Archive for the ‘Austerity’ Category

By Jon Jeter 02/02/18 [https://www.mintpressnews.com/its-not-the-dow-stupid-underpaid-workforce-imperils-us-and-global-economies/237090/]  https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3530

Over a period of 40 years, capitalists like Rockefeller, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have completely rearranged the financial universe — all but eradicating inflation, and radically devaluing work relative to capital.

NEW YORK — “It’s Not a Roar,” read the first-edition headline for the New York Times business article published January 27, “but the Global Economy is Finally Making Noise.”

A death rattle, perhaps?

Try as they may, the mainstream media simply cannot prepare for public viewing the gaping wound to the head that murdered the U.S. economy.

Never mind the Dow, the Fed Funds rate, or Apple’s latest earnings report, the cause of death is really quite simple: work is underpaid.

If we are to raise the economy from the dead, the American worker needs a raise.

For all intents and purposes, when adjustment is made for inflation, workers in the private sector haven’t had a pay increase in nearly 30 years.

That’s not just a problem for wage-earners who find they have too much month left at the end of their paycheck, but for an entire global economy that depends on consumer demand in the U.S.

With our paychecks shrinking, the workforce in the U.S. has resorted to borrowing more and more money — to buy a new car, fix a broken tooth, or finance the kids’ college education — to make up for the loss in buying power. Such forced borrowing, at the interest rates typically charged by lenders, only deepens the consumer cash crunch.

Poor & Getting Poorer

Said Jane, who raises chickens with her husband at their central Texas ranch: “Everyone I know is poor and getting poorer.”

As we struggle to pay down the mountains of credit-card debt, monthly insurance premiums, car loans, or skyrocketing utility bills, we spend less and less on new stuff.

Rosa Luxemburg called this cycle “underconsumption;” more modern economists call it debt deflation.

What it all means is that Laura of New Jersey makes very few new purchases these days.

The monthly premiums on the state exchange she, her husband and two sons enrolled in increased last month from $1,750 to $2,350.

Well actually, that’s not quite true. It would’ve cost that much had she and her husband continued with the same plan but, with college tuition for their second son bearing down on them, they decided to downgrade to a less expensive plan, which costs only $2,000 a month.

And that’s only for catastrophic coverage; they have a $6,000 deductible — and, even when coverage does kick in, it only pays for half their health care costs.

“So we send our kids to the doctor,” Laura told MintPress. But she and her husband “do not go.”

When her oldest son went off to college four years ago, he was fortunate enough to receive scholarships that paid about half of the $50,000 annual bill, leaving Laura and her husband to foot the rest.

Her youngest son starts college in the fall, and they are looking at adding possibly another $60,000 in annual expenses.

“Most of our woes came from the economic crash of 2008,” she said, when her husband lost his job in publishing.

“We just never recovered.”

Only creditors have. Since onerous debts triggered the 2008 meltdown, households, businesses and governments have merely borrowed 43.8 trillion more dollars, Sonja Gibbs, Senior Director of Global Capital Markets for the Institute for International Finance, told MintPress.

Happy Days Are Here Again-For Whom?

The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have joined President Trump in his State of the Union Speech in cuing up “Happy Days are Here Again” because their high-rolling advertisers and constituents are heavily invested in restoring consumer confidence — if not income levels — and encouraging more shopping sprees to grease the wheels of a dried-up demand economy.

The contradiction is that the mainstream media have consistently been a cheerleader of the very policies that have robbed American consumers of their buying power.

Despite their proclamations to the contrary, the country has never recovered from the financial ruin of 2008 that was triggered by the collapse of an overpriced real estate market.

It is true, as the Obama Administration claimed, that many banks had become “too big to fail,” although he failed to mention that that development was the result of laissez-faire government enforcement of antitrust and anti-monopoly regulations.

But rather than force banks to accept a “haircut” or write down the loans on their balance sheets to help jumpstart consumer spending, Obama’s Treasury department did just the opposite — effectively pouring gasoline on a fire by loaning the banks billions in low-interest loans to re-inflate the asset bubble that popped in 2008.

The result is the best-of-times, worst-of-times quality that characterizes the relationship between the country’s wealthiest 1 percent and everyone else, with stock market indexes — and poverty rates — at or near historic highs.

The Plutocrats Rearrange The Financial Universe

What’s important to note is that the dispossession of workers in the U.S. is a man-made catastrophe, and is the culmination of the plutocrats’ concerted 45-year effort to undo the stagflation crisis of 1973, and, if possible, ensure that it never happened again.

At the heart of the crisis was inflation, caused by pay hikes for the U.S. workforce, that was running as high as nine percent year-over-year at that time.

Workers, generally, don’t mind moderate levels of inflation because they have more cash in their pockets — and indeed, poverty levels in 1973 were at an all-time low.

Conversely, creditors consider inflation a type of financial fraud in which they loan a borrower $100 but get only $95 back.

“It is clear to me,” David Rockefeller wrote in 1971 to his fellow Chase Manhattan board members, “that the entire structure of our society is being challenged.”

As many labor historians — most notably, Kim Phillips-Fein – have documented, today’s savage inequalities are rooted in that epoch when labor unions were strong, factories were humming, oil prices high, and wages were causing inflation to climb.

Over a period of 40 years, capitalists like Rockefeller, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have completely rearranged the financial universe, all but eradicating inflation, which hasn’t increased by more than 3 percent annually in nearly 30 years.

But, as theorists as diverse as Hegel and Luxemburg have noted, this reversal of fortune is a case of Wall Street biting its nose to spite its face.

As the Marxist economist Richard Wolff notes in describing Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, an employer reflexively moves to pay his workers as little as possible, and yet his prosperity is wholly dependent on workers earning enough money to buy his products and services.

With workers’ buying-power in decline, big business has had to resort to smoke-and-mirrors to generate profits.

Stock prices for companies such as Apple, for example, aren’t skyrocketing because of robust sales, but because the company is borrowing money at low-interest rates to repurchase its own stock and drive up the price.

One Great Economic House Of Cards

In his latest book, The End of Normal, University of Texas Economics Professor James Galbraith — the son of the great Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galbraith — asserts that the 2008 crisis wasn’t just part of a normal macroeconomic cycle but the culmination of a political economy that lost its way beginning in the 1980s. Galbraith told MarketWatch last month:

I think there are really major changes in the structure of the economy going forward.

The share of business investment has been quite low, share of construction has been very low, and that means the economy is being driven increasingly by the consumer.

The consumer is dependent upon the access to debt, auto loans, consumer loans and student loans.

Those things will build up over time until such time as there is a crack and households decide that they no longer wish to access the credit — at which point this phase of the expansion will end.”

It might, in fact, be time to ask the New York Times the question that a reporter for Fortune Magazine, Bethany McClean asked Enron’s Chief Financial Officer in March of 2001.

Suspecting that the now-discredited energy-services firm was cooking its books, McClean — according to the 2005 documentary on Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room — asked the chief financial officer in a telephone call a question he could not answer, setting in motion a chain of events that revealed that the whole enterprise was a house of cards:

“How exactly does Enron make its money?”

