Saturday, January 16, 2021

"America’s Slide Into Economic Oblivion Is Already Starting To Accelerate Here In 2021"

"America’s Slide Into Economic Oblivion Is 
Already Starting To Accelerate Here In 2021"
by Epic Economist

"The mainstream media is making it look delightful to live in a decaying society amid a devastating economic downturn that has been pushing millions over the edge. The most recent figures are alarming but, apparently, now that dissonant voices are being silenced and freedom of speech has been "canceled", the establishment's version of the facts became the universal truth. And what they are trying to convince us is that things are going to get so much better - "if we just believe it". The "new normal" looks so fun. People have become so "woke" about their environmental footprint that they're choosing to live in tiny homes, vans, and their own cars. That - obviously - doesn't have absolutely anything to do with the fact that proper, affordable housing has been removed from our reach. For some, it may be an adventure, a change in their lifestyle. For others... well, they don't have much of a choice, do they? About 40 million could be evicted by the end of the year, but if they're lucky enough to still have a vehicle of their own, maybe they can join the new hot trend, right? 

The expansion of "green initiatives" is being largely accepted. Now that health agencies have given the green light for people to snack on worms (yes, you heard that right), maybe people will have an inexpensive alternative protein source since the price of meat, pork, dairy products, and even some vegetables continues to climb to infinity. But, hey, it's all to protect mother Earth. Perhaps, a tiny little bit to keep the wallets of the wealthy nice and full while our living standards get sacrificed in the name of whatever the trendiest reason is at the moment, but we can't affirm anything for sure since expressing any independent thoughts might get you in trouble. Jokes aside, in this video we're going to report some terrible economic news that have been getting the most positive light possible in the mainstream media, but they actually don't give us much reason for laughter.

We are barely three weeks into 2021, and the most recent reports show that 965,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits during the previous week. The media says this is an "evidence that the resurgent virus has caused a spike in layoffs". No, not business shutdowns and the freeze in economic activity, the virus is the one to blame. According to the press, "the high pace of layoffs coincides with an economy that has faltered as consumers have avoided traveling, shopping, and eating out in the face of soaring viral caseloads". Sure, the consumer behavior shift is what's behind mass lay-offs. This worrying surge in unemployment figures have nothing to do with the restrictions federal and state governments imposed upon us.

Reports say that "employers shed jobs for the first time since April as the [health crisis] tightened its grip on consumers and businesses". It seems that the health crisis has now become an agent force of its own. Strict lockdown mandates, on the other hand, were just the "necessary evil" the whole nation had to endure to help curb cases.

Everywhere we look, we can see that the economy is falling apart all around us. Federal agencies can sugarcoat the data, but they can't impede us from interpreting them how they really are. At least, not yet. 2020 was undoubtedly one of the toughest years low-paid workers have ever faced. Unemployment for the lowest-paid workers in the U.S. is currently above 20%, but Federal Reserve officials are implying that this isn't enough justification for a policy change. 

In other words, policymakers have no intentions of changing the policies that have been hurting the economy. Therefore, there isn't an effective plan to assist the workers that have been struggling the most. But how can we put a positive spin on this? One may ask. Well, at least more and more workers are being conceded the opportunity to stay home and not catch a potentially fatal respiratory infection. So some could say that this labor market collapse has actually had a beneficial impact on public health. 

The American health care system is so primitive and profit-oriented that even during a global sanitary outbreak the main step to control contagion is to issue stay-at-home orders instead of educating the nation on how to handle effective health safety measures at the workplace. It's undeniable that the lack of efficacy of these procedures is leading our entire system to a disaster. As the economic collapse writer Michael Snyder has perfectly put into words "now there is deep pain everywhere around us, and the level of suffering is only going to increase as the U.S. slides even faster toward economic oblivion".

Must Watch! "Stop Buying Dumb Stuff; Zombies Keep Spending Money; Poor Get Poorer"

Jeremiah Babe,
"Stop Buying Dumb Stuff; 
Zombies Keep Spending Money; Poor Get Poorer"

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 1/16/21"

"Covid-19 Pandemic Updates 1/16/21"
 Jan. 16, 2021 2:22 PM ET: 
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 93,985,100 
people, according to official counts, including 23,721,328 Americans.
Globally at least 2,010,500 have died.

"The COVID Tracking Project"
Every day, our volunteers compile the latest numbers on tests, cases, 
hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state and territory.

“The Illusion of Freedom" (Excerpt)

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

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” - George Orwell, "1984"

“The Illusion of Freedom" (Excerpt)
by Jim Quinn

"The quote from Frank Zappa has truly come to fruition during the first two weeks of 2021. We have been living in a Surveillance State since the introduction of the Patriot Act in 2001 (Biden has boasted that he wrote the bill years before). Until Snowden and Assange revealed the depth and depravity of this un-Constitutional intrusion into our lives only the Deep State cabal knew the truth.

Most Americans ignored these revelations, as they continued to be distracted and entertained by their iGadgets and new social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and others. These social media companies parlayed people’s narcissist need for affirmation, likes and followers into multi-billion-dollar conglomerates with near monopolistic control over the distribution of news, opinions, and on-line communication of the masses.

