Search results for: Blind Americans Equality Day

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims October 15, 2017, as Blind Americans Equality Day

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

BLIND AMERICANS EQUALITY DAY, 2017

– – – – – – – 

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION


On Blind Americans Equality Day, we celebrate the achievements of our blind and visually impaired citizens.  These individuals make meaningful contributions every day to our country, enhancing and strengthening our communities and our culture.  On this day, we reflect as a Nation on how we will continue to set the global standard in ensuring that our blind and visually impaired citizens live in communities of opportunity, respect, and civic engagement.  Not only do the blind and visually impaired deserve to live in such communities, but we know that when they do, our schools, businesses, and society are stronger and more vibrant. 

Blind and visually impaired Americans face unique barriers and obstacles in their lives as they strive to achieve their goals and aspirations.  As a Nation, we will work to eliminate those hindrances and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.  Through technological advances, job training and educational opportunities, and the engagement of business and industry leaders, our blind and visually impaired citizens can continue to enrich our Nation with their gifts and talents and write their own stories of success.  

My Administration plans to create 25 million new American jobs over the next decade that will ignite economic growth, allowing all our citizens, including millions of Americans with disabilities, to reach their full potential and enjoy greater prosperity.  By Executive Order on June 15, 2017, we expanded apprenticeships, giving more Americans, including individuals with disabilities, access to relevant skills and the tools they need to secure high-paying jobs.  Paid apprenticeships are critical positions in our economy, as they provide the opportunity to develop skills that meet the needs of employers and add value to the workplace.  My Administration's existing and forthcoming workforce initiatives will provide increased opportunities for blind and visually impaired Americans to realize their aspirations and achieve success, inclusion, and independence. 

By joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964 (Public Law 88-628, as amended), the Congress designated October 15 of each year as “White Cane Safety Day” to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have impaired vision.  Today, we rededicate our efforts and continue working to ensure all Americans, including those who are blind or visually impaired, have every opportunity to achieve success.   

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2017, as a day to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments and contributions of blind and visually impaired Americans.  I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities to reaffirm our commitment to achieving equality for all Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

Vía White House.gov Press Office Feed http://ift.tt/2ymvEAy

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An Xmas Message From Satan – “Ignorance, My Poor Dear Americans, Will Not Save You”

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMind blog,

The Devil pens a holiday letter.

Through means I am unable to disclose, I have obtained a copy of the Devil's Christmas letter. Yes, Satan too sends a Yule letter, and no, I was not on his mailing list. I think Satan's Holiday cheer should give us all pause.

"To my fallen angels Beelzebub, Lucifer and Leviathan, princes of Hell's demons, and to my minions, lackeys, toadies and sycophants on Earth:

Due to the high cost of postage, please accept this miserly digital version of my holiday missive.

As you know, this time of year usually finds me quite despondent, as the Prince of Peace's influence waxes most atrociously around his birthday. But this year I am in fine spirits, nay, let me even declare myself absolutely giddy, for the destruction of the United States of America by its own citizenry and government draws ever nearer.

Though my minions have long sown festering seeds of hate and disharmony in that now-benighted land, my favored weapons of destruction–leverage, debt, half-truths and endless, self-serving justifications for greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, anger and gluttony–have wormed their way into the stricken heart of that Republic and are now the default setting of American culture.

My minions in the Federal Reserve – such loyal servants! – continue feeding an orgy of leverage and debt, spreading ruination under the false guise of prosperity. What a delicious irony, that the fools doomed to eternal damnation in my Empire believe themselves prosperous as they absorb the poison of exponentially rising leverage and debt.

My lackeys in the Central State have made a mockery of the rule of law, letting financial crimes go not just unpunished but rewarded. The blatant injustice that roams the land like a foul, slobbering beast–there are two sets of laws and two sets of books now, one for the financial Elites and their political toadies, and another one for the tax donkeys beneath them–this will eventually ignite the firestorm I seek.

American extravagance has surpassed even my highest expectations, as purveyors of luxury goods reap record profits, and the childish desire for instant gratification has become the unspoken ruler of the land. Convenience is now worshipped as a god, sitting triumphant beside entitlement, greed, indignation and willful ignorance.

Convenience is, as you all know, the name of a peculiarly slick slide into Hell.

One of my favorite sins, gluttony, is running amok, with half of the people groaning under their own weight, sickened and weakened. My loyal minions in the fast-food and packaged food industries have followed my plans to perfection, and my lackeys in the marketing and media have fueled the instant gratification and ignorance which insidiously undermine even the greatest empires.

Pride–oh, how the Americans excel at hubris and pride! The Federal Reserve chairperson, bless her doomed soul, has declared herself 100% confident about an economy that is nothing but a confidence game. Oh, what joy to hear her lies spoken with such confidence!

The mere thought of the word greed cause me to chuckle delightedly, as the U.S. excels as a haven for greed without bounds, a greed so boundless that the entire universe would be insufficient to satisfy its bankers, hedge fund managers, high-frequency traders, Imperial factotums and politicians. How happy I am to see their greed grease their way into Hell.

I feel like dancing a jig when I hear the unbridled sense of entitlement which has poisoned the American spirit. Yes, let greed and avarice be cloaked with rationalizations–"I was promised," "It's my right," "I deserve it"–it is wondrous indeed how my secret invention, "free money," debilitates once-independent souls.

Anger is now overflowing everywhere, building my empire with every thoughtless word. Politicians rage against each other, the people rage against the politicians, and behind the scenes my servants in the political action committees feed the anger with billions of dollars in campaign donations. How amusing to see the politicos lay claim to noble ideals even as they scramble on their knees to collect the millions tossed at their feet to do my bidding.

Oh yes, my bidding, for their greed, pride and anger are my bidding. By all means, politicians, do my work: give tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy, let financial crimes go unpunished, allow the financial Elites' looting to go unhindered, transfer the wealth earned by the citizens' sweat to the financial Elites when their trillion-dollar bets go bad–fuel the anger which will tear you from power, and tear the country apart.

 


This chart of rising wealth inequality warms my heart, for it will foment revolution as night follows day.

The nation bleeds itself with unwinnable wars, sacrificing its youth on the altar of endless war–how can I not rejoice at this orgy of death, destruction and sowing of hate? The feeble liars at the nation's helm print endless sums to fund war and to prop up vile tyrants, but offer nothing for libraries or literacy or the curing of malaria. How can I not rejoice at a nation which finds trillions for war and next to nothing to fight the diseases of the poor residents of former colonies, including that Prince of Disease, ignorance.

As for sloth–that millions are being paid to sit around watching television instead of being productive creates the perfect breeding ground for resentment, malice and envy. How perfect to pay people to sit at home and rot away, with only their discontent and despair for company.

As you know all too well, idle hands end up doing my piecework for free.

It was almost beyond my dreams to find the nation's wealth and politics so dominated by a tiny handful of wealthy financial plutocrats–they are doing my bidding without hindrance, though I see by their troubled sleep that they know where their greed and rationalizations are taking them. To channel the nation's wealth to a few hands–what better way to nurture envy and anger?

If ignorance were treasure, the American political class must be declared wealthier than Midas, for its ignorance and hubris have reached a pinnacle I can truly admire. Ensnared by their lust for power, blinded by their greed for fame and perquisites, they look no further than the next election cycle, dooming their nation to division, disharmony and the desolation of permanent conflict over the dwindling productive assets of this once-great nation.

The people cry out to be saved by the government, as if it was a Savior instead of a vast machine consolidating the wealth of the nation in the hands of the few at the expense of the many, "investing" it in corruption, parasitic financial schemes, military misadventures, Homeland "Security"–ha, isn't that a jewel, as the nation withers from within–and the unyielding oppression of the remaining productive members of society.

The leaders are themselves leaderless, blank, hollowed-out souls doing the bidding of their parasitic masters, focused only on keeping the corrupt and venal status quo together for a few more months, never looking out ten years. Political expediency is my favored tool, and it is now the default mode of the nation's corrupted political class.

I delight in that shortsightedness, that abject fear of change and transformation, that clinging to failure and pride, that refusal to face reality.

For the U.S.A. is now an Empire of Debt and Lies, its fraudulent financial system built on misrepresentations of risk and value, and its economy a con game based on illusory wealth, parasitic skimming, and government protection of privilege.

This adolescent desire to believe the lies, because in believing the lies then nothing need change–this might be my most powerful destructive tool.

A hunger for fantasy and illusion, a fear of adaptation, a childish demand for instant gratification–these are forces I can rely on to lead the once-great country to absolute ruin.

And here is the beautifully evil part, my minions–no external enemy is required. The Americans are destroying themselves with their reliance on leverage, debt, denial, half-truths and overflowing servings of the Seven Deadly Sins, all of which they have elevated to "assets" in their hopelessly twisted values. To be supremely unproductive, a churner of lies and financial trickery, is now the most rewarded and admired state in America.

The spiritual rot is now so deep and pervasive that the people no longer even recognize the decay–they have been lulled into a false belief that this culture of fraud, embezzlement, manipulations, propaganda and parasitic financial Elites has always held sway. This is precisely how a people act when they have lost their way, spiritually and morally: they elevate sins to virtues, and forget the lessons of their past.

And of course everyone claiming that there is no spiritual vacuum sucking the nation dry, that the status quo is simply "business as usual"–they are doing my work, too, for habituating to all that is corrupt and reprehensible, all that is lacking in integrity and honesty, this is doing my work most admirably.

Americans no longer hate me, they hate sacrifice, with a passion that enlivens my enthusiasm for their self-destruction.

How can I not be pleased this season? At long last, the destruction of the United States by its own citizens is close at hand. Give me ten years, minions, and I shall insure they will finally begin reaping what they have sown.

Ignorance, my poor dear Americans, will not save you, nor will your endless parade of excuses, justifications and rationalizations. Indeed, they are my weapons which you drive deeper into your nation's heart with every lie, every excuse, every frantic justification for your own entitlement.

I await 2016 with high expectations.

Most sincerely yours,
Satan


via Zero Hedge Read More Here..

