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Ahli United Bank
06 марта 2013, 18:08

One Hundred And Eighteen Million Dollars An Hour

Submitted by Mark J. Grant, author of Out of the Box $118 Million Dollars An Hour That is how much money the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States is creating as you wake, work or sleep. That is $85 billion a month and the stuff must go somewhere. It pours out like sugar upon the markets, each market, every market and it is no wonder that the American stock markets are hitting new highs. The spice must flow. In the bond markets it is low interest rates and compression, a vice closing in progress, as each sector of the Fixed Income markets grinds closer and closer to Treasuries. It is real, it is not an avarice, but it is also the most manipulated market in the history of our country and something that could not be accomplished in other responses to Recessions because the world’s central banks had never worked in this kind of collective action before. It is not earnings and it is not technicals; it is just money and vast quantities of it that come pouring out of Washington each day. The United States found manna from Heaven. The initial call had been for Inflation, even Hyper-Inflation from some well-known thinkers. It has not happened and the reason, I postulate, is because the underlying economy is in far worse shape than the numbers indicate or most think. The earnings at corporations also rely upon this injection of capital and so the whole boats floats but the underpinnings are shaky, risky and fraught with danger. Any hint of curtailment by the Fed throws out tremors as everyone wonders for how long this will go on and will the rising tide turn to a flood and upset the American boat. It is a very good question. The other possibility is an “Event;” some shattering moment that punctures the hull and sends the whole enterprise into a waterspout where the boat is sucked up into a vortex that will certainly not be Oz.   I play the game. The Rule is to win and not to be eventually right and lose your capital during the process. The compression in bonds has been an absolutely winning hand and in many cases a better bet than equities have been. One of the interesting reasons for this has been the structure of bonds as compared with equities or preferred stocks. Bonds accrue interest every day while dividends are paid quarterly with no accrual. Consequently if you are trading bonds and taking advantage of what you can the accrual part of the equation can add to your winnings in a substantial fashion when interest rates are this low. There are two maxims in operation now. The first is that euphoria continues on right up until the day when it does not. In the last go-round the “Event” was Lehman and the music stopped. The second maxim is that there is not strategy that wins forever. Frequently the winning bet of last year is the losing bet of the next and I always bear this in mind. In this light one also looks at the Fed; will this outpouring of money go on forever? Fairy godmothers are children’s tales and when someone offers you the glass slippers; let me know. I have been asked numerous times why the Fed’s balance sheet can’t be thirty trillion dollars and so the game continues. The answer is that it can be but, and a very big but, is that the debt of the United States would also be ten times the size it is now and it would have to be serviced by an economy that only has so many resources as the debt to GDP ratio of the country would be out of sight. Perhaps if Europe and Asia expanded their balance sheets by ten times as well so that on a relative basis everything remained in tandem it could happen but the amount of debt issued by our Treasury would be at levels that would portend some kind of nightmare scenario. The catch here is the amount of debt that would be created along with the creation of money and that is where the game halts or reverses the course. I suppose it is theoretically possible that the Fed bought all of every new issue, bought 100% of each new Treasury or Agency offering but there are consequences for that kind of behavior that, while unknown, would disrupt private capital in some very significant ways. It would no longer be, and we are close to it now in my opinion, that the Fed is “the lender of last resort” but the only important lender in town. What would it be; JP Morgan at Treasuries +1, Bank of America at Treasuries +2 and Morgan Stanley at Treasuries +3? The boys are driving the train in that direction as risk becomes quite secondary to the money in the system that must be utilized. Cowardly Lion: I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I *do*! Wicked Witch of the West: Ah! You'll believe in more than that before I'm finished with you.                   -My cousin in Oz

03 февраля 2013, 01:00

Inequality for All – another Inconvenient Truth?

The powerful documentary Inequality for All was an unexpected hit at the recent Sundance film festival, arguing that US capitalism has fatally abandoned the middle classes while making the super-rich richer. Can its star, economist Robert Reich, do for economics what Al Gore did for the environment?In one sense, Inequality for All is absolutely the film of the moment. We are living through tumultuous times. The economy has tanked. Austerity has cut a swath through the country. We're on the verge of a triple-dip recession. And, in another, parallel universe, a small cohort of alien beings – or as we know them, bankers – are currently engaged in trying to figure out what to spend their multimillion-pound bonuses on. Who wouldn't want to know what's going on? Or how it happened? Or why? Or if it is really true that the next generation down is well and truly shafted?And yet… what sucker would try to make a film about it? It's not exactly Skyfall. Where would you even start? Because there are some films that practically beg to be made. And then there's Inequality for All; the kind of film that you can't quite believe that anybody, ever, considered a good idea, let alone had the passion and commitment to give it two years of their life.How did you even come up with the idea of making a film about economics? I ask the director Jacob Kornbluth. "I know! People would roll their eyes when I told them. They'd say it's a terrible idea for a film." On paper it is, indeed, a terrible idea. A 90-minute documentary on income inequality: or why the rich have got richer and the rest of us haven't (I say "us" because although it's focused on America, we're snapping at their heels) and which traces a line back to the 1970s, when things stopped getting better for the vast majority of ordinary working people and started getting worse."It always sounded so dry," says Kornbluth. "But then I'd tell people it's An Inconvenient Truth for the economy and they'd go, Ah!"In fact, Inequality for All, which premiered at the Sundance film festival a fortnight ago, is anything but dry. It won not just rave reviews but also the special jury prize and a major cinema distribution deal, and while it owes an obvious debt to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, it is, in many ways, a much better, more human and surprising film. Not least because, incredibly enough, it's actually pretty funny. And, in large part, this is down to its star, Robert Reich.Reich is not a star in any obvious sense of the word. He's a 66-year-old academic. And he's been banging on about inequality for more than three decades. At one point in the film he looks quite downcast and says: "Sometimes I just feel like my life has been a total failure." An archive clip of him on CNN from 1991 looking fresh-faced and bushy-haired shows that he has literally been saying the same thing for decades upon decades. And yet, as he tells me cheerfully on the phone from his home in California, "It just keeps getting worse!"These days he's a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and while he's not a figure we're familiar with in the UK, he's been part of American public life for years. At the start of the film, he introduces himself to a lecture hall full of students, telling them how he was secretary of labour under Bill Clinton. "And before that I was at Harvard. And before that I was a member of the Carter administration. You don't remember the Carter administration, do you?" The students remain silent. "And before that," says Reich with impeccable comic timing, "I was a special agent for Abraham