Category Archives: Taxes

Greedy Texas Cities Rush To Extend Camera Contracts Ahead Of The State’s Red Light Camera Bans

Twelve years after first broaching the subject, the Texas legislature has finally killed red light cameras. This follows years of fraud, corruption, and contractual language negating prior ban attempts. The Newspaper reports on the good news, which unfortunately comes with some bad news. The supermajority vote means the bill can’t be vetoed by the governor, but some cities have managed to grandfather in their resident-screwing cameras.

The majority of red light camera programs in the Lone Star State will be shut down under legislation that cleared the Texas legislature on Friday. By a vote of 23 to 8, the state Senate approved the partial ban on automated ticketing that had sailed through the House with a vote of 109 to 34. Because it passed with supermajority support, the bill becomes law upon being signed by Governor Greg Abbott (R), who made getting rid of cameras part of his campaign platform.

Most, but not all, of 37 cities running red light cameras would lose the ability to approve $75 photo citations issued by private, for-profit companies. Cities that have clauses that allow for early termination of their photo ticketing contract in the event of adverse state legislation must pull the plug immediately. Cities that struck the escape clause in anticipation of the legislature’s move can continue using the cameras until the contract expires — many of the deals have been extended for twenty years or more.

Arlington is one the cities that has decided to screw its residents porn-style, going at them from multiple angles.

When the bill passed, city legislators unanimously voted to extend its contract with American Traffic Solutions from five years to twenty years. This move will give residents less protection from traffic cams’ perverse incentives than residents living elsewhere in the state. It also means they’ll be paying more tax dollars for this dubious privilege, as there will be no reason for ATS to maintain competitive pricing for the next couple of decades. Nor will it feel any pressure to improve its tech, which has performed poorly enough to result in millions of dollars of refunds.

The good news is these cities will have to deal with the state Attorney General if they want to continue utilizing traffic enforcement measures the state has banned. Tickets from red light cameras in the cities that opted for extended revenue generation rather than compliance with the law are going to have a hard time collecting on unpaid tickets. The law prohibits the DMV from blocking vehicle registrations and license renewals for unpaid tickets. The problem is drivers may not be aware of the ban and will continue to pay fines when they’re not legally required to.

Cities that have opted for further resident-screwing will face increased activism efforts that will fill the gaps in the Attorney General’s enforcement.

Jurisdictions that attempt to defy the legislature will have to take on state attorney general Ken Paxton, who is tasked by the bill with enforcing the shutdown. Byron Schirmbeck, state coordinator for Texas Campaign for Liberty, says his group will also hold cities to account.

“Fortunately the remaining camera sanctuary cities will no longer be able to block registrations for unpaid tickets making them completely optional,” Schirmbeck told TheNewspaper. “The cities that do have to shut down their programs are also not allowed to pursue outstanding tickets and all existing registration holds will be removed. We will consider petition efforts and an increased trash your ticket campaign to go after those that choose to operate camera programs after the ban.”

While it’s always tough to watch a revenue stream dry up, the fact is traffic cameras do little more than generate unearned revenue. They don’t make drivers safer or encourage better driving. But that was never the goal. Revenue generation was the endgame. Fortunately for most Texans, the state has realized this money is no longer worth pursuing.

Source: by Tim Cushing | Tech Dirt

Naked Money Grabs

The Unprofitably Incompetent, by Robert Gore

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Those who can’t do, demand.

Profit propels civilization. When a producer can make an item or provide a service at a cost lower than a customer values that item or service, and the customer has the means and the freedom to buy, the difference between what’s paid over cost is profit. That profit is the producer’s incentive to produce, and in turn funds the producer’s consumption, savings, and investment, which creates other producers’ profits. Profit is the necessary prerequisite for consumption, savings, investment, and consequently, progress.

Many of us profit every day. We offer services and provide goods, supporting ourselves at a cost that is lower than what we’re paid. We’re profitably competent, engaging in honest production and peaceful, voluntary exchange. The only alternatives to profitable competence are living off of someone else’s profitable competency via inheritance or charity, or criminality—theft via fraud or violence.

Criminals cloak their thefts in all sorts of justifications, some of which, like socialism, become full-blown political doctrines. Ironically, a larcenous litany of demands and rationalizations are efflorescing at a time when whatever is left of the overall profit pool has been drained. It has been mortgaged multiple times, just as hordes of the unprofitably incompetent, who had no hand in producing it, clamor for their “fair share.” They’ll insist the profitably competent figure out how to pay for it, but the fair share of nothing is nothing, political promises to the contrary notwithstanding.

“Your means, my ends; I wish, you fulfill,” is the foundational fantasy of modern governance. The favored groups shelter in their safe spaces—government and its rackets, crony corporations, academia, the media, and Hollywood—living on the delusion that there will always be someone who will produce, without question or protest, for their benefit. Upon that foundation they’ve constructed a phantasmagorical edifice of illusory constructs and passages to nowhere.

As the foundational fantasy totters, the fantasies it supports become more fantastical. The profit pool exhausted, you would think everything possible would be done to succor the profitably competent who are supposed to replenish it. Instead, that illustrious group is demonized at every turn, and the demands on them become ever more absurd. They are guilty because they’re productive, and must expiate their guilt by producing for the unproductive, whose incompetence makes them morally superior.

The most “toxic” trait often associated with masculinity may be competence. It’s not exclusively masculine, but whether its possessors are male or female it has certainly become toxic, depriving them of any right to what they produce and any right to criticize those who steal it from them. Twits who can’t replace a light bulb demand free schooling and medical care, guaranteed jobs and incomes, trips to Mars, and who knows what else. Those who are to fund it all are to cheerfully regard doing so as a privilege.

The notion of reparations won’t die. Anyone with money (the only people who can pay) supposedly owe the descendants of various victim classes reparations for the supposed sins of their ancestors. To hold individuals guilty of crimes they couldn’t have committed is a moral obscenity. The demands for retribution are simply another naked money grab.

The rhetoric grows increasingly hateful. The slave class can be openly disparaged, denigrated, and deplored based on their race, gender, geographic location, religion, politics, the way they smile at a Native American, or any other characteristic the masters don’t like. But woe to the slaves who utter anything the tyrannical cult deems offensive or incorrect. Transgressors are put through social media hell, ostracized, ruined, and coming soon, incarcerated.

If you’ve found your safe space and you’re incapable of producing marketable value that exceeds its cost of production, you’re dependent on the profitably competent, but their very existence is a constant reproach, a reminder of your own inadequacy. So where gratitude would be appropriate, you instead hate, mock, and abuse your meal tickets. This isn’t PhD in psychology material—spoiled children have been abusing their parents for centuries. Interestingly—at least for psychology PhDs—the dependent get more abusive as they get more dependent.

Their safe spaces require little or nothing in the way of competency. They have become havens for personal predilections and peccadilloes that were once socially unacceptable, virtually free from any standards of comportment or dress, and citadels of venomous, self-serving ideologies.

One month into the partial shutdown of the largest safe space, it’s obvious that not only has the sky not fallen, but unsurprisingly, America is doing just fine without those 800,000 furloughed workers that even the government considers nonessential. Which elicits the question: What were they doing when they were on the job?

“Not much” is not necessarily the right answer. The 100,000 plus pages of the Federal Register and the tax code suggest that they’ve been spending a lot of time gumming up the works for and extracting money from the profitably competent many of them despise. The furlough may accomplish the first step of breaking America’s addiction to government: realizing that most of it is not only useless, but harmful. We’ll see if it leads to the next steps: getting rid of personnel, programs, agencies, and entire departments, and changing policy accordingly (we can dream). If things change in that direction, expect the denizens of what are no longer safe spaces to become increasingly vitriolic.

You can’t reach a point where dependents openly denigrate those who support them without the latter’s tacit or explicit consent. Parents who spoil their children and endure the brats’ abuse get what they deserve. Ayn Rand had it right. The people who make America go could bring it to a shuddering stop simply by stockpiling their resources and walking off their jobs for a month or two. An added turn of the screw would be withdrawing their funds from the banking system (see “The Yellow Vests Get it Right,” SLL).

It’s time to stop funding the abusers, time to stop excusing them with “they mean well, but…”, time to reject their claims to moral superiority, time to stop building safe space sanctuaries, time to stop apologizing for profitable competence, and time to recognize its moral value and reclaim the right to its profits. If it takes a strike to hurl the brats into the maw of their own incompetence and upend the tyrannical cult, so be it. The biggest crime hasn’t been that of the brats and the cult, it’s been the failure of those who haven’t defended what’s rightfully theirs.

Source: by Robert Gore | Straight Line Logic

The Fruits of Graft – Great Depressions Then and Now

Wayne Jett, author of “Fruits of Graft”, interviewed by Sarah Westall in an eight part (video) series to discuss in depth the amazing history of events and actions leading up to the Great Depression. They also discuss the activities and actions taken during the Great Depression that caused increased misery for millions of Americans. This is an epic historical view of the Great Depression you have not heard before; that also serves to explain what is really driving most current events we are living through today.

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Classical Capital

Video Series Links

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Part 6

The Elitist Manifesto

The Red Symphony

Progress And Poverty by Henry George

The Government Is Coming For Your Bitcoin (video)

The same day Bitcoin cracked its all-time high above $11,000, the government dealt its first blow to the crypto world…

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On Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the popular Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, to provide the IRS with information on over 14,000 account holders.

The taxman noticed that only 800-900 people reported gains related to Bitcoin in each of the years between 2013-2015. It seemed unusual given Bitcoin’s meteoric rise.

So the IRS went for its pound of flesh.

Initially, the government wanted complete data on every Coinbase user that transacted between 2013 and 2015. The exchange’s website says it has 13 million users (more than the number of Schwab brokerage accounts).

But Coinbase pushed back… and the government agreed to only take limited data (including name, date of birth, address, tax ID number, transaction statements and account logs) for accounts that have bought, sold, sent or received at least $20,000 worth of Bitcoin in a given year.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Coinbase. I told Sovereign Man: Confidential readers last month:

If you’re tempted to purchase Bitcoin from the popular Coinbase exchange, don’t bother.

They’ve sold out to regulators.

The IRS is calling this a “partial win.”

But you can be sure, there will be a public beheading. This is something governments almost always do.

They’ll find a prominent Bitcoin person, someone that’s polarizing to the public – like “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli.

It will be a very public trial… and they’ll throw his ass in the slammer.

Government’s always do this because they want to scare people.

Kim Dotcom is the perfect example. Kim founded the popular file-sharing site Megaupload.

The government wanted to stop illegal downloads, so they raided his guy’s house in New Zealand for violating US law.

The government also does this for taxes… everything, really.

Look at Wesley Snipes. The IRS accused him of felony tax evasion. He spent three years in jail.

They had to take a celebrity and throw him in jail to scare everyone else.

Back to Bitcoin…

Now that it’s at all-time highs, the government wants its piece.

I read the 400+ pages of the proposed tax code. How many lines in there do you think deal with cryptocurrency? ZERO.

How many lines deal with e-commerce? ZERO.

The government had every opportunity to set the rules for the 21st century. And they failed miserably.

So the rules remain as clear as mud.

Instead of trying to make it clear, their tactic is intimidation, force and coercion.

This is just the beginning. There will be more.

And my advice is don’t be one of those guys.

Every transaction that you make in Bitcoin is potentially a taxable event.

Let’s say you bought Bitcoin for $1,000 and after it went to $10,000 you buy a business class trip to Australia for $10k. When you pay the airline with one Bitcoin, you’ve just triggered a taxable event.

The IRS would say that you essentially sold your Bitcoin, have a $9k gain and used those proceeds to buy the ticket.

Which means you owe the IRS capital gains tax on $9k, which is 20% plus the Obamacare surcharge.

So, don’t be that guy. If you’ve been doing this, trust me, you don’t want the IRS find out.

You’d rather come forward yourself and disclose it and pay taxes… Rather than be the next Martin Shkreli.

… or you can try what Jeff is doing.

Source: ZeroHedge

California Tried to Seize Millions From Former Resident Who Fought Back And Won (video)

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After Gil Hyatt, a successful California inventor, moved to Nevada, he faced harassment from California tax regulators. This abuse included threats, exposure of personal data, and even racism. Hyatt later sued the agency and won a judgement of over $300 million. Jon Coupal stated this example is reflective of numerous systemic problems with California’s tax authority.

Gilbert Hyatt’s legal battle is a story of greed, harassment, anti-semitism, and the abuse of power.

Americans Spend More on Taxes Than Food & Clothing Combined

Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2016 than they did on food and clothing combined, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The same data also shows that in three years—from 2013 to 2016—the average tax bill for Americans increased 41.13 percent.

In 2016, according to BLS, “consumer units” (which include families, financially independent individuals, and people living in a single household who share expenses) spent more on average on federal, state and local taxes ($10,489) than they did on food ($7,203) and clothing ($1,803) combined ($9,006).

The average tax bill for American “consumer units” increased from $7,423 in 2013 to $10,489 in 2016, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

RELATED: You’ve Lost Another 16% of Your Buying Power

The tax-and-spending data was collected as part of the BLS’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, which is conducted for the BLS by the Census Bureau. The survey measures the expenditures and incomes of American consumers.

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The survey publishes the itemized expenditures of what it refers to as “consumer units,” which include “all members of a particular household who are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or other legal arrangements,” or “a person living alone or sharing a household with others or living as a roomer in a private home or lodging house or in a permanent living quarters in a hotel or motel, but who is financially independent,” or “two or more persons living together who use their income to make joint expenditure decisions.” The BLS said that a consumer unit generally refers to a family…

Source: NWO Report

Philadelphia Tax Makes Soda More Expensive Than Beer

https://i1.wp.com/freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Pepsi.jpgPhiladelphia’s tax on sugary drinks has made soda more expensive than beer in the city.

