I call bullshit on this supposed gas attack. The military industrial complex wants another war in Syria and will do whatever to make sure it happens. Of course a war with Syria only means a growing issue with Russia and most likely a conflict with them. I truly hope the American people do not fall for this nonsense like we have the other 20 times in the last 100 years!
The reason the Assad government would bomb its own people with a nerve agent right now is obvious. Syrian President Assad – who has been fighting for his life for several years, and is only lately feeling safer – suddenly decided to commit suicide-by-Trump. Because the best way to make that happen is to commit a war crime against your own people in exactly the way that would force President Trump to respond or else suffer humiliation at the hands of the mainstream media.
And how about those pictures coming in about the tragedy. Lots of visual imagery. Dead babies. It is almost as if someone designed this “tragedy” to be camera-ready for President Trump’s consumption. It pushed every one of his buttons. Hard. And right when things in Syria were heading in a positive direction.
Super-powerful visual persuasion designed for Trump in particular.
Suspiciously well-documented event for a place with no real press.
No motive for Assad to use gas to kill a few dozen people at the cost of his entire regime. It wouldn’t be a popular move with Putin either.
The type of attack no U.S. president can ignore and come away intact.
A setup that looks suspiciously similar to the false WMD stories that sparked the Iraq war.
I’m going to call bullshit on the gas attack. It’s too “on-the-nose,” as Hollywood script-writers sometimes say, meaning a little too perfect to be natural. This has the look of a manufactured event.
My guess is that President Trump knows this smells fishy, but he has to talk tough anyway. However, keep in mind that he has made a brand out of not discussing military options. He likes to keep people guessing. He reminded us of that again yesterday, in case we forgot.
So how does a Master Persuader respond to a fake war crime?
He does it with a fake response, if he’s smart.
Watch now as the world tries to guess where Trump is moving military assets, and what he might do to respond. The longer he drags things out, the less power the story will have on the public. We’ll be wondering for weeks when those bombs will start hitting Damascus, and Trump will continue to remind us that he doesn’t talk about military options.
Then he waits for something bad to happen to Assad’s family, or his generals, in the normal course of chaos over there. When that happens on its own, the media will wonder if it was Trump sending a strong message to Assad in a measured way. Confirmation bias will do the rest.
There is also a non-zero chance that Putin just asked Assad to frame one of his less-effective Syrian generals for going rogue with chemical weapons, and executing him just to calm things down.
I don’t think we’ll ever know what’s going on over there. But I think we can rule out the idea that Assad decided to commit suicide-by-Trump.
Today marks the 100 year anniversary of the U.S entering World War 1. Looking into the events that caused World War 1, it is no surprise that the same kind of tactics are still being used today in destabilizing the world around us. The British warmongers of the early 19th Century were looking for war with Germany, mainly because they were seen as a “threat” to British Empire (there was no reason for their hatred of Germany). This destabilizing of Europe and the rest of the world has set a precedent for every conflict that has followed since World War 1. The United States has taken over as the major super power, and as so has been destabilizing the rest of the world with ongoing wars. This will inevitably lead to World War 3, all due to the same reasons the last two world wars erupted. Powerful, egotistical, and narcissistic leaders will never learn, unless of course this next conflict simply terminates life as we know it. With a world filled with crazy nations armed with nuclear missiles, that is a strong possibility.
This week is the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s speech to Congress seeking a declaration of war against Germany. Many people celebrate this centenary of America’s emergence as a world power. But, when the Trump administration is bombing or rattling sabers at half a dozen nations while many Democrats clamor to fight Russia, it is worth reviewing World War One’s high hopes and dire results.
In his speech to Congress, Wilson declared, “We have no quarrel with the German people” and feel “sympathy and friendship” towards them. But his administration speedily commenced demonizing the “Huns.” One Army recruiting poster portrayed German troops as an ape ravaging a half-naked damsel beneath an appeal to “Destroy this mad brute.”
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Wilson acted as if the congressional declaration of war against Germany was also a declaration of war against the Constitution. Harvard professor Irving Babbitt commented in 1924: “Wilson, in the pursuit of his scheme for world service, was led to make light of the constitutional checks on his authority and to reach out almost automatically for unlimited power.” Wilson even urged Congress to set up detention camps to quarantine “alien enemies.”
The war provided the pretext for unprecedented federal domination of the economy. Washington promised that “food will win the war” and farmers vastly increased their plantings. Price supports and government credits for foreign buyers sent crop prices and land prices skyrocketing. However, when the credits ended in 1920, prices and land values plunged, spurring massive bankruptcies across rural America. This spurred perennial political discontent that helped lead to a federal takeover of agriculture by the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s.
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World War One was ended by the Treaty of Versailles, which redrew European borders willy-nilly and imposed ruinous reparations on Germany. One of Wilson’s top aides at the peace talks, Henry White, lamented: “We had such high hopes of this adventure; we believed God called us and now we are doing hell’s dirtiest work.” Wilson had proclaimed 14 points to guide peace talks; instead, there were 14 separate small wars in Europe towards the end of his term — after peace had been proclaimed. Millions of Irish Americans were outraged that, despite Wilson’s bleatings about democracy, Britain brutally repressed Ireland during and after the war. The League of Nations, which Wilson championed in vain, was so smarmily worded that it could have obliged the U.S. to send troops to help Britain crush the burgeoning Irish independence movement.
The chaos and economic depression sowed by the war and the Treaty of Versailles helped open the door to some of the worst dictators in modern times, including Germany’s Adolf Hitler, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, and Vladimir Lenin — whom Wilson intensely disliked because “he felt the Bolshevik leader had stolen his ideas for world peace,” as historian Thomas Fleming noted in his 2003 masterpiece, The Illusion of Victory: America in World War 1.
Have today’s policymakers learned anything from the debacle a century ago? Wilson continues to be invoked by politicians who believe America can achieve great things by warring abroad. The bellicosity of both Republican and Democratic leaders is a reminder that Wilson also failed to make democracy safe for the world.