The Devil’s Holiday Letter: 2015

http://ift.tt/1RXfX3N

Through means I am unable to disclose, I have obtained a copy of the Devil’s Christmas letter. Yes, Satan too sends a Yule letter, and no, I was not on his mailing list. I think Satan’s Holiday cheer should give us all pause.

“To my fallen angels Beelzebub, Lucifer and Leviathan, princes of Hell’s demons, and to my minions, lackeys, toadies and sycophants on Earth:

Due to the high cost of postage, please accept this miserly digital version of my holiday missive.

As you know, this time of year usually finds me quite despondent, as the Prince of Peace’s influence waxes most atrociously around his birthday. But this year I am in fine spirits, nay, let me even declare myself absolutely giddy, for the destruction of the United States of America by its own citizenry and government draws ever nearer.

Though my minions have long sown festering seeds of hate and disharmony in that now-benighted land, my favored weapons of destruction–leverage, debt, half-truths and endless, self-serving justifications for greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, anger and gluttony–have wormed their way into the stricken heart of that Republic and are now the default setting of American culture.

My minions in the Federal Reserve–such loyal servants!–continue feeding an orgy of leverage and debt, spreading ruination under the false guise of prosperity. What a delicious irony, that the fools doomed to eternal damnation in my Empire believe themselves prosperous as they absorb the poison of exponentially rising leverage and debt.

My lackeys in the Central State have made a mockery of the rule of law, letting financial crimes go not just unpunished but rewarded. The blatant injustice that roams the land like a foul, slobbering beast–there are two sets of laws and two sets of books now, one for the financial Elites and their political toadies, and another one for the tax donkeys beneath them–this will eventually ignite the firestorm I seek.

American extravagance has surpassed even my highest expectations, as purveyors of luxury goods reap record profits, and the childish desire for instant gratification has become the unspoken ruler of the land. Convenience is now worshipped as a god, sitting triumphant beside entitlement, greed, indignation and willful ignorance.

Convenience is, as you all know, the name of a peculiarly slick slide into Hell.

One of my favorite sins, gluttony, is running amok, with half of the people groaning under their own weight, sickened and weakened. My loyal minions in the fast-food and packaged food industries have followed my plans to perfection, and my lackeys in the marketing and media have fueled the instant gratification and ignorance which insidiously undermine even the greatest empires.

Pride–oh, how the Americans excel at hubris and pride! The Federal Reserve chairperson, bless her doomed soul, has declared herself 100% confident about an economy that is nothing but a confidence game. Oh, what joy to hear her lies spoken with such confidence!

The mere thought of the word greed cause me to chuckle delightedly, as the U.S. excels as a haven for greed without bounds, a greed so boundless that the entire universe would be insufficient to satisfy its bankers, hedge fund managers, high-frequency traders, Imperial factotums and politicians. How happy I am to see their greed grease their way into Hell.

I feel like dancing a jig when I hear the unbridled sense of entitlement which has poisoned the American spirit. Yes, let greed and avarice be cloaked with rationalizations–“I was promised,” “It’s my right,” “I deserve it”–it is wondrous indeed how my secret invention, “free money,” debilitates once-independent souls.

Anger is now overflowing everywhere, building my empire with every thoughtless word. Politicians rage against each other, the people rage against the politicians, and behind the scenes my servants in the political action committees feed the anger with billions of dollars in campaign donations. How amusing to see the politicos lay claim to noble ideals even as they scramble on their knees to collect the millions tossed at their feet to do my bidding.

Oh yes, my bidding, for their greed, pride and anger are my bidding. By all means, politicians, do my work: give tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy, let financial crimes go unpunished, allow the financial Elites’ looting to go unhindered, transfer the wealth earned by the citizens’ sweat to the financial Elites when their trillion-dollar bets go bad–fuel the anger which will tear you from power, and tear the country apart.


This chart of rising wealth inequality warms my heart, for it will foment revolution as night follows day.

The nation bleeds itself with unwinnable wars, sacrificing its youth on the altar of endless war–how can I not rejoice at this orgy of death, destruction and sowing of hate? The feeble liars at the nation’s helm print endless sums to fund war and to prop up vile tyrants, but offer nothing for libraries or literacy or the curing of malaria. How can I not rejoice at a nation which finds trillions for war and next to nothing to fight the diseases of the poor residents of former colonies, including that Prince of Disease, ignorance.

As for sloth–that millions are being paid to sit around watching television instead of being productive creates the perfect breeding ground for resentment, malice and envy. How perfect to pay people to sit at home and rot away, with only their discontent and despair for company.

As you know all too well, idle hands end up doing my piecework for free.

It was almost beyond my dreams to find the nation’s wealth and politics so dominated by a tiny handful of wealthy financial plutocrats–they are doing my bidding without hindrance, though I see by their troubled sleep that they know where their greed and rationalizations are taking them. To channel the nation’s wealth to a few hands–what better way to nurture envy and anger?

If ignorance were treasure, the American political class must be declared wealthier than Midas, for its ignorance and hubris have reached a pinnacle I can truly admire. Ensnared by their lust for power, blinded by their greed for fame and perquisites, they look no further than the next election cycle, dooming their nation to division, disharmony and the desolation of permanent conflict over the dwindling productive assets of this once-great nation.

The people cry out to be saved by the government, as if it was a Savior instead of a vast machine consolidating the wealth of the nation in the hands of the few at the expense of the many, “investing” it in corruption, parasitic financial schemes, military misadventures, Homeland “Security”–ha, isn’t that a jewel, as the nation withers from within–and the unyielding oppression of the remaining productive members of society.

The leaders are themselves leaderless, blank, hollowed-out souls doing the bidding of their parasitic masters, focused only on keeping the corrupt and venal status quo together for a few more months, never looking out ten years. Political expediency is my favored tool, and it is now the default mode of the nation’s corrupted political class.

I delight in that shortsightedness, that abject fear of change and transformation, that clinging to failure and pride, that refusal to face reality.

For the U.S.A. is now an Empire of Debt and Lies, its fraudulent financial system built on misrepresentations of risk and value, and its economy a con game based on illusory wealth, parasitic skimming, and government protection of privilege.

This adolescent desire to believe the lies, because in believing the lies then nothing need change–this might be my most powerful destructive tool.

A hunger for fantasy and illusion, a fear of adaptation, a childish demand for instant gratification–these are forces I can rely on to lead the once-great country to absolute ruin.

And here is the beautifully evil part, my minions–no external enemy is required. The Americans are destroying themselves with their reliance on leverage, debt, denial, half-truths and overflowing servings of the Seven Deadly Sins, all of which they have elevated to “assets” in their hopelessly twisted values. To be supremely unproductive, a churner of lies and financial trickery, is now the most rewarded and admired state in America.

The spiritual rot is now so deep and pervasive that the people no longer even recognize the decay–they have been lulled into a false belief that this culture of fraud, embezzlement, manipulations, propaganda and parasitic financial Elites has always held sway. This is precisely how a people act when they have lost their way, spiritually and morally: they elevate sins to virtues, and forget the lessons of their past.

And of course everyone claiming that there is no spiritual vacuum sucking the nation dry, that the status quo is simply “business as usual”–they are doing my work, too, for habituating to all that is corrupt and reprehensible, all that is lacking in integrity and honesty, this is doing my work most admirably.

Americans no longer hate me, they hate sacrifice, with a passion that enlivens my enthusiasm for their self-destruction.

How can I not be pleased this season? At long last, the destruction of the United States by its own citizens is close at hand. Give me ten years, minions, and I shall insure they will finally begin reaping what they have sown.

Ignorance, my poor dear Americans, will not save you, nor will your endless parade of excuses, justifications and rationalizations. Indeed, they are my weapons which you drive deeper into your nation’s heart with every lie, every excuse, every frantic justification for your own entitlement.

I await 2016 with high expectations.

Most sincerely yours,
Satan

Vía Max Keiser http://ift.tt/1OgNKHh

Americans Still Have NO CLUE About How Much Inequality We Have

Even years after the Occupy protests (love 'em or hate 'em, they focused attention on inequality), Americans are still clueless about how much inequality we have in our country.

As we noted in 2011:

Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School demonstrateAmericans consistently underestimate the amount of inequality in our nation.

 

As William Alden wrote last September:

Americans vastly underestimate the degree of wealth inequality in America, and we believe that the distribution should be far more equitable than it actually is, according to a new study.

 

Or, as the study’s authors put it: “All demographic groups — even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution such as Republicans and the wealthy — desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.”

 

The report … “Building a Better America — One Wealth Quintile At A Time” by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School … shows that across ideological, economic and gender groups, Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent.

(Indeed, even those who assume they're educated about inequality may not realize that we're at lord and serf levels.)

Ariely subsequently explained that both Republicans and Democrats are passionately opposed to the degree of inequality we have in the U.S. … but that politicians may be trying to make us think we’re more equal than we really are (The media and Wall Street are also trying to hide the size of the gap).

Les Leopold reports today on a new study which confirms how clueless Americans are about inequality:

A[n] important study ("How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay") by Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael I. Norton provides insight on why Americans aren't more upset about rising inequality: It shows we are clueless about how bad it really is. Their analysis of a 2009 international survey of 55,187 people from 40 countries, found that when it comes to understanding the severity of inequality, we're the most clueless of all.

 

Americans are virtually blind to the growing gap between CEO pay and the pay of the average worker. As the chart below shows that gap has increased dramatically. In 1965, for every dollar earned by the average worker, CEOs earned 20 dollars. By 2012, that gap mushroomed to 354 to one.

 

2014-11-15-aflwagegap.JPG

 

But, when asked in the survey, Americans grossly underestimated this gap. Instead of 354 to 1, the Americans in representative survey think it is only 30 to 1. When asked what the ideal pay gap should be, Americans say that a fair gap would be about 7 to 1.

 

More amazing still, the survey results, combined for all countries, show that the misconception of inequality doesn't significantly vary by age, gender, income, political leanings or education.