The Tax Foundation released a new study on the excise tax last week, finding that the 1.5-cent per ounce tax has fallen short of revenue projections, cost jobs, and has forced some Philadelphians to drive outside the city to buy groceries.

The study finds that the tax is 24 times higher than the Pennsylvania tax rate on beer.

“Purchases of beer are also now less expensive than nonalcoholic beverages subject to the tax in the city,” according to the study, written by Courtney Shupert and Scott Drenkard. “Empirical evidence from a 2012 journal article suggests that soda taxes can push consumers to alcohol, meaning it is likely the case that consumers are switching to alcoholic beverages as a result of the tax. The paper, aptly titled From Coke to Coors, further shows that switching from soda to beer increases total caloric intake, even as soda taxes are generally aimed at caloric reduction.”

The Tax Foundation points out that unlike most cities, Philadelphia passed the tax specifically to raise revenue, not to fight obesity. The city even includes diet sodas in its tax, as a way to raise money for pre-kindergarten programs.

However, less than half of the $39.4 million collected since the tax went into effect on Jan. 1 has gone to education funding.

“[T]he tax was originally promoted as a vehicle to raise funds for prekindergarten education, but in practice it awards just 49 percent of the soda tax revenues to local pre-K programs,” Shupert and Drenkard write. “Another 20 percent of the soda tax revenues fund government employee benefits or city programs, while the rest of the money will go towards parks, libraries, and community schools.”

Collections from the soda tax are also well below original projections of $92 million per year, due to tax avoidance.

“Soda sales in Philadelphia have also declined since the tax went into effect at the beginning of 2017, threatening the long-run sustainability of the tax,” Shupert and Drenkard write. “According to some local distributors and retailers, sales have declined by nearly 50 percent. This is likely primarily due to higher prices, which discourage purchasing beverages in the city.”

Earlier this year PepsiCo announced it was laying off up to 100 workers because of the tax, which the company blames for costing a 43 percent drop in business.

Philadelphians are also no longer able to buy 12-packs or 2-liters of Pepsi products in grocery stores due to the tax, the Tax Foundation said.

“From an operational standpoint, the tax rollout continues to create problems for the city as collections have come in less than projected,” the Tax Foundation added. “In July, city officials lowered beverage tax revenue projections by 14 percent, leaving the pre-kindergarten programs that the tax promised to fund in jeopardy.”

“Furthermore, soda taxes are regressive, hurting low-income earners the most. Philadelphia’s experience serves as a cautionary tale for other areas weighing similar beverage taxes,” the group said.

Source: The Washington Free Beacon

Feds Just Expanded Civil Asset Forfeiture ‘Laws’ Nationwide

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When you’re a government agency, asking for a tax increase is always a hassle. As Ryan McMaken notes, for the most part, taxpayers don’t like taxes, and if asked if they want to pay more, they’re likely to often say “no.” Moreover, when public officials pass tax increases, they may face the wrath of taxpayers at the ballot box. For this reason, governments are always looking for ways to get revenue without having to use tax revenue.

One such ‘hidden’ method of seizing wealth from the taxpayers is through what is now called “civil asset forfeiture.”

This occurs when a law enforcement agency seizes the assets – including real estate, cars, cash, and other valuables – from private citizens based merely on the suspicion that the person has committed a crime with the assets in question. No due process is necessary. No conviction in a court of law need occur. While it is technically possible to sue a government agency to reclaim one’s possessions, this requires immense amounts of time and legal fees to pursue. Needless to say, civil asset forfeiture has become a lucrative source of income for law enforcement agencies. And, over the past 30 years, the practice has become widespread.

As Martin Armstrong detailed, between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. Now, according to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses.

This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.

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“Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. Under civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your car or other property, sell it and use the proceeds to fund agency budgets—all without so much as charging you with a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where property is taken after its owner has been found guilty in a court of law, with civil forfeiture, owners need not be charged with or convicted of a crime to lose homes, cars, cash or other property. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but civil forfeiture turns that principle on its head.  With civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent.”

– “ Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture,” Institute for Justice

In jolly old England, Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. But as John Whitehead noted, in modern-day America, greedy government goons steal from the innocent to give to the corrupt under court- and legislature-sanctioned schemes called civil asset forfeiture. This is how the American police state continues to get rich: by stealing from the citizenry.

At every turn, “we the people” are getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.

President Trump has made it clear his loyalties lie with the police, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has previously declared his love for civil asset forfeiture, the Supreme Court keeps marching in lockstep with the police state, and the police unions don’t want their gravy train to go away, so there’s not much hope for federal reform anytime soon. As always, change will have to begin locally and move upwards.

Some state legislatures (Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Ohio) are beginning to push back against these clearly unconstitutional asset forfeiture schemes. As the National Review reports, “New Mexico now requires a criminal conviction before law enforcement can seize property, while police in Florida must prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that property is linked to a crime before it’s seized.”

And it is that pushback that has seemingly pushed the federal government to ‘fix’ the situation. As Reuters reports, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday that the federal government will reinstate a program that helps local and state law enforcement seize cash and other assets they suspect have been earned from crimes.

Local police will now be able to seize cash, often from those suspected of drug crimes, even in states that do not condone the policy.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters that most seizures were warranted because the “vast majority” of people who have property taken by police do not contest it in court.

“This is going to enable us to work with local police and our prosecutors to ensure that when assets are lawfully seized they are not returned to criminals,” said Rosenstein at a media briefing at the Justice Department.

The Obama administration had rolled back the policy in 2015, saying it incentivized police to take money from people who had committed crimes.

Since former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in on the issue in 2015, Justice Department agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration has been barred from rewarding local police for taking possessions from people they stop.

Now, the federal government will again be able to return up to 80 percent of the assets seized to local law enforcement.

Rosenstein said the 2015 policy had a chilling effect on seizures by local law enforcement.

Many states have civil asset forfeiture laws that allow the state government to redistribute money seized for programs like education. But the federal program returns cash directly to the police department that took the asset, allowing them to buy new equipment or as drug sniffing dogs.

The Justice Department under President Donald Trump has made efforts to improve relationships with local and state law enforcement, which they viewed as damaged under the Obama administration. Rosenstein said that the president had heard from police who were concerned about the 2015 policy, but the administration was not acting to score political points with police unions that supported Trump’s campaign.

“This is not an effort to appease any particular constituency. It is an effort to empower law enforcement,” Rosenstein said.

The Police State’s tentacles just reached a little further into your ‘pocketbook’ as what has become known as “policing for profit,” goes nationwide.. by federal law!

DoJ’s Full new asset forfeiture policy letter below (confirming police can sezie proeprty from people not charged with crimes even in states where it is banned)…

As John Whitehead concluded so eloquently, remember, long before Americans charted their revolutionary course in pursuit of happiness, it was “life, liberty, and property” which constituted the golden triad of essential rights that the government was charged with respecting and protecting. To the colonists, smarting from mistreatment at the hands of the British crown, protecting their property from governmental abuse was just as critical as preserving their lives and liberties. As the colonists understood, if the government can arbitrarily take away your property, you have no true rights: you’re nothing more than a serf or a slave. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was born of this need to safeguard against any attempt by the government to unlawfully deprive a citizen of the right to life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Little could our ancestral forebears have imagined that it would take less than three centuries of so-called “independence” to once again render us brow-beaten subjects in bondage to an overlord bent on depriving us of our most inalienable and fundamental rights. Yet if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.

Enough is enough.

We leave it to Liberty Blitzkrieg’s Mike Krieger to sum it all upWashington D.C. has become a clear threat to hundreds of millions of Americans who just want to lead a decent lives for themselves and their families. The only policies coming out of that cesspool have made things far worse for the political and economic well-being of the vast majority of us. The time for us to take our constitutional powers back and reinstate self-government is long overdue.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Broken States of the Union

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At the end of the day, a broken state is a broken you.

For the first time in US history a handful of US states is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Illinois is about to be downgraded to junk bond status, which will turn its financial problems catastrophic overnight. Illinois cannot possibly pay its accumulated debt, its unpaid medicaid expenses and its future retirement obligations, so bankruptcy almost certainly will be its only way out.

Main, Connecticut, Kentucky and California are also caught in chronic budget deadlocks that may lead to bankruptcy as a solution for dodging their entitlement obligations. Bear in mind they’re called “entitlements” because it’s money promised to you that you already put in the work to earn. It’s your retirement. Illinois, for example, has over $200 billion in pension obligations that will never be paid … or that can only be paid at a greatly diminished level worked out in some form of effective bankruptcy.

That’s a problem that is only solved by turning it into a worse problem for others. Illinois will end its problems by making certain that for the next quarter century, a good portion of the now retiring baby-boom population is dirt poor and must be carried by the younger population as dead wait (if not exterminated) because the retirement they planned in order to responsibly carry themselves through their final years isn’t there.

Instead of the state not being able to pay its bills, bankruptcy means that hundreds of thousands of retirees won’t be paying theirs, which means the people they owe money to will be going broke, and so the problem trickles down. State bankruptcy merely shifts the burden so that legislators don’t have to deal with it but you do. And it’s inevitable because the alternative is that you pay for it through much higher taxes. The state is you.

The Federal government won’t be solving the state budget problems either because it plans on dumping heavier medicaid expenses back on all states as it repeals Obamacare to help solve its own budget problems amid its own deadlock. Like the states, its own Social Security funds are going broke, so it faces its own massive entitlement problems. And, if it bails out one failing state, it will be expected to bail out all others that face such problems.

With Illinois effectively reaching bankruptcy and a likely catastrophic credit downgrade this summer, the problem finally starts coming to a head where everyone is forced to see how decades of government debt accumulation end, and that end looks something like this in real terms:

Illinois, as the bellwether example, has already stopped paying the contractors who fix roads and other infrastructure. That means the contractors will now stop fixing the roads and won’t be paying their employees, and broken roads don’t get corn and beef to market. Illinois has stopped paying doctors. That means the doctors will stop fixing people. Illinois has refused to pay its lottery winners (even though it took the money from all the suckered ticket buyers). That means there will no more lottery to raise state money because there will be no more ticket buyers. That means the state’s budget problems just got worse, so Illinois soon won’t be paying state employees or pensioners.

It sucks when your entire state goes broke. You see, you can keep kidding yourself — as our entire nation has for the decades that I’ve been complaining about this — that you’re going to take care of everyone on welfare with endless debt spending or that you’re going to maintain huge military power to control the world with debt spending; but eventually you pile up state or federal debts so high that you wind up not paying anyone, including the welfare recipients or the soldiers in your military.

Like the US government, the State of Illinois has been operating without a real budget for more than two years, operating dysfunctionally during that time by court-ordered stop-gap measures because the legislature is deadlocked as politicians refuse to accept reality; so, Illinois has now reached the same financial status as Puerto Rico.

Illinois is grappling with a full-fledged financial crisis and not even the lottery is safe – with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner warning the state is entering “banana republic” territory…. Reports have suggested the state could be the first to attempt to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy — but under the law, that’s impossible unless Congress gets involved….. “Illinois is the fiscal model of what not to do,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., told Fox News, while not commenting on the bankruptcy question. “This avoidance in behavior toward dealing with our challenges is what leads to the devastating impacts we are seeing today.” (Fox News)

And, for Illinois, the problem is that they cannot kick the can down the road any further because the next credit downgrade will make it impossible for them afford their current debt, which is really already impossible. Creditors will become much fewer and more expensive when Illinois becomes the first state of the union to hit junk-bond status and maybe the first to declare bankruptcy since the Great Depression, when Arkansas found itself “plain flat broke” and became the only state to ever default on its bonds (showing it can happen), effectively declaring its own bankruptcy, even if not sorted out through the federal courts. (Eventually, years later, Arkansas paid their bond holders.) Already, the Illinois ten-year bond yields are at 5.2%; but the world becomes exponentially worse when you hit junk-bond status and entire large institutions become outlawed from financing you.

“We have a very real deadline looming,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno told Fox News. “The alternative to not finding a compromise will be devastating to Illinois.”

With or without bankruptcy, the state is already badly defaulting on its obligations. Bankruptcy is just a more orderly way of deciding who is not going to get paid and by how much. But the not getting paid part? Already here, and nearly a dozen states are falling into this kind of severe condition. The issue with state bankruptcy is that bankruptcy court is federal, putting state budgetary sovereignty under state’s rights under federal determination; but it can be done:

David Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania … wrote outright that, “The constitutionality of bankruptcy-for-states is beyond serious dispute.” The key, as he sees it, is that bankruptcy would be entirely voluntary, which should eliminate any concerns about Federal intrusion on state sovereignty. (Zero Hedge)

And it has been done … long ago … and is now here again.

Economic denial is about to square up to economic reality, and reality always wins! Eventually, economic reality forces your hand in a catastrophic solution because of your profligate ways. Eventually, you end up as a truly cashless society. This summer, we get to watch that play out in Illinois to get a sense of what it will look like elsewhere.

At the end of the day, a broken state is a broken you.

The motto of the State of Illinois, Land of Lincoln, who held this great national union together, is “”State Sovereignty, National Union.”

Illinois is all of us.

By David Haggith | The Great Recession

Illinois State Orders ‘Ramming Speed’ Against Tax Payers Over Independence Day Weekend [video]

Illinois Taxoholics Wear Down Rauner: Massive Tax Hikes In the Works

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Total capitulation by Governor Bruce Rauner is in the works. The taxoholics wore him down.

In the emergency session, Rauner has agreed to hike the personal income tax rate to 4.95% from the current 3.75%. The corporate income tax rate will rise to 7% from the current 5.25% rate.

For what? Nothing. Reforms are nonexistent.

Another Deadline Come and Gone

Illinois failed to approve a budget today and thus heads into its third fiscal year without one.

A vote has been scheduled for Sunday.

