"From our vantage point in the Milky Way Galaxy, we see NGC 6946 face-on. The big, beautiful spiral galaxy is located just 20 million light-years away, behind a veil of foreground dust and stars in the high and far-off constellation of Cepheus. From the core outward, the galaxy's colors change from the yellowish light of old stars in the center to young blue star clusters and reddish star forming regions along the loose, fragmented spiral arms.
NGC 6946 is also bright in infrared light and rich in gas and dust, exhibiting a high star birth and death rate. In fact, since the early 20th century at least nine supernovae, the death explosions of massive stars, were discovered in NGC 6946. Nearly 40,000 light-years across, NGC 6946 is also known as the Fireworks Galaxy. This remarkable portrait of NGC 6946 is a composite that includes image data from the 8.2 meter Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea.”
"Well, it is our fate to live in a time of crisis. To live in a time when all forms and values are being challenged. In other and more easy times, it was not, perhaps, necessary for the individual to confront himself with a clear question: What is it that you really believe? What is it that you really cherish? What is it for which you might, actually, in a showdown, be willing to die? I say, with all the reticence which such large, pathetic words evoke, that one cannot exist today as a person, one cannot exist in full consciousness, without having to have a showdown with one's self, without having to define what it is that one lives by, without being clear in one's mind what matters and what does not matter."
"Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told- and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their 'beliefs.' The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion."
"Did you know that President Joe Biden signed the “death warrant on American freedom” on Wednesday, March 9, 2022? On that day, in a hushed ceremony, without the support of Congress, the states, or the American people, Biden signed the most treacherous act by a sitting President in the history of our republic and signed into law Executive Order 14067. The signing of the supposed death warrant might imply:
• Legal government surveillance of all Americans.
• Total control over bank accounts and purchases.
• Complete obsolescence of the U.S. dollar, and the welcoming of a programmable digital currency dubbed “Biden Bucks”.
• Punishments for select contributions, purchases or even commentary made on social media
Why is a digital currency problematic? Former Pentagon and CIA advisor Jim Rickards predicts that President Biden doesn’t intend to merely replace cash with digital currency. Particularly, he sees this as an opportunity for the government to gain full control over money, from tracking and recording every conceivable transaction. For people who believe it is all comparable to online banking, Jim says “This is very different from online banking, and it has nothing to do with crypto.”
Long story short, some countries are already looking at pilot programs for their own digital currencies. In the U.S., it’s just a question of “when” and as per Jim, “It’s already happening.” Truthfully, the expert believes that the digital dollar will circulate sometime between 2023 and 2024. What does this mean for existing assets, not to mention freedom?"
"Buried in the new government spending bill is Executive Order 14067 (called “Bitcoin’s Evil Cousin”). James Rickards and Robert Kiyosaki call this evil move to eliminate our US Currency and replace it with ‘Biden Bucks’ “the most treasonous act in U.S. history.” Some of America's smartest men, including Robert Kiyosaki, investment guru and author of the personal finance book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," have some choice words for Executive Order 14067. It would behoove you to listen to them.
Executive Order 14067, titled "Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets," includes developing policy plans and the organization of federal regulators. "Any future dollar payment system should be designed in a way that is consistent with United States priorities and democratic values, including privacy protections, and that ensures the global financial system has appropriate transparency connectivity, and platform and architecture interoperability or transferability, as appropriate."
Kiyosaki called President Joe Biden's signed executive order "the most treasonous act in U.S. history" and the creation of Central Bank Digital Currencies, or CBDC, as "communism in its purest form," encouraging Americans to "stay awake." He is joined by Jim Rickards, another economist, investor and former CIA official who is calling it a step toward the end of cash, the greenback, in circulation since the founding fathers. The new "digital tokens" can be "turned off" if the government doesn't like what you are doing. Rickards has four decades of experience on Wall Street.
Rickards criticized CBDC and labeled it as "Bitcoin's Evil Cousin." He also exposed the supposed singular event called C-Day, which according to him, will take place on Dec. 13, 2022, and will disrupt the traditional financial systems in the U.S. Please understand the possible implications of this ultimate challenge to our ‘free society’.
1.) Any cash you now have saved outside of the banking system is invalid and will no longer be of any value when this process is complete.
2.) Any digital currency you have in the bank may be turned off by government thugs for not obeying the correct party line.
3.) Those selling precious metals for money will receive ‘Biden Bucks’ rather than cash.
4.) No ‘Biden Bucks’–no food, rent, mortgage, cars, clothes etc. Everything will be denied.
He said when what he calls "C-Day" happens, paper money would be worthless and the U.S. dollar would crash. He further added that consumer spending and access to basic needs would also be restricted, and people holding too much money would be penalized.
The International Monetary Fund said in a blog released last month that CBDCs can be a more effective solution compared to credit and debit cards, particularly in terms of energy efficiency. "Depending on the specific details of how they are configured, CBDCs and some kinds of crypto assets can be more energy-efficient than much of the current payment landscape, including credit and debit cards," the blog read.
“When Biden Bucks are rolled out, many experts – myself included, believe they will begin an era of total government control and surveillance,” Rickards stated. Kiyosaki commented, “This is not hyperbole. This would dramatically expand the power and influence of the federal government, essentially acting as a new type of ‘spyware.’ With Biden Bucks, the government will be able to force you to comply with its agenda. Because if you don’t, they could turn off your money. This won’t be like freezing a bank account, it will be so much easier.”