Lincoln." He shakes his head. "Those were tough times."Reich's books and ideas have been at the forefront of Democratic party thinking for a generation. He is an intellectual heavyweight, a veteran policymaker, a seasoned political hand, and yet he also has the delivery of a standup comedian. His ideas were the basis for Bill Clinton's 1992 election campaign slogan, "Putting People First" (they were both Rhodes scholars and he met Clinton on board the boat to England; he once dated Hillary too, though he only realised this when a New York Times journalist rang him up and reminded him). And they were still there at the heart of President Obama's inaugural address last month. America could not succeed, said Obama, "when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it". What Reich, basically, has been saying since the year dot.What's extraordinary is how, somehow, these ideas have been translated into a narrative that shows every sign of being this year's hit documentary film. It certainly shocked Reich. He says he was amazed when Kornbluth first pitched the idea of a film. "He came and said that he'd read my book, Aftershock, and that he loved it and wanted to do a movie about it. And I honestly didn't know what he meant. How could you make a movie out of it?"But Kornbluth has made a movie out of it. A really astonishingly good movie that takes some big economic ideas and how these relate to the quality of everyday life as lived by most ordinary people. The love and care and artistic flair that Kornbluth brought to it is evident in every frame. It was really really hard work, he tells me, to make something look that simple. But then "I grew up poor. So I've always been very aware of who has what in society." His father had a stroke when Kornbluth was five and died six years later. And his mother, who didn't work because she was raising three children, died when he was 18.Any synopsis of the film runs the risk of making it seem dry again, but essentially it describes how the middle classes have come to have a smaller and smaller portion of the economic pie. And how, since 70% of the economy is based on the middle classes buying stuff, if they don't have any money to buy this stuff, it cannot grow. Meanwhile, the government has allowed the super-rich, the "one per cent", to take more of the nation's wealth. Half of the US's total assets are now owned by just 400 people – 400! – and, Reich contests that this is not just a threat to the economy, but also to democracy.Reading this on mobile? Click here to view videoKornbluth tells me that he initially had the idea of casting Reich in a feature film. "I'd seen him on TV and I just thought he'd make a great tax inspector in this film I was making. Although, actually, it turned out he was a terrible actor. But we hit it off. And I discovered that he and I share a sense of humour. I'm not a documentarian. My background is comedy. Yet I just thought that this could be an amazingly riveting film. To me it's the most important story of our time. And nobody was telling it. I kept on reading the papers and watching the news and I really wanted a story. I craved it. I just knew that to do it, we would have to make it as funny and human as possible."And it's this, the gentle humour at the heart of the film, and the lightness of its direction, that are its winning ingredients, disguising what is, in fact, incredibly powerful. Because at heart Inequality for All is a revolutionary film. Or, at least, its dearest desire is to precipitate a revolution in the way that we think about economic matters. As Reich tells me, "the economy is not like the weather". It's not inevitable. It's not determined. "An economy does not exist in nature. We don't have to settle." And, crucially, it can be changed.But the film's main stroke of brilliance is to put Reich, the unlikely hero, at the centre. "I had never done anything political before," says Kornbluth. "I didn't consider myself political. But seeing his example, the way that he has fought this fight for so many years has been an absolute inspiration to me. I see it in his students, they really do walk out of his lectures and want to change the world."As in An Inconvenient Truth – or "the most lucrative PowerPoint presentation in history", as one critic called it – the film is structured around a lecture, or rather series of lectures: Reich's incredibly popular wealth and poverty class at Berkeley. But it is only loosely used as a vehicle. There are also news clips and interviews and stylised graphics and archive footage.And what the film tries to do is thread together evidence that many people know about – the increasing struggle of the middle classes to just get by, the way that the top 1% of society has unshackled itself from the rest of us and has seen its income increase exponentially, and the ever-increasing cost of the traditional avenues of improvement, such as higher education – and weave it into a cohesive and convincing narrative. It is, in some respects, a theory of everything. Reich charts the three decades of increasing median income after the second world war, a period he calls "the great prosperity" and then examines what happened in the late 1970s to put an end to it. The economy didn't falter. It kept on growing. But wages didn't.The figures that Reich supplies are simply gobsmacking. In 1978, the typical male US worker was making $48,000 a year (adjusted for inflation). Meanwhile the average person in the top 1% was making $390, 000. By 2010, the median wage had plummeted to $33,000, but at the top it had nearly trebled, to $1,100,000."Something happened in the late 1970s," we hear him tell his Berkeley class. And much of the rest of the film is working out what happened.Some inequality is inevitable, he says. Even desirable. It's what makes capitalism tick. But at what point does it become a problem? When the middle classes (in its American sense of the 25% above and below the median wage) have so little of the economic pie that it affects not just their lives but the economy as a whole.Reich's thesis is that since the 1970s a combination of anti-union legislation and deregulation of the markets contrived to create a situation in which the economy boomed but less of the wealth trickled down. Though for a while, nobody noticed. There were "coping mechanisms". More women entered the workforce, creating dual-income families. Working hours rose. And increasing house prices enabled people to borrow.And then, in 2007, this all came crashing to a halt. "We have exhausted all the options," he says. There's nowhere else left to go. It's crunch time.It's crunch time that so many working families understand too well. They may not be familiar with the theory of income inequality but they haven't been able to avoid noticing that they've got less money in their pockets. "I've always thought that kitchen-table economics is the most important topic to most people," says Reich. "Their wages, their jobs, getting by. I've always tried to relate economics to where people live. That's why I was so excited about the film."The human stories of working American families struggling to cope are at the emotional centre of the film. At a Q&A after the Sundance screening, a third of the audience admitted that they'd cried during the film at some point.There's Erika and Robert Vaclav, for example, who pay $400 a week to keep their daughter in after-school care so that Erika can work on the checkout at Costco. "And I'm trying to work out if I should get her a phone so that she can walk home from school alone, and I know she's OK, or if I should continue paying the money." They lost their house when Robert was made redundant from his job as a manager at the now defunct electrical retailer Circuit City. And, it gradually transpires, that he's a student in Reich's wealth and poverty class at Berkeley."How much money do you have in your checking account?" Kornbluth asks Erika from off camera as she drives her daughter to school. "$25," she says and her voice starts to crack and waver.One of Reich's greatest sources of humour is himself. In the opening shots of the film, the camera follows him walking to his car, a Mini Cooper. "I sort of identify with it," he says. "It's pretty little. I feel we are in proportion. Me and my car. We are together facing the rest of the world."Later he takes a box out of the back of his car. "I always travel with my box," he says and explains that he suffers from a rare genetic condition – Fairbanks disease – that led to him only growing to 4ft 10in in height. The box is what he always takes to public-speaking events so that he can reach the podium.He was bullied as a child "because that's just what happens when you're small" and repeatedly beaten up. His grandmother consoled him by telling him that when he was 10, 11 or 12 he'd shoot up. He never did. "It's never been a conscious thing on my part but that feeling of being bullied, and feeling vulnerable, has stayed with me. And maybe it's because of that that I can empathise with poor people. Because they are the most vulnerable. There is no one to protect them."In the film, he tells how he made strategic alliances with older boys who could protect him. And years later, he discovered that one of them had travelled down to Mississippi to register voters and had been tortured and then murdered. "That changed my life," he says."He has never cashed in," says Kornbluth. "He's an incredibly smart guy and he could have found a way to correlate that into money as so many people do. But he never has. He has absolute integrity. It's almost shocking now for someone not to do that. I mean one of the film-makers I admire is Mike Leigh. And he does McDonald's commercials and I was like 'Whoa!' when I found out but I can't hold it against him. You can't hold it against anybody who's trying to make a living. But it makes Rob all the more amazing. He doesn't sit on boards. Or on thinktanks. He draws a modest salary. He has this absolute moral compass. And he's still trying to change the world."In the 60s and 70s, this wasn't such a surprising thing. Reich recounts how he grew up "in a time of giants". His first job was working for Bobby Kennedy. Changing the world was what everyone wanted to do.The world has changed. Just not in the way many thought it would. We fell victim to what Reich calls "the huge lie". That the free market is good. And government is bad. Government makes the rules, Reich keeps on reminding us, over and over. And it decides who benefits from those rules, and who is harmed. And increasingly, that boils down to the rich and the poor.Perhaps the most surprising voice in the film is Nick Hanauer's. He's just your ordinary, everyday billionaire. One of the 1%. Except that he believes – like Warren Buffett – that he doesn't pay enough tax. And that hammering the middle class, the ones who buy actual stuff, who create demand, which in turn creates jobs and more taxes, is simply bad for the economy. "I mean, I drive the fanciest Audi around, but it's still only one of them… Three pairs of jeans a year, that will just about do me."The system simply isn't working, he says. It's put the millionaires and the billionaires, the Nick Hanauers and the Mitt Romneys – the people that Republican rhetoric describes as job creators – at the centre of the economic universe, rather than what Hanauer calls the true job creators – the middle classes.The problem is, he says, is that they've been attacked from every side. He was one of the initial investors in Amazon, a business of which he's "incredibly proud", but he points out that on revenues in the last three months of 2012 of $21bn (£13bn), Amazon employs just 65,600 people. "If it was a mom and pop retailer, it would be 600,000 people, or 800,000 or a million."Globalisation and technology have played their role. But so has the government. For decades, under both Republicans and Democrats the highest rate of tax didn't dip below 70%. Now, Hanauer says he pays 11% on a six-figure income. Hanauer believes that if he was taxed more, he would be better off, because his company – he's a venture capitalist and his family own a pillow factory – would sell more products, and he would, therefore, make more money.This is inequality imposed from the top. Reich's charts show that for years, chief executives' earnings kept in step with other employees. And then in 2000-03 "It went kerbluey", by which he means off the charts.Which is where it still is. In the UK, Royal Bank of Scotland, having covered itself in glory in the Libor interest-rate fixing scandal, is currently contemplating bonuses for its investment banking division of £250m, according to reports last week. This, to put it another way, is the annual wage bill for at least 12,500 of its call-centre workers. Because this isn't just an American problem. It's a British one too."If there was upward mobility it would be OK," says Reich in the film. "But 42% of children born in poverty in the USA will stay there. In Denmark it's 24%. Even in Great Britain, where they still have an aristocracy, it's 30%."It's probably a shocking statistic for Americans to hear. The problem is that by every index you can measure, inequality is worsening in Britain. There are fewer opportunities to overcome the barriers of your birth in the UK than in any other country in Europe. One of the most chilling moments in Inequality for All for a British audience is that how, faced with the same choices that America had in the 70s, we have, in the last year or so, taken the same path.One of the key moments for Reich was the underinvestment in education, particularly higher education in the 70s. This was when America introduced tuition fees and its workforce started to fall behind the rest of the world's. When opportunities for those from low- and middle-income backgrounds began shrinking: precisely where the UK is today.It's not just that wages have remained flat in America – as they have in the UK – it's that the expenses of everyday life have soared, in particular education and healthcare.Last October, an independent commission in the UK led by the Resolution Foundation predicted that in 2020 wages for low- to middle-income families would be the same as they were in 2000. And yet everything else will have gone up. We too are facing the crunch.In December, the Office for National Statistics found that richest 10% of people in Britain own 40% of the national wealth. In London and the south-east, one in eight households has almost £1m of assets. The bottom half of the country has no net property wealth and only £4,000 in pensions savings. For them, there is just rising prices. And the ever diminishing possibility of things ever being different for them or their children."Where America leads, sadly the rest of the world follows. This same thing is affecting people all over the world," says Reich. "If nothing is done to reverse this trend, Britain will find itself in exactly the same place as America in just a few years' time."Earlier in the week, I notice that he'd tweeted: "Britain's austerity economics is complete disaster. Its economy shrinking." And pasted a link to the Wall Street Journal in which the head of the IMF took George Osborne to task. When I ask him about it, he calls our austerity economics "a cruel hoax". Cruel because "it hurts people who have been hurt enough". And a hoax because, "It simply doesn't work. Look at the figures."It should be our crunch time too. We have more people living in poverty who have jobs than those who don't, according to Oxfam. The average British citizen – the average – is three pay cheques away from destitution. And with the entire country poised on the brink of a triple-dip recession.Perhaps the unlikeliest thing about Robert Reich is how very chipper he is. Even though, by every measure, inequality has got worse in the United States since he started preaching his doctrine. He doesn't seem to let it get to him.There are clips of him from the 90s when he used to be a regular pundit on Fox News, but as American politics has moved to the right, he has found himself cast as a dangerous leftie. "Robert Reich?" says a pundit on one news clip. "He's a communist. A socialist." It's not a coincidence that he makes a point of saying in the film that he is not, and never has been, a member of the Communist party. And he and Kornbluth go to extraordinary lengths not to mention the word "Sweden" or "Japan" and barely even "Germany".No good will come of telling the American people what funny foreigners get up to. It is, instead, rather gently subversive, the aesthetic opposite of any film by Michael Moore. It tries to politely prod its viewers into looking at the world differently rather than beating them around the head with a heavy wooden bat marked "polemic".But American politics has become so polarised, so ideologically vicious, that it's only a matter of time before it's attacked by the right as Stalinist propaganda. "But I'm used to