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Friday, April 29, 2011

The political-media-corporate-celeb Dynamic

~ CNBC's Maria Bartiromo looking like a prostitute at the 2010 White House Correspondents Association Dinner...

The world is run, operated and controlled by a System.

Think of it as a web- everything and everyone that composes this System is intertwined and the supposed individual 'strands' are braided together.

Found this op-ed in the Washington Post about the annual absurdity called the White House Correspondents Association Dinner- the one event where politicians of both parties, the corporate media that covers them, and the corporations that own all media & politicians concerned, can openly acknowledge they're one big Happy family.

What is most interesting is to see the whole dynamic at play, written by David Milbank who has attended them in the past and in his editorial expresses why he passed this year.  The Washington Post editorial is in blue font..

"On Thursday, the Washington Post editorializes that Donald Trump has been campaigning on “bogus” issues and that he should “cease and desist.” An article in the news pages the same day reports that the great orange charlatan’s “simply wild speculation” has “almost no basis in fact.”

Then, on Saturday night, Post reporters and editors, in black-tie finest, go to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner to host their invited guests, including. . . Donald Trump.

Awkward though the Trump invitation is, it is just one of the many problems with the annual dinner and its satellite events.

The fun begins, appropriately enough, at the offices of the American Gas Association, where White House reporters are feted by the lobbyists of the Quinn Gillespie firm. More lobbyist-sponsored entertainment comes from the Motion Picture Association. Along the way, journalists wind up serving as pimps: We recruit Hollywood stars to entertain the politicians, and we recruit powerful political figures to entertain the stars. Corporate bosses bring in advertisers to gawk at the display, and journalists lucky enough to score invitations fancy ourselves celebrities.

Cee Lo Green sings for us. Seth Meyers tells us jokes. Lindsay Lohan’s ex, Samantha Ronson, is our DJ. All the cool kids -- Sean Penn, Kate Hudson, Steven Tyler, Paula Abdul, Courteney Cox, David Byrne and Bristol Palin -- want to party with us. A Johnnie Walker “cigar tent” furnishes us with scotch and hand-rolled stogies. We are handed Fiji water, or Grey Goose vodka, to slake our thirsts, and Sea Terra Organics Vanilla Body Butters to soothe our pores.

The correspondents’ association dinner was a minor annoyance for years, when it was a “nerd prom” for journalists and a few minor celebrities. But, as with so much else in this town, the event has spun out of control. Now, awash in lobbyist and corporate money, it is another display of Washington’s excesses.

There are now no fewer than 20 parties, plus a similar number of receptions at the Washington Hilton before the dinner. A pre-dinner brunch, once an intimate affair in a TV producer’s backyard, was moved this year to the Georgetown mansion of multimillionaire Mark Ein. Democratic and Republican consultants shell out five figures apiece to join the CafĂ© Milano owner as hosts. (Cafe Atlantico’s owner, by contrast, is cooking for the Atlantic’s party.)

Time Warner booked the St. Regis for the People and Time fete; Conde Nast has the W Hotel for the New Yorker and the French ambassador’s residence in Kalorama for its Vanity Fair party done with Bloomberg. The MSNBC party is in the Italian embassy, while others choose the Hay-Adams, the Ritz Carlton or the Ronald Reagan building. A few sponsors, generally Hollywood-oriented nonprofits, hold cocktail parties masquerading as charity benefits.

Hungover hobnobbers reconvene Sunday morning at Politico publisher Robert Allbritton’s Georgetown manse to “nosh on hand-rolled sushi and dim sum prepared by Wolfgang Puck’s The Source.” The press release continues :“The Allbrittons’ lush garden, filled with 200-year-old poplar trees, will feature a white century-style tent adorned with blue-and-white ceramics” – not to mention Ashley Judd and Janet Napolitano.

Is it Politico’s job to get Judd and Napolitano together? Is it ABC News’s role to unite Glee’s Jane Lynch with White House chief of staff Bill Daley or 30 Rock’s Elizabeth Banks with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon? ... The cumulative effect is icky. With the proliferation of A-list parties and the infusion of corporate and lobbyist cash, Washington journalists give Americans the impression we have shed our professional detachment and are aspiring to be like the celebrities and power players we cover.

My late colleague David Broder once recalled how, when he began newspapering in mid-century, journalists embraced the credo that “the only way a reporter should ever look at a politician is down.” He said they “prided themselves on their independence, their skepticism, and they relished their role in exposing the follies and the larceny of public officials.”

As I began to do the RSVPs for a few of this year’s parties, I thought about what our hardbitten journalistic forebears would make of Cee Lo and SamRo and the Donald. Then I made other plans for the weekend. "

~ Is there any wonder the corporate owned visual and print media Trumpet 'recovery' and do the White House's bidding?

Yay! to Robin Hood

From Associated Press:  "Authorities say a homeless man robbed a Tampa bank, fled on a city bus and handed out stolen cash to passengers. Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies say 27-year-old Elmer McGuirt handed a note demanding money to a Wachovia Bank teller about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses told deputies he then got on the bus and started handing out money... The sheriff's office contacted the bus driver, who stopped the bus and pretended to have mechanical failure. Deputies arrested McGuirt and were also able to get some of the money back from passengers."