What else have I forgotten that is going to be destroyed by this digital end game? Oh, yes, they combined this bill with the 87,000 new armed IRS agents, and now we know why. What could possibly go wrong?"
"We are told that the producer price index is dropping and that core inflation is leveling. But we just got news the grocery prices hit the highest level in 43 years. Which is it? I believe that we have not seen the end of inflation."
"The USA has been in a terminal decline since 1971. The offshoring of the foundation of the US economy began in earnest. Everyone alive during the 1970s knew something was very wrong. The US had a brief respite from 1981 to 1989 thanks to the Boomers hitting their peak age and having children. American patriotism and nationalism made a brief comeback.
The Gulf War and the short early ’90s recession just brought back the feeling that something was wrong. Clinton came along as an anti-Bush candidate and won. The average American didn’t understand that Clinton was really a deep state figurehead and the plans hatched in the 1970s were going to be put in overdrive. After 2000 the USA entered into a depression that has lasted for over two decades.
The only bright spot has been the massive excess in the speculative stock market that has become 100% of the economy. Profitless companies are worth trillions of dollars, corporations that if they were to disappear tomorrow, there would be no consequence other than fictional money being vaporized. We are supposed to believe we have a $22 trillion economy. Out of what? This hollowed out shell of a nation?
The GDP of 1985, the strongest year of real commerce anyone can claim since the 1950s was only $4.3 trillion. That’s less than the US government spends on its budget in 2022. Do you really see five 1985s out there? Think of the number of stores, manufacturing companies, restaurants, and everything else of 1985. Today they are almost all gone, replaced by mega conglomerates.
There is also another thing: the United States record for car sales happened in 1977, back when GDP was just above $2 trillion. But since fraud is now the #1 product produced in America, it is plausible to make $22 trillion of it."
A message for some of the people, some of the time...
by Joel Bowman
Buenos Aires, Argentina - “There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.” - George W. Bush
“What if they’re wrong?” It was a question that came up a few times this week in Bill’s missives... and one that should always be on our mind. What if they’re wrong about the economy... about inflation... about climate... about masks and vaccines and two weeks to flatten the curve? What if they’re wrong about “the Fauci Effect”... about the $433 billion Inflation Reduction Act... about $80 billion in “aid” to the Ukraine?
Mind you, there’s nothing political here. Or at least, there shouldn’t be. Rather, the fact that merely asking the question - any question - has become politicized at all... is in itself a cause for concern.
Take the Covid, for example. Time was, regular, non-partisan citizens would want to know about the origins of a virus that spurred governments into shutting down the entire global economy... and pressing the “reset” button. “If we knew whence it came, perhaps we’d be able to better understand it,” Joe Citizen might reason. “Perhaps we’d be able to develop a whole range of treatments to help fight it. And maybe, just maybe, we could take measures to prevent such a thing from happening again.”
Seems... rational. But in the wake of the outbreak... and the subsequent lockdowns that were imposed, on the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, the at-risk and the carefree... to say nothing of the vaccine mandates, where people’s careers were destroyed, their reputations sullied, their families torn apart, all for standing up for nothing short of bodily autonomy...to so much as ask the question was tantamount to treason, to being against “The Science,” as if there were such a thing, set in stone and impervious to skepticism. (When of course, the exact opposite is true – science, as a process, nourishes itself on the prying curiosity of the skeptical mind.)
“A Devastating Take Down”: And yet, people who dared wonder aloud, to stick their neck out publicly, were cast as heretics, unbelievers, declared public enemies. Concerning the highly questionable efficacy of mass lockdowns, the director of the NIH, Francis Collins, exchanged emails with Tony “The Science” Fauci, in which he called for a “quick and devastating take down” of any dissenting discussion of the matter... including from leading experts in the field. You can read his actual email for yourself, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act filed by the American Institute for Economic Research, right here...
Those “fringe epidemiologists” to whom Collins referred were professors Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta and Jay Bhattacharya... hailing from such off-the-wall conspiracy tanks as Harvard, Oxford and Stanford Universities, respectively. The crackpot trio of dangerous skeptics dared favor a policy they termed “focused protection,” in which high-risk populations, such as the elderly or those with medical conditions, were given extra care and the young and healthy were left to carry on with things like... oh, keeping the world economy from collapsing and tens of millions of people falling into poverty as a result. Thousands of scientists signed the declaration—provided, of course, they were able to learn about it.
Again, there shouldn’t be anything political about this... either lockdowns work, or they do not. A good-faith, open, objective examination of the evidence ought to help decide the case. Alas, when the situation calls for a scalpel, the administrative state arrives with a chainsaw, hacking away like a possessed maniac.
Of course, one can hardly blame them for behaving the way they do. You wouldn’t get mad with a crocodile for eating your pet chihuahua. (But you might not let Fluffy too close to the shore...) In the end, the feds have nothing but weapons of mass disruption... and a reflexive instinct to use them. There’s no finesse. No nuance. No gray area. So it goes in matters of monetary policy, too; there’s on... or off. Raise... or cut. Inflate... or die. It’s just the nature of the beast.