 

To see if these finding also hold for the U.S., I waded into the database: Does political affiliation and education impact how the 1,581 Americans in the survey estimated the wage gap? (The data comes from the International Social Survey Programme: Social Inequality IV – ISSP 2009 on the website Gesis. )

 

2014-11-15-paygapbypartyandeducation.JPG

 

As the chart above shows, "Strong Democrats" estimated that the actual ratio between a CEO of a large corporation and an unskilled factory worker was about 36 to 1. "Strong Republicans" said it was 40 to 1. A difference without a distinction.

 

When it comes to offering opinions about what the wage gap should be, the Strong Democrats thought 5 to 1 was about right, while the Strong Republicans thought it should be about 12 to 1. The two political extremes obviously are much closer to each other than to the current reality of 354 to 1.

 

***

 

When it comes to our ignorance of the pay gap, there are no blue states, no red states — only misinformed states of mind. We're the Know-Nothings of inequality.

 

Why are we so blind to inequality?
Most of us have no idea that our golden land of opportunity is the runaway leader among developed nations when it comes to inequality, (see chart below.) This dubious distinction runs counter to American Dream that we've been indoctrinated with since birth. As a result, we reflexively think that America is epitome of democracy — the fairest most just and most upwardly mobile country in history. That makes it hard for us to account for why we are more unequal than all these other countries. So, I suspect many of us just tune out the data. It's too jarring to the deep-seated doctrines that comprise our national identity.

 

***

 

We may still be living with this cultural hangover and operating from a societal self-image from yesteryear. We are likely to cling to it for quite awhile, in part, because it's comforting as new economic insecurities take hold. As workers from other nations pass us by, we look in the mirror and still hope we are the fairest of them all.

And see this.

Postscript: Occupy organizer David DeGraw says that – if people knew how much inequality we really have – they would revolt.  He may be right.




via Zero Hedge Read More Here..

Americans Have Lost VIRTUALLY ALL of Our Constitutional Rights

https://i2.wp.com/www.theispot.com/images/source/FredaLibertyUpended1.jpgPainting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

 

This post explains the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights – the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution – and provides a scorecard on the extent of the loss of each right.  (This is an updated version of an essay we wrote in February.  Unfortunately, a lot of information has come out since then.)

First Amendment

The 1st Amendment protects speech, religion, assembly and the press:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Supreme Court has also interpreted the First Amendment as protecting freedom of association.

However, the government is arresting those speaking out … and violently crushing peaceful assemblies which attempt to petition the government for redress.

A federal judge found that the law allowing indefinite detention of Americans without due process has a “chilling effect” on free speech. And see this and this.

There are also enacted laws allowing the secret service to arrest anyone protesting near the president or other designated folks (that might explain incidents like this).

Mass spying by the NSA violates our freedom of association.

The threat of being labeled a terrorist for exercising our First Amendment rights certainly violates the First Amendment. The government is using laws to crush dissent, and it’s gotten so bad that even U.S. Supreme Court justices are saying that we are descending into tyranny.

For example, the following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a “suspected terrorist” today:

And holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

Of course, Muslims are more or less subject to a separate system of justice in America.

And 1st Amendment rights are especially chilled when power has become so concentrated that the same agency which spies on all Americans also decides who should be assassinated.

Second Amendment

The 2nd Amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Gun control and gun rights advocates obviously have very different views about whether guns are a force for violence or for good.

But even a top liberal Constitutional law expert reluctantly admits that the right to own a gun is as important a Constitutional right as freedom of speech or religion:

Like many academics, I was happy to blissfully ignore the Second Amendment. It did not fit neatly into my socially liberal agenda.

 

***

 

It is hard to read the Second Amendment and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.

 

Yet, if true, the Second Amendment would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the Second Amendment and, since the District and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the Second Amendment would be read out of existence.

 

***

 

More important, the mere reference to a purpose of the Second Amendment does not alter the fact that an individual right is created. The right of the people to keep and bear arms is stated in the same way as the right to free speech or free press. The statement of a purpose was intended to reaffirm the power of the states and the people against the central government. At the time, many feared the federal government and its national army. Gun ownership was viewed as a deterrent against abuse by the government, which would be less likely to mess with a well-armed populace.

 

Considering the Framers and their own traditions of hunting and self-defense, it is clear that they would have viewed such ownership as an individual right — consistent with the plain meaning of the amendment.

 

None of this is easy for someone raised to believe that the Second Amendment was the dividing line between the enlightenment and the dark ages of American culture. Yet, it is time to honestly reconsider this amendment and admit that … here’s the really hard part … the NRA may have been right. This does not mean that Charlton Heston is the new Rosa Parks or that no restrictions can be placed on gun ownership. But it does appear that gun ownership was made a protected right by the Framers and, while we might not celebrate it, it is time that we recognize it.

The gun control debate – including which weapons and magazines are banned – is still in flux …

Third Amendment

The 3rd Amendment prohibits the government forcing people to house soldiers:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

While a recent lawsuit by a Nevada family – covered by (Mother Jones, Fox News and Courthouse News – alleges violation of the Third Amendment, this appears to be an isolated incident and an aberration.

So we’ll count this as an Amendment which is still being honored! Score one for We the People!

 In America, Journalists Are Considered Terrorists
Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Fourth Amendment

The 4th Amendment prevents unlawful search and seizure:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

But the government is spying on everything we dowithout any real benefit or justification.

Indeed, experts say that the type of spying being carried out by the NSA and other agencies is exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War.

And many Constitutional experts – such as Jonathan Turley – think that the police went too far in Boston with lockdowns and involuntary door-to-door searches.


Paintings by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Fifth Amendment

The 5th Amendment addresses due process of law, eminent domain, double jeopardy and grand jury:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

But the American government has shredded the 5th Amendment by subjecting us to indefinite detention and taking away our due process rights.

The government claims the right to assassinate or indefinitely detain any American citizen on U.S. citizen without any due process. And see this.

As such, the government is certainly depriving people of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

There are additional corruptions of 5th Amendment rights – such as property being taken for private purposes.

The percentage of prosecutions in which a defendant is denied a grand jury is difficult to gauge, as there is so much secrecy surrounding many terrorism trials.

Protection against being tried twice for the same crime after being found innocent (“double jeopardy”) seems to be intact.  Hey … that’s two Constitutional rights which are still intact!

HUNG LIBERTY (NYSE)Image by William Banzai

Sixth Amendment

The 6th Amendment guarantees the right to hear the criminal charges levied against us and to be able to confront the witnesses who have testified against us, as well as speedy criminal trials, and a public defender for those who cannot hire an attorney:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Subjecting people to indefinite detention or assassination obviously violates the 6th Amendment right to a jury trial. In both cases, the defendants is “disposed of” without ever receiving a trial … and often without ever hearing the charges against them.

More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.

The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people. And see this and this.

Secret witnesses are being used in some cases. And sometimes lawyers are not even allowed to read their own briefs.

Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And it’s about to get a lot worse.

True – when defendants are afforded a jury trial – they are provided with assistance of counsel. However, the austerity caused by redistribution of wealth to the super-elite is causing severe budget cuts to the courts and the public defenders’ offices nationwide.

Moreover, there are two systems of justice in America … one for the big banks and other fatcats, and one for everyone else. The government made it official policy not to prosecute fraud, even though fraud is the main business model adopted by Wall Street. Indeed, the biggest financial crime in world history, the largest insider trading scandal of all time, illegal raiding of customer accounts and blatant financing of drug cartels and terrorists have all been committed recently without any real criminal prosecution or jail time.

On the other hand, government prosecutors are using the legal system to crush dissent and to silence whistleblowers.

And some of the nation’s most powerful judges have lost their independence … and are in bed with the powers-that-be.

Seventh Amendment

The 7th Amendment guarantees trial by jury in federal court for civil cases:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

As far as we know, this right is still being respected (that’s three rights still being followed).

However – as noted above – the austerity caused by redistribution of wealth to the super-elite is causing severe budget cuts to the courts, resulting in the wheels of justice slowing down considerably.

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com

Eighth Amendment

The 8th Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Indefinite detention and assassination are obviously cruel and unusual punishment.

The widespread system of torture carried out in the last 10 years – with the help of other countriesviolates the 8th Amendment. Many want to bring it back … or at least justify its past use.

While Justice Scalia disingenuously argues that torture does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment because it is meant to produce information – not punish – he’s wrong. It’s not only cruel and unusual … it is technically a form of terrorism.

And government whistleblowers are being cruelly and unusually punished with unduly harsh sentences meant to intimidate anyone else from speaking out.

Ninth Amendment

The 9th Amendment provides that people have other rights, even if they aren’t specifically listed in the Constitution:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

We can debate what our inherent rights as human beings are. I believe they include the right to a level playing field, and access to non-toxic food and water. You may disagree.

But everyone agrees that the government should not actively encourage fraud and manipulation. However, the government – through its malignant, symbiotic relation with big corporations – is interfering with our aspirations for economic freedom, safe food and water (instead of arsenic-laden, genetically engineered junk), freedom from undue health hazards such as irradiation due to government support of archaic nuclear power designs, and a level playing field (as opposed to our crony capitalist system in which the little guy has no shot due to redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the super-elite, and government support of white collar criminals).

By working hand-in-glove with giant corporations to defraud us into paying for a lower quality of life, the government is trampling our basic rights as human beings.

Tenth Amendment

The 10th Amendment provides that powers not specifically given to the Federal government are reserved to the states or individual:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Two of the central principles of America’s Founding Fathers are:

(1) The government is created and empowered with the consent of the people

and

 

(2) Separation of powers

Today, most Americans believe that the government is threatening – rather than protecting – freedom.  We’ve become more afraid of our government than of terrorists, and believe that the government is no longer acting with the “consent of the governed“.

And the federal government is trampling the separation of powers by stepping on the toes of the states and the people. For example, former head S&L prosecutor Bill Black – now a professor of law and economics – notes:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the resident examiners and regional staff of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [both] competed to weaken federal regulation and aggressively used the preemption doctrine to try to prevent state investigations of and actions against fraudulent mortgage lenders.

