The Problem Isn't Populism: The Problem Is The Status Quo Has Failed
ZeroHedge.com Nov 27, 2017 8:56 AM
Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,
The top 5% who have benefited so immensely from the consolidation of wealth and power cannot confess the status quo has failed the bottom 95%.
The corporate/billionaires' media would have us believe that the crisis we face is populism, a code word for every ugly manifestation of fascism known to humanity. By invoking populism as the cause of our distemper, the mainstream media is implicitly suggesting that the problem is "bad people"--those whose own failings manifest in an attraction to fascism. If we can successfully marginalize these troubled troglodytes, then our problem, populism, would go away and the wonderfulness, equality and widespread prosperity of pre-populist America will be restored.
The problem isn't populism--the problem is the status quo has failed 95% of the populace. Life isn't wonderful, prosperous and filled with expansive equality except in the Protected Elite of the top 5% of technocrats, corporate executives, tenured academics, bureaucrats, financiers, bankers, lobbyists and wealthy (or soon to be wealthy) politicos.
The bottom 95% need a time machine to recover any semblance of prosperity. They need a time machine that goes back 20 years so they can buy a little bungalow on a postage-stamp lot for $150,000 on the Left and Right Coasts, because now the little bungalows cost $1 million and up.
Housing valuations have become so detached from what people earn that even the top 5% has trouble qualifying for a jumbo mortgage without the help of the Bank of Mom and Dad or the family trust fund.
The bottom 95% need a time machine to return to the days when college tuition and fees were semi-affordable--say, 30 years ago.
The bottom 95% also need a time machine to return to a time when they could afford healthcare insurance without government subsidies--a generation ago, or better yet, two generations ago.
In an age where phantom wealth sprouts like poisoned mushrooms from speculative bubbles, the bottom 95% need a time machine that goes back 8 years so they buy the S&P 500 at 670, or better yet, buy bitcoin for $1 or $10, just to make up the loss in the purchasing power of their wages.
Populism is the dismissive propaganda term that the media uses to distract us from the real cause of our problems: the total failure of the status quo, the corrupt, predatory, exploitive, inefficient, rentier pay-to-play-"democracy" cartel-state hierarchy that has failed the bottom 95%.
The natural response to this abandonment, betrayal and parade of propaganda is labeled populism as a means of blaming the victims: it's too bad you couldn't make it into the ranks of the Protected Elite, but that failure is yours, not the system's.
The Protected Elite thinks the system works just fine because it works so splendidly for them. The Protected Elite staff the corporate media, think tanks, philanthro-capitalist foundations, universities and the top ranks of the federal bureaucracies that issue statistics and regulations--in other words, all the organs of propaganda that are constantly assuring us we live in super-prosperous times and a vibrant democracy.
How many Americans from Dollar-Store America do you find in the editorial staff of the mainstream corporate media? The answer is of course near-zero. The bottom 95% have no representation in the mainstream media.
Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio recently proposed that there are two U.S. economies: the one inhabited by the bottom 60% that have gone nowhere and own very little in the way of assets, and the upper 40% that have some exposure to the gains created by central-bank inflated asset bubbles.
Ray Dalio: "This Is The Most Important Economic, Political And Social Issue Of Our Time".
If we examine household income and wealth, we have to conclude that only the top 20% have any exposure to the gains generated by asset bubbles, and only the top 10% have logged gains worthy of mention. And of the top 10%, only the top 5% have actually done OK. (see charts below)
And of the top 5%, only the top 1% have really done well for themselves. And of the top 1%, the big gains have flowed to the top 1/100th of 1%.
This is why I use the 95%/5% divide: only the top 5% inhabit the status quo is working great economy. The bottom 80% live in Dollar-Store America, and the "middle class" between 80% and 95% maintain the pretensions of doing well by shopping at Target and charging vacations on their credit cards.
Any group that doesn't accept the status quo is working great narrative soon finds a populist target drawn on their backs. In our pay-to-play-"democracy", wealth casts the only votes that count, and any movement that threatens this cozy arrangement of private wealth and state power/privilege is immediately attacked as the Monster Id of Society, i.e. populism.
The top 5% who have benefited so immensely from the consolidation of wealth and power cannot confess the status quo has failed the bottom 95%. And so they label anyone who refutes or resists their narrative a populist to marginalize and demonize any political threats to their cozy cartel-state concentration of wealth and power.