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via Why Fear and Self-hatred Destroy Human Sharing and Solidarity

Why Fear and Self-hatred Destroy Human Sharing and Solidarity Posted By Luther Blissett – Photo by Adam Dean – By Robert J. Burrowes 01/31/18 [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/01/31/why-fear-and-self-hatred-destroy-human-sharing-and-solidarity/]

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence.

He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981.

He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’

His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

His Resource Websites:

Nonviolence Charter: http://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com/
Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth: http://tinyurl.com/flametree
‘Why Violence?’: http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence
Feelings First: https://feelingsfirstblog.wordpress.com/%E2%80%9C
Nonviolent Campaign Strategy: https://nonviolentstrategy.wordpress.com/
Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy: https://nonviolentliberationstrategy.wordpress.com/
Anita: Songs of Nonviolence: http://anitamckone.wordpress.com/
Robert Burrowes: http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com/
Global Nonviolence Network: https://globalnonviolencenetwork.wordpress.com/

As our world spirals deeper into an abyss from which it is becoming increasingly difficult to extricate ourselves, some very prominent activists have lamented the lack of human solidarity in the face of the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya.

See ‘The Rohingya tragedy shows human solidarity is a lie’ and ‘Wrongs of rights activism around Rohingyas’.

While I share the genuine concern of the Yemeni Nobel peace laureate Tawakkol Karman and Burmese dissident and scholar Dr Maung Zarni, and have offered my own way forward for responding powerfully to the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya – see ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat Genocide’ – in my view the lack of solidarity they mention is utterly pervasive and readily evident in our lacklustre official and personal responses to the many ongoing crises in which humanity finds itself.

To mention just the most obvious: Every day governments spend $US2 billion on weapons and warfare while a billion people lack the basic resources to live a decent life (and more than 100,000 of these people starve to death).

Every day millions of people live under dictatorship, occupation or suffer the impacts of military invasion. Every day another 28,800 people are forcibly displaced from their home.

Every day another 200 species of life are driven to extinction.

And every day our biosphere is driven one step closer to making human life (and perhaps all life) on Earth impossible.

See ‘Killing the Biosphere to Fast-track Human Extinction’.

It is not as if any of this information is unavailable.

Just as many people and major international organizations are well aware of the plight of the Rohingya, it is also the case that many people and these organizations are well aware of the state of our world in other respects.

And still virtually nothing meaningful happens (although there are tokenistic responses to some of these crises).

Hence, it is a straightforward observation that human solidarity is notably absent in virtually any attempt to tackle the major issues of our time.

And the Rohingya are just one manifestation of this problem.

Given that I have long observed this phenomenon both personally and politically, and it concerns me as well, I would like to explain psychologically why the lack of sharing and solidarity is such a pervasive problem and suggest what we can do about it.

In order to feel concern for those who are suffering, and to want to act in solidarity to alleviate their suffering, it is necessary to experience certain feelings such as sympathy, empathy, compassion, love and (personal) power.

Moreover, it is necessary that these feelings are not suppressed or overwhelmed by fear and, equally importantly, not overwhelmed by a feeling of (unconscious) self-hatred.

If someone is scared and full of unconscious self-hatred, then they can have little interest in sharing their own resources or acting in solidarity with those who need help.

And this applies whether the adversely impacted individual is a close relative or friend, or someone on the other side of the world.

So why is fear in this context so important? Simply because fear grotesquely distorts perception and behaviour.

Let me explain why and how.

If an individual is (consciously or unconsciously) frightened that one or more of their vital needs will not be met, they will be unable to share resources or to act in solidarity with others, whatever the circumstances.

In virtually all cases where an individual experiences this fear, the needs that the individual fears will not be met are emotional ones (including the needs for listening, understanding and love).

However, the fearful individual is never aware of these deep emotional needs and of the functional ways of having these needs met which, admittedly, is not easy to do given that listening, understanding and love are not readily available from others who have themselves been denied these needs.

Moreover, because the emotional needs are ‘hidden’ from the individual, the individual (particularly one who lives in a materialist culture) often projects that the need they want met is, in fact, a material need.

This projection occurs because children who are crying, angry or frightened are often scared into not expressing their feelings and offered material items – such as a toy or food – to distract them instead.

The distractive items become addictive drugs.

This is why most violence is overtly directed at gaining control of material, rather than emotional, resources.

The material resource becomes a dysfunctional and quite inadequate replacement for satisfaction of the emotional need.

And, because the material resource cannot ‘work’ to meet an emotional need, the individual is most likely to keep using direct and/or structural violence to gain control of more material resources in an unconscious and utterly futile attempt to meet unidentified emotional needs.

This is the reason why people such as the Rothschild family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, the Walton family and the Koch brothers as well as the world’s other billionaires and millionaires seek material wealth, and are willing to do so by taking advantage of structures of exploitation held in place by the US military.

They are certainly wealthy in the material sense; unfortunately, they are utterly terrified (and full of self-hatred) and each of them justly deserves the appellation ‘poor little rich boy’ (or girl).

If this was not the case, their conscience, their compassion, their empathy, their sympathy and, indeed, their love would compel them to use or disperse their wealth in ways that would alleviate world poverty and nurture restoration of the ancient, just and ecologically sustainable economy: local self-reliance.

See ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.

Of course, it is not just the billionaires and millionaires of the corporate elite who have suffered this fate.

Those intellectuals in universities and think tanks who accept payment to ‘justify’ (or simply participate in without question) the worldwide system of violence and exploitation, those politicians, bureaucrats and ordinary businesspeople who accept payment to manage it, those judges and lawyers who accept payment to act as its legal (but immoral) guardians, those media editors and journalists who accept payment to obscure the truth, as well as the many middle and working class people who accept payment to perform other roles to defend it (such as those in the military, police, prison and education systems), are either emotionally void or just too frightened to resist violence and exploitation, in one or more of its many manifestations.

Moreover, governments that use military violence to gain control of material resources are simply governments composed of many individuals with this dysfunctionality, which is very common in industrialized countries that promote materialism.

Thus, cultures that unconsciously allow and encourage this dysfunctional projection (that an emotional need is met by material acquisition) are the most violent both domestically and internationally.

This also explains why industrialized (material) countries use military violence to maintain political and economic structures that allow ongoing exploitation of non-industrialized countries in Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

But, equally importantly, many ‘ordinary’ people are just too scared to share (more than a token of) what they have and to act in solidarity with those who suffer whether through military or other violence, exploitation, persecution, oppression or occupation.

Of course, it takes courage to resist this violent world order.

But underlying courage is a sense of responsibility towards one’s fellow beings (human and otherwise) and the future.

As noted above, however, fear is not the only problem. Two primary outcomes of fear are self-hatred and powerlessness.

Here is how it happens.