that," he says. "I've been attacked at a personal level for the last 30 years. I'm just excited that this might trigger a debate. Though I'm trying not to get my hopes up."Crunch time in the US is looking ugly. Reich believes that both the Tea Party and Occupy movements spring from the same sense of anger and frustration that people fear. That politics will become more polarised, more extreme, more hate-filled.One of the key pieces of research that Reich cites is a study of tax data by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty which shows that the years of peak income inequality in America were in 1928 and 2007. Right before both crashes. "The parallels are striking," he says. It's also striking what happened in the years after 1928. How in Germany, to take a random example, worldwide depression also led to a vicious polarisation of right and left. And certain other outcomes.Could that happen in America? "Oh good heavens, I hope not!" he says. "Though when you go into periods of economic insecurity with widening inequality which puts the middle class under stress, you create fertile ground for demagogues from left or right. The politics of hate. The politics of fear. We're already seeing that."And yet, despite, it all, he remains hopeful. "Change has always been difficult," he says. It's why he teaches. If he can't change the world, maybe his students will. Or people who watch the film? I ask and get a classic, understated, deadpan but not entirely unoptimistic Reichian reply. "I'm trying to keep my expectations in check."DocumentarySundance film festival 2013Sundance film festivalAl GoreUS economyEconomicsEqualityCarole Cadwalladrguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

29 января 2013, 17:06

RBS Could Face Criminal Charges Over Libor

So maybe too-big-to-fail banks aren't too big to jail after all. At least, it is starting to look as if tiny, digestible chunks of big banks are potentially subject to criminal charges, if the bank's evil deeds are obvious and egregious enough. The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. government officials are within days of announcing a $790 million fine and possible criminal charges for Royal Bank of Scotland over manipulation of the key short-term interest rate known as Libor. A deal could come in the next couple of weeks, the WSJ writes, but RBS officials are balking at the idea of pleading guilty to criminal charges. It is hard to blame RBS officials for balking -- only recently have U.S. prosecutors gotten brave enough to actually file criminal charges of any sort against banks. They started with the Swiss bank UBS, whose Japanese unit pleaded guilty last month to criminal charges to help settle that bank's massive Libor headache. Before that, ginormous banks such as Barclays (Libor) and HSBC (money-laundering) managed to dodge any criminal charges at all because officials were terrified of rattling the global financial system. When the world didn't end after UBS criminal charges, officials got a little bolder, the WSJ writes, meaning RBS might have to ritually sacrifice one of its own Asian subsidiaries. So that's good news: Actual criminal charges are likely to have more of a deterrent effect than the usual wrist-stinging fines and avoidance of admitting wrongdoing. Also helpful would be actual charges against individuals, of which there have been noticeably few in the Libor scandal. The BBC reported recently that dumb trader emails about Libor in the RBS case are "particularly lurid," which is really saying something, considering the history of dumb trader emails in this wide-ranging scandal. That suggests there could be grounds for some people to be sent to jail. And who knows? Maybe if prosecutors discover that they can send some people to jail over Libor without the world ending, then they might be emboldened to revisit the possibility of sending people to jail for the even more damaging mortgage-market shenanigans leading up to the financial crisis. Ah, but that's probably too much to ask.

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29 января 2013, 17:01

RBS Faces Criminal Libor Charges

Science has determined that people need to know 7.5 things per day, on average, about the world of business. You can't argue with science. Lucky for you, The Huffington Post has an email newsletter, delivered first thing every weekday morning, boiling down the day's biggest business news into the 7.5 things you absolutely need to know. And we're giving it away free, because we love you, and also science. Here you go: Thing One: Prosecutors Could Get Used To This 'Criminal Charges' Thing: So maybe too-big-to-fail banks aren't too big to jail after all. At least, it is starting to look as if tiny, digestible chunks of big banks are potentially subject to criminal charges, if the bank's evil deeds are obvious and egregious enough. The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. government officials are within days of announcing a $790 million fine and possible criminal charges for Royal Bank of Scotland over manipulation of the key short-term interest rate known as Libor. A deal could come in the next couple of weeks, the WSJ writes, but RBS officials are balking at the idea of pleading guilty to criminal charges. It is hard to blame RBS officials for balking -- only recently have U.S. prosecutors gotten brave enough to actually file criminal charges of any sort against banks. They started with the Swiss bank UBS, whose Japanese unit pleaded guilty last month to criminal charges to help settle that bank's massive Libor headache. Before that, ginormous banks such as Barclays (Libor) and HSBC (money-laundering) managed to dodge any criminal charges at all because officials were terrified of rattling the global financial system. When the world didn't end after UBS criminal charges, officials got a little bolder, the WSJ writes, meaning RBS might have to ritually sacrifice one of its own Asian subsidiaries. So that's good news: Actual criminal charges are likely to have more of a deterrent effect than the usual wrist-stinging fines and avoidance of admitting wrongdoing. Also helpful would be actual charges against individuals, of which there have been noticeably few in the Libor scandal. The BBC reported recently that dumb trader emails about Libor in the RBS case are "particularly lurid," which is really saying something, considering the history of dumb trader emails in this wide-ranging scandal. That suggests there could be grounds for some people to be sent to jail. And who knows? Maybe if prosecutors discover that they can send some people to jail over Libor without the world ending, then they might be emboldened to revisit the possibility of sending people to jail for the even more damaging mortgage-market shenanigans leading up to the financial crisis. Ah, but that's probably too much to ask. Thing Two: Immigration As Stimulus: President Obama today will announce immigration-reform plans that will be more liberal than the roadmap introduced by a group of Senators yesterday, including a quicker path to citizenship for millions of people in the U.S. illegally, writes the Washington Post. Though this is sure to get many conservatives' blood a-boiling, it could also be a boon to the U.S. economy, writes Edward Krudy of Reuters: "Relaxed immigration rules could encourage entrepreneurship, increase demand for housing, raise tax revenues and help reduce the budget deficit, economists said." See, the world's biggest economies all have demographic headaches, including rapidly aging populations. An influx of new blood could help solve that problem in the U.S., giving it an economic advantage. Thing Three: Fed Watch! The Federal Reserve starts a two-day policy meeting this morning, where it will discuss just how much money it wants to print to keep the U.S. economy moving along. Economists estimate the Fed will end up buying more than $1.1 trillion worth of bonds under its latest bond-buying program by 2014, Bloomberg writes. But economists aren't exactly sure how much this bond-buying will actually, you know, help the economy. And Fed officials are starting to get nervous about the possible side effects of all of this money flying around, Quartz's Simone Foxman wrote recently. Thing Four: Here In My Car I Feel Safest Of All: U.S. auto makers start telling us about their 2012 profits today, starting with Ford, which reported a $1.6 billion profit. Taken together, the past two years have been among the