George Soros’s $18 Billion Tax Shelter
The wealthy have tucked billions into private nonprofits—where the IRS can’t touch it.
WSJ.com Stephen Moore
Nov. 23, 2017 2:24 p.m. ET
Congress is still scrambling to find ways to pay for its tax cut, so perhaps it should pay closer attention to last month’s news that George Soros had transferred $18 billion of his fortune to a private charity that he controls. There it will be sheltered from the Internal Revenue Service forever. This may be the single biggest tax dodge in U.S. history, yet no one on the right or left seems to have raised an eyebrow.
True tax reform is predicated on the principle that all income should be taxed at a low rate once, and only once. But much of the wealth that Mr. Soros spent years moving into his Open Society Foundations will never be taxed. A gift of billions of dollars of appreciated stock escapes any capital gains tax, and the estate tax as well. So Mr. Soros can donate appreciated stock that Open Society Foundations can liquidate without the government ever taking a cut.
There’s more. When a person donates untaxed, appreciated assets to a private foundation, he may also deduct up to 20% of its market value on his personal return, carrying forward this deduction for five years. This double write-off may be the sweetest deal in the tax code.
The donors also can retain control of the money within the private foundation for years or even decades before it is disbursed. Since the foundation can employ family members at six-figure salaries for life to “administer” it, the umbilical cord to the donor never has to be cut.
Congress should stop ignoring this tax-avoidance scheme. The super rich have already poured hundreds of billions into private foundations, but the figure could soon be in the trillions. Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to give away 99% of his Facebook shares, currently estimated to be worth somewhere around $70 billion, and much of it will go to a foundation his family controls. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have each put roughly $30 billion tax-free into the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This has left the foundation so flush that it spent $500 million on a 12-acre, 900,000-square-foot office complex in Seattle for its 1,500 employees. This is philanthropy?
I don’t question these billionaires’ right to do with their money as they wish. I’m simply arguing that Congress shouldn’t let the rich and politically powerful use private foundations to escape taxation. This loophole is one reason for an anomaly in our otherwise progressive tax code: The top 1% of earners pay an effective tax rate of 23%, but the top 0.001% pay only 18%.
Mr. Buffett has sanctimoniously denounced the fact that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. His suggestion is that Congress raise taxes on capital gains. But even if the tax rates were lifted, say, to 50%, Mr. Buffett still wouldn’t have to pay it on the tens of billions of dollars he puts into private foundations, and he would still be able to deduct a fifth of that contribution on future tax returns.
This tax favoritism might be defensible to promote genuine philanthropic activities. Many billionaires, such as the Gateses and David Koch, have heroically donated to fight cancer and malaria or provide relief to hurricane and earthquake victims.
But others, including Mr. Soros and Michael Bloomberg, have turned private foundations into massive de facto lobbying operations for bigger government and liberal causes like higher minimum wages, gun control, universal health care, and a carbon tax. Mr. Soros’s $18 billion gift alone is the equivalent of maybe 100 Heritage Foundations. This kind of weaponized philanthropy has the potential to undermine the American free enterprise system.
Yes, billions go to groups on the right, too, from Mr. Koch and others. But regardless of ideology, why shouldn’t tax be collected before the money is given away? What message does it send that the Republican tax-reform bills retain this trillion-dollar loophole for the super rich, at the same time as the House plan eliminates the adoption credit for middle-class families who want to help children?
One simple solution would be for Congress to apply the capital-gains tax to assets of more than $1 million before they are transferred to a charity. This could even finance cutting the capital-gains rate to 15% for everyone.
Alternatively (or perhaps in addition) Congress could cap deductions for any given household to $250,000 a year. Under this kind of plan, Mr. Soros would be able to write off only a tiny fraction of his multi-billion dollar gift.
This isn’t an argument against charity. But selfless and effective giving is not motivated by tax breaks. Two-thirds of Americans don’t itemize their deductions, yet millions give until it hurts. In the 1980s, individual donations to charities surged, even as the top tax rate—and thus the maximum value of the write-off—fell from 70% to 28%.
The question is whether a tax code that encourages dynastic family foundations is good for America. If Congress stopped letting billionaires pour money tax free into the foundation-industrial complex, it would go a long way toward lowering rates and making the tax code fairer for everyone. This would help the economy grow faster, which is the best way to help those in need.
