Thursday, May 31, 2012

A judge effectively rules: you have a duty to die because the right of a violent criminal to kill you trumps your right to defend your life.

Anne Bryant, sister of Jonathan Lowe, displays photos of him in his days as a Marine. (Shumita Basu / Staff Photographer)

Above Photo: Anne Bryant, sister of Jonathan Lowe, displays photos of him in his days as a Marine.

In one of the worst miscarriages of justice ever, a Philadelphia judge found a man guilty of killing a man who struck him with a metal pole, knocked him to the ground and was attempting to strangle him in the commission of a robbery. The victim is now facing up to 12.5 to 25 years in prison for the crime of defending himself.

 It all started when Jonathan Lowe, 57, a retired marine who had recently survived a heart attack and multiple strokes, was returning home from dinner with a friend. As Lowe was walking home, he was attack by 3 thugs. Although Lowe attempted to get away, they followed him and one of the assailants, Loren Manning, age 51, hit Lowe with a metal pole, knocking him to the ground and then proceeded to choke him. With Manning’s hands around his neck and strangling him, Lowe managed to retrieve a pocket knife and started stabbing Manning. Manning died. Lowe was charged with unlawfully killing him and the judge rejected legitimate self-defense as a defense.

Manning was a career criminal with 40 arrests, 18 convictions and was currently awaiting trial for knocking out a woman’s teeth while robbing her.

Lowe was not a career criminal. Although he had a rough life, he joined the Marines in 1976 and was honorably discharged in 1982. At one time, Lowe had drug problems but they were long behind him.

Lowe was just a law abiding citizen minding his own business when he was violently attacked.  For the crime of defending himself, he may very well spend the rest of his life in prison.

Related articles:

Despite ‘Castle Doctrine,’ defendant is convicted in slaying

Should ex-Marine face murder charge for killing his alleged attacker?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Alabama: 20,000 show up to apply for 877 auto manufacturing jobs

Unemployed Americans are desperate to find work as they scramble to apply for jobs in numbers that far exceed job openings. CNBC reports:
At the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama more than 20,000 people have applied for one of the 877 job openings.
The surge of people applying may seem unusual, but it's not.
Take a look:
Last summer Ford had more than 18,000 people apply for one of 1,800 jobs at the retooled Louisville plant.  That plant will open and start building the Edge SUV in mid-June.
In 2011, more than 41,000 applied for one of the 1,300 positions at the new Toyota plant in Tupelo, Mississippi.
In 2009, more than 65,000 applied for one of the 2,700 jobs at the new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN. Since opening, that plant has added shifts and is currently hiring another 820 workers.
Read the rest here

These are not unusual stories. Similar stories have been reported for years. Back in 2009, it was reported that GE advertised for 90 washing machine assembly jobs in Louisville, KY and 10,000 folks showed up to apply. The GE jobs were paying $27,000 a year or $519.23 a week or $12.98 an hour. Just 4 years ago, the same washing machine assembly line job paid $19 an hour.

As middle class factory workers are being forced to take 30% plus wage cuts, Bankster and CEO compensation continues to soar out of the stratosphere, courtesy of massive welfare subsidies and congressionally approved bailouts to Wall Street and its cronies.  The government has created a situation where the middle class has been deliberately beaten down to chronic serfdom.

While workers are now being thrust into the stone cold reality of free market wages during a period of profound inflation, government induced monetary devaluation and massive corporate welfare,  the elites of our thieving and corrupt economic system continue to stockpile for themselves the crème de la crème of national riches.  The bankster and crony capitalists are exempt from free market competition.

America has become a place where the poor and middle class are taxed and impoverished to make the rich richer.  Such a concentration of wealth and power would never happen in a free country with free markets and sound money.

Rockefellers and Rothschilds unite

 AFP Photo / Carl Court

Two of the world's most powerful families dynasties unite as they plan and implement a totalitarian New World Order. The Financial Times reports:
Two of the best-known business dynasties in Europe and the US will come together after Lord Jacob Rothschild’s listed investment trust and Rockefeller Financial Services agreed to form a strategic partnership.
Read the rest here
Financial Times 

Judy Morris

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ben Garrison: The Best Liberty Cartoonist (and a Ron Paul Supporter)

I've recently seen a lot of awesome and inspiring liberty cartoons and found out that they are the brilliant work of Ben Garrison.  Not surprisingly, Ben Garrison is a Libertarian and Ron Paul supporter.  His blog is here and website is here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day - The Horrors Our Wars Inflict on the U.S. Military

It's Memorial Day weekend and all across America there are flag waving parades and events honoring our soldiers for their service to our country. They've paid a horrific price in terms of lives lost and debilitating injuries.

AP is reporting that nearly half of our veterans (the vets that didn't return home in a body bag) are on disability because of their war related injuries.

Almost half of new vets seek disability
A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press. What's more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.
Even more horrifying, the Huffington Post did a piece in March about the debilitating effects of soldiers returning home minus their junk and limbs.
Before they went off to fight in Afghanistan, the guys of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines talked quietly about their deepest fear. Not dying. Not losing a leg or an arm.
It was having their genitals ripped off, burned away or crushed in the fiery blast of an improvised explosive device.
This was no idle concern to young men bursting with testosterone. The makeshift bombs known as IEDs are taking a frightening toll in Afghanistan, the blasts shearing off arms and legs, ripping through soft flesh, crushing organs and bone, and driving dirt, rocks and filth deep into torn flesh -- often leaving the genitals shredded or missing. Some guys said they'd rather be dead.
Mark Litynski, a 23-year-old rifleman with Lima Company, knew the odds. He'd been married to Heather for almost a year, and children were in the future they planned together.
I ought to freeze my sperm so we could still have kids if something happened, he thought.
The idea nagged at him. But in the rush of last-minute training before they packed their sea bags and weapons and then took a few days of boisterous leave, he kept putting it off. Where do you go to freeze your sperm, anyway? Who would you even ask?
By the time they loaded on the buses at Camp Pendleton, it was too late. Should have done it, Mark thought as they boarded the plane in September 2010.
Weeks later, Mark was on a combat patrol in Sangin, southern Afghanistan, walking behind an engineer sweeping for IEDs, marking their path with yellow spraypaint. IED detectors aren't foolproof. There came a bright flash and searing heat, then the upward blast ripped off both of Mark's legs and most of his left arm, slashing into his remaining arm, shattering his pelvis and driving a rock and other debris up into his abdominal cavity.
Amid the bloody carnage, all the skin was ripped from his penis and his testicles were gone.  
Read the rest here.

Beyond The Battlefield Genital Injuries 

For what? A foreign policy of perpetual war by a nation that should change its name to Murder, Inc. is far more descriptive of an insideous and evil empire in decline than a free and prosperous nation. For the young men who join the military in the false belief that they are serving their country, those who return from neocon wars minus their junk and limbs, and with other horrific injuries, must be asking themselves "Why did I do it?" and "Did I sacrifice my manhood and limbs for defense contractor profits?".

The unconstitutional and never ending wars are also responsible for our economic decline because they are literally bankrupting America. Foreign policy analysts Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer over at estimate that military and war expenditures subsequent to 9/11 total nearly $8 trillion, here.