Indeed, the federal government is doing everything it can to stick its nose into every aspect of our lives … and act like Big Brother.

Conclusion: While a few of the liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights still exist, the vast majority are under heavy assault.

Other Constitutional Provisions … and The Declaration of Independence

In addition to the trampling of the Bill of Rights, the government has also trashed the separation of powers enshrined in the main body of the Constitution.

The government is also engaging in activities which the Founding Fathers fought against, such as taxation without representation (here and here), cronyism, deference to central banks, etc.

As thethe preamble to the Declaration of Independence shows, the American government is still carrying out many of the acts the Founding Fathers found most offensive:

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. [Background]

 

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Background here, here and here]

 

***

 

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: [Background]

 

***

 

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences [Background]

 

***

 

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. [Background]

 

***

 

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. [Background here, here and here]

    




via Zero Hedge Read More Here..

Socialism—what is it good for?

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Socialism: what is it good for?

By Jon Rappoport

CNBC: “Democrats view socialism more positively than capitalism, according to a new Gallup poll…”

To give you an idea of the deception inherent in socialism, here is a quote from none other than Andrew Carnegie, once one of the richest men in America:

“I believe Socialism is the grandest theory ever presented, and I am sure it will someday rule the world. Then we will have attained the Millennium…Then men will be content to work for the general welfare and share their riches with their neighbors.” (The New York Times, 1 January 1885, “A Millionaire Socialist”)

Carnegie, of course, like several of his ultra-rich compatriots, devised a method to give away his riches while keeping them: the non-profit foundation.

The last thing on Carnegie’s bloated mind was becoming “equal” with the great unwashed.

He was a liar of the first order. He recognized that, when you win the game of free enterprise, your most corrupt bet is to turn around and find every possible way to block others from winning. Then, you stand at the top of the heap, unchallenged.

That is exactly what he had in mind. That’s what socialism actually meant to him.

Let’s see socialism for what it is. Not in the abstract, but in reality.

Socialism is:

The taking of money (taxes) from some people who work for it and giving it to others who don’t work for it. On a grand scale.

The vast expansion of freebies doled out by central government. In order to create and sustain dependence.

The government protection of favored persons and corporations, permitting them and aiding them to expand their fortunes without limit, regardless of what crimes they commit in the process. (Monsanto would be a fine example.)

The squeezing out of those who would compete with the favored persons and corporations.

The dictatorship by and for the very wealthy, pretending to be the servant of the masses.

The lie that the dictatorship is being run by the masses.

The gradual lowering of the standard of living for the overwhelming number of people.

The propaganda claiming socialism is the path to a better world for all.

In other words, socialism is a protection racket and a long con and a heartless system of elite control, posing as the greatest good.

It is just another form of top-down tyranny—as old as the hills.

A year or two ago, a person living in Europe told me that the European Union was not a problem, because it was just another layer of socialism placed over the existing socialist governments of European nations, and no one really noticed the existence of the EU.

—As if blindness were a reason not to worry.

SOCIALISM WAS NEVER ABOUT UNIVERSAL EQUALITY AND UNIVERSAL SHARING.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNIVERSAL AND COMPLETE EQUALITY AND SHARING, ONLY A FAKE VERSION DICTATED FROM ABOVE.

Socialism is, in the minds of most people who advocate it, a vague sentiment about people being kinder to each other.

Consider this fatuous and ludicrous statement, uttered by the mob boss of bosses of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, in 1961: “The socialist economy has become so strong, so vigorous that from the summits we have reached we can issue an open challenge of peaceful economic competition to the most powerful capitalist country—the United States of America.”

Here is a correct translation: “Bankrolled and given vital technology by a few elites from the West, our vast society of socialist slave workers is now able to engage in capitalist competition with America.”

The raving of a madman.

Today’s youth who push and protest and riot and censor, on behalf of socialism, are working for the ultra-rich whom they despise.

That’s the long and short of “the glorious revolution.”

The Carnegies and Rockefellers of today (including a miniature Rockefeller named George Soros) have engaged the young as foot soldiers, and they know the young are willing dupes for socialism, because they created, for the young, an education system that makes them clueless and mindless.

The Carnegies and Rockefellers of today are saying: “Bring on the new world, the better world, the more just world, the happier world—whatever you want to call it—so we can run it from the top and show you what we really think of you. Make every conceivable lever of power ours, and then we’ll reveal what we really have planned for you.”

The prodigious author and researcher, Antony Sutton (1925-2002), wrote about hidden men (“socialists”) behind momentous events. He exposed their fraud of working for “the greater good.”

I recently came across a 1999 interview with Sutton, conducted by Kris Millegan, researcher and head of TrineDay publishers.

Millegan wrote about Antony Sutton in 1999: “Antony C. Sutton, 74, has been persecuted but never prosecuted for his research and subsequent publishing of his findings. His mainstream career was shattered by his devotion towards uncovering the truth. In 1968, his Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development was published by The Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Sutton showed how the Soviet state’s technological and manufacturing base, which was then engaged in supplying the North Vietnamese the armaments and supplies to kill and wound American soldiers, was built by US firms and mostly paid for by the US taxpayers. From their largest steel and iron plant, to automobile manufacturing equipment, to precision ball-bearings and computers, basically the majority of the Soviet’s large industrial enterprises had been built with the United States help or technical assistance.”

“…Then, someone sent Antony a membership list of Skull and Bones and— ‘a picture jumped out’. And what a picture! A multigenerational foreign-based secret society with fingers in all kinds of pies and roots going back to ‘Illuminati’ influences in 1830’s Germany.”

Here are excerpts from the 1999 interview:

Millegan – Can you tell the story of how you learned of Skull & Bones? And how you felt?

Sutton – I knew nothing of S&B until I received a letter in the early 80’s asking if I would like to look at a genuine membership list. For no real reason I said yes. It was agreed to send the package by Federal Express and I could keep it for 24 hours, it had to be returned to the safe. It was a “black bag” job by a family member disgusted with their activities.

For the benefit of any S&B members who may read and doubt the statement; the membership list is in two volumes, black leather bound. Living members and deceased members in separate volumes. Very handsome books.

I spent all night in Kinko’s, Santa Cruz, copied the entire volumes and returned within the 24 hour period.

I have never released any copies or identified the source. I figured each copy could be coded and enable S&B to trace the leak.

How did I feel? I felt then (as I do now} that these “prominent” men are really immature juveniles at heart. The horrible reality is that these little boys have been dominant in their influence in world affairs. No wonder we have wars and violence. Skull and Bones is the symbol of terrorist violence, pirates, the SS Deaths Head Division in WW Two, labels on poison bottles and so on.

I kept the stack of xerox sheets for quite a while before I looked at them—when I did look—a picture jumped out, THIS was a significant part of the so called [socialist] establishment. No wonder the world has problems!

Millegan: – What did your study of elites, economics, secrecy and technology do for your career?

Sutton – Depends what you mean by “career”?

By conventional standards I am an abject failure. I’ve been thrown out of two major Universities (UCLA and Stanford), denied tenure at Cal State Los Angeles. Every time I write something, it appears to offend someone in the Establishment and they throw me to the wolves.

On the other hand I’ve written 26 books, published a couple of newsletters and so on…even more important I’ve never compromised on the truth. And I don’t quit.

In material terms…hopeless failure. In terms of discovery…I think I’ve been successful. Judge a man by his enemies. William Buckley called me a “jerk”. Glenn Campbell, former Director of the Hoover Institution, Stanford called me “a problem”.

Millegan – Did any of Hitler’s economic policies threaten the interests of the international bankers, and if so did that play a role in his downfall?

Sutton – Hitler’s economic policies were OK’d by the bankers right through the war…ITT, Chase, Texaco and others were operating in Nazi-held France as late as 1945. In fact Chase in Paris was trying to get [acquire] Nazi accounts as late as 1944. When we got to Germany in May 1945, I remember seeing a (bombed-out) Woolworth store in Hamburg and thinking, “What’s Woolworth doing in Nazi Germany?” While we were bombed and shelled it was “business as usual” for Big Business. Try the Alien Custodian Papers.

…Union Banking is very important. I made a documentary for Dutch National TV some years ago. It got all the way through the production process to the Dutch TV Guide…at the last minute it was pulled and another film substituted. This documentary has proof of Bush financing Hitler—documents.

Maybe my Dutch friends will still get it viewed, but the [Skull&Bones] apparatus reaches into Holland.

Millegan – What is the story that was going to be told on Dutch TV? And what is the story of its censorship?

Sutton – Couple of years back, a Dutch TV production company from Amsterdam—under contract to Dutch National TV—came to US to make documentary on S&B [Skull and Bones]. They went to the Bones Temple and other places and interviewed people on East Coast. On West Coast, they interviewed myself and one other person.

I saw extracts from the original and it is a good professional job. They had documents linking Bush family and other S&B members to financing Hitler through Union Banking of New York and its Dutch correspondent bank. More than I have in [Sutton’s book] WALL STREET AND THE RISE OF HITLER.

The first version was later upgraded into a two part documentary and scheduled for showing this last March. It was pulled at last minute and has never been shown.

Millegan – What do you see for the future?

Suttton – Chaos, confusion and ultimately a battle between the individual and the State.

The individual is the stronger; and will win. The state is a fiction sanctified by Hegel and his followers to CONTROL the individual.

Sooner or later people will wake up. First we have to dump the trap of right and left, this is a Hegelian trap to divide and control. The battle is not between right and left; it is between us and them…

—end of interview excerpt—

Here is a telling Antony Sutton quote from his book, The Best Enemy Money Can Buy (1986):

“By using data of Russian origin it is possible to make an accurate analysis of the origins of this equipment. It was found that all the main diesel and steam-turbine propulsion systems of the ninety-six Soviet ships on the Haiphong supply run [to the North Vietnamese] that could be identified (i.e., eighty-four out of the ninety-six) originated in design or construction outside the USSR. We can conclude, therefore, that if the [US] State and Commerce Departments, in the 1950s and 1960s, had consistently enforced the legislation passed by Congress in 1949, the Soviets would not have had the ability to supply the Vietnamese War – and 50,000 more Americans and countless Vietnamese would be alive today.”