If you prefer fake news, fake data, and a fake narrative about an improving economy and stock market headed to 30,000, don’t read this fact based, reality check article. The level of stupidity engulfing the country has reached epic proportions, as the mainstream fake news networks flog bullshit Russian conspiracy stories, knowing at least 50% of the non-thinking iGadget distracted public believes anything they hear on the boob tube.
This stupendous degree of utter stupidity goes to a new level of idiocy when it comes to the stock market. The rigged fleecing machine known as Wall Street has gone into hyper-drive since futures dropped by 700 points on the night of Trump’s election. An already extremely overvalued market, as measured by every historically accurate valuation metric, soared by 4,000 points from that futures low – over 20% – to an all-time high. Despite dozens of warning signs and the experience of two 40% to 50% crashes in the last fifteen years, lemming like investors are confident the future is so bright they gotta wear shades.
The current bull market is the 2nd longest in history at 8 years. In March of 2009, the S&P 500 bottomed at a fitting level for Wall Street of 666. In a shocking coincidence, it bottomed on the same day Bernanke & Geithner forced the FASB to rollover like mangy dogs and stop enforcing mark to market accounting. Amazingly, when Wall Street banks, along with Fannie and Freddie, could value their toxic assets at whatever they chose, profits surged. The market is now 240% higher.
You have the second longest bull market in history, while stock market valuations, as measured by the Shiller PE ratio and every other historically accurate valuation method, are higher than 1929 and 2007, but the Wall Street hype machine and the business network shills adamantly declare this bull has years to go and thousands of points of upside. Greybeards who haven’t been captured by the Wall Street machine honestly point out the market will deliver 0% returns over the next ten years at these valuations. Eric Peters’ words of wisdom will fall on deaf ears:
“The longer a market trends lower, or higher, the more confident people become that tomorrow will look like today. And what they forget is that the single most important consideration in investing is your starting point.”
You would think the PE ratio of the market rising to historic highs must be due to corporate profits continuing to rise and making investors confident about the future. The narrative being flogged by the fake news networks is a strong economy and surging corporate profits are the reason for all-time high stock prices. The narrative is fake news, as corporate profits have been stagnant for the last five years, as the market has advanced by 70%.
In March of 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, Fed overnight interest rates were at an emergency level of .25%. Eight years later after a “tremendous” economic recovery, Fed overnight interest rates are still at an emergency level of .75%. Ten year Treasuries were 2.9% in March 2009 and are currently 2.3%. If this was a true economic recovery, would rates be at these levels?
The truth is, this entire bull market has been generated through financial engineering. A critical thinking individual, which eliminates all CNBC bimbos/talking heads and Ivy League educated Federal Reserve schmucks, might ask how reported corporate earnings per share since 2009 have risen by 221% when corporate revenues have only risen by 28%. That’s quite a feat – creating fake earnings without increasing revenue. It’s easy when you implement a three pronged scheme to manufacture a phony economic and stock market recovery.
Step one was to “temporarily” repeal FASB Rule 157 in March 2009 so banks could value their toxic real estate assets at whatever price they chose. Mark to fantasy versus mark to market allowed the criminal Wall Street banks to generate billions in fake profits. Step two was for the Federal Reserve to buy $3 trillion of toxic worthless assets from the criminal Wall Street banks at 100 cents on the dollar and stick them on their own insolvent balance sheet.
Step three was breathing life into failing corporations with unnecessarily low interest rates. The Fed’s 0% interest rates allowed Wall Street banks to generate billions in risk free profits by depositing reserves at the Fed. ZIRP also allowed insolvent financial firms, underwater real estate developers and zombie retailers to refinance their massive levels of debt at ridiculously low interest rates – eliminating the market clearing creative destruction that happens in free markets. Corporations also used off-balance sheet shenanigans to suppress leverage levels and boost earnings.
Lastly, S&P 500 companies embraced the benefits of globalization by off-shoring millions of jobs to slave labor camps in the Far East, drastically reducing their cost structures and boosting earnings. These same corporations used the BLS fake inflation data as the reason to suppress wage increases for their employees at a 2% level, further boosting earnings. As a humorous aside, executive pay and bonuses advanced at double digit rates.
The following chart sheds some light on this “fundamentally” driven bull market.
S&P 500 companies have bought back $500 billion in stock in the last two years, and $2.1 trillion since 2010. Until recently, individual investors have been net sellers for the last eight years. Pension funds have not been net buyers. That means the entire stock market surge has been reliant upon corporations buying their own stock and Wall Street institutions using their HFT machines to rig the system. And this entire scheme has been enabled by the Federal Reserve’s crisis level low interest rates for the last eight years.
After you’ve run out of accounting gimmicks, refinanced all your debt, and outsourced as many jobs to the third world as possible, how else can you make your earnings per share rise? Why invest your money in capital, innovation, research or human resources to grow your sales, when you can just buy back your own stock and goose earnings per share the easy way. Goosing EPS by reducing the number of shares makes it easier for the Wall Street fleecing machine to pump stocks and it makes it easier for corporate CEOs and their executive teams to “earn” their million dollar bonuses while stiffing their employees with 2% raises.
But it gets better. Since 2009 over $1 trillion of debt was taken on by S&P 500 companies just to buyback their own stock. The narrative about corporations being flush with cash is complete bullshit. In the last two years, the trend of issuing debt to buyback stock has accelerated to an all-time high of 30%. Think about that for one moment. With stock market valuations at all-time highs, the brilliant Ivy League educated MBA CEOs of the largest companies in the world have issued $300 billion of debt in the last two years to buyback their stock at all-time highs.
The stupid, it burns. This ridiculous miss-allocation of corporate funds was enabled by the Fed keeping interest rates so low for so long. The Fed is always the culprit in the boom and bust cycles that plague our rigged economic system. The big banks and corporations always get bailed out when their reckless financial schemes blow up, while the average American gets screwed by inflation, stagnant wages, and higher taxes. Retail CEO’s were buying back their stock over the last eight years and are now declaring bankruptcy and closing stores at a record pace. Maybe they could have used the cash used on buybacks to sustain their businesses.