Every empire in human history eventually bites the dust and the American Empire is also destined to implode just like every other empire before it.  That's a guarantee that is practically a law of physics.

It's long over due for Americans to honestly and morally reflect on our foreign policy, a foreign policy that has nothing whatsoever to do with national security.  The nations that we bomb and the folks that we kill have no capacity whatsoever to threaten the US or to harm us in any way.  Yet the government propaganda machine that is aided and abetted by our severely demented media continues spew the outrageous lies that folks in some two bit third world nation without armies, navies, an air force, tanks and sophisticated weaponry are somehow a threat to the biggest and most advanced military ever to exist in human history.

Is this what Americans want?  Are we trying to out-Hitler Hitler in our quest for world domination?  Has the US replaced Nazi Germany as the most evil empire in modern history?  It's certainly no coincidence that America, a nation that once gloriously enshrined and cherished civil liberties, has morphed into a Nazified Police State.

If this is a legacy that we aspire to and genuflect before, then all I can say is God help us.  We've become the evil that propels the Evil Empire.

No, I won't be celebrating Memorial Day or doing any flag waving.  The American flag no longer even stands for anything moral, righteous, humane, noble or honorable.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

How the 1% Defeated the 99% By Concentrating Wealth and Power

 Out of work

America has become a place where the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is vanishing and the rich are getting richer.  The facts and stats are startling.  Economist Robert Richter wrote:
The richest 1 percent of Americans last year took home 23 percent of total national income. Back in 1980, the richest 1 percent took home 8 percent of total income. The last time the top 1 percent took home more than 20 percent of total income was in 1928, just before the Great Crash.
This graph shows the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

The gap between the top 1% and everyone else hasn't been this bad since the Roaring Twenties 

While the gap between the rich and the poor in America has been widening for decades, CEO compensation also continues to soar.

Average CEO Pay 2011 Nearly $10 Million At Public Companies: AP Study

The issue isn't so much about how much CEO's earn but what they earn in relation to worker wages.  The disparity between CEO compensation and worker compensation is incredibly wide and growing.
In 1982, the ratio of CEO pay to the wages of an average worker stood at 42 to 1. Today, it is beyond 300 to 1. If the minimum wage had increased as quickly as CEO pay since 1990, it would be $15.71 an hour today, here.
Moreover, the wealthy are well insulated to absorb currency devaluation shock but the poor and middle class suffer extreme hardship because most of their income is not discretionary but pays for essentials like food, shelter, transportation, clothing and medical expenses - products and services whose prices have soared while real wages declined.

What went wrong?  How did we get to this miserably low point?

There are several key reasons, starting with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.  The Federal Reserve is neither federal nor does it have any reserve.   It's a consortium of private bankers and it's sole purpose is to transfer wealth and power from the people to them and the government they control.  It's no accident that the Federal Reserve was created in 1913 and WW I broke out in 1914.  America has practically been in a permanent and non-stop state of war with somebody since the Fed was created (WW I, WW II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Balkan Wars and a ton of other military interventions all over the world).  The true history of why America entered WW I is here.

Despite the wars and the Fed, the poor and middle class were able to prosper because so long as the dollar was pegged to gold it functioned as a noose around the necks of banksters, congress critters and imperialist warmongers.

Then the unthinkable happened in 1971.  Nixon de-tethered the dollar from gold via an Executive Order and without any congressional approval, the dollar became a 100% pure fiat currency and America got Banksters Gone Wild, Wars Gone Wild and Government Gone Wild.

What was the impact of Nixon's act on the middle class?  It was devastating because Americans  were then forced to become debt slaves to maintain their standard of living.  An entire nation became Debt Man Walking as Americans indebted themselves on a scale only witnessed in an undiscovered parallel universe.  The Empire of Public, Personal and Corporate Fiat Money Debt is now imploding all around us.

What Happened to America's Middle Class? It's All in One Graph

Congress Critters also committed a whole lot of other treasonous treachery to disenfranchise the 99%.  They passed bills encouraging U.S. domestic producers to relocate their factories to other parts of the planet by offering them lucrative tax breaks if they earned their profits offshore.  Profits earned on US soil were taxed at higher rates.  Congress also accelerated corporate welfare, crony capitalism and fascism.

While the solutions to our immense problems are relatively simple, our problems will never be solved nor will the middle class ever rise again until the 2 absolute worst scourges are vanquished:  the Federal Reserve and the ability of the government to wage perpetual bankrupting wars.

The Republicans and Democrats are worthless because nearly 100% of them are nothing more than wholly owned subsidiaries of the banksters, the military industrial complex and corporatist/fascist special interests.  The Dems scream "we'll raise taxes"  but America is already nearly fully plundered and  no longer even has a viable powerhouse of an economy that can produce things to tax.  America is simply tapped out.  The middle class is nearly wiped out.  The Republicans scream "we'll start more wars and create more crony capitalism and a bigger more powerful Nazified Police State" but the wars have bankrupted us and are largely responsible for the $15 trillion mountain of unsustainable debt.

Oddly and as difficult as it is to believe, Republicans were once anti-foreign interventionists and opposed foreign wars.  Who got us into WW I, WW II, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Balkan Wars?  All liberal progressive Democrats, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson and Clinton, respectively.  WW I consumed 35 million lives, WW II consumed a minimum of 50 million lives and an estimated 20-30 million have been killed in US foreign interventions subsequent to the end of WW II, here.

The crazy Dems moralize that they are the good guys because they want all their serf/slaves to be happy on their lovely totalitarian plantation.  The crazy Republicans wallow in the delusion that America is a free and prosperous country while simultaneously killing liberty and the constitution every chance it gets (NDAA, SOPA, Patriot Act).

There is only one hope for America.  Bust up the phony baloney left-right paradigm, eradicate the evil RNC and DNC corporatist money laundering machines, end the damn wars, kill the military industrial security complex, restore sound money, restore civil liberties and boot fedzilla back to its constitutional boundaries and limitations.

Do the folks have the courage to just do it and fire Congress en mass?  Probably not but their profound trust in the government's powers to be the cornucopia of plenty is about to be shattered beyond recognition.

Brazil Takes a Step to Strengthen Property Rights

brazil's favelas

In analyzing poverty and its root causes, the Keynesians and statists consistently leave out the primary cause of poverty - the lack of secure property rights. But in Brazil, the issue of secure property rights is finally being addressed.

Rio Is Finally Issuing Land Titles In The Notorious Favelas

The above referenced Business Insider article states:
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The home Jose Nazare Braga built in the Rocinha shantytown is his life's work, an investment that grew from a shack to a three-story building over 30 years. A restaurant and a paper-goods store on the ground floor provide income, and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live above.
The red-brick building is Braga's nest egg, his retirement home and an inheritance for his large family. But for decades, the property wasn't formally his, and he lived in fear of losing it all.
Now local officials and human rights groups are working to give legal title to tens of thousands of people like Braga, a process that increases their wealth and gives them greater access to credit, as well as peace of mind.
The importance of secure property rights cannot be overemphasized and the Global Property Guide ( compiles indexes of the security of property rights in nations.  The Property Rights Index is very important because there's a definite correlation between secure property rights and prosperity.  Nations with low property security rights are the most impoverished nations on the planet.  The wealthiest nations have very high property security indexes.