New Gold-Backed Debit Card Launched In Partnership With MasterCard
ZeroHedge.com Nov 21, 2017 2:35 AM
In recent years, there has been a major debate about the respective merits of gold versus Bitcoin, even though many, not all, gold bulls are also supporters of the latter. Gold advocates generally view favorably Bitcoin’s inherent characteristics of decentralization, finite supply and ability to operate (so far) outside of the usual interference by western central banks. Having said that, the launch of Bitcoin futures on the CME in the coming weeks could lead to naked shorting of “paper Bitcoin” by any parties, including central banks and large commercial banks, who deem capping of the Bitcoin price necessary.
A fintech start up is partnering with some financial heavyweights to create a payments system backed by physical – not paper – gold. According to the Financial Times.
The world’s oldest currency is being brought into the digital age with the launch of a debit card and app that will allow people to pay for goods in gold.
Fintech group Glint has teamed up with Lloyds Banking Group in the UK and MasterCard to create an app that enables people to load credit in various currencies, which can then be used to buy a portion of a physical gold bar. Customers use the app at the checkout to select whether to pay in a currency or gold, before transacting with their MasterCard.
The development marks the first time people in the UK and overseas can own just a portion of a gold bar through an app, which can then be used in mobile and debit card-based payments. The app also allows people to send gold to peers in the form of a digital payment. Jason Cozens, Glint’s chief executive and co-founder, said: “Everyone is familiar with gold as one of society’s oldest means of exchange, its universal acceptance, its reliability, its history as a store of wealth and as a means of underpinning the value of ‘paper’ currencies. “Unlike paper currencies, gold can’t be wiped out, devalued or corrupted.”
If you’ve been watching carefully Glint (website is glintpay.com) has been working towards this moment for some time. The Crunch reported a capital raising in August this year, noting the impressive list of backers.
Glint, a stealthy London fintech startup that promises a new “global currency,” has raised £3.1 million from a plethora of individual backers in the financial services and asset management space, alongside early-stage investor Bray Capital.
The CEO and co-founder, Jason Cozens, also has gold market experience, having set up “GoldMadeSimple.com, a website that allows investors to buy and store physical gold. Additionally, he set up two ecommerce and online marketing businesses.
In terms of how the service works, the Financial Times reports:
Glint is working with Lloyds in the UK as the deposit holder for customers storing money on their app. When a customer decides to buy gold through the app, this is used to purchase part of a gold bar that is physically allocated in vaults in Switzerland. The app will initially be available in the UK and Europe from Monday before being rolled out in Asia and the US next year.
Mr Davies said the app helps to “democratise” gold by opening access to people who might not be able to afford to buy a whole bar, rather than the commodity being the “preserve of the wealthy”. He added: “The advent of electronic wallets and faster payments through technology means we’re able to use gold in the electronic payment system. “We believe over next few decades people will need the ability to protect their money by owning gold and have the ability to spend it.
Glint’s new service is riding the wave of alternative payments, such as bitcoin, as more people seek payment methods that can store value in a way that differs from traditional currencies. Ben Davies, a co-founder of Glint, said: “We want to create a fairer form of money whereby we give you choice and control over how you protect your money in an era where central banks issue more currency, and so the value of your currency is falling.”
So, is the question gold, Bitcoin or both?
Why America's Retail Apocalypse Could Accelerate Even More In 2018
ZeroHedge.com Nov 16, 2017 7:20 PM
Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,
Is the retail apocalypse in the United States about to go to a whole new level?
That is a frightening thing to consider, because the truth is that things are already quite bad. We have already shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year and we still have the rest of November and December to go.
Unfortunately, it truly does appear that things will get even worse in 2018, because a tremendous amount of high-yield retail debt is coming due next year.
In fact, Bloomberg is reporting that the amount of high-yield retail debt that will mature next year is approximately 19 times larger than the amount that matured this year…
Just $100 million of high-yield retail borrowings were set to mature this year, but that will increase to $1.9 billion in 2018, according to Fitch Ratings Inc. And from 2019 to 2025, it will balloon to an annual average of almost $5 billion. The amount of retail debt considered risky is also rising. Over the past year, high-yield bonds outstanding gained 20 percent, to $35 billion, and the industry’s leveraged loans are up 15 percent, to $152 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
Even worse, this will hit as a record $1 trillion in high-yield debt for all industries comes due over the next five years, according to Moody’s.
