Tag Archives: money

Be Prepared: Dollar Sell Off Within 4 Months

It looks like mid-May 2013 is the end of the road. Will this be the end of America?

YouTube Description:

If Congress does not get its financial house in order by the new deadline in mid-May 2013, John Williams of Shadowstats.com contends, “It will be the end of the road . . . . They are not going to have another opportunity . . . they are pushing the limit as it is now.” Williams says he expects, “. . . a negative reaction in the next 3 or 4 months to the dollar.” Williams adamantly continues to predict hyperinflation to the U.S. dollar by the end of 2014. Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One with economist John Williams.

Free trade is for idiots

For decades, globalists and libertarian free trade ideologues have been telling us that free trade has been “good” for America, that it’s a traditional conservative/Republican policy, and that any suggestion that America should protect its industry – i.e. protectionism – is a Big Government policy and a betray of “free market principles”. Free trade is the religion of the CATO Institute, the Mercatus Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the so-called Club for (Corporate Profits) Growth, which should call itself the Club for Corporate CEOs’ Greed).

But they are wrong. Protectionism, not free trade, has traditionally been the policy of conservatives and Republicans, and it is the policy on which nations ascend economically; they descend on free trade.

Every nation which ever became a great power – from England under the Acts of Navigation, to Colbert’s France, to the US from 1861 to 1945, to postwar Japan, to China today – became such because it protected its economy (especially its industry).

Unlike Hamilton, Clay, and Lincoln, the free trade ideologues at the forementioned organizations never built a great nation.

Republicans won their first presidential election in 1860 (while also capturing the Senate) running on a pledge to institute tariffs to protect the industry. And they did. This nearly insulated America’s (or rather, the North’s) growing industry, allowing it to become the envy of the world. Successive Republican Presidents and Congresses continued these policies, shielding American industries with protective tariffs, thus allowing these industries to grow and leading America to overtake Britain (and the rest of the world) by all measures of industrial production (including coal mining and steel production) by the 1890s.

Protectionist tariffs on foreign products also allowed Congress to keep the books balanced and pay Civil War debts quickly while keeping taxes on Americans and American companies low. Before 1913, there wasn’t even any federal income tax.

America thus became the greatest industrial power on Earth, the envy of the world.

I said “successive Republican Presidents and Congresses”, because a protectionist economic policy proved itself to be not only economically successful, but also politically popular. From 1860 to 1924, the GOP – then known as the Party of Protection – put 12 presidents in the White House, versus only 2 Democrats.

By 1945, America, partially thanks to its protectionist policies and partially due to the destruction that WW2 inflicted on Europe and Asia, accounted for 42% of the world’s industrial production.

But then, something happened.

American political elites (including, increasingly, Republicans) caught the free trade virus and indulged in suicidal “free trade” economic policies.

The US joined the WTO organization, where it doesn’t have a vote, signed the GATT, and signed free trade agreements with many countries, opening its markets to their products while they kept their markets firmly closed to American goods and services.

Thus, the US stopped posting trade surpluses and, starting in 1971, began to run trade deficits which, since 1971, have been growing almost nonstop.

Big corporations, always greedily lusting for more profits and bigger salaries for their CEOs, began shipping jobs overseas.

By the 1980s, the situation was so dire that Ronald Reagan recognized the problem and asked the Congress to institute protective tariffs.

Yet, America’s slide towards the abyss on the skis greased by free traders was only slowed down, not stopped. In 1992, the US, at President Bush’s behest, suicidally signed NAFTA, opening its market to cheap Mexican products. In 1993, Republicans saved NAFTA from defeat by voting for it together with the pro-free-trade wing of the Democratic Party. Republicans literally rescued NAFTA from the dustbin of history (where it belongs) by voting for it – and thus own it.

The result? Millions of good-paying industrial jobs were lost, as factories were shipped to Mexico. Before 1993, the US had a trade surplus with Mexico. Since 1993, it has had a trade deficit with that country every single year.

In 1994, China began, on a large scale, its campaign to maximize its exports while closing its market to imports, and thus to steal Western industries, by devaluing its currency by 45%. Simoultaneously, tariffs on foreign products were hiked, and export rebates to Chinese exporters began to be provided, similarly to how they are provided in Japan.

(Japan has a 15% VAT rate on products sold on its soil, but it provides a rebate to its exporters for every product they sell abroad. So cars exported to the US face no American tariffs and are even rebated by the Japanese government, while American cars exported to Japan are taxed 15% as soon as they arrive at the Yokohama docks).

Yet, despite Chinese cheating on trade, the Congress – dominated by Republicans – gave China Most Favored Nation trade status, thus absolving Chinese products of most tariffs (while China did not reciprocate). In 2001, the Congress gave China that status permanently. In 2002, a Republican President allowed China to join the WTO. Thus, Chinese products enter America almost free of any tariffs or duties, but American products shipped to China are subject to steep tariffs.

Yet, Republicans, instead of learning from their mistakes, doubled down on their “free trade” policies. They gave Vietnam Most Favored Nation status in 2007. They gave President Bush an unconstitutional unilateral “expedited” negotiation authority to negotiate even more one-sided, unfair free trade agreements for dupes. They supported the FTAs Bush signed with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea late in his term.

In the 2008 election, all leading Republican candidates – McCain, Romney, and Giuliani – ran on free trade platforms.

The eventual Republican nominee, John McCain, even scaremongered people about “the siren song of protectionism” and went to a closed Ohio factory (which was closed because its owner shifted production overseas).