1) Law enforcement will always protect the interests of banks- Always

2) The passengers who voluntarily gave back the $$ deserved a face slap

3) The bus driver who stopped deserved two

4) Since the man was homeless, now the State of Florida can "punish" him by providing food, clothing and shelter

5) The bank robber showed more generosity and concern for the financial wellbeing of others on the bus, than the US government has done to its people in the 27 months since the original $700 billion bailout- so Cheers to him

~ Some of you may disagree with this stance.. the System thanks you.

Random Musings...

I've wondered for some time why people in the US continue to tolerate 'official' unemployment around 9% and unofficial unemployment closer to 17% of the population?   

I guess the answer is if people of other nations peaceably tolerate unemployment of over 21%,we'll tolerate figures that are less so

From CNN:  "Spain's unemployment rate rose nearly a point to 21.29%, with 4.9 million jobless for the first quarter of 2011, the government reported Friday"

________

I've been reading and hearing a lot of pundits declaring re-election victory for President Obama,  a full 19 months before people actually vote..   

Maybe he will win.. maybe he wont..  but here's something to think about:

In 1991, Pres. George Bush, Sr had an Gallop Poll approval rating of 89% after the Persian Gulf War ended

In 1992, Bush's ratings were 29%, due mainly to breaking his pledge of 'Read my lips: No New Taxes' and the nation entering a recession at the time.

This economy has improved only for the financial sector and Wall Street and if you think otherwise, you're watching too much 'American Idol' and 'Glee'.

Moral of story-  When it comes to elections, never assume anything.
_______

Most people believe they know propaganda when they see it- that its something very overt and obvious; that it is exaggerative and forced upon.  While this is true when it comes to advertising products, it is actually extremely subtle when infiltrating news stories.

Here's a example using two headlines from today's Financial Times-- 

1-  Jobless claims spark recovery worries
2-  Growth data cast doubt over US recovery

Innocent looking words that seem straightforward-  but is it?

Let's delve deeper- this is what the headline is saying--

1)  America IS in a Recovery- we and others say it, so its a FACT- ignore your personal economic reality.. everything is getting better children.

2)  Rising jobless claims and weak growth date are problems we can't ignore (though believe us, we'd like to). But instead of acknowledging it as part of an ongoing, never ending recession, we choose to alter the context to fit the more upbeat narrative. A 'negative' has not happened- it is simply a threat of one.  Our advertisers are much pleased...

A different way of explaining this:

You're in a loveless marriage which has been getting progressively worse for 27months. Both you and your spouse are unhappy but he/she wishes to put a happy face on it..  You see it as "irrevocably broken" but your spouse is continually referring to the marriage as an "eventual reconciliation"


Thursday, April 28, 2011

At least Wal-Mart is honest about the economy

Propaganda essentially is to tell a lie over n' over until it becomes 'true'

Sometimes its used to convince people that this product is better than that product, or this politicial party, race or ethnicity is better or inferior than another, as the Nazis perfected..

And as expressed in previous postings, the government, media, financial markets and corporations are Damned determined to have you accept faux enonomic 'recovery' or break you down trying..

So even though Wal-Mart is part of the overall economic problem, I found the following article's honesty a little bit refreshing, especially the last part...

From CNN/Money:  "Wal-Mart's core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday. "We're seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure," Duke said at an event in New York. "There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact."

Wal-Mart shoppers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in.  Lately, they're "running out of money" at a faster clip, he said. "Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year," Duke said. "This end-of-month [purchases] cycle is growing to be a concern.

Wal-Mart which averages 140 million shoppers weekly to its stores in the United States, is considered a barometer of the health of the consumer and the economy.  To that end, Duke said he's not seeing signs of a recovery yet."

~ Did you catch that last part??

  Wal-Mart because of its 140 Million shoppers each week is considered "A Barometer of the health of the consumer and the economy"

And what does the "Barometer" show?  --  'Not seeing signs of a recovery yet"

And YET-- Obama Constantly says we're in Recovery..  Bernanke.. Geither... everyone in government says it..  The finance sector and markets say it.. The spineless corporate media trumpet it..

....
Maybe its just me, but I don't like being manipulated...  I don't accept "We're #1" when we're not and I will never accept "recovery" when to the bottom 98%, there isn't one

'Treated like a child'

I'm getting Sick & Tired...

It just Never stops-  the Lies.. the Desperate need by this government and the "presstitutes" as accurate Trends Forecastor Gerald Celente brilliantly and accurately labels the mainstream media, to push 'Recovery'

The markets continue to rise for their own greedy, nefarious purposes.  Prices of gas, food and every other essential go up, up as wages stay flatlined.  Jobs are not being created in any sizable numbers and those that are available are the type of entry-level garbage one should not even need to posses a high school diploma to obtain.

And yet we keep getting the same nonstop, endless propaganda.

The other day I keyworded 'furlough' in Google news search and gave just a small sampling of the dozens of news articles showing how across the US, states, cities and municipalities are forcing furloughs upon workers as a means of trying to get their fiscal houses in order.

Today I keyworded the term 'layoffs'- the following is just a Very small sampling of the recent news articles on this topic...

