Saturday, June 30, 2012

"June 30, 1908: The Tunguska Event"

 
"June 30, 1908: The Tunguska Event"
by David Bressan

"It was nothing of this earth, but a piece of the great outside; and as such dowered with outside properties and obedient to outside laws."- "The Color Out of Space", by H.P. Lovecraft (1927)

"In the morning of June, 30 1908 eyewitnesses reported a large fireball crossing the sky above the taiga of the Stony Tunguska (PodkamennayaTunguska) in Siberia. A series of explosions was heard even in the 1.200km distant village of Achajewskoje. Various meteorological stations in Europe recorded seismic and pressure waves and in the following days strange atmospheric phenomena were observed, silvery glowing clouds, colorful sunsets and strange luminescence in the night. Russian newspapers reported about a meteorite impact based on the eyewitness accounts and the hypothesis of Dr. Arkady Voznesensky (1864-1936), director of the Meteorological Observatory at Irkutsk from 1895 to 1917. International newspapers speculated about a possible volcanic explosion, remembering the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. However the inaccessibility of the region and the instable political situation in Russia prevented further research.

Thirteen years later the Russian mineralogist Leonid Alexejewitsch Kulik (1883-1942), reading some of the eyewitnesses' accounts about an explosion and a large glowing object, became interested in the phenomena - there was also the hope to recover precious extraterrestrial metals from the supposed meteorite. Kulik travelled to the city of Kansk, where he discovered further reports in the local archives. Most stories refer to large fireballs, flames and a sequence of 14 thunders. March 1927 he arrived at the outpost of Wanawara -then, April 13, Kulik discovered a large area of 2.150 square km covered with rotting logs and almost no tree still standing - the strange "Forest of Tunguska".

Despite an intensive survey, Kulik and his team didn't locate a single great impact crater as expected, but found some circular pits that were interpreted as impact craters of fragments; however no meteoritic material was discovered in the entire studied area. In autumn 1927 a preliminary report by Kulik was published in various national and international newspapers, the destroyed forest and the event became known as the "Tunguska Event". Kulik formulated one of the first hypotheses to explain the phenomena and the lack of evidence on the ground, as he proposed that a bolid exploded already in the atmosphere, causing the observed explosion and devastation. Fragments became buried in the swampy ground, to soft to preserve the typical morphology of an impact crater. Also later expeditions in 1929 failed to find extraterrestrial material.

In 1934 Sowjet scientists proposed a variation of the meteorite-hypothesis. A comet is composed mostly of ice, and would be completely vaporized in an explosion in the atmosphere. The lack of direct evidence generated many more or less serious speculations and hypothesis: The engineer Aleksander Kasantsews formulated between 1945 and 1959, based on the impression left by the first atomic bombs, an unusual explanation involving a nuclear explosion of possible extraterrestrial origin. American physicists published in 1973 in the journal "Nature" the idea that a small black hole collided with earth, causing some sort of matter-antimatter explosion.

The German astrophysician Wolfgang Kundt and later Jason Phipps Morgan of the Cornell University in Ithaca and Paola Vannucchi from the University of Florence proposed in the last years an ulterior hypothesis: "Verneshots", in reference to the author of the novel "A Journey to the Center of the Earth", are supercritical magma/gas mixtures erupting violently from the underground. According to the proposed model in areas with a thick earth crust or composed of resistant rocks (the region of Tunguska is covered by the basalts of the Siberian Trapps) magmatic intrusions and gases tend to build up pressure until the cover is shattered to pieces. Hot gases escape into the atmosphere, causing a huge explosion.

However the most compelling hypothesis remains the impact of a natural extraterrestrial object. This hypothesis is supported by the reports describing a fireball descending on the tundra, sedimentary features (the presence of nanodiamonds, magnetic- and silicate spherules in sediments) and the mapped distribution of the logs. But there are some inconsistencies - accounts of a series of thunders are hard to reconcile with a single impact and the recovered sediments are not unambiguous, explainable also by the common background sedimentation of extraterrestrial material on earth.

In 2007 Luca Gasperini and his research team of the University of Bologna proposed a small lake as possible impact crater of a fragment of the meteorite that caused the explosion. Lake Cheko is unusually deep for a region characterized by shallow ponds, formed by melting permafrost. The lake was apparently not reported previously of 1908, however the region was poorly mapped and explored at the time. Also here the proposed evidence is not undisputed as seen in the published paper by COLLINS et al. in 2008. Only the discovery of extraterrestrial material on the bottom of a lake would (may)be the decisive argument to settle the discussion of the mystery of Tunguska. Even Carl Sagan seemed to be puzzled by the Tunguska Mystery..."

- http://www.sott.net/

Friday, June 29, 2012

"A Look to the Heavens"

“The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the gas in the outer regions of this photogenic spiral is rotating in the opposite direction from all of the stars! Collisions between gas in the inner and outer regions are creating many hot blue stars and pink emission nebula. 
Click image for larger size.
The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001 and released in 2004. The fascinating internal motions of M64, also cataloged as NGC 4826, are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy where the resultant mix has not yet settled down. “

The Daily "Near You?"

Kent, Washington, USA. Thanks for stopping by.
“The Sound And Fury”
by Chet Raymo

“Not so long ago, I mentioned here Himmler and Heydrich, two of Hitler's most terrible henchmen. A friend said to me: "If there's no afterlife, no heaven or hell, then those two diabolical creatures got away with it. Their fate was no different than that of any one of their victims, an innocent child perhaps." And, yes, if there is no God who dispenses final justice, then we are left with an aching feeling of irresolution, of virtue unrewarded, of vice unpunished. Heydrich was gunned down by partisan assassins, and Himmler committed suicide a few hours before his inevitable capture, both fates arguably less tragic than that of their victims. How much more satisfying to think that the two mass murderers will spend an eternity in hell, while their victims find bliss.

This may not be a logically consistent argument for the existence of God, but it is certainly compelling. My friend says: "If there's no afterlife, then it's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Of course, this emotive argument for the existence of God is balanced by another argument against his existence– the problem of evil: How can a just and loving God allow the existence of a Himmler or Heydrich in the first place. Here the argument is not just emotional, but consists of a thorny contradiction.

It comes down, essentially, to head vs. heart- what we would like to be true with all of our heart, vs. what our head tells us is an unresolvable conundrum. So each of us decides: To follow our hearts and make the blind leap of faith, or to follow our heads and learn to live with the sound and the fury. For those of us who choose the second alternative, the relevant words are that distressing coda, "signifying nothing." Our task is one of signification, of finding a satisfying meaning this side of the grave.

For many of us, that means finding our place in the great cosmic unfolding, and of recognizing that our lives are not inconsequential, that by being here we jigger the trajectory of the universe in some way, no matter how small, and preferably for the good and just. Yes, we make a leap of faith too, I suppose- that love, justice, and creativity are virtues worth living for- but at least it is a leap of faith that is not into the unknown, does not embody logical contradiction, and is consistent with what we know to be true, or at least as true as we can make it.”

"How It Really Is"

Arizonastan! lol

"America: Drugged Up, Dumbed Down and Crazy Dangerous"

 "America:
 Drugged Up, Dumbed Down and Crazy Dangerous"
 by Robert Bridge

"The dogs of war are barking in the backyard and some deranged minds seem determined to swing open the gates – again. At the same time, the American people, the only ones who can stop the savagery, are saddled with long-term debt, deficits and depression. As the new age Romans mission-creep toward the next doomed Middle East neighborhood, this time in Syria, when does the quaint phrase “experiencing déjà vu” become just a polite way of saying we are apathetic spectators at the Circus Maximus?