Corporate debt levels are at all-time highs despite a supposed eight year economic recovery. The debt was used to buyback stock rather than invest in the business. Revenues have been stagnant and earnings are now falling. Interest rates are being ratcheted up by the Fed, and the economy is falling into recession. With debt levels already high and interest rates rising, the buyback machine is going to shut off. Without corporate buybacks what will sustain the stock market rise?
The trillion dollars of stock bought at record high prices with debt will be vaporized in the next inevitable stock market crash. But the debt will remain. And the CEOs will plead ignorance and say who could have known as they cash their multi-million dollar paychecks. The Wall Street shysters know their only hope now is to lure the stupid money into the market as they head for the exits. That’s why their hype machine has been in overdrive with the Snapchat IPO and gushing articles about Tesla’s Model 3 revolutionizing the auto industry. It’s enough to make a sane person gag.
And it’s working. The little guy has been hesitant to dip their toe back in the water after seeing 50% of their net worth obliterated in 2000/2001 and then again in 2008/2009. It seems the election of Donald trump and his promises of tax cuts, walls, infrastructure and fixing healthcare have enthused the masses into investing in the stock market at its all-time high. I guess they forgot how much it hurt when they were clubbed over the head eight years ago. Well, they are going to relearn that lesson again.
As the stupid money goes in, the smart money heads for the exits. The perfect example of how American corporations are led by greedy, short-term oriented, unprincipled, dishonest, corrupt egomaniacs can be seen in their personal actions versus the their corporate mandates. As Wall Street touts stocks to the little guy and corporate executives commit billions of shareholder dollars towards buying back their stock, corporate executives are cashing in their stock options and selling like there is no tomorrow. What a despicable display of self-interest.
If all is well and the market is headed higher then why are corporate executives buying their own firms’ shares at the slowest pace in at least 29 years. According to the Washington Service, there were a total of 279 insider buyers in January, the lowest since 1988. Moreover, the number of sellers has also grown in recent months, pushing the ratio of buyers to sellers in February to its lowest since 1988 as well. If the market isn’t overvalued, then why are corporate executives, who know their business’ prospects better than anyone, selling their stocks at a far greater rate than buying? It’s because they are going to let the ignorant investing masses be left holding the bag when the shit hits the fan.
Human beings are so predictable en mass that it’s almost humorous to watch them get it good and hard once again. They are like Wile Coyote thinking they will surely catch the Road Runner this time by using the same old methods that have failed a thousand times before. Their confidence rises just before they go over the cliff once again. We’ve reached that point again for the third time in the last seventeen years. Consumer confidence is at a sixteen year high (seems odd considering retailers are closing 3,500 stores in the next few months). The previous peaks were in May 2000 and July 2007. We all know what happened next. But it will surely be different this time. Jim Cramer tells me so.
So all the pieces are in place for an epic stock market crash, along with a real estate and debt market crash as an added kicker. The arrogant, over-confident thirty year old MBA investment geniuses and their super computer algorithms are sure they are smarter than the next guy and will get out before it’s too late. They think there will be a clear event which will signal it’s time to go. The markets are so overvalued, so dependent on the Fed, and so propped up by massive amounts of leverage, they will topple under their own weight at any moment. Central bankers, Wall Street bankers, politicians, pundits, experts, and the stupid lemmings will be shocked by this truly unexpected development.
Data reported in the last week will be the gasoline thrown on the fire when this market starts to burn, turning it into a towering inferno. Margin debt has reached an all-time high, as supremely confident investors (aka speculators) know the trend is their friend. They have borrowed over $500 billion against their stock portfolios to buy some more Snapchat, Tesla, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. The previous peaks of $400 billion to $425 billion in 2000 and 2007 have been far surpassed. What happened after those previous peaks? I forget. I’m sure this time will be different. A CNBC bimbo spokesmodel told me so.
Lance Roberts, an honest, analytical, critical thinking investment manager describes what will happen, because it always does:
“Investors can leverage their existing portfolios and increase buying power to participate in rising markets. While “this time could certainly be different,” the reality is that leverage of this magnitude is “gasoline waiting on a match.”
When an event eventually occurs, it creates a rush to liquidate holdings. The subsequent decline in prices eventually reaches a point which triggers an initial round of margin calls. Since margin debt is a function of the value of the underlying “collateral,” the forced sale of assets will reduce the value of the collateral further triggering further margin calls. Those margin calls will trigger more selling forcing more margin calls, so forth and so on.”
I watched The Big Short a couple weeks ago for the second time. The lessons from that movie will never grow old. Greed drives human beings to do reckless things in the pursuit of riches. Men think in a herd like manner and go mad in pursuit of their delusional aspirations of wealth and power. Those who see the irrationality and stupidity of the herd are scorned and ridiculed until they are ultimately proven right. Delusions die hard, but they do die as reality always wins.
“If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
So President Donald Trump warns, amid reports North Korea, in its zeal to build an intercontinental ballistic missile to hit our West Coast, may test another atom bomb.
China shares a border with North Korea. We do not.
Why then is this our problem to “solve”? And why is North Korea building a rocket that can cross the Pacific and strike Seattle or Los Angeles?
Is Kim Jong Un mad?
No. He is targeting us because we have 28,500 troops on his border. If U.S. air, naval, missile and ground forces were not in and around Korea, and if we were not treaty-bound to fight alongside South Korea, there would be no reason for Kim to build rockets to threaten a distant superpower that could reduce his hermit kingdom to ashes.
While immensely beneficial to Seoul, is this U.S. guarantee to fight Korean War II, 64 years after the first wise? Russia, China and Japan retain the freedom to decide whether and how to react, should war break out. Why do we not?
Would it not be better for us if we, too, retained full freedom of action to decide how to respond, should the North attack?
During the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, despite John McCain’s channeling Patrick Henry — “We are all Georgians now!” — George W. Bush decided to take a pass on war. When a mob in Kiev overthrew the pro-Russian government, Vladimir Putin secured his Sebastopol naval base by annexing Crimea.
Had Georgia and Ukraine been in NATO, we would have been, in both cases, eyeball to eyeball with a nuclear-armed Russia.
