Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Make the Dollar Honest Again"

"Make the Dollar Honest Again"
by Bill Bonner

"Last night, we drove over to the harbor town of Dungarvan for dinner. The Irish countryside was idyllic - with rolling hills, forests and hayfields. Then, arriving at Dungarvan, we saw the Atlantic shining in the distance. Down at the harbor, the tide was out. Boats lay in the mud on their sides, waiting for the water to set them straight again. The restaurants were full. The parking lots were at capacity. Everywhere, groups of diners chatted and laughed. ‘Ireland seems to be booming,’ we said to our companions. ‘Yes, it’s come back from the edge. Property prices are rising again - especially in Dublin. Wages are going up. But this town is particularly boomy. It’s very picturesque.’

Rapists in the woods: Last week, we laughed at House Speaker Paul Ryan’s suggestion that politicians are moving ‘full speed ahead’ on ‘transformational’ tax reform. Transformational reform is what is needed; it ain’t what’s on the table. This matters to us, partly for selfish reasons…and partly as disinterested observers with a sense of humor. We would love to see real tax reform. We pay 50% of our income in state and federal taxes. We are one of the lambs the feds invite for dinner.

Here’s our proposal: Cut the tax rate to 10%. For everybody. Drop all the credits. Close all the loopholes. Tax lawyers would be out of work…insiders would be appalled…the poor would raise a ruckus…and the economy would boom. But neither Republicans nor Democrats are proposing it. Why?

First, because the powers that be have all finagled tax breaks for themselves. Complex tax systems favor the insiders; they hide in the weeds like a rapist in the woods. Congress controls the tax system…and the insiders control Congress.

Second, the Deep State needs the money. The whole idea of government is to give the few a way to exploit the many. The tax system is just one way they do it.

Third, voters don’t care about it. Currently, most of them don’t pay much in income taxes.

Population of turnips: Our friend David Stockman, who served as President Reagan’s budget chief, explains why: ‘The income tax has been slashed so many times since 1981 that it’s no longer a broad based societal tax; it’s a kind of luxury tax on upper income salary earners and the small share of households which garner most of the capital income from dividends, interest payments and capital gains… Three-fifths of income tax filers accounted for only one-twentieth of the income taxes paid. In addition… more than 52 million or 35% of tax filers – mostly at the bottom and middle of the income ladder – didn’t owe a single dime of taxes after deductions, exemptions and credits.’

There are 91 million people who earn an average of $14,600 a year. That is a population of turnips. The feds could squeeze them in a cider press; they wouldn’t get much blood. And these low-income workers make up more than half of the 148 million people who file tax returns. They are the voters.

Yesterday, we showed that Americans are poorer than we thought. Your editor is better off. You are probably better off. But most people are not. The averages distort the truth. Huge increases in wealth and incomes at the top make it look like we’re all better off.

Phony-baloney inflation calculations further hide the wounds inflicted on the typical person in Flyover America. An average car cost $19,000 in 1997. Today, it is $33,000. But as we explained last week, the feds say the price is unchanged. That’s because they say today’s car is ‘technologically superior’. So you’re getting twice as much car for your money.

But tell that to the guy with $19,000 who needs to buy a new car! He can only swing the deal by going deeper into debt. So his debt rises like the new buildings in London that house the lenders - fast and high. As interest rates fell, the cost of carrying that debt fell, too. This made a big increase in debt possible. Now, he depends on more and more debt…and ultra-low rates…just to maintain his standard of living.

Honest dollar: Our point today is that anything short of real major reform won’t help. Fiddling…tinkering…trying to shift the burden from Blue to Red…wasting more on military cronies and less on civilian zombies…wasting time ‘investigating’ - none of this is going to make much difference.

We need real transformational reforms. And the problem is not taxes, not Russia, not ISIS…not Blue, not Red; the problem is money. The typical American has too little of it. The Deep State insiders have too much. And the money itself is a fraud.