* ALL of which are simply from today's news, 4/28/11 --

"The loss of state funding will force Cleveland to lay off 400 workers, close fire stations, and scale back police patrols... (Mayor Frank Jackson) did not specify what positions would be eliminated, but said the layoffs amount to about 7% of the city's 5,400-person workforce." (Business Insider)

"Some Houston (TX) municipal workers today will be handed the first pink slips in what is expected to be wide-scale layoffs as City Hall grapples with a shortfall in the current budget and a projected $80 million deficit for Fiscal 2012" (Houston Chronicle)

 "Panasonic announced Thursday that it will layoff 17,000 employees in order to cut costs and adapt to a changing global market." (PCMag.com)

"Acme Markets announced Thursday that it is laying off about 900 of the 14,000 employees at its 117 stores in and around Philadelphia, South Jersey, Delaware and Maryland" (Philly.com)

"Facing an "unprecedented" fiscal crisis, the Philadelphia School District could shed 3,820 employees and is planning for more painful cuts, including losing full-day kindergarten" (Philly.com)

"Kraft expected to layoff more than 125 [in Ohio]"  (Coshocton Tribune)

"The Plymouth-Canton Community Schools Board of Education (Michigan) approved Tuesday the layoffs of 269 teachers as the district continues to deal with an $18 million deficit in its 2011-12 budget." (Observer & Eccentric)

"Nokia Corp. announced that it will slash 7,000 jobs worldwide Wednesday, by both layoffs and outsourcing as it aims to cut costs..."  (ofwnow.com)

"MassMutual confirmed Wednesday night it will lay off 75 employees at its Springfield (Mass.) operation, primarily within the information technology department, as part of a restructuring" (The Republican)

"After months of nervous anticipation, 106 San Jose (Calif.) police officers are getting notices this week that they will be laid off as the reality of the city's dire financial picture cast a gloom over police headquarters and City Hall." (MercuryNews)

"Class sizes in Spokane (Wash.) Public Schools could soon go up. In addition to class size adjustments, layoff notices are going to go out for 90 or more employees." (Examiner.com)

And On and On and On...

100 layoffs here.. 200 there.. it adds up

When you watch the news and listen to your elected leaders and scum like Fed Chair Ben Bernanke tell you that things are getting better and we're on the right track, you should be Furious...

Not annoyed.. not upset.. FURIOUS --

Because you're being treated patronized & lied to--  like a child..  Daily.

Children play with toys and escape into television, video games and other pop culture diversions when things are rough or scary.. Or when they feel helpless.

Adults do not.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It it walks, talks and votes like a Republican"


Remember the good ole' days- when milk was less than $3/gallon, people had jobs and you could actually tell  the two US political parties apart?

Previously, unions were weakened in Ohio and Wisconsin..

Today its in Massachusetts.

And the culprits this time...   Democrats..  so-called 'liberal' Dems.

(Mass.) House votes to restrict unions (Boston Globe) -- "House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last night to strip police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees of most of their rights to bargain over health care...  vote followed tougher measures to broadly eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states. But unlike those efforts, the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers’ rights.

"It’s pretty stunning,’’ said Robert J. Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “These are the same Democrats that all these labor unions elected. The same Democrats who we contributed to in their campaigns. The same Democrats who tell us over and over again that they’re with us, that they believe in collective bargaining, that they believe in unions. . . . It’s a done deal for our relationship with the people inside that chamber.’’ "

~ We've said it before..going to say it again.  When it comes to economic issues, there is No difference between the Republicans and Democrats.  Yes, you may find a Dennis Kucinich here or a Ron Paul here.. but overall.. none.   The differences are in social issues and hot-button topics that stir passions and the 'us v them' mindset which is so important to securing donations during election cycles.

20,000 Daily Views

Today, Ants & Grasshoppers has passed the 20,000 views per day mark..

Royal Wedding

Tomorrow there will be a Royal wedding in Great Britain, rich in pomp and ornamentation which will be broadcast around the world, and many will celebrate this joyous event.

I have my personal views on Royal weddings and 'monarchy' but because I promised someone I would not get vitriolic, I will not write very much on this topic.

But I would be remiss if I didn't point out two statistics which the reader can either embrace or ignore as they so wish...

1)  According to Britain's HRM Guide (Human Resources Management), the unemployment rate as of April 13, 2011 is 7.8% and the gap between wages and inflation rose sharply to 3.5%.

2)  According to the UK Telegraph's calculations, the wedding will cost the country $7.9 billion (5 billion pounds).  "Business groups expect the day off to result in $9.48 billion (about 6 billion pounds)in lost productivity, which will be offset by some $1.6 billion (about 1 billion pounds) in extra spending by tourists and in sales of memorabilia."

   In terms of the wedding costs itself, it is expected to cost the British taxpayers $20 million (12 million pounds)

Like everything else in life where everyday people pay the bill for others' pleasure, no one really has the power to prevent or alter these events, but its still good to understand where nations' priorities lie.

Word of the day: Furloughs

The politicians say things are getting better..

The mainstream corporate media parrots it too..

And the cockroach Investors on Wall St. are sure investing like it..

But are we?