As to the question at hand, “What if they’re wrong?”, the market seems to believe that inflation is “whipped,” that the Fed can relax its rate hiking frenzy and that, therefore, the worst of the selling is over, with nothing but blue skies ahead.
Bonner Private Research’s Investment Director, Tom Dyson, is quite not so convinced. He dared question the prevailing narrative in a research note sent to members this past Wednesday. Here, Tom outlines the Big Picture as he sees it..."The long era of low inflation in the West is over. This era was fueled by cheap Chinese goods, cheap energy and cheap immigrant labor. It was temporary. And it’s finished.
We’ve now entered a new era of high but capricious inflation. This is the single most important long term economic fundamental you need to understand. It changes everything, and will determine the big trends in the markets for decades to come. Maybe even for the rest of our lives. Call it a generational regime change. Most people are completely unprepared for this. They continue to operate under the old regime. It’s going to be a long and painful adjustment for them.
High but capricious inflation means higher interest rates… everywhere. Why? Because the Feds have been fighting deflation with asset price inflation for 40 years. Now they’re going to be doing the opposite: fighting inflation with asset price deflation. It’s the reverse. They’re going to need persistently higher interest rates to do this. Talk of an imminent Fed pivot is nonsense. The Fed is going to keep raising interest rates and reducing the size of its balance sheet. Other central banks will follow the Fed’s lead.
Negative yielding debt will never be seen again. In fact, the entire central banker playbook will change. The old playbook said “always be easing.” The new playbook says “must fight inflation and must uphold central bank credibility.” No more quantitative easing. No more easy money backstop. No more “buy-the-dip.” Now inflation is here, these tools are redundant. Recessions will become more frequent. Like in the old days. It was normal to have two recessions per decade.
Stock market valuations will be lower, generally. Also like the old days. The last 40 years were an aberration. That high plateau of valuations is giving way to more normal valuations. If interest rates move permanently higher, then stock valuations must move permanently lower. Because of this, I think the S&P 500 is in the early stages of a long bear market."
"Shopping At Kroger Marketplace! Massive Price Increases!"
"In today's vlog we are at Kroger, and are noticing massive price increases! We are here to check out skyrocketing prices, and a lot of empty shelves! It's getting rough out here as stores seem to be struggling with getting products!"
"George Orwell’s prophetic novel "1984" has often been invoked for its ability to predict the increasingly arbitrary and tyrannical nature of our present society. But three years before the publication of "1984", another dystopian novel which was in some respects more prescient than Orwell’s appeared in English bookstores.
Like "1984", only on a smaller scale, C.S. Lewis’s "That Hideous Strength" describes a descent into tyranny that bears an eerie resemblance to our current situation. However, Lewis foresaw a few things that weren’t on Orwell’s radar. When Orwell reviewed "That Hideous Strength" shortly after its publication in 1945, he warned that “we are within sight of a time when such [monstrous] dreams will be realizable.” But Orwell also criticized Lewis for bringing “supernatural elements” into the story because “they offend the average reader’s sense of probability.”
But if there are supernatural forces at work in the world, wouldn’t one be remiss not to mention it? The dystopian society depicted in "1984" was based partly on Nazi Germany and partly on Soviet communism. Yet, both regimes took a deep interest in the supernatural. The Nazis hoped to replace Christianity with an occult religion centered on Hitler as savior. And the Leninists and Stalinist wished to stamp out belief in God altogether. They slaughtered tens of thousands of priests and nuns in the process.
Many Christians and some agnostics, as well, view our present culture wars in similar terms -as a conflict between those who believe in God and those who think that humans can shape their own destiny without any reference to God or his laws.
In bringing in the supernatural, Lewis may have been more prescient than Orwell. The members of the power-hungry National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.) are now a very recognizable type. Increasing numbers of our social elite seem to think that science has replaced God. And like the leaders of the N.I.C.E. Institute, many of our leaders think that science has all the answers to life’s problems - including the problem of crime and the problem of death.
Indeed, for the top brass at N.I.C.E., belief in progress through science has become a religion - to the point that they are willing to call down supernatural forces that they do not understand to aid them with scientific experiments that they do not understand. Tellingly, Hingest, the only really accomplished scientist in the Institute is murdered by his colleagues for fear that he will betray their plans.
At first, their plans go well. Before long, N.I.C.E. controls Bracton College, then the University of Edgestow, and then, the whole town. Nothing, it seems, can stop them from seizing control of all of England.
Then things begin to go awry. Because of their continued communication with the Macrobes -highly intelligent beings from outer space - the N.I.C.E. leaders begin to lose control of their powers of concentration. At one point, Professor Frost - one of the “inner circle” - finds himself unable to speak: “Nothing but nonsense syllables would occur to his mind.” Later on, at the long-awaited “victory” banquet at Belbury Hall, things fall apart.
The director of the Institute gets up to speak, but his speech soon turns to gibberish. Unable to help themselves, people in the audience begin to laugh. But old Jules is only a puppet - a figurehead. And he is expendable. John Wither, the Deputy Director, and the real head of N.I.C. E. muses to himself that it might be advantageous if Jules makes a fool of himself: “Jules was in many respects a nuisance, and this might be as good an opportunity as any other for ending his career.”