It didn’t endear him any voters, however. In the 2008 election, proud free trader John McCain was crushed 373-165, by the biggest margin of any Republican candidate since Barry Goldwater, losing even longtime Republican states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia.

The election of Barack Obama probably gave some Americans hope that he would uphold his campaign promise to withdraw the US from NAFTA and to protect the US industry. He didn’t. He has barely been willing to impose tariffs on imported tires to save the tire industry.

With their own free trade mistakes costing them politically and the country economically, Republicans should have had, by 2012, learned that they were wrong and should have proposed a better policy, right? Wrong. Most Republicans continued to cling to their free trade ideology, as did the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, who lambasted Obama for not signing any new FTAs for dupes (as if that were a bad thing), pledged to negotiate new FTAs, and firmly embraced free trade ideology. And although he pledged to designate China a currency manipulator if elected, and to enforce intellectual property laws, he wasn’t willing to do anything more than that, and even these half-measures earned him the ire of free trade ideologues such as the think-tanks and organizations listed above.

So, as the year 2012 begins to draw to an end, let us take inventory of 67 years of “free trade policies”.

They have destroyed the greatest industrial base the world has ever seen.

They have caused 55,000 factories to be closed and production to be shifted to countries where people work for slave wages and where there are no real environmental protection laws.

They have caused tens of millions of Americans to lose their well-paying manufacturing jobs and middle class worker wages to stagnate, in real terms, for over 2 decades.

They have brought about disastrous consequences for national security, as America is now dependent on foreign countries for essential things, even things essential for defense, such as Rare Earth Elements and the products made from them.

They have cost the Republican Party successive Congressional and Presidential elections, as former industrial powerhouses such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia – formerly red states – have turned against the GOP and become blue or purple states. Republicans have not win Michigan since 1984 and have lost both Ohio and Virginia in both of the last 2 presidential elections.

The GOP’s reputation as the Party of Protection has been tarnished and replaced by the reputation of a party that kowtows to big businesses and outsources jobs overseas.

America, formerly self-sufficient and producing everything in the world, now imports virtually everything it needs, from textiles and simple products to cars and Advanced Technology Products like computers and cell phones.

America lost her crown as the biggest exporter in the world to Germany in 2003, which itself was overtaken by China around 2010.

America’s trade deficits with Mexico, Japan, the EU, and the world at large are the highest they have ever been.

America’s trade deficit with China is the highest ever between any two countries.

And what were these trade deficits paid for with? Borrowed money. America is now the largest debtor in world history.

And to pay for lost revenue from abolished tariffs on foreign products, taxes are being hiked on Americans and American companies.

Can America be rescued? Yes, it still can, but there isn’t much time, and it will require a complete break with the free trade ideology and policies of the free trade ideologues running the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Mercatus Center, and the Club for Corporate CEOs’ Greed. The US should:

  • Immediately implement the Export-Import Certificates proposed by Raymond, Howard, and Jesse Richman. This means that no country would be allowed to export more to the US than it imports from America.
  • Immediately impose a 25% tariff on all Chinese products imported into the US. China will then have a choice between letting American products into its market or financing the US Pacific Fleet.
  • Strictly enforce intellectual property laws.
  • Write, and strictly enforce, product quality standards on all imported products.
  • Terminate the useless Export-Import Bank.
  • Withdraw from NAFTA, the WTO, and the GATT.
  • Abolish all loopholes in the taxcode and use the resulting revenue (as well as the revenue coming from tariffs on Chinese products) to cut taxes across the board for all Americans and all American companies. The corporate income tax rate should be no higher than 12.5% (it’s 35% today).
  • Designate China as a currency manipulator.

Tens of millions of jobs will then be created and production will be shipped back to the US – because then, in order to sell products in the huge American market, you will have to produce things in the US. And foreign countries wishing to export to the US will have to open their own markets to American products on the basis of reciprocity.

Romney/Ryan Medicare Plan Would Cost Seniors $6400: Debunked

Per Politico, here’s the analysis of the latest Obama campaign attack ad towards Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on Medicare:

(AP)

“It’s a promise that was made long ago: you work hard, pay in, your Medicare benefits are guaranteed. But Mitt Romney would break that promise,” the ad says. “Replace your benefits with a voucher. Insurance companies could just keep raising rates. Instead of a guarantee, seniors could pay $6,400 more a year.”

The claim that the Romney/Ryan plan would cost seniors $6400 is completely false and based on an outdated and questionable Medicare reform plan from Rep. Paul Ryan – the plan that Romney and Ryan actually support does not include any cost increases for seniors. Ramesh Ponnuru explained all of this in a Bloomberg column, the day that it was announced Ryan would be Romney’s running mate.

Under the original Ryan plan, retirees would have chosen a private health plan and the government would have contributed money toward the cost. The amount of money would have depended on the beneficiary’s age and health status. Over time the average amount of money would have risen with inflation.

Critics pointed out that health-care costs have risen faster than inflation for a long time. If competition failed to change this trend, senior citizens would indeed have been left paying more.

The new version of the plan cleverly fixes the problem. Insurers would submit competitive bids to see who could cover Medicare’s traditional benefits for the lowest premium. The average amount of financial assistance would be equal to the second-lowest bid. So seniors will always have an option that leaves them with no higher costs than now. If they pick something even cheaper, they will come out ahead.