“Who were the government officials responsible for this transfer of known military technology? The concept originally came from National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, who reportedly sold President Nixon on the idea that giving military techno¬logy to the Soviets would temper their global territorial ambitions. How Henry arrived at this gigantic non sequitur is not known. Sufficient to state that he aroused considerable concern over his motivations. Not least that Henry had been a paid family employee of the Rockefellers since 1958 and has served as International Advisory Committee Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, a Rockefeller concern.”

If you think such traitorous actions could never have occurred, I point you to another researcher, Charles Higham, and his 1983 classic, Trading with the Enemy.

Higham focuses on World War 2. The men behind the curtain Higham exposed are in the same basic group that Antony Sutton exposed.

Higham, Trading with the Enemy:

“What would have happened if millions of American and British people, struggling with coupons and lines at the gas stations, had learned that in 1942 Standard Oil of New Jersey [part of the Rockefeller empire] managers shipped the enemy’s [Germany’s] fuel through neutral Switzerland and that the enemy was shipping Allied fuel? Suppose the public had discovered that the Chase Bank in Nazi-occupied Paris after Pearl Harbor was doing millions of dollars’ worth of business with the enemy with the full knowledge of the head office in Manhattan [the Rockefeller family among others?] Or that Ford trucks were being built for the German occupation troops in France with authorization from Dearborn, Michigan? Or that Colonel Sosthenes Behn, the head of the international American telephone conglomerate ITT, flew from New York to Madrid to Berne during the war to help improve Hitler’s communications systems and improve the robot bombs that devastated London? Or that ITT built the FockeWulfs that dropped bombs on British and American troops? Or that crucial ball bearings were shipped to Nazi-associated customers in Latin America with the collusion of the vice-chairman of the U.S. War Production Board in partnership with Goering’s cousin in Philadelphia when American forces were desperately short of them? Or that such arrangements were known about in Washington and either sanctioned or deliberately ignored?”

Getting the picture?

War, what is it good for? With the same “socialist” elites backing both sides, it’s good for business. It’s good for creating chaos and destruction. It’s good for launching new global organizations, in the aftermath; organizations that exert a level of control and reach that didn’t exist before. It’s good for launching organizations like the United Nations and the European Union and the World Trade Organization—dedicated to Globalism, which in turn is dedicated to planned civilization, in which the individual is demeaned and the group is All.

Freedom is demeaned; and dominance by the few over the many is hailed as peace in our time.

Vía Jon Rappoport’s Blog https://ift.tt/2Oz39EC

America’s Addictions – Opioids, Donald Trump, And War

Authored by Tom Engelhardt via TomDispatch.com,

When you think of addiction in America today, one thing comes to mind: the opioid epidemic. And it should. It’s serious. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost 64,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016 (more than died in the Vietnam War), an average of 175 people a day. In that year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 11.5 million Americans “misused” pain medication. (Note that such figures are still on the rise.) Only recently, the surgeon general issued a rare national advisory “urging more Americans to carry naloxone, a drug used to revive people overdosing on opioids.” This crisis of addiction has already cost the country an estimated $1 trillion since 2001 and might, in the next three years alone, cost more than half that much again.

The United States, however, has two other crises that, in the long run, will cost Americans far more. Yet they get remarkably little attention as addiction phenomena. The first is so obvious that no one should have to comment on it. Here’s the strange thing, though: it’s a rare moment when there’s any serious analysis of it or real attention given to it as an addiction.

This country (and above all its media) is addicted to Donald J. Trump in a way that no population, no media, possibly not even the Communist Chinese press in the days of Mao Zedong, ever was to any figure. Since he rode that Trump Tower escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 to the tune of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and took out after Mexican “rapists” and future Great Walls, no one — nothing — has ever been covered or attended to this way, online or off, in daily life or in our increasingly shared, increasingly addictive media life. (Yes, the Internet and social media are undoubtedly addictions of some sort, too, but let’s not head down that road or I’ll never stop writing!)

Not Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory, nor his tax “reform” gift to the 1%, nor his chance to appoint a second Supreme Court justice (with more openings likely to come) — none of these or anything else he’s done or is likely to do will qualify as the truest, deepest, most far-reaching of his triumphs. That can only be the unprecedented way he continues to draw attention. It represents a victory of the first order for him of a unique, almost incomprehensible sort, made more so by the inability of those who report on him to take in what’s happened to them or analyze their situation in any serious way.

Addicted to Trump

Donald J. Trump, as candidate and president, has trumped the attention span of this country, possibly of the planet. Eyes have been focused on him, his insults, his tweets, his passing thoughts, his every comment, his acts, major and minor, and the associated acts and reactions of those who circle around him, as never before in history — not for a king, an emperor, or a dictator, and certainly not for a president. His truest triumph has been to make himself into the voluntary drug of choice for most of a country and all of the media in a way we’ve never imagined possible, and for which, it seems, there is no naloxone.

He has, in the deepest sense, turned the media he loves to loathe, thrives on hating, into a genuine mechanism for producing “fake news” — about him. It’s only real news if you think that The Donald should be the focus of essentially everything, if you believe that nothing else on this planet should take place except refracted through him.

When it comes to the media in particular, Donald Trump is the opioid crisis. He’s their drug of choice. He gets them high. They can’t help themselves, nor can they stop. As head of CBS Leslie Moonves put it during election campaign 2016: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” And then he added, “The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this [is] going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

And it’s never ended. The president glues eyeballs to papers, to the endlessly talking heads on the cable news networks, to Twitter, to anything that now passes for media, at a time when so many news outfits are in so many other ways coming unglued. More reporters have undoubtedly been assigned to cover him and his acolytes than ever covered anything or anyone else on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis. Every day of Donald Trump’s life is, in coverage terms, something like the equivalent of the Kennedy assassination, which might be thought of as the first 24/7 TV event, or perhaps the 1994 O.J. Simpson white Ford Bronco car chase that was, in some strange way, a preview of this Trumpian media moment.

It really doesn’t matter much what the “story” is when it comes to his presidency. Whatever it is, it’s promptly swarmed by that media without the slightest sense of proportion or any feeling for what actually matters on this planet of ours. In almost every sense, in fact, Donald Trump now regularly blots out the sun.

Take a small incident just over two weeks ago. With a party of family members, Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stopped off at the Red Hen, a tiny farm-to-table restaurant in Lexington, Virginia. Mid-meal, she was asked to leave by the owner after staff members raised “concerns.” I’m only reminding you of this — a couple of weeks ago you undoubtedly could have told me every detail — because it’s already been consigned to the dust bin of history as other Trump-infused tales — from the resignation of Supreme Court justice Kennedy to prank-calling the president — have swept it aside. Of course, Sanders’s half-eaten dinner also helped sweep aside previous stories of our time like that message on the back of Melania Trump’s coat on her first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border (“I really don’t care. Do U?”).

When Sanders left that restaurant and then tweeted about it, a storm of coverage, as well as a firestorm of tweets, Facebook posts, insults, and praise about the judgment of the restaurant’s owner, arguments over the ideological polarization of the country, and so much else, including the “weaponization” of the restaurant-review website Yelp, flooded over us. Unrelated restaurants with “Red Hen” in their name elsewhere in the country (or even the world) received threats of all sorts and were inundated with insulting messages as were shops and restaurants that happened to be located near the actual Red Hen.

The story became front-page news nationwide and, for instance, led NBC Nightly News(which I happened to watch) on the evening that the stock market swooned over trade-war fears. In my own hometown paper, the New York Times, it was a front-page story and not one but two reporters were assigned to a crucial sideline piece about why President Trump’s Twitter finger was so slow; why, that is, he waited 48 hours — two full days! — before tweeting his support for his press secretary by attacking the Red Hen for having a “filthy” exterior and undoubtedly being “dirty” inside. The Times journalists focused on “the president’s uncharacteristically tepid, delayed response,” wondering whether it was a sign that Sanders was on her way out. (The Washington Post, on the other hand, dissected the president’s response in terms of, as the headline on one of its articles put it, “everything Trump got wrong about Red Hen, in one tweet.”) And so it went.

Tell me, then, if this isn’t an addiction, what is it? And what’s the one thing you know about addictions? Whatever high they give you — and let’s not deny that Donald Trump offers us a constant set of highs (whether as rushes of agreement and pleasure or horror and dismay) — if you can’t stop yourself from taking the drug, day after day, night after night, there will be a price to pay. Somebody better have the equivalent of naloxone on hand.

Addicted to War

And then there’s that other twenty-first-century all-American addiction, in some ways far stranger than the Trumpian one and likely to be no less costly in the long run: addiction to war. Almost 17 years after the Global War on Terror was launched, the highs — the invasion of Afghanistan! The taking of Kabul! The smashing of Iraq! The capture of Saddam Hussein! — are long gone. Now exhausted and discouraged, those hooked nonetheless remain unable to stop.

In some ways, addiction may seem like a strange category when applied to this country’s war-making, as for most Americans the very opposite seems to be true. Since a series of historic global antiwar protests faded out with the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, it’s as if most Americans had gone cold turkey on this country’s credit-card wars. Willfully demobilized by the top officials of the Bush administration, who preferred to conduct their military operations without citizen or congressional oversight, they simply turned away and went about their business. Meanwhile, America’s all-volunteer military, increasingly a kind of foreign legion for much of the population, has continued to fight never-endingly and remarkably fruitlessly across a vast swath of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

The divorce of most Americans from Washington’s wars and those fighting them may be less than apparent because, according to the polls, the public has a kind of blind trust and soaring “confidence” in the U.S. military, unlike any other part of the government or, for that matter, the society, and because the urge to “thank” the “warriors” is now such a basic part of American life. But all of that is, I suspect, little more than a massive compensation reaction from a public that otherwise could not care less.