So, Wither who is also old, gets up, firmly forces the smaller man back into his seat, and takes over the podium. Then he begins to speak: "Tidies and fugleman - I sheel foor that we all-er-most steeply rebut the defensible, though, I trust, lavatory Aspasia which gleams to have selected our redeemed inspector this deceiving. It would - ah - be shark, very shark, from anyone’s debenture…" And then the whole room is thrown into pandemonium: hysterical laughter, a babble of voices, anger, fistfights - and worse. Before the night is over, the forces of N.I.C.E are either dead or scattered.
Reading the book again in light of current events, it struck me that Wither’s speech is an almost perfect send-up of President Joe Biden’s confused speech, and the pretensions of his administration. Yet the fact that the scene was written about the same year that Biden was born, suggests, pace Orwell, an almost supernatural prescience.
"That Hideous Strength" is, in part, a retelling of the story of the Tower of Babel - the story of men going beyond the proper boundaries God has set. In the Bible story and in Lewis’s novel, the confusion of tongues is both a punishment and a judgment - a judgment which reveals the absolute futility of man’s attempt to remake his nature and become godlike.
Could Joe Biden’s obvious confusion, his lapses and his gaffes also be a heaven-sent sign meant to alert us to the emptiness of the promises of the ideological movement which he represents? At times, Biden doesn’t seem to have a clue. On one level that can be just a sign of aging. On another level, God may be trying to tell us something. Here’s what I said a year ago about Biden’s confusion: "Is it possible that Joe Biden’s deterioration is a sign from God - a sign of what happens to a society that ignores the reality God has created and insists on creating its own?"
Before continuing in this vein, let me assure you that I am not the kind of person who sees signs everywhere. In fact, I’m agnostic about most supposed signs. If someone tells me that the design on the Oval Office drapes is actually a verse from the Koran, my first instinct is to say “Oh, come on!” And if I’m told that when a politician crosses his fingers in a certain way, he’s actually sending a signal to fellow white supremacists, I tend to be doubtful.
On the other hand, President Biden’s stumbling speech is a clear sign that his mind is confused. No one tries to deny it any more. And the Democrats now realize it’s well-past time to replace him. The situation is reminiscent of the banquet scene when Wither realizes that Jules must be replaced. But, as we’ve seen, that doesn’t work out too well. Wither’s speech is just as confusing as is Jules’. His mind is just as vacant.
Which brings up an obvious question: Who will replace Biden? The first in line is a woman whose ability to conceptualize doesn’t seem to rise above the level of “the more we get together, the happier we’ll be” (repeated ad nauseam). Nancy Pelosi, the next in line, is an 82-year-old who slurs her words and fills in the gaps in her sentences with frenzied gesticulations. Meanwhile, the daily spokesperson for the White House is Karine Jean-Pierre - an individual who seems forever surprised to discover that the press is interested in other things besides the fact that she is a black lesbian woman.
Not only has God sent us a sign. It appears as though he is sending us signs in abundance. And they are very obvious signs. Jesus said that “an evil and adulterous generation” would be given only one sign. But how about a stupid and gullible generation such as the one the one we live in? It might take a multitude of signs to wake us up.
Well, it looks like we’re getting them. There’s the bumbling Biden sign, the hapless Harris sign, and the clueless Karine sign. But there’s more. There’s the “trans friendly” sign on the bathroom door, the “shout out your abortion” sign at the pro-choice demonstration, and the “woman athlete of the year” certificate which was awarded this year to a male athlete. These are signs that are hard to miss.
And, of course, there’s the sign of the drag queen. As you may have noticed, drag queens are suddenly all the rage. Libraries have drag queen story hours for kids. U.S. military bases bring in drag queens to entertain the troops; and in Miami, a restaurant recently offered a “kid’s brunch” which included a sexually explicit drag show. Meanwhile, Salon.com published an op-ed explaining “How exposing your kids to drag performances can be a good thing.”
Lewis anticipated this woke weirdness in "That Hideous Strength." The top people at the N.I.C.E. Institute are all rather strange…sort of like the top people in the Biden administration. Wither, the Deputy Director of N.I.C.E., is lost in a mental fog. He talks in high-sounding but thought-deadening cliches. Frost, who is second in command to Wither, is as cold-hearted as his name suggest. Dr. Filostrato, an Italian scientist and a eunuch has a dirt phobia. He wants to improve the human race by getting rid of breeding, birth, and death. He hopes to create a sterile and artificial world to replace the fertile and organic world which he loathes. His experiments center around what we would now call “transhumanism.” And then there is “Fairy” Hardcastle—the sadistic head of the N.I.C.E. police force. “Fairy” is a ‘butch’ lesbian who enjoys beating up people and torturing young women.
Lewis, in short, was well aware of the perverted side of human nature. He would not have been surprised by a culture (like our own) which believes that exposing children to drag performance “can be a good thing.” Nor would he have been surprised to learn that well-funded doctors in England and America would one day perform ghastly surgeries in order to turn boys into girls and girls into boys.
Still, Lewis’s odd cast of characters (which includes a re-animated Merlin) might, as Orwell suggested, “offend the average reader’s sense of probability.” Yes, but probabilities need to be recalculated from time to time. For example, what’s the probability that the next president of the United States will be a member of a billionaire family that is investing its fortune in promoting transgender ideology and transhumanism? The answer? Probably higher than you think.