Ryan’s budget includes a failsafe to make sure the plan saves money even if competition doesn’t lead to restraint in premium growth: Total spending on Medicare would be limited to the growth of the economy plus inflation plus 0.5 percent.

That failsafe doesn’t rescue the Democratic attack, however, because the Obama administration caps Medicare spending at the same level. There is no scenario under which Medicare recipients have to pay more under the Romney-Ryan plan than they have to pay under the Democratic plan. The Obama campaign is, in short, responding to new thinking with stale talking points.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, then read this recent memo released by the Romney campaign debunking the claim.

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Is Facebook Too Big To Fail?

Facebook Stock Slide

With an initial public offering of $38.00 a share, a high of $45.25 a share, and a low of $18.75 per share, Facebook’s stock has been as rocky as a soap opera love affair. Today’s trading shows the current price per share is $19.44. However, with this slide, comes the calls for the company’s CEO and majority stock holder Mark Zuckerberg to step down. For some, it’s rather easy to gloat in the downturn of those who they perceive to be “well off” or “rich”. I however marvel in the fact that someone can take what seems to be a simple idea (sharing pictures, ideas, lives), apply the idea to a system that’s already invented (computer, internet), and turn it into a multi-billion dollar company. It really signifies the American dream.

Let’s be frank, any of these internet companies that are webpage centered make their revenue from advertising dollars. Whether it’s Facebook, Drudge Report, The Blaze.com they all have one product they sell for profit, advertising. Something of interest happened just days before Facebook’s IPO. U.S. Government owned General Motors, pulled it’s advertising from Facebook, a really suspect move. Some conservative media outlets picked up on the story, however not much was really ever made of it, it didn’t get a lot of air time in the national media.

I’m going to switch gears for a moment, (stick with me, I promise, this all ties together). Progressive insurance has a “wonderful” invention they use for information gathering called the ‘Snap Shot’ Discount. The idea that the consumer is sold, is, “you’re going to save a bundle of money on your car insurance”. What really is happening is all of your driving habits are being digitally recorded. Some say, “well, what’s wrong with that?” I’ll tell you. It may start ok, you know the recorder is plugged into your car, and you drive accordingly, but, after a short while you will forget that it’s there, it’s just human nature, and then every time you go above 65 mph, it knows. Every time you lock up your brakes, it knows. Every time you take a corner hard, it knows. Every time you drive at odd hours, or long distances, or in bad neighborhoods, it knows. What Progressive is really doing is data mining, you. The Snap Shot device is really like having a drone follow your every move, if you knew who the CEO of Progressive, Peter Lewis, is, then you understand why this device is so popular with the company. He is a huge progressive liberal who supports a lot of left-wing pet projects.

Now imagine, the Federal Government had the capability to do the same thing that the Snap Shot device could, and so much more. Would that concern you? With the U.S. Government bailout of GM and subsequent bankruptcy, the Government acquired something else, On Star. On Star is the Snap Shot device, on steroids. On Star can roll down your windows, shut your car off, start your engine, unlock all your doors, shut off your fuel pump, shut down your fuel injectors, apply your brakes, all layered on top of the fact that it knows all of your driving habits. It seems the government has liked having these new-found powers because as of 2015 all new vehicles to be sold in the U.S. will have black box technology on board. This of course is sold under the guise of making cars safer, helping in accident investigations, and the like. However, do you think insurance companies were extremely interested in having this law passed? Of course. Insurers have three methods to impede claims payment, deny the claim, delay the claim, or litigate the claim. Picture this, you were in an accident. Your car was totalled. You believe you were operating the vehicle like a responsible adult, however you were going 7 mph over the speed limit, and you were a little slow on hitting the brakes. Sorry claim denied, and you gave the insurance company the evidence against you; willingly. The insurer sees you as a liability, so they drop you from the company.

Essentially your life is an open book, and your privacy is getting smaller as government is expanding exponentially.

As with the data mining that can be done through your vehicle, the grand daddy of all voyeurs is Facebook. If you are a member of Facebook I’m not telling you anything new. It absolutely amazes me how much a person will share voluntarily on their Facebook webpage, let alone all the info they want to set up your page. I believe Facebook is on a path to government ownership, and that’s a vastly more disturbing proposition. If you use Facebook mobile, it knows where you are, when your online, who you message, who and where all your friends live, where you shop, and through tagging it knows who your with. It is a totalitarian governments dream.

This is just a hypothesis of mine, I do not ask anyone to subscribe to it, however I do ask that you ponder it. I am not apt to believing in conspiracy theories. Like many, I am a well grounded thinking man’s type of guy. I am however, a war gamer.

Facebook had a slew of IPO problems, such as the initial stock price appears to have been inflated, then it had a few trading glitches, and now we find out George Soros has invested. The stock continues to slide, which triggers the carnival barkers in the liberal media to call for Zuckerberg to step down. The issue is this, any market can be manipulated, similarly, any stock can be manipulated, there’s a lot of psychology involved. The stock’s sale was manipulated, through investment house rules. Only certain “investors” were permitted to purchase. People with a lot of sway and power can in fact move markets, just ask currency killer George Soros. It all really reminds you of the end of one of the great modern classics, “Trading Places“. In the movie, Eddie Murphy’s character and Dan Akroyd’s character get their revenge on a couple of men who were manipulating their lives over a bet of $1.00. The trading scene at the end shows how the technique can be done. Buy low, and sell high. They bought a very large amount of orange juice futures and drove the price through the roof, then just when the time was right, they sold. Sell, sell, sell! In the process, they made a ton of money!