There can be no recovery without real jobs- not McDonald's-caliber employment, but real jobs that provide real, living wages that allow people to be in a position, if so choosing, to achieve home ownership.

We hear a lot about 'job creation'- mostly minimum wage and temp-caliber garbage.  But what about worker's ability to retain the jobs they presently hold?

For "fun", I looked up the word 'furlough' on Google news, specific to employment specific to just the past few days... I found quite a bit of news headlines affecting people all across the nation- here are some...

Commissioners to vote on furloughs Tuesday (Marietta Daily Journal) 4/27/11 -- "The Cobb Board of Commissioners is slated to vote Tuesday night on scheduling five furlough days for county workers. "

York City School Board votes to furlough more than 70 workers (York (PA) Daily Record) 4/27/11

City parks employees may be facing furloughs (AM NewYork) 4/26/11 -- "To save some green, the city may end up forcing its full-time parks employees to take six-month furloughs...If that happens, the parks will be in trouble, said Dilcy Benn, president of Local 1505. “It’s going to be dirtier and there’s going to be a lot more crime if there’s no one to monitor,” "

Budget shortfall forces furloughs on Utah's school for deaf and blind students (AP)  4/24/11

Clayton (GA) board chooses furloughs over retrieving stimulus payouts (AJC.com)  4/18/11

Palm Beach (FL) school district employee layoffs, furloughs looming (SunSentinel.com) 4/23/11

(Texas) Senate panel approves bill for teacher pay cuts, furloughs, layoffs (Dallas Morning News)  4/14/11

Broward (FL) schools to cut $115 million from budget (WSVN.com)- "Senate panel approves bill for teacher pay cuts, furloughs, layoffs"

(Mayor) Wharton's 2012 (Memphis, TN) budget includes layoffs, furloughs (wmctv.com) 4/20/11

And on and on and on.....

And then you have this lil nugget from the White House--

"White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said on Tuesday the U.S. economic recovery was still projected to continue at a sound pace despite the effect of high fuel prices." - Reuters News  4/26/11

~ Three things you best understand if not already..

1)  There is No real recovery
2)  There is a great disconnect between everyday people and politicians
3) The current President has done Nothing in 27 months in office to make your lives better... Not one piece of legislation.. Nadda..

A Comment on Comments

Been getting some good comments lately..

Even those I may disagree with, I've read and respected their opinions.

Unfortunately have gotten some deeply slly ones too

Received one tonight in particular that criticized a previous posting on the origins of the Great Depression because I didn't specify the dates.. a piece of knowledge any person with a basic periphery knowledge of history should possess on their own.

I love doing this blog and presenting information that can hopefully make you aware of what is truly going on in the world and in particular, the US... And its important that A&G be a beacon for accurate information and truth that is devoid of profit-seeking ulterior motives, like pretty much all other finance blogs who basically seek your viewership in order to get you to invest with them.

But all that is asked of the reader is they have a basic understanding of history and current events.  I would like to assume everyone knows the Great Depression was between 1929-1941  and that our current President is Barack Obama..  it will allow readers to get much more out of this blogsite that way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Re-posting- A History of US Debt

This posting was written back in January but I felt it was important to re-post so that in combination with the previous posting, "IMF: Age of America Nears End", you the reader can see a clear timeline of National Debt from the Great Depression to the present, and fully grasp the damage done collectively by the last 5 Presidents, from Reagan to our current leader.

_________________________________________
I recently discovered a website that provided the total US National Debt from 1929 through the present and some interesting stats popped out at me which gives good comparative perspective between past and present ~

-- In 1929. the National Debt was just under $17 billion.  In 1941, it was $48 billion.  In a span of 12 years covering the entirety of the Great Depression, and all the social and work-related programs FDR created, the US Debt went up by only $31 billion.

-- When WWII ended in 1945, the Debt ended up being raised to about $259 billion which meant an increase of $211 billion to fight moral, just wars on three continents (Europe, Asia & {Northern} Africa).

-- Between 1945-60, a 15 year period, the Debt rose by only $27 billion to a total of $286 billion by '60 and that included the fiscal expenditure for fighting the Korean War.

-- The first full year of US involvement in Vietnam (not simply using military 'advisors') was 1964 at which time, the US Debt was just under $312 billion. When Saigon fell in 1975, the US Debt had risen to $533 Billion, meaning that during the 11 years of military conflict in Vietnam, the Debt rose by $221 billion.

--  Between 1975 and 1990 which was when Iraq invaded Kuwait under George Bush Sr's watch, the National debt increased by approximately $2.6 Trillion dollars in 15 years to a total '90 Debt of $3.2 Trillion. This also included the massive arms buildup under Reagan which some credit as causing the Soviet Union's economic downfall during the '80s arms race.

~ "Black Hawk Down, Mogadishu, Somalia

--  Between 1990 and 2001, which was the first year of the Bush Jr. presidency, and bookmarked between eight years of Clinton, the National Debt rose by an additional $2.6 Trillion dollars, (taking only 11 years spend that much), to a 2001 total of $5.8 Trillion. During this period, US forces were involved in the Balkans and Somalia.

-- In 2006, after the beginnings of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Debt rose to $8.5 Trillion, an increase of $2.7 Trillion, and notice this time, it only took 5 years to achieve this feat.