They have gathered personal data on hundreds of millions, used that data to create an addiction to their platforms, created algorithms to maximize their monetization of you, and colluded with government surveillance agencies to spy on you. The illusion of free speech provided by these Silicon Valley billionaires was extremely profitable for the last couple decades, so now with virtually total control of internet communication, these left-wing oligarchs have conspired with the Deep State traitors, the Democrat party, and the Davos crowd to pull back the curtain and reveal the brick wall at the back of the theater.

They began moving the tables and chairs with the manufactured global pandemic for the Chinese bio-weapon lab virus in March. The psychopaths, who wield the real power, have no concern for humanity. They seized upon this “crisis” to implement a plan to remove Trump through using Covid as an excuse to roll-out a mail-in ballot scheme (supplemented with Dominion voting machine rigging) to commit just enough fraudulent votes to throw the election to basement Biden, a senile bumbling clown who drew tens of tens to his massive rallies."

Please view this complete and most highly recommended article here:

Musical Interlude: Melanie, "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)"

Melanie, "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)"
Full screen recommended.

Once upon a time...

"A Look to the Heaven"

"This fantastic skyscape lies near the edge of NGC 2174 a star forming region about 6,400 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation of Orion. It follows mountainous clouds of gas and dust carved by winds and radiation from the region's newborn stars, now found scattered in open star clusters embedded around the center of NGC 2174, off the top of the frame. 
Though star formation continues within these dusty cosmic clouds they will likely be dispersed by the energetic newborn stars within a few million years. Recorded at infrared wavelengths by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014, the interstellar scene spans about 6 light-years. Scheduled for launch in 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope is optimized for exploring the Universe at infrared wavelengths."

"The Sole Purpose..."

"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human 
existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being."
- Carl Jung

"The Human Condition"

"The Human Condition"
by Meanings of Life

"Man remains largely unknown of himself. What are we, in our innermost recesses, behind our names and our conventional opinions? What are we behind the things we do in our lives, behind what we see in others and what others see in us, or even behind things science says we are? Is man the crazy being about whom Carl Gustav Jung spoke ironically, when he demanded a man to treat? Is man the Dr. Jerkyll that contains in himself a criminal Mister Hyde, and more than a personality, and contradictory feelings?

Are we the result of our dreams, as Prospero, in the Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” asked? Are we able to raise our nature and become the dignified beings evoked by Pico de la Mirandola (It’s the seeds a man cultivates that "will mature and bear fruit in him. If vegetative, he will become a plant; if sensual, he will become brutish; if rational, he will reveal himself a heavenly being; if intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God")?

Almost two centuries ago, Spencer characterized the contradictory features of natives from the African east coast: "He has at the same time good character and hard heart; he is a fighter, conscientious, good in a precise moment, and cruel, pitiless and violent in the other; superstitious and rudely irreligious; brave and pusillanimous, servile and dominator, stubborn and at the same time fickle, relied to honor views, but without signs of honesty, niggard and economical, but careless and improvident".

It’s probably a good definition of a certain primitive man, to whom we are undoubtedly connected. But we are also cultural and ethic beings. We are able to change our values and behaviors. As William James says, human beings can change their lives through their mental attitudes. We can grow ethically. We can dominate part of our own instincts. And that’s why we can be different from the indigenous African described by Spencer. More: our thought dignifies us ("All the dignity of man consists in thought", says Blaise Pascal). We are, in many senses, the conscience of the Universe, and its utmost elaborated product. As Edgar Morin says, "in the core of our singularity, we carry not only all the humanity, all the life, but also all the cosmos, including its mystery, present in the heart of our beings".

We are creators, creator beings, and, in a sense, we can create, or recreate ourselves. All goes through our mind. It is our mind that constructs our truths and errors, and also the most sublime things in the Universe. And yet evil and stupidity exist in us. Sometimes we fall, we are stroked, and life reveals its cruelty, and we may think as Mark Twain, and say that it was a pity that Noah had arrived late to the ark. In our innermost recesses, there is also the cruelty and the inhumanity of life. Charles Darwin showed that we are descendants of inferior life forms: we have been long ago a "bush and a bird, and a fish silently swimming in the waters", to use the poetic terms used by Empedocles in its "Purifications."

From a genetic and evolutionist point of view, we contain in us the survival reflexes and the aggressiveness of the life forms that preceded us: "All that threatened the cave man - dangers, darkness, famine, thirst, ghosts, demons – all has passed to the interior of our souls, all troubles us, grieves us, threatens us from inside." (Morin). Besides, we are also beings that can differ significantly from each other. We are equal, but also different. "The awake involve a common world, but dreams deviate each one to its own world," Heraclites rather enigmatically declares. He thought we can’t help sleeping and living in illusory worlds, even when awake.

For all these reasons, Blaise Pascal’s celebrated definition of the human being, despite the hard language, not exactly agreeable to our ears, is undoubtedly one of the most powerful that can be applied to the rather unknown being that we can’t help being to ourselves: "What a chimera then is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth; depositary of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the pride and refuse of the universe! Who will unravel this tangle?"