If you think a Facebook bailout can’t happen, look to GM, Chrysler, AIG, Banks and Investment firms. Five years ago, we would have said these bailouts would never happen. But they did.

There are certain governmental factions that would love to be able to data mine Facebook all day long everyday. (They may already be doing so.) We live in the new age of no rules for government.

What would a Government Sponsored Facebook look like? The very first thing that comes to mind is, say goodbye to privacy and the need for a warrant to search your person. The government would already own your data that you shared with them, or at the very least, they would have incredibly easy access to it. And you can stop posting any thing on faith or anything that points out Islam’s faults or hypocrisies. Because a government sponsored Facebook would be “neutral” on religion. And don’t think about putting together a charity event to feed the homeless, or to hand out drinking water, or to house the homeless, because government doesn’t like the competition for their welfare programs. If you think it’s censored now (and I do) wait till it becomes yet another government entity. And just think how it could be used to implement and administer Obamacare rules and regulations. A picture of you with a cigarette in your mouth could have you paying a higher penalty, or tax, I’m not sure what they’re calling it today.

I know it sounds like something that could never happen but, we live in a world and a country that has transformed over the last 3.7 years into something almost unrecognizable to Americans.

All of this begs the question, is Zuckerberg being set up for failure by those who are making gains on his brainchild? Is America being set up for yet another purchase of a private company?

& Share if you Agree

 

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International Leaders Call For Establishment of a Single World Currency To “Overcome the Economic Crisis”

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — More than 70 experts from 40 countries prepare an Open Letter for G20 countries’ leaders in Kazakhstan.

Leaders and former leaders of five states, 11 current and former prime-ministers, 25 current and former ministers and 40 top managers of international organizations, transnational corporations and businesses, 12 Nobel laureates and renowned scientists will gather at the V Astana Economic Forum to share their proposals for the development and improvement of the global economy. More than 6,000 delegates from 85 countries and more than 8000 active users of the G-Global communication platform from 143 countries around the world will participate in the discussion.

The need of constructive collaboration has been repeatedly said by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. Speaking from the rostrum of the solemn meeting in Astana to the world community on December 15, 2011, Nazarbayev said that “at the very beginning of 2009, in the midst of crisis, I took the initiative to the global financial reform.I have said that that light anti-crisis measures will not save the world from the waves of the growing crisis. The course of events has confirmed these words, no one has been able to offer the world anti-crisis plan, which would be adopted by consensus, unfortunately, the formats of the G-20, G-8 show the inefficiency – discussing of the world anti-crisis plan is not even started.”

The Kazakhstani leader has declared that there is a necessity to dramatically expand the number of participants in the anti-crisis solution, and has initiated the idea of ​​the G-Global communication platform, where the Astana Econimic Forum is a working platform for. The President was sure that Kazakhstan has a mandate to address G20 countries and integrity of the world community: Kazakhstan leads the worldwide “For a Nuclear-Free World” movement and is a member of the United Nations. “We have successfully chaired in the OSCE, held the first in the 21st century the OSCE summit in Astana. This year we led the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. We have held congresses of the world religions. I listed those achievements, while initiating G-Global, because I am sure our offer will be heard,” concluded Mr. Nazarbayev. Obviously, the aim of the Kazakhstani Leader’s idea about formation of the G-Global is not simply increasing the number of participants in the development of anti-crisis measures, but the expansion of fundamentally different approaches to the reform of global finances. A qualitatively new approach of development will be discussed at the AEF, based on which the idea of ​​the Eurasian (world) “development” currency would be introduced.

Other important issues of the Forum are creation of a new model of strategic planning for transition to sustainable economy, global energy-ecological strategy, food security, “green economy”, alternative energy sources, and a single agricultural hub of the Customs Union countries. The opinions of respected experts and the best recommendations of regular citizens will be united by the Dialogue of Leaders – a council of top-ranked  officials of economics, business, politics and media – which is an exclusive event of the V AEF. At the end of the Forum the “Open Letter to G-20 countries” will be sent to the Organizing Committees of the G-8 and G-20, the UN, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Mitt Romney (Really) Doesn’t Have That Much Money

Romney’s “2 Cadillacs” and “my friends own NASCAR teams” stories might seem like old news now, but if he gets the GOP’s nod, you can bet that stories about his wealth will begin to circulate again in preparation for this fall’s election.  Since 80% of Conservatives seem to think he’s going to win the nomination (and he has the largest amount of delegates), this piece will focus on some the criticisms about Romney’s wealth.

Romney Doesn’t really have that much money.

As unbelievable as that statement sounds, it’s very much true.  Mitt Romney is said to be worth anywhere between $190-$250 Million.  And as hard as it is to believe, that’s just not very much dough.

To put it in perspective, let’s look at how much money some other famous people happen to be worth.

1.  Peyton Manning has a net worth of $115 Million (about half of what Romney is said to be worth)

2.  Justin Bieber has made $105 Million in just about the same amount of  time it takes to complete high school.

3.  Gossip blogger, Perez Hilton is worth $30 Million.  Let that sink in for a minute…  And if you don’t know who Perez Hilton is, consider yourself blessed.

4.  Michael Bloomberg, a lowly mayor (even if he is mayor of the USA’s largest city), is worth $19 Billion (with a “B”).  So if politicians aren’t supposed to be wealthy, somebody should let him know.