--  In August, 2008, six years into Afghanistan and five in Iraq, the National Debt was $9.6 Trillion, an increase of $1.1 Trillion in 2 years.

-- Today the Debt is just over $14 Trillion, an increase of $4.6 Trillion dollars in 28 months since Sept. 2008 when Lehman Bros. fell & markets dropped. In addition to continuing the two wars, a Vast majority of the money has gone to Banks, Corporations and Wall St.  This averages out to $164 billion in new debt per month ($5.47 billion/day)
_______________________________________________

Addendum-  4/26/11:   Some politicians want to blame you for the National Debt crisis-  too much being spent for Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, etc..  This is a blatant lie.  The Vast majority of the Trillions spent between 1981 and the present which has caused our National Debt to be so unmanageable was spent in two areas primarily-- Wars/Military Operations and Bank & Wall Street Bailouts.

From 1981 to the Present, the US military has been involved in the following- Granada, Panama (removal of Manuel Noriega), Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), the Balkans, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya.  During this 31 year period, the US government has also bailed out banks & Wall Street during the Savings & Loan crisis (1986-87), the Dot-Com bubble (1999) and 2007-08 crashes.  The Fed has also had to combat recessions in 1981-83, 1991, 1999 2001 and the current one, 2008- present.

This all costs money.

And during this period, wages have flat-lined while prices of goods and services have grown exponentially, and taxes for corporations and wealthiest individuals have been lowered drastically (For perspective, during the prosperous Eisenhower administration, the super ultra-wealthy were paying about a 90% tax rate)

Stated again from the previous posting, until we have a President (of either party) who has a healthy hatred of business, corporations and the market, nothing will change; certainly nothing for the better.

Monday, April 25, 2011

IMF: Age of America Nears End

~ "Four F**k-Ups and a Good, Decent man"

I'm reposting a news article from MarketWatch.com because of its importance in understand America's place in the global economy, and what has happened not simply since the start of the recession, but really over a 30 year period beginning with the original "F**k Up", Ronald Reagan's "Trickle Down" economic policies...

(MarketWatch article in blue font)

"International Monetary Fund has just dropped a bombshell, and nobody noticed.


For the first time, the international organization has set a date for the moment when the “Age of America” will end and the U.S. economy will be overtaken by that of China. 


And it’s a lot closer than you may think.


According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now... It provides a painful context for the budget wrangling taking place in Washington, D.C., right now. 


It raises enormous questions about what the international security system is going to look like in just a handful of years. And it casts a deepening cloud over both the U.S. dollar and the giant Treasury market, which have been propped up for decades by their privileged status as the liabilities of the world’s hegemonic power.


According to the IMF forecast, whomever is elected U.S. president next year — Obama? Mitt Romney? Donald Trump? — will be the last to preside over the world’s largest economy.


Most people aren’t prepared for this. They aren’t even aware it’s that close. Listen to experts of various stripes, and they will tell you this moment is decades away. The most bearish will put the figure in the mid-2020s. 


But they’re miscounting. They’re only comparing the gross domestic products of the two countries using current exchange rates.


That’s a largely meaningless comparison in real terms. Exchange rates change quickly. And China’s exchange rates are phony. China artificially undervalues its currency, the renminbi, through massive intervention in the markets.


The comparison that really matters:  The IMF in its analysis looks beyond exchange rates to the true, real terms picture of the economies using “purchasing power parities.” (PPP) That compares what people earn and spend in real terms in their domestic economies.


Under PPP, the Chinese economy will expand from $11.2 trillion this year to $19 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile the size of the U.S. economy will rise from $15.2 trillion to $18.8 trillion. That would take America’s share of the world output down to 17.7%, the lowest in modern times. China’s would reach 18%, and rising.


Just 10 years ago, the U.S. economy was three times the size of China’s. "

Ineptitude of both political parties over 30 years, as well as selfish greed which is as natural to businesses and corporations as breathing, have caused this to happen.  More specifically, the only real differences between Republican and Democrat in political circles has been on social and hot-button issues like abortion, gay-rights, 2nd Amendment rights, etc..

Economically, there are little to no difference.

Sure the Republicans talk of balancing budgets now but their goal really is to completely gut social services and roll back the entitlements of the last 75 years.  They had no problems freely spending money when in control of Congress during the early-mid 2000's.  And Democrats claim they're for the working people and poor, yet abandon them at every turn so not to upset the markets, corporations and power brokers that own both parties.

And meanwhile, while every President from Reagan to Clinton to Obama was/is at heart, a pro-Wall Street, pro-corporation "Trickle down"-ite, deeply greedy US businesses decided it was far better for them to close whole factories and distribution centers and ship them to the ends of the globe to save $$ in wages, benefits and Federal taxes.

The American only had value as a 'consumer' with endless credit cards to tap out which was used by most people to make up the difference in loss of standard of living, based on increased prices and stagnant wages.

The American people have not had a leader who has genuinely fought for them in over 30 years; someone who looked at corporations and banks with healthy hatred and took them on directly, grabbing the proverbial 'bull' by the horns.  Someone who fought hard for fair trade policies that help make the nation stronger rather than speed up its decline.