most profitable for the U.S. auto industry "in decades," the Wall Street Journal writes. Pretty impressive, considering two of the Big Three went bust just a few years ago. And now they have something to shoot for: Toyota last year regained the title of the world's biggest auto maker, overcoming natural disaster and recalls to sell 9.75 million units, compared with 9.29 for GM, the WSJ writes. Thing Five: Slow Down, You Move Too Fast: U.S. officials have been looking into whether media companies, including Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters, have been letting critical economic data slip a few microseconds too early, giving high-speed trading robots an advantage, the Wall Street Journal reports. They decided against filing criminal charges, in part because it's too hard to figure out what stuff got released too early and whether it actually helped any traders. Thing Six: Runaway Pay: Bailed-out U.S. companies such as GM and AIG have given their executives big raises for the past two years, while the Treasury Department twiddled its thumbs, according to a new report by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Christy Romero. She said Treasury essentially outsourced decisions about executive pay to the companies themselves, despite the fact that the U.S. government was still a stakeholder in those companies. Thing Seven: Mortgage Skimming: Federal prosecutors yesterday charged a former trader at the brokerage firm Jefferies & Co. of skimming a little bit of money here and there from clients in trades of residential mortgage-backed securities, writes the New York Times. Among the victims were funds set up by TARP to help bolster the market for RMBS, according to the government. The probe was led by Romero's busy TARP watchdog office. The total amount allegedly taken was not much, a little more than $2 million, but the case is an example of Romero's aggressive approach to enforcement, writes the NYT's Peter Lattman. Feel free to compare and contrast that to the approach taken by other government agencies (cough, Justice Department, cough). Thing Seven And One Half: The Yankees Still Suck: On this day in 1900 baseball's American League was founded in Philadelphia. The league originally consisted of eight teams, including the progenitors of today's New York Yankees (then called the Baltimore Orioles; today's Orioles were then called the Milwaukee Brewers) and Boston Red Sox (then called the Boston Americans). Only one of those teams, the Detroit Tigers, still has the same name and location as it did 112 years ago. Detroit also happens to be the most recent AL champion. The AL champion in the league's first year of play, 1901, was the Chicago White Stockings, now White Sox. Now Arriving By Email: If you'd like this newsletter delivered daily to your email inbox, then please just feed your email address to the thin box over on the right side of this page, wedged narrowly between the ad and all the social-media buttons. OR, if you are logged into a HuffPost account, you could simply click on this link and tick the box labeled "7.5 Things" (and any other kind of news alert you'd like to get). Nothing bad will happen to you if you do, unless you consider getting this newsletter delivered daily to your email inbox a bad thing. Calendar Du Jour: Economic Data: 9:00 a.m. ET: S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for November 10:00 a.m. ET: Consumer Confidence for January Corporate Earnings: Amazon.com Ford Harley-Davidson Pfizer U.S. Steel Heard On The Tweets: Barnes & Noble to close 20 stores a year. For the next 600 years. $BKS— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) January 28, 2013 Hey guys, wondering if the SAG Awards were full of class AND sass--- oh never mind. The CNN front page answered that exact question for me.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) January 28, 2013 I've been voted Most Likely To Never Exercise for three years not running!— Derek Lawler (@RowdyBowden) January 28, 2013 Me: want me to help you cook? Mom: no, all you ever make in the kitchen is a mess. Me: False. I've made several stellar fires.— Manda (@lilgapeach30) January 28, 2013 "Gangster Squad" is such a dumb name for that movie. It should be called "Ryan Gosling Is In This".— Robin McCauley (@RobinMcCauley) January 25, 2013 -- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman. And you can follow us on Twitter, too, if you want, no pressure: @AlexisKleinman and @MarkGongloff

03 января 2013, 03:36

Guest Post: Mother, Should I Trust The Government?

Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform blog, Mother, do you think they’ll drop the bomb?Mother, do you think they’ll like this song?Mother, do you think they’ll try to break my balls?Ooh ah,Mother, should I build the wall? Mother, should I run for president?Mother, should I trust the government?Mother, will they put me in the firing line?Ooh ah,Is it just a waste of time? Pink Floyd – Mother The lyrics to Mother had both a literal and figurative meaning for Roger Waters. He was literally describing his overprotective single mother (his father was killed in World War II) building walls to protect him from the outside world. The figurative meaning is Big Mother sending its boys off to war and using fear to control and manipulate the masses. At the time he wrote this song in 1979, the Soviet Union was thought to be at its peak of power and the Berlin Wall represented a boundary between good and evil. Nuclear war was still a looming fear. Waters has always had a dim view of totalitarian states and institutions (English schools). Having seen his Wall Tour performance this past summer at Citizens Bank Park with a diverse crowd of 40,000, ranging in age from senior citizens to teenagers, it seems this song has gained new meaning. He sang a duet with himself from 1980 projected on the Wall and when he sang the lyric, “Mother, should I trust the government?” the entire stadium responded in unison – NO!!! This revealed a truth that is not permitted to be discussed by the corporate mainstream media acting as a mouthpiece for the ruling class. A growing legion of citizens in this country does not trust the government. This is very perceptive on their part. In part one of this two part series – Hey You – I examined how an invisible government of wealthy, power hungry men have utilized the propaganda techniques of Edward Bernays and lured the American people into a narcissistic, techno-gadget, debt based servitude. Over the last one hundred years they have created a totalitarian state built upon egotism, material goods, and fulfilling our desires through Wall Street peddled debt and mass consumerism. It has been an incredibly effective form of control that has convinced the masses to love their servitude. The ruling oligarchs correctly chose the painless, amusement saturated, soft totalitarianism of Huxley’s Brave New World over the fearful, pain inflicting, surveillance state, house of horrors detailed in Orwell’s 1984. “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World The nefarious establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913, launch of welfare programs in the 1930s, expansion of the entitlement state in the 1960s, creation of the credit card in 1970, mass media marketing propaganda, and the formation of an empire of debt laid the foundation for a society based on triviality, egotism, irrelevance and mass delusion. The conscious manipulation of the habits and opinions of the masses by an invisible government of powerful men using media propaganda and easy to access consumer credit has reached its mathematical limit. The oligarchs built a society dependent upon exponential growth. This unsustainable prototype began to show signs of strain in the 1990s. The powerful interests have been growing ever more desperate and blatantly obvious in their looting and pillaging of the debt bloated carcass of a country. They used their control of the political system to repeal Glass-Steagall, allowing the Wall Street banking cabal to become Too Big to Control. The oligarch puppets at the Wall Street controlled Federal Reserve did the bidding of their masters by reducing interest rates and expanding the money supply to create two epic bubbles. The Dot.com bubble was created by Wall Street utilizing hype and misinformation to fleece millions into believing we had entered a new paradigm. The only people who got rich were the Wall Street hucksters, shysters and shills. When