I do not expect your opinion will matter, but in the slim chance I am wrong, Please Email Your Representative voicing displeasure of the tax hike.

The preceding link will find your rep based on your address.

Rule of Nothing

A zombified Rauer has capitulated in every way but the final signing.

Tax hikes have been agreed to with no reforms in return.

The Rule of Nothing is clearly in play.

Rule of Nothing

In any given political situation, the best outcome one can reasonably expect generally happens when politicians do nothing.

Implied corollary#1: When politicians attempt to fix any problem, they are highly likely to make matters worse.

Corollary #2: Politicians almost never do nothing. It’s why we have a messed up healthcare system, education system, public pension system, etc..

Taxoholics Win Again

Chicago schools will not get fixed. The hikes will not shore up pension plans.

Within one month of tax hikes, public unions will ask for more money. And people will leave the state. So will corporations.

Rauner pledged 44 reforms. He is 0-44 on his pledges.

The property tax freeze currently under debate has so many holes it is as useful as a bucket with no bottom.

Trading tax hikes for nothing is a horrible deal. Nonetheless, the taxohalics won again.

More business flight and human capital flight is the guaranteed outcome. Doing nothing at all would have been a far better outcome.

By Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Trump Withdraw From Paris Climate Accord Saved America

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Learn how Trump’s withdraw from the New World Order Paris Climate Accord saved America from being economically destroyed.

Start the next report at 3:23 minute mark

Wow V. Thank you so much for the EXPLANATION of the Paris Accord’s real purpose. The NWO/luciferian/pedophilic/psychopathic deep state power brokers are revealed. This makes so much sense. They (NWO) always says look here and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain even though he is standing directly in front of us. This gives me hope.

And finally …

U.S. Paid $1 Billion To Paris Agreement Green Fund – All Other Nations Combined $0…

The Paris Climate Treaty has nothing to do with “climate” and everything possible to do with economics, globalism and the controlled redistribution of economic wealth as constructed through decades of advanced policies by multinational financial interests.

There are factually TRILLIONS of dollars at stake.

The primary concern for every affiliated entity surrounds economics, not climate. “Climate” issues are the Trojan horse, the false ruse, the talking point, the scheme to get economic systems in place -yes, political systems- to control the distributive flow of larger economic wealth within all nations. Period.

What ObamaCare was to our loss of healthcare individualism, so too is the Paris Treaty a political tool to deconstruct national economic individualism.

FULL-STOP.

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Californians Comprise Largest Number of New Texas Transplants

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A new report by the Texas Association of Realtors reveals that Californians continue to move to the Lone Star State en masse, accounting for the largest number of new residents that hail from other states.

The 2017 Texas Relocation Report shows, in 2015, Texas added 553,032 new people. The most transplants came from California (65,546), followed by Florida (33,670), Louisiana (31,044), New York (26,287), and Oklahoma (25,555).

“The diverse job opportunities and high quality of life in Texas continue to drive in-state and out-of-state migration to Texas cities and counties, both big and small,” said Vicki Fullerton, 2017 chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, in a press release. “This is the third consecutive year that Texas has gained more than 500,000 new residents from out of state.”

In the report, Texas ranked second among states to add new residents via domestic migration in 2015 after factoring in outflow. Although over a half million people relocated to Texas, 445,343 left. This means the out-of-state net gain of residents was 107,689. In 2014, it was 103,465. Both years, more people entered than exited and the Texas realtors said the state bested its 2014 net gain by 4 percent.

By comparison, California lost more residents than it gained — 643,710 packed up and went elsewhere, while 514,477 moved to the Golden State.

By Merrill Hope | Breitbart

Remittances to Mexico Rose 25 Percent After Trump’s Election

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Mexicans sent billions of dollars back to Mexico in November after President-elect Donald Trump’s election win.

Immigrant workers and illegal aliens rushed to take money out of the American economy and send it to their home countries, Reuters reports:

Mexicans abroad sent home nearly $2.4 billion in transfers in November, 24.7 percent higher than a year earlier, marking their fastest pace of expansion since March 2006, according to Mexican central bank data on Monday…

Trump’s surprise Nov. 8 election triumph also sent the Mexican currency to record lows in a sell-off fueled by his threats to scrap a trade deal between Mexico and the United States, and to levy punitive tariffs on Mexican-made goods…

Bank BBVA Bancomer has forecast that those Mexicans will have sent a record $27 billion in remittances into Mexico in 2016, an increase of more than $2 billion over 2015.

Not only do Americans give Mexico millions in foreign aid each year, Mexicans take in some $20 billion to $25 billion annually in remittances, according to the World Bank, much of it from the U.S. In total, foreigners took $54.2 billion in remittances out of the U.S. economy in 2014, with Mexico and China receiving the greatest sums from their citizens abroad.

American taxpayers are thus forced to pay for the welfare and schooling of millions of Mexican citizens and their children while enduring the costs of crime (gang activity, drug trafficking) and stagnant wages that unchecked immigration brings.

“The $ 20 billion being sent to immigrants’ grandmothers in Chiapas is forever eliminated from the American economy— unavailable for investment in American companies, the purchase of American products, or hiring American workers. That’s a cost of immigration that Americans are never told about,” conservative author Ann Coulter wrote in the influential Adios America about remittances.

 

“These billions of dollars being drained out of the U.S. economy every year would be bad enough if the money were coming exclusively from cheap-labor employers like Sheldon Adelson. But it’s worse than that,” Coulter continues. “It comes from American taxpayers. Not only do taxpayers have to support Americans who lose their jobs to low-wage immigrant laborers, taxpayers support the immigrants, too.”

Seventy-five percent of immigrant families from Mexico are on government assistance… Seventy-three percent of legal Mexican immigrants send money back to their native land and 83 percent of illegal immigrants do,” she adds.

Remittances also fuel international criminal enterprises, according to one watchdog.

“Remittances can be used to launder proceeds from different types of criminal activities, including drug trafficking and human smuggling, through methods such as structuring,” a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released February 2016 stated. The high reporting threshold of $3,000 lets individuals send broken-up payments without raising questions.

Trump issued a memo in April 2016 telling Mexico he would tax remittances flowing out of the U.S. economy, or the Mexican government could issue a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“Mexico has taken advantage of us in another way as well: gangs, drug traffickers, and cartels have freely exploited our open borders and committed vast numbers of crimes inside the United States,” he wrote. “The United States has borne the extraordinary daily cost of this criminal activity, including the cost of trials and incarcerations. Not to mention the even greater human cost.”

“We have the moral high ground here and all the leverage,” Trump said.

By Katie Mchugh | Breitbart

Washington DC Police Ticket Toddler For Littering (video)

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Being a two-year old in a police state means getting a $75 ticket in the mail for littering. After an envelope with the two-year old’s name on it was found in a back alley, police found it necessary to send a citation by mail to the name and address found on it, despite knowing how it came to be there. This is the result of DC’s get tough on littering program, which began new littering enforcement in 2014. While it was sold as a way to clean up the city streets, many opponents state it is a simple financial extortion on behalf of DC’s council.

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Harper Westover is a two-year old who resides off West Virginia Ave, in Washington DC. For one reason or another, an envelope containing her name and information ended up on the ground in an alley. The alley happened to be behind her home, but that didn’t seem to matter to the officer who issued the ticket. The issuing of the citation appears to be in violation of the new rules set forth, rules that are currently available on the DC Metro Police littering enforcement website. According to the DC.gov webpage, “If an officer sees you dropping garbage, trash, debris, or any other kind of discarded material on public space, in waterways, or on someone else’s private property, you may receive a $75 Notice of Violation for littering.” Well, obviously the issuing officer didn’t actually see anyone drop the envelope, or he would have known that issuing a ticket to a two-year-old was a waste of taxpayer’s money and everyone’s time.

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Critics of DC’s heavy littering enforcement has drawn much criticism, and cases like Harper’s exemplify the problem. Under the enforcement expansion, a $75 fine can become an arrest warrant if you fail to pay or miss a court date. This is exactly the type of program that traps poor communities into a cycle of debt and imprisonment. Programs like this should be seen for what they are and abandoned as a fundamental part of the problem. Officials claim that the law is meant to hold individuals accountable and the penalties need to be harsh, in order to be effective. They fail to realize, however, that the increased enforcement will not ultimately change people’s behavior and will ultimately result in the all too familiar cycle of incarceration.

Despite the circumstances, Harper’s parents’ initial attempts to get the citation dismissed were met with disbelief . “She told me they’d be willing to withdraw the ticket or dismiss it, or whatever word you’d like to use, if I could prove to them that Harper was only 2,” Harper’s mother told the media.

They were shocked that they had to send over a copy of the girl’s birth certificate to prove her age. Thankfully, once the news of the citation hit the media, the Department of Public Works conducted an investigation and dismissed the citation. “I heard that it was a 2-year-old illegal dumper, so I’m like wow, really? I apologized to them for the mistake… it shouldn’t have gotten this far. Someone should have come… and we do what we need to do,” stated Andre Lee of the Department of Public Works.

Source: NWO Report

 

Obamacare Sticker Shock: Average 2017 Health Tax Premium Surges 24%:

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It’s going to be real bad. Note: These calculations were done by Charles Gaba just before Aetna dropped out of 536 markets. Thus, these projections underestimate the premium increases.

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One of governments greatest Oxymoron’s –  THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Congress and the White house had absolutely no control or idea what the cost of Obamacare would be ……..none, except that the premiums would rise.    It has become affordable only to those that never had it.   Those that did, were lied to about keeping their doctors, the cost continues to rise.   Funny thing, 2017 will be have an even greater increase.   Even with medical insurance, many can no longer afford to go to the doctor, let alone hospital.   Deductibles are higher, and coverage less.  Services or items covered have risen in cost and often no longer covered by your insurance.   People are beginning to not seek treatment, they can not afford to be ill; insurance or not; especially those retired, Medicare won’t cover it all either.

The Affordable Care Act: America’s greatest OXYMORON created and passed by MORONS.   “We have to pass it before we can read it.”   Nancy Pelosi    (California’s favorite moron).

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source: Arlin Report

Illinois State Workers, Highest Paid In Nation, Demand Up To 29% Wage Hikes

Yet, despite the fact that Illinois is for all practical purposes insolvent, the AFSCME union demands four-year raises ranging from 11.5 to 29 percent, overtime after 37.5 hours of work per week, five weeks of vacation and enhanced health care coverage.

AFSCME workers already get platinum healthcare benefits that would make nearly everyone in the country green with envy.

This is a guest post from Ted Dabrowski at the Illinois Policy Institute, of which I am a senior fellow.

For years, Illinois taxpayers haven’t been represented at the bargaining table between Illinois’ largest government union and the state. Illinois’ former governors cared more about appeasing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees than protecting the taxpayers the governors were supposed to represent. That’s how AFSCME workers have become some the highest-compensated state workers in the nation.

IPI Dab1

Now the union is working overtime to remove Gov. Bruce Rauner – who actually represents taxpayers’ interests – from labor contract negotiations. The union supports House Bill 580, which would strip the governor of his ability to negotiate. AFSCME wants the current contract dealings turned over to unelected arbitrators who are likelier to decide in the union’s favor.

AFSCME wants to remove the governor from contract negotiations because union officials know Rauner will not agree to outrageous demands. Union leaders are demanding $3 billion in additional salary and benefits for union members in a new contract. They’re seeking four-year raises ranging from 11.5 to 29 percent, overtime after 37.5 hours of work per week, five weeks of vacation and enhanced health care coverage. Those additional demands would come on top of the costly benefits that AFSCME workers already receive.

Here are four facts about state-worker compensation the union doesn’t want taxpayers to know:

1. Illinois state workers are the highest-paid state workers in the country

Illinois state workers are the highest-paid state workers in the country when adjusted for cost of living. Illinois pays its state workers more than $59,000 a year, far more than its neighbors and nearly $10,000 more than the national average.

Moreover, state AFSCME workers have received salary increases not matched in Illinois’ private sector.

Median AFSCME worker salaries increased more than 40 percent from 2005 to 2014, reaching more than $62,800. During that same period, median private-sector earnings in Illinois remained virtually flat.

IPI Dab2

2. AFSCME workers receive Cadillac health care benefits

In addition to paying state workers the highest salaries in the nation, Illinois taxpayers also subsidize a majority of AFSCME workers’ Cadillac health care benefits.

The average AFSCME worker receives the ObamaCare equivalent of platinum-level benefits, but only pays the equivalent of bronze-level insurance premiums. That forces a vast share of AFSCME workers’ health care costs onto state taxpayers.

AFSCME workers pay for just 23 percent of their health care costs, or $4,452 a year. State taxpayers pay the remaining 77 percent, or an average of $14,880 per worker.

IPI Dab3

3. Most state workers receive free retiree health insurance

The state also subsidizes 100 percent of the health insurance costs for state retirees who spent 20 or more years working for the state. Such a benefit is almost unheard of in the private sector.

This benefit costs taxpayers $200,000 to $500,000 per state retiree. An ordinary worker in the private sector thus would need to have $200,000 to $500,000 in the bank before retirement to purchase the insurance most retired state workers get for free.

IPI Dab4

4. Career state retirees on average receive $1.6 million in pension benefits

Thanks to unrealistic pension rules, career state workers – meaning those who work 30 or more years – will average $1.6 million in benefits over the course of their retirements.

That’s on top of Social Security benefits, which nearly all state workers receive. In addition, over half of state workers end up retiring in their 50s.

IPI Dab5

It’s not fair that Illinois residents, struggling with stagnant incomes in one of the nation’s weakest economies, continue to subsidize AFSCME benefits to such an extent.

Many other unions that contract with the state have recognized that taxpayers can’t afford higher taxes to fund even greater pay and benefits for state workers. Officials from more than 17 unions, including the Teamsters, understood the depth of Illinois’ fiscal crisis and agreed to affordable contracts with the state.