Can you say “debt bomb”?
For those of you that are not familiar with these concepts, high-yield debt is considered to be the riskiest form of debt. Retailers all over the nation went on a tremendous debt binge for years, and many of those loans never should have been made. Now that debt is going to start to come due, and many of these retailers simply will not be able to pay.
So how does that concern the rest of us?
Well, just like with the subprime mortgage meltdown, the “spillover” could potentially be enormous. Here is more from Bloomberg…The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.
In the past, Snyder has written extensively about Sears and other troubled retailers that definitely appear to be headed for zero. But one major retailer that is flying below the radar a little bit that you should keep an eye on is Target. For over a year, conservatives have been boycotting the retailer, and this boycott is really starting to take a toll…
Target has been desperately grasping at ideas to recover lost business, including remodeling existing stores and opening smaller stores, lowering prices, hiring more holiday staff and introducing a new home line from Chip and Joanna Gaines. But Target stock remains relatively stagnant, opening at 61.50 today—certainly nowhere near the mid-80s of April 2016, when the AFA boycott began.
In the past, retailers could always count on the middle class to bail them out, but the middle class is steadily shrinking these days. In fact, at this point one out of every five U.S. households has a net worth of zero or less.
And we must also keep in mind that we do not actually deserve the debt-fueled standard of living that we are currently enjoying. We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and the only way we are able to do that is by going into unprecedented amounts of debt. The following comes from Egon von Greyerz…
Total US debt in 1913 was $39 billion. Today it is $70 trillion, up 1,800X. But that only tells part of the story. There were virtually no unfunded liabilities in 1913. Today they are $130 trillion. So adding the $70 trillion debt to the unfunded liabilities gives a total liability of $200 trillion.
In 1913 US debt to GDP was 150%. Today, including unfunded liabilities, the figure becomes almost 1,000%. This is the burden that ordinary Americans are responsible for, a burden that will break the US people and the US economy as well as the dollar.The only possible way that the game can go on is to continue to grow our debt much faster than the overall economy is growing.
Of course that is completely unsustainable, and when this debt bubble finally bursts everything is going to collapse.
We don’t know exactly when the next great financial crisis is coming, but we do know that conditions are absolutely perfect for one to erupt. According to John Hussman, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see stock prices fall more than 60 percent from current levels…
At the root of Hussman’s pessimistic market view are stock valuations that look historically stretched by a handful of measures. According to his preferred valuation metric — the ratio of non-financial market cap to corporate gross value-added (Market Cap/GVA) — stocks are more expensive than they were in 1929 and 2000, periods that immediately preceded major market selloffs.
“US equity market valuations at the most offensive levels in history,” he wrote in his November monthly note. “We expect that more extreme valuations will only be met by more severe losses.”
Those losses won’t just include the 63% plunge referenced above — it’ll also be accompanied by a longer 10 to 12 year period over which the S&P 500 will fall, says Hussman.
A financial system that is based on a pyramid of debt will never be sustainable.
The borrower is the servant of the lender, and our current system is designed to create as much debt as possible. When it inevitably fails, we need to be ready to offer an alternative, because patching together our current system and trying to re-inflate the bubble is not a real solution.
Fed Hints During Next Recession It Will Roll Out Income Targeting, NIRP
ZeroHedge.com Nov 16, 2017 6:44 PM
"Why is establishment media romanticizing communism? Authoritarianism, poverty, starvation, secret police, murder, mass incarceration?", what was said that this is simply a "prelude to central bank funded universal income", or in other words, Fed-funded and guaranteed cash for everyone.
On Thursday afternoon, in a stark warning of what's to come, San Francisco Fed President John Williams confirmed suspicions when he said that to fight the next recession, global central bankers will be forced to come up with a whole new toolkit of "solutions", as simply cutting interest rates won't well, cut it anymore, and in addition to more QE and forward guidance - both of which were used widely in the last recession - the Fed may have to use negative interest rates, as well as untried tools including so-called price-level targeting or nominal-income targeting (NIT).
NIT is a tacit admission that as a result of the aging workforce and the dramatic slack which still remains in the labor force, the US central bank will have to take drastic steps to preserve social order and cohesion.