Instead, for 30 years our Presidents have made us feel good about ourselves with "Morning in America", sold us on a 'New World Order', 'felt our pain' while increasing it via NAFTA & WTO, sold a bill of lies to get us into a 8years + counting war in Iraq, and promised us 'Hope' & 'Change' while delivering neither.

Five presidents worked collectively to appease the ultra-rich,  destroy the economic foundations, expand our National Debt to uncontrollable proportions and make us heavy indebtors to China, who will now eventually surpass the US in five years.

I end with this sobering statistic-- in 1980, the National Debt of the US was under $1 Trillion.  In 31 years and five really awful presidents of both parties, it is at $14.3 Trillion and rising by $133 million A DAY.

When infomericals are treated as 'News'

Well its Monday.. time for another week of propaganda about 'recovery' and outright Lies about how anyone can make a Fortune in the stock market..

I glanced at this piece of drivel this morning from Yahoo! Financial...

How the Average Investor can Make a Fortune -  "Renowned investor Joel Greenblatt can't keep a secret. The founder of Gotham Capital... wants you to be rich. Very rich. And it doesn't mean pouring your hard-earned money into five-star rated funds or hiring talking head money managers... In Mr. Greenblatt's latest book he decodes the secrets of Wall Street for the average investor and debunks the most common myths of investing."

~  These type of empty articles used to give me figurative ulcers because of a concern I had that most people believed this nonsense.  Then I began reading comments' sections that would follow such lazy faux-journalism, and my hope in humanity would be reaffirmed.

So for fun and a good laugh, here are some comments left by Yahoo members to this complete BS 'get rich quick' article...

"Best way to get rich. Write a book about how to gett rich and sell it to saps who don't want to do the work."

"This guy is worse than Suze Orman"

"The guy said to buy low and sell high. Gee, what a revelation!"

"Best way to get rich? Call yourself a bank. Get taxpayer money from the FED after you go bankrupt at 0.25 percent interest. Loan it out to the taxpayer who it was taken from at 20%. Pocket the difference and call it capitalism. Repeat until you're satisfied."

"I can't believe that Yahoo would allow this sort of late night infomercial logic to be considered an article. Signs of the failed education system just keep popping up everywhere."

"There are three ways to get rich:  1. Marry it.  2. Inherit it.  3. Steal it from someone else."

~ and my favorite...

"What's the point of living like a rat for 40 yrs and when you are 70 you have a milllion bucks if u get lucky and the brokers, bankers and lawyers don't steal it all from you. What are you going to do buy a truck load of prunes and have the fanciest walker in town?"


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Photos: Jerusalem: 1860-1915


With this being Easter weekend, I desired making this posting non-economic and non-political.  The goal rather was a bit of time travelling of sorts.. to see what the Holy city looked like before it was modernized with all the same 'conveniences' and clutter that mucks up every wonderful city and takes away its natural beauty and distinctiveness.

Here are various photos of what Jerusalem looked like 100-150 years ago.


 ~ Sacrificed by the Gate of Jerusalem

 ~ David's Gate

 ~ El Aksa Mosque

 ~ Jaffa Gate

 ~ Stone cutters

~ Garden of Gethsemane, 1862


 ~ Snowy Jerusalem, circa 1900-1915

 ~ Mount Scopus

 ~ Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, 1900

 ~ Mount Zion

 ~ Neblus Road towards Jerusalem

~ Wailing Wall


~ Damascus Gate

~ Jaffa Gate

Friday, April 22, 2011

Survey: Anger & Rising prices

Today's posting is a Survey. There will be questions and answers to choose from, and though there will be some right and some wrong answers, there will be no 'perfect' right or wrong answers.

Five basic scenario questions to see how much one is willing to change their lifestyle, if at all as the system economically pounds the consumer while wages are stagnant (assuming you have a job).  This is meant to stimulate some thought.

1)  You go to a supermarket and you are shocked to find most products now at $4.00-  milk, bread, soda, etc.. In this example, you are not cash strapped.. Do you...

A)  Quietly put items into cart like its no big deal because to you, it really isn't
B)  Quietly put items into cart like its no big deal but inside you are seething
C) Quietly put items into cart because you won't allow it to raise your blood pressure
D)  Put items in cart but show outward displeasure to all nearby
E)  Dramatically cut back on what you buy so the store can't profit off you


2)  You see that gas is $4/gal ($4.30/gal for premium) which means it costs you now between $70-$90 to fill your gas tank... Do you..

A)  Keep driving as much as you feel because you have the $
B) Drive only for essential purposes and otherwise cut back somewhat
C) Drive only for essential purposes and otherwise you're not driving
D) Look to carpool or other alternative means of getting where you need.


3)  Prices keep going up, up with no end in sight, but prior to this spike in cost, you had been planning that family getaway to Disney World and Epcot.   You're not cash strapped in this example but this was a budgeted trip.  Do you...

A)  Still go to Disney and not modify any aspect of your trip because its a vacation and damn it, you deserve fun
B) Still go to Disney but modify aspects of trip such as lower-quality hotel, eating PB&J sandwiches instead of going out to McDonald's, etc...
C) Still go to Disney but cut down on number of days- visit 1 park instead of both but not scrimp on lodging or eating out
D)  Decide its just too impractical financially to go- vacation closer to home


4)  Essentials like food, gas and utilities are going up.   You have the options relating to controlling your expenses.  Do you...