The United States is in rising danger of being dragged into wars in half a dozen places, because we have committed ourselves to fight for scores of nations with little or no link to vital U.S. interests.
While our first president said in his Farewell Address that we might “trust to temporary alliances” in extraordinary emergencies, he added, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
Alliances, Washington believed, were transmission belts of war. Yet no nation in history has handed out so many war guarantees to so many “allies” on so many continents, as has the United States.
To honor commitments to the Baltic States, we have moved U.S. troops to the Russian border. To prevent China from annexing disputed rocks and reefs in the South and East China Seas, our Navy is prepared to go to war — to back the territorial claims of Tokyo and Manila.
Yet, our richest allies all spend less on defense than we, and all run trade surpluses at America’s expense.
Consider Germany. Last year, Berlin ran a $270 billion trade surplus and spent 1.2 percent of GDP on defense. The United States ran a $700 billion merchandise trade deficit and spent 3.6 percent of GDP on defense.
Angela Merkel puts Germany first. Let the Americans finance our defense, face down the Russians, and fight faraway wars, she is saying; Germany will capture the world’s markets, and America’s as well.
Japan and South Korea are of like mind. Neither spends nearly as much of GDP on defense as the USA. Yet, we defend both, and both run endless trade surpluses at our expense.
President Trump may hector and threaten our allies that we will not forever put up with this. But we will, because America’s elites live for the great game of global empire.
What would a true “America First” foreign policy look like?
It would restore to the United States the freedom it enjoyed for the 150 years before NATO, to decide when, where and whether we go to war. U.S. allies would be put on notice that, while we are not walking away from the world, we are dissolving all treaty commitments that require us to go to war as soon as the shooting starts.
This would concentrate the minds of our allies wonderfully. We could cease badgering them about paying more for their defense. They could decide for themselves — and live with their decisions.
In the Carter era, we dissolved our defense pact with Taiwan. Taiwan has survived and done wonderfully well. If Germany, Japan and South Korea are no longer assured we will go to war on their behalf, all three would take a long hard look at their defenses. The result would likely be a strengthening of those defenses.
But if we do not begin to rescind these war guarantees we have handed out since the 1940s, the odds are high that one of them will one day drag us into a great war, after which, if we survive, all these alliances will be dissolved in disillusionment.
What John Foster Dulles called for, over half a century ago, an “agonizing reappraisal” of America’s alliances, is long, long overdue.
People think it’s crazy to go without health insurance – not that it’s any of their business. But they think it is their business – and so we have Obamacare and almost Trump Care, which at least would have resurrected some connection between the cost of premiums and the insured person’s risk profile, including such variables as their age and pre-existing conditions.
If you are older or have an established chronic illness, you’d have paid more for coverage under TrumpCare.
This is considered by some to be morally outrageous.
These same people don’t, however, complain about the iniquity of car insurance costing convicted drunk drivers or teenagers or the glaucomic elderly more.
But if my health and track record of physical problems should have no bearing on what I pay for insurance (less or more) why should my DMV record, age or any other such factor affect what I pay for car insurance?
Isn’t the principle the same? Or am I uncouth for mentioning it?
I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure or any chronic health problems at all. I’ve incurred (cue Dean Wormer from Animal House) zero point zero in medical costs to the cartel. I am still relatively young and very healthy. I don’t smoke, I hardly drink and I exercise often. No allergies. No medications. My BMI is “fit” and I am the same waist size today that I was in high school. I run 3-5 miles every other day.
My health insurance premiums do not reflect any of this. Which is very odd.
It doesn’t matter, Obamacare-wise, that I am a low-risk candidate. The premiums quoted for an individual policy are in the $500-plus a month range and based not on my health but on the not-so-great health of others, whose care my and other healthy people’s premiums subsidize. This includes such things as maternity care, which I as a single male am not likely to need – and pediatric care, which I as a single male without children also am not likely to need. But which I and other single men without kids are made to subsidize.
Which makes our premiums – which ought to be be very low – extremely high. It’s exactly like having to pay $2,000 annually for a car policy because my neighbor is a habitual drunk driver and keeps mashing up his car.
Well, I’d like to have the same principle applied to car insurance – for the sake of equality and fairness.
If it doesn’t matter – and it doesn’t, under Obamacare – whether I am an obese chain smoker who lives on fast food and Hoovermouths a medicine cabinet full of expensive prescription drugs every morning and night – then why should it matter, car insurance-wise, whether I have a couple of speeding tickets under my belt? Or whether, for that matter, I am a habitual drunk driver?
It is outrageous that some people pay higher car insurance premiums based on such “pre-existing conditions” . . . is it not?
Some will tell me that it is a choice – deliberate bad behavior – to break traffic laws or drive drunk and that by doing so, you are demonstrably (statistically, at least) a person who is more likely to have an accident and therefore it is reasonable to charge you more, especially since you could choose to not speed and could drive more cautiously.
Well, sure – certainly.
But why, pray, does the same principle not apply to health insurance? People do not become morbidly obese because an evil genie waved a wand and – presto! – their formerly lean and lithe selves were transmogrified into People of Wal Mart. No one is forced to visit McDonald’s daily, as many people do – or drink several sodas a day. Or forbidden to go to the gym or even for a walk. These are all choices as much as the choice to exceed the speed limit and arguably, less morally defensible because there is no doubt at all that being morbidly obese and eating shit food will result in health repercussions while driving faster than the speed limit will probably result in no repercussions at all.
Why is it considered mean-spirited to expect the Tubby and the Lazy or even the elderly, for that matter, to pay out more for the cost of their actually higher and more frequently necessary medical care – as opposed to the cost of insurance for the young and not-tubby and not-lazy, who generally need less and often no medical care?
Of course insurance ought to be based on risk – else it’s not insurance and absurd to call it that. And yet – uniquely, bizarrely – the element of risk is entirely excluded from this one kind of insurance. Which explains why it’s bankrupting everyone, including most of all those who don’t even use it.
Like myself, for example.