Does uttering mindless platitudes while the swords are swinging make us accomplices to death and destruction? Do our politicians – the nice guys who bailed out the bankers to the tune of trillions while we got cash for clunkers – really care about innocent civilians abroad who are getting caught in the crossfire? By playing the knight in shining armor on behalf of every oppositional groundswell, we are actually encouraging these revolutionary uprisings from the start. As the Arab Spring shows, the opponents of the ruling authorities are seizing the reins of power through street violence, which seems to be the preferred method of political campaigning these days.

The opponents of vanquished Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, for example, did not have to prove their political prowess to win power. They only had to show up and demonstrate their staying power until NATO air support was called in. Eventually, the opposition revealed their true colors, however, when they dragged Gaddafi from a hole, Hussein-style, before summarily executing him. No trial, no judge, no jury, no worry. Welcome to the brave new political jungle where the side with the best crowd control always wins.

Essentially, the western powers are bankrolling unproven political wannabes not with hard cash, which is bad enough, but with overwhelming firepower. This opens the door to crimes of worse magnitude than would have been the case had nobody interfered in the first place. For example, if the Syrian political opposition understand, as they certainly must, the infinite power of global communication, then they will also understand the effectiveness of sending a message (tweeting, texting, whatever) that government forces committed an “atrocity” – even if they have not.

Consider the May 25 massacre in the village of Houla. Nobody yet has been able to prove beyond a shadow of doubt the identity of the perpetrators behind that barbaric event, which saw the murder of 108 people, mostly women and children. The opposition claims government forces hired mercenaries known as Shabiha to carry out the attack. However, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintains that armed groups were determined to sabotage UN peace talks (on May 15, one day before a UN Security Council meeting on Syria, militants carried out a massacre in the town of Homs, while the Houla attack coincided with a visit by UN negotiator Kofi Annan). Why would Assad, of all people, be opposed to ending the violence that threatens to bring down his government, and possibly far worse?

To date, western forces have thrown their support behind the political opposition in Egypt, Libya and most infamously in Iraq. And how is that working? Egypt is witnessing a tense standoff between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, while the new Libyan authorities have just detained four members of the International Criminal Court who were in town to provide a defense attorney to Gaddafi’s son. So much for planting the seeds of democracy. Meanwhile, many Americans are still scratching their heads over the “preemptive” attack on Iraq, which never had weapons of mass destruction or a hand in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Yet, we still have not learned the lessons of Iraq. In fact, some people are twisting that failed mission to fit in with the new mission statement. In fact, one writer for Haaretz argued that the “world must intervene before ‘Iraqization’ of Syria,” reasoning that “the collapse of the Syrian army and Assad’s regime is liable to lead to the ‘Iraqization’ of the country, in such a way that it will no longer be clear who controls it.”

Have we already forgotten that it was the US invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003 that prompted the “Iraqization” of Iraq in the first place? Perhaps this is what Russian President Vladimir Putin partially meant when he once called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” Although the momentous event triggered severe dislocations across Russia, it also gave the United States an opportunity to behave like a veritable beast on the human stage. Now, after some 20 years of snorting and licking the mirror of power, the world’s solitary superpower, saying no-no-no to rehab, continues to do what it does best: acting like an infantile Bam-Bam from the Flintstones.

So where is the homegrown American opposition to rein in these military misadventures? If you were planning to conquer the world, or at least a broad swath of it, the war would necessarily start at home. After all, no general worth his salt would rush into battle with his rear exposed. You’d have to muzzle the media, severely curtail political choice and dissent, while preaching to the world about democracy and human rights to cover your tracks.
 
You’d have to construct the mother of all propaganda machines, which proclaims over every available wavelength that it’s the best darn civilization since Atlantis sunk to its watery grave thousands of years ago. It would be a bit like decorating the halls of a mental asylum with idyllic nature scenes. You’d also have to hire an army of loud-mouth talking heads to shout down any and all dissenters, accuse them of being conspiracy theorists and lunatics and commies, while keeping a paramilitary police force on the standby 24/7 should the bullying tactics fail.

You’d have to spoon-feed the populace with a liberal dose of anti-depressants, "Jersey Shore," "American Idol" and 24-hour shopping channels with easy credit to prevent them from giving a moment’s thought to real-time, third-dimensional issues. You could also fuel battles over trifling cultural issues, like homosexuals in the military, Mel Gibson’s latest rant and Charlie Sheen’s complicated love life.
 
What we are left with after the smoke has cleared bears no resemblance to a classic, text-book democracy. What we are left with is an obese, drug-addled Burlesque Empire, bursting at the seams with electronic circuses, cocaine and corn puffs, physically and mentally incapable of finding the remote control when the scenes of war become too unappetizing. We are overstretched at home, and like despotic Rome, overstretched overseas. Now it is anybody’s guess where this depressing joyride will take us.”

"When Governments Spend Wealth Instead of Building It"

 "When Governments Spend Wealth Instead of Building It"
by Bill Bonner

“The US seems to have gotten the worst of it,” said a French friend this morning. We were taken aback. Everyone knows Europe is in a state of permanent crisis. The US seems solid by comparison, no? “Now that the Supreme Court has approved Obamacare, you have the same problems we have in Europe, social welfare spending with no limits…plus you have your colossal military spending. You have both ‘bread and circuses,’ just like the ancient Romans. You are doomed.” Yes, dear reader, we came to the fork in the road after the 9/11 attack. And the government took it! And now the feds can fork over whoever and whatever they want. No kidding. They just have to think of it as a tax. Here’s the AP’s report on yesterday’s decision:

WASHINGTON (AP) — "America’s historic health care overhaul, certain now to touch virtually every citizen’s life, narrowly survived an election-year battle at the Supreme Court Thursday with the improbable help of conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. But the ruling, by a 5-4 vote, also gave Republicans unexpected ammunition to energize supporters for the fall campaign against President Barack Obama, the bill’s champion and for next year’s vigorous efforts to repeal the law as a new federal tax. Roberts’ vote, along with those of the court’s four liberal justices, preserved the largest expansion of the nation’s social safety net in more than 45 years, including the hotly debated core requirement that nearly everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty. The aim is to extend coverage to more than 30 million people who now are uninsured."

The question on the table was whether or not the feds could force people to buy health insurance. The supremes decided that ‘yes they could.’ It was just like a tax, they said. And the constitution gives the legislators the right to impose taxes, as they see fit. Let’s see…how about forcing all blue-eyed people to go outside, take off all their clothes, and give them to homeless people? That would be a tax too. Guess it’s okay.

While the social-welfare state is expanding, so is the police state. Another measure being discussed in Congress would declare the US itself a battlefield or a war zone. This would give the military the right to do what it does without going overseas…and it would give the president the power to direct his kill list towards his domestic enemies. Then, drones can fly over Kansas or Ohio…and whack whomever the feds want. But who are they gonna take out? No one…or almost no one…opposes the military agenda in the US. There are no serious terrorists…and no serious challenge to the spending machine. The two candidates for president agree on the essentials — keep the money flowing to the zombie industries…military…education…health…and finance. Oh yes, and occasionally toss a few bucks at an industrial business — like GM — if it has enough unionized employees.