You want real transformational reform? You wanna see the economy boom? You wanna see the Deep State chased from Washington? You wanna see Wall Street put in its place and an honest republic restored? Then cut taxes as outlined above. But don’t stop there. Make the dollar honest again; link it to gold at today’s price.

Fire all Fed employees but one. His job is to stand at the ‘gold window’ at the Treasury Department and exchange gold for dollars, at a fixed rate. But wait…we’re just getting started. Fire the spooks, too. We don’t need 17 different agencies snooping on Americans; one is more than enough. Bring the troops home. Also, ban budget deficits. The feds would have to live within their means. No exceptions.

And, oh yes…ban unconstitutional ‘regulations’. Congress is supposed to make the nation’s laws, not bureaucrats and lobbyists. Cut congressional salaries to what a politician is really worth - about minimum wage. And prohibit any law that a congressman can’t explain, in detail, while standing on one leg.

All we ask is that you give us some warning before you do these things; we’ll make sure we get out of town. To Dungarvan. Or Argentina. Because it will be like Dawn of the Dead in America. When the EZ money falls away, the cronies and zombies will rise up."

Musical Interlude: 2002, “Falling Through Time”

2002, “Falling Through Time”

Musical Interlude: Little River Band, “Cool Change”

Little River Band, “Cool Change”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Under dark skies the setting of the Milky Way can be a dramatic sight. Stretching nearly parallel to the horizon, this rich, edge-on vista of our galaxy above the dusty Namibian desert stretches from bright, southern Centaurus (left) to Cepheus in the north (right). 
Click image for larger size.
From early August, the digitally stitched, panoramic night skyscape captures the Milky Way's congeries of stars and rivers of cosmic dust, along with colors of nebulae not readily seen with the eye. Mars, Saturn, and Antares, visible even in more luminous night skies, form the the bright celestial triangle just touching the trees below the galaxy's central bulge. Of course, our own galaxy is not the only galaxy in the scene. Two other major members of our local group, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy, lie near the right edge of the frame, beyond the arc of the setting Milky Way.”

"Shaya's Home Run"

"Shaya's Home Run"
by Rabbi Paysach Krohn

"In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school careers, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs. There are a few children who attend Chush for most of the week and go to a regular school on Sundays. At a Chush fund-raising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything that Hashem [G-d] does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is Hashem’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish and stilled by his piercing query.

“I believe,” the father answered, “that when Hashem brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that He seeks is in the way people react to this child.” He then told the following story about his son Shaya. Shaya attends Chush throughout the week and Yeshivah Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway on Sundays. One Sunday afternoon, Shaya and his father came to Darchei Torah as his classmates were playing baseball. The game was in progress and as Shaya and his father made their way towards the ball field, Shaya said, “Do you think you could get me into the game?”

Shaya’s father knew his son was not at all athletic, and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen in, it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging. Shaya’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked, “Do you think my Shaya could get into the game?”

The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs and the game is already in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.” Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field, a position that exists only in softball. There were no protests from the opposing team, which would now be hitting with an extra man in the outfield.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded and the potential winning runs on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was told to take a bat and try to get a hit. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible, for Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so that Shaya should at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shaya. As the next pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game.

Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far and wide beyond the first baseman’s reach. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first! Shaya, run to first!” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head, as everyone yelled, “Shaya, run to second! Shaya, run to second.”

Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran towards him, turned him towards the direction of third base and shouted “Shaya, run to third!”

As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home! Shaya, run home!” Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit the “grand slam” and won the game for his team.

“That day,” said the father who now had tears rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of perfection. They showed that it is not only those who are talented that should be recognized, but also those who have less talent. They too are human beings, they too have feelings and emotions, they too are people, they too want to feel important.”
* * *
That is the exceptional lesson of this episode. Too often we seek to find favor and give honor to those who have more than us. But there are people who have fewer friends than we, less money, and less prestige. Those people especially need attention and recognition. We should try to achieve the level of perfection in human relationships which the boys on the ball field at Yeshiva Darchei Torah achieved. Because if children can do it, we adults should certainly be able to accomplish it as well."