According to Williams', Reuters reports, central bankers should take this moment of “relative economic calm” to rethink their approach to monetary policy. Others have echoed Williams' implicit admission that as a result of 9 years of Fed attempts to stimulate the economy - yet merely ending up with the biggest asset bubble in history - the US finds itself in a dead economic end, such as Chicago Fed Bank President Charles Evans, who recently urged a strategy review at the Fed, but Williams’ call for a worldwide review is considerably more ambitious.
Among Williams' other suggestions include not only negative interest rates but also raising the inflation target - to 3%, 4% or more, in an attempt to crush debt by making life unbearable for the majority of the population - as it considers new monetary policy frameworks. Still, even the most dovish Fed lunatic has to admit that such strategies would have costs, including those that diverge greatly from the Fed's current approach. Or maybe not: "price-level targeting, he said, is advantageous because it fits "relatively easily" into the current framework."
Considering that for the better part of a decade the Fed prescribed lower rates and ZIRP as the cure to the moribund US economy, only to flip and then propose higher rates as the solution to all problems, it is not surprising that even the most insane proposals are currently being contemplated because they fit "relatively easily" into the current framework. And, touching on our post from mid-September, in which we pointed out that the Bank of Canada was preparing to revising its mandate, Williams also said that "the Fed and all central banks should have Canada-like practice of revisiting inflation target every 5 years."
Finally, for those curious what will really happen after the next "great liquidity crisis", JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic laid out a comprehensive checklist one month ago. It predicted not only price targeting (i.e., stocks), but also negative income taxes, progressive corporate taxes, new taxes on tech companies, and, of course, hyperinflation. Here is the excerpt:
If the standard rate cutting and bond purchases don’t suffice, central banks may more explicitly target asset prices (e.g., equities). This may be controversial in light of the potential impact of central bank actions in driving inequality between asset owners and labor. Other ‘out of the box’ solutions could include a negative income tax (one can call this ‘QE for labor’), progressive corporate tax, universal income and others. To address growing pressure on labor from AI, new taxes or settlements may be levied on Technology companies (for instance, they may be required to pick up the social tab for labor destruction brought by artificial intelligence, in an analogy to industrial companies addressing environmental impacts). While we think unlikely, a tail risk could be a backlash against central banks that prompts significant changes in the monetary system. In many possible outcomes, inflation is likely to pick up.
The next crisis is also likely to result in social tensions similar to those witnessed 50 years ago in 1968. In 1968, TV and investigative journalism provided a generation of baby boomers access to unfiltered information on social developments such as Vietnam and other proxy wars, Civil rights movements, income inequality, etc. Similar to 1968, the internet today (social media, leaked documents, etc.) provides millennials with unrestricted access to information on a surprisingly similar range of issues. In addition to information, the internet provides a platform for various social groups to become more self-aware, united and organized. Groups span various social dimensions based on differences in income/wealth, race, generation, political party affiliations, and independent stripes ranging from alt-left to alt-right movements. In fact, many recent developments such as the US presidential election, Brexit, independence movements in Europe, etc., already illustrate social tensions that are likely to be amplified in the next financial crisis. How did markets evolve in the aftermath of 1968? Monetary systems were completely revamped (Bretton Woods), inflation rapidly increased, and equities produced zero returns for a decade. The decade ended with a famously wrong Businessweek article ‘the death of equities’ in 1979.
Kolanovic's warning may have sounded whimsical one month ago. Now, in light of Williams' words, it appears that it may serve as a blueprint for what comes next.
Financial Tyranny: "We The People" Are The New Permanent Underclass In America
ZeroHedge.com Nov 14, 2017 11:50 PM
Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,
Americans can no longer afford to get sick and there’s a reason why.
That’s because a growing number of Americans are struggling to stretch their dollars far enough to pay their bills, get out of debt and ensure that if and when an illness arises, it doesn’t bankrupt them.
This is a reality that no amount of partisan political bickering can deny.
Many Americans can no longer afford health insurance, drug costs or hospital bills. They can’t afford to pay rising healthcare premiums, out-of-pocket deductibles and prescription drug bills.They can’t afford to live, and now they can’t afford to get sick or die, either. It’s a gamble any way you look at it, and the medical community is not helping. Healthcare costs are rising, driven by a medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industry that are getting rich off the sick and dying.