"For Nothing Is Fixed..."

"For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out."
- James Baldwin

The Daily "Near You?"

Mcalester, Oklahoma, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

"My Own View..."

“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and
 dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit.
I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.”
- Christopher Hitchens

“You Want Rights? Well, Sunshine… Here’s What You’re Missing”

“You Want Rights? Well, Sunshine… 
Here’s What You’re Missing”
So Many Rights, So Little Understanding
by Chris

“Sometimes when I sit down to share my thoughts with you I know I’m going to piss off a bunch of people. Today is one of those days. So if you’re bitterly hostile, suffer from low self esteem, have nihilistic tendencies, and offer to the world a bag full of self contempt and not much else, then you need to read on. You’ll hate me for it but really… this is for you!

You’ve been fighting for all sorts of “rights” and sadly society is actually taking you seriously rather than treating you as they should, which is to say one with a mental illness. Instead, here we find ourselves in an environment where criminals are and will be made out of perfectly decent, honorable, good people.

For example, if you don’t get “affirmative consent” before getting jiggity with a partner, it’s considered rape on some university campuses. And the same goes if your partner has been drinking. By this criteria most every male in the world is a rapist, myself included. When you’re “in the moment”, nobody’s stopping, saying, “Hey, hang on a moment, sweetheart. Please, can you provide me with your affirmative consent to ravage you?” What the hell?  And if you and your partner had a glass of wine beforehand, you’re definitely a rapist.

Islamophobia is another. Listen, I could care less about your religious affiliation or lack thereof. If you’re not fearful of an ideological belief which champions ending your life if you’re not going to follow the doctrine, then you’re an idiot, and so it’s only idiots that campaign against common sense rational prudence.

As I mentioned when talking about the virtues of discriminationDo you discriminate when you steer clear of a group of young men with an aggressive swagger walking at night? I sure hope so. This is not prejudice it’s bloody prudence.

Now, you might ask yourself what on earth has this got to do with markets, Chris? This all matters a great deal, and I explained well before it happened (and shocked everyone). So yes, it matters and capital flows are affected. And it’s not just America or even North America. Because this is prevalent in Britain and Europe as I wrote about in what the silent majority is really sayingIn a mad bid to prove “acceptance” and “tolerance” the West have gone entirely off the deep end ignoring and condoning comments and actions completely antithetical and incompatible with modern Western Civilization.

While we’re on the topic of insane political correctness we can’t leave out gender equality (a ludicrous term because, by our very nature, women and men are not equal). Our very unequal-ness is what allows us to interact on a mutual and agreeable basis. And yes, the liberation of and freedom of women is easily one of the most positive forces that any country could possibly move forward on. That doesn’t mean we’re equal. I sure as hell can’t give birth, and I’m nowhere near as organized as my wife, and studies have shown that women are unequivocally more organized while men for example are more industrious. It’s how we’re wired. Trying to make us the same is pathologically stupid.

The Washington Post ran an article on how you and I will become criminals by inadvertently calling a spade a spade… a woman and woman… and a man a man. You can be fined for not calling people “ze” or “hir,” if that’s the pronoun they demand that you use. In fact, apparently there are 56 pronouns now to be used including such beauties as “gender-fluid” and “two-spirit”. You can’t make this sh*t up!
Perhaps we should just keep safe and use “oy” for everyone. That ought to sort the problem out. As for myself, I think I’m going with “Milord”.

Look, I could care less if you’re a bloke who lopped your diddle off and now wants to be called Sally, but this shouldn’t govern society, for goodness sake. Freedom of expression is one thing but this incipient, creeping cancer (because that’s what it is) attempts to dictate what are trivialities and it’s dangerous. Very dangerous! It’s an ideology and ideologies are extremely dangerous.

The Flip Side to Rights… are responsibilities. The “right” to free healthcare entails someone to provide that healthcare. That’s a responsibility and it takes effort, capital, skill, intellect, and hard work.

The same is true of all rights, and I want to emphasize this with flushed cheeks, waving hands, and spittle. All rights are someone else’s responsibility. It can’t be any other way. Take away the responsibility and your “rights” are just words because they’re as useless as Mike Tyson in a spelling bee. I mean go into, say, Zimbabwe and legislate universal free healthcare. Well, since there’s nobody responsible that’ll actually make that happen, it’s a waste of time.

And here’s the problem that bleeding-heart liberals fail to understand. The West is educating and grooming generations of useless, bedwetting, irresponsible intellectually vapid children (because, despite their age, that’s what they are). And lacking from this tsunami of the cotton-wool-clad crowd is ANY responsibility. Try foist it on them and they screech “triggered” and retreat to a “safe space”.

So pray tell, what happens when a real crisis hits? When the sovereign debt bubble bursts and the socialist systems that have been built on this funding mechanism (sovereign debt markets) and which are completely expected to simply provide for these “children” rapidly run out of funding?