Bertrand Russell, "Three Passions"

"Three Passions" 

 "Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of humankind.

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of people.
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,

But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart,
Of children in famine, of victims tortured,
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living."

- Bertrand Russell

"Never Despair..."

"Never Despair"
by Sam Smith

"Empires and cultures are not permanent and while thinking about the possibility that ours is collapsing may seem a dismal exercise it is far less so than enduring the frustrations, failures, damage and human casualties involved in constantly butting up against reality like a boozer who insists he is not drunk attempting to drive home. Peter Ustinov in 'Romanoff and Juliet' says at one point: "I'm an optimist: I know how bad the world is. You're a pessimist: you're always finding out." Or as GK Chesterton put it, "We must learn to love life without ever trusting it."

Happiness, courage and passion in a bad time can only be based on myth as long as reality does not intrude. Once it does, our indifference to it will serve us no better than it does the joy riding teenager whose assumption of immortality comes into contact with a tree. But this does not mean that one must live in despair. An ability to confront and transcend - rather than deny, adjust to, replace, recover from, or succumb to - the universe in which you find yourself is among the things that permits freedom and courage.

To view our times as decadent and dangerous, to mistrust the government, to imagine that those in power are not concerned with our best interests is not paranoid but perceptive; to be depressed, angry or confused about such things is not delusional but a sign of consciousness. Yet our culture suggests otherwise.

But if all this is true, then why not despair? The simple answer is this: despair is the suicide of imagination. Whatever reality presses upon us, there still remains the possibility of imagining something better, and in this dream remains the frontier of our humanity and its possibilities To despair is to voluntarily close a door that has not yet shut. The task is to bear knowledge without it destroying ourselves, to challenge the wrong without ending up on its casualty list. "You don't have to change the world," the writer Colman McCarthy has argued. "Just keep the world from changing you."

Oddly, those who instinctively understand this best are often those who seem to have the least reason to do so - survivors of abuse, oppression, and isolation who somehow discover not so much how to beat the odds, but how to wriggle around them. They have, without formal instruction, learned two of the most fundamental lessons of psychiatry and philosophy:

You are not responsible for that into which you were born.
You are responsible for doing something about it.

These individuals move through life like a skilled mariner in a storm rather than as a victim at a sacrifice. Relatively unburdened by pointless and debilitating guilt about the past, uninterested in the endless regurgitation of the unalterable, they free themselves to concentrate upon the present and the future. They face the gale as a sturdy combatant rather than as cowering supplicant."

The Poet: Mary Oliver, "In Blackwater Woods"

"In Blackwater Woods"

 "Look, the trees are turning their own bodies into pillars of light,
are giving off the rich fragrance of cinnamon and fulfillment, 
the long tapers of cattails are bursting and floating 
away over the blue shoulders of the ponds,
and every pond, no matter what its name is, is nameless now.

Every year everything I have ever learned in my lifetime leads back to this:
the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation,
whose meaning none of us will ever know.

To live in this world you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go."
- Mary Oliver

The Daily "Near You?"

Zabrze, Slaskie, Poland. Thanks for stopping by!

Kahlil Gibran, "The Madman"

 "The Madman"
by Kahlil Gibran

"It was in the garden of a madhouse that I met a youth with a face pale and lovely and full of wonder. And I sat beside him upon the bench, and I said, “Why are you here?” And he looked at me in astonishment, and he said, “It is an unseemly question, yet I will answer you. My father would make of me a reproduction of himself; so also would my uncle. My mother would have me the image of her seafaring husband as the perfect example for me to follow. My brother thinks I should be like him, a fine athlete. And my teachers also, the doctor of philosophy, and the music-master, and the logician, they too were determined, and each would have me but a reflection of his own face in a mirror. Therefore I came to this place. I find it more sane here. At least, I can be myself.”