When each of us is a child, if our parents, teachers and/or the other adults around us are frightened by a feeling – such as sadness, anger or fear – that we are expressing, then they will use a variety of techniques to stop us expressing this feeling.

They might, for example, comfort us to stop us crying, scare us out of expressing our anger (particularly at them) and reassure us so that we do not feel afraid.

Tragically, however, responses such as these have the outcome of scaring us into unconsciously suppressing our awareness of how we feel when, of course, evolutionary pressures generated emotional responses (some pleasant, some less so) to events in our life in order to help guide us into behaving appropriately at any given moment.

And this suppression of how we feel is disastrous if we want children to grow up behaving functionally.

This is more fully explained in ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

So where does self-hatred fit into all of this? Well, if a child is angry in response to some violence to which they are being subjected (usually, of course, in an attempt to control their behavior), then they will attempt to defend themselves against this violence in an effort to persevere with their original intention.

However, if the child is then terrorized into submission by a parent or other adult (by being threatened with or experiencing some form of violence, often given the inaccurate label of ‘punishment’) the child will be compelled to unconsciously suppress their awareness of the original feelings, including anger, that were generating their behavior.

Unfortunately, there is a heavy cost to this suppression because each child is genetically programmed to follow their own self-will (manifesting through such mental functions as thoughts, feelings and conscience) rather than to obey the will of another (whether it be parent, teacher, religious figure or anyone else).

Hence, if a child is successfully terrorized into not behaving in accordance with their own self-will, they will experience a strong feeling of self-hatred precisely because they have submitted, out of fear, to the will of another.

Conscious self-hatred is an intensely unpleasant feeling to experience, however, and because the child is systematically terrorized out of expressing and acting on most of their feelings (which is why 100% of children go to school wherever school is available and compulsory: children are not given freedom of choice) the feeling of self-hatred is suppressed along with these many other feelings.

Having learned to do this, subsequent opportunities for this self-hatred to be felt are progressively more easily suppressed.

An unconscious feeling does not ‘go away’ however; it is unconsciously projected elsewhere.

Suppressed self-hatred is always unconsciously projected as hatred of someone else, some other group (usually of another sex, race, religion or class) and/or something else, often in imitation of the violent parent/adult (because imitation will be given ‘permission’ by the violent parent/adult).

And this inevitably leads to destructive behaviors towards that individual, group and/or the ‘something else’ (including the Earth’s environment).

But, and this is important to recognize, this destructive behaviour might simply manifest as inaction: doing nothing in response to someone else’s (or the Earth’s) obvious need.

So the unconscious fear and self-hatred are projected as fear of and hatred for living beings as well as the Earth, and manifests as behavior that is destructive, often by inaction, of themselves, others and the planet.

The tragic reality is that it takes very little violence to terrorize a child and this is why a substantial proportion of the human population is consumed by their own fear and self-hatred, and feels powerless as a result.

Consider the people immediately around you: many spend most of their time, consciously or unconsciously, abusing themselves, others and/or the environment, and doing nothing in response to the plight of our world.

So what can we do?

Given existing parenting practice, fear and self-hatred are not easily avoided although they are not necessarily all-consuming.

But to be free of them completely requires just one thing: the fearlessness to love oneself truly. What does this mean?

To love yourself truly, you must always courageously act out your own self-will, whatever the consequences.

This requires you to feel all of your emotional responses – fear, sadness, anger, pain, joy, love … – to events, including impediments, in your life. See ‘Feelings First’.

It is only when you do this that you can behave with awareness: a synthesis of all of the feedback that your various mental functions give you and the judgments that arise, in an integrated way, from this feedback. See ‘Human Intelligence or Human Awareness?’

At first glance loving yourself and acting out your own self-will might sound selfish.

But it is not.

Self-love is true love.

The individual who does not truly love themselves cannot love another.

Nor will they feel such emotional responses as compassion, empathy and sympathy.

Hence, this individual will not seek mutually beneficial outcomes in tackling conflict, will not seek distributive justice in resource allocation, will not value ecological sustainability and will not act in solidarity with those who are suffering.

It is this individual, who is terrified, self-hating and powerless, who will act selfishly.

In addition to courageously acting out your own self-will, you might also consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

And if you love yourself enough to be part of the struggle to end the violence and exploitation of those who are full of fear and self-hatred, you might like to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and/or using sound nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

Those who are terrified and self-hating never will.

via Financial Tyranny: ‘We the People’ Are the New Permanent Underclass in America

Posted By Luther Blissett 01/22/18 [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/01/22/financial-tyranny-we-the-people-are-the-new-permanent-underclass-in-america/]

By John W. Whitehead-The Rutherford Institute

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, French Economist

Americans can no longer afford to get sick and there’s a reason why.

That’s because a growing number of Americans are struggling to stretch their dollars far enough to pay their bills, get out of debt and ensure that if and when an illness arises, it doesn’t bankrupt them. [https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/medical-bills/530679/]

This is a reality that no amount of partisan political bickering can deny.

Many Americans can no longer afford health insurance, drug costs or hospital bills.

They can’t afford to pay rising healthcare premiums, out-of-pocket deductibles and prescription drug bills.

They can’t afford to live, and now they can’t afford to get sick or die, either.
[https://www.thenation.com/article/the-devastating-process-of-dying-in-america-without-insurance/]

To be clear, my definition of “affordable healthcare” is different from the government’s.

To the government, you can “afford” to pay for healthcare if your income falls above the poverty line.
That takes no account of rising taxes, the cost of living, the cost to clothe and feed a household, the cost of transportation and communication and education, or any of the other line items that add up to a life worth living.

As Helaine Olen points out in The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/medical-bills/530679/]:

“Just because a person is insured, it doesn’t mean he or she can actually afford their doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical bills. The point of insurance is to protect patients’ finances from the costs of everything from hospitalizations to prescription drugs, but out-of-pocket spending for people even with employer-provided health insurance has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010.”

For too many Americans, achieving any kind of quality of life has become a choice between putting food on the table and paying one’s bills or health care coverage.
It’s a gamble any way you look at it, and the medical community is not helping.

Healthcare costs are rising, driven by a medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industry that are getting rich off the sick and dying.
[https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/us/health-insurance-affordable-care-act.html]

Indeed, Americans currently pay $3.4 trillion a year for medical care.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/heres-how-much-the-average-american-spends-on-health-care.html]

We spent more than $10,000 per person on health care in 2016.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/heres-how-much-the-average-american-spends-on-health-care.html]

Those attempting to shop for health insurance coverage right now are understandably experiencing sticker shock with premiums set to rise 34% in 2018.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/25/most-popular-obamacare-plans-cost-average-of-34-percent-more-for-2018.html]

It’s estimated that costs may rise as high as $15,000 by 2023.

As Bloomberg reports [https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-19/rising-health-insurance-costs-blunt-employees-paycheck-gains]:

“Rising health-care costs are eating up the wage gains won by American workers, who are being asked by their employers to pick up more of the heftier tab… The cost of buying health coverage at work has increased faster than wages and inflation for years, pressuring household budgets.”