The United States is actually declining in secure property rights with an index of 85.  Canada has a property security index of 90, and so does Iceland, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Austria.  Singapore and Hong Kong also have property security indexes of 90.

Secure property rights extend far beyond deeds to real estate.  They also include the protection of other property, intellectual property, patents, copyrights etc. and such property protections also require a competent and non-corrupt legal system to enforce property rights.

Brazil?  Brazil had a property protection index of 50 which is far below Chile at 85 (same as the US) and Uruguay at 70.  Most South American and Central American nations have low property protections which is why they remain impoverished.

Brazil is definitely taking a step in the right direction and it's a giant step that will work to alleviate crushing poverty.   Most other nations in South America and Central America are not taking steps to strengthen property rights.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Yes America, We Can Have Jobs, But Only If....

Ariana Lindquist / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The above photo: A worker inspects the body of a vehicle on the production line at the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the world's largest maker of luxury autos, will invest about $900 million in its South Carolina factory to expand capacity and prepare the facility to produce a new sport-utility vehicle.

American manufacturing has taken some nasty hits over the decades as US jobs were off-shored, downsized and/or otherwise relocated to other corners of the planet.  However, the situations appearing to be somewhat turning around. Considering the vast number of unemployed folks in America, it's hardly an American job renaissance but there are regional bright spots.

In this still tepid recovery, the biggest feel-good story has been the resurgence of American manufacturing. As industrial production has fallen in Europe and growth has slowed in China, U.S. factories have continued an expansion that has stretched on for over 33 months. In April, manufacturing growth was the strongest in 10 months.
There are a number of reasons for this revival. Rising wages in China – up from roughly one-third U.S. levels to half that in a decade — and problems associated with protection of trademarks and other issues have led many U.S. executives to look back home. Some 22% of U.S. product manufacturers surveyed by MFGWatch reported moving some production back to America in the fourth quarter of 2011, and one in three said they were studying the proposition.
The above story about Seattle job growth begs the question:  Why?  The answer is:  Taxes.  Low tax business friendly states are economically performing better than high tax anti-business states.  The Tax Foundation follows this issue and has a state by state index of the business tax climate.

2012 State Business Tax Climate Index
The 10 best states in this year’s Index are:
1. Wyoming,  2. South Dakota 3. Nevada 4. Alaska 5. Florida 6. New Hampshire 7. Washington 8. Montana 9. Texas 10. Utah
The 10 lowest ranked, or worst, states in this year’s Index are:
41. Iowa 42. Maryland 43. Wisconsin 44. North Carolina 45. Minnesota 46. Rhode Island 47. Vermont 48. California 49. New York 50. New Jersey
Generally, blue states and purple leaning states have the worst business climates, highest taxes and most draconian anti-business regulations.  Capital functions like the laws of physics:  it will always seek and find business friendly abodes.  Taxes are very much part of the 'cost of doing business' and to remain a competitive producer, businesses will always gravitate to low tax states.


USA Today has an interesting piece on the 'real deficit'.

Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally
The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules.
The deficit was $5 trillion last year under those rules. The official number was $1.3 trillion. Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to g government actuaries, but the amount was not registered on the government's books.
But how does the deficit relate to the average American family when put in the context of their household income? The USA Today article states:
...the government ran red ink last year equal to $42,054 per household — nearly four times the official number reported under unique rules set by Congress. A U.S. household's median income is $49,445, the Census reports.
Think about that. The government is spending $42,054 per household when average household income is $49,445. To balance the budget and live within our means would require that Americans pay the federal government nearly every cent they earn, and this doesn't even include state and other local taxes.

For decades, Congress Critters have used the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF) as its own personal slush fund to fund wars, pork, corporate welfare and other slop. The dollar amount of the congressional plundering of the SSTF is at least $2.5 trillion. Congress just spent the money and left a big pile of worthless IOU's.

How Your Social Security Money Was Stolen – Where Did the $2.5 Trillion Surplus Go?

America is rapidly approaching the point where it's fully plundered. Taxpayers are tapped out. The SSTF is wiped out. There isn't anything to squeeze out of a bankrupt nation mired in economic decline with mountains of unsustainable debt.

Republicans don't care.  Democrats don't care.  For them, it's all about the raw and absolute power to destroy a nation with endless wars and unsustainable spending.  What do Congress Critters get for their treasonous treachery?  They get their campaign coffers filled with special interest dough, defense contractor dough and corporate welfare queen dough.

From the website of the White House, the complete historical budgets including tax receipts and spending (starting on page 22).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Once Upon a Time….Mankind was Nearly Shorn of its Shackles. Yes, it’s always been the 1% vs. the 99%.

Once upon a time the world was owned and controlled by kings and queens, princes and princesses, lords and ladies, and absolute rulers. There were the ruling elites, the upper class, the propertied class, the moneyed class, the educated class, the bureaucratic class and everybody else was a serf of sorts and expected to be compliant slaves – that’s what slaves do, they serve their masters. Such was the fate of humanity for thousands of years. The 1% and the 99% have existed for as long as humans have existed.

The ancient Greeks experimented with democracy and the ancient Romans introduced the republic (embraced by America’s founding fathers to minimize state power) but for the most part folks were not deemed to have any rights.

Then the unthinkable happened. In Europe, Western Civilization was born as folks started to clamor for political rights, property rights and natural rights. Monarchies began to topple, theocratic powers were usurped and the revolution for human liberty began. Although Europe was a bloodbath on and off for nearly a millennium, the great political theorists and intellectual challengers who conceived and fought to implement such foreign concepts as non-repressive forms of government and individual sovereignty finally succeeded. Eventually, limited personal freedoms and rights translated into much wider economic freedoms which elevated industry and trade while spawning an economically strong middle class.

Throughout the process, we all learned that the vast human potential so inherent in the minds and souls of free thinking human beings is, ultimately, the only catalyst for progress and civilization, without which there can no civilizations, at least none worth noticing or experiencing. Greatness and human liberation are soul mates.

To be sure, the road from human serfdom was long and bloody and there were territorial wars, civil wars, religious wars (some of the bloodiest of all wars) and the wars fought for conquest and empire. As Europe was a chronic bloodbath, many feisty folks just packed up and headed across the pond to a strange new land. While US history is also replete with its own horrors like slavery and the ruthlessly unjust treatment of native Americans, no nation is without its sins. Still, America was the first human society truly designed for mass human liberty even if on a somewhat selective basis.

The grand experiment worked wonders as power and wealth was shifting away from the 1% and to the 99%. Shorn of their shackles, mankind prospered for the first time in human history and at an unprecedented rate.  A strong and flourishing middle class was born as free markets were delivering good and services, and prosperity for the masses (99%) was achieved. There was peace instead of war and government had limited powers.