the Dot.com bubble burst, Alan Greenspan came to the rescue, at the urging of Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman, by creating the largest banker made bubble in the history of the world. The combination of excessively low mortgage rates, complete lack of regulatory oversight by the Federal Reserve, control fraud committed by the Wall Street banks, and buying frenzy stirred up by the corporate MSM and NAR, led to the biggest financial collapse since 1929. The white collared psychopathic criminals on Wall Street reaped billions in profits, paid themselves millions in bonuses, and cost taxpayers trillions when it all blew up in 2008. The ruling elite have added $6 trillion to our national debt and their central banker has added another $2 trillion to our ultimate tab, while providing free money to their Wall Street bank owners. They realize their efforts to restart the exponential growth engine have failed. They gutted our productive manufacturing based economic system by shipping the blue collar jobs overseas to Chinese slave labor facilities, replaced workers with machines, stimulated consumption with unlimited distribution of high interest debt, and allowed conglomerates to drive small business owners out of business with their cheap foreign sourced goods, all in the name of capitalism. The plan worked so well that real wages haven’t risen in 40 years, inflation has destroyed the purchasing power of the middle class, 47.7 million people are dependent on food stamps to survive, and the masses can’t even afford the cheap slave labor produced trinkets anymore. There is too little cash, too few jobs, too much debt, too many takers, too few makers, too many bankers, too much delusion, and too few resources to sustain the unsustainable. We have entered the end stages of a ravenous locust swarm. The fields have been stripped barren. When the men in smoke filled rooms realized their soft totalitarianism was losing its grip on the oblivious, submissive, egoistical, distracted masses, they began phase two of their effort to retain their wealth, power and control. They began to institute Orwellian measures to strike fear into the populace. Their illusion of control is dissipating and they are resorting to force in order to maintain hegemony. It began with the immediate passage of the Orwellian Patriot Act one month after 9/11. Did the corporate media question how a 363 page all-encompassing expansion of police state power was written in a few weeks after 9/11 and passed by October 26? They did not. The bill was pre-written and ready for instant implementation when the time was right. The Orwellian version of America was launched. “If the ideology had been a lie, then they are not heroes and gods on earth, but monsters and criminals, and their life has been self-serving and meaningless, without significance and honor. And that is the credibility trap. It is the impulse for the leaders to keep doubling down in the hope of a win, until exhaustion and collapse.” – Jesse        Obedience to Authority “Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.”  - Stanley Milgram – Obediance to Authority    Just as Edward Bernays knew the unruly masses could be manipulated by propaganda and molded to believe whatever the small group of intellectually superior men wanted them to believe, conditioning using fear and authoritarian methods have also been perfected by the ruling class. Doctor Stanley Milgram unwittingly provided the oligarchs with confirmation the average citizen could be ordered to do anything by invoking expertise and authority over their subjects. Milgram started his experiments in 1961, shortly after the trial of the World War II criminal Adolph Eichmann had begun. Eichmann’s defense that he was simply following orders when he exterminated millions of Jews roused Milgram’s interest. How could millions of Germans participate and condone such genocide? Milgram’s testing suggested that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs. Writer Kendra Cherry describes the experiment: The participants in the Milgram experiment were 40 men recruited using newspaper ads. Milgram developed an intimidating shock generator, with shock levels starting at 30 volts and increasing in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450 volts. The many switches were labeled with terms including “slight shock,” “moderate shock” and “danger: severe shock.” The final two switches were labeled simply with an ominous “XXX.” Each participant took the role of a “teacher” who would then deliver a shock to the “student” every time an incorrect answer was produced. While the participant believed that he was delivering real shocks to the student, the student was actually a confederate in the experiment who was simply pretending to be shocked. As the experiment progressed, the participant would hear the learner plead to be released or even complain about a heart condition. Once the 300-volt level had been reached, the learner banged on the wall and demanded to be released. Beyond this point, the learner became completely silent and refused to answer any more questions. The experimenter then instructed the participant to treat this silence as an incorrect response and deliver a further shock. Most participants asked the experimenter whether they should continue. The experimenter issued a series of commands to prod the participant along: “Please continue.” “The experiment requires that you continue.” “It is absolutely essential that you continue.” “You have no other choice, you must go on.” The level of shock that the participant was willing to deliver was used as the measure of obedience. How far do you think that most participants were willing to go? When Milgram posed this question to a group of Yale University students, it was predicted that no more than 3 out of 100 participants would deliver the maximum shock. In reality, 65% of the participants in Milgram’s study delivered the maximum shocks. Of the 40 participants in the study, 26 delivered the maximum shocks while 14 stopped before reaching the highest levels. It is important to note that many of the subjects became extremely agitated, distraught and angry at the experimenter. Yet they continued to follow orders all the way to the end. Why did so many of the participants in this experiment perform a seemingly sadistic act on the instruction of an authority figure? According to Milgram, there are a number of situational factors that can explain such high levels of obedience: The physical presence of an authority figure dramatically increased compliance. The fact that the study was sponsored by Yale (a trusted and authoritative academic institution) led many participants to believe that the experiment must be safe. The selection of teacher and learner status seemed random. Participants assumed that the experimenter was a competent expert. The shocks were said to be painful, not dangerous. The American people have been participants in their very own Milgram experiment being conducted by their government since 9/11. Since the passage of the Patriot Act, the government continues to demand that its citizens increase the voltage in the name of security. Since 2001, the Orwellian measures have included: Warrantless domestic surveillance. The ability to search telephone calls, emails, financial matters especially involving foreign individuals, and medical records for people who are “suspected” of endangering the country. Color coded risk levels designed to keep citizens fearful of non-existent terrorists. Pre-emptive invasion of foreign countries. Committing U.S. forces to war without a declaration of war by Congress as mandated in the U.S. Constitution. Assassination of people on presidential kill lists. Extermination of “suspected” enemies by predator drones. Camera systems monitoring the movements of Americans in cites and streets across the United States. Torture of detainees in camps outside of the United States. The authority to indefinitely detain America citizens without trial. Executive orders giving the President the ability to unilaterally disregard the U.S. Constitution and take control of private industries. Use of drones to monitor the activities of American citizens. Allowing the very bankers that destroyed the worldwide economic system to blackmail the American taxpayers into handing them $700 billion. Not prosecuting one Wall Street criminal after the largest Ponzi control fraud in the history of the world. Cameras and listening