Appallingly, Americans spend more than any developed country on healthcare and have less to show for it.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/08/us-health-care-spending-is-high-results-arenot-so-good.html]

We don’t live as long, we have higher infant mortality rates, we have fewer hospital and physician visits, and the quality of our healthcare is generally worse.

We also pay astronomical amounts for prescription drugs, compared to other countries.

Whether or not you’re insured through an employer, the healthcare marketplace, a government-subsidized program such as Medicare or Medicaid, or have no health coverage whatsoever, it’s still “we the consumers” who have to pay to subsidize the bill whenever anyone gets sick in this country.

And that bill is a whopper.

While Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) may have made health insurance more accessible to greater numbers of individuals, it has failed to make healthcare any more affordable.

Why?

As journalist Laurie Meisler concludes: “One big reason U.S. health care costs are so high: pharmaceutical spending. The U.S. spends more per capita on prescription medicines and over-the-counter products than any other country.” [https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-health-care-spending/]

One investigative journalist spent seven months analyzing hundreds of bills from hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical equipment manufacturers.

His findings confirmed what we’ve known all along: health care in America is just another way of making corporations rich at consumer expense. [https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/wildly-overinflated-hospital-costs/]

An examination of an itemized hospital bill (only available upon request) revealed an amazing amount of price gouging. [https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/wildly-overinflated-hospital-costs/]

Tylenol, which you can buy for less than $10 for a bottle, was charged to the patient at a rate of $15 per pill, for a total of $345 for a hospital stay.

$8 for a plastic bag to hold the patient’s personal items and another $8 for a box of Kleenex.

$23 for a single alcohol swab.

$53 per pair for non-sterile gloves (adding up to $5,141 for the entire hospital stay).

$10 for plastic cup in which to take one’s medicine.

$93 for the use of an overhead light during a surgical procedure.

$39 each time you want to hold your newborn baby.
[http://mbamedical.com/10-rediculously-overpriced-hospital-charges/]

And $800 for a sterile water IV bag that costs about a dollar to make.

This is clearly not a problem that can be remedied by partisan politics.

The so-called Affordable Care Act pushed through by the Obama administration is proving to be anything but affordable for anyone over the poverty line. [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/09/feds-obamacare-site-does-biggest-business-yet-while-half-people-can-pay-0/847903001/]

And the Trump administration’s “fixes” promise to be no better.

Indeed, for too many Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle just to get by, the tax penalty for not having health insurance will actually be cheaper than trying to find affordable coverage that actually pays for care. [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/27/us/obamacare-affordable-care-act-tax-penalties.html]

This is how the middle classes, who fuel the nation’s economy and fund the government’s programs, get screwed repeatedly.

When almost 60% of Americans are so financially strapped that they don’t have even $500 in savings [http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/12/pf/americans-lack-of-savings/index.html] and nothing whatsoever put away for retirement, and yet they are being forced to pay for government programs that do little to enhance their lives, we’re not living the American dream. [https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/13/heres-how-many-americans-have-nothing-at-all-saved-for-retirement.html]

We’re living a financial nightmare.

We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

We have no real say, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

George Harrison, who died 16 years ago this month, summed up this outrageous state of affairs in his song Taxman:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

In other words, in the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than indentured servants and sources of revenue.

If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

Consider:

The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.

Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.

And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

It wasn’t always this way, of course.

Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property. [https://fee.org/articles/john-locke-natural-rights-to-life-liberty-and-property/]

It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War.

As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/yourtaxes/irwin-schiff-fervent-opponent-of-federal-income-taxes-dies-at-87.html]

Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894.

Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived.

Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.

On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. [https://www.npr.org/2010/12/08/131913228/A-History-Of-Income-Tax]

Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.

It’s all gone downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.
[http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/09/business/supreme-court-ruling-supports-tax-protester.html]

Irwin A. Schiff was one of the nation’s most vocal tax protesters.

He spent a good portion of his life arguing that the income tax was unconstitutional.

He paid the price for his resistance, too:

Schiff served three separate prison terms (more than 10 years in all) over his refusal to pay taxes.

He died at the age of 87 serving a 14-year prison term.

As constitutional activist Robert L. Schulz noted in Schiff’s obituary [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/yourtaxes/irwin-schiff-fervent-opponent-of-federal-income-taxes-dies-at-87.html]:

“In a society where there is so much fear of government, and in particular of the I.R.S., [Schiff] was probably the most influential educator regarding the illegal and unconstitutional operation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s very hard to speak to power, but he did, and he paid a very heavy price.”

It’s still hard to speak to power, and those who do are still paying a very heavy price.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

The national debt is $20 trillion and growing.
[http://www.usdebtclock.org/]

The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross national product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). [http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/17/5-facts-about-the-national-debt-what-you-should-know/]

We’re paying more than $270 billion just in interest on that debt annually. [http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/17/5-facts-about-the-national-debt-what-you-should-know/]

And the top two foreign countries who “own” our debt are China and Japan.

To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds.

As The Atlantic reports: [https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/cost-wars-iraq-afghanistan/499007/]:

“For 15 years now, the United States has been putting these wars on a credit card… U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.

Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.

While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the police state is spending our hard-earned tax dollars to further entrench its powers and entrap its citizens.

For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” [http://www.newsweek.com/how-many-trillions-war-has-cost-us-taxpayer-911-attacks-705041]

That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries.

Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire.

That price tag keeps growing, too. [http://www.futurity.org/post-911-costs-of-war-1602682/]

The 16-year war in Afghanistan, which now stands as the longest [http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/21/news/economy/war-costs-afghanistan/index.html]and one of the most expensive [https://theconversation.com/iraq-and-afghanistan-the-us-6-trillion-bill-for-americas-longest-war-is-unpaid-78241]wars in U.S. history, is about to get even longer and more costly, thanks to President Trump’s promise to send more troops over. [https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/19/16227730/trump-afghanistan-3000-troops-mattis]

In this way, the military industrial complex will get even richer, and the American taxpayer will be forced to shell out even more funds for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech:
[http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/ike_chance_for_peace.html]:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.
[http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/ike_chance_for_peace.html]

Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

This is still no way of life.

Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.

We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.

Are you getting the picture yet?

The government isn’t taking our money to make our lives better.

Just take a look at the nation’s failing infrastructure, and you’ll see how little is being spent on programs that advance the common good.

We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.

This is nothing less than financial tyranny.

“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.

There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.

We’ve become so invested in identity politics that label us based on our political leanings that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the powers-that-be want to pit us against one another. [https://www.amazon.com/Battlefield-America-War-American-People/dp/1590793099]

They want us to adopt an “us versus them” mindset that keeps us powerless and divided.

Trust me, the only “us versus them” that matters anymore is “we the people” against the police state.
We’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution starts with those three powerful words:

“We the people.”
The message is this: there is power in our numbers.

That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace.

It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might).

As Patrick Henry declared in the last speech before his death:

“United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions … or … exhaust [our strength] in civil commotions and intestine wars.”