5.  But to put things into even better perspective, Allen Iverson has made (and spent) about $200 Million between his NBA salary and his Reebok endorsements.  So, if a basketball player is allowed to earn, in fourteen years, what Mitt Romney has earned over the course of his 65 year lifetime, then there seems to be little reason to begrudge the former governor for buying a couple of Cadillacs.  And if it makes you feel any better, you should know that Allen Iverson’s $400,000 Lamborghini is worth about 8 of what Mrs. Romney’s Cadillac’s are believed to have cost.

And this is just “classic Democrats”.  Remember when Barack Obama was a candidate for the highest office in the land?  As a candidate, he considered George W. Bush’s debt of $4 Trillion to be “unpatriotic”, a debt that was amassed over 8 years.  But when President Obama racked up $4 Trillion of debt in only three years, he decided to have Tom Hanks narrate a documentary talking about how heroic our current president is.  Democrats will hammer Republicans for their sins, then commit the SAME sin, only twice as worse, and then applaud themselves.  And on top of that, they get the media to tell everybody that they’re doing a good job.  …for doing the SAME thing they just hammered Republicans for.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUPZJDBJI84

This is the same party who ran the richest president of all time, John F. Kennedy.  JFK was said to be worth $1 Billion (again, with a “B”), and his successor, Lyndon Johnson, was also said to be worth $98 Million.  These figures were published on MSNBC’s website, of all places, and they were adjusted for 2010 dollars.  But again, they’ll have you believe that Mitt Romney, and by extension, the Republican Party are both out of touch.  Furthermore, did you know that  William Jefferson Clinton is said to be worth $38 Million?  And last but not least, Jane Harman, a Democrat congresswoman from California who recently resigned, is said be worth between $150 Million and $430 Million.  From the looks of things, Democrats only think that being a rich politician is bad if it’s a REPUBLICAN who is the rich politician.

The hypocrisy is not only staggering, but it needs to be pointed out on a daily basis, if Republicans ever want to dispel the meme that they are all out-of-touch and 1 percenters.

So in a world where basketball players and teenage kids have earned as much (or half as much) as Mitt Romney has, and in a world where Liberal politicians can easily outspend him, it’s hard to see the outrage over Romney’s wealth as being anything genuine.  Romney’s real crime isn’t that he’s amassed money, it’s that he’s been unable to control the narrative.

Is this the week the world economy bites it?

Ok, I know.. I haven’t written an honest-to-goodness analysis piece in awhile – but now.. the world is ending and I’ve noticed that no one else was writing about it.. well not just this moment ..

We’ve been hearing that EU is going to crash any day now, that Americans are over-leveraged and as Conservatives we know all about the looming debt crisis.

Today, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will be asking for new legislation that would impose losses on anyone who had been foolish enough to invest in the country. This provision would be triggered if no agreement could be reached in debt negotiations that will start on Wednesday. Papademos said, “The talks are not straightforward, because they aim at a voluntary restructuring of public debt, and to achieve a number of objectives simultaneously, objectives that involve trade-offs”

Of course that doesn’t mean the collapse of the Greek banking system (yet) which would lead to the fall of the EU (but not now) and then an eventual collapse of the global economy and life as we know it (if it were really happening). Nope, not that – not just this minute.

What about that middle east and Asia thing? @Zerohedge announced that the Oil Minister of India (one of the hottest new economies in the world) is now preparing for “all eventualities over Iran oil supplies”. And now, somehow, a middle-eastern country is about to run out of .. petroleum products. Nothing to see here, please move along.

The international community has its issues and apparently the United States is also on the precipice of catastrophe. The New York Times reminds us that “Few Cities Have regained Lost Jobs“, Reddit is going on strike, Palin would vote for Gingrich (in South Carolina), the unemployment rate is only getting better because more people have decided to quit looking for work and Colbert is being taken seriously by a major news outlet – you get the point.

So the world sucks, it’s 2012 so the whole Mayan calendar thing is coming, and we’re faced with the prospect of another 4 years of Barack Obama – who wouldn’t build a bunker, trim the hedges to create clear lines of fire and stock up a 50 year supply of that crappy astronaut ice cream  to weather the storm? Who?!

There is an economic storm brewing. The mainstream media needs you to keep trucking along so they can keep a steady stream of viable sponsors paying their bills. The politicians in power need you to believe things are stable so you’ll re-elect them and banks need you to think that it’s just fine to keep borrowing and spending your way to happiness. So don’t worry, be happy.

So who do you believe? Is Greece finally on the edge, will Iran prove a tipping point for Asian and European markets, will America’s debt-to-GDP ratio finally render the world’s largest economy defunct – or as Obama has told us, are things improving? Perhaps you should make sure your food store is stocked, you have cash, gold, chickens or whatever because after all, Rocks from Mars are Falling on Morocco – and if that’s not a indicator of the apocalypse.. what is?

Washington Crackheads and the Root of All Evil

This week I had the privilege of finally catching up on Season 3 of the cable drama “Damages”, starring Glen Close.  This is not a review. I highly recommend this dark legal thriller and now Season 1 is available on Netflix. You won’t be disappointed.  However, as I said previously this is not a review.  I only mention the show because season 3 was all about greed and money.  The basic plot revolves around a high-society family torn apart by their Bernie Madoff-like patriarch as he is charged with running the largest Ponzi scheme in history.  Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler and I’ll go no further than to tell you that the main character in this season is money.