But the 1% started screaming “holy shit, we can’t let that happen.  We can’t allow the lowlife people and the unwashed masses to be in charge with free markets and sound money so we will work to transfer that power back to us.”  But the folks had tasted liberty, loved it and so selling the idea of servitude was a daunting and challenging task.  However, the 1% have always been extraordinarily clever. This time around they concocted warm and fuzzy ideologies like socialism, statism, Marxism, communitarianism, globalism, environmentalism, progressivism, collectivism and other ‘ism’s’ to lure the people away from their liberty and prosperity.

These days, the remnants of power, royal families and the world’s elites are now concentrated in 20th century statism (government control of everything), finance (banksters transferring wealth from the 99% to the 1%) and corporatism, plutocracy, oligarchy and monopoly. They no longer need whips, chains, shackles and armies to subdue the people. All they needed to do was sell democracy and get us to vote ourselves back into slavery. It was a brilliant strategy that worked beyond their wildest expectations.

And thus, the small window of human liberty was nailed shut; only this time around the Sheeple People voluntarily marched back to the slavery plantation of the 1%.

Moral of the story: giving any government any power is the equivalent of consenting to slavery.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Texas and Dave Barton War on Thomas Jefferson has an article on David Barton's latest book titled The Jefferson Lies

Faux history for the GOP 
Republicans love David Barton and his new book, "The Jefferson Lies" -- even though it gets history wrong
Earlier this month, the evangelical writer David Barton’s new book, “The Jefferson Lies,” hit the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction. Barton isn’t popular, however, only with the ordinary American reader. On May 8, John Boehner authorized the use of Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for a religious service to commemorate the first inauguration of George Washington. Among the speakers was Barton, who is revered by social conservatives because he argues that the nation was founded primarily by evangelical Christians on explicitly Christian teachings.
Barton — “one of the most important men alive,” according to Glenn Beck — is frequently criticized as a pseudo-historian by progressives and academic historians for his claims about the Founders. He is now facing scrutiny, however, from evangelicals. After Barton’s speech in the Capitol, John Fea, chairman of the history department at evangelical Messiah College, accused Barton of “peddling falsehoods” about Washington, and asked, “Is it time to gather Christian historians together to sign some kind of formal statement condemning Barton’s brand of propaganda and hagiography?”
David Barton is a very powerful Texas Evangelical who absolutely believes that America was founded on the principles of Biblical Law.  As far as Glenn Beck's assertion that Barton is "one of the most important men alive", the statement is correct insofar as it applies Biblical literalists, Fundamentalist Christians and some Evangelicals, especially the factions defined by Dispensationalism, here.
Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, written by Jerry Falwell in 1983, welcomes a nuclear war: "'Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ' - the one brings thoughts of fear, destruction, and death, while the other brings thoughts of joy, hope, and life. They almost seem inconsistent with one another, yet they are indelibly intertwined."
It's this dangerous Dispensationalism that has spawned the religious right as a powerful and controlling force within the Republican Party. These folks advocate for endless wars and murder, and they are frequently sarcastically dubbed Warvangelicals, theocons and neocons.

Folks who adhere to Dispensationalist theology have literally declared war on Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is an admitted deist though he never embraced any particular Christian theology. Above all, Jefferson was much closer to a modern day Libertarian in that he advocated for natural rights and recognized the right of folks to do whatever they want to do and live however they want to live so long as it doesn't infringe on the natural rights of another human being. It's this 'live and let live' philosophy of Jefferson that so incenses the theocrats who seek to be in everybody's bedroom as the religious police and the morality gestapo.  They demand the criminalization of every possible human behavior that they don't approve of, including homosexuality. Many of these folks would implement Old Testament justice.

In Texas, Barton and his ilk succeeded in getting the State Board of Education (SBOE) to purge Jefferson from the list of people who were influential in the American Revolution as well as deleting him from the World History curriculum. The TX SBOE affair was so scandalous that Texas was the laughing stock of not only America but the entire world.

For crying out loud, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and is one of the most cherished names in history books all over the world, but not in Texas where Jefferson is banned.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all Men are created, equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…

These immortal words are among the most recognized phrases in the human lexicon – they are eternal, they are uttered internationally by peoples everywhere and they have become the battle cry for humans seeking to shed totalitarian slavery. Jefferson, as well as other American founding fathers, was a pioneer in the theory that we have natural rights that emanate from God and that no ruler or person(s) can usurp these God given “natural” rights. To deny a human being their natural rights constitutes tyranny and oppression.

The American Revolution was a cataclysmic historical event that reverberated around the world and those who made it happen are indeed worthy of recognition. The only goal of American Revolutionaries was to devise a form of government that was the least susceptible to abuse by  government and unjust laws.

To excise Jefferson as an important and influential figure in world history is insane. His famous words have been echoed around the globe as a message to other folks that human liberty is indeed possible because it’s a natural God given right that should never subservient to the whims of rulers/kings or even theocrats for that matter. To be a sovereign citizen with recognized rights versus a mere subject with limited rights was a milestone in human history and to a large extent, Jefferson was a driving force behind the foundation of our constitutional liberties as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and later codified into law by the Constitution that enshrined the principles of our Republic.

How did a Texas SBOE justify purging Jefferson? According to the Austin American Statesman, SBOE religious right extremist member Cynthia Dunbar is quoted:
“made a motion at the board's March 11 meeting to change the proposed standard, substituting "writings" for "Enlightenment ideas" and removing Jefferson from the suggested list. In Jefferson's place, she added Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone — respectively, a Roman Catholic priest and saint; a Protestant theologian; and an English jurist who wrote that the doctrines of common law are based on God's word. Dunbar, defending the amendment, said: "It does take out (the) reference to Thomas Jefferson. But the reason is not that I don't think his ideas were important. It's just that this is a list of political philosophers from which the Founding Fathers based their ideologies and their principles." Link
That a Catholic priest, a Protestant theologian and an English jurist, who believed that laws are based on God’s word, are now the defining characteristics of “enlightenment ideas” (a term expunged by Dunbar and replaced with “writings”) is indeed a gross mischaracterization. What right has Dunbar to assume that Aquinas, Calvin and Blackstone were in fact the primary philosophical influences of our founders? Apparently, the term “enlightenment” is disturbing to many SBOE members because it holds the potential to invoke secularism. However, secularism itself doesn’t necessarily imply the absence of God but it merely infers that no mans theology shall ever be forcibly imposed on another man.

It has been said that John Calvin “preached the doctrine of absolute obedience and nonresistance to duly constituted government, regardless of how that government might be”. Of course, this fully endorses Romans 13, one of the most debated verses in the Bible because it mandates “let every soul be subject to the sovereign authorities. For there is no power which is not from God; and those who are in authority are ordained by God”.  More to the point, if this were 1776 I submit that Republicans would be loyalists and not the wondrous Revolutionaries who directly violated Romans 13 as well as the John Calvin doctrine of absolute obedience to the almighty state and its rulers.

In the interest of practical reality most folks have heard of Thomas Jefferson but few have heard of Aquinas, Calvin and Blackstone. To assert that philosophically they are more important than Jefferson is worse than a stretch, it could be construed as theological indoctrination. Granted, Aquinas, Calvin and Blackstone are enormously important figures if one is a serious student of theology but to teach that they are the critical philosophers behind the creation of America is simply not accurate because America was birthed by revolutionaries, reactionaries and even theological dissidents. Of course, the most radical revolutionary ever to exist was Jesus.