This holds true whether you’re talking about health care, war spending, or the American police state.

Americans Can’t Afford The Future: The Rothschilds

PoliticalVelCraft – Sept 19, 2015 Edited With Link-Throughs By Ric A Ohge/Rex Dexter

Photo: Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin, Boy building a House of Cards , 1735; Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (Rothschild Family Trusts). 

This glossy propagandist piece about the Rothschilds which is carefully crafted to illicit empathy for this family who were once, according to the documentary, considered to be little more than “nouveau riche Jews”, the ultimate outsiders in British high society.

British Landmark Case ~ Rothschild Zionism Is Not Abrahamic Judaism aka; Jew!!(http://politicalvelcraft.org/2013/04/09/breaking-cnn-goldman-sachs-the-rothschild-zionist-matrix-landmark-case-rothschildism-delineated-from-abrahamic-judaism/)

It’s called ‘The Aristocrats‘. 

Link: https://youtu.be/b0su39y7QOM

Produced by Channel 4 in the UK, the documentary is described this way, ‘The Rothschilds are the most famous family in the world, known for being enormously wealthy and enormously private, fueling endless speculation about the real extent of their power.”

The first five minutes alone are worth every second of your time. In the first few minutes you will find the following sentence:

“Far away from public view, the famously discreet Billionaire is hosting a private party to celebrate an art world coup. In 2007 he paid 5 million pounds for Jean Chardin’s subtle masterpiece “Boy With a House of Cards”.

The actual name of the Chardin painting is “Boy Building a House of Cards“. 

If you are fully awake, you must find such information about one of the world’s richest Bankers very telling, and very amusing. 

Jacob Rothschild bought the painting just one year prior to the 2008 economic crisis.

At 14 minutes and 40 seconds into this documentary Jacob says,

“We saw clearly in 2008, of course the world’s financial system was coming to an end, and we saw that coming.” 

Hard cut. 

Channel 4 won’t allow you to hear the rest of what Jacob had to say about that.

At 4:38, there’s this absolute gem:

“His guests at Waddesdon are not confined to the nobility and the newly rich. Royalty and Presidents also come here. Each time planting a tree in commemoration. Their spades left gleaming in the corridor leading to the visitor lavoratories.”

Honestly, this is priceless. 

The shovels that Kings, Queens and Presidents used to dig holes on the Rothschild estate are left on display in the hallway… leading to the visitor toilets. 

Video Link : https://youtu.be/I65LfGNo1A8  Are you starting to get the picture?

And one last thing, as you watch Jacob spend tens, and perhaps hundreds of millions of pounds on sculptures, art installations and new buildings in which to display it all, the premise here that he is worth a mere $550 million pounds becomes utterly laughable.~SGT: http://sgtreport.com/2015/09/the-aristocrats-the-rothschilds/      

The Rothschilds, worth $500 trillion own Reuters, AP, and fix the price of gold: http://www.truthersonly.com/2013/07/07/the-most-powerful-family-on-earth-the-rothschilds/

Americans Can’t Afford the Future: ~ Forced Tithing To Rothschild’s Federal Reserve Company!

1913 Rothschild Federal Reserve ~ A Non Federal Entity Illegally Written Into Acceptance By Rothschild Soldier Woodrow Wilson.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/jiBeMKFMeC0

Rehypothecation is widely used by prime brokers involved in the collateralisation of derivatives (http://www.icmagroup.org/Regulatory-Policy-and-Market-Practice/short-term-markets/Repo-Markets/frequently-asked-questions-on-repo/10-what-is-rehypothecation-of-collateral/) transactions with hedge funds.

The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, and the Swiss National Bank announce swap arrangements

Americans Forced Down By $Trillions Of Newly Printed Dollars ~ Must Be Paid Back With Interest!

The American spirit is rooted in the belief of a better tomorrow. Its success has been due to generations of men and women who toiled, through both hardship and boom times, to make that dream a reality.

Gov. Mitch Daniels: U.S. Debt Is Accumulating At A Terrifying Rate: Obama Prints $110 Billion Each Month! (http://wp.me/psXSG-fwa)

SMOTHERING AMERICA WITH CENTURIES OF UNPAID PRINTED DOLLARS!

But at some point over the past several decades, that hope for a better tomorrow became an expectation. 

Or perhaps a perceived entitlement is more accurate.

It became assumed that the future would be more prosperous than today, irrespective of the actual steps being taken in the here and now.

And for a prolonged time – characterized by plentiful and cheap energy, accelerating globalization, technical innovation, and the financialization of the economy – it seemed like this assumption was a certain bet.

But these wonderful tailwinds that America has been enjoying for so many decades are sputtering out. 

The forces of resource scarcity, debt saturation, price inflation, and physical limits will impact our way of life dramatically more going forward than living generations have experienced to date. (http://www.peakprosperity.com/insider/80883/real-reason-economy-broken-and-will-stay-way)

And Americans, who had the luxury of abandoning savings and sacrifice for consumerism and credit financing, are on a collision course with that reality. 

Like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable, they have partied away the fair seasons and winter is now on the way, which they are not prepared for.

The prudent thing to do here would be to have an honest, adult-sized conversation with ourselves about our level of (un)readiness and how best to use the resources and time we have left while the system still works more or less the way we’re used to.

There are certainly strategies and steps we can take in the here and now to best match priorities to needs, and meet the future as prepared as possible.

But you won’t find this discussion in the national media. 

Our politicians insist on charting a course of more of the same, no matter how unsustainable, adamant not to touch any political third rails – for fear of not pleasing the electorate and/or donors.

Major media outlets have abandoned the investigative journalism that once held the mirror of truth up to power, and instead, run superficial puff pieces that conclude with platitudes – for fear of not offending viewers and/or sponsors. 

The message is clear: 

The future will be better as soon as economic growth returns. 

Or oil prices come down. 

Or the iPhone 6 comes out. 

Or whatever the magic bullet du jour.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/qac5Myz16Go

The Comex aka; Crimex Is One Big Lie: Precious Metals: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2015/09/16/the-comex-aka-crimex-is-one-big-lie-precious-metals/

So it’s up to the concerned and critical-thinking among us to look at the math, the hard data underlying the headlines, and construct what we can best calculate to be true.

And the truth is: 

The three adult generations in the U.S. are suffering, and their burdens are likely to increase with time. 

Each is experiencing a squeeze that is making it harder to create value, save capital, and pursue happiness than at any point since WWII.

At that point, we were a creditor nation with an economy exploding into dominance on the world stage. 

Now, however, the U.S. is the largest debtor nation and our economic hegemony is increasingly at siege across a number of fronts.

Obama Throws 883,949 War Veterans Under The Bus! (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2013/03/13/obama-throws-war-veterans-under-the-bus-883949-disability-claims-sabotaged/)

A continuation of the status quo is a decision to sleepwalk face-first into the constraints hurtling towards us.

Instead, shouldn’t we stop fooling ourselves and ask:

What should we be doing differently?