Try explaining to these “children” that a mere 1% rise in bond yields could trigger a bond crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen before in our lives. And try further explaining what this means to all their “rights…” and you may as well be talking to your dog because intellectual rigor is not something they’ve ever been exposed to. Instead, they’ve spent their lives ensuring they’re shielded from it. The inescapable logic that being “two-spirit” could (and will) be rapidly superseded by the need to fill one’s belly is indeed entirely missed.

What happens next? I’ll tell you what happens next. We’ve the most fertile grounds you could imagine for tyranny because you know what? There ain’t gonna be nobody strong enough to stop it happening. What’s a sane person to do? Probably best to simply position accordingly.”

“Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most 
aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.” 
- Plato

"How It Really Is"

"America’s Slide Into Economic Oblivion Is Already Starting To Accelerate Here In 2021"

"America’s Slide Into Economic Oblivion Is 
Already Starting To Accelerate Here In 2021"
by Michael Snyder

"Isn’t it fun to live in a rotting, decaying society that is coming apart at the seams all around us? The latest economic numbers are extremely depressing, but now that free speech is being abolished and the elite are consolidating control over every aspect of our society, we are being assured that better days are right around the corner. We have just got to be willing to accept the “new normal” which includes living in “tiny homes”, snacking on worms, and never expressing any independent thoughts which diverge from official mainstream narratives. So with that in mind, I will try to share the horrible economic news that we have been getting in the most positive light possible.

This week, we learned that another 965,000 Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits during the previous week: "The number of people seeking unemployment aid soared last week to 965,000, the most since late August and evidence that the resurgent virus has caused a spike in layoffs.

The latest figures for jobless claims, issued Thursday by the Labor Department, remain at levels never seen until the virus struck. Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically numbered around 225,000. Last spring, after nationwide shutdowns took effect, applications for jobless benefits spiked to nearly 7 million – 10 times the previous record high. After declining over the summer, weekly claims have been stuck above 700,000 since September."

But we are being told that this is only because of the failed policies of the outgoing administration and that things will definitely be much better under the next socialist administration.

2020 was particularly a tough year for low paid workers. At this point, even officials at the Federal Reserve are admitting that the unemployment rate for low paid workers “is above 20%”: "Unemployment for the lowest-paid workers in the U.S. is above 20%, a figure that Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said underscores the importance of policy help for the economy. The figure indicates how uneven the recovery has seen since efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the biggest quarterly GDP drop since the Great Depression."

How can we put a positive spin on this? Well, at least more of them have had an opportunity to stay home and not catch COVID. So I guess you could say that this unemployment crisis has actually had a positive impact for public health. And more Americans are getting the opportunity to “stay home” with each passing day. Here is just one example: "Dropbox is cutting its global workforce by about 11%, the company said in an 8K filing released Wednesday. The company’s stock was down more than 4.5% in late-morning trading. The move will affect 315 people, who will be notified by the end of the business day."

Of course as fear of COVID continues to rise, American consumers are doing less shopping at Walmart and other corporate behemoths, and U.S. retail sales just fell for a third month in a row. But that problem will soon be fixed, because more universal basic income checks are on the way.

All of the previous socialist “stimulus packages” weren’t enough, and so Joe Biden has unveiled “a $1.9 trillion plan to prop up the economy”: "Friday offered the first chance for traders to act after President-elect Joe Biden unveiled details of a $1.9 trillion plan to prop up the economy. He called for $1,400 cash payments for most Americans, the extension of temporary benefits for laid-off workers and a push to get COVID-19 vaccines to more Americans. It certainly fit with investors’ expectation for a big and bold plan, but markets had already rallied powerfully in anticipation of it."

Doesn’t that sound great? And Biden is also calling for “a national minimum wage of $15 an hour”. Don’t worry, that won’t hurt the restaurant industry at all. I don’t know why that statement is true, but that is what the “fact checkers” want us to say.

And since Republicans and Democrats both abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility long ago, nobody is really pointing out that we are already 27.6 trillion dollars in debt and that we simply can’t afford any more “stimulus packages”.

In fact, thanks to all of the reckless spending that we have already done, the budget deficit for the month of December 2020 was more than 10 times larger than the budget deficit for the month of December 2019: "The U.S. government posted a December budget deficit of $144 billion – a record for the month – due to far higher outlays with coronavirus relief spending and unemployment benefits, while revenues ticked slightly higher, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday. The Treasury said the December deficit compares with a $13 billion deficit in December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic started in the United States."

Overall, the U.S. national debt increased by more than 7 trillion dollars under the outgoing administration, and even CNN is admitting that “it will go much higher under Biden”. But the adherents of Modern Monetary Theory assure us that “deficits don’t matter” and that we can borrow and spend as much money as we want. Since that is true, why don’t we make the stimulus payments much larger? If we are liquidating the Republic anyway, why not send a billion dollars to everyone?

