Category Archives: Money

Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World, by Caitlin Johnstone

These tips will stand you in pretty good stead. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

In an environment that is saturated with mass media propaganda, it can be hard to figure out which way’s up, let alone get an accurate read on what’s going on in the world. Here are a few tips I’ve learned which have given me a lot of clarity in seeing through the haze of spin and confusion. Taken separately they don’t tell you a lot, but taken together they paint a very useful picture of the world and why it is the way it is.

1. It’s always ultimately about acquiring power.

In the quest to understand why governments move in such irrational ways, why expensive, senseless wars are fought while homeless people die of exposure on the streets, why millionaires and billionaires get richer and richer while everyone else struggles to pay rent, why we destroy the ecosystem we depend on for our survival, why one elected official tends to advance more or less the same harmful policies and agendas as his or her predecessor, people often come up with explanations which don’t really hold water.

The most common of these is probably the notion that all of these problems are due to the malignant influence of one of two mainstream political parties, and if the other party could just get in control of the situation all the problems would go away. Other explanations include the belief that humans are just intrinsically awful, blaming minorities like Jews or immigrants, blaming racism and white supremacy, or going all the way down wild and twisted rabbit holes into theories about reptilian secret societies and baby-eating pedophile cabals. But really all of mankind’s irrational behavior can be explained by the basic human impulse to amass power and influence over one’s fellow humans, combined with the fact that sociopaths tend to rise to positions of power.

Our evolutionary ancestors were pack animals, and the ability to rise in social standing in one’s pack determined crucial matters like whether one got first or last dibs on food or got to reproduce. This impulse to rise in our pack is hardwired deeply into our evolutionary heritage, but when left unchecked due to a lack of empathy, and when expanded into the globe-spanning 7.6 billion human pack we now find ourselves in due to ease of transportation and communication, it can lead to individuals who will keep amassing more and more power until they wield immense influence over entire clusters of nations.

To continue reading: Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World

Advertisements

Sen. Paul to Hold Hearing on ‘Unauthorized War’s Effect on Federal Spending’, by Daniel McAdams

Those unauthorized wars have been a big ticket indeed. Perhaps more essential than an accounting of those costs is how the US can fight unauthorized (by Congress) wars in the first place. From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinstitute.org:

undefined

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) announced today that on Wednesday, June 6th, he will be holding a hearing on the enormous costs of the endless wars which continue to be fought under the 2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a press release from Paul’s office, the hearing “will explore both the financial impact and the constitutional implications of open-ended war under the existing Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and examine the potential ramifications if Congress adopts the revised AUMF proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).”

Unlike the great majority of Congressional hearings, Paul’s line-up of witnesses actually promises to provide some serious debate and cogent analysis of the issue. Noted Constitutional scholars Judge Andrew Napolitano (a member of the Ron Paul Institute Board) and Professor Jonathan Turley will provide expert testimony. The two will be joined by Christopher Anders, Deputy Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The Corker/Kaine revised AUMF is sold as Congress finally waking up to its Constitutional war obligations, but as Sen. Paul has noted in a letter to his Senate colleagues, “it is clear upon reading that the Kaine/Corker AUMF gives nearly unlimited power to this or any President to be at war anywhere, anytime and against anyone, with minimal justification and no prior specific authority.”

By many estimates, Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost the American taxpayer close to $3 trillion with no end in sight and no “victory” in sight. That does not include money spent to overthrow and murder Libya’s Gaddafi, to raise an army of jihadists to overthrow Assad in Syria, and to expand the US military presence to 50 out of 53 African countries. And, of course, to backstop Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen.

Sen. Paul’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management will take place on June 6th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time in SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/congress-alert/2018/june/04/sen-paul-to-hold-hearing-on-unauthorized-war-s-effect-on-federal-spending/

Clapper: The U.S. Meddled In Foreign Elections And Conducted Regime Change In The “Best Interests Of The People”, by Tyler Durden

When the US government (insert crime or illicit or immoral acts) it’s okay. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Former head of US Intelligence James Clapper just admitted that the United States was simply looking out for citizens of various countries “when we tried to manipulate or influence elections or even overturned governments,” a statement directly at odds with the moral high ground claimed by President Obama and other US officials on the topic of Russian election meddling.

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Tobin Harshaw published Saturday, Clapper – who is promoting his new book “Facts and Fears,” said “I guess the way I think about that is that through our history, when we tried to manipulate or influence elections or even overturned governments, it was done with the best interests of the people in that country in mind,’ adding that the US has a “traditional reverence for human rights.”