Federal Reserve Notes

We’ll address that after we walk through the numbers.

Bankers’ New Clothes: The Bullet Or The Bribe! (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2014/06/16/bankers-new-clothes-the-bullet-or-the-bribe/)

Rothschild’s Federal Reserve Printed Fiat Dollars 4Xs The Value Of The Global Gold Supply In 2013 Alone! (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2014/11/08/rothschilds-federal-reserve-printed-fiat-dollars-4xs-the-value-of-the-global-gold-supply-in-2013-alone/)

Seniors Woefully Unprepared for Retirement

In the late 1970s, the 401k emerged as a new retirement vehicle. 

Among its touted benefits was the ability of the individual to save as much as s/he thought prudent for his/her financial future. 

Companies loved the new private savings plans because they gave them a way out of putting aside mandatory savings for worker pensions. 

For a long time, everyone thought this was a big step forward.

Three decades later, what we’re realizing is that this shift from dedicated-contribution pension plans to voluntary private savings was a grand experiment with no assurances. 

Corporations definitely benefited, as they could redeploy capital to expansion or bottom line profits.

But employees? 

The data certainly seems to show that the experiment did not take human nature into account enough – specifically, the fact that just because people have the option to save money for later use doesn’t mean that they actually will.

First off, not every American worker (by far) is offered a 401k or similar retirement plan through work. 

But of those that are, 21% choose not to participate (source: http://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IB_12-16.pdf).

As a result, 1 in 4 of those aged 45-64 and 22% of those 65+ have $0 in retirement savings (source: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/mid/1508/articleId/684/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/Default.aspx). 

Forty-nine percent of American adults of all ages aren’t saving anything for retirement: http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/10/retirement/saving-retire/index.htm

Of those with retirement savings, the numbers are not good. 

Over half of US retirees have less than $25,000 in savings: http://www.deptofnumbers.com/blog/2011/03/how-much-have-americans-saved-for-retirement/

Most planners advise saving enough before retirement to maintain annual living expenses at about 70-80% of what they were during one’s income-earning years.

Medicare out-of-pocket costs alone are expected to be between $240,000 and $430,000 over retirement for a 65-year-old couple retiring today. (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-smarter-mutual-fund-investor/2012/09/24/will-health-care-hurt-boomers-retirement)

The gap between retirement savings and living costs in one’s later years is pretty staggering:

1. As the table above shows, nearly 83% of retired households have less saved than Medicare costs alone will consume.

One-third of retired households are entirely dependent on Social Security. 

2. On average, that’s only $1,230 per month – a hard income to live on. 

3. 34 percent of older Americans depend on credit cards to pay for basic living expenses such as mortgage payments, groceries, and utilities: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/security/2013/older-americans-and-credit-card-debt-summary-AARP-ppi-sec.pdf

As for Medicare, the out-of-pocket costs could easily soar over retirement. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the current estimate of Medicare’s unfunded liability now tops $42 Trillion: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323494504578340181878017820.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Such a mind-boggling gap makes it highly likely that current retirees will not receive all of the entitlements they are being promised.

And the denial being shown by baby boomers entering retirement is frightening. 

Many simply plan to work longer before retiring, with a growing percentage saying they plan to work “forever”.

But the data shows that declining health gives older Americans no choice but to leave the work force eventually, whether they want to or not. 

Years of surveys by the Employment Benefit Research Institute show that fully half of current retirees had to leave the work force sooner than desired due to health problems, disability, or layoffs: http://www.ebri.org/pdf/surveys/rcs/2012/EBRI_IB_03-2012_No369_RCS.pdf

Add to this the nefarious impact of the Federal Reserve’s prolonged 0% interest rate policy, which makes it extremely hard for retirees with fixed-income investments to generate a meaningful income from them.

The number of Americans aged 65 years and older is projected to more than double in the next 40 years:

Will the remaining body of active workers be able to support this tsunami of underfunded seniors? 

Don’t bet on it.

Taxes and Inflation Are Sucking Productive Workers Dry

To borrow from another fable, U.S. policy is doing its best to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. 

Bottlenecked between retirees and the younger “millennial” generation is the current “productive peak” working class. 

As government, mired in debt and budget deficits, grows desperate to boost tax receipts and keep interest rates on its debt manageable, it is increasingly both siphoning capital and stealing purchasing power from those generating income.

History shows that this cannot continue indefinitely. 

Eventually you exhaust the incentive for working and your productive class goes on strike.

How close are we to that breaking point? 

It’s not hard to find a litany of articles on the Internet these days warning that it’s coming soon:

Personal Incomes & the Decline of the American Saver: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-03-02/guest-post-personal-incomes-decline-american-saver

If we put all of this together we can see a picture of the average American.  

The chart below shows the annual change in personal incomes combined with the annual change in personal expenditures. 

What is clear is that consumption has been supported by rising transfer receipts (welfare) and a drop in the personal savings rate which is now at the lowest level since just prior to the last recession.

The consumer is clearly struggling to maintain their current standard of living and all indications are that they are going to lose this battle.

Consumer Spending Drought: 16 Signs That the Middle Class Is Running out of Money: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/consumer-spending-drought-16-signs-that-the-middle-class-is-running-out-of-money

Federal Debt Created By NWO Czars & Held For The U.S. Public To Pay: Totals $107,000 Per Household: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2015/09/14/federal-debt-created-by-nwo-czars-held-for-the-u-s-public-to-pay-totals-107000-per-household/

Is “discretionary income” rapidly becoming a thing of the past for most American families?  

Right now, there are a lot of signs that we are on the verge of a nightmarish consumer spending drought.  

Incomes are down, taxes are up, many large retail chains are deeply struggling because of the lack of customers, and at this point nearly a quarter of all Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank.

Considering the fact that consumer spending is such a large percentage of the U.S. economy, that is very bad news.  

How will we ever have a sustained economic recovery if consumers don’t have much money to spend?  

Well, the truth is that we aren’t ever going to have a sustained economic recovery.

In fact, this debt-fueled bubble of false hope that we are experiencing right now is as good as things are going to get. (http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/all-of-this-whining-and-crying-about-the-sequester-shows-why-america-is-doomed

Things are going to go downhill from here, and if you think that consumer spending is bad now, just wait until you see what happens over the next several years

Looking from a bird’s-eye view, real wages have been falling in the U.S. for decades. 

The below chart includes numbers based on the officially reported Consumer Price Index (or CPI, the methodology of which has been changed many times to make the output “kinder and gentler”), as well as those from ShadowStats, which applies a standardized and less fuzzy methodology to try to get to a truer picture.

You can see that according to ShadowStats (the dark blue line), real wages have been plummeting in recent years as the Federal Reserve has been running the money-printing machines at full tilt:

Make Sure You Bailout Your International Banks Through Exorbitant Taxation! (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2012/12/13/the-end-is-coming-unemployment-checks-to-end-on-january-1-2013-no-banker-bailout-austerity-just-people-austerity/)

Meanwhile, the cost of living has soared as the Fed’s liquidity has found its way into the commodities markets and driven prices of essentials higher:

So today’s worker is enjoying paying for substantially costlier goods with a materially devalued income – that is, if they are fortunate enough to have an income. 