Then of a sudden he turned to me and he said, “But tell me, were you also driven to this place by education and good counsel?” And I answered, “No, I am a visitor.” And he answered, “Oh, you are one of those who live in the madhouse on the other side of the wall...”

"The Truth..."

“Paranoia is just another mask for ignorance. The truth, when you finally
 chase it down, is almost always worse than your darkest visions and fears.” 
- Hunter S. Thompson

X22 Report, “The Collapse Will Be Driven By A Credit Collapse, Has The Date Been Set?”

X22 Report, “The Collapse Will Be Driven By A Credit Collapse, Has The Date Been Set?”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTuiUkKMByw 
Related followup report:
X22 Report. “Did You Feel It, Something Has Changed”

"It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand
our banking and monetary system, for if they did, 
I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." 
- Henry Ford

Musical Interlude: 2002, "When I See You Again" (432 Hz Tuning)

2002, "When I See You Again" (432 Hz Tuning)

"A Better Friend Than We Deserve..."

"You'd help if you could, wouldn't you, boy?" I said. "It's no wonder they call you man's best friend. Faithful and loyal and true, you share in our sorrows and rejoice with us in our triumphs, the truest friend we ever have known, a better friend than we deserve. You have thrown in your lot with us, through thick and thin, on battlefield and hearthrug, refusing to leave your master even when death and destruction lie all around. Ah, noble dog, you are the furry mirror in which we see our better selves reflected, man as he could be, unstained by war or ambition, unspoilt by-"
- Connie Willis

"How It Really Is"

"A Few Amenities...

"We are all civilized people, which means that we are all savages 
at heart but observing a few amenities of civilized behavior."
- Tennessee Williams

Savages, with amenities, indeed... though hardly civilized.

"The Greater Depression"

"The Greater Depression"
By Cognitive Dissonance

"Once or twice a month Mrs. Cog and I pack up the car and head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For us poor mountain folk, that’s the big city and the best destination when our need for certain items calls for visiting particular stores. Each trip down from the mountain elicits at least one observation about recent changes to the Matrix. For example, Mrs. Cog noticed the big box stores appear to be reducing their selection significantly. Once it was brought to my attention, it was suddenly obvious they were narrowing their inventory to those items with high margins and quick turnover. Essentially they are abandoning the rest of the low margin consumer market to the likes of Amazon.com, Wallmart.com and so on.  

But what we stumbled upon as we hunted down a used book store near the heart of Winston-Salem was a bit surprising to say the least. It is common to find beggars and panhandlers working the stop light at busy intersections. Often they are soliciting the right hand turn lane or narrow island of grass separating the traffic flowing in opposite directions using the tool of their trade; a cardboard sign describing their particular plight in hand written black marker.

Two or three years ago the physical condition of the beggars clearly indicated distress, usually by way of their unkempt appearance and worldly possessions gathered on or around them as they solicited. These were ‘street’ people doing whatever they had to do in order to make it through another day.  Sure, some were drug and alcohol dependent, others just trying to make a quick buck tugging on the heart strings of those passing by. And some were hard core street people making some money the only way they could considering they had no home, no transportation and no support system.

I’m not here to judge because at one point in my life I was that man on the corner begging for a meal and a night out of the cold. Long before finally turning my life around, I wallowed in the socioeconomic lowlands for a decade or more. I blame no one or thing but myself for my ordeal. But that doesn’t make my experience any more or less real. Nor does it invalidate what I am today, here and now. It is simply a part of the woven fabric that constitutes the whole me.

Over the last year or so the quality, if not also the quantity, of beggars has gone more upscale, with many of those on the side of the road appearing better dressed, washed and groomed. As well, their signage has morphed from a simple plea of “Please Help!” or “Homeless, Anything Will Help” to more involved explanations such as “Between Jobs, Need Some Help”, “Lost My Job, Then My Home” right down to the truly crestfallen “I Can’t Feed My Family. Please Help!”

