their assets.

More than one in five middle-class families has less than $100 left over each week after covering essential living expenses such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, personal care, education, personal insurance and pensions.

More than a quarter of middle-class families match the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of being housing burdened – spending more than 30 percent of their after-tax income on housing.

In nearly one in four of middle-class families, at least one member lacks health insurance of any kind.

In the age of appearances, our candidates have chosen to overlook the implications of these hard facts.

It is time to send them a clear message. The middle class does not need a Botox bolster, a series of superficial, short-term sound-bite solutions. We need a complete makeover.

This requires vision and bold new ideas, not bickering among opponents or across congressional aisles. It’s time to push past appearances and challenge our campaigners to engage in a serious national discussion about how to build a broader and more secure middle class.

This is no easy task. It requires that candidates lose the platitudes and describe concrete plans to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to enter the middle class and for those already in the middle class to stay there.

Why should candidates go the extra mile?

When you count up those Americans who either have earnings that fall below middle-class incomes (below 200 percent of the poverty line) or have middle-class incomes but lack the basic pillars of economic stability, middle-class financial security eludes an estimated 70 million working-age households.

And that’s the kind of number that can turn the tide of an election.

December 6, 2007

Stop the Presses–No Taxes on Tips

Another reason to rally behind Ron Paul. This is one ballsy guy–because he tells the truth that needs to be told, plain and simple. He doesn’t need handlers or spin. He might be too uncomplicated for American politics.

No Taxes on Tips

It is an outrage that waiters, waitresses, and other service-sector employees have to pay taxes on the tips they earn. The IRS makes an estimate of how much service-sector workers will make in tips, and taxes them on it even if the taxpayer did not actually earn as much as the IRS’ estimate!

Tips provide a substantial portion of the income of many service-sector employees, many of whom are young people just trying to make a few extra dollars to get through school, or single parents often balancing two jobs while trying to make enough to raise a family. This tax amounts to nothing more than the federal government punishing these employees for working hard and doing their jobs well.

I have introduced H.R. 3664 in Congress to end this problem. The Tax Free Tips Act of 2007 will exempt tips from federal income and payroll taxes. Ending taxes on tips will give workers an immediate pay raise, letting them keep more money to put toward things like a house or car payment, their retirement, or their own and/or their children’s education.

When you give someone a tip, you should not have to simultaneously tip the federal government.

http://www.ronpaul2008.com/issues/no-taxes-on-tips/

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BusinessWeek

Facetime November 29, 2007, 6:09PM EST text size: TT

Ron Paul on the Evil Fed, the IRS, and Saving the Buck

At 72, Ron Paul is a Web phenomenon. His campaign says that some 80% of the $17 million raised in the past four quarters—including about $4.3 million in one October day—has come from online supporters. And according to a mid-November poll, the Republican Presidential hopeful is gaining ground in New Hampshire, though he’s still in single digits. Like maverick candidates such as Howard Dean in 2004 and Ross Perot in 1992, Paul seems to connect with voters hungry for unvarnished positions. Paul, an obstetrician and 10-term congressman from the Texas Gulf Coast, voted against the war in Iraq and wants the troops home fast, but it’s his economic ideas that are the most radical: He detests the Fed and would abolish the IRS. Paul was about to climb on a plane for a campaign trip to South Carolina when I caught up with him.

MARIA BARTIROMO

As President, how would you strengthen the economy?

RON PAUL

The most important thing is to get control of the budget, because the more we spend and the higher the deficit, the more we have to tax and borrow and inflate the currency—literally create new credit to buy Treasury bills. We need to restore confidence in the dollar before [its decline] gets out of control. The easiest place to cut spending is overseas because it’s doing so much harm to us, undermining our national defense and ruining our budget. I would start saving hundreds of billions of dollars by giving up on defending the American empire. I’d start bringing our troops home, not only from the Middle East but from Korea, Japan, and Europe, and save enough money to slash the deficit. We can actually pay down the national debt and still take care of people here at home. That would restore a lot of confidence.

What is the most important change you would make?

Aim for the federal government to immediately live within its means, to take the pressure off the Fed to create money.

And that means what?

Means no more inflation. If the Fed doesn’t create money out of thin air—and they do it mostly to accommodate the deficits—that would restore the soundness of the dollar and give us our purchasing power back.

But as President, you’re supposed to be independent from the Fed. You would encourage the Fed to stop printing money?

You know this idea that we can create a secret bank and they manage things and rarely tell us—or Congress or the Executive Branch—what they’re really doing, there’s a problem there. I can’t even go to a monetary policy board meeting of the Federal Reserve, and I’m on the Banking Committee of the U.S. Congress. I want open government, and certainly the Fed ought to be open. But it’s an institution that really shouldn’t exist. [Its financing] allows Big Government to get bigger without being responsible. And that’s why we have runaway spending for both warfare and welfare.

Hasn’t the Fed been effective in providing liquidity in the current credit crisis?

You’re right, but it’s sort of like a drug addict. The drug addict demands more or he’s going to have convulsions. The economy would have a convulsion if the Fed didn’t inject more credit. But if you continue to do that, the problem gets worse. You can’t solve the problem of monetary inflation with monetary inflation. These circumstances have all been created by our government and the Fed.

How was the recent crisis caused by our government?

It was astounding that you could get a mortgage at 4%, and this was all due to the Fed creating money and artificially lowering rates, which gets people to do the wrong thing. Builders do the wrong thing, and people borrow money and buy houses they can’t afford.

How would you change tax policy?