Unemployment in the U.S. is still painfully high. 

Even the recently-celebrated declines are due to a jump in part time jobs as workers take on multiple jobs to simply get by. 

Full-time jobs are actually on the decline.

At the same time, in pursuit of greater efficiencies, U.S. corporations are investing more than ever in automation. 

Many of the less-skilled jobs lost during the Great Recession are simply not coming back, as human labor is increasingly replaced by robots and intelligent machines.

And yes, while the stock market is up nicely in the past year, the wealth gains from this are hyper-concentrated within the top 10% – really the top 1%, as this excellent video visualizes. (Warning: viewing this may make the blood boil.) 

The mean U.S. household currently only has about $50k in savings (and that average is skewed upwards by the super-rich). Video Link: https://youtu.be/QPKKQnijnsM

These workers have also been whipsawed over the past decade by several asset bubbles blown by central banks that have knee-capped their efforts to amass wealth. 

The S&P 500 stock index has just returned to price territory last seen in 2001 and 2007, and housing prices are only slowly beginning to rise again in the aftermath of the vicious correction begun in 2007. 

Sadly, it seems that new bubbles in stocks, bonds and housing are being inflated once again – sure to take a large swath of wealth from these workers when they burst.

Perhaps the arriving cohort of younger workers will be able to support their elders once they hit their peak earning years.  

We can hope.

But again, the prospects do not look encouraging.

Millennials at Risk of Becoming a Lost Generation

Pity the recent college graduate. 

The cost of higher education has been far outstripping inflation for years, largely due to that fact that most colleges have no exposure to their students’ ability to repay their loans. 

So universities actually have an incentive to continue to raise tuition and other fees as high as the market will possibly bear.

The average graduating student has a student loan balance of over $27,000 (not including credit-card or other types of debt that many students also have). 

This puts them into a hole early in their adult lives that delays their ability to create families, buy a first home, or start businesses.

This challenge to capital formation is compounded by the frighteningly high unemployment rate of approximately 12% for those under 30. 

Not only are companies still hiring conservatively, but given the factors mentioned above, younger workers find themselves competing with older ones for entry-level positions to an extent not seen in living memory.

It’s no wonder there’s a growing perception that going deep into debt for a college diploma isn’t a smart trade-off. 

A number of today’s graduates will be finally paying off their balances around the same time their own children are heading off to college.

And along with the joys of debt-serfdom, younger workers are realizing they can’t count on:

1. loyalty from the companies they work for

2. a national infrastructure that is the envy of the world

3. low oil prices

4. affordable healthcare

5. affordable home prices

6. easy access to credit

7. Social Security

True Cost Of Debt Ceiling Alone By ‘Too Big To Fail Bailout’ Scheme Went From $700 Billion To $12.8 Trillion: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2011/07/28/breaking-america-demands-nullification-on-the-2008-tarp-too-big-to-fail-bailout-true-cost-has-now-surreptitiously-soared-to-12-8-trillion-dollar-debt-all-behind-closed-doors/

U.S. Tax Payers Are Rothschild’s Federal Reserve “Derivatives”: They Print The Money & You Pay For It ~ Serfdom Especialite: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2011/07/31/u-s-tax-payers-are-rothschilds-federal-reserve-derivatives-they-print-the-money-you-pay-for-it-serfdom-especialite/

…and a number of other elements of the “American promise” that preceding generations were able to take for granted.

It’s no surprise that millions of young workers are giving up on searching for work: http://generationopportunity.org/press/millennial-jobs-report-youth-unemployment-at-12-5-percent-in-march/

Of course, the big danger for this generation’s members is that the longer they go without work experience, the less appealing they become to employers when hiring does begin to pick back up. 

Tomorrow’s new college graduates will be hired for entry-level positions, leaving many of today’s unskilled seekers “unemployable” – a lost generation.

Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves

In summary, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the current narrative of recovery being pushed by Wall Street and the mainstream media doesn’t make any sense. 

The American experience of rising standards of living and general prosperity have always rested upon a deep and healthy middle class. 

That middle class, by almost any available economic or financial measure, is steadily losing ground as a direct consequence of Fed and DC policies.

Under The Bus: E.U. Bank Pink Slips 10,000, Hewlett Packard 30,000, Deutsche Bank 23,000: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2015/09/15/under-the-bus-e-u-bank-pink-slips-10000-hewlett-packard-30000-deutsche-bank-23000/

By forcing the stock market higher, the Fed has simply made a small minority of the country better off  

By funneling endless amounts of free money to the biggest banks, the Fed has enriched the banking system. 

The Fed truly seems to believe that this is the right course of action: that a stable and profitable banking system coupled to rising stock prices will somehow generate the necessary confidence within the middle class required for them to once again go on a borrowing binge.

Because that’s what the system has devolved into, for better or worse: our economy is founded on credit and borrowing, not earnings and savings. 

The problem is, outside of the manufactured statistics of government and the manufactured stock prices of the Fed, the median family has far less earning power this year than last. 

And it knows in its heart of hearts that DC will tax more and return less as time goes on, and that job security no longer exists as corporations ruthlessly pursue bottom line results. 

Quite rationally, many families are realizing that’s not an appropriate environment for taking on more debt.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) questions Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke at the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Richard Clement (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) :rel:d:bm:GF2E62O1CSR01

States Need To Fire The America Bashing Federal Government & Forgive The Debt: Rothschild Federal Reserve Has Quintupled Since Obama! (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2012/10/29/states-need-to-fire-the-america-bashing-federal-government-forgive-the-debt-rothschild-federal-reserve-has-quintupled-since-obama/)

More profoundly, the big picture numbers just don’t add up. 

A nation that’s collectively in hock to the tune of 373% of GDP – not including entitlement liabilities  which launch that figure to more than 1000% – needs to seriously face the fact that it cannot make good on its current promises, let alone entertain making them larger. 

And yet here we are, with every outlet of the current power structure vigorously promoting that “all is well” while minimizing or completely ignoring those who would seek to open a dialog about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of ramming asset prices higher and supporting historically ruinous levels of deficit spending by printing money out of thin air.

Redefining Prosperity

As dire as the trends look, there is much that can be done to ameliorate their impact – and enter the future with grace and optimism – if as a society we have the courage to do it.

There’s no doubt that simply continuing along the status quo is a vote for digging ourselves deeper as the constraints of the future arrive. Behavior change is necessary in order to improve our chances.

At the core of the needed change is redefining prosperity. In modern society, it has largely come to be defined by material possessions, usually assuming that the more (and the more expensive), the better.

In the future, we’d do much better to define it by:

1. our health (both physical and emotional)

2. our purpose

3. our ability to meet our needs sustainably

4. our relationships

5. our level of happiness

All things that were once valued much higher in our culture.