In addition, the cast of characters has greatly expanded. It is somewhat common these days to find a man or woman holding a sign begging us to help their family. Off to their side on public display, usually ensconced under a shade tree or other such cover, is the actual family we presume needs our help. That must have been one interesting family meeting.

While it’s one thing to scam the general public on your own, it’s another thing entirely to involve the spouse and children in the ruse in so obvious and blatant a manner. The ‘tell’ I look for to indicate sincerity is the level of obvious embarrassment etched on the faces of the children and spouse. In fact, when I encountered one such situation a few months back, the look on the teen’s face instantly compelled me to roll down the window and pass out twenty bucks. She most definitely was not faking it and would rather have spent the day in hell than on that street corner. There was just no way she could hide her immense embarrassment and public humiliation. Sadly what I saw was just another family on the express elevator down to poverty.

Mrs. Cog and I have assumed this change in the face of roadside solicitation was simply another indicator of the ongoing and escalating rape and pillage of the American middle class. Being the oldest of our union, I clearly remember a similar descent by members of society into monetary purgatory during the 70’s and early 80’s. Then again, the people motoring by back then were much more likely to help the fallen than people are today.

Our most recent encounter was simply more of the same. A Caucasian couple, presumably husband and wife, were working the side of the road. She was front and center while he was just off to the side in the shade looking forlorn and beaten. I don’t know which was more haunting, his face or hers. But I do remember seeing the same face staring back at me in black and white images from the Great Depression. The last Great Depression; not today’s Greater Depression. You’ve seen those images. I know you have.
Take a good look. Look at the eyes. See the body language. This is the face of the fallen.
She was clearly middle class, possibly even professional middle class, with freshly washed hair, presentable clean clothes and very light makeup. It was a breezy day and she was trying in vain to keep her long straight hair in place. Clearly her appearance mattered to her, her head held high as she unflinchingly faced the people she was soliciting. This wasn’t arrogance or false pride, but simple straight forward dignity on display. Her sign said it all. “We are both working, but not enough to pay bills. Please help.” For just a moment, try putting yourself in their shoes. Can you imagine the conversation they must have had over dinner last night?

The wife, looking tired and depressed, to her husband. “Honey, we need to talk.”
Silence.
“Honey, we need to talk…now.”
The husband, clearly irritated and angry, snaps back. “Yes, I know. What do you want to do?
Silence. Neither wants to be the first one to say it.
She finally tries the back way around. “Marcia at work says she knows a friend who did it last week and made more than a hundred dollars in a day.”
He shifts in his seat, but doesn’t respond. Encouraged, she pushes forward.
“She said be sure to bring food and plenty of water. And your dignity because it’s not your fault. (Pause) We’re good people, we’re working but we just don’t make enough money to pay all the bills.”
His head jerks up; he looks like he’s ready to cry. “I don’t want to do this. Isn’t there some other way we can try?
Silence.
She fights back her tears, then bites her lip until she can regain her composure. Why does she always have to be the strong one?
Reaching across the table to hold his hand, almost in a whisper she pleads, “I don’t know what else to do. We’re gonna lose the apartment if we don’t pay them some of the back rent. I need your help with this honey. I can’t do it alone.”
His shoulders drop, and with them all resistance. “OK. When?!
Wasting no time, she lays out her plan. “We’re both off tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be ok. Marcia said that stop light near the book store is a good place to try. It’s nearby, so we can walk.”
Silence.
“Tomorrow’s Friday…payday. People will have money. (Pause) It’ll be OK.”
Silence.
“Come on, help me make the sign.”
This is my sister, my daughter, my wife, my 'self'.

This is the face of the fallen, of perfectly capable and productive people slowly squeezed out of the middle class through little to no fault of their own. While I don’t know the specific situation of our Jane and Joe, the trend is unmistakable. We’ve seen it germinate, then accelerate over the last few years.