For the 15 years I was married, I was “covered” under my wife’s policy, which she got through her work. But – other than an occasional physical (done at her prompting) I never darkened the doctor’s door. I am blessed with good health but also take very good care of myself.
At some point, eventually, I recognize that I will probably need a doctor’s services. But for now, not. So, after my divorce, I checked out what it would cost me as a self-employed individual, to buy a basic plan – which, per Obamacare, isn’t available. I must buy coverage for things I do not need, such as maternity and pediatric care. And of course, the cost of my premiums reflects the costs of other people’s health problems which – selfishly, I suppose – I am not particularly interested in paying for.
Because I can’t afford to do so. My resources are limited; other people’s problems are unlimited.
I would pay for a policy that took into account my lack of physical problems, past or present – and the probably much lower-than-average risk of my having them in the foreseeable future, based on my health and conditions and habits. I’d go in for a thorough physical to establish such things as my blood pressure and resting heart rate (62 beats per minute, if you’re interested) and which took into account that I exercise a lot and am not likely to become pregnant and don’t have children, pre-existing or otherwise.
I’d pay for it, because (ta da!) it wouldn’t cost $500 per month – based on the fact that I would likely not use it much.
If I did, then it could go up – fine, that’s fair.
But I’m not paying $500-something per month –which is the lowest quote I could find – for nothing . . . to cover other people’s problems, which is what Obamacare amounts to. Which takes no cognizance of my risk profile and which charges me for other people’s risk profiles and for things I absolutely do not need (such as maternity care/pediatric care).
I did the math – and find that pocketing the $500 per month instead leaves me with $6,000 more in my pocket at the end of each year and that covers a lot physicals and even a few stitches, if I happen to have a mishap with the chainsaw again.
Over the next five years, say, that $6k per annum comes to $30,000 in my pocket. Over ten years and it’s $60,000. That would pretty much cover anything less-than-catastrophic that might occur – and leave me change, too. And if nothing catastrophic did occur, I’ve got $60,000 I would otherwise have spent on . . . nothing.
Well, nothing for me – selfish prick that I am.
It’s true I might have a heart attack or get cancer. Something catastrophicmight happen.
But probably won’t.
For which insurance would be great.
A high deductible/low-premium policy based on the remote risk of a payout, that would cover me if such an unlikely thing were to happen. Kind of like the way my car insurance premium assumes I won’t cause a major accident, based on my track record of not having them – and charges me accordingly.
But Obamacare isn’t insurance – and neither was/would-have-been TrumpCare. They are not even pre=paid medical care plans. They are wealth transfer plans from the young and healthy and responsible to the old and sick and irresponsible.
No one wants to talk about this, which is why the problem is going to get worse (cost everyone more) and make no one happy.
The People of Wal Mart will continue to abound; there will be less and less incentive to not join their ranks, too.
Why not? Working out is . . . work. Hey, I like fast food, too. And if I’m going to be charged as if I were a Super Sizer, why not at least enjoy the lifestyle of a Super Sizer?
Until I no longer get dunned for “speeding” and other such “pre-existing conditions” when it comes to my car insurance, I don’t see why I ought to be made to pay for non-existing conditions when it comes to (cough) health insurance.
I recently deactivated my Snapchat account for various different reasons. I have found less people have been using the service in lieu of Facebook and Instagram offering similar features. I also found that I do not snap as much as your average teenager. I mainly used the service to chat with others, but again, Facebook and Instagram offer similar features, which I may add are far superior. There is one more reason why I decided to delete Snapchat and that is to do with their progressive agenda in shoving things down their user’s throat.
The last thing I saw on Snapchat was a story in the ‘Featured Stories’ section titled “Transgender & Proud”. You can imagine that this story had a compilation of so called transgender people. In the past I have seen other featured stories such as “Black History Month”, “Women’s History Month”, and of course “Gay and Proud”. As a Libertarian that believes in liberty and freedom above all, I can care less if someone is transgender, homosexual, or anything else for that matter. My motto is, it is your life you can live it the way you want. But I should not have the lifestyle of others shoved down my throat, especially since I am a straight white male. You will not see featured stories of people who are proud to be straight, or proud to be white, or even proud to be a man. People like me are the epitome of political incorrectness and have no right to be proud of anything. To them, those of us who do not accept the lifestyle of others are bigots, racists, misogynists, homophones, … ,[insert phobia here]. Maybe we just choose that we do not want to see nor care what other people do with their lives. It is my right to choose how I live my life is it not? Folks like me choose not to want to see how others live their lifestyles when we are out in public, when we turn on the TV, or use a piece of software like Snapchat. And so what if some people do not accept how others live. It is not like they are trying to tell them how they should be living their life. Everyone is different and not everyone will agree or get along, so perhaps it is time to simply accept the facts.
I have being doing away with places, people, and services that attempt to shove things down my throat that I do not accept or care to see. My way of life is apparently not accepted by those that consider me a bigot, so why should I be forced to accept theirs? How about we leave each other alone. Oh, and Snapchat, and any other service that attempts to shove stuff down their user’s throat, how about laying off the ideologies. Then again, Snapchat has some bigger issues ahead of it as Facebook and Instagram continue to take it over, perhaps their ideologies will be straw that breaks the camel’s back.
In Part 1 of this blog I wrote about the values that my generation left behind from previous generations. I narrowed down on how the decay of morals and family structure has made a mess of my generation. The things we found normal many years ago are now considered old fashion and draconian. I also summed up the problem with the men and women of my generation. All of this stems from progressive ideology that has been handed down from our education system, filling our television shows, embraced by the mainstream media, and now accepted as common place. I will now focus on three more items that have plagued my generation – work ethic, government dependence, and technology.