The growth of government power and absolute statism under Republicans is a profound moral flaw of the modern day Republican Party – a party that is vastly alienated from the vision of our founding fathers and a party that routinely tramples the Constitution and our founding principles.

Moreover, the TX SBOE just didn’t excise Jefferson from the curriculum. They literally became historical revisionists on many other highly relevant issues including “Students will learn about the contributions of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority…Students will also be required to “discuss the meaning of ‘In God We Trust.’ ”.  The religious right faction of the TX SBOE is fully committed to theological indoctrination.

I suspect that Americans are finally getting fed up with the hardcore 'Warvangelical' religious right who increasingly resemble theocratic Nazis. Many Christians are now shunning beliefs they once held and theocratic absolutism as a tool of the Republican Party is no longer the powerful force that it once was. Folks are waking up to the stone cold reality that many religions in America are nothing more than anti-liberty government indoctrination machines, especially on foreign policy, drug policy and the contentious social issues.

 "Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God." Lenny Bruce

 “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”  Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson never said that religious folks couldn't participate in public life but try telling that to the theocrats.  Jefferson merely advocated for natural rights and opposed any religion dictating public policy or forcibly imposing national theocracy.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Withering Shamrock: How the Irish People Got Stiffed by the Irish Government

In Greece, the financial disaster is attributable to unsustainable borrowing to maintain an unsustainable socialist cradle to the grave entitlement state. The Greeks couldn’t live on the money of other Europeans forever and their day of reckoning arrived. In Iceland, a tiny nation of 300,000 fishermen and farmers magically churned themselves into high finance gurus who traded on money borrowed from Iceland’s banks that borrowed the money from foreign banks. The Icelanders did the only thing they could do; they allowed their banks to go bankrupt and started over by going back to fishing and farming. Of course the foreign banks did get stiffed but they also gambled by making stupidly insane loans to gambling fishermen and farmers. The Icelanders also had the advantage of not being a member of the European Union so they didn’t have the Troika noose around its neck. What could the Troika do besides military invade, occupy and steal their fish? For what? There was nothing tangible to get out of Iceland.

But Ireland? Ireland is a real tragedy because the Irish people are paying for the financial sins of its corrupt government, banksters and bankrupt real estate developers. The Irish banks borrowed from foreign banks who lent mountains of money to Irish real estate developers. Irelands was praised by the media and financial pundits as an economic miracle – living proof that borrowed fiat money creates wealth and prosperity until one day it all ended. The great Celtic Tiger ceased to roar and lay mortally wounded in September, 2008.

But Ireland is suddenly in the news again as it possibly (probably) needs another bailout according to an article from The Telegraph.

Euro austerity example Ireland 'may need second bailout' 
Ireland, seen as the eurozone’s "poster child" for implementing austerity, could require a second bailout, economists warned.

Apparently all that austerity associated with Irish bank failures and their subsequent taxpayer bailout is not sitting too well with the Irish people.
“As households struggle to pay their mortgages, the country’s rescued banks may need €4bn (£3.2bn) more to cover losses on loans than was assumed in stress tests last year, said analysts at Deutsche Bank. That would hit the finances of the Irish government, which has already pumped about €63bn into its banking sector in the last three years.”  The Telegraph
When the media and financial pundits speak of an event hitting the ‘finances of the Irish government’, the unspoken words really are "taxing the people, reducing public services and giving welfare to rich investors by transferring wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich".

Aside from the fact that the Irish people are idiots for supporting a government that bails out the rich at their expense, the story of how it actually happened is even more horrifying. The gory story is succinctly laid out by Michael Lewis in his outstanding book Boomerang. It all starts with a professor of economics at University College Dublin named Morgan Kelly. Kelly knew nothing about high finance or even much about modern economics as his specialty was medieval economics and weird things like studying the economic impact of the Little Ice Age. But Kelly was an economist and every economist understands a bubble so Kelly started writing articles in 2006 that got published in Irish newspapers about how Irish real estate was overvalued and why Irish banks were in deep trouble. Kelly, of course, was dubbed a lunatic and an idiot by the government and the banksters.

Kelly merely used his Google fingers to dig up information as he pondered what he perceived as a looming financial calamity. Kelly also observed that in the mid 1990’s Irish banks were largely funded by the deposits of the Irish people but all that started to change as Irish banks started borrowing heavily from foreign banks. All this borrowed money was lent to real estate developers. Kelly was concerned. Lewis writes:
It wasn’t until almost exactly one year later, on September 29, 2008, that Morgan Kelly became the startled object of popular interest. The stocks of the three main Irish banks, Anglo Irish, AIB and Bank of Ireland, had fallen by between a fifth and a half in a single trading session and a run on the Irish bank deposits had started.
While that was the beginning of the great unraveling of the Irish banks, the Irish government and banksters attempted to calm the public by asserting that Irish banks were indeed quite financially sound and were just experiencing a temporary liquidity issue. But the Irish banking collapse was unstoppable. In comparing the US real estate bubble with the Irish real estate bubble, Lewis writes:
The Irish real estate bubble was different from the American version in many ways. It wasn’t disguised, for a start. It didn’t require a lot of complicated financial engineering beyond the understanding of mere mortals. It also wasn’t as cynical. There aren’t a lot of Irish financiers, or real estate people, who have emerged with a future. In America the banks went down but the big shots in them still got rich; in Ireland the big shots went down with the banks.
But what the Irish government did next was unthinkable. It voted to guarantee the debts of Irish banks which then became the debt of the Irish people. The Irish government told the public that it must save the Irish banks. Lewis makes a most astute observation and discloses that the bailout of the Irish banks was nothing more than a bailout of bondholders:
…if the Irish wanted to save their banks, why not guarantee just the deposits? There’s a big difference between depositors and bondholders: depositors can flee. The immediate danger to the banks was that savers who had put money into them would take their money out, and the banks would be without funds. The investors who owned the roughly 80 billion euros’ worth of Irish bank bonds, on the other hand, were stuck. They couldn’t take their money out of the bank. And their 80 billion euros very nearly exactly covered the eventual losses inside the Irish banks. These private bondholders didn’t have any right to be made whole by the Irish government. The bondholders didn’t even expect to be made whole by the Irish government. Not long ago I spoke with a former senior Merrill Lynch bond trader who, on September 29, 2008, owned a pile of bonds in one of the Irish banks. He’d already tried to sell them back to the banks for 50 cents on the dollar-that is, he’d offered to take a huge loss, just to get out of them. On the morning of September 30 he awaked to find his bonds worth 100 cents on the dollars. The Irish government had guaranteed them! He couldn’t believe his luck. Across the financial markets this episode repeated itself. People who had made a private bet that had gone wrong and didn’t expect to be repaid in full were handed their money back-from the Irish taxpayer. 
But it gets worse as Lewis states:
A political investigative blog called Guido Fawkes somehow obtained a list of the foreign bondholders: German banks, French banks, German investment funds, Goldman Sachs. (Yes, even the Irish did their bit for Goldman.) Michael Lewis in Boomerang
And it gets worse as Credit Writedowns reported on 3/3/12 that Irish taxpayers are now even paying unsecured bank creditors.