What compels an entire family to stake out a busy street corner and beg strangers for help? Or induces a man and wife to take turns holding a cardboard sign by the side of the road, soliciting help from passersby? This isn’t exactly easy ‘work’ after all. Like I said, I’ve been there and know exactly what they are going through. Many people avert their eyes and attempt not to see what is clearly evident to any who acknowledge the suffering on display. Some make a disapproving face, disgusted by what they see. A surprisingly large number flip them the bird or make some other obscene gesture. And a few will roll down the passenger side window and shout some degrading comment at the solicitor.

But every now and then someone stops and thrusts bills out the window, no time to talk or exchange much more than “God Bless You” because the light is now green and those waiting behind want to move along. Charity waits for no traffic light.

Then there are the very young children strapped into the back seat of passing cars and SUV’s. They don’t often see people standing on a street corner, at least not in places designed strictly for vehicle traffic with pedestrian traffic shunned and displaced. These young children, innocent toddlers really, have no understanding what is unfolding before their eyes. Their life experience is narrow and mostly pleasant. In supermarkets and department stores, those who pass them smile or stop and engage in animated baby talk while conversing with the rents. So, unsurprisingly, several smile, giggle and wave at the human debris perched by the side of the road.

If witnessed as a third party disinterested observer, one can quickly surmise how far they have psychologically fallen by their reaction to these most basic displays of innocent humanity and abject cruelty. Those freshly minted to roadside petitioning will return the smile and even manage a small wave, their dignity and sense of self worth still mostly intact.

But the knife that cuts the deepest are the children just a few years older, after they have begun their social indoctrination and imperial conditioning via boob tube, video game, play ground and parental teachings. You know…the do as I say, not as I do parental teachings. Some of those kids can be downright nasty when they think the rents up front aren’t looking. Other kids don’t really care if they are.

The obscene and angry displays are at first shocking and humiliating, but then mostly ignored with stone faced resolve and resignation. Those further down the rabbit hole of despair and hopelessness have fully evolved their defensive shields and show little to no emotion regardless of what they see, hear or feel. It’s simply too exhausting to do otherwise.

Having been on both sides of the curb, when time permits I try to be observant of the scene in its entirety, of both the actors on stage and the actors in the audience. This is real life drama playing out on your street corner, regardless whether you are cognizant of it or not. One measure of a society is how well, or poorly, it treats its weakest members. It doesn’t get any more real than this.

In the most general of ways I fully understand the anger on both sides of the political aisle. I was born poor and, through drug and alcohol addiction, plumbed the depths of poverty and despair as a young adult. I pulled myself out of the abyss by my bootstraps, by sheer will and determination…or to be more accurate and honest, desperation. While I presently have little in the way of wealth and material goods compared to many in America, I regained my dignity and self-worth through hard work and perseverance.

So I fully understand how one quickly disappears into the shadows when one is poor in America, detritus quickly discarded and forgotten. I get it. But America is no longer that land of opportunity so widely advertised via various glowing screens, for we now have a permanent underclass deeply embedded within the socioeconomic system. And their numbers are rapidly increasing.
Not everyone suffered during the Great(er) Depression.

The rich keep on getting richer while the poor remain poor. Since the (global) financial apparatus is now maintained via various emergency life support measures, meaning those nearest the cash register gain the most, the financial looting will continue until morale improves or the body politic collapses. Or at least until the wide swath of middle class is finished being strip mined and enslaved. Can you say ‘disappearing pension’ and ‘bailed in’?

What we are witnessing is better described as a crumble than a collapse. Only now they aren’t even bothering to dig out the bodies before bulldozing over the entire bloody mess. Those still breathing, walking wounded really, are the ones found panhandling on the side of the road, plumb out of luck and with rapidly dwindling options.