Wait…the US has no serious enemies overseas either. And that doesn’t make the racket any less effective. On the contrary, it helps. With no serious enemies to worry about the military industry can spend its money on any damned thing it wants. Lots of boondoggles. Wide profit margins. Low casualties. What’s not to like?

But where were we? We were talking about economists. Specifically, we left off yesterday describing how GDP figures are almost completely worthless. They tell you something; but do they tell you anything important? Apparently not. You cut our lawn. We pay you. We cut your lawn. You pay us. We both have jobs. And we each pay a portion of our earnings to the government. The GDP goes up. Government revenues increase. And economists tell us we are ‘growing.’

Earlier this week, Paul Krugman cited the experience of the US economy in the early ’40s. A burst of federal spending between ’40 and ’42 produced a 20% big lift in output, he says, approvingly. More jobs…more GDP…according to the economists’ measures, things were getting better and better. Were they really? Of course not. Government was spending money on the military. An economist can’t tell the difference between a Tiger tank and a BMW. But a passenger can. It doesn’t take him long to realize that a tank is no way to travel.

There are times you need to build tanks. But those are not times when you are building wealth and prosperity. Instead, you’re spending wealth in order to protect yourself (theoretically, in practice most wars are rackets…for both sides). That’s what the US was doing in the early ’40s — spending wealth, not building it. Which just illustrates our point: If even Nobel prize winning economists cannot tell the difference between building wealth and spending it, what hope is there for the whole profession?”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Long before Stonehenge was built, well before the Dead Sea Scrolls were written, ancient artists painted life-sized figures on canyon walls in Utah, USA- but why? Nobody is sure. The entire panel of figures, which dates back about 7,000 years, is called the Great Gallery and was found on the walls of Horseshoe Canyon in Canyonlands National Park.
Click image for larger size.
The humans who painted them likely hunted Mammoths. The unusual fuzziness of largest figure led to this mural section's informal designation as the Holy Ghost Panel, although the intended attribution and societal importance of the figure are really unknown. The above image was taken during a clear night in March. The oldest objects in the above image are not the pictographs, however, but the stars of our Milky Way Galaxy far in the background, some of which are billions of years old.”

The Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke, "All Will Come Again"

"All Will Come Again"
by Rainer Maria Rilke

"All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.

And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused."

Chet Raymo, "Pigeons"

"Pigeons"
by Chet Raymo

"That old curmudgeon H. L. Mencken wrote: "The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind." Admitting that no one - including this writer - is immune to self-delusion, still it is hard for anyone who respects empirical evidence to argue with Mencken.

Half of Americans believe in ghosts. Almost seventy percent believe in angels. More people believe in astrology than express interest in astronomy. Almost anything paranormal - ESP, UFOs, channeling, etc. - is deemed more interesting than science. Not to mention the eighty-three percent who believe in a God who hears and answers prayers. Why so much belief in a total absence of non-anecdotal evidence?

Back in the 1940s, the behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner did a famous experiment with pigeons that he thought had some relevance to human credulity. He put birds in the kind of cages used for training animals by reinforcement - peck a bar, get some birdseed, that sort of thing. Except in this new experiment, the feed was provided at regular intervals regardless of what the pigeons did. And guess what? The pigeons fell into certain behaviors all by themselves - nodding or turning or pecking for food - although their behaviors had nothing to do with the reward being offered. Skinner wrote: "A few accidental connections between a ritual and favorable consequences suffice to set up and maintain the behavior in spite of many unreinforced instances...The experiment might be said to demonstrate a sort of superstition. The bird behaves as if there were a causal relation between its behavior and the presentation of food, although such a relation is lacking."

"There are many analogies to human behavior," said Skinner. He was not the first to comment on the human propensity to mistake coincidence for causality.”

"Self-Respect, Opinions..."

 
“If someone in your life talked to you the way you talk to yourself, 
you would have left them long ago.”
- Carla Gordon

“The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours.”
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“We only feel dehumanized when we get trapped in the derogatory 
images of other people or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves.”
- Marshall Rosenberg

“My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself,
 is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality.”
- Oscar Wilde

"Let It Roll Off Our Back: Dodging and Deflecting"

"Let It Roll Off Our Back: Dodging and Deflecting"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"When we are criticized or attacked it is important to not take it into our heart space. One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning not to take things to heart and hold on to it. Especially when we’re younger, or if we’re very sensitive, we take so much of what comes our way to heart. This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized or attacked from all directions, it becomes very difficult for us to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. This is when we would do well to remember the old saying about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck’s back.

Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us. If we get caught up in trying to adjust ourselves to other people’s negative energy, we lose touch with our core. In fact, in a positive light, these slings and arrows offer us the opportunity to strengthen our core sense of self, and to learn to dodge and deflect other people’s misdirected negativity. The more we do this, the more we are able to discern what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. With practice, we become masters of our energetic integrity, refusing to serve as targets for the disowned anger and frustration of the people around us.

Eventually, we will be able to hear the feedback that others have to offer, taking in anything that might actually be constructive, and releasing that which has nothing to do with us. First, though, we tend ourselves compassionately by recognizing when we can’t take something in from the outside without hurting ourselves. This is when we make like a duck, shaking it off and letting it roll off our back as we continue our way in the world."

The Daily "Near You?"

Burbank, California, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Musical Interlude: Alan Parsons Project, “Lucifer”


Alan Parsons Project, “Lucifer”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjTQJz6yBhk

"Beliefs And Convictions..."

“In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”
- Mark Twain

"How the State Exploits Ignorance and Complacency"

"No Consent Required: 
How the State Exploits Ignorance and Complacency"
by Joel Bowman

“Libertarianism: The radical notion that other people are not your property.”We don’t know who first said those words. But we’ve seen the bitty meme circulating the social media sites recently. Could people finally be catching on? Probably only the “radicals”… But it sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? A kind of “do unto others…but not without their permission.” Of course, there are other ways to express this basic idea too: live and let live…to each his own and his own to each…and our personal favorite, mind your own [insert expletive of choice here] business…

Alas, some people can’t just leave well enough alone. They feel the need, the compulsion, the “hand of history,” as Tony Blair once called it, to “do something.” Whether or not that something is the right thing is, to their mind, beside the point. Just so long as it’s not nothing… That’s the real problem with statism, Fellow Reckoner. All its various machinations are, in one way or another, inherently prescriptive. You try to mind your own business. You try to live a quiet and decent life…but there’s always someone telling you there’s a better way: their way. Oh, and they’ll be needing your money and/or person to make it happen. But how can anyone possibly claim the right to tell you how to live your life… and to force you to do it?! Seems a tough point to win, no? What about self-ownership? What about the non-aggression principle? What about “live and let live” and all that?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought he found a workaround: The “Social Contract” he called it in his waffling 18th century treatise of the same name. In a nutshell, the social contract holds that, because we are considered part of “society,” we must therefore accept the terms — whatever they may be — of that “society.” In other words, it posits an implicit consent on the part of the individual to be governed by the state…simply because the state exists, and because the majority have so willed it. Call it “tyranny of the mob-jority.” But what kind of contract is this, Fellow Reckoner? A “contract” that makes up for lack of consent by simply presupposing it, is no contract at all. What kind of court would uphold such a flimsy non-agreement…besides one owned and operated by the beneficiaries of such an absurd ruling?