According to a February 2016 report by Dov H. Levin, the United States has engaged in over 80 instances of election meddling or regime change between 1946 and 2000, while a February analysis by the New York Times notes that election meddling is hardly unprecedented.

“If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States “absolutely” has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, “and I hope we keep doing it.”NYT

We’ve been doing this kind of thing since the C.I.A. was created in 1947,” said Loch K. Johnson, a University of Georgia professor who began his career in the 1970s investigating the CIA for the Senate.

We’ve used posters, pamphlets, mailers, banners — you name it. We’ve planted false information in foreign newspapers. We’ve used what the British call ‘King George’s cavalry’: suitcases of cash.”

Don’t forget, the United States has been supporting Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria – guys who were undoubtedly high-fiving on 9/11, in order to overthrow Syrian President Bashir al Assad (in the best interests of Syrian people, we’re sure).

And while the United States has been conducting regime change and election meddling for over 70 years, President Obama’s stated foreign policy objectives as summed up in a November 2016 report in the Washington Post: “not every global problem has an American solution.”

“Obama had run on a platform of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and regaining the trust of the world. Facing the most significant financial crisis in generations, he stressed the importance of sharing more of the burdens and responsibilities of global leadership with others.

In other words; the United States will meddle in elections and conduct regime change, but when it comes to dealing with the fallout, not our problem. Hilarious.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-03/clapper-us-meddled-foreign-elections-and-conducted-regime-change-best-interests

Visa Goes Down in the UK, Chaos Ensues, Cash is Suddenly King, by Don Quijones

Cash is almost universally disparaged among the high and the mighty, but what happens when the credit cards’ systems crash? From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

War on Cash Suffers Setback.

For over 12 hours on Friday, shopping centers in the UK and other parts of Europe were plunged into chaos as millions of consumers were unable to use their Visa debit or credit cards at points of sale. The credit card company, which was finally able to restore normal service early Saturday morning, said it had no reason to believe the hardware failure was due to “any unauthorized access or malicious event”.

While the mayhem caused by the outage may have been short lived, it served as a stark reminder of the risks, both for consumers and retailers, of depending purely on cashless payments. In the UK, the chaos unleashed was particularly acute since it is one of the world’s most cashless economies, pipped to the post only by Canada and Sweden, as a recent study by industry analysts reported.

In 2017, cards overtook cash for retail payments in UK for the first time ever, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium. According to Visa, payment processing through its systems accounts for a staggering £1 in every £3 of all retail spending in the UK. Which is why, when those systems stopped working yesterday, the chaos was greater in the UK than almost anywhere else as cashless customers missed trains, were unable to fill up their cars, pay for their groceries, or even clear their bar tab — this was Friday, after all!

“There is never a good time for the payments system to go down but a Friday afternoon, when there is a flood of people leaving work, must be among the worst,” one banking industry source said. The only way for people to pay for stuff was with co-branded Mastercard cards, or hard cold cash. Luckily, Visa cards were still working at ATMs, although the queues were considerably longer than normal.

To continue reading: Visa Goes Down in the UK, Chaos Ensues, Cash is Suddenly King

Three critical lessons from Europe’s recent mini-meltdown, by Simon Black

Italy illustrates the important, and disturbing, interlinkages in the global financial system. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Trying to trace the origins of the latest political crisis in Italy is like… well… trying to trace the origins of the decline of the Roman Empire.

There simply is no good starting point.

You can’t talk about the decline of Rome without a lengthy discussion of how destructive Diocletian’s Edict on Wages and Prices was in the early 4th century.

But you’d have to go further back than that and discuss all the lunatic emperors preceding him, all the way back to Caligula.

But you can’t talk about Caligula without bringing up the effects of the civil war between Octavian and Marc Antony… which was a direct result of the previous civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompeius Magnus.

Before long you’ve gone back in time more than 500 years trying to figure out why the Roman Empire collapsed.

Modern Italy isn’t so different. After all, this is a country so unstable that it’s had 64 governments in the seven decades since the end of World War II, averaging a new government every 14 months.

That has to be some kind of world record.

And to accurately diagnose how Italy ended up in such dire financial and political turmoil, you’d have to go back a -very- long way.

But for the sake of brevity, we’ll just go back to March. Italy held elections, and the “5-Star Movement” political party won the most seats… but not a clear majority.

This required them to establish a coalition with other political parties, which took weeks of haggling and negotiating.