Mrs. Cog once observed while surveying the human wreckage that it’s a recession when it happens to someone else, a depression when it crashes into you or me. If I have no eyes to see and no compassion to feel, does that middle class panhandler camped on the corner really exist? The Matrix would have you believe not.

The cognitive conundrum is simple; the official numbers tell us one thing while our lying eyes another. Those running the show helpfully inform us all is well, the recovery nearly complete and consumer nirvana just around the corner. Just a few more Federal Reserve cash machine refills and flushes and all will be as right as rain.

Here’s an ugly truth, one that has ALWAYS been self evident for all to view with the courage to see. The intent of government statistics is not to tell you or me the truth, but to allow us to remain comfortable with the public lie. And while liberal and conservative alike bemoan the state of the state, hypocrisy reigns; don’t you dare touch my piece of the public pie.

Just because one slice comes from gainful employment via defense contracts or Wall Street alchemy while another is served a la mode via various liberal educational institutions or Silicon Valley magic means nothing. The real world definition of public hypocrisy is complaining about the quantity and quality while still firmly attached to the rapidly diminishing teat. Or in this case, Uncle Sam’s wealth redistribution and Ponzi enabling purse strings. Make mine to go and hurry it up.

Anyone who sincerely thinks the root cause of all our problems lay way over there, on the other side of the divide, really should consider cutting back on the ideological bong hits. I strongly suggest it’s time to just say no, then attempt to clear our severely befuddled heads.

Whatever our globally heralded ‘constitutional’ political system might once have been, it clearly no longer is. It’s regressed to the point where it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. Confirmation of our decline springs from study after global study showing America’s solid hold on the lower middle of world rankings…and sinking fast. Which is precisely why the USS Titanic, just like all Titanic’s in the past, will continue sailing straight forward until it wrecks on the rocks in plain sight. We all know the only class with reserved lifeboats is first class and above.

Anyone who still thinks a corrupt and hopelessly dysfunctional political system can be ‘fixed’ by changing a few figure heads at the top desperately wants, no needs, to believe this public fiction above all else. Thus the canned statistics continue to be pumped out. “See, if we just tweak a little here and remove that over there, things are sure to get better.”
Don't avert your eyes. This is the face of exhaustion and hopelessness.

The fiat spice flow is all that counts. And everyone at every level, including those dwelling at the bottom, intuitively knows this. If a dysfunctional system remains severely dysfunctional even though everyone claims they prefer otherwise, someone is lying somewhere. What is actually going on is everyone is lying, to themselves and to each other. And deep down everyone knows it.

This is the big lieThose who wish to manage us know one amazingly simple fact. If everyone is lying and no one wishes the lie to be exposed for fear they will miss out when the truth is told, then perpetuating, twisting and manipulating the lie is the path to total control. Massage the narrative and you control those enthralled and dependent upon the narrative.

The key to a really good lie is to mix in some truth. When we speak ‘truth’ to others, especially unspoken ‘truth’, it helps smooth over the lingering lies that remain tightly bound to what we identify as our ‘self’. This is how we intellectually support our own glaring hypocrisy.

Ramp up the moral certainty and righteous indignation and we’re off to the races, all doubt and introspection abandoned on the side of the beggar’s road in our quest to save the world from ourselves. Of course, since we are righteous and morally correct, we can never admit this to our self, let alone to anyone else. This deeply embedded and desperately hidden cognitive dissonance is the root of all the suffering we create and the source of our everlasting insanity.

Despite what liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists and communists say, this isn’t about saving the world. On a personal level, the only level that counts, this is about personal redemption from our big lie. And by hook or by crock we shall be redeemed.

Unfortunately there is no redemption, only absolution. And the absolution must come from within, from our own hand and only after a brutally honest self examination, then an inner cleansing is complete. Since this is precisely the route we do not wish to pursue, the inner tension continues to increase exponentially.