Appallingly, Americans spend more than any developed country on healthcare and have less to show for it. While Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) may have made health insurance more accessible to greater numbers of individuals, it has failed to make healthcare any more affordable.
Indeed, health care in America has become just another way of making corporations rich at consumer expense.
This is how the middle classes, who fuel the nation’s economy and fund the government’s programs, get screwed repeatedly.
We’re living a financial nightmare.
We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.
If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.
Consider: The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes. Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing. And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say. Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers under the 16th Amendment to the Constitution to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes. All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.
If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.
Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.
While we’re struggling to get by, the police state is spending our hard-earned tax dollars to further entrench its powers and entrap its citizens.
For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” The 16-year war in Afghanistan, which now stands as the longest and one of the most expensive wars in U.S. history, is about to get even longer and more costly, thanks to President Trump’s promise to send more troops over.
In this way, the military industrial complex will get even richer, and the American taxpayer will be forced to shell out even more funds for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.
This is no way of life.
Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.
We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.
Are you getting the picture yet?
The government isn’t taking our money to make our lives better. Just take a look at the nation’s failing infrastructure, and you’ll see how little is being spent on programs that advance the common good. We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.
This is nothing less than financial tyranny.
“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.
It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.
There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.
We’ve become so invested in identity politics that label us based on our political leanings that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.
As he makes clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the powers-that-be want to pit us against one another. They want us to adopt an “us versus them” mindset that keeps us powerless and divided. Trust me, the only “us versus them” that matters anymore is “we the people” against the police state.
We’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The Constitution starts with those three powerful words: “We the people.”
The message is this: there is power in our numbers.
That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace. It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might). As Patrick Henry declared in the last speech before his death, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
This holds true whether you’re talking about health care, war spending, or the American police state.
The Economy Is Okay?! U.S. Retail Store Closings Hit New Record High As West Coast Homelessness Soars
Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,
If the U.S. economy is doing just fine, why have we already shattered the all-time record for retail store closings in a single year?
Whenever I write about our “retail apocalypse”, many try to counter my arguments by pointing out the growing dominance of Amazon. And I certainly can’t deny that online shopping is on the rise, but it still accounts for less than 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales. No, something bigger is happening in our economy, and it isn’t receiving nearly enough attention from the mainstream media.
Back in 2008, a plummeting economy absolutely devastated retailers and it resulted in an all-time record of 6,163 retail stores being closed that year.
So far in 2017, over 6,700 stores have been shut down and we still have nearly two months to go! The following comes from CNN… More store closings have been announced in 2017 than any other year on record.
Since January 1, retailers have announced plans to shutter more than 6,700 stores in the U.S., according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail think tank.
That beats the previous all-time high of 6,163 store closings, which hit in 2008 amid the financial meltdown, according to Credit Suisse (CS).
Just within the last week, we have learned that Sears is closing down another 60 stores, and Walgreens announced that it intends to close approximately 600 locations. Overall, about 300 retailers have declared bankruptcy so far in 2017, and we are on pace to lose over 147 million square feet of retail space by the end of the year.
Oh, but it is all Amazon’s fault, right?
Meanwhile, mainstream news outlets are reporting that homelessness is “exploding” out on the west coast.
For instance, we are being told that there are “400 unauthorized tent camps” in the city of Seattle alone…
Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.
But I thought that the Seattle economy was doing so well.
I guess not.
Down in San Diego, they are actually scrubbing the sidewalks with bleach because the growing homeless population is spreading hepatitis A everywhere…
San Diego now scrubs its sidewalks with bleach to counter a deadly hepatitis A outbreak. In Anaheim, 400 people sleep along a bike path in the shadow of Angel Stadium. Organizers in Portland lit incense at an outdoor food festival to cover up the stench of urine in a parking lot where vendors set up shop.
Over the past two years, “at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington” have declared a state of emergency because homelessness has gotten so far out of control.
Does that sound like a healthy economy to you?
The truth is that the financial markets have been doing great since the last financial crisis, but the real economy has never really recovered in any sort of meaningful way. With each passing day, more Americans fall out of the middle class, and the homeless populations in major cities all over the nation continue to grow.
We truly are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse, and if we don’t find a way to fix things our problems will just continue to accelerate.
So don’t be fooled by the mainstream media. They may be trying to convince you that everything is just wonderful, but that is not the reality that most people are facing at all.