devices on public transit and other public locations. Military exercises conducted in U.S. cities in order to condition the masses. Attempts to control and censor the internet through the introduction of the SOPA bill. The use of tragic mass murders by mentally defective young men on psychotropic drugs to disregard the 2nd Amendment and disarm American citizens. TSA thugs molesting little old ladies and young children to desensitize citizens to gestapo like tactics and treat them like criminals. Government partnering with Facebook, Apple and other corporate entities to monitor, censor, and report the activities of citizens to the authorities. The use of public schools to teach children what to think rather than how to think. Thought control is vital to an agenda of keeping the masses fearful and pliable. Government agencies (FBI, ATF) creating terrorist plots, luring young dupes into the plots, providing fake explosives, and then announcing with great fanfare they have foiled a terrorist plot. “See something, Say something” government media campaign designed to make citizens paranoid and fearful. Just as Milgram pondered how the German people could follow the orders of those in authority to slaughter millions, one must ponder how the American people have allowed those in power to strip us of our Constitutional freedoms and liberties in the name of safety and security. They have conditioned the masses to passively accept their fate by utilizing fear, authoritarian measures, thought control, and propaganda. Human beings never change. They have been driven by emotions throughout history – fear, greed, love and hate. There will always be psychopathic men who seek wealth, power, glory and control. It happened during the decline of the Roman Empire and it is happening today during the decline of the American Empire. “A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.” – Tacitus Big Brother is Watching You “Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.” – George Orwell – 1984    What the average person can’t seem to process through their government public school educated non-critical thinking brains is that there are actually a small group of bankers, politicians, corporate executives, media magnets, and shadowy billionaires who call the shots in this country. They constitute Bernays’ invisible government, run the show, mold the minds, form the opinions, suggest the ideas, and create the reality for the masses because they believe they are intellectually superior. The left/right and Democrat/Republican discord is a planned diversion for the masses. The country has devolved into a corporate fascist warfare/welfare state. We are clearly moving in the direction of Orwell’s state in which government monitors and controls every aspect of human life to the extent that even having a disloyal thought will be against the law. The longer this is allowed to progress the more likely any effort to resist like Winston Smith will be met with brutal measures. The parallels to Orwell dystopian nightmare state grow by the day. Those in control use technology to bombard Americans with psychological inducements designed to overwhelm the mind’s capability for autonomous thought. In Orwell’s 1984 the giant telescreen in every citizen’s room blasts a constant stream of propaganda designed to make the failures and shortcomings of the Party appear to be triumphant successes. In Obama’s 2013 the 72 inch Chinese made HDTVs in every McMansion blasts a constant stream of propaganda designed to make the zombie-like occupants buy trinkets and gadgets with a thin piece of plastic and makes the failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya appear to be triumphant successes. Our corporate/fascist party uses their control over the media message to indoctrinate and control the public mind through propaganda and repetitive messaging. In Orwell’s world, the Party undermines family structure by inducting children into an organization called the Junior Spies, which brainwashes and encourages them to spy on their parents and report any instance of disloyalty to the Party. In our world children are indoctrinated in government run public schools that fill their brains with government manufactured history, social engineering claptrap and what they should think, rather than how to think. The Orwellian Department of Homeland Security (Thought Police) instructs them to report anyone they think is suspicious with their “See something, Say something” campaign. Children are “encouraged” to re-educate their parents about green energy and global warming. Corporations fund schools to advertise their products within the hallways of learning. The outputs of this corporate/fascist partnership are non-critical thinking, functionally illiterate, willfully ignorant Proles who obey the Party and consume products as instructed. In Orwell’s 1984 the Party keeps the population in a general state of exhaustion by making them work long grueling hours at government run agencies. This was designed to keep them from thinking or having the energy to resist. About one in six workers work for the government in the United States, with a substantial portion of private jobs dependent upon government largesse. The true distinction in our society can be seen in the income levels over decades of our own Inner Party, Outer Party and Proles. The government educated masses were purposely not taught about the impact of Federal Reserve created inflation on their lives. Even using the government manipulated CPI, the real household incomes of the masses have barely risen in the last forty five years. Using a true measure of inflation, the real household incomes of the average family have fallen. In addition, prior to the 1980s those household incomes were predominantly provided with one parent working and the other raising the children. Today the vast majority of households require both parents to work in order to just tread water. Child rearing was delegated to the state and parents have been kept in a constant state of exhaustion, like hamsters in a cage on a spinning wheel. Household income was replaced by credit card debt, mortgage debt, auto debt, and student loan debt peddled by our very own Inner Party (Wall Street bankers). The Inner Party members have seen their incomes soar over the last four decades. This was not an accident. As those at the top accumulate an ever increasing percentage of the national wealth, while consolidating their power through ever more sophisticated use of technology for surveillance, warfare, and financial theft; urban decay and blight spreads across the land. Totalitarian regimes are ferociously effective at augmenting their own power and wretchedly incompetent at providing for their citizens. Just as the London in Orwell’s dystopian world was a decrepit, rundown city in which buildings were crumbling, amenities such as elevators never worked, and basics such as electricity and plumbing were exceedingly undependable, the urban killing fields that are home to tens of millions in the United States are dangerous, disintegrating, hallowed out carcasses of once thriving metropolises. Hunger, poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and violence are the earmarks of society for the Proles. True unemployment exceeds 20%, with youth and minority unemployment exceeding 40%. There are 47.7 million Americans subsisting on food stamps (program administered by JP Morgan), accounting for 20% of all the households in the country. The incompetency and mismanagement by our totalitarian governing body is evident for all to see, as bridges collapse, water mains burst, gas lines explode, mass transit shuts down and structures deteriorate due to decades of neglect. The priorities of those in power are clearly visible as they spend trillions on weapons used to attack sovereign countries, distribute billions in “aid” to foreign dictators, provide trillions to the criminal banking cabal on Wall Street, and devote billions to technology designed to monitor and control their citizens. Our entire rotting, fetid, bloated, corrupt society has about reached its limits. It is only a matter of time until it implodes like the former Soviet Union. “Diminishing returns of ever-increasing complexity addressed with ever-more layers of complexity, larded with systematic lying based on mystifying, opaque jargon, sanctioned statistical misreporting, felonious cronyism, and scuttling of the rule of law. In short, the markets have been taken over in effect by a criminal racketeering syndicate. In doing this, so much resilience has been removed from these market structures that they are riddled with rot, like a mansion infested with carpenter ants.” – Jim Kunstler We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.Mamma’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true,Mamma’s gonna put all of her fears into you,Mamma’s gonna keep you right here, under her wing.   