When it comes to Washington’s still-spreading war on terror, the media has, if anything, followed suit. Recently, for instance, Reuters correspondent Indrees Ali posted a photo on Twitter of a large, almost empty room filled with chairs, with the caption:

“There are exactly four journalists at the Pentagon briefing on Afghanistan.”

That single image sums up the present situation vividly. Almost 17 years after the invasion of Afghanistan by a military repeatedly hailed as “the finest fighting force the world has ever known,” at a moment when Taliban insurgents are again gaining ground, a Pentagon briefing on developments there is of no interest. Yes, events in such wars are still dutifully reported from time to time, but those reports, often tucked away on the inside pages of papers or deep in the nightly news, don’t hold a candle to Melania’s jacket, the president’s latest tweet, or a Red Hen rebuff.

And yet the photo of that Pentagon briefing is deceptive. It leaves out a key group still in the room: those addicted to an American style of war-making through which, year after year, the still-theoretically dominant power on the planet only seems to induce the spread of terror movements, disorder, destruction, and the displacement of increasingly large populations (contributing to a global refugee crisis that is, in its own way, helping to remake the planet).

Missing from that photo are the characters who have OD’d on U.S. military power and yet can’t stop mainlining it in ways that have become all-too-familiar since 2001. I’m thinking of the generals of the U.S. military, the men who have led an endless set of campaigns as part of what those inside the Pentagon are now grimly referring to as an “infinite war” leading nowhere. And they’re strung out. As Mark Perry reported recently in Foreign Policy, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis and other American generals, unlike the president’s new civilian counselors, National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are not eager for the next potential war, the one with Iran that already looms on the horizon. They understand that they could launch such a conflict successfully, destroying much of Iran’s military (and its nuclear facilities), and still, as with Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and so on, somehow not get out.

And yet, much as they don’t want a bright, shiny new war (and who could blame them under the circumstances), they can’t imagine leaving the old ones behind either. And that’s America’s war addiction in a nutshell, one that has long had in its grip most of elite Washington and the rest of a national security state set up around a style of infinite-war-making that must always be fed with ever increasing numbers of taxpayer dollars. Thanks to those dollars, we, the taxpayers, could be thought of as so many street-level drug peddlers in this country’s war equivalent of the opioid epidemic.  The politicians who feed those dollars into the military maw would be the doctors who prescribe opioids, understanding full-well their ability to hook patients.  And the Military-Industrial Complex — the giant weapons companies and the warrior corporations that now go into action in lock-step with that military — would be the drug companies that have profited so off the opioid crisis even as they stoked it.

Returning momentarily to Donald Trump, you can feel the power of that war addiction in his inability to fulfill his promise to fight those conflicts in a winning style and, if necessary, quickly extricate the country from what he termed its “$7 trillion” Greater Middle Eastern disaster. In his own fashion, he, too, has been hooked. And when the increasingly tired and distraught generals he chose to surround himself with proved unpalatable to him, Trump notably picked as replacements civilians guaranteed to keep the ball rolling when it came to America’s wars from hell.

So, addiction? If you don’t think this country has an addiction crisis (other than opioids), think again.


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Socialism exposed: thick lipstick on a global pig

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Socialism: thick lipstick on a global pig

By Jon Rappoport

To give you an idea of the deception inherent in socialism, here is a quote from none other than Andrew Carnegie, once one of the richest men in America:

“I believe Socialism is the grandest theory ever presented, and I am sure it will someday rule the world. Then we will have attained the Millennium…Then men will be content to work for the general welfare and share their riches with their neighbors.” (The New York Times, 1 January 1885, “A Millionaire Socialist”)

Carnegie, of course, like several of his ultra-rich compatriots, devised a method to give away his riches while keeping them: the non-profit foundation.

The last thing on Carnegie’s bloated mind was becoming “equal” with the great unwashed.

He was a liar of the first order. He recognized that, when you win the game of free enterprise, your most corrupt bet is to turn around and find every possible way to block others from winning. Then, you stand at the top of the heap, unchallenged.

That is exactly what he had in mind. That’s what socialism actually meant to him.

Let’s see socialism for what it is. Not in the abstract, but in reality.

Socialism is:

The taking of money (taxes) from some people who work for it and giving it to others who don’t work for it. On a grand scale.

The vast expansion of freebies doled out by central government. In order to create and sustain dependence.

The government protection of favored persons and corporations, permitting them and aiding them to expand their fortunes without limit, regardless of what crimes they commit in the process. (Monsanto would be a fine example.)

The squeezing out of those who would compete with the favored persons and corporations.

The dictatorship by and for the very wealthy, pretending to be the servant of the masses.

The lie that the dictatorship is being run by the masses.

The gradual lowering of the standard of living for the overwhelming number of people.

The propaganda claiming socialism is the path to a better world for all.

In other words, socialism is a protection racket and a long con and a heartless system of elite control, posing as the greatest good.

It is just another form of top-down tyranny—as old as the hills.

A year or two ago, a person living in Europe told me that the European Union was not a problem, because it was just another layer of socialism placed over the existing socialist governments of European nations, and no one really noticed the existence of the EU.

—As if blindness were a reason not to worry.

SOCIALISM WAS NEVER ABOUT UNIVERSAL EQUALITY AND UNIVERSAL SHARING.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNIVERSAL AND COMPLETE EQUALITY AND SHARING, ONLY A FAKE VERSION DICTATED FROM ABOVE.

Socialism is, in the minds of most people who advocate it, a vague sentiment about people being kinder to each other.

Consider this fatuous and ludicrous statement, uttered by the mob boss of bosses of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, in 1961: “The socialist economy has become so strong, so vigorous that from the summits we have reached we can issue an open challenge of peaceful economic competition to the most powerful capitalist country—the United States of America.”

Here is a correct translation: “Bankrolled and given vital technology by a few elites from the West, our vast society of socialist slave workers is now able to engage in capitalist competition with America.”

The raving of a madman.

Today’s youth who push and protest and riot and censor, on behalf of socialism, are working for the ultra-rich whom they despise.

That’s the long and short of “the glorious revolution.”

The Carnegies and Rockefellers of today (including a miniature Rockefeller named George Soros) have engaged the young as foot soldiers, and they know the young are willing dupes for socialism, because they created, for the young, an education system that makes them clueless and mindless.

The Carnegies and Rockefellers of today are saying: “Bring on the new world, the better world, the more just world, the happier world—whatever you want to call it—so we can run it from the top and show you what we really think of you. Make every conceivable lever of power ours, and then we’ll reveal what we really have planned for you.”

The prodigious author and researcher, Antony Sutton (1925-2002), wrote about hidden men (“socialists”) behind momentous events. He exposed their fraud of working for “the greater good.”

I recently came across a 1999 interview with Sutton, conducted by Kris Millegan, researcher and head of TrineDay publishers.

Millegan wrote about Antony Sutton in 1999: “Antony C. Sutton, 74, has been persecuted but never prosecuted for his research and subsequent publishing of his findings. His mainstream career was shattered by his devotion towards uncovering the truth. In 1968, his Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development was published by The Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Sutton showed how the Soviet state’s technological and manufacturing base, which was then engaged in supplying the North Vietnamese the armaments and supplies to kill and wound American soldiers, was built by US firms and mostly paid for by the US taxpayers. From their largest steel and iron plant, to automobile manufacturing equipment, to precision ball-bearings and computers, basically the majority of the Soviet’s large industrial enterprises had been built with the United States help or technical assistance.”

“…Then, someone sent Antony a membership list of Skull and Bones and— ‘a picture jumped out’. And what a picture! A multigenerational foreign-based secret society with fingers in all kinds of pies and roots going back to ‘Illuminati’ influences in 1830’s Germany.”

Here are excerpts from the 1999 interview:

Millegan – Can you tell the story of how you learned of Skull & Bones? And how you felt?

Sutton – I knew nothing of S&B until I received a letter in the early 80’s asking if I would like to look at a genuine membership list. For no real reason I said yes. It was agreed to send the package by Federal Express and I could keep it for 24 hours, it had to be returned to the safe. It was a “black bag” job by a family member disgusted with their activities.

For the benefit of any S&B members who may read and doubt the statement; the membership list is in two volumes, black leather bound. Living members and deceased members in separate volumes. Very handsome books.

I spent all night in Kinko’s, Santa Cruz, copied the entire volumes and returned within the 24 hour period.

I have never released any copies or identified the source. I figured each copy could be coded and enable S&B to trace the leak.

How did I feel? I felt then (as I do now} that these “prominent” men are really immature juveniles at heart. The horrible reality is that these little boys have been dominant in their influence in world affairs. No wonder we have wars and violence. Skull and Bones is the symbol of terrorist violence, pirates, the SS Deaths Head Division in WW Two, labels on poison bottles and so on.

I kept the stack of xerox sheets for quite a while before I looked at them—when I did look—a picture jumped out, THIS was a significant part of the so called [socialist] establishment. No wonder the world has problems!

Millegan: – What did your study of elites, economics, secrecy and technology do for your career?

Sutton – Depends what you mean by “career”?

By conventional standards I am an abject failure. I’ve been thrown out of two major Universities (UCLA and Stanford), denied tenure at Cal State Los Angeles. Every time I write something, it appears to offend someone in the Establishment and they throw me to the wolves.

On the other hand I’ve written 26 books, published a couple of newsletters and so on…even more important I’ve never compromised on the truth. And I don’t quit.

In material terms…hopeless failure. In terms of discovery…I think I’ve been successful. Judge a man by his enemies. William Buckley called me a “jerk”. Glenn Campbell, former Director of the Hoover Institution, Stanford called me “a problem”.

Millegan – Did any of Hitler’s economic policies threaten the interests of the international bankers, and if so did that play a role in his downfall?

Sutton – Hitler’s economic policies were OK’d by the bankers right through the war…ITT, Chase, Texaco and others were operating in Nazi-held France as late as 1945. In fact Chase in Paris was trying to get [acquire] Nazi accounts as late as 1944. When we got to Germany in May 1945, I remember seeing a (bombed-out) Woolworth store in Hamburg and thinking, “What’s Woolworth doing in Nazi Germany?” While we were bombed and shelled it was “business as usual” for Big Business. Try the Alien Custodian Papers.