Many people in this country believe that the Bible says “Money is the root of all evil”.  I generally find that most of those people also believe the Bible tells us Jesus was a socialist and men are supposed to control their wives.  Of course, the Bible says none of those things, and with regard to money it tells us in 1Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  That is a very tiny but significant distinction.  Money in and of itself is not evil.  We use it for many good things – to feed people, enjoy vacations, heal people, etc.  But when we start to love money above all else it takes on a life of its own.  It becomes like an addiction, and before long the money addict is no better than a crack addict – they will literally do anything to anyone to get that next fix and make sure their supply is safe.  The family on “Damages” fell in love with their money; every conversation and interaction was about money. Their obsession with money and the consequences of that obsession got me thinking about that oft misquoted verse.  The Bible’s warning about the love of money is not just another “God rule”, but quite practicle.  Loving money makes human beings do awful things, and forget about life’s value…ironically.

Our entire political system in this country is tragically sick with a money addiction and it is tearing us all apart.  Like that cable t.v. family our government has come to value money above all other things.  It has been running Ponzi schemes on Americans for decades.  Every conversation with politicians or about government revolves around money.  Talk of taking money away from government and our representatives start freaking out and throwing crazed tantrums like a meth addict who can’t get find their pipe.  Our government’s love of our money is dangerous and has torn this country to pieces… quite literally the Bible’s warning manifest -Washington’s love of money has become an evil.  Our politicians no longer work for us, they work for money.  Its what they love; it has replaced us in their hearts.  That is why every “crisis” that comes up on the Hill – be it the debt ceiling, payroll tax, or whatever – seems to end with a drop in the bucket.  Government doesn’t see the country’s financial health as an important issue.  Those of us on the front lines in the rest of America understand that we are in deep doo-doo (pardon my French).  We don’t need anymore drop-in-the-bucket solutions, we need to throw out the whole damn bucket! The water’s been contaminated and it can never be safe to drink from again.  We understand how desperate the situation really is because we are living paycheck to paycheck, working everyday to figure out how to afford decent lives for our children.  The Beltway politicians have no such worries.  Love of money has taken away their compassion for the average citizen.  Any issue brought to the Hill is immediately confronted with the same question: How can we keep more money in Washington?  If you’ve ever had the uncomfortable opportunity of conversing with a  crackhead (and I hope you never have to) you quickly came to understand that their entire conversation with you was based on one main question that most likely ran through their head the whole time: How can I get this person to give me more of their money so I can buy drugs? It’s the same concept as what is happening in Washington right now.

America is the freest nation on Earth.  No other country has ever enjoyed so much opportunity, cleanliness, prosperity and safety at any other point in history.  We have harnessed the power of freedom and turned it into wealth.  The downside of that freedom-produced wealth is that it can to easily turn from productivity to greed.  We’ve crossed the line and now we have a bunch of full blown addicts running the country.

What’s needed is an intervention.  The tea party began the work a few years ago and some in the mainstream media think the movement has faded because the protests are not as abundant anymore, but I think differently. I think the tea party has shifted focus.  Protests get noticed, but if we keep electing the same addicts over and over again we’ll never be able to treat Washington’s addiction properly.  I hear from tea party groups all over the country who are actively involved in state and local elections, working on seeing strong fiscal conservatives elected.  They have not faded in their tenacity; only their mission has changed.  Americans of all stripes are waking up to the fact that they’ve been supporting the habits of a wayward government for far too long. We still have long way to go, but it’s a good start to recognize how we’ve enabled these addicts for decades.  The love of money is the root of all evil, indeed…and that root has entrenched itself in the swampy underbelly of Washington D.C.  Its going to take a lot of work to get it out.

Wanna See A Breakdown In Society? Look No Further Than Your Nearest Grocery Store


While CDN is primarily considered to be a political website, I contend that mundane aspects of our culture can sometimes be a part of the equation that get overlooked.  One of the issue that’s been on my mind lately is how we treat each other publicly.  If the last couple of decades were known for being overly “P.C.”, then I fear this next decade could be the decade of “naked aggression” towards one another.

An act as simple as going grocery shopping has become stressful and unpleasant for many over the last few years.  Our fellow motorists on the road have long been a topic of discussion in our country, but now I see hostilities and conflict extending beyond the pavement and the stoplights.  Now the grocery store and even the parking lot itself seem to be unsafe havens in our world today.

Last Saturday, I began my (weekly) show, Married to the Game, with observations on what it’s like to go shopping in Southern California.  Below, I’ve combined some of that commentary with pictures and video that I took from a Walmart parking lot, both out of frustration and in an attempt to share with other people what I’ve been witnessing.  Ultimately, I’d love to get a conversation started in this country about how we can go back to better conducting ourselves and being “better citizens” in public.  But until then, you can find entertainment in my pain in this video below.

So what are your thoughts?  Am I just crying over misplaced shopping carts?  Are there bigger problems in the world?  Or is this video indicative of our “EBT” and “OWS” culture?

Also… In the video, I discuss how this has encouraged me to do more shopping online, thus costing local stores my business.  As more and more people seem to shop online, what effect do you think this has on our communities?

Let us know in the comments below. (or on Facebook)  This is a topic I believe we should all think more about.

Taxpayer $ Spent On Obama Memoir. AWESOME!!!