Why are Irish taxpayers bailing out unsecured bank creditors?
Ireland’s low debt and government surpluses have turned into a huge debt burden and massive government deficits because of the banking crisis – this in spite of, or should I say also because of, fiscal austerity....
The Irish banks have recognized a huge slug of bad debt from the property developers.
Ireland effectively went from a low debt, low tax nation to a high debt, high tax nation and all in the name of plundering the Irish people to bailout bank bondholders who deserved to lose their money.

And so we get to the true nature of government bailouts. Government bank bailouts are nothing more than the giant sucking sound of transferring wealth from the 99% to the 1%.  In fact, that's always been the primary reason why central fiat banks even exist at all.

In the US the banking crisis was a monstrous wealth transfer from the middle class to the wealthy but that's a story for another day.

Judy Morris

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How the Freaking Neocons Deal with Ron Paul: Ron Paul is going to die.

As one who reads, as much as possible, just about everything on the right, the left and everything in between, it's hard not to notice that the anti-liberty statist neocon Republicans can no longer ignore Ron Paul. Much of the vitriol is deafening and just arrogantly assumes that the Paulites are party crashers, that they are not real Republicans and that losing their votes in the general election will make no difference because these folks were never part of the Republican Party anyway. Other rabid anti-Ron Paul Republicans have taken the issue further.

Over at uber neocon PJ Media, they correctly deduce that there might be a Ron Paul problem and that competing ideologies for the GOP's soul could very well destroy the Republican Party.
This year’s election is for all the marbles. President Barack Obama, his administrative cronies, and his allied radicals on the Hill are hell-bent on continuing their “fundamental transformation” of America from a republic of law into a neo-feudal plantation. Most activists right of center understand the gravity of the situation and recognize a proverbial time for choosing.
However, there is another battle erupting within the Republican Party which is just as consequential. A civil war is taking place between established activists and new entrants rallied around Ron Paul. This battle for the soul of the party has the potential to leave both sides — and thus the party itself — in tattered ruins, accomplishing more than any leftist subversive could ever hope to.
THEN, PJ Media tells its readers not to worry about Ron Paul because he's going to die!

Ron Paul is going to die. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sooner than later, the 76-year-old civil libertarian will be no more.
As astoundingly shocking and offensive as the "Ron Paul is gonna die" comment is, PJ Media then lapses into a barage of incoherent babble about how the Paulites can participate in the unification of the Republican Party.

Read the rest here
PJ Media

"The Ron Paul Machine vs. the Republican Establishment: 6 Steps Toward Unity"

The primary motivating factors for folks joining the Ron Paul Revolution is that they are awakening to the stone cold reality that the banksters, military industrial complex, prison industrial complex and fascist crony capitalism now control both the Republican and Democratic Parties. They also understand that the Republicans and Democrats have been aggressively complicit in transferring wealth from the 99% to the 1%. It's precisely this insidious and massive concentration of wealth and power that is propelling the Ron Paul Revolution.

If the statist neocons and their ilk believe that the liberty activists can be deluded into believing that the Republican Party stands for constitutional liberty and small accountable government, they need new brain parts. Moreover, with or without Ron Paul, the Ron Paul Revolution will continue because it's achieved immortality.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dead-Tree Luddites by Genevieve LaGreca, Ludwig von Mises Institute

The Ludwig von Mises Institute has an awesome piece by Genevieve LaGreca about how the powerful publishing industry has enlisted the Department of Justice to run online book publishers out of business. The analogy she uses is brilliant as well as a timeless classic about how government and special interests seeking protectionism attempt to squash a technological competitor.
Imagine you're living in the 15th century. You're witnessing a revolution that will profoundly change the world. This revolution doesn't involve swords and cannons but rather words and books. The cause of this upheaval is the most important invention in more than a thousand years: the printing press, by Johannes Gutenberg.

Within a few decades of its launch, you see the printing press transform the field of bookmaking in ways previously unimaginable. Printed books are far easier, faster, and less costly to produce than the books that had preceded them, which had to be laboriously copied, one page at a time, by hand. In the time it takes to copy one page by hand, the printing press can turn out hundreds or thousands of copies of that same page, thereby making it possible for the first time in history for almost anyone to own books.

Within a century of its creation, the printing press will spread throughout western Europe, producing millions of books, spurring the economic development of industries related to it, such as papermaking, and spreading literacy and knowledge around the world. The printing press will make possible the rapid development of education, science, art, culture — and the rise of mankind from the medieval period to the early-modern age.

Let us further imagine that not everyone in the 15th century is happy about this innovation. Unable to match the benefits of the printing press, the producers of hand-copied books are outraged. The scribes are being put out of business. The penmanship schools that train the scribes, the quill makers that supply their pens, and the manufacturers of the stools and drafting tables that literally support them are seeing a drop in sales. The hand-copied books are now priced too high to compete with the Gutenberg press, so their publishers are experiencing no growth, with no new capital coming into their industry. The sales force for the hand-copied books is also in despair, with their customers now ordering the new printed books from the Gutenberg people, and their lost income being money they can no longer put into their communities. Alas, the monopolistic monster, the printing press, is taking over.
The hand-copied-book interests complain bitterly to the Great Sages at their Hallowed Council of Justice. "Sires," they cry, "you must stop the predatory pricing and scorched-earth policies of the Gutenberg press. It's wiping out the competition. How can this be in the public interest?"
Imagine where human civilization would be without the Gutenberg printing press, probably the most revolutionary invention in all of human history.  The printing press was the Internet of the 15th century and like the Internet today, it enabled the mass distribution of low cost information.  But technology today has also created new markets for new electronic products and some of the hottest and most successful consumer driven products are electronic books that sell for $2.99
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and we see another revolution that is turning the book industry topsy-turvy — the transformation from printed books to electronic ones. This revolution is spearheaded by a modern-day Gutenberg,, the pioneer of the ebook, the Kindle device for reading it, and the online marketplace for publishing and selling it.
What Amazon has accomplished is truly amazing. With Kindle, it has eliminated the industry middlemen who come between the writer and reader of a book — from agents to publishers to distributors to wholesalers to brick-and-mortar bookstores. Kindle has also eliminated the need for a physical inventory of books, with its high printing, warehousing, and shipping costs. These innovations have resulted in far less expensive books now available to consumers. And the new marketplace of ebooks has been especially advantageous for self-publishers unable to get their books accepted through the traditional channels, who now have an avenue open to them for reaching customers directly.
The popularity of these ground-breaking innovations is enormous, with Kindle books now outselling the combined total of all paperback and hardcover books purchased from Amazon.
Without any middlemen or gatekeepers, with virtually no costs involved, and with self-marketing possible through social media and other Internet channels, electronic publishing is creating a robust market for new writers and books. For example, one novelist who was unable to find an agent or publisher has self-published two of her novels on Kindle. With her books priced at $2.99 and with a 70 percent royalty from Kindle, she earns approximately $2 per book. She is selling 55 books per day, or 20,000 books per year, which amounts to sales of $60,000 and royalties to her of $40,000....
The low pricing of ebooks, scorned by the traditional publishing interests, is the emerging writer's new ticket of admission into the book industry. While readers may be highly reluctant to risk $25 in a bookstore to try a new writer's hardcover work, they are buying the ebooks of new writers priced at or around $2.99 on Kindle. Writers are finding their fans and making money at these prices, and readers, judging by Amazon's "customer reviews," are happy with these low-cost books.
Read the entire article here
Ludwig von Mises Institute 