Work Ethic: I could simply state that my generation is filled with lazy people who have no desire to work and end it right there. But I want to dig deeper into why this lack of work ethic has come about. To begin we need to go back to a time when America was at the peak of its industrial revolution, circa 1900’s. There also happen to be an immigration boom that brought in people that were eager to become Americanized (an article will follow on immigration then vs. now). Men woke up at the same time every morning, grabbed a packed lunch (made by their wife), and went to the factory to work. They had a very strict schedule and left when the whistle went off at 5. They worked not because they wanted to, or because they actually liked what they did, but rather because they had to support their family. They had a small suburban house and a Ford to pay for. This was a time when there were no credit cards, high rate mortgages, or even car payments. Food was relatively inexpensive and the cost of living was low. A lot has changed since then. Things started to change with the baby boomer generation. The beginning of McMansions, overpriced cars, high taxes, and cost of living expenses growing by the year, all came about during the boom of the baby boomers. The higher expenses warranted the need for jobs that paid much more than the ones their grandfathers used to work. Baby boomers also were the first to see health care and pension plans in their line of work. It just so happens that this was a period when unions started becoming much more powerful coincidentally (another article for another day). The children of the baby boomers were given a life of luxury compared to that of their parents. Most teenagers were given their first car at 16 and didn’t have to work in high school. I grew up around many kids like this. Everything was handed to them by their parents. This pampering has created a situation whereby these people as they grew into adults expected to land a high paying job so that they could continue their life of luxury. A 23 year old graduating college expected a high paying job to buy a brand new car and big house. But reality tends to bite pretty hard and that same individual not only got a job that pays far less than what he thought he was going to make, but is also stuck with student loan debt, a clunker for a car, and living in his parents basement. This world view by the Millennials has turned them into the “gimme generation”. They refuse to work a job that does not pay to their expectations, or demands that the government get involved and regulate their pay. They feel that they deserve more and more. The concept of working hard and trying hard to land the job they desire is a fallacy to them. I feel for the generation following as they are even worse off than us. If you feel you deserve a high paying job because you have some fancy degree, think again. You need to take what you can get and work your way to the top. You need to live within your means until you can start affording the luxuries in life.
Government Dependence: Above I mentioned how many Millennials feel that the government should be involved in regulating how much they get paid. It turns out these kind of people truly believe that the government can do everything for them. They think they their student loans should be nullified and that the government should pay for college. Basically to them the government is much like their parents when they were teens. They had no self-responsibility and expected someone else to do things for them. The truth is, the government is the reason why 90% of the problems they have exist in the first place. The education system, controlled by the government, has taught them that they shouldn’t have to suffer and that someone will always be there to help them. The government created the student loan bubble, which colleges took advantage of, therefore driving up the cost of education dramatically. The government regulated the health industry and insurance, therefore dramatically increasing the cost of a simple doctor visit. Government run mortgage companies following government regulations created the housing bubble, which ultimately caused the cost of living to skyrocket. Government and its EPA, along with trade agreements, has caused the price of automobiles to increase 500% in 20 years. The list goes on. Perhaps it is time to stop embracing people like Bernie Sanders, who do nothing but make promises that sound good on paper, but do not work. I believe in the fact that everyone is responsible for their own life and actions they take. Stop expecting the government to be there like mommy and daddy were when you were a child. You are an adult and it is time to act like one. The government will not help you in the long run, so be careful what you wish for.
Technology: I will finish off this article on how technology has shaped my generation, in most cases for disaster. I fall victim to this over any of the other shortcomings we have. I went to school as a Computer Engineer and work in the field now for 12 years. I love what I do and would not trade for anything else (as a career that is). Through college and early in my career I became a typical Millennial and became dependent on technology. I lost focus on the fact that technology can easily fail, especially since I work in the cyber security field and know it to be so. I went through life always depending on technology, so much that I lost the concept of what to do if something were to happen. I had no prepper skills, and no real skills in surviving in a world where technology is not present. I am not necessarily the gloom and doom type of person, but I think essential skills that humans have always possessed should not be forgotten because technology has made our lives so much easier. Fast forward to the present and I have adapted many skills that do not involve technology. I feel confident that I could survive in a world where technology become extinct. It took a lot of work to get to this point. Unfortunately, most people from my generation are very dependent on technology. This dependence has created a world where “common sense” is becoming scarce. This dependence isn’t necessarily all the fault of the person, but equally corporations and of course the government. Take cars as an example. For many years cars were easy to work on, so much so that people generally did their own maintenance. Now corporations are making cars so packed with technology that they are impossible to work on. Other “common sense” things such as writing a check, paying with cash, fixing household items, and even cooking a meal, are slowly going away because of technology. As more technology becomes available, which makes life easier and convenient, is also making people dumber. I look at the generation following me as they grow up being shaped by technology. Toddlers are using tablets and pre-teens have smart phones. Technology is great for learning, but unfortunately these children are not being influenced that way. Instead they are growing to be dependent on these devices. Their day to day lives are constantly spent on them. Their social skills are severely impacted in the process. I cannot say what these kids will be like in 10-15 years, but I fear much worse than their parents are. Technology is a great thing, but any form of dependence on it should be eliminated. Start learning new skills that do not involve technology. Learn to be able to survive if something were to happen. Technology is very volatile and can become irrelevant very easily.
I could go on with a list of values lost and things that have affected my generation for the worse, but then I would need to contact a publisher since it would easily be a book. I think I touched on the major things, at least the ones that I view as important. I have always said that I am in the wrong generation. My values do not align with that of today. I know there are others out there like me and that more and more are waking up to the fact that we are not infallible. So if your grandparents are still around, sit them down and talk to them. Learn their way of life. They won’t be on this earth much longer so take in everything you can and follow their legacy. They come from a generation that could teach us some things.
Great little article on SJWs from both sides of the aisle. Sums them up spot on!
Today I will explain why America is going to hell, and probably deserves it. It has to do with conservatives and liberals, who may be thought of as Woofers and Tweeters. They should all be taken out and shot. The country would then be a much better place. Worth a try, anyway.
(1) Liberals posit the equality of groups that are not equal, attribute the inevitable differences of outcome to discrimination, and try to eradicate them through regulation, affirmative action, and punishment of those noticing the differences. This doesn’t work, assuring a pretext for indignation that is non-depletable, like the liver of Prometheus.
Here we have the bedrock of American politics.