Yesterday, a fellow CDN writer told you that our State Department had spent about $70,000 on copies of Barack Obama’s book, “Dreams of My Father”.  What do I think about that?  I think it’s GREAT.  I’m laughing so hard I could cry as I think about it, and I’ll tell you why…

From what I can tell, these books were bought for our U.S. embassies that we have scattered across the globe.  I decided to google “Do U.S. embassies have books?” in an effort to understand why we would be purchasing copies of Obama’s memoir for them.  It turns out that we have libraries in some of these things (embassies).  Below is a picture of what I found on one of the embassies in India’s website.

So it turns out that we have books (and libraries) in our embassies across the world.  As I thought of this, I had a somewhat evil idea cross my mind.  See… there are nearly 7 billion people on earth, and only 300 million of them are from the United States.  The rest (over 6 billion) are from various nations and continents.  And as crazy as it might sound, a lot of people on this earth don’t have the greatest appreciation for the United States, Anglo-Saxons, or anything that looks like colonialism.   As it turns out, they do, however, have an appreciation for an American President (with a Kenyan father) who grew up in Indonesia.

It crossed my mind that Obama’s book, “Dreams of My Father”, might actually be a brilliant marketing tool to have in our embassies.  And… it can even have a “Walt Disney effect”.  When you go to Disney Land, you can go to the gift store and (I assume) find a book that details how awesome Disney was, and it gives you a reason to feel like his amusement park was a good thing.  So… I imagine it helps us to have books in our embassies that feature a guy who doesn’t even seem to like America as our president.  Obama’s life story and his disposition towards America send a subliminal message to other countries.  I’m not sure that it’s one that *I* particularly appreciate, but it’s one that might resonate with young people in other parts of the world.  Basically, his book (which really “seems” to hate white people) might ultimately do us a favor in some of our foreign embassies.  I could be wrong, but it seems like having these books at American embassies might actually help us.

So before we decry the spending of $70,000 (of our hard earned tax money) on some crappy books, we should ask ourselves… “Could this actually help us in the long run?  Could it be useful to have foreigners read a book that illustrates how an ‘America-hater’ became the leader of the greatest country on earth?”.

What do you guys think?  Is $70,000 even enough money to worry about?  Or is it absolutely absurd that tax money should be used to purchase books written by our president?  Or… is this much to do about nothing?  Let us know in the comments below.  Or you can tell us on Facebook.  We’re pretty flexible like that.

The Obama Effect

The following chart shows a comparison of prices of certain commodities from January, 2009 when Obama took office to the prices of the same commodities in January, 2011.

            Sourcing is footnoted.

            Leftist should take a lot of tranquilizers before reading this chart.

Just take this last item: In the last two years we have accumulated national debt at a rate more than 27 times as fast as during the rest of our entire nation’s history.  Over 27 times as fast. Metaphorically speaking, if you are driving in the right lane doing 65 MPH and a car rockets past you in the left lane.   27 times faster, it would be doing 1,755 MPH!

Sources:
(1) U.S. Energy Information Administration; (2) Wall Street Journal; (3) Bureau of Labor Statistics; (4) Census Bureau; (5) USDA; (6) U.S. Dept. Of Labor;
(7) FHFA; (8) Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller; (9) RealtyTrac; (10) Heritage Foundation and WSJ; (11) The Conference Board; (12) FDIC;
(13) Federal Reserve; (14) U.S. Treasury 

 

National Suit Drive Helps Unemployed Americans Suit Up for Success

Men’s Wearhouse Fourth Annual National Suit Drive Collects over 80,000 Clothing Items for Job Seekers

MEN'S WEARHOUSE / Donate to Men's Wearhouse National Suit Drive - Aug. 1-31, 2011. (PRNewsFoto/Men's Wearhouse, Rob Bennett)HOUSTON, Aug. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — For the fourth year, Men’s Wearhouse has held a successful National Suit Drive, the country’s largest collection of gently used professional attire. The company devoted the month of August to encouraging patrons to transform their unwanted businesswear into a second chance for millions of disadvantaged Americans facing joblessness.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click:http://www.multivu.com/mnr/51934-men-s-wearhouse-fourth-annual-national-suit-drive

Despite recent job increases in select industries, the unemployment rate is still hovering just above an alarming 9 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of July 2011:

  • African-Americans are experiencing a 16.2 percent unemployment rate — almost 1.8 times the national average of 9.2 percent.
  • The U.S. Latino population is experiencing an 11.6 percent unemployment rate.
  • U.S. males are experiencing a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, while U.S. females are facing an 8.0 percent rate.

The power of a suit in the workplace is not to be underestimated, according to the nationwide Men’s Wearhouse Well-Dressed Men Survey conducted earlier this year by Kelton Research for Men’s Wearhouse. A full 75 percent of Americans polled believe well-dressed men are more successful in the workplace than their casual colleagues, and 22 percent of men actually believe they would earn more money if only they dressed better.

Men’s Wearhouse, a leader in men’s formal and professional attire, has long preached the value of a suit to a man’s confidence. Known for his “guarantee,” George Zimmer, Men’s Wearhouse founder and executive chairman, sees National Suit Drive as “a chance to share that guarantee of assurance with those less fortunate and in transition into the workforce. A suit can do wonders to boost confidence in interviews and networking.”

Despite talk of the recession’s end, Men’s Wearhouse’s efforts in its largest yearly philanthropic event are as ambitious as ever. With just days remaining to donate to the drive, 80,449 items have been collected at more than 900 Men’s Wearhouse locations around the country, including 9,027 suits. August 31 is the final day stores will be accepting donations to the drive — it’s not too late to make a difference in the lives of Americans with barriers to employment.