It’s important to realize that when the cheap energy and associated cheap-credit era arrived, the work of all those energy and liquidity “slaves” allowed us to disassociate ourselves from centuries-old customs and live a much more isolated, materialistic life. 

While freeing in ways, perhaps, we are beginning to realize that those values and norms evolved for a reason. 

We’ll be on a journey of rediscovering their worth as we start trending back towards more historic baselines.

Greens work to still wind, darken solar power projects: http://www.cfact.org/2013/03/13/greens-work-to-still-wind-darken-solar-power-projects/?

China & Russia Know Where The Offices Are For The Banker’s NWO Who Usurped The U.S. System: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2015/09/04/china-russia-know-where-the-offices-are-for-the-bankers-nwo-who-usurped-the-u-s-system/

The good news is the list of prudent behavior to adopt is long, and it’s growing as we (here at PeakProsperity.com and related sites) work together to identify those with the most promise. 

This is by no means an exhaustive account, and I look forward to active discussion and additions in the Comments section below:

1. Live below your means  Rather than pride yourself on what you purchase, pride yourself on what you don’t. 

That doesn’t mean you must live miserly or live in poverty. Learn the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can afford the things you do buy, and the confidence that comes from growing your savings. (Frugality is the #1 quality that all self-made millionaires share)

2. Buy quality and maintain it  When you do purchase something, buy for utility and longevity. 

“Cry once” is a good motto: in other words, pay a premium if necessary to get what will meet your needs best over the longest time horizon (versus “crying often” and spending more $$ over the long run because you bought an inferior product that needed chronic repairs or replacement). Take good care of what you do buy to ensure it will be there as you need it when you need it.

3. Take control of your income – Avoid being a wage slave for your entire life. 

There are innumerable reasons why your situation with your employer can change faster and more drastically than you think. Cultivate an income you “own”, either full-time or on the side, so that you aren’t left 100% vulnerable to a sudden change in employment. (I realize this is easier said then done, but it is doable by just about everybody. We have a guide we’ll publish on this subject within the next few weeks.)

4. Cultivate resiliency – Invest in your skills, your homestead, your health, and your community. 

These will all serve you well as economic growth slows further due to reasons outlined in the Crash Course (http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse) and for the skeptics, these are solid investments no matter which way the economy turns. For those new to resiliency, our What Should I Do? Guide is a useful resource to start with: http://www.peakprosperity.com/page/what-should-i-do

5. Simplify  Learn that less is more. 

Fewer things to deal with frees you up to focus more on those that matter most. In addition to being a good philosophy to live by, it also reduces the number of things to pay for and the number of things to be taxed on. Both of which leave more money in your pocket.

Complimentary Intermission Video: https://youtu.be/bryMA3llGVI

6. Apprentice/mentor – Learn how to do important tasks yourself instead of becoming dependent on paying someone. 

If you can trade labor for learning, you may be able to avoid some or all of the excessive time and $ costs of academia. If you have expertise, pass it on to others around you. In this way, we create resiliency at the community level, improving the odds that an effective local support network is in place if ever needed.

7. Shop & invest locally  Keep capital inside your community to strengthen it and enable re-investment. 

So much is currently sent to multinational corporations and Wall Street banks  never to return  that even a small percentage redirection will make a big impact at the local level.

8. Prefer hard assets to paper ones – In a world of runaway central bank money printing, paper currencies (like the U.S. dollar) are not a smart option for storing wealth. 

Nor are dangerously inflated paper securities like stocks and bonds. If possible, purchase physical assets you can tangibly hold and store, like precious metals, and for the rest of your investments, find a financial advisor who has a strategy that takes hard assets and depleting resources into account. (We know a few, if you’re looking.)

9. Consider multi-generational living – The economics of the future may force this on us, and that may not be a bad thing. 

But it’s better to adopt this lifestyle by your own choice, on your own terms, if possible. We have moved so far away from this model of living, at great cost – both money-wise and socially. Knowledge transfer, chore sharing, child/elder care, emotional support, cost reduction, pooled purchasing power – there are many advantages to co-habitating with close family or friends.

10. Get and stay fit – The benefits of good health on quality of life, longevity, and net worth are just too numerous to ignore. 

The modern “sick care” industry over-focuses on treating what breaks. Instead, focus on achieving and maintaining wellness. Chris did it; you can, too.

11. Remembering When Rothschild Thug McCain Introduced Bill S 3002 to Kill Nutritional Supplement Access To American Citizens: http://politicalvelcraft.org/2012/10/03/rino-blockhead-mccain-take-supplements-or-herbs-not-for-long-if-mccain-has-his-way-mccain-bill-s-3002-to-kill-supplement-access/

12. Use your productive output as an alternative currency – Much can be acquired without $, in trade for your support or skills. 

Both goods and services. Learn to ask: What can I trade? before asking How much does it cost? You’ll save money while at the same time increasing your perceived value to those around you.

13. Monsanto GMO Claims Made For Children’s’ School Book Are Laughable: Bill Gates Applauds! (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2012/09/20/monsanto-gmo-claims-made-for-childrens-school-book-are-laughable/)

14. Pursue happiness – Learn that pleasure comes from relationships, from having purpose, from creation, and having new experiences. 

All of these can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways, and few require spending lots of money. If you manage to simplify your life (see above) and find pleasure in doing so, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy the future, whatever it brings.

15. Require awareness and accountability for the future – Hold your elected officials to the same standards you hold yourself. 

Vote accordingly. Participate in the democratic process. It may not work as well or as fast as we want, but boycotting will only guarantee us disappointment. In a nutshell, hope for the best but don’t plan on miracles.

WHAT SENATORS GOT PAID OFF TO SUPPORT S.510 – THE ‘FOOD AUSTERITY ACT’ (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2012/07/09/what-senators-got-paid-off-to-support-s-510-%e2%80%93-the-%e2%80%98food-austerity-act%e2%80%99/)

16. Trust yourself – Always rely on your own good sense and intuition about what makes sense for you and your family in your unique situation.  

Do consult with those who have insight and experience to share that will help you make the most informed choices you possibly can, but remember that your present and future are your own responsibility.  Do not ever fully relinquish this power to anyone else – not the government, not a family member, not a professional adviser, not even “the experts.” Always, always trust yourself first and foremost.

15. HAPPY THANKSGIVING: Saxby Chambliss R GA Received Highest Bribe Of $557,694 To Vote Yea S.150 ‘Food Austerity Act’ (http://politicalvelcraft.org/2010/11/24/happy-thanksgiving-saxby-chambliss-r-ga-received-highest-bribe-of-557694-to-vote-yea-s-150-food-austerity-act/)

There are other prudent behaviors to add to this list, but this is a pretty good start.

And a good start is what we need, as a country and a global community: to stop denying the reality around us and start getting on with how we want to deal with it.

Peak Prosperity: https://youtu.be/s_I4vx7gHPQ

http://politicalvelcraft.org/2015/09/19/americans-cant-afford-the-future-the-rothschilds/