…Union Banking is very important. I made a documentary for Dutch National TV some years ago. It got all the way through the production process to the Dutch TV Guide…at the last minute it was pulled and another film substituted. This documentary has proof of Bush financing Hitler—documents.

Maybe my Dutch friends will still get it viewed, but the [Skull&Bones] apparatus reaches into Holland.

Millegan – What is the story that was going to be told on Dutch TV? And what is the story of its censorship?

Sutton – Couple of years back, a Dutch TV production company from Amsterdam—under contract to Dutch National TV—came to US to make documentary on S&B [Skull and Bones]. They went to the Bones Temple and other places and interviewed people on East Coast. On West Coast, they interviewed myself and one other person.

I saw extracts from the original and it is a good professional job. They had documents linking Bush family and other S&B members to financing Hitler through Union Banking of New York and its Dutch correspondent bank. More than I have in [Sutton’s book] WALL STREET AND THE RISE OF HITLER.

The first version was later upgraded into a two part documentary and scheduled for showing this last March. It was pulled at last minute and has never been shown.

Millegan – What do you see for the future?

Suttton – Chaos, confusion and ultimately a battle between the individual and the State.

The individual is the stronger; and will win. The state is a fiction sanctified by Hegel and his followers to CONTROL the individual.

Sooner or later people will wake up. First we have to dump the trap of right and left, this is a Hegelian trap to divide and control. The battle is not between right and left; it is between us and them…

—end of interview excerpt—

Here is a telling Antony Sutton quote from his book, The Best Enemy Money Can Buy (1986):

“By using data of Russian origin it is possible to make an accurate analysis of the origins of this equipment. It was found that all the main diesel and steam-turbine propulsion systems of the ninety-six Soviet ships on the Haiphong supply run [to the North Vietnamese] that could be identified (i.e., eighty-four out of the ninety-six) originated in design or construction outside the USSR. We can conclude, therefore, that if the [US] State and Commerce Departments, in the 1950s and 1960s, had consistently enforced the legislation passed by Congress in 1949, the Soviets would not have had the ability to supply the Vietnamese War – and 50,000 more Americans and countless Vietnamese would be alive today.”

“Who were the government officials responsible for this transfer of known military technology? The concept originally came from National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, who reportedly sold President Nixon on the idea that giving military techno¬logy to the Soviets would temper their global territorial ambitions. How Henry arrived at this gigantic non sequitur is not known. Sufficient to state that he aroused considerable concern over his motivations. Not least that Henry had been a paid family employee of the Rockefellers since 1958 and has served as International Advisory Committee Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, a Rockefeller concern.”

If you think such traitorous actions could never have occurred, I point you to another researcher, Charles Higham, and his 1983 classic, Trading with the Enemy.

Higham focuses on World War 2. The men behind the curtain Higham exposed are in the same basic group that Antony Sutton exposed.

Higham, Trading with the Enemy:

“What would have happened if millions of American and British people, struggling with coupons and lines at the gas stations, had learned that in 1942 Standard Oil of New Jersey [part of the Rockefeller empire] managers shipped the enemy’s [Germany’s] fuel through neutral Switzerland and that the enemy was shipping Allied fuel? Suppose the public had discovered that the Chase Bank in Nazi-occupied Paris after Pearl Harbor was doing millions of dollars’ worth of business with the enemy with the full knowledge of the head office in Manhattan [the Rockefeller family among others?] Or that Ford trucks were being built for the German occupation troops in France with authorization from Dearborn, Michigan? Or that Colonel Sosthenes Behn, the head of the international American telephone conglomerate ITT, flew from New York to Madrid to Berne during the war to help improve Hitler’s communications systems and improve the robot bombs that devastated London? Or that ITT built the FockeWulfs that dropped bombs on British and American troops? Or that crucial ball bearings were shipped to Nazi-associated customers in Latin America with the collusion of the vice-chairman of the U.S. War Production Board in partnership with Goering’s cousin in Philadelphia when American forces were desperately short of them? Or that such arrangements were known about in Washington and either sanctioned or deliberately ignored?”

Getting the picture?

War, what is it good for? With the same “socialist” elites backing both sides, it’s good for business. It’s good for creating chaos and destruction. It’s good for launching new global organizations, in the aftermath; organizations that exert a level of control and reach that didn’t exist before. It’s good for launching organizations like the United Nations and the European Union and the World Trade Organization—dedicated to Globalism, which in turn is dedicated to planned civilization, in which the individual is demeaned and the group is All.

Freedom is demeaned; and dominance by the few over the many is hailed as peace in our time.

Vía Jon Rappoport’s Blog https://ift.tt/2JZHBzh

Nearly 51 Million Households In The United States “Can’t Afford Basics Like Rent And Food”

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

If the U.S. economy is performing so well, then why can’t 51 million households in the United States “afford basics like rent and food”?

A stunning new report that was just put out by the United Way ALICE Project shows that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in this country is perhaps the biggest that it has been in any of our lifetimes.  In some of the wealthiest areas of the nation, homes are now selling for up to 100 million dollars, but meanwhile tens of millions of families are barely scraping by from month to month.  Many believe that this growing “inequality gap” is setting the stage for major societal problems.

In general, the U.S. economy seems to be performing better than expected so far in 2018, but the ranks of the poor and the working poor just continue to grow.  The following comes from CNN

Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a studyreleased Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”

If 43 percent of all Americans cannot even afford “the basics”, what does that say about the true state of the U.S. economy?

Of course the biggest reason why so many American families are struggling is the lack of good jobs.

In America today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

66 percent.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

You cannot support a middle class family on 20 dollars an hour.  As a result, many Americans are working more than one job, and in many households both the mother and the father are working more than one job.

Housing costs account for the biggest item in most family budgets, and the fact that housing costs have just continued to soar is putting a huge amount of financial stress on hard working families.  Just today we learned that there is a tremendous rush to buy homes as mortgage rates rise rapidly

Today, according to the latest Freddie Mac mortgage rates report, after plateauing in recent weeks, mortgage rates reversed course and reached a new high last seen eight years ago as the 30-year fixed mortgage rate edged up to 4.61% matching the highest level since May 19, 2011.

But while the highest mortgage rates in 8 years are predictably crushing mortgage refinance activity, they appears to be having the opposite effect on home purchases, where there is a sheer scramble to buy, and sell, houses. As Bloomberg notes, citing brokerage Redfin, the average home across the US that sold last month went into contract after a median of 36 only days on the market – a record speed in data going back to 2010.

If you will remember, we witnessed a very similar pattern just before the subprime mortgage meltdown in 2008.

History is repeating itself, and we never seem to learn from our past mistakes.

Housing prices in some cities are absolutely obscene right now, and many working families find themselves completely priced out of the market.  That has some people asking one very simple question

Many San Francisco renters I met while reporting an article on affordable housing lotteries had responded to the region’s housing crisis by putting up with great discomfort: They crammed in with family; they split apartments with strangers. Some even lived out of their cars.

Why, lots of readers wanted to know, didn’t they simply move away instead?

Yes, some people are moving, and this is something that I plan to do an article about very soon.

But for most hard working families, moving across the country simply is not an option.  Moving out of state is very expensive, it can be very difficult to find a similar job in an entirely new area, and many families are very dependent on the social networks where they currently live…

People who struggle financially often have valuable social networks — family to help with child care, acquaintances who know of jobs. The prospect of dropping into, say, Oklahoma or Georgia would mean doing without the good income and the social support. Those intangible connections that keep people in places with bad economies also keep people in booming regions where the rent is too high.

In the end, moving is just not an option for a lot of people.

We need to structure our economic system so that it works for all Americans – not just a few.  Unfortunately, it is probably going to take another major crisis before people are ready for such a restructuring.

And such a crisis may not be that far away.  In fact, even Pope Francis is now warning about the dangers of derivatives

In a sweeping critique of global finance released by the Vatican on Thursday, the Holy See singled out derivatives including credit-default swaps for particular scorn. “A ticking time bomb,” the Vatican called them. The unusual rebuke — derivatives rarely reach the level of religious doctrine — is in keeping with Francis’s skeptical view of unbridled global capitalism.

“The market of CDS, in the wake of the economic crisis of 2007, was imposing enough to represent almost the equivalent of the GDP of the entire world. The spread of such a kind of contract without proper limits has encouraged the growth of a finance of chance, and of gambling on the failure of others, which is unacceptable from the ethical point of view,” the Vatican said in the document.

I have written about derivatives extensively in the past, and Pope Francis is 100 percent correct when he says that they are a ticking time bomb which could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any moment.

We don’t know exactly when it will happen, but we do know that such a crisis is coming at some point.

Sadly, most of the population is completely asleep, and they will be completely blindsided by the coming crisis when it does finally arrive.


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The American Dream Is Dead

Authored by Georges Abi-Heila via Medium.com,

The top 0.1% owns as many assets as the bottom 90%. And it’s getting worse…

One of America’s founding myth is that of the “self-made man”: the idea that, with enough work & dedication, anybody can climb the social ladder and become wealthy. Or at least better off than his or her parents.

Well, that’s complete bullshit.

Data shows that the most important drivers of one’s living standard are determined at birth: most of the people who are poor are so because they made the mistake of being born to the wrong parents.

“No matter what your educational background is, where you start has become increasingly important for where you end”

– Michael D. Carr, economist at the University of Massachusetts

Now the goal of this article is not to languish and complain. By providing a fact-based analysis of the unfairness of our society, I aim to foster empathy and gratitude in the reader’s mind. Acknowledging the luck you have is the starting point towards greater generosity and happiness.

Let’s dig into the facts.

We live in a profoundly unfair society

… and it’s getting worse every year.

Most of the nation’s economic growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top 0.1%. Inequality is now approaching the extreme level that prevailed prior to the Great Depression.

The top 10% households own ~80% of the wealth.

In fact, inequality is so high that a third of the population has no wealth at alland the top 0.1% owns as many assets as the bottom 90%.