Seriously though, there are millions upon millions of Americans that are deeply hurting as the U.S. economy melts down all around us. I hope that you enjoyed my attempt at injecting some humor into our situation, but what many Americans are facing right now is not humorous at all. At this point, most Americans are barely scraping by from month to month, and some are literally facing life or death financial decisions: "A mother’s tearful confession that she can’t afford her son’s insulin despite working full-time has left commenters deriding the American healthcare system. Katie Schieffer’s ten-year-old son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and requires insulin every two hours - but the North Carolina mother was left in tears when she couldn’t afford his $1,000 prescription."

Can you imagine what it would be like to be in her shoes? Our entire system is failing, and things are only going to get worse in the months and years ahead. For decades, America has been running in the wrong direction and our leaders have been making incredibly foolish decisions. Now there is deep pain everywhere around us, and the level of suffering is only going to increase as the U.S. slides even faster toward economic oblivion."

"Our True Friends.."

“Our true friends are those who are with us when the good things happen. They cheer us on and are pleased by our triumphs. False friends only appear at difficult times, with their sad, supportive faces, when, in fact, our suffering is serving to console them for their own miserable lives.”
- Paulo Coelho

"What Does The Quote 'Every snowflake pleads not guilty in an avalanche' Mean? "

"What Does The Quote 
 'Every snowflake pleads not guilty in an avalanche' Mean?" 
by Tom Robinson

 "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." 
- Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

"I have never actually heard this quote but I think it's brilliant and can easily infer the intended meaning. When a problem is the result of many people individually doing something only slightly wrong it is easy for each individual person to see themselves as having no part in it.

For example, everyone is against slavery. We all know that the conditions in the sweatshops that make so much of the clothing in stores are deplorable, and many westerners are aware that some of the clothing we wear may have been made by people who are effectively enslaved. But we tend to be okay with it at the same time. After all, we don't run sweatshops, we only buy some of the clothing that comes out of them. Even if you stop purchasing clothing made unethically, other people will continue to buy it and nothing will change. We are just going along with a system that exists independent of ourselves for our own benefit.

The same logic goes for electronics. Even if we are aware (most aren't) that the tantalum in the transistors in a device was taken from a system that promotes violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, all we did was buy the thing. We didn't pay any rebels. We didn't force anyone to mine coltan for a few cents a day.

When I was in kindergarten, I was in a play called "Nobody Stole the Pie." The premise was that the people of a town made a huge pie. Without telling each other, everyone in town takes a little piece. After all, the pie is so big no one would miss one piece. When the time comes to cut and serve the pie, lo and behold, it's gone and everyone tries to figure out who stole it. But even though nobody stole the pie, it has disappeared just the same. Oddly, I feel that my kindergarten play encapsulates this quote quite effectively.

Each snowflake is only a piece of the avalanche and cannot be held responsible for the destruction it causes. One snowflake can't tear down a tree or bury a skier, but a bunch of them can. This quote calls upon each piece of the behemoth to recognize that the part it plays, though minor, is still what leads to the result." 
Speaking of animated gifs, as we weren't, consider this...
Where'd that car come from?

"Designed To Fail, Failure Guaranteed"

"Designed To Fail, Failure Guaranteed"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"Systems and nations are designed to fail without anyone even noticing: nobody set out to design the current broken system to fail at critical points, but now failure can't be avoided because the incentive structure has locked in embedded processes that enrich self-serving cartels and insiders at the expense of the nation and its populace.

Nobody chose America's insanely perverse healthcare system - it arose from a set of initial conditions that generated perverse incentives to do more of what's failing and protect the processes that benefit cartels and insiders at the expense of everyone else. In other words, the system that was intended to benefit all ends up benefiting the few at the expense of the many.

The same question can be asked of America's broken higher education system: would any sane person choose a system that enriches insiders by indenturing students via massive student loans (i.e. forcing them to become debt serfs)? Students and their parents certainly wouldn't choose the current broken system, but the lenders reaping billions of dollars in profits would choose to keep it, and so would the under-assistant deans earning a cool $200K+ for "administering" some embedded process that has effectively nothing to do with actual learning. The academic ronin a.k.a. adjuncts earning $35,000 a year (with little in the way of benefits or security) for doing much of the actual teaching wouldn't choose the current broken system, either.

Now that the embedded processes are generating profits and wages, everyone benefiting from these processes will fight to the death to retain and expand them, even if they threaten the system with financial collapse and harm the people who the system was intended to serve.

How many student loan lenders and assistant deans resign in disgust at the parasitic system that higher education has become? The number of insiders who refuse to participate any longer is signal noise, while the number who plod along, either denying their complicity in a parasitic system of debt servitude and largely worthless diplomas (i.e. the system is failing the students it is supposedly educating at enormous expense) or rationalizing it is legion. If I was raking in $200,000 annually from a system I knew was parasitic and counter-productive, I would find reasons to keep my head down and just "do my job," too.

At some point, the embedded processes become so odious and burdensome that those actually providing the services start bailing out of the broken system. We're seeing this in the number of doctors and nurses who retire early or simply quit to do something less stressful and more rewarding.

These embedded processes strip away autonomy, equating compliance with effectiveness even as the processes become increasingly counter-productive and wasteful. The typical mortgage documents package is now a half-inch thick, a stack of legal disclaimers and stipulations that no home buyer actually understands (unless they happen to be a real estate attorney).