AFSCME, which represents a mere 0.5 percent of Illinois’ total labor force (35,000 state workers out of a total 6.5 million workers), is putting undue pressure on the state and its finances.

The General Assembly needs to allow the governor’s veto of HB 580 to stand.

Instead of increasing benefits as AFSCME has demanded, the state should work to bring its employees’ total compensation more in line with what the private sector can afford.

Ted Dabrowski
Vice President of Policy

Question of Fairness

The AFSCME seeks “fairness”. I wholeheartedly agree. Here is my eight-point proposal.

  1. Cut AFSCME salaries an average of 40%
  2. Make AFSCME employees contribute 50% to health care plans.
  3. Drop AFSCME retiree health benefits entirely. Put them on Medicare.
  4. Put caps on pension pay.
  5. Kill defined benefit pension plans entirely for new hires.
  6. Pass right-to-work legislation.
  7. Allow municipalities to go bankrupt.
  8. Kill all prevailing wage laws,

Scenes From The Venezuela Apocalypse: “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking For Food

Over the last several years we have documented with clockwork regularity Venezuela’s collapse into failed state status, which was cemented several weeks ago when news hit that “Venezuela had officially run out of money to print new money.”  At that point the best one could do was merely to step back and watch as local society and civilization turned on itself, unleashing what would ultimately turn into Venezuela’s own, sad apocalypse.

Last night we showed what Caracas, looks like this week:

As we wrote then these are simply hungry Venezuelans protesting that their children are dying from lack of food and medicine and that they do not have enough water or electricity. As AgainstCronyCapitalism added, this is a country with more oil than Saudi Arabia, and the government has stolen all the money and now they bottleneck peaceful protesters and threaten them with bombs (or haul them to prison and torture them).

As pure desperation has set in, crime has becomes inevitable. A man accused of mugging people in the streets of Caracas was surrounded by a mob of onlookers, beaten and set on fire, who published a pixeled-out but still graphic video of the man burning as mob justice is now the supreme arbiter of who lives and who dies:

“Roberto Fuentes Bernal, 42, was reportedly caught trying to mug passersby in the Venezuelan capital, and before police arrived at the scene, the crowd took the law into their own hands.” The video can be seen here.

Now, in the latest shocking development, Venezuela saw a new wave of looting this week that resulted in at least two deaths, countless wounded, and millions of dollars in losses and damages.

According to Panampost, on Wednesday morning, a crowd sacked the Maracay Wholesale Market in the central region of Venezuela.  According to the testimonies of merchants, the endless food lines that Venezuelans have been enduring to do groceries could not be organized that day.

As time went by, desperate Venezuelans grew anxious over not being able to buy food. Then they started jumping over the gates and stormed the supermarket.

“They took milk, pasta, flour, oil, and milk powder. There were 5,000 people” one witness told Venezuela outlet El Estímulo.

People from across the entire state came to the supermarket because there were rumors that some products not found anywhere else would be sold there.

As a result of the massive crowd, the authorities were unable to preserve the peace. “There were 250 people for each National Guard officer… lots of people and few soldiers. At least one officer was beat up because he tried to stop the crowd,” another source told El Estímulo.

Other food dispensaries run by the government were also looted by the people.

Far from the promised socialist paradise, as the massive group of people moved, an entrance gate collapsed under the weight of the crowd, leaving several wounded.

The image below shows a human stampede over rice.

Over the last two weeks, several provinces have hosted scenes of looting in pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and food delivery trucks. In several markets, shouts of “we are hungry!” echoed. On April 27, the Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) reported that the country’s food producers only had 15 days left of inventory.

PanamPost adds that lootings are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in Venezuela, as the country’s food shortage resulted in yet another reported incident of violence in a supermarket — this time in the Luvebras Automarket located in the La Florida Province of Caracas.

Venezuelans lost control this week when offered small portions

Videos posted to social media showed desperate people falling over each other trying to get bags of rice. One user claimed the looting occurred because it is difficult to get cereal, and so people “broke down the doors and damaged infrastructure.”

In the central province of Carabobo, residents ransacked a corn warehouse located in the coastal city of Puerto Cabello. They reportedly broke down the gate because workers were giving away small portions.

“There’s no rice, no pasta, no flour,” resident Glerimar Yohan told La Costa, “only hunger.”

* * *

Social Collapse Is Inevitable

With the economy dead, the only thing remaining is to watch as society implodes. To that end, Oscar Meza, Director of the Documentation Center for Social Analysis (Cendas-FVM), said that measurements of scarcity and inflation in May are going to be the worst to date. “We are officially declaring May as the month that [widespread] hunger began in Venezuela,” he told Web Noticias Venezuela. … “As for March, there was an increase in yearly prices due to inflation — a 582.9 percent increase for food, while the level of scarcity of basic products remains at 41.37 percent.”


“We are officially declaring May as the month that hunger began
in Venezuela,” says an NGO that measures inflation and scarcity

Meza said the trigger for the crisis is the shortage of bread and other foods derived from wheat.

“Prices are so high that you can’t buy anything, so people don’t buy bread, they don’t buy flour. You get porridge, you see the price of chicken go up and families struggle … lunch is around 1,500 bolivars… People used to take food from home to work, but now you can’t anymore because you don’t have food at home.”

The is why, Español Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food. “Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger.”

Subsquently, Muchacho warned that Caribbean islands and Colombia may suffer an influx of refugees from Venezuela if food shortages continue in the country.

“As hunger deepens, we could see more Venezuelans fleeing by land or sea to an island,” Muchacho said.

And that is how all socialist utopias always end.

* * *

Meanwhile, as civil war appears inevitable, as previously reported there are factions vying to oust Maduro, although we are confident the dictator will hang on for dear life (literally) and force his population to endure more of this socialist nightmare. One can only hope that these shocking scenes remain relegated to the streets of offshore socialist paradises, although Americans should always prepare for the worst in case they eventually manage to make their way into the country.

Source: ZeroHedge


Is A Venezuela Coup Imminent? An Interview With A National Guardsman

Following several very disturbing stories about the start of Venezuela’s social apocalypse, in the first case chronicling “Streets Filled With People Killing Animals For Food” and then last night documenting “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking For Food, we concluded that “as civil war appears inevitable, as there are factions vying to oust Maduro, although we are confident the dictator will hang on for dear life (literally) and force his population to endure more of this socialist nightmare.”

Today, now that speculation about a coup and/or civil war is becoming ever louder, we address some of these concerns courtesy of a must-read interview with a member of Bolivarian National Guard, the country’s national guardsmen, conducted by PanAm Post, which provides a critical blueprint of the next very tragic steps in Venezuela, which unfortunately now appear certainly to conclude with a national coup.

From PanAm Post:

Venezuela Is on the Brink of Social Collapse” National Guardsman

Food Shortages Cause Daily Looting, Energy Crisis Worsens as National State of Emergency Approaches

At the moment, the armed forces’ position vis-à-vis the government is not clear. Some speculate that the Bolivarian National Guard is divided. Others claim that the regime exerts full control over the Bolivarian National Guard’s members. The only certainty is that uncertainty abounds.

The PanAm Post had the opportunity to interview a Bolivarian National Guard member of middle rank, who asked to remain anonymous since his views could expose him to danger.

Why has the state launched an offensive against criminal groups?

The situation was getting out of hand for political reasons. The state has no means to control criminal groups. The country’s jails are in chaos. The streets themselves are in chaos. The state’s security personnel are unarmed.

The Maduro regime created the Organization for the Protection and Liberation for the People (OLP) to fight organized crime. Has that organization committed illegal acts as well?

From a legal standpoint, yes. Now from the point of view of the general population, no, because they tolerate harsh methods against the criminal bands.

But do they only kill criminals?

In the majority of cases.

Is the OLP really carrying out its operations strictly to end gang violence?

That is their main purpose. But there is also a political element. The OLP’s creation was a desperate measure. The government had given liberty to the gangs to do what they please. They armed them and now they are attacking them.

Is the OLP at war with gangs and with government officials at the same time?

Yes, because they can’t control them. They have become too powerful. They are armed and they teach military strategy. These criminals used to fight against each other. Now they have a truce between them and they fight the military and other security forces. They say, “as long as we kill them, we’ll survive.”

Does the state benefit by arming gangs? What is the regime trying to achieve?

Their goal is to have armed groups on their side in case of political turmoil. That is the final goal. Disarmament laws only affect innocent people. Criminal have many more weapons than we do at the National Guard. They also have much more power. We can’t control that now. Any solution will come too late.

The economic crisis and the public health crisis are becoming uncontrollable. The security forces are competent, but the government had to realize that the criminals were killing us all before they acted against them.

How corrupt is is the National Guard?

There is corruption in the National Guard, and there always has been. The difference is that, before, the system was more efficient. The National Guard decayed when it became political. Since we started to vote and to take part in the country’s political life, there has been no peace in the ranks.

Now there is pressure on us because we have to follow the constitution, but we also have to be loyal to our higher officers even when their orders don’t correspond to the laws. If their orders contradict the laws, you can’t follow them. So there is a rift between the security forces and the other institutions.

The government has an apparatus for persecution and espionage, so you can’t make negative statements about functionaries. The security services themselves are plagued by informants. You have to watch your every word.

All of those military upheavals denouncing the government, those attempts to overthrow the government — are they real?

No, the majority are false. There won’t be any coup attempts in Venezuela.

Why not?

Right now, all elements of the armed forces are under control. A coup-d’état takes place when you reach a breaking point and someone in the higher echelons of the armed forces decides that it’s time to act against the government. Right now in Venezuela, there are political divisions within the armed forces. There is neither the necessary unity nor the necessary organization for a coup to take place. Besides, officers fear the government’s informants. Everyone is on guard.

What will result from the current discontent?

The army and the National Guard are waiting. I can assure you that we are quite unhappy. But there is an entire structure above us, so it’s not easy to act. We receive criticism from all sides. Wherever I go, I come face to face with civilians’ displeasure and complaints. I also think the opposition has failed to take advantage of its opportunities to topple the government.

How so?

For example, when they won the parliamentary elections last December, the atmosphere was tense. The entire leadership knew what would happen. So did we. Former Speaker of the House Diosdado Cabello was willing to take the armed forces to the street against the opposition, but Padrino López, the Minister of Defense, didn’t allow him to do so.

What happened exactly on December 6?

The stories are true. That day there was a strong discussion between Padrino López and Cabello. López told Cabello that, if he ordered the troops to take the streets, he was going to have the army kill him.

But did Padrino López only do it to save his own skin?

Of course. He would have been responsible if the army started to massacre people. López was not going to allow that to happen. So that day the army was ordered to guard the opposition.

On whose side does Padrino López find himself? That day, a rumor got out that he was defending Chávez’s revolution.

Padrino López is intelligent, and I don’t doubt that he’s a chavista. But all branches of the armed forces are dissatisfied with the current situation. Imagine if one day they let Diosdado Cabello commit a massacre. If something like that occurs, the army will support President Maduro.

And what has the Bolivarian National Guard done during the recent demonstrations? Why has the army remained silent?

Those are two different situations. Like I said, government intelligence is an obstacle to action. The risk of not obeying orders is very large, but there is a lot of discontent and resentment due to the measures carried out by the Bolivarian National Guard and other officials.

If discontent is so widespread, why is there no talk of a coup?

That’s already been discussed. The coup d’état, we hope, will not be repeated. We remember what happened in 2002 with Chávez and we don’t want something similar to happen in the future.

We are rather waiting for things to get truly out of hand. And that will happen in the following months. The situation is extremely unstable and the status quo can’t last. We are witnessing daily looting at supermarkets, and people are protesting.

The crisis at Guri Dam (Venezuela’s most important hydroelectric power station) will get worse. Everything will get worse and there will be an implosion.

At that moment, the country’s future will be determined. I don’t believe there’s much time left.

Are you sure that something drastic will happen soon?

Without a doubt. The Bolivarian National Guard has already discussed the matter.

The situation in Venezuela has never been as bad as it is now. The breaking point is near, but still not at hand. My recommendation is for people to prepare, to look for food and then to store it. Obviously, when the implosion occurs , it won’t last long. I believe it will last something like 10 days, but they will be difficult days.

There will be a state of emergency, and that will bring the crisis to an end.

What will happen with the recall referendum that the opposition is trying to unleash against President Maduro?

That’s not a serious option. The regime has demonstrated that it can violate the constitution without second thoughts. They are going to accept the referendum, but only if they know they can win with any method available. The situation will only come to a head when hunger and the lack of electricity force people to take direct action.

So are the Armed Forces ready for a social catastrophe to take place?

We are really willing to intervene if the country undergoes a social catastrophe. It’s as if we have water in a pot and it begins to boil very slowly. There will be a moment when, if the gas is not turned off, the water begins to overflow and disaster ensues.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Greater Depression: Comparing the 1930s and Today

Comparing the 1930s and Today

You’ve heard the axiom “History repeats itself.” It does, but never in exactly the same way. To apply the lessons of the past, we must understand the differences of the present.

During the American Revolution, the British came prepared to fight a successful war—but against a European army. Their formations, which gave them devastating firepower, and their red coats, which emphasized their numbers, proved the exact opposite of the tactics needed to fight a guerrilla war.

Before World War I, generals still saw the cavalry as the flower of their armies. Of course, the horse soldiers proved worse than useless in the trenches.

Before World War II, in anticipation of a German attack, the French built the “impenetrable” Maginot Line. History repeated itself and the attack came, but not in the way they expected. Their preparations were useless because the Germans didn’t attempt to penetrate it; they simply went around it, and France was defeated.

The generals don’t prepare for the last war out of perversity or stupidity, but rather because past experience is all they have to go by. Most of them simply don’t know how to interpret that experience. They are correct in preparing for another war but wrong in relying upon what worked in the last one.