Raw statistics are perfect tools for transmitting the truth of facts but they lack the emotional baggage that a story can deliver. There’s nothing better than tears, blood and immersive storytelling to mobilise people.

I’m unfortunately not very good at that, but I can still rephrase the statistics: if the US was a village of 1000 people, there’s 1 guy that has more money than 900 other villagers combined…

The top 0.1% owns as many assets as the bottom 90%

We can manipulate numbers and discuss hypotheses as much as we’d like: the reality is staggering. Research centers, in their vast majority and coming from all political backgrounds, have drawn the very same conclusion: the US is — by far — the most unequal society in the developed world. And things are getting worse every year.

The Gini coefficient is a number between 0 and 1, where 0 represents perfect equality and 1 perfect inequality (one person has all of the country’s income)

Now a lot of us can cope with that if there are good chances of improving our situation. If my household’s finances are better than my parents’, the society I’m living in would have enhanced my well-being.

That’s actually one of the cornerstones of modern capitalism: inequalities are accepted as long as the possibility of betterment exists. We tolerate unfairness as long as there are good chances of improving our condition.

The question is: what are the chances?

Moving up is a lottery

… and most of us lose.

To better understand inequality of opportunity, social scientists and economists have increasingly shifted their attention to intergenerational mobility. By assessing the strength of the association between parents’ and offsprings’ income, we can get an approximation of the possibilities given to each generation on their quest for happiness.

So, is social mobility a plausible reality in modern day America?
Well, the answer is quite simply: no.

“The probability of ending where you start has gone up, and the probability of moving up has gone down,”

– Raj Chetty, economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research

According to a research paper by the National Bureau of Economic ResearchUS social mobility fell by more than 70% in the past half-century. If you feel that it’s getting harder to get ahead, you’re not being delusional: in 2016, about half of 30-year-olds earned less than their parents at the same age.

Social mobility is the exception, not the norm.

Another way to look at this is to study income growth. 
Income growth is an interesting metric because it’s a proxy for “better quality of life”: with higher income comes increased purchasing power and better standards of living.

So how is the growth of income distributed among the population?
Well since 1979all of the income gains have been captured by the top 1% and wages have stagnated for everybody else. This is one of the most depressing statistic I’ve ever read: it basically means that most households in the US have not seen any increase in their revenue since 30 years!

With remarkable consistency, the superrich have managed to capture all the productivity gains made by American workers and convert them to skyrocketing earnings…

For the last 40 years, income and wages have stagnated for most Americans.

The fact is, wealth is so unevenly distributed that one could argue that the US is a failing democracy: power is entirely held by an elite that’s never renewed and that captures all of the income gains.

But what does the 1% think about that? Do they feel empathy and gratitude?
Do they recognise their position being — for a great part — the result of luck and unfair advantages?

Money makes people selfish

… the wealthier you are, the less empathetic you become.

Saying that wealth grants a lot power in today’s capitalistic societies is no great insight. Wealth is what makes you beautiful, what reduces your stress and daily fatigue, what grants you social prestige and education, what gives you time and freedom of choice. Wealth is a big deal.

But does wealth affect your behaviour? In other words, do emotional responses and rational thinking change when income increases? A team of scientists from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research did a serie of fascinating experiments on this topic.

  • The “Cookie Monster”

They first tried to measure if individuals feel more important than others when put in a position of power.

Different groups of three people were brought into a lab. In each group, one person was randomly assigned to be the “leader”. The groups were then given a collaborative writing task. About half an hour into their work, a plate with four cookies was brought: one for each person and one extra.

Who took the fourth extra cookie? In almost all cases it was the person who’d been made the leader. And they were more likely to eat with their mouths open and dropping crumbs. It just seems that, when put in a position of power, we tend to be more impulsive and less empathetic.

This pattern of increased selfishness has been consistently observed across similar studies.

  • The “Rude Driver”

The goal here is to check if there’s a difference in driving behavior between the rich and the poor.

The researchers sat at specific crossroads, observing each driver’s attitude as an accomplice appeared on the edge of the curb while cars approached. The results were astonishing: people driving luxury cars like BMWs and Mercedes yielded to pedestrians twice as less as drivers of less expensive cars.

They also watched a 4-way stop intersection, noting when drivers cut in front of others when it was not their turn. The results? The more expensive cars were far more likely to jump their turn.

“You just see this huge boost in a driver’s likelihood to commit infractions in more expensive cars”

– Paul K. Piff, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley

  • The “Stoic Listener”

This experiment’s objective is to assess wether level of empathy is affected by how powerful the subject considers himself.

Subjects sat down in a face-to-face conversation with people who talked about experiences that had caused them suffering. The listeners’ responses were measured 2 ways: first by self-reported levels of compassion and second by electrocardiogram readings to determine the intensity of their emotional response.

The participants were also asked to rank themselves on questions measuring personal strengths (“I can get people to listen to what I say”) and weaknesses (“My wishes do not carry much weight’’). That allowed the researchers to place them on a “sense of power” scale.

The findings were hugely insightful: participants with a higher sense of power were far more likely to turn a blind eye their partner’s story. More precisely, they “experienced less distress, less compassion and exhibited greater autonomic emotion regulation”.

  • The “Blind Observer”

This last study further confirms previous conclusions.

Participants were shown images of suffering — kids with cancer, for instance. People with a greater sense of power had less activation of a part of the brain that helps us connect to one another. To put it bluntly, they just seem less sensitive to what others are feeling.

“When a person is suffering, upper-class individuals perceive these signals less well on average. They tend to underestimate the distress in their social environments.”

– Jennifer E. Stellar, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley

Ultimately, it turns out wealth is a very good predictor for unethical behavior and reduced empathy. So what’s happening here? Do you magically become ungrateful & greedy when you buy a new Porsche? What are the psychological mechanisms at play?

Money makes you feel special

… the richer you are, the more entitled you feel.

One thing’s for sure, the wealthy don’t seem to fully recognise their good fortune. If they did, the level of redistribution would be far greater than what it is and tax cuts wouldn’t be so popular among high income brackets.

It also seems that rich and poor largely disagree on factors that lead to success: according to a survey by the Pew Research Centerpeople with high income are much more likely to attribute success to hard work rather than to factors like luck or being in the right place at the right time.

Poor and rich people largely disagree on the factors of success.

That’s troubling, because we saw earlier that socio-economic background is the main predictor of an adult’s income and that social mobility is the exception, not the norm.

Most behavioral and social scientists know that our brains are fundamentally flawed and that our opinions are not as rational as we might think. Human cognition gives us great insights to why wealthy people tend to underestimate the role of luck in their careers.

  • Hindsight bias

… also known as the “knew-it-all-along” effect

This term describes our tendency to rationalise unpredictable events. Humans have a natural inclination, after an event has occurred, to see it as having been predictable, despite there having been little or no objective basis for predicting it.

Physicians recalling clinical trials, historians describing outcomes of battles, judges trying to attribute responsibility of accidents: examples are numerous.

All of a sudden people were telling me I was a born writer. This was absurd. […] What were the odds?

– Michael Lewis recalling reactions after the publishing of his 1st book, “Liar’s poker”.

This bias operates with particular force for unusually successful outcomes. People don’t like to hear success explained away as luck — especially successful people. As they age and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable.

  • Availability heuristic

… also know as the “if-i-remember-it-it-must-be-important” effect

When making decisions or assessing situations, we tend to give a lot of importance to events we immediately recall; thus minimising the role of thing we forgot or never thought about. Under the availability heuristic, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent and concrete information. One practical example is that opinions are biased toward the latest news.

A successful career is a subtle combination of multiple factors such as talent, capacity of concentration, amount of work, random encounters, family background, mental resilience, living environment, etc. The thing is, some of those factors are more frequent and easier to perceive than others.

We’re all vividly aware of how many hours we spend working every day and how dedicated (or not) we are. We can effortlessly recall the last time we pulled an all-nighter to deliver on time and how difficult this hugely-important-but-really-complicated project was. But do you perceive how lucky you are not to have been born in Mozambique? How privileged you are to have a college degree? How improbable was your encounter with your business partner? How blessed you are to be healthy and without handicap?

In the construct of our life stories, we unconsciously shrink crucial but abstract factors. Unknowingly, we use mental shortcuts that minor the importance of everything that’s not linked to our close environment. That’s why we tend to largely overestimate the impact we, as individuals, have on our life paths.

In an existence led by randomness, humans tend to overemphasise their personal performance because they’re biased towards their own day-to-day experience.

  • Negative memory

… also know as the “we don’t care about planes that arrive on time”

A well known cognitive bias is that we recall negative events more frequently and more intensely than positive ones. For example, it’s been proven that we’re usually more upset about losing $50 than we are happy about gaining $50. The same applies to negative feedback, delayed flights, lost games, etc. The effect of those negative experiences is much more powerful than their positive counterparts.

“Almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail.”

– Clifford Nass, professor of communication at Stanford University

From an evolutionary perspective this is justified: survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes (and less urgent to good ones). But in today’s world, it’s a major flaw in our decision-making capabilities. Looking back at our life-choices, we’ll always be more aware of the hurdles and obstacles we faced than of the things that helped us. Think of it as cognitive ungratefulness.

Recognise your luck and practice empathy

… we’re not as great as we think we are.

I feel that we’re at a tipping point. Inequalities are at a record high, social mobility is at a record low, and our elite’s moral values don’t seem to converge towards better redistribution or benevolent sharing.

The extremely wealthy, besides concentrating the vast majority of assets and income gains of the country, fail to truly recognise the role of luck in their good fortune.

This is dangerous because it’s a breeding ground for desperation and hopelessness. When people lose faith in the possibility of improving their condition, when they realise the American Dream has become nothing but a myth, they will resort to extreme means. The subtle combination of political lies, corporate story-telling and public ignorance that has maintained social peace may not last forever.

If a tiny minority has all the wealth, if income is stagnating for 9 citizens out of 10, if chances of climbing are minuscule, isn’t rebellion justified?


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