How much value is actually added by these ever-expanding embedded processes?
 By the time the teacher, professor or doctor complies with the curriculum / "standards of care", there's little room left for actually doing their job. But behind the scenes, armies of well-paid administrators will fight to the death to keep the processes as they are, no matter how destructive to the system as a whole.

This is how systems and the nations that depend on them fail. Meds skyrocket in price, student loans top $1 trillion, F-35 fighter aircraft are double the initial cost estimates and so on, and the insider solutions are always the same: just borrow another trillion to keep the broken system afloat for another quarter.Yet it still comes as a great surprise to everyone when doing more of what's failed spectacularly ends up collapsing the whole rotten structure.

Consider a spacecraft as a metaphor for a system which is designed not to fail but that can fail anyway. There are two basic ways the spacecraft can fail: a single essential component can fail, or a single failure can trigger a domino-like cascade which leads to the entire craft failing. If the craft's single oxygen tank ruptures, the crew dies. 99% of the spacecraft is still working perfectly, but the system failed in its primary purpose: keeping the crew alive. If an electrical failure causes a cascade of subsystem failures, you end up with the same result: a powerless craft and a dead crew. But 99% of the system is working just fine is little solace to the expired crew."

Friday, January 15, 2021

"The Affluenza Defense"

"The Affluenza Defense"
by Alexandra Petri

"Until a trial in 2012, I had never heard of affluenza. But it was used by the attorney for a wealthy 16-year-old as a defense against what could have been a 20-year sentence for killing four people in a drunken driving accident. Yes, really. 

As Max Ehrenfreund writes: "Prosecutors had asked that the boy be sentenced to 20 years in prison, but Gary Miller, the psychologist who testified in his behalf, recommended counseling. Miller said that the boy had an unhealthy relationship with his wealthy parents, who used him as a tool and a hostage to extract concessions from each other.

Meanwhile, they neglected to teach Miller that dangerous behavior could have serious consequences, according to the psychologist. “He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way,” Miller said. “He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”

He used the term “affluenza,” which describes the ennui and depravity of certain very rich people, and which was popularized by psychologist Oliver James in a 2007 book by the same title. The judge in the case, Jean Boyd, rejected the suggestion that the boy’s parents were ultimately responsible for his actions, and told him at his sentencing that he was at fault, according to WFAA. Yet Boyd agreed that the defendant needs therapy and said that she feared he would not receive it from Texas’s juvenile system.

All this about affluenza leaves me with one question: How do you catch it? It sounds like the best disease ever. Symptoms include: having money, having lots of money, having so much money you are actively unhappy about it, having lots of things, having lots of things and money, having so much money that none of your actions have consequences. Sign me up!

With a name like affluenza, it sounds relatively contagious. I think I remember reading about the Spanish affluenza epidemic that followed World War I? Suddenly everyone was confined to bed with more money than they knew what to do with, and it was only cured by the sharp stock market shock of October 1929.

But clearly the virus is still out there. How to catch it? I pondered this for some time. The trick, I reasoned, would be to find a place where wealthy people congregate and try to expose myself. So I stood on a country club lawn for several hours, hoping someone would sneeze. Nothing. I got hit in the head with a golf ball, though, and someone shouted something disparaging that I couldn’t quite make out that sounded like “99 percenter something something!” And then a butler came by and removed me, and I was right back where I started.

“Perhaps, however,” writers John de Graaf, David Wann and Thomas H. Naylor say in their bestseller “Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic,” “affluenza is more like a sexually transmitted disease.” Ah. Clearly I had been going about this wrong. I’m going to slip into something more comfortable and trek back out to that golf course. “Hey,” I will murmur, gazing at my bow-tie-clad interlocutor and fingering the rim of my cocktail glass, “do you have affluenza? Because if so, I’d like to catch it!” That’s sexy, right?

Soon I look forward to calling into work “affluent.” “Sorry,” I will say, rattling a sack of gold coins into the receiver, “can’t come in to work today. My affluenza is acting up again. I have to stay in the house buying expensive shoes but feeling really, really unhappy about it. Later I’ll go out and throw coins to the unafflicted. I’m sorry, did I say ‘to’? I meant ‘at.’ ”

“What?” my beleaguered employer will respond. Instead of saying anything, I will rustle several bills of different denominations and a giant blank check into the phone. “Did you not understand that, non-affluent person?” I will yell. “Money is speech, remember? I am fluent in money - one might even say, AFFluent!” My money and I will titter over this joke, then hang up. Later I will melt a whole pile of Rolexes and pour them into an anthill, just to see what happens. With affluenza, you need fear no consequences. “I can’t possibly be guilty of a crime, officer,” you point out, if anything comes up. “I have far too much money.” This is sound logic. You dangle a few dollar bills out the window, and suddenly it turns out you weren’t speeding at all. Most things, money can buy. And for everything else, there’s more money.