It's hard to imagine where we would be today if the 15th century scribes succeeded in banning the printing press as unfair competition. But that's what precisely is happening today as traditional book publishers declare war on a technology highly valued by consumers. Consumers get a lot more book bang for the buck, read a lot more books and are probably even better educated.  But that didn't stop the war on electronic book printing. LaGreca details what happened next. 
"Book Publishing's Real Nemesis" by David Carr cites the recent antitrust suit brought by the Justice Department against five publishers and Apple, charging they engaged in the price-fixing of ebooks.
And who's the leader of the pack trying to blast us back to the Middle Ages? None other than the New York Times!
Leading the charge back to the Middle Ages is the New York Times. Two articles appearing on the front page of its business section on April 16, 2012, illustrate what happens when the Luddites (i.e., those hostile to technological development) meet the statists (i.e., those who look to achieve their ends through government force).
Consumer driven free markets are verboten! The Luddite monopolists are making their demands and using the Department of Justice and taxdollars to do it, probably because they had no case in a civil court that would have tossed their lawsuit.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Happened to America's Middle Class? It's All in One Graph

Feel like your dollar is buying less, even though the financial press claims that the dollar is strong? It is buying less — but so are the other fiat currencies.  Zero Hedge
Middle class wages and purchasing power have plummet since Nixon de-tethered the dollar from gold in 1971 via an Executive Order and without congressional authority. Middle class prosperity peaked in 1971 and plummeted when Nixon de-tethered the dollar from gold.

To create the illusion of prosperity, the government swapped out real prosperity for fake debt based prosperity. So long as the dollar was tethered to gold, gold was a noose around the Bankster's necks and prevented 'Banksters Gone Wild' and 'Government Gone Wild".  

Since 1971, wealth and power has been concentrated into the hands of corporatists, banksters and government as the wealth of the 99% got transferred to the 1%.

The above chart is from Zero Hedge, one of my favorite blogs.
John Maynard Keynes, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett all said or implied that gold was a barbarous relic. But what’s the barbarous relic? The precious metal that shows prices without a veneer of manipulation, or the paper currency that smudges the true state of supply and demand through money printing, thus misleading markets and society? Charlie Munger says gold is not for civilised people, but in reality gold may be the most civilised currency of all — because it allows civilised people to purchase insurance against the risk of civilisation failing.
A central bank can claim to have demonetised gold. It can claim gold is a barbarous relic (even while keeping thousands of tonnes on its books), or just an “instrument to hedge tail risk” (although Jamie Dimon surely disagrees — J.P. Morgan prefers to “hedge tail risk” by making huge speculatory prop bets on credit derivatives).
But gold is still gold. It’s still that same shining yellow metal that investors have for thousands of years held up as a unit of account and store of value, and a medium of exchange.
Central bankers can’t just abolish history. On the other hand, history may very well abolish the central bankers and their fiat currencies.

Read the rest here
Zero Hedge

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Greece: Yes, Life Does Go On When the SHTF

The Greeks legitimately lay claim to one of the world's oldest surviving civilizations.  It's a fascinating and tumultuous history full of wars, empires, conquests and much more.  During the 20th century the Greeks endured civil war, monarchy and eventually settling on a democracy of sorts, a situation fairly similar to all European nations.  At the end of the day the Greek are no different than anybody else - they are just people trying to survive in a world gone mad.  What makes the Greeks unique is that while their situation is not necessarily historically unique, Greece is the first western nation to literally implode financially and politically, a fate that many predict will ultimately fall on most western nations as a result statism and fiat central banksters.

Greece is at the end of its rope. It  indebted itself on a massive scale to sustain its socialist paradise and there is no way the debt can ever be repaid without making Greek citizens debt slaves for a very long time. Michael Lewis summarized the Greek situation best in his book Boomerang.
As it turns out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it. In just the past twelve years the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms – and that number doesn’t take into account the bribes collected by public officials. The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses. The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a years. Twenty years ago a successful businessman turned minister of finance….pointed out that it would be cheaper to put all Greece’s rail passengers into taxicabs: it’s still true. “We have a railroad company which is bankrupt beyond comprehension…..and there isn’t a single private company in Greece with that kind of average pay.”
If you think the words of Michael Lewis are harsh, the Brits have their own peculiar views of Greeks and basically accuses the Greeks of being lazy and/or overpaid folks who robbed European taxpayers while refusing to pay their own taxes.

The Big Fat Greek Gravy Train: A special investigation into the EU-funded culture of greed, tax evasion and scandalous waste 

Andrew Malone of Mail Online writes:
Even on a stiflingly hot summer's day, the Athens underground is a pleasure. It is air-conditioned, with plasma screens to entertain passengers relaxing in cool, cavernous departure halls - and the trains even run on time. There is another bonus for users of this state-of-the-art rapid transport system: it is, in effect, free for the five million people of the Greek capital....
Indeed, as well as not paying for their metro tickets, the people of Greece barely paid a penny of the underground’s £1.5 billion cost — a ‘sweetener’ from Brussels (and, therefore, the UK taxpayer) to help the country put on an impressive 2004 Olympics free of the city’s notorious traffic jams. The transport perks are not confined to the customers. Incredibly, the average salary on Greece’s railways is £60,000, which includes cleaners and track workers - treble the earnings of the average private sector employee here....
Significantly, since entering Europe as part of an ill-fated dream by politicians of creating a European super-state, the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled in a decade. At the same time, perks and fiddles reminiscent of Britain in the union-controlled 1970s have flourished.
Whatever the situation in Greece and for whatever reason(s), life as the Greeks know it is rapidly coming to an end.

The bailouts arranged by the Troika (the European Commission - EC, the European Central Bank - ECB and the IMF) are a big fail and only added more debt to the gargantuan mountain of Greek debt. Postponing reality was the primary motivation of the Troika because European banks can’t handle the write-off of Greek debt without severe pain, pain sufficiently painful to crash the Euro and many European banks, notably French and German banks. Essentially, the Greek bailout was really nothing more than a temporary bailout of primarily French and German banks.