Investors, unfortunately, seem to make the same mistakes in marshaling their resources as do the generals. If the last 30 years have been prosperous, they base their actions on more prosperity. Talk of a depression isn’t real to them because things are, in fact, so different from the 1930s. To most people, a depression means ’30s-style conditions, and since they don’t see that, they can’t imagine a depression. That’s because they know what the last depression was like, but they don’t know what one is. It’s hard to visualize something you don’t understand.

Some of them who are a bit more clever might see an end to prosperity and the start of a depression but—al­though they’re going to be a lot better off than most—they’re probably looking for this depression to be like the last one.

Although nobody can predict with absolute certainty what this depression will be like, you can be fairly well-assured it won’t be an instant replay of the last one. But just because things will be different doesn’t mean you have to be taken by surprise.

To define the likely differences between this depres­sion and the last one, it’s helpful to compare the situa­tion today to that in the early 1930s. The results aren’t very reassuring.

CORPORATE BANKRUPTCY

1930s

Banks, insurance companies, and big corporations went under on a major scale. Institutions suffered the consequences of past mistakes, and there was no financial safety net to catch them as they fell. Mistakes were liquidated and only the prepared and efficient survived.

Today

The world’s financial institutions are in even worse shape than the last time, but now business ethics have changed and everyone expects the government to “step in.” Laws are already in place that not only allow but require government inter­vention in many instances. This time, mistakes will be compounded, and the strong, productive, and ef­ficient will be forced to subsidize the weak, unproductive, and inefficient. It’s ironic that businesses were bankrupted in the last depression because the prices of their products fell too low; this time, it’ll be because they went too high.

UNEMPLOYMENT

1930s

If a man lost his job, he had to find another one as quickly as possible simply to keep from going hungry. A lot of other men in the same position competed desperately for what work was available, and an employer could hire those same men for much lower wages and expect them to work harder than what was the case before the depression. As a result, the men could get jobs and the employer could stay in business.

Today

The average man first has months of unemployment insurance; after that, he can go on welfare if he can’t find “suitable work.” Instead of taking whatever work is available, especially if it means that a white collar worker has to get his hands dirty, many will go on welfare. This will decrease the production of new wealth and delay the recovery. The worker no longer has to worry about some entrepreneur exploiting (i.e., employing) him at what he considers an unfair wage because the minimum wage laws, among others, precludes that possibility today. As a result, men stay unemployed and employers will go out of business.

WELFARE

1930s

If hard times really put a man down and out, he had little recourse but to rely on his family, friends, or local social and church group. There was quite a bit of opprobrium attached to that, and it was only a last resort. The breadlines set up by various government bodies were largely cosmetic measures to soothe the more terror-prone among the voting populace. People made do because they had to, and that meant radically reducing their standards of living and taking any job available at any wage. There were very, very few people on welfare during the last depression.

Today

It’s hard to say how those who are still working are going to support those who aren’t in this depression. Even in the U.S., 50% of the country is already on some form of welfare. But food stamps, aid to fami­lies with dependent children, Social Security, and local programs are already collapsing in prosperous times. And when the tidal wave hits, they’ll be totally overwhelmed. There aren’t going to be any breadlines because people who would be standing in them are going to be shopping in local supermarkets just like people who earned their money. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of it is that people in general have come to think that these programs can just magically make wealth appear, and they expect them to be there, while a whole class of people have grown up never learning to survive without them. It’s ironic, yet predictable, that the programs that were supposed to help those who “need” them will serve to devastate those very people.

REGULATIONS

1930s

Most economies have been fairly heavily regulated since the early 1900s, and those regulations caused distortions that added to the severity of the last depression. Rather than allow the economy to liquidate, in the case of the U.S., the Roosevelt regime added many, many more regulations—fixing prices, wages, and the manner of doing business in a static form. It was largely because of these regulations that the depression lingered on until the end of World War II, which “saved” the economy only through its massive reinflation of the currency. Had the government abolished most controls then in existence, instead of creating new ones, the depression would have been less severe and much shorter.

Today

The scores of new agencies set up since the last depression have created far more severe distortions in the ways people relate than those of 80 years ago; the potential adjustment needed is proportionately greater. Unless government restrictions and controls on wages, working conditions, energy consumption, safety, and such are removed, a dramatic economic turnaround during the Greater Depression will be impossible.

TAXES

1930s

The income tax was new to the U.S. in 1913, and by 1929, although it took a maximum 23.1% bite, that was only at the $1 million level. The average family’s income then was $2,335, and that put average families in the 1/10th of 1 percent bracket. And there was still no Social Security tax, no state income tax, no sales tax, and no estate tax. Furthermore, most people in the country didn’t even pay the income tax because they earned less than the legal minimum or they didn’t bother filing. The government, therefore, had immense untapped sources of revenue to draw upon to fund its schemes to “cure” the depression. Roosevelt was able to raise the average income tax from 1.35% to 16.56% during his tenure—an increase of 1,100%.

Today

Everyone now pays an income tax in addition to all the other taxes. In most Western countries, the total of direct and indirect taxes is over 50%. For that reason, it seems unlikely that direct taxes will go much higher. But inflation is constantly driving everyone into higher brackets and will have the same effect. A person has had to increase his or her income faster than inflation to compensate for taxes. Whatever taxes a man does pay will reduce his standard of living by just that much, and it’s reasonable to expect tax evasion and the underground economy to boom in response. That will cushion the severity of the depression somewhat while it serves to help change the philosophical orientation of society.

PRICES

1930s

Prices dropped radically because billions of dollars of inflationary currency were wiped out through the stock market crash, bond defaults, and bank failures. The government, however, somehow equated the high prices of the inflationary ’20s with prosperity and attempted to prevent a fall in prices by such things as slaughtering livestock, dumping milk in the gutter, and enacting price supports. Since the collapse wiped out money faster than it could be created, the government felt the destruction of real wealth was a more effective way to raise prices. In other words, if you can’t increase the supply of money, decrease the supply of goods.

Nonetheless, the 1930s depression was a deflationary collapse, a time when currency became worth more and prices dropped. This is probably the most confusing thing to most Americans since they assume—as a result of that experience—that “depression” means “deflation.” It’s also perhaps the biggest single difference between this depression and the last one.

Today

Prices could drop, as they did the last time, but the amount of power the government now has over the economy is far greater than what was the case 80 years ago. Instead of letting the economy cleanse itself by allowing the financial markets to collapse, governments will probably bail out insolvent banks, create mortgages wholesale to prop up real estate, and central banks will buy bonds to keep their prices from plummeting. All of these actions mean that the total money supply will grow enormously. Trillions will be created to avoid deflation. If you find men selling apples on street corners, it won’t be for 5 cents apiece, but $5 apiece. But there won’t be a lot of apple sellers because of welfare, nor will there be a lot of apples because of price controls.

Consumer prices will probably skyrocket as a result, and the country will have an inflationary depression. Unlike the 1930s, when people who held dollars were king, by the end of the Greater Depression, people with dollars will be wiped out.

THE SOCIETY

1930s

The world was largely rural or small-town. Communications were slow, but people tended to trust the media. The government exercised considerable moral suasion, and people tended to support it. The business of the country was business, as Calvin Coolidge said, and men who created wealth were esteemed. All told, if you were going to have a depression, it was a rather stable environment for it; despite that, however, there were still plenty of riots, marches, and general disorder.

Today

The country is now urban and suburban, and although communications are rapid, there’s little interpersonal contact. The media are suspect. The government is seen more as an adversary or an imperial ruler than an arbitrator accepted by a consensus of concerned citizens. Businessmen are viewed as unscrupulous predators who take advantage of anyone weak enough to be exploited.

A major financial smashup in today’s atmosphere could do a lot more than wipe out a few naives in the stock market and unemploy some workers, as occurred in the ’30s; some sectors of society are now time bombs. It’s hard to say, for instance, what third- and fourth-generation welfare recipients are going to do when the going gets really tough.

THE WAY PEOPLE WORK

1930s

Relatively slow transportation and communication localized economic conditions. The U.S. itself was somewhat insulated from the rest of the world, and parts of the U.S. were fairly self-contained. Workers were mostly involved in basic agriculture and industry, creating widgets and other tangible items. There wasn’t a great deal of specialization, and that made it easier for someone to move laterally from one occupation into the next, without extensive retraining, since people were more able to produce the basics of life on their own. Most women never joined the workforce, and the wife in a marriage acted as a “backup” system should the husband lose his job.

Today

The whole world is interdependent, and a war in the Middle East or a revolution in Africa can have a direct and immediate effect on a barber in Chicago or Krakow. Since the whole economy is centrally controlled from Washington, a mistake there can be a national disaster. People generally aren’t in a position to roll with the punches as more than half the people in the country belong to what is known as the “service economy.” That means, in most cases, they’re better equipped to shuffle papers than make widgets. Even “necessary” services are often terminated when times get hard. Specialization is part of what an advanced industrial economy is all about, but if the economic order changes radically, it can prove a liability.

THE FINANCIAL MARKETS

1930s

The last depression is identified with the collapse of the stock market, which lost over 90% of its value from 1929 to 1933. A secure bond was the best possible investment as interest rates dropped radically. Commodities plummeted, reducing millions of farmers to near subsistence levels. Since most real estate was owned outright and taxes were low, a drop in price didn’t make a lot of difference unless you had to sell. Land prices plummeted, but since people bought it to use, not unload to a greater fool, they didn’t usually have to sell.

Today

This time, stocks—and especially commodities—are likely to explode on the upside as people panic into them to get out of depreciating dollars in general and bonds in particular. Real estate will be—next to bonds—the most devastated single area of the economy because no one will lend money long term. And real estate is built on the mortgage market, which will vanish.

Everybody who invests in this depression thinking that it will turn out like the last one will be very unhappy with the results. Being aware of the differences between the last depression and this one makes it a lot easier to position yourself to minimize losses and maximize profits.

So much for the differences. The crucial, obvious, and most important similarity, however, is that most people’s standard of living will fall dramatically.

The Greater Depression has started. Most people don’t know it because they can neither confront the thought nor understand the differences between this one and the last.

As a climax approaches, many of the things that you’ve built your life around in the past are going to change and change radically. The ability to adjust to new conditions is the sign of a psychologically healthy person.

Look for the opportunity side of the crisis. The Chinese symbol for “crisis” is a combination of two other symbols—one for danger and one for opportunity.

The dangers that society will face in the years ahead are regrettable, but there’s no point in allowing anxiety, frustration, or apathy to overcome you. Face the future with courage, curiosity, and optimism rather than fear. You can be a winner, and if you plan carefully, you will be. The great period of change will give you a chance to regain control of your destiny. And that in itself is the single most important thing in life. This depression can give you that opportunity; it’s one of the many ways the Greater Depression can be a very good thing for both you as an individual and society as a whole.

The Panama Papers prove it: America can afford a universal basic income

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We should all be able to agree: no one should be poor in a nation as wealthy as the US. Yet nearly 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. Perhaps one of the best solutions is also one of the oldest and simplest ideas: everyone should be guaranteed a small income, free from conditions.

Called a universal basic income by supporters, the idea has has attracted support throughout American history, from Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King Jr. But it has also faced unending criticism for one particular reason: the advocates of “austerity” say we simply can’t afford it – or any other dramatic spending on social security.

That argument dissolved this week with the release of the Panama Papers, which reveal the elaborate methods used by the wealthy to avoid paying back the societies that helped them to gain their wealth in the first place.

Roads and transportation infrastructure. Educated work forces. Courts and legal systems. Innovations sparked by government funding, such as the internet. No one – no matter how smart or hard working – joins the American or global elite without making use of these shared resources.

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But while working and middle-class families pay their taxes or face consequences, the Panama Papers remind us that the worst of the 1% have, for years, essentially been stealing access to Americans’ common birthright, and to the benefits of our shared endeavors.

Worse, many of those same global elite have argued that we cannot afford to provide education, healthcare or a basic standard of living for all, much less eradicate poverty or dramatically enhance the social safety net by guaranteeing every American a subsistence-level income.

The Tax Justice Network estimates the global elite are sitting on $21–32tn of un-taxed assets. Clearly, only a portion of that is owed to the US or any other nation in taxes – the highest tax bracket in the US is 39.6% of income. But consider that a small universal income of $2,000 a year to every adult in the US – enough to keep some people from missing a mortgage payment or skimping on food or medicine – would cost only around $563bn each year.

A larger income, to ensure that no American fell into absolute abject poverty – say, $12,000 a year – would cost around $3.6tn. That is a big number, but one that once again seems far more reasonable when considered through the lens of the Panama Papers and the scandal of global tax evasion. Because the truth is that we have all been robbed, systematically, by the world’s wealthiest people, for decades. They have used those stolen dollars to build yet more wealth for themselves, and all the while we have been arguing with ourselves over what to do with the leftover pennies.

Enough. We have the money to solve our problems. The first step is to stop the global elite from hoarding and hiding it. Cracking down on tax evasion alone will not fund all our priorities, but the Panama Papers do put the lie to the politics of austerity.

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A universal basic income would go a long way towards ensuring all Americans can have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as promised way back in 1776. Some may disagree with the notion of an unconditional cash grant, or object to it going to everyone. Just don’t say we can’t afford it.

by Colin Holtz | theguardian


GOP Just Sold America Down the River Again

December 17, 2015: BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: The country was just sold down the river again by your very Republican Party. 

I have a headline here from the Washington Times:  “White House Declares Total Victory Over GOP in Budget Battle.” That headline’s a misnomer.  There was never a battle.  None of this was opposed.  The Republican Party didn’t stand up to any of it, and the die has been cast for a long time on this.  I know many of you are dispirited, depressed, angry, combination of all of that. But, folks, there was no other way this could go. Because two years ago when the Republican Party declared they would never do anything that would shut down the government and they would not impeach Obama, there were no obstacles in Obama’s way and there were no obstacles in the way of the Democrat Party. 