Not that the enthusiastic Genevan is solely to blame. He was simply building on the misguided works of previous meddlers. Hobbes gave mens’ rights to the government. Locke gifted them to God (But which God? Interpreted by whom? And what for the agnostics?) Few left them in the hands of free men themselves.

But what about man vs. nature, some may be wondering? What about…gulp!…anarchy! Hobbes argued that, without the state, men would descend into a tyranny all of their own making and that they need the state to “maintain order.” But is this really true? Are we simply to take Hobbes’ word for it, to give away our most precious freedoms because of an arrogant supposition? Is there any hope, in other words, for self-governing men and women? The state — along with its favored class of crony banksters, faux economists, prattling politicians, warmongers, tax attorneys, social parasites and the rest of their rotten ilk — has long feasted on the wealth and toil of the “free” and productive class. So long have they feasted, in fact, that they now control all the guns, all the courts and all the cages. But we needn’t “rage against the machine,” the preferred strategy for the young and the reckless. We simply need to actively withdraw the consent they claim. Writes Kevin Carson, contributing editor to the Center for a Stateless Society:

The plutocracy depends on the state for its wealth. We don’t. All we have to do to destroy them is walk away. So they’d like nothing better than to distract us from building the kind of society and economy we want for ourselves and abandoning theirs to rot, and instead waste our effort and money fighting for control of their system on their terms.

And how do we do that? With peer-to-peer technology — already flourishing in the areas of money lending (see DR article), property rental (see DR article), competing currencies (see DR article), startup fundraising, employment opportunities, micro-donations, court systems (see LFB article) and entertainment (see DR article)…to name just a few. We do this instead of supporting existing and entrenched corporations currently hiring the gun of the state to protect, by force, their own fattened interests in each of the aforementioned sectors.

We do it, in other words, with cooperation instead of coercion. With ideas instead of edicts. With voluntarism instead of statism. Continues Carson: "As they find it harder and harder to compete with progressively cheaper and more efficient technologies in the hands of ordinary people, they lean increasingly on a state that’s bankrupting itself trying to prop them up. So we can beat them simply by withdrawing from their system and building our own. Peel back the layers of any statist argument and you will quickly discover, at its cold dark heart, the notion that you do not own your self. You are, to some degree, the property of another. As such, you are to be ruled, governed and taxed in whichever way the owner deems to be “in the interest of society.” 

It’s enough to make the questioning individual cry… or laugh… or both. Either way, their message is clear: Free men are not to be trusted with their own lives. It’s time to tell these people to mind their own [insert expletive of choice here] business.”

"How It Really Is"


Satire: "Romney Blasts Supreme Court, Calling Healthcare Act 'Worst Idea I Ever Had'"

"Romney Blasts Supreme Court, Calling Healthcare Act 'Worst Idea I Ever Had'"
Vows to Repeal Own Law
by Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – "Just minutes after the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney slammed the Court, calling the law “the worst idea I ever had.”“I vow to repeal this law on my first day in office,” he told a crowd at a campaign rally.  “Until then, I will work tirelessly to make people forget that I used to totally love it.” At the White House, President Obama greeted the news of the Court’s decision in muted fashion: “I haven’t been this pumped since I smoked bin Laden.”

Dissenters in the 5-4 decision included Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote, “The only medical procedures the government should pay for are forced transvaginal ultrasounds and exorcisms.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also had harsh words for the healthcare law, telling reporters, “Under Obamacare, you will be forced to marry a gay doctor.” But perhaps the most negative appraisal came from Speaker of the House John Boehner: "This is a dark day for America. If we are forced to have healthcare, it's only a matter of time before we have education."
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"Who Destroyed The Middle Class? – Part 3"

"Who Destroyed The Middle Class? – Part 3"
by James Quinn

"This is the 3rd and final chapter of my series about the destruction of the middle class. In Part 1 of this series I addressed where and how the net worth of the middle class was stolen. In Part 2, I focused on the culprits in this grand theft and in Part 3, I will try to figure out why they stole your net worth and what would be required to restore sanity to this world."

“I have no problem with people becoming billionaires—if they got there by winning a fair race, if their accomplishments merit it, if they pay their fair share of taxes, and if they don’t corrupt their society. Most of them became wealthy by being well connected and crooked. And they are creating a society in which they can commit hugely damaging economic crimes with impunity, and in which only children of the wealthy have the opportunity to become successful. That’s what I have a problem with. And I think most people agree with me.” – Charles Ferguson, "Predator Nation"
                      
Dude, Why Did They Steal My Net Worth? It is clear to me that a small cabal of politically connected ultra-wealthy psychopaths has purposefully and arrogantly stripped the middle class of their wealth and openly flaunted their complete disregard for the laws and financial regulations meant to enforce a fair playing field. Why did they gut the middle class in their rapacious appetite for riches? Why did the scorpion sting the frog while crossing the river, dooming them both? It was his nature. The same is true for the hubristic modern robber barons latched on the backs of the middle class. Their appetite for ever greater riches will never be mollified. They will always want more. They promise not to destroy the middle class, as that will surely extinguish the last hope for a true economic recovery built upon savings, investment and jobs, but it is their nature to destroy. A card carrying member of the plutocracy and renowned dog lover, Mitt Romney, revealed a truth not normally discussed by those running the show: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine.”

The data from the Fed report confirms Romney’s assertion. The poorest 20% were the only household segment that saw an increase in their real median income between 2007 and 2010, while the richest 10% saw only a modest 5% decrease in their $200,000 plus, annual incomes. Meanwhile the middle class households experienced a brutal 8% to 9% decline in real income. Table 2 in Part 2 of this article reveals why the poorest 20% were able to increase their income. Transfer payments (unemployment, welfare, food stamps, SSDI) increased from 8.6% of their income in 2007 to 11.1% in 2010. Government transfer payments rose from $1.7 trillion in 2007 to $2.3 trillion today, a 35% increase in five years. I’m sure the bottom 20% are living high on the hog raking in that $13,400 per year. Think about these facts for just a moment. There are 23 million households in this country with a median annual household income of $13,400. That means half make less than that. There are 58 million households that have a median household income of $45,800, with half making less than that.

The reason Mitt Romney isn’t concerned about the very poor is because his only interaction with them is when they cut the lawn at one of his six homes. The truth is the bottom 20% are mostly penned up in our urban ghettos located in Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, NYC, LA, Atlanta, Miami, and the hundreds of other decaying metropolitan meccas. They generally kill each other and only get the attention of the top 10% if they dare venture into a white upper class neighborhood. They are the revenue generators for our corporate prison industrial complex – one of our few growth industries. They provide much of the cannon fodder for our military industrial complex. They are kept ignorant and incapable of critical thought by our Department of Education controlled public school system. The welfare state is built upon the foundation of this 20%. It is certainly true that the bottom 30 million households in this country, from an income standpoint, do receive hundreds of billions in entitlement transfers, but Table 2 clearly shows that 80% of their income comes from working. The annual $72 billion cost for the 46 million people on food stamps pales in comparison to the hundreds of billions being dispensed to the Wall Street banks by Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner, and the $1 trillion per year funneled to the corporate arm dealers in the military industrial complex. The Wall Street maggots (i.e. J.P. Morgan) crawl around the decaying welfare corpse, extracting hundreds of millions in fees from the EBT system and the SNAP program as they encourage higher levels of spending.