Once we crest the peak and start our descent, we cannot hold on tight enough nor do we have the courage to let go and change course. Therefore we drive our own ship of state directly onto the rocky shoals. The nation simply follows the individual in the same manner the body follows the direction of the head. Try walking in a straight line while your head is turned all the way to one side or the other. It simply can’t be done. Inevitably you change course. On the flip side, try walking to the left or right while keeping your head fixed on a point on the horizon.

Neither you nor I can personally save those people begging on the side of the road. The socioeconomic system is failing because we are failing morally, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as individuals, as a community and as a nation.

I needed to hit rock bottom before I became willing to do what really needed to be done, to look directly in the mirror and conduct a fearless moral inventory. Only then could I start to change everything connected to my own big lie so the healing could begin. We as individuals and as a nation need to follow the same prescription.

But ‘We the Nation’ are not willing to do this just yet. This is because we as individuals must take the first step forward, to admit we have no choice but to stand on the busy street corner and beg complete strangers for help. A little humble pie does wonders for a tormented soul. I’ve been there before and I stand ready, willing and able to be there again. What about you?"

"Straitjackets..."

"If people behaved in the same way nations do 
they would all be put in straitjackets."
- Tennessee Williams

Who says they don't?

Greg Hunter, "War, Financial Calamity 2 Biggest Trends: Gerald Celente"

"War, Financial Calamity 2 Biggest Trends: Gerald Celente"
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

"Top trends forecaster Gerald Celente thinks of all the things he studies, war and financial calamity are the two biggest trends he sees. The big game changer in the geopolitical global landscape is war coming from the Middle East. Celente explains, “It’s the war against Iran. That’s the way we see it, and we recently did a trend alert on it. The Iran war will be World War III. It will also probably be the war to end all wars and a good part of civilization if it happens. These are the Persians, and they are not going anywhere.”

Celente contends oil will be at the center of the conflict and points out, “Three years ago almost to the date, June of 2014 a barrel of oil was selling for $115, today around $45 a barrel. There is going to be economic turmoil throughout the Middle East. I always say when all else fails, they take you to war. You see the war between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, it’s going to blow into Saudi Arabia. So, when we are looking at the Middle East, it’s really Iran. They are shooting down Iranian planes and shooting down Iranian drones. Iran is the bottom line in this. So, we see these tensions really building up, and it’s going to be Iran. If Iran and anybody goes to war, the Russians and the Chinese take the Iranian side, and Europe and the United States take the other side.”

In the coming financial calamity trend, look no further than financially strapped Illinois that is so broke it is no longer allowed to sell Powerball lottery tickets. Illinois is insolvent and cannot pay its bills. It has hundreds of billions of dollars in bond debt and pension obligations and no way to pay them. Celente says, “All it will do is screw the people. That’s all it will do. This is like austerity measures in other countries. That means they are going to rob you of your pensions, your benefits, raise your taxes, and they will increase your retirement age until after you die. So, what they will do is keep the Ponzi scheme going. There are two different worlds. The people’s lives can continue to decline. That we are seeing with the wage data. Obama bragged, folks I created 10 million jobs. According to the Harvard/Princeton study, 94% are temporary work.  So, you can see all these collapses going on, but they will keep the Ponzi scheme going. So, we will have a decline, in absence of a wild card, and we see a 10% correction in the market. If we have terror strikes or other wild cards, it’s going to be a crash because it’s all being held up by lies and dirty deals for the very rich.”

Celente thinks the economy is so weak that it must be propped up by massive fraud, and that means any black swan can sink this economic scam overnight. Celente contends, “It’s over, it’s over and that’s why gold is the ultimate safe haven to me.”

What specifically is Celente watching to tip him off trouble is coming? Celente says we are watching Iran and any confrontation with Iran, and we are watching tech stocks and the possibility of a sell-off and also the price of oil. There is too much supply and not enough demand–end of story.”

Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with trends researcher Gerald Celente,
 Publisher of "The Trends Journal." (There is much more in the video interview.)