When you surrender the power of the purse — and that’s the primary power the House of Representatives has.  Not a penny of money can be spent in this country by this government without the House of Representatives authorizing it.  Obama can spend all he wants, but if the House doesn’t give him the mechanism, he can’t spend any of it.  But the Republicans squandered that.  They gave up the power of the purse.  The reason they did that is because for some inexplicable reason, they are literally paranoid and scared to death of even being accused of doing something that would shut down the government. 

So to avoid even the accusation that they were going to or would ever even think of shutting down the government, they signaled that whatever Obama wanted to spend, he would get, because they figured that had less damage to them politically than the allegation that they were shutting down the government.  So, very simply, ever since the Republican Party became the party of keeping the government open at all costs, we get bills like this.  There’s simply no stopping the Democrats.  There’s no mechanism.  Every constitutional mechanism found in the power of the purse, Separation of Powers, the Republican Party years ago gave it away, in total fear of the media. 

Now, there’s also a factor that needs to be mentioned, too, and that is that many Republican donors want every bit of this money spent, and they have donated voluminously to key Republicans in order to get the money spent. So it’s not all Republican fears. It’s not all Republican caving.  A lot of it is Republican fealty and loyalty to some of their donors.  Some people today looking at this, and this is 2,009 pages.  It’s said to be a spending bill.  Among the things that it does, it fully funds Obamacare. 


It fully funds Planned Parenthood.  That, to me, is unforgivable, with everything now known about what goes on behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood, and that the federal government, led by a Republican Party, sees fit to pay for it.  It is beyond comprehension, and it is a total squandering of moral authority to fully fund the butchery at Planned Parenthood.  This spending bill fully pays for Obama’s refugee plans, fully.  This spending bill, this budget bill quadruples the number of visas Obama wants for foreign workers.  This is even a slap at American union workers.  Not the leaders.  The union leaders seem to be in favor of it, but blue-collar people, known as working people, have been sold down the river along with everybody else here. 

This spending bill even fully pays for every dime asked for by Obama on all of this idiocy that’s tied up into climate change.  Everything Obama wanted, everything he asked for, he got.  You go down the list of things, it’s there. 

And this is causing some people to wonder if they just dreamed all that stuff about Boehner resigning.  And then other people are wondering if they even dreamed all that stuff about the Republicans winning the largest number of seats they’ve had in Congress since the Civil War.  We had two midterm elections in 2010 and 2014, which were landslide victories for the Republican Party.  The Democrat Party lost over a thousand seats nationwide in just those two elections.  People went to the polls in droves wanting exactly what was rubber-stamped last night (or what will be) stopped. 


And instead they showed up in record numbers and they it turned out and they just defeated Democrats down the ballot. In the process, they elected Republicans to stop this.  And now the Republicans have the largest number of seats in the House they’ve had in Congress since the Civil War.  And it hasn’t made any difference at all.  It is as though Nancy Pelosi is still running the House and Harry Reid is still running the Senate.  “Betrayed” is not even the word here.  What has happened here is worse than betrayal. Betrayal is pretty bad, but it’s worse than that. 

This was out-and-out, in-our-face lying, from the campaigns to individual statements made about the philosophical approach Republicans had to all this spending.  There is no Republican Party!  You know, we don’t even need a Republican Party if they’re gonna do this.  You know, just elect Democrats, disband the Republican Party, and let the Democrats run it, because that’s what’s happening anyway.  And these same Republican leaders doing this can’t, for the life of them, figure out why Donald Trump has all the support that he has?  They really can’t figure this out?

Repeated stabs in the back like this — which have been going on for years — combined with Obama’s policy destruction of this country, is what has given rise to Donald Trump.  If Donald Trump didn’t exist and if the Republican Party actually does want to win someday, they’d have to invent him.  It’s just mind-boggling when you figure out everything that has been granted Obama. All the money, the tax increases, the Cadillac plans in Obamacare. All kinds of punitive things in Obamacare, delayed yet again so that people will not be made aware of the pain and suffering Obamacare’s gonna cause. 

This budget even gives Obamacare cover by delaying some of the most harsh aspects of it.  And the reason for that is, delay the harsh aspects and you prevent people from learning what they are, at the same time you get more years for the tentacles of Obamacare to deeply weave themselves into the fabric of society, making repeal of the thing more politically difficult.  So you could also say that the Republican budget bill actually improves the odds of Obamacare surviving and growing.  You have to look long and hard for this whole thing to find any opposition to anything the Democrat Party wants. 

Jeff Sessions, senator from Alabama, is calling this a betrayal, fully funding the Obama immigration agenda, the climate change agenda, increasing foreign workers.  He said, “This is why Trump is now triumphing here and probably will win.  The voters have come to believe that their own party’s elites are not only uninterested in defending their interests, but — as with this legislation and fast tracking the president’s international trade deal — Republican voters would not be wrong to conclude that their own Republican leaders are hostile to them, just as Democrat leaders are hostile to Republican voters.” 

And as Sessions points out, “This legislation represents a further disenfranchisement of the American voter.” Clearly! In the last two midterm elections, the American electorate has stood up and loudly stated, ‘No. We don’t want this. Stop this.”  It didn’t matter.  It’s so bad that over at Slate.com they’re making excuses for Paul Ryan.  I think in some places in the left-wing media, they can’t believe the scope of the betrayal.  They’re feeling a little guilty at how easy this has been.  They’re feeling a little guilty here.  I’m joking, of course.  But one of the Salon.com columnists said, “Hey, you know, you guys need to cut Ryan some slack.  He was left with a huge mess and not much time to fix it.” 

Isn’t that what they always said with Boehner? “He was left with a huge mess”? Isn’t that what they always say about Obama?  “He was left with a huge mess. Man, it was much worse than he even knew.  Nobody told him the truth.”  It seems to be a constant refrain and excuse.  “According to Sessions, the American people elected Republicans to the majority in Congress in 2014 as a rejection of the Obama administration’s immigration policies,” and any number of other things. “‘That loyalty has been repaid with betrayal,’ he said. … Sessions added, ‘As feared, the effect is to fund the president’s entire immigration agenda.'”

Planned Parenthood Unscathed in Spending Bill,” from a very happy and cheering TheHill.com.  “Planned Parenthood is praising Democrats in Congress after the spending bill released early Wednesday morning spared the organization from cuts.  As expected, the spending bill does not defund Planned Parenthood, a clear deal-breaker for Democrats, but the absence of spending cuts is still noteworthy given the intensity of the push to defund the group…” There was never any intensity to… It’s what we now know. 

There wasn’t any intensity to defund.  All there was is just a bunch of words, just a bunch of people standing up saying they were going to.  This wouldn’t stand.  They were gonna lead an effort to defund it. But nobody ever meant it.  “Planned Parenthood Vice President Dana Singiser praised congressional Democrats on Wednesday for ‘holding the line against these harmful policy riders and cuts to key women’s health programs.'”  Also from TheHill.com, another reporter cheering as well. “Funds for Obama Climate Deal Survive.”

They were never threatened, never in peril.  There wasn’t a battle.  “Secret Deal Quadruples Foreign Workers — Chamber of Commerce Backs Guest Worker Program.”  Translation:  More cheap labor will eagerly be brought into the country under a visa program or they will be employed.  “Hey, why not, Rush?  The unemployment’s rate’s 5%.  We got plenty of room for foreign workers.”  Right.  That, to me… All this Republican campaign stuff going on obfuscating or clouding this a little bit, but that really is the news of the last 12 to 18 hours.  

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH :Sanctuary cities, fully funded.  All Mideast immigration programs, fully funded.  All these things that have been exploited by terrorists.  

Sanctuary cities, fully funded.  All refugees, fully funded.  The release of criminal aliens, fully funded. 

Everything!

The Democrat leftist wet dream has just been paid for.

Source: Rush Limbaugh Show

Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Affordable Care Act?

Largest US Health Insurer Ditches ObamaCare

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Tracking the slow motion train wreck of Obamacare has become one of our preferred hobbies: below is just a random sample of headlines covering just the most recent tribulations of the “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it” Unaffordable Care Act:

But the most surprising article we wrote was our explanation from three weeks ago explaining why “Your Health Insurance Premiums Are About To Go Through The Roof” showing that even insurance companies have been unable to earn a profit under Obamacare, as shown in the following chart:

This was a stunning revelation because, after all, the Affordable Care Act was largely drafted by the insurance industry itself, and if for whatever reason, it itself was unable to capitalize on Obamacare, then it has truly been a disaster.

Today we got confirmation of this when none other than the U.S.’s biggest health insurer, UnitedHealth, cut its 2015 earnings forecast with a warning that it was considering pulling out of Obamacare, just one month after saying it would expand its presence in the program.

According to Bloomberg, “UnitedHealth Group would scale back marketing efforts for plans it’s selling this year under the Affordable Care Act, and may quit the business entirely in 2017 because it has proven to be more costly than expected.

This was precisely what we cautioned on November 2.

Fast forward to today when UnitedHealth said in a statement that “the company is evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment and will determine during the first half of 2016 to what extent it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.”

Needless to say, the implications for Obamacare – which has seen a surge in tangential problems in recent months – are dire: “A pull-back would deal a significant blow to President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. While UnitedHealth has been slower than some of its rivals to sell Obamacare policies since new government-run marketplaces for the plans opened in late 2013, the announcement may indicate that other insurers are struggling, said Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst at Mizuho Securities.

“If one of the largest and presumably, by reputation and experience, the most sophisticated of the health plans out there can’t make money on the exchanges, then one has to question whether the exchange as an institution is a viable enterprise,” Skolnick said.

UnitedHealth further said it suspended marketing its individual exchange plans and is cutting or eliminating commissions for brokers who sell the coverage.

What is surprising is that for UnitedHealth, its Obamacare-facing exposure is relatively limited: the company covers fewer than 550,000 people on the Obamacare exchanges. About 9.9 million people had insurance through the U.S.- and state-run insurance markets as of June 30. This means that all other insurance companies must be getting crushed, something which the market also noticed earlier today hitting the stocks of not only hospitals, such as CYH, HCA, LPNT, THC and UHS but also home health care providers as well such as AFAM, AMED, GTIV and LHCG.

What is perhaps even more perplexing is the abrupt shift in posture: just last month, UnitedHealth had struck a more optimistic note. I think we’ll see strikingly better performance on the insurance exchange business” next year, Chief Financial Officer David Wichmann told analysts on an Oct. 15 conference call.”

Perhaps he had not seen the P&L? Oh well, he certainly did in the subsequently 4 weeks.

The rest of the story is well-known and has been covered here extensively in the past: the inability of businesses to turn a profit from Obamacare has meant that about a dozen non-profit “co-op” plans created under the Affordable Care Act have failed, after charging too little to cover the cost of patients’ medical care, and because an Obama administration fund designed to stabilize the market paid out just 12.6 percent of what insurers requested. And Anthem last month said some rivals were offering premiums too low to provide the coverage patients require and book a profit.

https://whiskeytangotexas.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/5914d-serveimage.jpg

At the end of the day, the worst news is not for the corporations, since Obamacare is not going away any time soon. It simply means that what until now were supposedly Affordable plans under Obamacare, will soon become (even more) Unaffordable as insurer after insurer hikes premiums dramatically in order to make the biggest US governmental intrusion into the private sector in recent decades profitable to shareholders.

Or, as we explained three weeks ago, “Your Health Insurance Premiums Are About To Go Through The Roof


UnitedHealth CEO Regrets Entering ObamaCare

The CEO of UnitedHealthcare on Tuesday said he regretted the decision to enter the ObamaCare marketplace last year, which the company says has resulted in millions of dollars in losses.

“It was for us a bad decision,” UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said at an investors’ meeting in New York, according to Bloomberg Business.

UnitedHealth, the country’s largest insurer, announced last month that it would no longer advertise its ObamaCare plans over the next year and may pull out completely in 2016 — a move that sent shock waves across the healthcare industry.

Hemsley’s remarks double down on his earlier warning that the ObamaCare exchanges remain weaker than expected after two years and that it will take far longer for insurers to profit from the millions of new enrollees. 

The company had already eyed ObamaCare’s federal marketplace cautiously since it launched in 2013. UnitedHealth only began selling plans on the exchanges last year.

Now, UnitedHealth officials have said that move will result in a half-billion dollars in losses over two years.

Hemsley said it was smart to sit out of the exchanges for the first year, but that the company should have held out another year.

“In retrospect, we should have stayed out longer,” he said, adding that he believes the marketplace will take more than “a season or two” to develop.

“We did not believe it would form this slowly, be this porous, or become this severe,” he added.

by Sarah Ferris in The Hill


GRUBER: A lack of transparency was how we got this law through.

 

ObamaCare On The Rocks As Open Enrollment Looms

by Betsy McCaughey in IBD

ObamaCare is heading toward a death spiral. The administration is having trouble selling insurance plans to healthy people. That’s a big problem: When the young and healthy don’t enroll, premiums have to be hiked to cover the costs of older and sicker people, discouraging even more young people from signing up.

Last Thursday, the administration predicted enrollment for 2016 will be less than half what had been forecast in March by the Congressional Budget Office.

Even with subsidies to help with premiums and out-of-pocket costs, most of the uninsured who are eligible for ObamaCare are saying “no thanks.” Only one in seven is expected to sign up. That’s despite a hefty increase in the financial penalty next year for not having insurance.

The administration seems reconciled to failure. Already it has announced it won’t be running the customary nationwide TV campaign to encourage sign-ups, as in previous years.

Remember the young guy in plaid pajamas — “Pajama Boy” to conservatives? Well, he won’t be back this winter.