J.B. Pritzker, the current governor of Illinois is frequently mentioned as a prime candidate for president. And yes, his wealthy extended family - one of the richest in America according to Forbes - is deeply involved in engineering what one journalist called “a new way to be human.” Given their interest in re-engineering the human race along more efficient lines, one might think of them as a family of Filostratos.
J.B. and his wife M.K. have developed a long-term strategy for the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Foundation which will fund research on early childhood education as well as research on transgenderism and gender nonconformity. In addition, as Governor, Pritzker has issued executive orders and signed education bills which put a heavy emphasis on encouraging children to explore their gender identity. Meanwhile J.B.’s cousin, Jennifer Pritzker (formerly known as James), founded the Tawani Foundation to provide funding for numerous universities, institutes, and medical centers which pursue sexual diversity studies or are involved in providing “gender affirmative care” (i.e., hormone treatments and/or surgery) for the gender confused.
A retired Colonel for the Illinois Army National Guard, James…er, Jennifer also created the first chair of transgender studies at the University of Victoria. At the transgender studies annual conference in 2016, the featured speaker was Martine Rothblatt, a “renowned transhumanist,” who once stated: “We are making God as we are implementing technology that is ever more all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful, and beneficent.”
“Beneficent?” Well, that’s okay then. Sometimes the “all-knowing” powers get out of hand. But with all that money, the Pritzker’s must know what they’re doing. Rumor has it that the next family project will be a giant skyscraper in the form of a ziggurat. The project is said to be code-named B.A.B.E.L II. When asked for a comment, the family spokesman would only say that the project is “sop tecret and - er - striply confusensual.”
Explodes As The Middle Class Continues To Disappear"
by Epic Economist
"As the gap between the rich and the poor gets wider and wider, the U.S. middle class continues to erode. Americans are currently witnessing the biggest surge in the cost of living in a generation. The dramatic increase seen in the cost of daily essentials over the past few years is pushing millions of families to the brink. Now, new numbers show that more and more people are falling out of the middle class and into poverty with each passing day, and this is one of the big reasons why homelessness is steadily growing. At this point, the number of families living in their vehicles is already exploding all across the country, and this worrying trend is expected to worsen as we enter another devastating recession.
We all can tell by now that things are going from bad to worse in our nation. The number of people who can no longer afford housing is rising extremely rapidly, and now many Americans are resorting to living in their vehicles, even though the practice is considered illegal in many U.S. cities. According to local reports, the number of unsheltered people living in Los Angeles has shot up by a staggering 75 percent over the last five years. But of course, L.A. is far from alone. Many major cities on the West Coast are seeing a rise in the number of homeless people. Seattle is one of them. An article published by Government magazine exposed that the Emerald City has seen a 46 percent rise in the number of people residing in campers and other vehicles in the past year alone.
We have to start coming up with better solutions to provide shelter for millions of people that are putting their lives at risk every night, Monroe adds. But instead, local governments have been passing laws that make it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles in many communities across the country. A recent survey conducted by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which tracks policies in 187 cities, has shown that the number of prohibitions against vehicle residency has more than doubled during the last decade.
Americans are living at a time when the cost of living is going through the roof, but their living standards and their paychecks are not keeping up with the soaring prices of everything. Middle-class families are now experiencing unprecedented levels of financial distress. Over the past five decades, the share of adults who live in middle-class households fell by almost 15%, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. On top of that, the share of aggregate household income held by the middle class has fallen steadily since 1970. Back then, adults in middle-income households accounted for 62% of aggregate income, a figure that dropped to 42% in 2020.
Housing is the main asset of most middle-class families. But with home prices completely out of control even after the recent burst of the housing bubble, building wealth has never been more difficult. In the past, the U.S. middle-class had the ability to save money and protect their finances. This ability is being washed away as prices increase and wages drop. That has led consumer debt in the United States to jump to an all-time high. But the consequences of taking on so much debt eventually arrive and put these people in an even worse financial situation. The truth is that from now on, we are all going to have to work harder, smarter and more efficiently, and we are definitely going to have to tighten our belts because the U.S. economy is not going to be getting any better than it is right now. Now it is time to be a lean, mean saving machine because we all will need to have a financial cushion for the hard times that are already upon us."
"We have two bombshell stories to bring you in today's article and Situation Update podcast (shown below).
The first story concerns new intel from commercial suppliers, indicating that governments of the world are stockpiling supplies like never before, seemingly in anticipation of an Extinction Level Event (ELE) that threatens to wipe out the vast majority of human beings living today.
The second story concerns the CDC suddenly reversing itself on all the key pillars of COVID theater: Masks, quarantines, social distancing, vaccines, testing asymptomatic patients and more. Suddenly, the CDC has essentially admitted it was all theater from the very start and was never backed by actual "science" in the first place."
“Riding high in the constellation of Auriga, beautiful, blue vdB 31 is the 31st object in Sidney van den Bergh's 1966 catalog of reflection nebulae. It shares this well-composed celestial still life with dark, obscuring clouds recorded in Edward E. Barnard's 1919 catalog of dark markings in the sky. All are interstellar dust clouds, blocking the light from background stars in the case of Barnard's dark nebulae. For vdB 31, the dust preferentially reflects the bluish starlight from embedded, hot, variable star AB Aurigae.