Michael ‘Mish’ Shedlock accurately summarized the situation in his blog, Global Economic Trend Analysis, here.
Pressure from the Troika and fear-mongering by all the politicians in the bailout-bed will be immense. There will be another decade of pain and suffering for Greeks if they stick to the Troika plan.
However, there will be short but intense pain for Greeks if they tell the Troika to shove it. Which is worse? It seems Greeks have come to the correct conclusion.
The Greeks really need to just bite the bullet now which is different than putting the gun in their mouths, pulling the trigger and eating the bullet, something the Troika expects the Greeks to do. When a nation is so debt ridden and so bankrupt that most of its revenues go to debt service, there is only one option: default. Many financial pundits are predicting that Greece will simply be forced to exit the Euro-zone but not the EU. But the systemic risk is far wider than Greece as Spain and other nations find themselves in dire financial condition. Some pundits have even suggested that the Greeks might attempt to blackmail the Troika just to keep the Euro-zone from financially detonating itself.
Greece Black Mailing Eurozone? As mentioned above most of the Euro 400 billion of Greek debt is now owed to other euro-zone member state institutions and the IMF, therefore a Greek default will have a double whammy on the Euro-zone as institutions such as the ECB will be sitting on huge losses that would require a bailout from member states even before it attempted to rescue the euro-zone wide banking system from collapse. Clearly the Greek politicians are using the losses the euro-zone would directly suffer were Greece to default as a blackmail tool to try and evade any responsibility. However the problem with the Greek strategy is that if Greece is allowed to successfully black mail the Euro-zone then so will other larger countries such as Spain and Italy eventually engage in similar tactics to evade economic austerity pain as their populations also demand a similar solution to economic austerity as Greece were being allowed to get away with.
Read the rest here
The Market Oracle

But how are the Greek surviving economic calamity? Folks are fleeing Athens for the rural life and learning agricultural skills.

Crisis-hit Greeks leave the cities for a new rural life
”Before, the olive groves had all been abandoned,” said Flores, noting that the island now has an industrial press and for the first time, is producing its own olive oil.
But the Greeks are doing far more than sharpening their survival skills, they are learning to barter with each other as communities work cooperatively.

Battered by Economic Crisis, Greeks Turn to Barter Networks
VOLOS, Greece — The first time he bought eggs, milk and jam at an outdoor market using not euros but an informal barter currency, Theodoros Mavridis, an unemployed electrician, was thrilled. “I felt liberated, I felt free for the first time,” Mr. Mavridis said in a recent interview at a cafe in this port city in central Greece. “I instinctively reached into my pocket, but there was no need to.” Mr. Mavridis is a co-founder of a growing network here in Volos that uses a so-called Local Alternative Unit, or TEM in Greek, to exchange goods and services...Part alternative currency, part barter system, part open-air market, the Volos network has grown exponentially in the past year, from 50 to 400 members. It is one of several such groups cropping up around the country, as Greeks squeezed by large wage cuts, tax increases and growing fears about whether they will continue to use the euro have looked for creative ways to cope with a radically changing economic landscape.
The Greeks have also become adept at operating an underground economy and producing goods and services that escapes the grubby hands of the dreaded and insidious tax collector.

In Greece, Underground Economy Fuels Financial Crisis
If you think there's been a tax revolt in the U.S. -- or even California -- consider Greece. The estimates we've heard, from the sources that seem the most reliable: 40-50 percent of the Greek economy is underground. i.e., untaxed. When we were in Spain, people there were embarrassed that the estimate was as high as 25 percent. In the U.S., the usual estimates are less than 10 percent.
Paul Solman, who wrote the above referenced 7/2010 PBS article attributed Greek financial problems to its inability to collect taxes. Solman writes:
The key to fixing the Greek economy is getting Greeks to finally stop paying cash and start paying their taxes. It would be a revolution. It would be a transformation. The push is on. In April, the top income tax rate was raised to 45 percent for those making more than 100,00 Euros and the country raised taxes on dividends, large real estate holdings and offshore companies. "The new tax bill is a revolution for Greece," said Prime Minister George Papandreou at the time. "No government in the past has dared such reforms."
Like every other big government statist, Solman actually believes that an ailing economy can be magically resurrected from the dead and instantly made prosperous and flourishing simply by raising taxes.

How well did that work out for the Greeks?

When public corruption is rampant and taxation continues to rise to feed government waste and fraud, there is a point when folks just refuse to feed the system and they go underground.  It's called 'screw the government that's done nothing but screw me'.

Judy Morris

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stop Romney in CA by registering Republican to vote for Ron Paul

In 2008, about 3 million Republicans voted in California's closed Republican primary. If the folks in California oppose the wars and the banksters, they have an awesome opportunity for their vote to make a huge difference. All they have to do is change their voter registration by 5/21 and vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary on June 5.

California voter registration information is here, and it's easy.  
Your registration must be postmarked no later than: May 21, 2012
With over 17 million registered voters and nearly 24 million folks who are eligible to vote, CA definitely has the numerical firepower to outvote the Republican neocons.
As of February 2011, voter registration is at 72.8% with 17.2 million of the 23.6 million eligible voters registered to vote. Forty-four percent are registered as Democrats, 30.9% as Republicans, 20.4% as decline-to-state or independents, and 4.7% as other parties.
Read the rest here
Public Policy Institute of California

Judy Morris

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How Apple Sticks It to High-Tax States

The apple of the taxpayers eye? Apple Computer is notoriously good at legal tax avoidance which is a sound business strategy. But Apple also shakes down states and cities for taxpayer dollars and that's corporate welfare.  Gary North at The Tea Party Economist has the highest praise for Apple's ability to avoid taxes.
Apple serves its customers well by cutting its costs. Taxes are a cost.
Apple serves its shareholders well by increasing profits. Cutting taxes increases profits.
By setting up divisions in Nevada, where there is mo state income tax on corporations, Apple avoids the grasping hand of California, which taxes corporations at 8.8%
I love it!
Across the nation, Apple stiffs states that impose income taxes.
When companies sell ideas or digits, they can operate anywhere. They should go where taxes are low.This is what they are doing.
The politicians grind their teeth. “How dare these firms go where we can’t get at their bank accounts?” It’s so easy when you know how.  
Apple knows how.

Read the rest here
The Tea Party Economist

In Texas, Apple is robbing the taxpayers and Texas is a low tax state.  
The state of Texas has promised Apple $21 million. The City of Austin has promised Austin $8.6 million.
Now it’s Travis County’s turn to pay up. Apple executives will meet with Travis County Commissioners Monday to hammer out a tax incentive package the county will offer the computer giant.
The commission will vote Tuesday on whether or not to give Apple $6 million in tax incentives. It’s not thought that the commission will put up any opposition to the deal.
Apple is looking for a total $35.6 million in tax breaks in order to expand its operations in Austin. Apple is supposed to hire 3,500 people and expand its North Austin campus as part of the deal.
No one is government has outlined just how the taxpayers who are bankrolling the deal will benefit from their investment.
But city and county leaders are already handing out goodies to special interest groups and have politicized the Apple deal.
Read the rest here
The Digital Texan 

Just how rich is Apple?

Apple (AAPL) is a cash cow. In its latest quarterly report , Apple listed $10.1 billion in cash, $18.4 billion in short-term marketable securities, and $81.6 billion in long-term marketable securities. In total, Apple is carrying $110 billion in cash and investment securities on top of 929,277,000 shares outstanding....
Right now, Apple is the largest corporation in the world and boasts a $560 billion market capitalization.
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Seeking Alpha

Judy Morris

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