Bad enough that healthy people aren’t buying. Worse is that the administration is spending billions of your tax dollars covering up the problem, paying insurers to keep offering the plans, even though they’re losing their shirts. But facts are facts — and there’s no hiding these.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell predicts Obama-Care enrollment will inch up by 1 million or so, to 10 million people — half what the CBO forecast. Open enrollment for the coming year, which begins Nov. 1, “is going to be a challenge,” she said.

David Wichmann, UnitedHealth Group’s president, announced higher premiums last week because enrollees will “require more medical services than original expectations.”

Many states are looking at premium hikes of 30% or more, according to a new Robert Wood Johnson/Urban Institute analysis. The Heritage Foundation estimates that insurers lost 12% selling ACA plans in 2014, with more losses this year.

Don’t shed any tears for the insurance companies. Though they’re losing money on exchange plans, they’re profitable overall, and their stocks are doing well. It’s John Q. Public who’s bearing the brunt. Just as ObamaCare intended.

If you get insurance at work, you’re paying an extra tax to fund “reinsurance” for ObamaCare plans. It’s a fund to defray the cost of their most expensive enrollees.

So far, insurers have collected $7.9 billion. Recent congressional testimony shows the payments kept ObamaCare sticker prices about 11% lower than they otherwise would have been. In short, you pay a tax to make Obama-Care look more affordable than it is.

But even with these hidden subsidies, ObamaCare isn’t working because the design is fatally flawed. The 5% of the population with serious medical conditions consume nearly 50% of the health care. When you try to sell insurance to sick and healthy people for the same price, the healthy don’t sign up. It’s too expensive.

New York State learned that in the 1990s, when one-price-for-all insurance laws pushed premiums to the highest in the nation, crushing the individual insurance market here.

ObamaCare repeats that mistake. Despite slapping the uninsured with penalties — which will jump to 2.5% of household income in 2016 — they’re not signing up. The need to coerce enrollment with penalties is proof the plans are a bad deal.

How long will big insurers play along? There are political considerations, and for most, ObamaCare losses are still just a dent in their overall business. Not so for the 23 co-op insurers set up under the health law. Eight state plans have already failed, including New York’s Health Republic, and most of the rest are bleeding money.

With ObamaCare enrollment floundering and losses mounting, the nation needs alternatives. The Republicans are coalescing around a reform plan, but Democrats are doubling down.

Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to burden the existing, unpopular plans with more “free” goodies and make it harder to dodge the mandate. That won’t work. A real reform should cover the seriously ill — people with pre-existing conditions — in separate plans with separate pricing and subsidies to make them affordable.

Just like the high-risk pools many states used to maintain. That’s the lesson of ObamaCare’s failure.

• McCaughey is author of “Beating ObamaCare” and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.

‘Playing on stupidity of the American voter is how we got it passed’

IRS Agent Arrested for Accepting Bribe

AP Photo

Paul G. Hurley, 42, an IRS agent based in Seattle, is facing charges of soliciting and accepting a $20,000 bribe from a marijuana shop owner Hurley was auditing.

by Michael Patrick Leahy in Breitbart

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Hurley “faces a federal charge of soliciting and agreeing to receive a bribe by a public official and two counts of receiving a bribe by a public official. He has been charged in U.S. District Court at Seattle.”

Each charge is “punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.”

Hurley’s arrest is the latest report of misconduct by an IRS employee while working in an official capacity.

Recreational marijuana stores have been legal in the state of Washington since July 2014, but selling pot remains a federal crime.

On Tuesday the case of another IRS agent, Samuel Garza, arrested earlier this month on charges of sexual battery of a woman whose business he was auditing, was bound over to a grand jury after a dramatic preliminary hearing highlighted by the victim’s riveting testimony.

The arrests of these two revenue agents suggest a troubling pattern of behavior within the IRS. Indeed, many critics believe its organizational culture is so damaged it may be unfixable.

At the highest level of the organization, IRS leaders are targeting and attacking conservative organizations with whom they disagree politically, as the Lois Lerner scandal showed. On the ground, however, the story is equally concerning. The agency appears to lack institutional control over its revenue agents who interact with taxpayers.

Lax management and poorly defined or rarely followed human resource policies appear to allow largely unsupervised rogue agents to exercise unbound authority over virtually helpless taxpayers. The two arrested agents seemed to act as if they had free rein to advance their personal financial or sexual desires without constraint or regard to the rights and liberties of the taxpayers they were auditing.

Hurley’s alleged conduct is stunningly corrupt if the federal charges reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer prove to be true:

Prosecutors say Hurley demanded $20,000 from the marijuana shop owner in exchange for granting him lenience in an audit, despite the business owner never requesting a break.

After the bribe proposition, the pot shop owner reported Hurley to federal authorities, who supervised the subsequent handover of money, according to charging papers.

The business owner met with Hurley on multiple occasions throughout the summer after the owner was notified of a coming tax audit, court documents say. During the pair’s first meeting, Hurley explained that no tax deduction or credit is allowed for businesses that traffic federally illegal substances such as marijuana.

Over time, the pot shop owner grew to believe Hurley was sympathetic to the marijuana industry and sensed he was being lenient in the audit.

Their last scheduled meeting occurred Sept. 11, at which time Hurley told the business owner he owed about $290,000 in taxes for 2013 and 2014. The business owner agreed to the audit results.

However, Hurley later asked whether he could ask the owner a question “off the record” and then mentioned that he saved the owner more than $1 million in the audit, court records say.

He went on to say he was living paycheck-to-paycheck and had previously talked about being unhappy at the IRS, but was working there to pay off student loans, according to the charging documents.

The business owner was silent for a moment, at which time Hurley reportedly said, “20,” hinting at a demand for $20,000, prosecutors claim. Hurley is alleged to have gone on to say that he wanted the pot shop owner to pay off his student loans in small amounts over time.

Hurley was so confident of his position of power and authority over the taxpayer in question he apparently did not consider the possibility that the taxpayer might have a different point of view.

In that regard, Hurley was mistaken, as subsequent events demonstrated:

The business owner reported Hurley to authorities, who then supplied him with $5,000 cash and supervised the owner’s meeting at the Starbucks. Agents equipped the owner with a wire and also employed a video recording device to shoot footage of the deal, records say.

During their meeting, the business owner mentioned he was afraid of getting into legal trouble for the payment, prosecutors say, to which Hurley allegedly responded, “You’re not in trouble. I brought this up to you. I’m the one that is going to get in trouble.”

The pair then arranged to meet for the remainder of the payment on Monday.

Federal authorities on Monday morning gave the business owner $15,000 and again supervised his meeting with Hurley, which took place in the business owner’s car in the Starbucks parking lot.

During the exchange, the business owner told Hurley he had a friend being audited and hoped his friend could deal with an IRS agent like Hurley.

Hurley reportedly said something to the effect of, “There’s no one like me,” according to the charging documents.

Special agents closed in on Hurley at 8:10 a.m. and arrested him. They found $15,000 in Hurley’s backpack, as well as $80 in his wallet that came from the $5,000 he received last week, reports say.

As Breitbart News reported previously, Tennessee appears to be a particular hotbed of IRS agent misconduct. Jeremiah Beaty, for instance, an IRS agent based in Nashville, was arrested in August on child porn charges, and a whistle blower tells Breitbart News Beaty and Garza are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

In 2013, IRS senior manager Lois Lerner resigned in disgrace in the midst of charges she had abused her authority by targeting conservative groups for unfavorable treatment in their applications for non- profit status. The following year, in 2014, Lerner took the 5th Amendment and refused to answer questions at Congressional hearings. She was subsequently found in contempt of Congress.

The list of other recent misconduct by the IRS is long and worrisome. Pepperdine University Law School Professor Paul Caron has documented the ongoing problems at the agency, which he has tracked daily at his well respected Tax Prof blog. Caron began documenting “The IRS Scandal”more than two years ago. It has now reached Day 868.

There is little indication the ongoing scandal will do anything but expand throughout the remainder of President Obama’s term.

The constant onslaught of new stories of alleged criminal misconduct by IRS employees emphasizes the growing distrust of the public for the federal government. A recent Gallup Poll, for instance, found that half of Americans consider the federal government the greatest threat to “the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens”:

Almost half of Americans, 49%, say the federal government poses “an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens,” similar to what was found in previous surveys conducted over the last five years. When this question was first asked in 2003, less than a third of Americans held this attitude.

Given the broad evidence of out-of-control behavior by the IRS management and its agents in the field, it is little surprise that a call for the agency’s abolition and the replacement of our current system with a flat tax or fair tax, made recently by at least one GOP Presidential contender, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is resonating with 96% of Republican primary voters.

War And Chaos Ahead: How Mega-Rich Are Preparing

Exclusive: Barrett Moore previews West’s ‘impending implosion of the empire of debt’

Candidly, I don’t have the time right now to be writing an article that most in the West would ignore or repudiate. I wrote this piece, however, for the staff of WND with whom I have consulted over the years. WND is one of the few news organizations in America that is interested in truth, and unconcerned with the consequences of reporting it. I admire that, and so should you. Few news organizations remain that are not just inundating us with misinformation and propaganda. But I digress.

We are at the precipice of war, and this is a call to action. While it might not come tomorrow, the threat does grow by the day as conflict between the largest and most powerful nation states becomes inevitable, driven by the impending implosion of the empire of debt accumulated by Western democracies, and by the yearning of Russia and China (and their surrogates) to escape the constraints of almost 70 years of American hegemony.

I am not talking about another one-sided skirmish in the desert, but rather a real war, where satellites fall from the sky, ships sink, supply chains are disrupted and there is a loss of life not seen since the last century; a war of such a magnitude that few Westerners alive today can comprehend it. Such a war will alter the world as we know it. And, reading the tea leaves, it seems there is little we could do now to stop it. At this stage, all that is missing is the spark that ignites the inferno. It might come tomorrow, it might delay a while longer. We can prepare, but preparation takes years and years, and requires a threshold level of certainty that the threat exists, that it merits attention, that it demands action.

Why do our kids’ novels and movies (“Hunger Games,” “Divergent”) assume a game-changing war, but writers and talking heads on our mainstream news sites and channels serve up mindless banter about the Kardashians, the climate, Twitter trends and gender engineering? Even thinking Americans have traded serious conversation about geopolitics for Facebook page updates, thereby providing every intelligence organization on the planet the opportunity to further profile them. We are sinking further and further into blind ignorance about how the world really works, even as we strengthen the powers threatening us.

Are you still with me? Then read on. You need to re-prioritize your life today and start fulfilling the most important obligation you have to your family aside from serving God. It’s not your next vacation, a new car, or a club membership that I am talking about. No. It is the need to protect and provide for your family in a conflict situation where the supply chain no longer works. Do you think your wealth will protect you? Or that ready access to modern aircraft will make a difference? Or maybe you are fortunate enough to own a second home, or even a boat? I am sorry to say that these luxuries will prove all but useless when the coming storm arrives.

If you question my advice, then tell me, why did Mr. Jamie Dimon buy an island? Or why does Hank Paulson actually live on one? Or what about James Cameron, who up and moved to New Zealand? Or the thousands of bankers and hedge fund managers that have sought safety in havens throughout the Caribbean, and in Central and South America? Oh, you didn’t know about that? Or maybe you are having trouble placing those names? Well, Mr. Dimon is the current chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan/Chase Bank. Mr. Paulson was the chairman of Goldman Sachs, before becoming the U.S. secretary of the Treasury. And Mr. Cameron is the director and creative genius behind the movie “Avatar,” among others – which made him a billion dollars or so. But don’t be envious. Based on my experience building havens, Mr. Dimon and Mr. Cameron overlooked some serious geopolitical threats during their haven selection process, and this is despite their huge resources, connections and intuition about where the world is going. In my opinion, Mr. Paulson made a wiser choice to stay in North America, and so have hundreds of others.

Let me explain further. You see, each of these very smart and successful people understands that the political leadership of our nation, irrespective of party affiliation, are as much in denial regarding the threats we face as they are wholly unprepared and ill-equipped to make the hard financial decisions that are essential to preserving our way of life. They recognize that we are steaming right along, business as usual, such that virtually every governmental action is partisan and is made without restraint or consequence, and that the population remains blissfully ignorant as to how this inability to change direction tightens the proverbial financial noose around our necks. Think about it – how many times have you heard a politician or member of the media comment about the size of our national debt and how our path is unsustainable? Yet nothing changes.

The WND Superstore’s Preparedness section has everything you’ll need to survive societal or natural upheaval – from freeze-dried meals to gas masks. Prepare now!

While it sounds like a joke, ask yourself, what is the difference financially between Greece and the United States? In many ways, very little. Both nations are broke, both are living well beyond their means, and both are hobbled by politicians incapable of making the hard (i.e., right) decision for their citizens. Think about the news lately. If it were not for the Federal Reserve and the ability of the U.S. Treasury to borrow with impunity, our leadership would be begging for loans from creditors, much like Greece is begging its EU creditors (read: Germany), for additional financial help.

In short, our leadership won’t change the trajectory we are on until they are forced to do so. Don’t listen to what they say, but observe what they do. For example, the Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton, Bush (43) and Obama administrations have each saddled the nation with successively larger and now record amounts of debt (and please, don’t give me any nonsense about Clinton not adding to the debt; he was just a little more clever about trying to market the narrative). We have all seen these numbers before, but, to refresh your memory, they are as follows (approximately):

Think about the implications. The federal government is spending $5-$5.5 trillion annually (using GAAP-adjusted accounting) yet taking in approximately $3.1 trillion in annual revenues. We are thus only paying for, roughly, 60 percent of expenditures; the rest is being borrowed. How would that go over in your household?

Yawn, you say, I have heard all this before and we are still here – what makes it different this time? Answer: The Federal Reserve has, in the last year, begun to monetize our national debt, which means we are buying our own debt back with borrowed (or newly created) dollars. So what? Well, this is the sign that sophisticated financial insiders have looked for as the beginning-of-the-end, and this is why they are preparing to flee their metropolitan bases of operation.