This is all part of the diversion. Forty five years after the War on Poverty began, there are 49 million Americans living in poverty. That’s a solid good return on the $16 trillion spent so far. It’s on par with the 16 year zero percent real return in the stock market. We have produced a vast underclass of ignorant, uneducated, illiterate, dependent people who have become a huge voting block for the Democratic Party. Politicians, on the left, promise more entitlements to these people in order to get elected. Politicians on the right will not cut the entitlements for fear of being branded as uncaring. The Republicans agree to keep the welfare state growing and the Democrats agree to keep the warfare state growing -bipartisanship in all its glory. And the middle class has been caught in a pincer movement between the free shit entitlement army and the free shit corporate army. The oligarchs have been incredibly effective at using their control of the media, academia and ideological think tanks to keep the middle class ire focused upon the lower classes. While the middle class is fixated on people making $13,400 per year, the ultra-wealthy are bribing politicians to pass laws and create tax loopholes, netting them billions of ill-gotten loot. These specialists at Edward Bernays propaganda techniques were actually able to gain overwhelming support from the middle class for the repeal of estate taxes by rebranding them “death taxes”, even though the estate tax only impacts 15,000 households out of 117 million households in the U.S. The .01% won again.

It is easy to understand how the hard working middle class is so easily manipulated by the corporate fascists into believing their decades of descent to a lower and lower standard of living is the result of the lazy good for nothings at the bottom of the food chain sucking on the teat of state with their welfare entitlements. I drive through the neighborhoods of West Philadelphia every day, inhabited by the households with a net worth of $8,500 and annual income of $13,400. They inhabit crumbling hovels worth less than $25,000, along pothole dotted streets strewn with waste, debris and rubbish. More than half the people in this war zone are high school dropouts, over 30% are unemployed, and drug dealing is the primary industry. When a drug dealer becomes too successful and begins to cut into the profits of the “legitimate” oligarch sanctioned drug industry, he is thrown into one of our thriving prisons. Marriage is an unknown concept. The life expectancy of males is far less than 79 years old. But something doesn’t quite make sense. Every hovel has a Direct TV satellite dish. The people shuffling around the streets all have expensive cell phones. There are newer model cars parked on the streets, including a fair number of BMWs, Mercedes, Cadillac Escalades and Volvos. How can this be when their annual income is $13,400 and they have $8,500 to their names?

This is where our friendly neighborhood Wall Street oligarchs enter the picture. These downtrodden people are not bright. They are easily manipulated and scammed. They believe driving an expensive car and appearing successful is the same as being successful. Therefore, they are easily susceptible to being lured into debt. Millions of these people represented the “subprime” mortgage borrowers during the housing bubble. The tremendous auto “sales” being reported by the mainstream media in an effort to boost consumer confidence about an economic recovery, are being driven by subprime auto loans from Ally Financial (85% owned by the U.S. Treasury/you the taxpayer) and the other government back stopped Wall Street banks. This is the beauty of credit. The mega-lenders reap tremendous profits up front, the illusion of economic progress is created, poor people feel rich for a while, and when it all blows up at a future date the middle class taxpayer foots the bill. Real wages for the 99% have been falling for three decades. You make poor people feel wealthy by providing them easy access to vast quantities of cheap debt. I’m a big fan of personal responsibility, but who is the real malignant organism in this relationship? The parasite banker class, like a tick on an old sleepy hound dog, has been blood sucking the poor and middle class for decades. They have peddled the debt, kept the poor enslaved, and have used their useful idiots in the media to convince millions of victims to blame each other through their skillful use of propaganda. They maintain their control by purposely creating crisis, promoting hysteria, and engineering “solutions” that leave them with more power and wealth, while stripping the average citizen of their rights, liberty, freedom and net worth (i.e. Housing Bubble to replace Internet Bubble, Glass-Steagall repeal, Patriot Act, TARP, NDAA, SOPA). 
 
Jesse cuts to the heart of the matter, revealing the darker side of our human nature: “Sometimes when faced with problems that are confusing and troubling it is easier to think what someone tells you to think, particularly something that touches a deep and dark nerve in your nature, rather than carry the burden and ambiguity of struggling with the facts and thinking for yourself.  Repeating a party line is a shorthand way of avoiding real thought.  And the predators are always there to take advantage of it.  They welcome trouble and often foment crisis in order to advance their agendas.”
 
Anyone can be misled by a clever person, and no one likes to readily admit that they have been had.  It is a sign of character and maturity to realize this, and admit you were deceived, and to demand change and reform. But some people cannot do this, even when the facts of the deception are revealed.  It seems as though the more incorrect that the truth shows them to be, the louder and more strident they become in shouting down and denying the reality of the situation.   And anyone who denies their perspective becomes ‘the other,’ someone to be feared and hated, shunned and eliminated, one way or the other.”

Until Debt Do Us Part: I sense signs of desperation amongst the plutocracy. Their propaganda machine is sputtering. Their storylines are growing tired. They have fended off the fury of the Tea Party movement by successfully high jacking it and neutralizing their impact under the thumb of the Republican establishment. The oligarchs called out their armed thugs to crush the OWS rage, while using their media mouthpieces to misrepresent the true purpose of the movement – Wall Street greed and criminality with Washington DC collusion. The Savings & Loan Crisis of the late 1980s resulted in 800 bankers being thrown into prison. After the greatest banker heist in history, not one banker has been thrown in jail. Obama and Holder have been neutered by their masters. The power elite openly brandish their glee at avoiding accountability for their crimes. They are desperately attempting to re-inflate the debt bubble, as debt is the lifeblood of these vampire squids. The key piece of their current propaganda campaign is to convince the people they have effectively deleveraged and their continuing austerity efforts are actually detrimental to economic recovery. It’s nothing but a confidence game to keep the Ponzi going. The Ponzi operators want to extract every last dime from the masses before the engineered collapse. The data does not confirm the deleveraging narrative. Total credit market debt in the United States is now at an all-time high and stands at 345% of GDP. In 1977 it stood at 155% of GDP and at 250% in 2000.

Total credit market debt is now $4 trillion higher than it was in 2007, prior to the financial collapse. It has gone up by $1 trillion in the last 12 months. Does this sound like deleveraging? The chart below details the truth the moneyed interests don’t want you to understand.
 
Click image for larger size.

The bastions of capitalism on Wall Street have dumped $3.4 trillion of their toxic debt and $1 trillion of mortgage and credit card debt onto the backs of middle class taxpayers and future unborn generations. They did this under the auspices of saving the economic system. Their sole purpose has been to save themselves from becoming part of the middle class. The transfer of wealth from the quarry (middle class) to the predators (moneyed interests) continues unabated.

The faux journalists in the mainstream media have been pounding the consumer deleveraging mantra. They babble on about the austere masses methodically paying down their debts. It’s a specious lie. The chart below shows that banks have written off $218 billion of credit card debt since 2008. It also shows outstanding revolving debt falling from $1.01 trillion to $819 billion, a $191 billion decrease. For the math challenged, like any Wall Street shill paraded on CNBC, this means consumers have added $27 billion of credit card debt since 2008. Does that sound like deleveraging? Households have also taken on $300 billion of additional student loan debt since 2008, buying into the government sponsored scam to keep the unemployment rate lower by offering the false hope of jobs with useless on-line degrees from the University of Phoenix. Does that sound like deleveraging?