Exploring the environs of AB Aurigae with the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed the several million year young star is itself surrounded by flattened dusty disk with evidence for the ongoing formation of a planetary system. AB Aurigae is about 470 light-years away. At that distance this cosmic canvas would span about four light-years.”
“Zoos are among the saddest places on earth: magnificent but confined creatures on display for gawking crowds, prevented from living out their biological destinies, fed their daily rations, and domesticated beyond where they could ever return to the wild. You have to feel pity and sorrow for these innocent prisoners; they’d flee in a heartbeat if they could.
Humans have made themselves inmates – whether of a zoo, prison, or asylum is hard to say, likely a combination of all three. Animals earn our admiration because they resist losing their freedom. Humans occasionally do too, but usually surrender theirs for promises and trifles. The promises are broken and the trifles grow more trifling as humanity for the most part gives up. Keep people amused and make sure the rations don’t stop and no outrage rousts them to try to reclaim their birthright. When they visit the zoo, the animals stare back at them with contempt.
In this country, we sing, “Sweet land of liberty,” and, “The land of the free, and the home of the brave.” We incant “freedom” and “liberty” during election seasons, but anything beyond that is considered embarrassing, bad form. A legislator denouncing a proposed law as an infringement of freedom would be regarded as a lunatic. Millions of pages of federal, state, and local laws and regulations already infringe freedom. The denouncer might be irrefutably right, but his denunciation would be irrelevant.
While wildlife should be free in the wild, coping with the risks to the best of their capabilities, humans are supposedly unsuited for freedom. Free humans might develop their own talents and capabilities, produce, exchange, exercise their rights, and engage in voluntary association and social intercourse, all unsupervised. You can argue that such activities are generally beneficial. However, there is a special class who are permitted to supervise and coerce the rest of us, to curtail our freedom. This special class ensures fairness or equality or some such thing. Who knows what might happen without them. Think of the dangers!
Just consider the concept of people deciding what’s in their own best interest. A hyphenated word lurks: self-interest. The special people are motivated by everything but self-interest, or so they say. Indeed, nobility of motive justifies their power and the destruction of your liberty. The desire to better your life is selfish, unlike the impulses supposedly animating those holding the guns to your head. After widespread surrender, few champion their right to their own lives, which is selfish after all, or challenge the special people’s moral superiority, which confers their right to hold the guns.
It might mitigate moral condemnation for liberty’s surrender if it had produced some benefit for those waving the white flag. An old bromide has it that liberty is irrelevant when people are starving. Nothing is further from the truth; it’s freedom that feeds people, creates wealth, and advances humanity. The historical record offers ample proof. It’s the absence of liberty that produces starvation, poverty, decay, destruction, genocide, and war. Here too the historical record is clear, one need go no farther back than the last century. During this ascendancy of the special people, humanity fought its two deadliest wars and over a hundred million were murdered, victims of special plans for a better world.
But somehow it’s liberty that’s dangerous. Fortunately the special people still rule, to make sure it doesn’t break out somewhere. Their reign assures that this century will challenge the last for the title: Century of Slaughter. They see their subjects are domesticated draft animals, just smart enough to keep economies running, not smart enough to challenge domestication. However, it’s been free minds and free markets, not draft animals, that have produced the wonders that make modern life modern. Welfare states are halfway houses to totalitarianism. As they grow, liberty shrinks and progress slows, stops, and reverses, the deterioration culminating in either anarchy or tyranny.
Judging from the prevalence of terms like “secular stagnation” and the “end of growth,” we are in the stop phase and reversal is nigh. People have seen their freedom shrink and have borne the consequences, although most don’t make the connection between the two. Incomes have stagnated, opportunities have diminished, life grows ever coarser, and fear of a looming apocalypse pervades the popular consciousness. Many are preparing for a future in which modernity is no longer modern, where access to necessities and conveniences cannot be taken for granted. Guns and gold are at the top of checklists, for a day when the inevitable failure of the special people leads to the inevitable tyranny or anarchy.
The discontent sweeping the planet is recognition that things are wrong on multiple fronts, although recognition of the root cause is rare. The idea that changing the hands on the levers offers solutions is magical thinking. The problems stem from granting the special people the levers in the first place. They may be replaced, but once the replacements have their hands on the levers, they’ll feel special, too. Power assuredly corrupts.
We’re closer to the real solution in the lament: “Why can’t they just leave us alone?” They – the special people – must leave us alone, it’s our moral right. Those who think the collapse will never come, or that freedom can be reclaimed without a fight, delude themselves. The craven adage: It’s better to live on one’s knees than die on one’s feet, offers a false choice. On your knees you may live to see another day, but you’ll never live to see better days. You may die on your feet, but liberty offers the only hope for better days. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth dying for.”
Editor’s note: "Lockdowns changed the way many of us work, as we were no longer required to report to the office. All we needed was an internet connection. But was it for the better? Today, Jeffrey Tucker wonders if it made us a nation of “goof-offs.”