(2) Liberals believe that we should all love one another, and hate those who don’t. This puts them in the morally invincible position of being against hatred. It also obscures the observable fact that most of us, certainly to include liberals, dislike a great many people, and that most groups detest a lot of other groups, or will if placed in contact with them. Distance is prerequisite to love.
(3) Groups hate each other, firstly, the greater their proximity. Secondly, the more they differ from one another, and, thirdly, the more power one has over another or the greater the apparent superiority of one over the other. The result is a spectrum of hostility running from surliness to severed heads.
This explains anti-antisemitism. Jews do not assimilate: Bill O’Toole in America does not think of himself as Irish, but Rachel Cohen thinks of herself as Jewish. This is not a sin, which has nothing to do with it. Proximity is close to a maximum since Jews are widely mixed through the population. Jews rise to positions of power, completing the triad. They can’t win.
There are those who believe that Homo sapiens came about through the mating of a Neanderthal with a pit bull. While this has not been confirmed, it fits the evidence.
(4) This brings us to the curious notion that diversity is a strength, which it obviously is not. Diversity is in fact the cause of most of the world’s troubles. If you doubt that diversity is a great evil, consider relations between:
Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka; Tutsis and Hutus in Burundi; Protestants and Catholics in Ireland; Israelis and Arabs in Palestine; blacks, whites, and browns in the United States; Anglophones and Francophones in Canada; Sunnis and Shias everywhere; Chinese and Indonesians in Indonesia; Chinese and Malays in Malaysia; Muslims and Hindus in India; blacks and whites in South Africa; Jews and everybody else everywhere; Spaniards and Basques in Spain; Spaniards and Catalans; Turks and Kurds; to name a few.
Then consider the proportion of riots, crime, looting, arson, lynchings, racial attacks, complaints of discrimination, ill will, court cases, and legislation that would have been avoided in America over the years since 1600 had there been only one race in the country.
Thus sensible social policy should always be to keep different groups apart. Usually it is not that either of two warring groups is evil, but only that they are different. It is enough.
(5) The granularity of detestation descends well below the national and racial levels. New Yorkers and West Virginians do not like each other, nor the urban and the rural. Massachussetans and Mississippians do not like each other, though these do not actually kill each other. (In the mid-1800s, they did.) Those who like and those who despise President Trump hate each other. Women seem to hate men, which is why maintaining separate bars and clubs as sometimes retreats is wise.
(6) The only way to make different groups like each other is to make them stop being different. Blacks who move in reasonable though superficial comfort among whites do so by adopting white speech, dress, and mannerisms; the Irish and Italians in America by ceasing to be Irish or Italian while keeping the names. This suggests that good policy would be to allow, or encourage, different groups to separate from each other, or to force them to be like each other. The former approach leads to tranquility, the latter often to bloodshed. The current effort by Social Justice Warriors to make boys and girls into warped sexual interstitial amalgams produces angry, unhappy men and women.
(7) This in turn brings us to immigration, which amounts to the importation of people so they can hate each other.
Open borders are supported by vaguely warm-hearted appeals to those who think with their glands. There are probably 500 million Indians, as many Chinese, hundreds of millions of Africans, more Muslims, and several hundred million Latin Americans who would like to emigrate to the United States. The question for Social Justice Warriors is how many of these should be admitted–none, all, or a specific figure between?
Anyone who makes noises in favor of immigration should answer this question as otherwise he will be engaging in mere moral posing. But to choose one number is to exclude another number. Not inclusive, that.
(9) The two primary political errors are liberalism and conservationism (who hate each other: See?)
Conservatives are hostile, darkly suspicious of almost everything, tribal, but not actually delusional, living in something resembling the real world but taking a dim view of it.
Liberals construct in their minds a world as they think it should be, and then try to live in it. Their goodness of their ideas is so obvious, so reasonable, so heart-warmingly right that we should have a happy multicultural society, black and white together, and brown and yellow and what have you, kum bah yah, and learn from each other, vive la difference. It doesn’t detract from the appeal of this theory that it allows those holding it to feel really good about themselves.
An example of trying to live in fantasia is the statement by Obama,“Joe Biden and I know that women are as least as strong as men,” he said. “We’re stronger for it.”
Women are not as strong as or stronger than men. Perhaps they should be. We may want them to be. It might be a good thing if they were. But they are not. If Obama believes otherwise, he is out of touch with reality–i.e., psychotic. People otherwise sane can be politically psychotic in this manner. Think of conspiracy theorists.
When it doesn’t work, the fault must lie with obstructive racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, Islamophobic, et cetera at unbearable length. We just need somehow to teach people not to act like people.
(10) Most of Social Justice Warriorism deals more with feelings than with fact, logic, observation, or actual thought, all of which are regarded as nuisances and probably sexist. Thus there is no hope. We should all go home and slit our throats, leaving the world to bugs and things.
In the late in the 5th century BC, the government of ancient Rome came up with a new idea that has lasted for thousands of years.
I’m not talking about their roads, republican form of government, or water sanitation.
Their bold idea was to start paying retirement benefits to Roman soldiers.
This was a pretty big deal. In ancient times, you worked until you died. There was no such thing as retirement.
But under the praemia militiae, retired legionnaires could be secure in their futures when they completed their service to the republic.
Roman pensions were generous. During the reign of Augustus, a retired legionnaire received a pension of 12,000 sesterces, worth nearly $40,000 in today’s money.
Eventually Roman soldiers came to depend on their pensions; they no longer viewed the money as a privileged benefit. Pensions became an entitlement.
The problem was, though, that the government made too many promises; there were too many retirees, and Rome hadn’t set aside enough money to pay them.
In time, the government’s inability to pay military retirees became a major source of social unrest, fueling the demise of the republic and rise of the Empire.
So just as the ancient Romans invented the first pensions, they also invented the first pension crisis. It wouldn’t be the last.
Most major governments find themselves in a similar position today.
According to a 2016 report from Citibank entitled “The Coming Pension Crisis,” the 35 developed nations which comprise the OECD (including the US, Canada, Japan, most of Europe, etc.) have pension shortfalls totaling $78 TRILLION.