A) Do nothing- why should I alter my life?  I work hard.
B) Alter food only- less purchases, more generic brands, smaller meal sizes, etc...
C) Alter driving only- do everything car related during work week (job, get food,etc) and weekends the car sits in driveway.
D) Alter utilities only; change how you use heat/AC, water usage, etc
E)  Some combination of B, C & D


5)  All these increased costs are infuriating you..  so what do you do about it?  (more than one answer can apply)

A)  Write letter to President/Elected official to complain/vent
B)  Go to various store managers and openly complain/vent
C)  Show outward displeasure and disgust in word and action while at store(s)
D)  Complain to friends and family, especially those who seem not to care to force some kind of outward reaction
E)  Do pretty much nothing but keep it bottled up because 'what can you do'?
F)  Take actions to cut your expenses while being overtly pissed off
G) Take actions to cut your expenses while being calm and bottling up the anger
H)  Decide you will protest this by not spending a penny more than humanly possible on anything.

~ I'm curious how others are dealing with this.. Any thoughts or comments are appreciated.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Camden, NJ- a follow up

~ Campbell's Field- ballpark in Camden, NJ- home of "Riversharks"

A few months ago, we posted photos of Camden, New Jersey, past vs present, to show how dramatically that city has deteriorated based on economic conditions which have have affected the city over decades but where the decline has been sped up during this 3+ year recession.

Click on headline to see original posting:  Photos: Camden- Then & Now

We also received some comments and notes, one in particular stating that there are beautiful parts to Camden and good people, etc..  not to judge the entire city harshly..

And I agree -- not 100% of Camden is drug and crime infested..

And I agree that many, many good, decent, quality people live there..

But it is also a reality that even more than Detroit, MI,  Camden has been affected by the current recession more dramatically than any other city in the US.

Here are some news stories from the past couple weeks, updating Camden's situation for those who may be interested--

Camden, NJ Rehires Some Laid-Off Cops And Firefighters  (CBS-Philly)  4/2/11  -- "Dozens of police and firefighters are back on the streets of Camden, NJ, two and a half months after they — and many more of their colleagues — were laid off.  But how long they’ll remain is an open question.  After being sworn in for the second time in their careers, 55 officers and 31 firefighters are now back in uniform. But funding for all but 15 of them runs out at the end of June."

Hundreds Laid Off In Camden County, NJ Government (CBS-Philly)  4/5/11 -- "Camden County had laid off about one-sixth of its workforce in the name of economy. Following the layoff of nearly 400 police officers and firefighters earlier this year by the City of Camden, 260 people in the Camden County government are now out of work, too, all but a few terminated in a move to save $12 million."

Camden, NJ May Force Late-Night Restaurants To Close Earlier  (CBS-Philly)  4/12/11 -- "The City of Camden is considering imposing a curfew on restaurants, especially take-outs, in an effort to cut down on late-night crime.  But some business owners are threatening legal action to block it"

New NJ law seeks to clean up drug-dealing spots (Asbury Park Press)  4/15/11 -- "Officials in drug-plagued Camden are hoping a new state law will help them clean up the places where drugs are sold... When police arrest someone on drug charges, they can also issue a notice barring them from loitering at the scene of the crime. If the suspect is caught hanging out within 500 feet of where he was arrested, he can be sent to county jail."

Camden NJ is not doing well-  it is not the fault of the vast majority of its populace.. They love their city and want it to prosper..

What makes Camden most important, isn't to target one specific city and "pick on it" for sensationalism like mainstream news does. Rather, to show what's coming for a lot of cities throughout the US as our economic situation gets worse, and more state and local municipalities run out of the tax revenue need to keep their towns and communities afloat.

Certain people should not play the market..

The following conversation is true--

 It happened today between myself and a hair stylist I had never met before as she was giving my hair a trim and such...  She was in her early 50s and very interested in markets and investing. She had dabbled here and there for some time but it was clear she still pretty clueless about what's really going on. While general chit-chatting during my hair trim,  I mentioned my past experiences with markets and that I have a financial blog, etc.  So she got sparked & asked me questions.. For brevity sake, I will edit out all irrelevancy:

Stylist:  So what are some good stocks to be investing in right now?

Me:  Really none.

Stylist:  Well any sectors you can suggest I focus on investing in?  Tech perhaps?

Me:  No, really you shouldn't be in this market.

Stylist:  Well I need to be putting my money somewhere-  my husband and I want to retire in 7 years.

Me:  I understand that but these markets are very volatile- much more so than before the 2008 crash.

Stylist:  How can that be?  I thought the worst was behind us.

Me:  No No.. If the government was not directly tampering in the markets, the Dow would be around 5000... but they're creating the mother of all bubbles and...

Stylist:  Yes.. uh huh.. but ok.. if you Had to invest in something..

Me:  If I Had to..

Stylist:  Yes.. you had to buy a stock...

Me:  Um..I suppose I'd go for a company that has been around a long time, like..