About Men’s Wearhouse

Since it was founded in 1973, Men’s Wearhouse has become one of the largest specialty retailers of men’s apparel in the country, with more than 900 stores carrying a full selection of designer and private-label suits, sport coats, casualwear, and accessories. Today, The Men’s Wearhouse, Inc. family of companies includes Men’s Wearhouse, MW Cleaners, K&G Fashion Superstore, TwinHill Corporate Apparel, and Moores Clothing for Men in Canada, making it one of North America’s leading providers of quality and value in both apparel and apparel care. Men’s Wearhouse also operates in a global corporate apparel and workwear group consisting of Dimensions and Alexandra in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please visit the company’s website at www.menswearhouse.com.

SOURCE Men’s Wearhouse

CONTACT: Caitlin Murphy, +1-336-774-9367, or Meghan Hakim, +1-336-774-9323

 

California’s ‘Boondoggle’ Report – I mean High Speed Rail Report

The term “Boondoggle” may be used to refer to protracted government or corporate projects involving large numbers of people and usually heavy expenditure, where at some point, the key operators, having realized that the project will never work, are still reluctant to bring this to the attention of their superiors.

Generally there is an aspect of “going through the motions” – for example, continuing to waste money on High-Speed Rail – as long as funds are available.

Obama’s inspiring vision of a nation crisscrossed by bullet trains, providing cleaner, safer and cheaper competition to airlines and reducing reliance on gas-guzzling automobiles, is in serious jeopardy as a new Republican majority in the House looks to slash his funding plans. In this environment, California is a test case for whether high-speed trains can succeed in the U.S. — and so far, the state is failing the test.

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office forecasts a state budget deficit of $25.4 billion that the Legislature needs to plug before the next fiscal year begins. The LAO’s gloomy budget outlook is blamed in part on a $6 billion shortfall in the current fiscal year. California faces a $20 billion a year deficit through 2015-2016.

Seems California is in serious economic trouble, but yet they want to continue with Obama’s “Boondoggle” called high-speed rail?

Viewpoints: Case for high-speed rail grows only stronger. The last time many Californians thought about high-speed rail was in the voting booth. On that day, Nov. 4, 2008, more than 6 million voted to tell the state to get going, to build high-speed rail in California. Now, 2 ½ years later, the second guessing is in full swing. In recent weeks some have suggested that the project – High Speed Rail – be put on hold.

Most people I talk to have said this about high-speed rail – this is something the country ‘wants’ now, but it can’t afford it at the moment. The backers of high-speed rail are now using the “high Gas, cleaner environment issues” to their advantage – claiming that these HSR trains are cleaner and people will decide to pay to ride the train – instead of grid-locking the interstates with automobiles.

This of course is all speculation, because no where in the United States do we have an actual HSR service. The Legislative Analyst’s Office published a report calling for at least a ‘temporary halt’ to the project. The report alluded to a number of concerns about the project:

  • The amount and timing of future federal funding are unclear.
  • Spending state funds on rail will mean there is less money for other things.
  • We do not yet know how much private investment the system can attract, or when it will come.
  • Starting construction in the Central Valley is a “gamble.”

These “concerns” would make me cautious of this project too.

  1. They have no clue when or even if they will receive more federal funding.
  2. California is in real debt trouble – wasting states money on HSR – means less money for projects that are really needed.
  3. There is a “hint” of interest from private investments – but they have not seen any money from them yet – nor have the private investors 100% committed to investing.
  4. To qualify for the federal funds, planners had to agree to break ground by 2012. Federal officials deemed that the only segment that would be ready for construction so quickly was in the ‘sparsely’ populated Central Valley. As a result, the bulk of the $3.5 billion kicked in by the Obama administration must be spent on a train running between the tiny towns of Borden and Corcoran. Ridership on this initial segment would be slight, making it impossible to operate the train without taxpayer subsidies. Yet under the terms of Proposition 1A, the state can’t issue bonds to pay for the project unless it has been demonstrated to be self-sufficient. What’s more, if federal and other funds for further construction dry up, California could end up with an expensive train to nowhere.

So I can see why the Legislative Analyst’s Office has their concerns. I have my concerns as well, since I am helping to pay for it. California has a huge debt problem, my main concern is that Obama will want to help “bail” them out of debt forcing taxpayers to pay for California’s problems. Then we as taxpayers are obligated to pay for all these HSR Boondoggles too!

The train’s biggest problems can be laid at the feet of the California High Speed Rail Authority, which is overseeing its construction. Inexperienced board members appointed by the governor and Legislature on the basis of political patronage rather than expertise have made a host of poor decisions. The poor planning shows as the board plans to take a circuitous route from Los Angeles to Bakersfield by veering through Palmdale and Lancaster. This would add 30 miles to the trip plus $1 billion in construction costs, and make it all but impossible for the train to meet its promised travel time of 2 hours and 40 minutes from L.A. to San Francisco. Compared with the more direct route along Interstate 5 through the Grapevine.

This country is in a real debt crisis with unemployment way up, high gas prices, higher food prices and such. Why are we allowing Obama to “gamble” with his HSR dream? This is something the country would like to have but it doesn’t necessarily need it at the moment. We need to get our priorities straight spend our money wisely on things we already have but are in severe need of improving. Instead of “gambling” away at projects most of us already know – won’t succeed.

 

 

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