Bear with me while I explain: The insiders understand that the monetization of our debt will eventually drive an increase in interest rates, which will in turn increase the cost of the nation’s borrowing (think of it as an increase in the rate on your credit card), thus creating the need to spend more money to pay the increased interest cost to service the national debt, which increases the budget deficit, that in turn increases the need to borrow more money and monetize even more debt, eventually creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of increasing interest rates to attract more and more capital, which in turn increases the cost of servicing the underlying debt etc. etc.; eventually hastening the coming financial collapse insiders fear. Furthermore, they know the Federal Reserve’s current and careful balancing act is susceptible to an upset due to some black swan event that triggers a global financial panic, thereby ripping the legs out from under the debt-supported Western democracies with the United States at the hub of that collapsing wheel. What does this mean? No one is quite sure, but analysts predict a forced bank holiday, (i.e., the banks, including ATMS, close for some indefinite period of time), massive employment layoffs, disruptions of the usual supply chain (i.e., of truck and rail transportation of food, medicine and other staples), non-payment of pensions and social assistance programs (welfare) and the destruction of much of the nation’s paper-based wealth (i.e., your stock portfolio, among other assets), along with the emergence of broad social upheaval to include gangs, mobs, riots and other social disruptions. Remember that following the financial crisis in 2008, Mr. Paulson, as U.S. Treasury secretary, stated that at the time of the $700 billion bailout from the Federal Reserve, we were within 24 hours of the collapse of the global economy. If this information does not create a pit in your stomach, then perhaps this story will.

Are you prepared for any contingency in these uncertain times? Make sure you are with “SAFE: How to Protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Home”

While you were preparing to celebrate this past Christmas with your family, in mid-December 2014, hidden away on page 615 of a 1,603-page Continuing Resolution that was passed by Congress and signed by the president, there was a little-known provision that put the American taxpayer on the hook for derivative trading loses by major trading banks. What? Really? What does that mean? Well, our illustrious leaders thought it appropriate for the American taxpayer to guarantee any derivative trading loses the banks suffer, through subsidiaries that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. In other words, the banks can continue to write, sell, and trade these sophisticated financial instruments, and profit from them, and, if they become financially untenable (read: BAD), walk away from them and let the American taxpayer wear the liability. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you the best part: These same banks currently have over $303 trillion of these financial instruments (derivatives) on their books.

Going just a bit deeper, remember (what my fourth-grader knows) that a trillion dollars is a thousand-billion dollars. Further, in 2014, the value of ALL the economic activity in the world, commonly referred to as the global domestic product, or GDP, was $72.6 trillion. So, yes, the guys on Wall Street figured out how to stick the federal government (read: you, the American taxpayer) with a potential further liability of $303 trillion, representing over four times the world’s entire GDP. And you wonder why Jamie Dimon bought an island?

I remind you of the adage of MI-5, the British Internal Security service: Western civilization is only four meals away from anarchy.

People like Dimon, Paulson and thousands of other members of the banking and financial communities recognize that during the financial crisis of 2008, our leadership did not make the hard decisions necessary to fix the system, but merely applied a $700 billion Band-Aid. By kicking the proverbial can down the path, they simply delayed and laid the groundwork for an even larger and broader crisis in the future. Hence the reason that so many have established havens where they can ride out the coming financial tsunami that will envelop the world; while others have killed themselves, with some 60 odd bankers/financiers dying either by their own hand or under mysterious circumstances in the last couple years.

So this is the lens through which many in the financial and banking industry look. They know the system is untenable, yet they know they have been provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to legally make obscene sums of money. (Note: Many won’t admit this fact; they just think they are (were) much smarter than everyone else.) Yet they know that it is mathematically and financially impossible for the United States, much less all the other Western democracies, to repay the mountains and mountains of debt they have borrowed to finance our lifestyles. They have resigned themselves that a collapse is inevitable. They don’t yet know the date, the time, or the ferocity of that collapse, but they intend to use their wealth to insulate themselves as best they can, e.g., by buying an island in the South Pacific, stocking it well and hiring a bunch of Navy SEALs for protection.

What I believe most people overlook is that politicians will always be politicians, and there is no way they will ever allow themselves to be blamed for the excesses of the last 30-odd years. Think about it. If a collapse were to take place, the politicians would need to hide from the citizens who lose everything. Literally. What would you do if, in a matter of days, you lost almost everything you had worked for during your entire life, including your pension, IRA, Social Security benefits, insurance benefits, etc.?

Don’t be caught unprepared! Order Gen. Russel Honoré’s book “Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters”

Interestingly, the government has done much to protect itself. Or might I rephrase that statement to say that our government leaders have done a great deal to protect themselves and their families. Over the course of the last two decades alone, the federal government spent hundreds of billions of dollars designing, building and refining an elaborate Continuity of Government Plan (COG) that consists of over 100 classified facilities designed to protect the leadership of the nation during crisis – any crisis, of any magnitude and any duration.

Oh, you say, you have not received the briefing necessary, nor been issued the credentials by FEMA or DOD, to access one of these facilities? Well, don’t feel bad, you are in the same situation as most Americans … unprepared and suffering from Normalcy Bias. All the while the Russians have built the most formidable offensive (nuclear) rocket force in the history of mankind and have increased their investments in their impenetrable Yamantau mountain complex that is rumored to be over 400 square miles in size. (Yes, miles). The Chinese have made similar investments in offensive nuclear capability, including the construction of 3,000 miles of underground tunnels to protect their populace. In the meantime, and particularly under the current administration, the United States accelerates its voluntary disarmament.

So where am I going with this? Where we started, or should I say, where it ends. War. Unfortunately, this is the only way that no one group can be held accountable for decades of poor decision making and the financial calamity that is upon us. Whether they be bankers, politicians, or their advisers, they are all culpable. They are, however, way too connected and way too smart to take any blame for the coming financial collapse.

Other players are emerging on the world stage who have their own agenda and will likely facilitate, or at the very least, take advantage of, the financial crisis that looms over the West. Most Americans are ill-equipped to recognize such threats, much less foresee their logical outcome. In follow-on articles, I hope to explore specific geopolitical threats the United States faces and why our cultural blinders prevent us from acknowledging or preparing for them.

“The Dead Man’s Curve” is an expression used by helicopter pilots to describe a particular flight profile where the aircraft is flown so low and slow that, if the engine were to quit, the pilot would surely die, as there would be insufficient altitude to complete an auto rotation.

Due to the monetary house-of-cards outlined here, and the confluence of growing geopolitical threats, political impotence and pressing cultural change, the United States and most other Western democracies are operating well within “The Deadman’s Curve.”

You have been warned. Recalibrate your mindset. Now prepare.

How Billionaires Run Solar Plant Scams

by David Kreutzer | The Daily Signal

At the recent inauguration of the Desert Sunlight solar farm, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated, “This is the beginnings of a renewable energy future.”

Let’s hope she is wrong, because the Desert Sunlight project is cronyism at its worst. This project involves $1.5 billion of subsidized loans. It also mandated purchases of overpriced power, all to benefit the project’s owners. And don’t think those owners are struggling mom-and-pop operations. Instead, they’re three of the world’s largest corporations—GE (market capitalization of $247 billion), NextEra Energy (market capitalization of $47 billion) and Sumitomo Corporation (market capitalization of $13 billion).

Here’s how the scam works. It begins with proposing to build a solar plant. But solar plants take up a lot of land. Gosh, that can be expensive. So, the government rents them the land at bargain prices.

The next problem is that solar plants are outrageously expensive, which is why real capitalists tend to shy away from solar energy. Luckily for the aspiring political crony, the government will help you get a loan guaranteed by taxpayers. (Just like the $500 million dollar loan they gave Solyndra, before it went bankrupt. Oops!) Added to all this, the federal government is willing to offer a 30 percent solar investment tax credit, a deduction of 30 percent of your cost from your taxes.

Now that there is money and land for the plant, what next?

Well, even with those unconscionable subsidies solar is still too expensive: utility companies prefer cheaper, more reliable energy. So then, the state government steps in to rig the market even more.

Of course, if renewable energy were already competitive there would be no need for the mandate. But it’s not.

So helpfully for companies like Desert Sunlight, California requires utility companies to meet “renewable portfolio standards,” which mandate that at least 33 percent of their energy come from renewable sources.

How uncompetitive is solar power? There’s no clear answer: California electricity consumers are kept in the dark.  The price of this renewable electricity is expressly kept secret from both taxpayers and consumers.

If the Desert Sunlight solar farm is the “beginnings of a renewable energy future,” then the future doesn’t look bright, for taxpayers, ratepayers and all Americans who think mega-corporations should make a living by selling their products, not by selling a bill of goods.

This article has been corrected to reflect that the market capitalization of Sumitomo Corporation is $13 billion, not $1.5 trillion as the article originally stated.

Introducing “The American Opportunity Carbon Free Act”… what?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse delivers a weekly speech on climate change on the Senate floor, a series he dubbed “Time to Wake Up.” (Photo credit: Office of Sen. Whitehouse)

Stupid American voters are being heavily conditioned by main stream media for the next massive tax increase before they’ve had a chance to deal with the last one, Obama Care.

Remember Cap and Trade? This one, “The American Opportunity Carbon Free Act”, reported as being formally discussed in the US Senate on a weekly basis since last November’s mid-term elections is a proposed tax on fossil fuels used by manufactures. This revenue act would also assess fees for other greenhouse gas emissions and tariffs on products from countries who aren’t taxing their manufactures in the same way.

Below is a prime example of how government has been using main stream media to scare stupid American voters into accepting the climate change lie behind “The American Opportunity Carbon Free Act”, before it ultimately gets crammed through congress like Obama Care. This makes me wonder if Jonathan Gruber, the highly compensated consultant architect of The Affordable Care Act, made famous for referring to the rest of us as “stupid American voters” have been hired to help sell this one too.

The key words and punch lines CBS editors built the following article around are highlighted in red. The same re-occurring themes found in all global warming / climate change propaganda articles.


Mega-Droughts To Become The New Normal

https://i0.wp.com/stateimpact.npr.org/texas/files/2011/11/51636665.jpg

A stock pond south of Dallas dries up due to a drought. Conditions like this could become more commonplace in the later part of the 21st century due to global warming.

Large sections of the United States will endure “persistent droughts” in the coming decades that will be worse than anything experienced in the past 1,000 years.

Comparing the conditions to the Dust Bowl but lasting several decades, researchers writing in the journal Science Advances warned Thursday that the Southwest and Great Plains will be hit by these “mega-droughts” in the later part of the 21st century. Such events have been linked to the fall of civilizations, including the decline of the Anasazi, or Ancient Pueblo Peoples, in the Colorado Plateau in the late 13th century.

“The story is a bit bleak,” said Jason E. Smerdon, a co-author and climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “Even when selecting for the worst mega drought-dominated period, the 21st century projections make (those) mega droughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden.”

86611.jpgA representation of the summer moisture in the US Central Plains and Southwest is shown. The brown line represents the variation in dryness since the year 1000; the lower the line on the graph, the drier the conditions. Colored lines to the right side of the graph represent what climate models see ahead: a trend toward dryness not seen in the previous millennium. Cook et al., Science Advances, 2015

To come up with these projections, researchers turned to the North American Drought Atlas which recreates the history of drought over the previous 2,005 years, based on hundreds of tree-ring chronologies, gleaned in turn from tens of thousands of tree samples across the United States, Mexico and parts of Canada.

Taking the Atlas data, they then applied three different measures of drought – two soil moisture measurements at varying depths, and a version of the Palmer Drought Severity Index, which gauges precipitation and evaporation and transpiration. After that, the researchers applied 17 different climate models to analyze the future impact of rising average temperatures on the regions and compared two different global warming scenarios – a continued rise in greenhouse gas emissions and one where they are moderated.

The results, according to the study, point to a “remarkably drier future that falls far outside the contemporary experience of natural and human systems in Western North America, conditions that may present a substantial challenge to adaption.”

“The surprising thing to us was really how consistent the response was over these regions, nearly regardless of what model we used or what soil moisture metric we looked at,” said lead author Benjamin I. Cook of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It all showed this really, really significant drying.”

Today, 11 of the past 14 years have been drought years in much of the American West, including California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona and across the Southern Plains to Texas and Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration of U.S. government agencies.

The current drought directly affects more than 64 million people in the Southwest and Southern Plains, according to NASA, and many more are indirectly affected because of the impacts on agricultural regions. As a result, states have imposed water restrictions, aquifers have been drawn down and reservoirs such as Lake Meade and Lake Powell are at historic low levels.

“Changes in precipitation, temperature and drought, and the consequences it has for our society – which is critically dependent on our freshwater resources for food, electricity and industry – are likely to be the most immediate climate impacts we experience as a result of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kevin Anchukaitis, a climate researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Anchukaitis said the findings “require us to think rather immediately about how we could and would adapt.”

The current study on so-called medieval droughts adds to a large body of research linking climate to worsening droughts in parts of the Southwest. The driver, for the most part, is warming in recent decades brought on by increasing greenhouse gas emissions mostly from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.

“The results … are extremely unfavorable for the continuation of agricultural and water resource management as they are currently practiced in the Great Plains and southwestern United States,” David Stahle, professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas and director of the Tree-Ring Laboratory and who was not involved in the study, said.

Aiguo Dai, a University associate professor who did not take part in the study but has done studies on past and future droughts across the globe including the United States, said its findings were “fairly convincing” and hopefully will motivate policy makers to take action.

“This provides huge warning sign for society, for the governments to take action to slow down global warming,” Dai told CBS News. “If they don’t, its likely the Southwest could become unsuitable for agriculture or many other activities.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mega-droughts-to-become-the-new-normal/
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