Stylist:  (interrupting) We used to use brokers.. ugg.. one of them got us into Enron.. back in 2000.. can you believe that?  Now we just read and watch everything we can..  Fox Business, Bloomberg, CNBC-- You've heard of Jim Cramer, right?

Me:  Um..

Stylist:  He's a nut but he's so accurate..

Me: No he's not..

Stylist:  (speaking over me)  and he's thinking the Dow could go to 14,000 by mid summer..maybe even 15,000.. I just need to get in.. but I don't want to make a bad choice, you know..

Me:  Of course..

Stylist:  Well what do you advise?

Me:  I'm not a financial planner.. and I don't give stock tips, other than to not be in the market right now.. protect your $$

Stylist:  Well..  ok.   I did hear the dollar is crashing though..  I definitely need to get into gold.

Me:  Well yes and no

Stylist:  What do you mean

Me:  Yes the dollar is weakening bad and on purpose but the Euro will fall first.. Europe is in a bad fix.. and when it does, it will make the dollar stronger.  All investors escape into the dollar when their currency is bad.. Like Japan during the tsunami.. all the international investors moved into the dollar

Stylist:  Uh-huh..

Me:  And think about it.. you could have 100 bars of gold but your local supermarket or gas station doesn't take gold bars- so you have to convert it to Some currency..

Stylist:  Hmm.. Right..  So you're saying I should invest in gold?? Or you're not?

Me:  Um..  Just trim a little off my bangs please.

~ The old adage applies- A fool and her/his money are soon parted

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How much are we spending.. Let's ask Geithner..

~" hmm, lets' see $4.3 billion + $14.3 Trillion x 3.7555% interest..."

On April 4, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) in order to warn Congress that the Treasury was approaching the legal debt limit. In an appendix to this letter, Geithner pointed to the rapid pace at which new debt was accumulating.

“On average,” Geithner wrote, “the public debt of the United States increases by approximately $125 billion per month (although there are significant variations from month to month).”

In a 31-day month, $125 billion in new debt works out to an average of $4.03 billion in new debt per day ($166 million in new debt per Hour)

Perspective #1- If you owned a major corporation with 80,000 employees and each of them was paid $50,000 for a year of work,  that would equal what the US Government is creating in new debt Daily.

Perspective #2 - It is said the National Football League is a $9 billion/year business.  It takes the US government 54 hours of debt accumulation to match that value

Gas is going up, up.. thanks Fed

~  Paris Hilton is so upset by the rising gas prices, she's pumping her own Premium gas into her Range Rover while on her cellphone talking to her drug dealer ~

Ben Bernanke i.e The Federal Reserve is intentionally trying to devalue the US dollar to make exports cheaper to other nations which is the bread n' butter of American companies since consumers in the US are too cash-strapped to make a dent in GDP.

This preface is important so you can really understand the following...

$6 Gas? Could Happen if Dollar Keeps Getting Weaker  (CNBC) -- "With the greenback coming under increased pressure from Federal Reserve policies and investor appetite for more risk, there seems little direction but up for commodity prices, in particular energy and metals.  Weakness in the US currency feeds upward pressure on commodities, which are priced in dollars and thus come at a discount on the foreign markets. One result has been a surge higher in gasoline prices"

The simple way to put it is your government is sabotaging you at the gas pump for the benefit of corporations and cockroach investors...  The US economy is being systematically destroyed from within, and if you do not yet understand this, by summer you will.

The Investor/Cockroach analogy

~ "Could you keep it down, please...  I'm trying to read the WSJ"

I've used the analogy of Investors as cockroaches a few times this week and a few have asked me why?  The answer is it is as accurate a description as I can find..

1)  You find them usually in the most filthy infestations - like Wall St.
2)  In a case of a nuclear or (economic nuclear) winter, they will be the survivors while everyone else perishes
3) The go as they want... do as they want... and scurry away when chased only to return to doing as they please when its safe
4)  They are hard to kill/destroy.

And a clearer analogy is this-  Imagine living in an apartment infested with them, and instead of the landlord placing bait traps or hiring an exterminator, he instead places slices of birthday cake around your place to attract and 'reward' them.  Why?  Because, to the landlord, the roaches mean more than you.

The 'landlord' is government-  US Government.. the British Govt.. France, Germany, on and on.. every nation that has a stock market of some kind..  and every nation's leader, regardless of political party or persuasion cater to professional Investors and Creditors.

This is why you had/have global bailouts of companies and countries..  why nations in Europe are being forced into austerity..  why the prices of food, fuel, electricity, and every other basic necessity keep going up..  why the Fed and other nations are creating inflation and purposely devaluing their currencies in competition with one another..

Because All these actions are intended to be of benefit to the Investor; the cockroach...

And it is the populace that is secondary always.

"Everything is better now.."

The Dow is up 182pts at 12,448 as of 2:42p

I guess that means after that 120pt sell off 2 days ago based on S&P saying the US was at risk or having its AAA+ credit rating lowered-- I guess all is well again..

Why?  Because tech stocks were strong this month..

Guess they're doing a good job squeezing every last drop of blood out of their skeleton workforce

Good to see the economy completely re-strengthen itself in 2 days.. Wheww~