"It looks as if we can add another line to the long list of lockdown harms: sloth. This explains so much actually. For months, we’ve been watching working/population ratios and labor participation rates and have been stunned by how they both continue to plummet. We search for explanations. Early retirement. Women driven out due to child care shortages. Unemployment payments. All these factors contribute but there is still more to explain. In the midst of the astonishing hullabaloo over the raid of Donald Trump’s home - and the confiscation of a pro-freedom Republican congressman’s smartphone - the Bureau of Labor Statistics dropped a remarkable report on labor productivity. Here we see something we’ve never seen before.
Crashing Labor Productivity: It’s low and falling. Lower than it has been in the entire postwar period. It breaks all records. This chart is from 1948 to the present. It adjusts for all factors including participation, population, retirement and so on. It only looks at hours over output. Here is what we see:
What does this mean? The immediate response might be that Americans have gotten lazy. They got used to their Zoom lifestyles and pretending to work. They want to hang around on apps, tweet, chat it up with their friends on Facebook or Slack and otherwise fake out the boss who can’t fire them anyway for fear of lawsuits. They aren’t doing much anymore, at least not those in high-end employment in professional office suits.
I resisted that conclusion and looked more deeply into how this number is calculated. It looks at total economic output compared with the number of labor hours from wage and salary employees involved in making that output. The result is a figure that estimates productivity per hour. And yes, it is probably widely inaccurate, as these sorts of macroeconomic magnitudes tend to be. We use them anyway because they are consistently inaccurate: The same method used to calculate in one quarter is used to calculate in all. It thereby becomes useful.
A Nation of Goof-offs: And what it reveals is probably what we might expect. American workers have dealt with lockdowns and shutdowns, plus vaccine mandate demoralization, plus inflation eating away at real wages, plus an existing or impending recession and you have the result. A nation of goof-offs.
It might be more than that. Lockdowns kicked off a national substance abuse crisis: liquor, drugs, weed, you name it. And depression too. Even today, one cannot help but notice the smell of weed in large cities. This is not the smell of ambition and productivity. We can combine this with the sheer number of people who have left the workforce completely and you paint a grim picture.
Economist and Brownstone Senior Fellow David Stockman has an interesting take on this. Rather than just fire people outright, companies are keeping unproductive employees on the payroll just in case. He writes: "[The latest] Q2 productivity report… came in at -4.7%, on top of the -7.7% decline posted in Q1. Together they amount to the worst back-to-back productivity declines ever reported. Our point is that this development puts a whole new angle on the so-called “strong” labor market. To wit, owing to the labor market turmoil and disruptions of the COVID lockdowns and massive stimmy injections since 2020, employers are apparently hiring on a just-in-case basis like rarely before. This is otherwise known as top-of-the-cycle labor hoarding…
Since Q4 2021, economic output, which is a close derivative of real GDP, has shrunk by -1.2%. By contrast, the U.S. nonfarm payroll has increased by 2.77 million jobs, or nearly +2.0%. Needless to say, with far more labor spread over contracting output, labor productivity took it on the chin. That is to say, bad Washington policies including $6 trillion of stimmies, massive money-pumping and the brutal lockdowns of the Virus Patrol have apparently left employers dazed and confused.
At length, however, employers will wake up to the fact that bloated payrolls against declining sales will result in a severe profit margin squeeze. Then the labor-shedding and layoffs will commence big-time, even as the Keynesians in the Eccles Building are reduced to babbling about the “strong” labor market, which suddenly vanished."
What he is getting at is what I’ve called (after Keynes) the coming euthanasia of the overclass. It won’t be the people actually doing real stuff who will face layoffs but the Zoom workers who stayed home because government said they could and their employers could not object. Employees gradually discovered that they could be anywhere - at the pool, in bed, on the road, climbing mountains - and so long as they had a Slack app running, no one could tell.
Lockdowns acculturated an entire generation to believe that work is fake, productivity is a ruse, money comes for nothing, the boss is an idiot and many workers are privileged to be wealthy forever due to papers handed out for $200,000 by colleges and universities. Who needs productivity, much less ambition?
Good News for Some, Bad News for Others: In the old days, in an ethos formed from bourgeois experience over hundreds of years, the idea of working and doing one’s part was ingrained as a moral habit, part of the liturgy of life itself. When the government told everyone to stop in the name of virus control, something went haywire in people’s brains.
If governments say that the work ethic amounts to nothing but pathogenic spread, and we can all contribute more by staying home and doing less, it’s hard to go back. It wrecked a generation. We are paying the price now.
The good news for the productive few is that this means higher wages and job opportunities galore, especially if you have actual skill and a desire to work. The bad news for everyone else is that many companies will soon discover that you are useless. That’s when the unemployment numbers will start ticking up, making this recession look more like ones in the past except for the relentless decline in real wages. To answer the question about whether Americans have become lazy bums, the answer is many but not all. It’s sector specific. And individual specific.
Crop Failures Throughout The United States And Europe"
by Michael Snyder
"We really are reaching a major crisis point. Thanks to soaring fertilizer prices, insane weather patterns and the war in Ukraine, global food supplies have been getting tighter and tighter. So we really needed a banner year for agricultural production in both the United States and Europe in 2022, and that is not going to happen. In fact, unprecedented drought is absolutely devastating crops all over the northern hemisphere. A lot of people are complaining about how high food prices are right now, but just wait. If some sort of a miracle doesn’t happen, agricultural production is going to be way below expectations in both the United States and Europe, and that is going to have very serious implications for 2023.
