Category Archives: Debt

Trifecta: Pritzker Administration’s Pension Plan For Illinois Will Center On Three Strokes Of Folly, by Mark Glennon

A gang that can’t shoot straight takes Illinois from bad to worse. From Mark Glennon at wirepoints.org:

Deputy Governor Dan Hynes today released the first details of the Pritzker Administration’s plan for addressing Illinois’ pension crisis.

The administration will pursue three of the worst ideas available:

•  First, the state will borrow to pay off pension debt by offering a $2 billion pension obligation bond. We and many others have already written very extensively on why pension obligation bonds are irresponsible.  One credit card to another solves nothing and adds risk.

•  Second, the state will kick the can on its ramp for taxpayer pension contributions out seven years. The new goal for reaching 90% funding (which is still inadequate) will be 2052. Your grandchildren will fully understand why pensions are called “intergenerational theft.

•  Third, the state will gift public assets to the pensions. The particular assets and their value remain to be identified, but speculation has centered on the Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Lottery and government office buildings. The concept goes by the name “asset transfer.” We explained why it’s a sham in an article just yesterday. A pension actuary writing in Forbes did the same.

The combined effect of the first two is odd. All $2 billion from the bond offering will go immediately to the pensions, but the regularly scheduled pension contribution for the upcoming fiscal year will drop by $800 million.

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The Big Government Show Must Go On, by MN Gordon

President Trump wasn’t going to ruin his State of the Union address by mentioning America’s inconsequential national debt. From MN Gordon at economic prism.com:

Another week.  Another week of distractions.  On Tuesday, for instance, was the great State of the Union Address.  To this, many opinions and observations have been offered.  Here, we’ll contribute several of our own…

President Trump is a showman of stout ego.  How he must have relished the run-up to Tuesday’s primetime address with impatient anticipation.  What a disappointment it must have been to look out from the podium of the House of Representatives at the 116th Congress and see the greatest assemblage of political crooks, lowlifes, and losers in living memory staring back at him.

But the show must go on…disappointments and all.  For life’s full of disappointments.  The many botched opportunities.  The countless hours wasted on bids for ridiculous jobs.  Super Bowl Sunday.  Duds, dissatisfactions, and disappointments come a dime a dozen.

Words are also the source of many disappointments.  Words that shouldn’t have been said.  Words that should have been said.

So, too, words, and the absence of words, can be distractions.  And within a sequence of words there are sometimes obvious omissions.

For example, nowhere within the 82 minute State of the Union Address was there a single word of the country’s burgeoning $1 trillion budget deficit.  Nowhere was there a word of the great $22 trillion national debt default that’s bearing down upon us like a savage hurricane along the Gulf Coast.  Nowhere was there mention of the $122 trillion in unfunded liabilities, which includes the sacred cows of social security and Medicare.

What Gives?

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The Making of Juan Guaidó: US Regime-Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader, by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal

Juan Guaidó is right out of CIA central casting. From Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal at consortiumnews.com:

The Washington favorite has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization, write Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal of Grayzone.

Before the fateful date of Jan. 22, fewer than 1-in-5 Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt according to Venezuela’s constitution.

But after a single phone call from from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself as president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the U.S.-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.

Echoing the Washington consensus, The New York Times editorial board hailed Guaidó as a “credible rival” to President Nicolás Maduro with a “refreshing style and vision of taking the country forward.” The Bloomberg News editorial board applauded him for seeking “restoration of democracy” and The Wall Street Journal declared him “a new democratic leader.” Meanwhile, Canada, numerous European nations, Israel, and the bloc of right-wing Latin American governments known as the Lima Group recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

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If the Army Stands With Maduro, What Is Plan B? by Patrick J. Buchanan

As in most dictatorships, or call it an authoritarian regime if you’d like, the military plays the essential role in Venezuela. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Pay the soldiers. The rest do not matter.”

This was the deathbed counsel given to his sons by Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in A.D. 211.

Nicolas Maduro must today appreciate the emperor’s insight.

For the political survival of this former bus driver and union boss hangs now upon whether Venezuela’s armed forces choose to stand by him or to desert him and support National Assembly leader Juan Guaido.

Wednesday, Guaido declared Maduro’s election last May to a second six-year term to be a sham, and had himself inaugurated as acting president.

Thursday, the defense minister and army chief General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, with his top brass, dismissed the 35-year-old Guaido as a U.S. puppet, and pledged allegiance to Maduro.

Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council: “Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. … Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

By Friday, however, the world had already taken sides.

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Venezuela – A Case Of Socialist-Organized Theft, by Daniel Lacalle

Setting aside the issue of whether or not the US should be trying to force regime change in Venezuela, the economy there is a disaster and would be even in the absence of economic sanctions from the US. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:

Much has been written about the economic disaster perpetrated by the Maduro-Chavez regime in Venezuela. The magnitude of it is simply difficult to match. A sad global example of how to destroy a rich country.

The mistake that many make is to think that this wreck has been caused by a combination of incompetence and folly. And they are wrong. The Venezuelan socialist regime has carried out the largest organized robbery in history and has done so with a perfectly designed plan.

The plan was always to expropriate the wealth of the whole country for the benefit of a few political leaders through plundering, destruction of currency and decapitalizacón of the state oil company

What has happened to Venezuela is not a disaster or a coincidence, it is socialism.

It is important to start by debunking the lies of the regime propaganda:

The nonexistent blockade. The United States is one of Venezuela’s largest trading partners. Trade between the United States and Venezuela in 2018 grew by more than 9%. Venezuela has bilateral trade agreements with more than 70 countries. Chavismo, like the Castro regime in Cuba, manipulates its followers by calling the sanctions against members of the regime and the fraudulent use of the country’s funds a “blockade”. The only blockade suffered by Venezuela is that of Chavismo against its citizens.

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US Follows Ukraine, Syria Roadmap for Venezuelan Regime Change, by Whitney Webb

The US government is basically following the blueprint it laid out in Ukraine and Syria. Unfortunately, neither of those has turned out particularly well, and prospects don’t look any better in Venezuela. From Whitney Webb at theantimedia.org:

Since the decision of the Trump administration on Wednesday to recognize a member of the Venezuelan opposition, Juan Guaidó, as an unelected “interim president,” the situation in the South American country has become increasingly tense, with efforts to force the current government of Venezuela — led by Nicolás Maduro — out of power having grown in intensity over the past few days.

Despite the enormous pressure, his government faces from both local and international sources, Maduro has managed to maintain his position thanks to a combination of factors. These include the loyalty of the country’s well-armed military, in addition to popular support from Venezuelans who recently voted for Maduro, as well as Venezuelans who may not like Maduro but prefer him to a politician hand-picked and foisted upon them by the United States.

Yet, the long-standing campaign of the United States to effect regime change in Venezuela — a campaign that has been ongoing ever since Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, was elected in 1998 — has shown time and again that the U.S. is unwilling to let go of its dream of installing a “friendly” government in the world’s most oil-rich country.

For that reason, if the Trump administration’s attempt to simply install a Venezuelan president fails to produce the intended result (regime change), there is substantial concern that the U.S. will turn to other means to bring about a change in government, including the instigation of a new proxy war.

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Collapse Is Already Here, by Chris Martenson

Chris Martenson surveys some of the signs of environmental collapse. From Martenson at peakprosperity.com:

It’s a process, not an event

Many people are expecting some degree of approaching collapse — be it economic, environmental and/or societal — thinking that they’ll recognize the danger signs in time.

As if it will be completely obvious, like a Hollywood blockbuster. Complete with clear warnings from scientists, politicians and the media.  And everyone can then get busy either panicking or becoming the plucky heroes.

That’s not how collapse works.

Collapse is a process, not an event.

And it’s already underway, all around us.

Collapse is already here.

However, unlike Hollywood’s vision, the early stages of collapse cause people to cling even tighter to the status quo. Instead of panic in the streets, we simply see more of the same — as those in power do all they can to remain so, while the majority of the public attempts to ignore the growing problems for as long as it possibly can.

For both the elite and the majority, their entire world view and their personal sense of self depends on things not crumbling all around them, so they remain willfully blind to any evidence to the contrary.

When faced with the predicaments we warn about here at PeakProsperity.com, getting an early start on prudently shifting your own personal situation is of vital strategic and tactical importance. Tens of thousands of our readers already have taken wise steps in their lives to position themselves resiliently.

But most of the majority won’t get started until it’s entirely too late to make any difference at all. Which is sad but perhaps unavoidable, given human nature.

If everybody around you is saying “Everything is awesome!”, it can take a long time to determine for yourself that things in fact aren’t:

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