This might be a laughing matter if it hadn’t actually happened. But it has. After the Texas case, several psychologists told the AP that this was clearly not a real diagnosis to be used in court. “The simple term,” said one, “would be spoiled brat.” Nonsense. There’s a clear difference between a “spoiled brat” and “a poor affluenza-afflicted youth who cannot be made to suffer the consequences of his actions.” About three or four figures, I’d say."

"655 People Have $4 Trillion In Wealth, 200 Million Can’t Cover a $1000 Expense"

"655 People Have $4 Trillion In Wealth, 
200 Million Can’t Cover a $1000 Expense"
by Epic Economist

"The response to the health crisis has largely expanded the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the remaining American population to levels never seen before. The extraordinary monetary policies that were put in place to allegedly provide some support for American families have been more beneficial to the rich than to those who really needed help. As stock prices soared to astronomical heights, affluent investors have seen their wealth skyrocket, but for the rest of the country, the current recession has sent their finances down to a cliff. 

Jobless claims continue to surge, as several industries, especially in the hospitality sector, are still dealing with restrictions to their operations and barely managing to stay afloat. Consequently, the mass lay-offs are causing low-income groups to experience major financial distress, and tens of millions are potentially facing eviction in 2021. But although we are mired in the worst economic collapse ever recorded in all of U.S. history, the ones at the very top of the economic pyramid are laughing all the way to the bank. That's what we discuss in this video.

The financial abyss that lies between the haves and the have-nots is being placed under scrutiny, as the event of the health crisis has enabled authorities to deliberately allow the downfall of tens of thousands of mom-and-pop business through the introduction of deeply flawed monetary policies that have been pushing financial assets up and the economy further down. While stock market indexes staged a remarkable rebound from the lows seen last March when the outbreak first hit, the chasm between the wealthy and the poor has been dramatically widening to proportions never witnessed in U.S. history.

A recent BofA Global Research report has revealed that a measure of the differential between gains in financial assets and the health of the economy hit a record at 6.3X in 2020. At this stage of the recession, it goes without saying that stock markets have become completely divorced from economic reality. Stock prices are absurdly overvalued compared to historic levels. 

According to Business Insider estimates, since the burst of the sanitary outbreak, multiple prominent billionaires expanded their wealth by over a half a trillion dollars. This impressive wealth growth occurred despite the 20 million unemployment claims registered at the peak of the crisis last spring, as American workers were left jobless once lockdowns and social distancing measures were implemented to limit the spread of the virus. 

A report by Moody’s Investors Service suggested that income and wealth inequalities are keeping the U.S. economy from reaching its full potential and posing an ongoing “social risk”. That is to say, much more civil turbulence might arise as a consequence of worsening life conditions for low-income groups, which have been particularly affected by the economic fallout of the health crisis and left without alternatives and a proper safety net. 

As more jobs started being shed since last month, the country is undergoing a significant loss of momentum that will likely compromise our chances of finally heading out of this recession. Even though 2021 has just begun, first-time claims for unemployment insurance jumped to 965,000 during the week ended on January 9, evidencing the signs of turmoil brought on by restrictions in economic activity. The number was the highest recorded since the week ended on August 22, when more than 1 million claims were filed.

Meanwhile, a new report from has revealed that only 39 percent of all Americans would be able to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense, which means roughly 61 percent of Americans can't afford to have any emergency spending. The survey also found that Americans are getting increasingly less optimistic about the future, especially amongst older groups, with only 28% of those aged 66 and older expecting a better financial situation this year. It has become apparent that pessimism is sweeping across the country, as many are fearing another financially painful year. Just as consumers', business owners' optimism is falling as well.

It's no wonder why so many people are losing their hopes for a better year. Traditionally, Americans have been known as optimistic and forward-thinking people, but in face of the meltdown of so many institutions, and mounting uncertainty about what's lying ahead, there just aren’t any reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. economy in 2021. 

Knowing that our leaders aren't worried enough about fixing the economy by safely reopening businesses and putting workers back to their posts, but instead, they will likely continue adding to the national debt by launching massive spending to keep the markets heated while Main Street crumbles, we will be inevitably seeing more civil agitation in the months ahead - the perfect recipe for chaos." 

Musical Interlude: 2002, "Breathing Light"

2002, "Breathing Light"
Full screen recommended.

"A Look to the Heavens"

"Distorted galaxy NGC 2442 can be found in the southern constellation of the flying fish, (Piscis) Volans. Located about 50 million light-years away, the galaxy's two spiral arms extending from a pronounced central bar have a hook-like appearance in wide-field images. But this mosaicked close-up, constructed from Hubble Space Telescope and European Southern Observatory data, follows the galaxy's structure in amazing detail. 
Obscuring dust lanes, young blue star clusters and reddish star forming regions surround a core of yellowish light from an older population of stars. The sharp image data also reveal more distant background galaxies seen right through NGC 2442's star clusters and nebulae. The image spans about 75,000 light-years at the estimated distance of NGC 2442."