Let me start by talking about the nightmare that is starting to unfold in Europe. According to CNN, it is now being projected that farmers in Italy have lost “up to 80% of their harvest” because the drought has become so severe…"In Italy, farmers in some parts of the country have lost up to 80% of their harvest this year due to severe weather anomalies, the Coldretti farming association said Thursday." How are those farmers going to survive?
Many farmers in France are facing similar losses because they have only been receiving a fraction of the rainfall that they normally get…"In France, where an intense drought has hammered farmers and prompted widespread limits on freshwater use, there was just 9.7 millimetres (0.38 inches) of rain last month, Meteo France said. That was 84 percent down on the average levels seen for July between 1991 and 2022, making it the driest month since March 1961, the agency added."
Crop failures in France would be a really, really big deal, because France is normally “the fourth-largest exporter of wheat” in the entire world…"France is the fourth-largest exporter of wheat and among the top five exporters of maize globally. Poor harvests due to drought may heap further pressure on grain supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused global shockwaves."
The situation in Germany is also extremely dire. It is being reported that things are already so bad that some sections of the Rhine River have dropped to dangerously low levels…"Germany’s most-important river is running dry as Europe suffers through a drought that is on course to become its worst in 500 years, with terrifying wildfires burning once again in France. Water levels in the Rhine – which carries 80 per cent of all goods transported by water in Germany, from its industrial heartlands to Dutch ports – are now so low that it could become impassable to barges later this week, threatening vital supplies of oil and coal that the country is relying upon as Russia turns off the gas tap."
Of course the U.S. is dealing with severe drought too. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, about half of the nation is experiencing some level of drought at this moment, and we are being told that the ongoing megadrought in the Southwest is the worst in 1,200 years.
Things are particularly bad in Texas. If you can believe it, Dallas just had a stretch in which they had no measurable rain at all for two straight months…"The daily highs in Dallas have been 95 degrees or higher for three straight weeks, much hotter than normal for this time of year. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has even more problems amid an extreme drought going as far back as May 17. One hundred percent of Dallas County is in an extreme drought, while 21 percent of the whole state is experiencing exceptional drought - the most intense category of drought - according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. A 67-day stretch with no measurable rain came to an end in Dallas on Wednesday when 0.41 of an inch of rain fell. That was the second-longest dry streak at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. The standing record was 85 consecutive days that spanned much of the summer of 2000."
The lack of moisture has been crippling for the state’s absolutely massive agriculture industry. There are 247,000 farms and ranches in Texas, and nearly all of them are deeply suffering right now…"The drought pressing Texas’ agriculture industry - which is responsible for 10 percent of the state’s gross domestic product - is pushing farmers and ranchers to the brink. The state’s 247,000 farms and ranches covering 127 million acres haven’t had a whole year of rain since 2017. Almost 24 million of Texas’ population lives in drought-facing areas.
Other states in the Southwest are also being hit extremely hard by this drought. Over in Utah, the size of the Great Salt Lake just continues to get smaller and smaller due to the relentlessly dry conditions…"The warm arid desert in the West certainly had its fair share of the summer heat. Salt Lake City International Airport recorded a high of 100 degrees on July 28, marking the 16th day that month of triple-digit temperatures and breaking the previous record of 15 in July 1960. Last month, the city tied its record for the hottest recorded temperature of 107 degrees for the fourth time, according to NOAA weather data. The other occasions on which the mercury rose to 107 in Salt Lake City were in June 2021, July 2002 and July 1960. Record-keeping began there in 1874."
That intense heat hasn’t just made the residents of Utah sweat though - it has also magnified the ongoing megadrought, which has contributed to the dire state of the Great Salt Lake. Between July 2021 and 2022, the average daily water level of the lake dropped by about one foot, a historic low, and is expected to fall even farther.
There have always been times of drought all throughout history, but in modern times we have never seen the United States and Europe simultaneously experience such a severe drought for such an extended period. For years I have been warning that we are moving toward a time when global famines will become quite common, and widespread crop failures throughout the western world this year would greatly accelerate that process.
We are being told that a child dies every 11 seconds from malnutrition. But as food supplies get tighter and tighter, global hunger is going to get far, far worse than it is now. In 2023, there simply is not going to be enough food for everyone. I hope that you are getting prepared for that, because next year is just around the corner."
So, you look around in horrified astonishment at how totally insane it all really is, how the never ending bad news is everywhere you look, how truly hopeless it really is, and know there's nothing at all you can do about it, can't save anyone, can't even save yourself. So you remember what they said and how you need to be, and carry on...
“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority,
but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
- Marcus Aurelius, "Meditations"
“That millions of people share the same forms of
mental pathology does not make these people sane.”
- Erich Fromm, "The Sane Society"
“Laugh whenever you can. Keeps you from killing
yourself when things are bad. That and vodka.”
- Jim Butcher, "Changes"
And yet, sometimes, at the end of another long day,
your defenses are just worn out and you lose control and feel like this...
Full screen recommended.
The Trashmen, "Surfin Bird - Bird is the Word," 1963