They only people with the courage to tell it like it is are skeptics and outcasts from polite society inhabited by the power elite – people like Ron Paul, Michael Burry, and deceased critical thinkers like Frank Zappa and George Carlin. In one of his final appearances, Carlin brutally lashed out with a torrent of truth, only spoken by courageous people not worried about the consequences of their blunt honesty (strong language alert):


Grotesque Casino of Corporate Fascism: “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” – Frank Zappa

“Specifically, over the past 15 years, the global financial system – encouraged by misguided policy and short-sighted monetary interventions – has lost its function of directing scarce capital toward projects that enhance the world’s standard of living. Instead, the financial system has been transformed into a self-serving, grotesque casino that misallocates scarce savings, begs for and encourages speculative bubbles, refuses to restructure bad debt, and demands that the most reckless stewards of capital should be rewarded through bailouts that transfer bad debt from private balance sheets to the public balance sheet. What is central here is that the government policy environment has encouraged this result. This environment includes financial sector deregulation that was coupled with a government backstop, repeated monetary distortions, refusal to restructure bad debt, and a preference for policy cowardice that included bailouts and opaque accounting. Deregulation and lower taxes will not fix this problem, nor will larger stimulus packages.” – John Hussman

None of the solutions put forth by Obama or Romney will fix the problems facing the country today. They are two handpicked figureheads representing the same owners. Both political parties are responsible for the grotesque casino that passes for our financial system. These political hacks have been in alternating control of our government system for the last 150 years. They don’t want to come up with real solutions to the problems they created. The owners want obedient slaves, distracted by technology and shallow entertainment, subjugated by debt used to buy things they want but don’t need, believing waging wars in distant lands keeps us safe, and favoring the imprisonment of petty thieves and drug users while the grand thieves run the country and control our currency. Keeping the willfully ignorant masses in the dark and confused is a vital part of the plan. Debt is the ingredient that enriches the issuers and keeps the dupes in check.  
 
Wall Street bankers, Federal Reserve governors, captured financial “experts”, journalists paid by corporations, economists with an ideological agenda and bought off politicians all repeating the same theme with the same unquestioning, strident conviction is a sure sign that we are being played. The never ending series of titanic bailouts of Wall Street did not avert a catastrophic economic collapse. They protected the corporate fascists from experiencing the consequences of their monstrous predatory actions over the last few decades. And it was all done for money. Simple human greed and an insane desire by a few psychotic men to control and manipulate others for their own selfish pleasure is what has turned this country into a corporate fascist state bereft of its soul and original founding principles, as stated by Ron Paul: “We’re not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we’re moving toward a softer fascism: Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business. So you have the military-industrial complex, you have the medical-industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. They go to Washington and spend hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism — something that’s very dangerous.”

The soft form of fascism easily transforms into the hard form as those in control exhibit their supremacy with displays of military potency in our cities (Boston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Chicago), passage of liberty stripping legislation like the Patriot Act and NDAA, along with announcements about thousands of drones patrolling our skies over the next five years. When propaganda begins to lose its effectiveness, brute force is the next step. Whenever I write about the slow methodical disintegration of our once great republic into a dysfunctional banana republic controlled by bankers, mega-corporations and arms dealers; the apologists for the empire scoff and cynically ask for my solutions. I, along with many other rational thinking realists, have proposed solutions, but they don’t have a snowballs chance in Syria of ever even being debated by the existing ruling class. The unholy alliance between bankers, corporate interests and politicians must be broken. These proposals would go a long way towards breaking that alliance:

Political System:

    * Since politicians cannot be trusted to exhibit courage or intelligence when it comes to public policy, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution needs to be passed, with a five to ten year implementation period to ameliorate the pain.
    * Term limits of 6 years for Congressmen and Senators. Serving in Congress should not be a career. It is a duty to the country. The purpose of Congress is to represent the existing generations of citizens and ensure that future generations have a country that offers opportunity to live a better life than their parents.
    * The entire election process would be scraped. It would be transformed into a 3 month publicly financed election. No money from corporations, unions, or individuals would be allowed. Multiple candidates would have an opportunity to debate on public TV. The two party domination of our political process must be broken.
    * Corporations are not people. Extreme wealth does not give someone the right to buy elections. Rich oligarchs operating in the shadows and spending billions on negative advertising is not how a republic should elect their representatives.  Lobbyists, special interests and PACs and would be eliminated from the political process.
    * The President could no longer issue Executive Orders, undercutting the legislative process.
    * Every bill before Congress would immediately be put online. The constituents of every Congressmen and Senator would be allowed to voice their opinion by voting yes or no online.
    * Every bill that is proposed by a Congressman must have a funding mechanism. If the proposal increases costs to the American taxpayer, something else must be cut to pay for the new proposal. This would be unnecessary if a balance budget amendment was passed.
    * No American troops could be committed to war in a foreign country without a full vote of Congress as required by the U.S. Constitution.
    * A cost benefit analysis would be conducted regarding every department and agency in the Federal Government by the GAO. Those failing to meet minimum requirements would be drastically reduced or eliminated.
    * The education of children would be delegated to localities, without Federal mandates. Every child in America would receive vouchers for grade school, high school and college. They could choose any school to attend – public or private. If the private school cost more than the voucher, the family would pay the difference. Excellent schools would flourish, poor schools would be forced to improve or they would close. Teacher tenure would be eliminated. Teaching excellence would be rewarded.

Economic Policy:

    * The first thing to be done is to abolish the Federal Reserve. It is owned by and operated for the benefit of the biggest banks in the world. Its sole purpose has been to enrich the few at the expense of the many through its insidious use of inflation and debt issuance. It has been around for less than 100 years and has debased the USD by 96%. The U.S. Treasury has the authority to issue the currency of the country. It did so from 1789 until 1913.
    * The 2nd thing to do would be to reinstitute the Glass-Steagall Act because Wall Street cannot be trusted to manage their risk properly. This would separate true banking activities from the high risk gambling that brought the economic system to its knees. Privatizing the profits and socializing the losses is unacceptable.
    * The FASB would be directed to make all banks and financial corporations value their assets at their true market value. This would reveal the mega Wall Street banks and corporations like GE to be insolvent. An orderly bankruptcy of all insolvent financial firms involving the sell-off of their legitimate assets to well-run risk adverse banks that didn’t screw up would ensue. Bondholders and stockholders would realize their losses for awful investment decisions. The economic system would be purged of its bad debt.
    * The currency of the US would be backed by hard assets. A basket of gold, silver, platinum, uranium, and some other limited hard commodities would back the USD. If politicians attempted to spend too much, the price of this basket would reflect their inflationary schemes immediately.
    * The 16th Amendment would be repealed and the income tax would be scrapped. It would be replaced with a national consumption tax. The more you consume, the more taxes you pay. Wages, savings and investment would be untaxed. The tax code is the source for much of politicians’ power. Its demise would further reduce Washington DC control over our lives.
    * A downsizing of the US Military from $1 trillion to $500 billion annually would be initiated through the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Japan and hundreds of other bases throughout the world. Policing the world is bankrupting the empire.
    * All corporate, farm, education, and social engineering subsidies would be eliminated. All Federal employees would have their pay slashed by 10% and the workforce would be reduced by 20% over 5 years. Federal health benefits and pension benefits would be set at average private industry levels.
    * The Social Security System would be completely overhauled. Anyone 50 or older would get exactly what they were promised. The age for collecting SS would be gradually raised to 72 over the next 15 years. Those between 25 and 50 would be given the option to opt out of SS. They would be given their contributions to invest as they see fit if they opt out. Anyone entering the workforce today would not pay in or receive any benefits. The wage limit for SS would be eliminated and the tax rate would be reduced from 6.2% to 3%.
    * The Medicare system is unsustainable. It would be converted from a government program to private market based program. The Federal mandates, rules and regulations would be eliminated. Senior citizens would be given healthcare vouchers which they would be free to use with any insurance company or doctor based on price and quality. Insurance companies would compete for business on a national basis. Doctors would compete for business. The GAO would have their budget doubled and they would audit Medicare fraud & Medicaid fraud and prosecute the criminals without impunity.
    * The healthcare bill would be repealed. Insurance companies would be allowed to compete with each other on a national basis. Tort reform would be implemented so that doctors could do their jobs without fear of being destroyed by slimy personal injury lawyers. Doctors would need to post their costs for     * various procedures. Price and quality would drive the healthcare market.
    * The entitlement state would be dismantled. The criteria for collecting welfare, SSDI, food stamps and unemployment benefits would be made much stricter. Unemployed people collecting government payments would be required to clean up parks, volunteer at community charity organizations, pick up trash along highways, fix and paint houses in their neighborhoods and generally keep busy in a productive manner for society.
    * A free market method for stabilizing the housing market would be for banks to voluntarily reduce the mortgage balances of underwater homeowners in exchange for a PAR (Property Appreciation Right). The homeowner would agree to pay off the PAR to the Treasury (and administered through the IRS) out of future price appreciation on the existing home or subsequent property. The homeowner would be excluded from taking on any home equity loans or executing any “cash out” refinancing until the PAR was satisfied. The maximum PAR obligation accepted by the Treasury would be based on the value of the home and the income of the homeowner.

I’m sure there are many more solutions which non-captured, intelligent, reasonable citizens could put forth to save this country. None of these ideas would be acceptable to the country’s owners. They would reduce their wealth and power. What these oligarchs do not realize is that we are in the midst of a Fourth Turning. Those who experienced the last one have died off. The existing social order will be swept away. It is likely to be violent and bloody. Good people and bad people will die. When the Crisis reaches its climax we will have the opportunity to implement good solutions. There is also the distinct possibility that our increasingly ignorant populace will turn to a messianic psychopath that promises them renewed glory. Decades of delusional decisions will lead to a future that will not be orderly or controllable.

 “The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustained growth and recovery. If the suffering becomes great enough, change will inevitably come, but it may not be orderly or as controllable as the moneyed interests often like to think.” – Jesse

"A Valley in Peaks…and the Biggest Fraud in Economics"

"A Valley in Peaks…
and the Biggest Fraud in Economics"
by Bill Bonner

"Forget ‘peak oil.’ Or so they say. It has fracked its way to energy self-sufficiency. Porter Stansberry: "… there are roughly 20 major shale oil plays in the US. The largest five of these new reservoirs have more than 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil… meaning that each of these new fields is not only the largest in US history (by a wide margin), but that each of them, individually, would more than double the proven reserves of domestic oil…" That is why America is on track to be the world’s leading producer of oil within the next five or six years… and why the most knowledgeable oil analysts are predicting a new all-time high of American oil production by 2017. In fact, we’ve already become a net energy exporter for the first time since 1949. The Wall Street Journal tells us that the US will not import a single barrel of oil from the Middle East by 2035.

Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t that supposed to be why we’re spending trillions on wars in Middle East…to keep vital supplies of black goo headed our way? Of course, the numbers never really made any sense. Neither did the logic of it. It would have been a whole lot cheaper just to buy the oil on the open market. Trillions cheaper. But money isn’t everything. The US needs to guarantee access to oil…or its whole economy might be brought to its knees. Which is probably a good place to introduce a new idea: The biggest fraud in economics is economics itself.

What’s the point of having an economy? It is so that people will get the stuff they need and want. The more efficient the economy, the more stuff people get with the least effort and expense of resources. It makes no sense to waste trillions of dollars’ worth of resources just to “protect the economy.” The whole point of an economy is to create more stuff…not to waste it. You might just as well try to protect your health by committing suicide.

Most economists are fools or knaves. The knaves want to get prestigious jobs and Nobel prizes by offering crackpot advice. The fools think it will work. A few months ago, they were concerned with peaks. There was a peak in oil production. There was a peak in food production. There was a peak in available water coming. Then, a peak in peaks must have been hit. Now there is a peak in valleys. All of a sudden, the peaks are far away. Commodity prices are falling, not rising. Deflation is economists’ worry, not inflation. Deflation is an impediment to growth; everyone believes it.

The European debate is largely a dispute over which fraudulent solution will cause ‘growth.’ The austerity crowd believes it has to clamp down on government spending. This will give investors confidence in government bonds. The feds will be able to borrow again. The economy will grow. All will be well. The stimulus crowd targets growth directly. It wants the feds to spend…creating jobs, incomes, spending and so forth. Paul Krugman is in "The Financial Times" today. “At a time when the private sector is engaged in a collective effort to spend less, public policy should act as a stabilizing force, attempting to sustain spending.”

Krugman says the real problem is a lack of demand. People just don’t want to spend their money. This is something that needs to be fixed! Why? Why not let people decide for themselves when they want to spend and when they want to save? Why let the government do for them what they do not want done? Krugman doesn’t bother to think about it. He is worried only about growth. He is afraid that the economy will collapse completely before austerity measures lead to growth. The austerity group worries that government-led ‘growth’ will blow up the economy before it has a chance to turn into real, private sector growth.

Neither side doubts that growth is the key. Almost everybody agrees: we have to pursue growth. “The Hero,” Ben Bernanke, does it by printing money. Congress and the administration do it by running trillion-dollar deficits. Nobody doubts that ‘growth’ is the key to progress, happiness, and maybe even Heaven. But there’s the foundation of the great flim-flam right there.

Why do economists think ‘growth’ is such hot stuff? Because they can measure it… Economists can measure GDP. They can tell when it goes up…or when it goes down. Generally, more is better…because it means the economy is creating more stuff. So, economists tailor their policy recommendations…their theories…and their editorial page blah-blahs to the goal of stimulating growth.

But is growth a good thing? Is it the same as progress and prosperity? Is more stuff what the world really needs? Just 5 years ago, TIME magazine thought the US needed more stuff…in the form of houses. Seventy years ago, the US needed more stuff…in the form of tanks and fighter planes. Forty years ago, US economists — notably Samuelson — were convinced that the Soviet economy would soon be larger than the US economy. Why? It could produce more stuff. They had charts to show how stuff production in the Soviet Union was increasing…and how it would surpass the US in just a few years. And what happened? It didn’t matter. The stuff was worthless.”