To put this in context, $78 trillion is more than the size of the entire world economy.
And the shortfalls get worse each year.
It’s not just big national governments either.
State / provincial governments, local governments, and even countless private companies have underfunded pensions that are rapidly running out of cash.
In the United States, Social Security releases an annual report every summer describing the program’s pitiful finances in excruciating detail.
They don’t mince words: “projected [costs] will exceed total income . . . starting in 2020,” and, “trust fund reserves decline until reserves become depleted in 2034.”
You can literally circle a date on your calendar when Social Security’s trust funds are depleted.
Frankly I think their projections are optimistic.
Remember that the program is funded by taxpayers who are currently in the work force.
12.4% of your paycheck gets funneled to Social Security, and that money goes in the pockets of current beneficiaries.
There is a rather interesting long-term trend, however, that robots and artificial intelligence will replace a lot of human workers.
From self-driving cars to algorithmic financial advisers, millions of people may find themselves out of work in the future.
The problem for Social Security is that robots don’t pay tax. So the program will lose a LOT of tax revenue as a result.
This is clearly a long-term issue; nothing is going to happen to Social Security tomorrow. And that’s why few people really think about it.
Except that… this is RETIREMENT. We’re SUPPOSED to think long-term about retirement.
And if you think long-term about your retirement, it becomes pretty obvious that Social Security probably isn’t going to be there for you, especially if you’re in your mid-40s or younger.
Fortunately we have time to prepare.
It starts with a shift in mindset: the government won’t be able to take care of you. You have to be self-reliant.
One way is to start saving, and to do so with a better retirement structure.
A conventional IRA, for example, allows you to contribute up to $5,500 if you’re under the age of 50.
If you switch to a 401(k), however, you can contribute up to $18,000 per year.
Or if you own a small business, you can establish a SEP IRA and contribute potentially up to $54,000 per year to your retirement.
Obviously most people might not have an extra $50k each year to save for retirement.
But just putting away an extra $1,000 per year can result in a difference of more than $100,000 when compounded over 30 years.
Even more importantly, think about establishing a much more ROBUST retirement structure that allows you greater flexibility in how/where you invest.
Most retirement plans are confined to your back yard. If you have a US retirement plan, you’re allowed to invest in government bonds and the US stock market.
But what if US stocks are overvalued? What if you don’t want to loan money to the government?
With a more robust structure like a self-directed IRA or solo 401(k), you’ll be able to open up an entire universe of new investment opportunities.
All of these options are available with a more robust retirement plan, allowing you the chance to generate higher returns without the cost of paying some Wall Street firm to manage your account.
Consider this– if you’re able to save an extra $2,000 per year and generate, on average, 2% more per year (i.e. 10% versus 8%), you will end up making an additional $610,000 for your retirement over 30-years.
This matters. A lot.
Some small changes today could easily make the difference between financial stability and financial chaos down the road.
This isn’t some wild conspiracy theory.
The government itself is telling us that Social Security is running out of money. They’re even telling us when.
And all it takes to fix this problem is a little bit of education… and the will to take a few basic steps.
Do you have a Plan B?
If you live, work, bank, invest, own a business, and hold your assets all in just one country, you are putting all of your eggs in one basket.
You’re making a high-stakes bet that everything is going to be ok in that one country — forever.
All it would take is for the economy to tank, a natural disaster to hit, or the political system to go into turmoil and you could lose everything—your money, your assets, and possibly even your freedom.
If you believe that the government does not or cannot monitor every type of “connected” electronic device, then you live in a bubble. It has been shown many times that the NSA has the ability to monitor every call, text, e-mail, tweet, and even packet sent across the internet. It is hard to tell if they focus on particular groups of people based on some set of algorithms, but regardless, they are doing it without Constitutional safe guards. So just watch what you say!
There was high drama last week when Rep. Devin Nunes announced at the White House that he had seen evidence that the communications of the Donald Trump campaign people, and perhaps even Trump himself, had been “incidentally collected” by the US government.
If true, this means that someone authorized the monitoring of Trump campaign communications using Section 702 of the FISA Act. Could it have been then-President Obama? We don’t know. Could it have been other political enemies looking for something to harm the Trump campaign or presidency? It is possible.
There is much we do not yet know about what happened and there is probably quite a bit we will never know. But we do know several very important things about the government spying on Americans.
First there is Section 702 itself. The provision was passed in 2008 as part of a package of amendments to the 1978 FISA bill. As with the PATRIOT Act, we were told that we had to give the government more power to spy on us so that it could catch terrorists. We had to give up some of our liberty for promises of more security, we were told. We were also told that the government would only spy on the bad guys, and that if we had nothing to hide we should have nothing to fear.
We found out five years later from Edward Snowden that the US government viewed Section 702 as a green light for the mass surveillance of Americans. Through programs he revealed, like PRISM, the NSA is able to collect and store our Internet search history, the content of our emails, what files we have shared, who we have chatted with electronically, and more.
That’s why people like NSA whistleblower William Binney said that we know the NSA was spying on Trump because it spies on all of us!
Ironically, FISA itself was passed after the Church Committee Hearings revealed the abuses, criminality, and violations of our privacy that the CIA and other intelligence agencies had been committing for years. FISA was supposed to rein in the intelligence community but, as is often the case in Washington, it did the opposite: it ended up giving the government even more power to spy on us.
So President Trump might have been “wiretapped” by Obama, as he claimed, but unfortunately he will not draw the right conclusions from the violation. He will not see runaway spying on Americans as a grotesque attack on American values. That is unfortunate, because this could have provided a great teaching moment for the president. Seeing how all of us are vulnerable to this kind of government abuse, President Trump could have changed his tune on the PATRIOT Act and all government attacks on our privacy. He could have stood up for liberty, which is really what makes America great.
Section 702 of the FISA Act was renewed in 2012, just before we learned from Snowden how it is abused. It is set to expire this December unless Congress extends it again. Knowing what we now know about this anti-American legislation we must work hard to prevent its renewal. They will try to scare us into supporting the provision, but the loss of our liberty is what should scare us the most!