But finally the 5-Star Movement was able to hammer out a deal and present a formal plan to Italy’s head of state, President Sergio Mattarella.

The President of Italy is almost purely a ceremonial role, like the Queen of England. But he does have the authority to reject key government appointments, including Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

And that’s exactly what he did– specifically opposing the nominee for Finance Minister, an economist named Paolo Savona.

Savona is a huge critic of the euro, and President Mattarella thought him too dangerous for the post.

Again, while the origins are more complicated than that, this is the basic plotline behind the most recent crisis.

Late Thursday night the Italian government announced a compromise, supposedly bringing an end to the uncertainty.

But to me, none of that matters. What I find -really- important is what an enormous impact this soap opera had across the world. And I think there are three critical lessons to take away:

1) On the day that the finance minster was rejected, financial markets worldwide tanked.

To continue reading: Three critical lessons from Europe’s recent mini-meltdown

America’s long-term challenge #3: destruction of the currency, by Simon Black

Inflation is a thief so subtle that most people have no idea they’re getting robbed. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

On April 2, 1792, George Washington signed into law what’s commonly referred to as the Mint and Coinage Act.

It was one of the first major pieces of legislation in the young country’s history… and it was an important one, because it formally created the United States dollar.

Under the Act, the US dollar was defined as a particular amount of copper, silver, or gold. It wasn’t just a piece of paper.

A $10 “eagle” coin, for example, was 16.04 grams of pure gold, whereas a 1 cent coin was 17.1 grams of copper.

The ratios between gold, silver, and copper were all fixed back then.

But if we apply today’s gold price of $1292 per troy ounce, we can see that the current value of the original dollar as defined by the Mint and Coinage Act of 1792 is roughly $66.75.

In other words, the dollar has lost 98.5% of its value since 1792.

What’s incredible about this constant, steady destruction of the currency is how subtle it is.

Few people seem to notice, because modern day central bankers try to “manage” inflation between 2% to 3% per year.

2% to 3% per year is pretty trivial. But it happens again the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.

After a decade or so, it really starts to add up.

But there’s an important, other side of the equation: income.

Costs are clearly rising. And it’s fair to say that incomes have been rising too. But which one has risen more?

In 1982, back when I was a toddler, the price of a Ford Mustang was $6,572. Today the cheapest Mustang starts at $25,680 according to Ford’s website.

So a Mustang today is around 4x as expensive as it was 36 years ago.

US Labor Department data from 1982 shows that average earnings were $309 per week, or $16,086 per year. That was enough to buy 2.45 Mustangs.

Today’s earnings are $881 per week, or $45,812 per year. That’s only enough to buy 1.78 Mustangs.

So when denominated in Ford Mustangs, people’s incomes have fallen 27.3% since 1982.

To continue reading: America’s long-term challenge #3: destruction of the currency

Yes, The U.S. Government Can Still Confiscate Gold, by Tom Lewis

In 1933, President Roosevelt made it illegal for private individuals to own gold. It could happen again. From Tom Lewis at goldtelegraph.com:

People around the world love gold. It has always been the most reliable hedge against economic uncertainty. Yet few people consider that the government (who is usually responsible for the turndown in the first place), has the authority to seize your gold.

Historically, the government will seize gold when it’s the most valuable, during times when its fiat currency has become utterly devalued. When President Roosevelt made ownership of gold bullions illegal in 1933, the move was preceded by the boom of the Roaring Twenties, then the crash of 1929. Although Roosevelt didn’t call it gold confiscation; he preferred the term “gold hoarding.”

By the 1930s, the US government was facing its most severe financial crisis, and it needed gold (something of value), to stimulate the economy that was running on the fumes of fiat currency. So, it took people’s gold. It was as simple as that. Non-compliance was threatened with severe punishment.

We may be facing another financial crisis, and it might be best to avoid the role of fugitive “gold hoarder.” At this point, it doesn’t make sense for the government to confiscate private gold, as a cashless society will indirectly control peoples finances.

Why would the government seize gold? In 1933, under the 1913 Federal Reserve Act, the dollar had to be backed by 40 percent gold. This would give the Federal Reserve room to print new money when needed. What’s a government to do when it needs to print money, but doesn’t have the gold reserves needed to back it up? It passes an Executive Order making gold ownership illegal but buys up the illegal gold itself. That’s what Roosevelt did. When the government continued to print more money, it declared ownership of silver illegal a year later.

To continue reading: Yes, The U.S. Government Can Still Confiscate Gold