“Signs And Wonders”

“Signs And Wonders”
by Jim Kunstler

"In case you don’t know what condition our condition is in, the name for it is a crisis of legitimacy. Four years of seditious harassment by a “Resistance” within-and-without the US Government culminates in the janky election of a mentally incapable grifter… run by whom? Does anyone seek to know who, exactly, is pulling Joe Biden’s strings? My guess would be…duh… Barack Obama and his posse. When will he be outed? Maybe today… or next week at the latest. Heads will explode to see liberalism’s bowling trophy fall off the national mantelpiece. If you think Nancy Pelosi is running around in a hebephrenic fugue state now, just wait.

A crisis of legitimacy means that citizens have lost faith in their institutions, that is, in the armature of agreements and procedures for running this society. Do you have any idea how much damage RussiaGate did to the country? The three-year-long mind-f**k perpetrated by the highest officials of the FBI and the CIA ruined whatever was left of their reputations. Not only are citizens not safe from the powers of life-and-death vested in these agencies, but they know that officials who wield that power recklessly won’t be held responsible when acting outside the law. Are we any better now than the Russians under Leonid Brezhnev?

UkraineGate and the first Trump impeachment it spawned was a CIA operation that used CIA agent Eric Ciaramella and Intel Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson (a former DOJ RussiaGate player) to cover up the influence-peddling crimes of Joe Biden’s family behind a smokescreen of perfidy fanned over the nation by the notorious RussiaGate liar, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). The State Department assisted in that op, and now the whole country knows that they are also ethically unreliable.

In both of these gigantic flimflams, the president could not get any satisfactory scrutiny of the injuries attempted against him, because the ops were run by the very agencies needed to provide that scrutiny over unlawful official behavior. Did the DOJ and its stepchild, the FBI, show any interest in the recent voting irregularities, or is it just convenient to let it all slide so they can answer to a new president, with a clear and urgent interest in burying the matter?

Is it any wonder that a huge chunk of the population doesn’t believe the election was on-the-level? Federal law enforcement has not revealed the identities of exactly who incited the invasion of the Capitol building - and do you believe who The New York Times and CNN claim it was: white supremacist Nazis? Has it not occurred to the “winner” and his handlers that such a public mood of distrust will thunder through our national affairs going forward?

It’s late in the game but something appears to still be in play, and the Resistance is keenly aware of it: a trove of declassified documents laying out their crimes against their own countrymen. Nothing has stuck to the Resistance because they controlled the levers of adjudication. What if, under the extraordinary conditions of the moment, those levers are transferred to one arm of the government that has not disgraced itself: the military? I wrote in this blog more than once in recent years that political disorder could lead to this. Has that moment come?

Thousands of troops are billeted in and around Washington DC now. Why is that? The figment of more white supremacists coming to reenact last week’s incident at the Capitol? I don’t think so. A BLM/Antifa riot, like the ones staged in cities (including Washington DC) all through the summer and fall? (Weren’t they mostly peaceful?) Or is something else up, something that will mark an epochal shift in the fortunes of the USA?

Did you catch Joe Biden on TV last night? Did his appearance fill you with the sweet, warm unction of reassurance? Or did you get the impression that I got: of a near-mummy in a state of panicky confusion, sent from his hidey-hole out to a podium to give an impersonation of someone in authority? I didn’t believe the performance for a minute. The poor schlemiel is headed straight into history’s discontinued merchandise bin. He will probably wonder what awful vanity propelled him down the memory hole as he descends into the darkness… but his memory preceded him down the memory hole and he will have forgotten how the whole thing started. His exit will be a merciful one compared to the people who trussed him up and shoved him onstage to flesh out their lame narrative."

"The Problem Is..."

“How small a portion of our life it is that we really enjoy. In youth we are looking forward to things that are to come; in old age, we are looking backwards to things that are gone past; in manhood, although we appear indeed to be more occupied in things that are present, yet even that is too often absorbed in vague determinations to be vastly happy on some future day, when we have time.”
- Charles Caleb Colton, “Lacon”
“The problem is, you believe you have time.”
- Buddha
Hans Zimmer, "Time"
Full screen recommended.

"Economic Market Snapshot PM 1/15/21"

"Economic Market Snapshot PM 1/15/21"
"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will
do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."
- John Maynard Keynes
"Down the rabbit hole of psychopathic greed and insanity...
Only the consequences are real - to you!
Gregory Mannarino, PM 1/15/21:
Stocks, Bitcoin, Crypto, Gold, Silver, MORE"
"The more I see of the monied classes, 
the better I understand the guillotine."
- George Bernard Shaw
MarketWatch Market Summary, Live Updates

CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:
A comprehensive, essential daily read.
Daily Updates, Jan 15th to 18th
Financial Stress Index
"The OFR Financial Stress Index (OFR FSI) is a daily market-based snapshot of stress in global financial markets. It is constructed from 33 financial market variables, such as yield spreads, valuation measures, and interest rates. The OFR FSI is positive when stress levels are above average, and negative when stress levels are below average. The OFR FSI incorporates five categories of indicators: credit, equity valuation, funding, safe assets and volatility. The FSI shows stress contributions by three regions: United States, other advanced economies, and emerging markets."
Daily Job Cuts

Commentary, highly recommended:
And now, the End Game...