Ideally, get rid of the income tax. In the meantime, I’d give huge tax credits to anybody who wanted to take care of their own medical care. I’d give tax credits for all educational benefits. I’d get the government out of managing education and medicine. And do it by changing the tax code. I have a bill right now that is very popular, especially for people who are trying to work their way through college or who are having a tough time making ends meet, and that is to exempt all taxes on tips. People who have a first job or a second job waiting on tables and doing other things, they’re harassed by government rules and regulations, and sometimes they have to pay higher taxes than the tips they actually receive. I’d move next to saying no taxes on anybody who’s trying to get through college. Why do we tax them, make it hard for them, then give them grants? It doesn’t make any sense.

Who are your economic advisers?

I don’t have any. I read Austrian economics, which I’ve been doing for 30 years. So my advisers have been [von] Mises and Hayek and Sennholz.

Do you consider yourself a friend or a foe of Wall Street?

If they believe in freedom, free markets, and sound money, they’ll love me. But if they like creating credit out of thin air, they’ll see me as a threat. I was one of three people who voted against Sarbanes-Oxley because I thought it was detrimental to Wall Street. I’d repeal it.

You want to take the troops out of Iraq, but what about Iran? What do we do if other nations turn hostile?

I’d treat them something like what we did with the Soviets. I was called to military duty [as a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon] in the ’60s when they were in Cuba, and they had 40,000 nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and we didn’t have to fight them. We didn’t have to invade their country. But to deal with terrorism, we can’t solve the problem if we don’t understand why they [attack us]. And they don’t come because we’re free and prosperous. They don’t go after Switzerland and Sweden and Canada. They come after us because we’ve occupied their land, and instead of reversing our foreign policy after 9/11, we made it worse by invading two more countries and then threatening a third. Why wouldn’t they be angry at us? It would be absolutely bizarre if they weren’t. We’ve been meddling over there for more than 50 years. We overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953; we were Saddam Hussein’s ally and encouraged him to invade Iran. If I was an Iranian, I’d be annoyed myself, you know. So we need to change our policy, and I think we would reduce the danger.

You have vehement new supporters. What’s driving the sudden interest in your candidacy?

I think they’re sick and tired of what they’re getting. They’ve lost all trust and faith in the government. They believe in the American Dream, and they’re getting a nightmare. And they’re rallying behind the program I’ve been working on for 30 years—defending the Constitution, limited government, free markets, sound money, and self-reliance; believing people can take care of themselves better than government can. The nanny state doesn’t work, the police state doesn’t work, and neither does the warfare. And they know it.

Maria Bartiromo is the anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell.

http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/07_50/b4062021769214.htm

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My Disclaimer –This blog is not for profit

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of criminal justice, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

December 5, 2007

Which candidates know anything about monetary policy?

Filed under: money and balanced budgets, politics, Ron Paul — Tags: , , , — sesame seed @ 4:27 pm

Here, Ron Paul makes several important points worth remembering:

–It is possible to eliminate the national debt. Not only that,but we can’t keep ignoring it and passing it on to future generations who will have to become work-slaves to debt their whole lives and have no retirement.

–We don’t need higher taxes to eliminate the national debt. Where are our taxes going? For illegal wars; to pay off cartels like the Federal Reserve, who own our debt and lord it over us; to the private subcontractors who are running this country and doing the services regulated government once did.

–The Federal Reserve creates debt by artificially pouring money into the money supply–also known as inflation. Inflation is what makes your money worth less in terms of purchasing power. Purchasing power, like it or not, is what drives our economy. But inflation also discourages saving, an, contrary to what you don’t hear anymore, saving is an important part of our economy, as well as an important tool for individual security.

–” Real conservatives have always supported low taxes and low spending.”–Yes, who we have in government are not Republicans–not that these labels matter, “Republican” or “Democrat”–the ones in power are all neo-conservatives with a very precise agenda to dominate the country and erode your liberties.

–Corporate welfare: no candidate I know of is even making this a topic on the table, other than Ron Paul. It is rampant and needs to end. If corporations love capitalism so much, they can sink or swim without taxpayer handouts, period.

–Even if you are not a libertarian, if you are not aware of the need for sound money policy, you really can’t know how to govern, how to implement social policies, how to know the impact of laws, how to distribute wealth, etc. Like the old saying, “follow the money.”

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Debt and Taxes

Working Americans like lower taxes. So do I. Lower taxes benefit all of us, creating jobs and allowing us to make more decisions for ourselves about our lives.

Whether a tax cut reduces a single mother’s payroll taxes by $40 a month or allows a business owner to save thousands in capital gains taxes and hire more employees, that tax cut is a good thing. Lower taxes allow more spending, saving, and investing which helps the economy — that means all of us.

Real conservatives have always supported low taxes and low spending.

But today, too many politicians and lobbyists are spending America into ruin. We are nine trillion dollars in debt as a nation. Our mounting government debt endangers the financial future of our children and grandchildren. If we don’t cut spending now, higher taxes and economic disaster will be in their future — and yours.

In addition, the Federal Reserve, our central bank, fosters runaway debt by increasing the money supply — making each dollar in your pocket worth less. The Fed is a private bank run by unelected officials who are not required to be open or accountable to “we the people.”

Worse, our economy and our very independence as a nation is increasingly in the hands of foreign governments such as China and Saudi Arabia, because their central banks also finance our runaway spending.

We cannot continue to allow private banks, wasteful agencies, lobbyists, corporations on welfare, and governments collecting foreign aid to dictate the size of our ballooning budget. We need a new method to prioritize our spending. It’s called the Constitution of the United States.

http://www.ronpaul2008.com/issues/debt-and-taxes/

December 4, 2007

A few simple yet persuasive points for Ron Paul

Filed under: money and balanced budgets, Ron Paul — Tags: — sesame seed @ 9:42 pm

 When was the last time you saw this kind of transparency in government?

Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record:

He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.

He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.

He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.

http://www.ronpaul2008.com/about/

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My disclaimer–this blog is not for profit.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of criminal justice, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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