Musical Interlude: Pink Floyd, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”


Pink Floyd, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SqFPNTBnv8

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The glare of Alpha Centauri, one of the brightest stars in planet Earth's night sky, floods the left side of this southern skyscape. A mere 4.3 light-years distant, Alpha Centauri actually consists of two component stars similar in size to the Sun, locked in a mutual orbit. Much smaller and cooler, a third member of the same star system, Proxima Centauri, lies outside this field of view. 
 Click image for larger size.
Still, the telescopic scene does reveal often overlooked denizens of the Milky Way's crowded galactic plane that lie beyond the glare of Alpha Centauri, including a planetary nebula cataloged as Hen 2-111, an estimated 7,800 light-years away. The gaseous shroud of a dying star, the nebula's brighter core and fainter halo of reddish ionized gas span over twenty light-years, seen just right of picture center. Farther right are two notable open clusters of stars, the compact Pismis 19 also nearly 8,000 light-years away whose light is reddened by intervening dust, and the looser, closer NGC 5617. Just visible in the glare of Alpha Centauri is the dim glow of a shell-like supernova remnant, above and right of the closest star system's bright core.”

Chet Raymo, “Conservative vs. Liberal”

“Conservative vs. Liberal”
by Chet Raymo

"Columbia University professor Mark Lilla, writing in the New York Review of Books, has a go at defining "conservative" and "liberal." "Conservatives have always seen society as a kind of inheritance we receive and are responsible for; we have obligations toward those who came before and to those who will come after, and these obligations take priority over our rights. Conservatives have also been inclined to assume, along with [Edmund] Burke, that this inheritance is best passed on implicitly through slow changes in custom and tradition, not through explicit political action.

Classical liberals like John Stuart Mill, in contrast to conservatives, give individuals priority over society, on anthropological as well as moral grounds. They assume that societies are genuinely constructs of human freedom, that whatever we inherit from them, they can always be unmade or remade through free human action. This assumption…is what makes liberals suspicious of appeals to custom or tradition, given that they have so often been used to justify privilege and injustice…Principles are the only legitimate constraints on our freedom."

Lilla goes on to distinguish classical conservatism and liberalism from more extreme forms of reaction and revolution. He is, as you might guess, engaged in a discussion of contemporary U. S. politics, which for many of us seems to have lost its moderate middle, at least in its rhetoric. We will see what the electorate does in November, but for the moment the debate seems to be driven by extreme voices of right and left.

I am, as you have surely guessed by now, politically liberal, whether by birth, upbringing, or philosophical reflection I do not know. In any case, it is irrelevant here. I would not, however, dismiss the idea that science has had an influence on my politics.

Science, it seems to me, has found the sweet spot between philosophical conservatism and liberalism. It is firmly grounded in tradition. Careful citation of previous work is mandatory. Peer review within the existing paradigm is rigorous. Every idea is measured against the received consensus. Generally, progress is incremental. But progress is universally welcomed and expected, as the gift of human curiosity and creativity, and traditional paradigms are overthrown when necessary. I have previously defined the situation thus: Science is radically open to marginal change and marginally open to radical change.

If in the marketplace of ideas all ideas are equal, then none are worth fighting for. But no idea should be codified as dogma. If I have learned anything from a lifetime in and around science, it is this: Respect the best of the past; be open to a better future.
"If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"
- John F. Kennedy

The Daily "Near You?"

Truro, Cornwall, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by.

"How It Really Is"


"Where Does Money Come From?"

"Where Does Money Come From?"
The Giant Federal Reserve Scam That Most Americans Do Not Understand
by Michael Snyder

"How is money created?  If you ask average people on the street this question, most of them have absolutely no idea.  This is rather odd, because we all use money constantly.  You would think that it would only be natural for all of us to know where it comes from.  So where does money come from?  A lot of people assume that the federal government creates our money, but that is not the case.  If the federal government could just print and spend more money whenever it wanted to, our national debt would be zero.  But instead, our national debt is now nearly 16 trillion dollars
 
 So why does our government (or any sovereign government for that matter) have to borrow money from anybody?  That is a very good question.  The truth is that in theory the U.S. government does not have to borrow a single penny from anyone.  But under the Federal Reserve system, the U.S. government has purposely allowed itself to be subjugated to a financial system in which it will be constantly borrowing larger and larger amounts of money.  In fact, this is how it works in the vast majority of the countries on the planet at this point.  As you will see, this kind of system is not sustainable and the structural problems caused by such a system are at the very heart of our debt problems today.


So where does money come from?  In the United States, it comes from the Federal Reserve. When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars. Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.

So why does the U.S. government go to all this trouble?  Why doesn't the U.S. government create the money itself? Those are very good questions. One of the primary reasons why our system is structured this way is so that wealthy people can get even wealthier by lending money to the U.S. government and other national governments. For example, last year the U.S. government spent more than 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt. Over the centuries, the ultra-wealthy have found lending to national governments to be a very, very profitable enterprise.

The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system. But wait. There is a problem. Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.

So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt? Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt. But that never actually happens, does it? And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well.  They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt.  They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.

That is why I call the Federal Reserve a perpetual debt machine.  The Federal Reserve was created to trap the U.S. government in an endlessly expanding debt spiral from which there is no escape. And the Federal Reserve is doing a great job at what it was designed to do.  Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

Another way that money comes into existence in our economy is through the process of fractional reserve banking. I originally pulled the following simplified explanation of fractional reserve banking off of the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but it has been pulled down since then.  But I still think it is helpful in understanding the basics of how fractional reserve banking works... "If the reserve requirement is 10%, for example, a bank that receives a $100 deposit may lend out $90 of that deposit. If the borrower then writes a check to someone who deposits the $90, the bank receiving that deposit can lend out $81. As the process continues, the banking system can expand the initial deposit of $100 into a maximum of $1,000 of money ($100+$90+81+$72.90+...=$1,000)."

When you put your money into the bank, it does not say there.  The bank only keeps a relatively small amount of money sitting around to satisfy the withdrawal demands of account holders.  If all of us went down to the banks right now and demanded our money, that would create a major problem. If I put 100 dollars into the bank and the bank lends out 90 of those dollars to you, now it looks like there are 190 dollars floating around.  I have "100 dollars" in my bank account and you have "90 dollars" that you just borrowed. The new debt that you have taken on (90 dollars) has "created" more money.  But of course you are going to end up paying back more than 90 dollars to the bank, so more debt has been created than the amount of money that has been created.

And that is one of the big problems with our financial system.  It is designed so that the amount of debt and the amount of money are supposed to be perpetually expanding, and the amount of debt created is always greater than the amount of money that is created. So is it any wonder that our society is swamped with nearly 55 trillion dollars of total debt at this point? A debt-based financial system is unsustainable by nature because it will always create debt bubbles that will inevitably burst.

Are you starting to see why so many Americans are saying that we need to abolish the Federal Reserve system? Our founding fathers never intended for our financial system to work this way. According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is supposed to have the authority to "coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures".

So why has this authority been given to a private institution that is dominated by the big Wall Street banks and that has actually argued in court that it is "not an agency" of the federal government?

Thomas Jefferson once said that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing... "I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing."

But instead, we have become enslaved to a system where government borrowing actually creates our money. The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we have allowed our government to enslave us to the tune of nearly 16 trillion dollars.

There are alternatives to this system.  Things do not have to work this way. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our politicians consider the Federal Reserve to be good for America and steadfastly refuse to do anything to change the status quo. So if you are waiting for "solutions" to these problems on the national level you are going to be waiting for a very long time.

The debt problems that the United States and Europe are experiencing did not come into existence by accident.  They are the result of fundamental structural problems with the financial system. A debt-based financial system is always going to fail in the long run.  Unfortunately, most Americans still do not understand this and so we will all get to suffer the consequences.”
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