She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing,Mamma’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.Oooh babe, Oooh babe, Oooh babe,Of course Mamma’s gonna help build the wall. Pink Floyd – Mother The concepts of Doublethink and Newspeak are alive and well in our increasingly Orwellian society. The massive long-term campaign of large-scale psychological manipulation, described in detail by Edward Bernays in 1928, has succeeded in breaking down the capacity for independent thought by the masses. Those in control of the media have molded the minds of millions to believe anything the government tells them, even while possessing information that runs counter to what they are being told. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, the government and their media propaganda mouthpieces had convinced 69% of the American public that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks, even though there wasn’t a shred of evidence to support that claim. The storyline of Iraqi soldiers murdering Kuwaiti babies in their incubators during the first Gulf War was another example of propaganda designed to manipulate public opinion. By controlling the media message, those in power control the present and can manipulate the past. The government controls the curriculum in public schools and writes our history to conform to whatever storyline that supports their agenda. With 20% of the adult population in this country functionally illiterate, the formulation of ideas or critical thought is virtually impossible for these people. This is exactly what is desired by the ruling class. The outrageous example of Doublethink in Orwell’s 1984 occurs during the Hate Week rally.  The Party shifts its diplomatic allegiance, so the nation it has been at war with suddenly becomes its ally (Eurasia), and its former ally becomes its new enemy (Eastasia). When the Party speaker suddenly changes the nation he refers to as an enemy in the middle of his speech, the crowd accepts his words immediately, and is ashamed to find that it has made the wrong signs for the event. The American people have been programmed to accept the same logic from our leaders. Saddam Hussein was our ally when he was fighting our enemy Iran, who had been our ally ever since we had overthrown their democratically elected leader in the 1950s. Then he became our enemy for using weapons of mass destruction, provided to him by the U.S., on his own people and threatening our control over Middle Eastern oil. Osama bin Laden was our ally when he was fighting our mortal enemy, the Soviet Union. Then he became our mortal enemy because we refused to leave Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War. Ghadafi was our sworn enemy after blowing up an airliner filled with Americans, until he helped us after 9/11 and became an ally. Then he became an enemy again for fighting to maintain his dictatorship. Mubarak was an ally for decades as we provided him billions in military hardware so he could brutally maintain control. Then he became an enemy when we decided he was no longer of use. Do you get the picture? Do you see any parallels between Orwell’s Ministry of Plenty (oversees economic shortages); the Ministry of Peace (wages war); the Ministry of Truth (conducts propaganda and historical revisionism); and the Ministry of Love (the center of the Party’s operations of torture and punishment) and our Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, and Department of Homeland Security?   “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell Should I Trust the Government? So the oligarchs have utilized all the plays in Huxley’s playbook and are half way through Orwell’s playbook, but they are rapidly losing their credibility as a small minority of critical thinking people is using the internet to spread the truth and form phyles with like-minded citizens with similar values based on liberty and freedom. The political system is broken beyond repair as $2 billion was spent during this last “election” to maintain the status quo. The looting and pillaging of the middle class continues, while the poor are kept controlled, sedated and enslaved by entitlements, debt, drugs and prisons. The financial system is succumbing to the mountains of debt that have been accumulated trying to keep the game going. In the last ten years worldwide total credit market debt, on balance sheets, sovereign obligations, corporate debt, household debt – has grown from $80 trillion to just over $200 trillion. U.S. unfunded liabilities committed to by the politician parasites that pass for our representatives surpass $200 trillion. There are $1.2 quadrillion of interconnected derivatives outstanding in the world today, 20 times the size of the worldwide economy. The accumulation of worldwide debt, aging developed country populations, depletion of resources, perpetual war, financial fraud and rampant corruption are going to lead to a collapse of epic proportions. It may not happen in 2013, but it will happen within the next five years. Jesse explains why the status quo will never relinquish their power, illegally acquired wealth and control without a fight: “A credibility trap is a condition wherein the financial, political and informational functions of a society have been compromised by corruption and fraud, so that the leadership cannot effectively reform, or even honestly address, the problems of that system without impairing and implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure, including them. The status quo tolerates the corruption and the fraud because they have profited at least indirectly from it, and would like to continue to do so. Even the impulse to reform within the power structure is susceptible to various forms of soft blackmail and coercion by the system that maintains and rewards. And so a failed policy and its support system become self-sustaining, long after it is seen by objective observers to have failed. In its failure it is counterproductive, and an impediment to recovery in the real economy. Admitting failure is not an option for the thought leaders who receive their power from that system.  The continuity of the structural hierarchy must therefore be maintained at all costs, even to the point of becoming a painfully obvious hypocrisy.” The people of this country must regain a sense of responsibility for their lives and the lives of future generations. Enough people need to perceive they are being manipulated, controlled and used by the thought leaders and awaken from their narcissistic materialistic debt financed lives. Our culture has failed. The animosity and anger in the country is beginning to bubble over. The masses are beginning to realize they have been screwed. They haven’t figured out who to blame because they are still trapped in the Republican/Democrat false dogma. There is one Party putting on a show, as displayed this week with the fiscal cliff farce, as the government controlled media proclaimed victory because the status quo was maintained, nothing was cut, and $4 trillion was added to the National Debt. More people need to question and challenge the authorities. We must cast aside our willful ignorance of facts and accept the consequences of decades of bad decisions and delusions of grandeur. More government is not the answer. We must break free of the conditioning and mind control used to make us love our servitude and trust those in power. Kyle Bass recently revealed a fact about our government leaders: “They’re not going to tell you that a collapse is coming. You’re going to have to see it for yourself. The government’s never going to tell you that it’s going to happen. These guys are never going to tell you the truth, because they can’t tell you the truth. Their job is to promote confidence, not to tell you the truth.” We need more people to respond to Roger Waters’ question, “Mother, should I trust the government?” with this answer before we can begin to tear down the wall that seemed too high. “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell