Socialism

Video: SHTF In Venezuela

Henry Reich, creator of the MinutePhysics series of videos on YouTube.com, shows the chaos going on in Venezuela these days in his latest work. Apparently, an illustrator for MinuteEarth- Ever Salazar- has a ringside seat to the dire situation the South American country is in (I blogged about the food shortages back on April 3).

Watching the video, I couldn’t help but wonder if the United States might not suffer something similar once our financial “day of reckoning” arrives. And then I heard Salazar say this:

At least half the population ratifies the disaster by voting in favor of the 15-year-long revolution…

Sound familiar?


“When Insanity Becomes Normal- Venezuela”
YouTube Video

Note the shortages of food and other items being mentioned.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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‘Criminals Are Victims Of The Evil Capitalist Society’

These days, there are lots of people out there speculating and writing about what a financial crash would be like- even though they’ve never lived through one.

On the other hand, some have and are actively sharing their experiences and lessons for surviving a similar event.

Once in a while on Survival And Prosperity I’ve mentioned Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre, who lived through Argentina’s economic collapse last decade and released The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse in 2009. A big “fan” of the book and the accompanying blog- Surviving In Argentina- I happened to be listening to the fourth installment in a series of video posts FerFAL has produced recently about “prepper myths,” when he talked about the recent violent mugging of an American tourist in a nice part of Buenos Aires. Apparently, the mugger- who was on the verge of being lynched by a crowd- was booked by police yet released later on that day. FerFAL- now based in Northern Ireland- lamented in the April 9 post:

And that’s the key of the thing. It’s not considered a bad thing. And it’s not just mugging, robbing- even hurting, raping, murdering- it’s not considered a bad thing from the perspective of the Argentine government. They have this crappy, commie, anti-capitalist, bullshit thing going on which basically says- and I got tired of hearing this time and again- but the official government point of view is criminals are victims of the evil capitalist society that are just trying to provide for their families. And when you say, “Alright, what about a rapist or a murderer? What is he trying to do there?” “Well, he’s also a poor victim because he didn’t have the populist, socialist education that we’re trying to promote and he didn’t know any better.” They’re always justifying. And this isn’t just something I perceive. This is something I’ve been told by an actual district attorney. He’ll tell me, “That’s what we get from the top. We’re being told not to put people behind bars. Find any possible way, even if a cop drags one- this guy actually murdered someone in front of my eyes. Even if that happens, the official point of view of this is- release them as fast, as quickly as possible. We don’t want people behind bars.” That makes for a very chaotic society, and that’s what’s been going on in Argentina for over a decade now. That’s why it’s so violent…

Any of what FerFAL said ring a bell to some readers? It sure did for me, as I type this from the Chicago area this wintry April evening.

Plenty of bad guys who should be locked up behind bars are roaming the streets of Chicago and other parts of Cook County these days.

“That’s why it’s so violent.”

By the way, check out Fernando Aguirre’s other “prepper myth” video posts here if you have the time. I found them very insightful and thought-provoking.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Labor Minister: France ‘Is A Totally Bankrupt State’

Speaking of France, how is the Socialist-led European state faring these days?

Not so great, it seems.

In fact, a pretty reliable source claims they’re bankrupt.

Graham Ruddick reported on The Telegraph (UK) website Monday:

Michel Sapin made the gaffe in a radio interview, which left French President Francois Hollande battling to undo the potential reputational damage.

“There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,” Mr Sapin said. “That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.”

The comments came as President Hollande attempts to improve the image of the French economy after pledging to reduce the country’s deficit by cutting spending by €60bn (£51.5bn) over the next five years and increasing taxes by €20bn.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

As I mentioned earlier tonight, some claim President Obama desires French-style Socialism for the United States.

If France’s economy truly is in shambles, and the U.S. President really wants to emulate them, well- here’s a glimpse of what Americans could expect. From an Investor’s Business Daily editorial yesterday:

Fresh after May 2012′s election, President Francois Hollande wasted no time raising government spending, hiking tax rates to 75% on those above $1.3 million in income, hiring 60,000 bureaucrats, cutting the retirement age for public pensions to 60 and undoing fiscal reforms by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. During his campaign, Hollande declared himself “the enemy of finance.” France today proves it…

Public debt has soared from 68% of GDP in 2008 to 90% in 2012, joblessness has hit 11%, and GDP growth of its $2.8 trillion economy is projected in 2013 at zero.

Tax hikes have driven the richest taxpayers from the country, making the $43 billion budget hole unlikely to be plugged by Hollande’s $26 billion tax hike. Meanwhile, a squeeze on business creates rising numbers of unemployed, who in turn demand state services.

Time will tell how this will all work out for the Socialists in France. But if history rhymes once again, keep in mind something former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said in a 1976 interview:

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.

Any of this sound familiar?

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Ruddick, Graham. “France ‘totally bankrupt’, says labour minister Michel Sapin.” The Telegraph. 28 Jan. 2013. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9832845/France-totally-bankrupt-says-labour-minister-Michel-Sapin.html). 30 Jan. 2013.

“Like The Bourbons, France’s Socialists Have Learned Nothing, Forgotten Nothing.” Investor’s Business Daily. 29 Jan. 2013. (http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/012913-642388-france-socialist-model-is-same-old-recipe-for-bankruptcy.htm). 30 Jan. 2013.

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CNBC’s Rick Santelli After GDP Report: ‘We Are Now Europe’

Here’s something I keep hearing with more frequency these days:

Barack Obama is transforming America into Europe.

More specifically, the U.S. President is pushing us towards French-style Socialism.

Now, I’m not so sure about that. But CNBC’s Rick Santelli sure seems to think there’s some truth to it.

Get a load of the on-air editor down at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange this morning when the fourth quarter GDP was announced:


“Rick Santelli Responds to Negative GDP Report: ‘We Are Now Europe’”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 Deficits, Europe, GDP, Government, Socialism, Spending No Comments

China, Global Mainstream Media Urge U.S. To Enact More Gun ‘Control’

Since last week’s mass shooting in Newtown Connecticut, the global mainstream media has gone to work pushing the United States to adopt more restrictions on firearms. Reuters’ Edward Krudy and Peter Rudegeair reported Wednesday:

Around the globe, newspaper editorials from the Philippines to South Africa urged U.S. gun-control efforts and said they were long overdue.

“It takes no great deductive genius to understand the link: a violent individual with a gun will be more able to kill, and can kill more people, than a violent individual without a gun. Elsewhere in the world, tighter gun laws have been shown to save lives,” said an editorial in India’s The Hindu newspaper.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Elsewhere in the world, tighter gun laws have been shown to save lives.”

I’d really like to see the evidence supporting that statement.

Even the People’s Republic of China is chiming in on this. From state-run Xinhua News Agency on December 14:

Innocent blood demands no delay for U.S. gun control

Every time a tragedy occurs, there are renewed appeals for gun regulation. However, the calls disappointingly always fail…

The latest heartbreaking deaths of the 20 schoolchildren aged five to 10 have made the crime especially unbearable. Many people can’t help but turn to the dim hope once again: the gunman’s cruelty and evil may provide a strong momentum and broader public support for the restart of gun control efforts. Moreover, with no re-election pressure, President Obama is currently in the best position to promote it…

Action speaks louder than words. If Obama wants to take practical measures to control guns, he has to make preparation for a protracted war and considerable political cost.

This brings to mind something China’s Chairman Mao said in Problems of War and Strategy, November 6, 1939:

All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The Communist Party must command all the guns. That way, no guns can ever be used to command the Party.

Sources:

Krudy, Edward and Rudegeair, Peter. “White House readies gun-control plan as more children laid to rest.” Reuters. 19 Dec. 2012. (http://news.yahoo.com/schools-reopen-newtown-washington-talks-gun-control-002828916.html). 21 Dec. 2012.

“Innocent blood demands no delay for U.S. gun control.” Xinhua News Agency. 14 Dec. 2012. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2012-12/15/c_132042820.htm). 21 Dec. 2012.

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U.S. Falls To 15th In Democracy Rankings

Back when I was toiling away on “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street” a couple of years ago, I came across something that made me chuckle. I don’t remember the source, but in the wake of all the government bailouts and intervention after the global financial crisis really reared its ugly head in 2008, it was said one of the most popular books in Russia at the time was Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.

While in America, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto was a hot item.

I have a feeling this was more commentary than fact, but what reminded me of this was something I stumbled on the other day on the Washington Times website. Jennifer Harper blogged on the Water Cooler on December 17:

A new rating of the most “democratic” nations on the planet places the U.S. in 15th place in a list of 104 countries. Who made the assessment? The Vienna, Austria-based Democracy Ranking annually rates the democracy among world populations based on “quality,” taking into account such factors as political rights, civil liberty, press freedom, corruption, political stability, “gender gap” issues and myriad socioeconomic indicators.

Nordic nations — where governments tend to flirt with socialism — dominate the lead. The top 10 nations on the list are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland and Austria.

Harper noted that the United States dropped from 14th to 15th place in the latest rankings.

Next time some politician or somebody else proclaims we live in a model democracy, a beacon for the world to follow, I’ll have to remember these rankings.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual here in Amerika.


“Glenn Beck presents the Obama National Anthem”
YouTube Video

Just kidding. I’ll keep toiling on in the plutocracy.

You can find out more about the Democracy Ranking’s findings on their website here.

Source:

Harper, Jennifer. “’Most democratic’: U.S. is 15th on the list.” Water Cooler. 17 Dec. 2012. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/dec/17/most-democratic-us-15th-list/). 20 Dec. 2012.

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Thursday, December 20th, 2012 Corruption, Europe, Freedom, Government, Socialism No Comments

2012 Election Thoughts

For months now I’ve been saying to those people closest to me that Barack Obama will be reelected as President of the United States of America. Granted, last week I did mention to my girlfriend that Mitt Romney might have a shot at the White House based on analysis done by FOX News and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze TV (these two media outlets need to win back any confidence I had in them as a result). Now that Election Day has come and gone, here are some thoughts about the whole spectacle.

The main reason I kept saying Obama would get reelected as President was that the votes were already “bought and paid for.” A lot of Americans receive government benefits (49.1 percent of Americans lived in a household where at least one member of the family received such benefits in 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal earlier this year). The Obama administration has demonstrated these past four years that it’s willing to provide these benefits (part ideology, part political strategy). If you are someone receiving this, why would you endanger the status quo by voting for someone else who might take it away as part of some publicized push for smaller government living within its means? Where could all this lead to? Full-fledged dependency and eventual bondage, if one buys into the Cycle of the Body Politic.

Young American voters could be more “left-leaning” than their predecessors. How left? Well, “socialist” might not be too far off the mark if one subscribes to the findings of a Pew Research Center survey from December 2011. I wrote back on September 27:

You see, not only am I aware that a good number of Americans aren’t put-off by the idea of socialism anymore, but a recent poll even showed a majority of young Americans aged 18-29 have a positive view of it.

From the Pew Research Center website back on December 28, 2011:

Socialism is a negative for most Americans, but certainly not all. Six-in-ten (60%) say they have a negative reaction to the word; 31% have a positive reaction…

Fully nine-in-ten conservative Republicans (90%) view socialism negatively, while nearly six-in-ten liberal Democrats (59%) react positively.

The poll of 1,521 adults conducted back in early December 2011 revealed that among the 18-29 age group, 49 percent had a positive view of socialism as compared to 43 percent having a negative view.

Is Obama and his White House socialist? I don’t know. Are they “left-leaning?” The available evidence suggests so. Which could be why a lot of young American voters are drawn to the Democrats.

Public sector unions obviously played a big role in this election. I understand that such groups work toward the benefit of their members. However, does such activity work contrary to the common good, destabilizing increasingly financially-challenged public agencies, as critics suggest? Plenty of insolvent government organizations could be available for study shortly.

While incumbent politicians can be more difficult to dislodge from office, President Obama retained the White House despite a dismal economic record in his first term. Measures of (un)employment, food stamps, poverty, budget deficits, national debt, for example, grew increasingly worse over the past four years. I know, what about those “5 million jobs created” the Democrats kept touting during the campaign? Problem is, a closer look at what was “created” reveals a lot of low-paying positions. Burger flippers won’t be spearheading a U.S. economic recovery anytime soon. Perhaps Americans aren’t voting based on their wallets as much anymore. Or perhaps their pocketbooks haven’t been hit hard enough. That may be just a matter of time.

The past four years confirmed for many Americans the transformation of the news media from watchdog journalists to unofficial mouthpieces of the Democratic Party (the press being merely a mouthpiece for any party is bad). I have some journalism experience in my background, and my training included an emphasis on unbiased reporting. Being exposed to the amount of news material I am on a daily basis, it’s all too obvious to me that either that training is no longer given, a refresher course is desperately needed, or today’s journalists just don’t give a damn about it anymore. Sad. The way I look at it, if reporters not assigned to pen an op-ed/column feel the need to express the political creature in them, then get a personal blog! And let’s exchange links. Otherwise, do your country a huge favor and once again occupy the role of the “Fourth Estate”- an independent press. Continue on as the “American Pravda” and suffer the inevitable consequences.

Since Chicago/Cook County/Illinois Democrats play a significant role in running the country, one need only look at where they originate from to get an idea of where they might be taking the country these next four years. Anyone who spends enough time on this blog reading those posts written for my local audience knows exactly where that is:

Into the ground.

While Chicago and Cook County have significant financial woes, the State of Illinois is essentially bankrupt. Too many benefits, too much spending, too little cutbacks, too much borrowing, and now the fee and tax hikes on residents and businesses. It’s going to get ugly in the “Land of Lincoln” real fast. California and Illinois are the two U.S. states competing with each other to go under first as the financial crisis worsens, according to some very smart people. Yet, don’t expect any regime change in “Madiganistan” any time soon. As I wrote back on March 21:

As a result of this redistricting, Democrats could very likely control the state legislature in Illinois for a number of years. Monique Garcia, Alissa Groeninger, and Ray Long wrote on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Even before unofficial results rolled in, some sitting Republican lawmakers were bound to lose in DuPage County, casualties of the Democratic-drawn state legislative districts. The map is tilted so heavily toward Democrats that the party led by House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Illinois Democratic chairman, is all but ensured November general election victories that could set it on a course to control the General Assembly for the next decade.

And from a Chicago Tribune editorial piece this morning:

Democrats had virtually locked in their Springfield majorities before the first voters cast the first early ballots on Oct. 22. More than half of these legislative races weren’t even contested by both major parties. And while some of the new district boundaries gave Republicans tremendous advantage, the aggregate effect was to keep Illinois and its 12.8 million citizens under one-party rule.

Voters evidently like it that way.

Yes they do. Especially as votes were also “bought and paid for” here in the ‘Stan.

Before this post is misconstrued as being merely some Obama/Democrat-bashing piece, regular readers of the blog know that I foresee a U.S. financial crash at the end of all this “kicking the can down the road.” That being said, at this point in the game, I don’t think it really matters anymore whether the Democrats or Republicans are in charge as it concerns where our economy and larger financial system is eventually heading. Enough damage has already been done (think of the Titanic and her compartments being punctured just enough to guarantee her inevitable demise) that America is fast-approaching a tipping point as both major national political parties make matters worse by refusing to scale back the obscene amounts of government spending when given the chance. If you think about it, when it comes to fiscal policy, both parties have shown to be no better than a two-headed monster. Barack Obama’s economic polices from 2008-2012, in general, were really just an extension of George W. Bush’s economic policies. Spending, stimulus, government intervention, you get the picture. Rather than sit down, have a mature conversation with the nation about the unsustainable track we’re on concerning our finances, and stop the spending, both the Democrats and Republicans continue to pander to Main Street’s desire for more stuff, more benefits, more borrowing, more debt. This time around, Barack Obama and the Democrats won. In the longer run, everyone looks to lose.

In the meantime, congratulations Mr. President and the Democratic Party on your Election Day victory.

Sources:

Izzo, Phil. “Number of the Week: Half of U.S. Lives in Household Getting Benefits.” Real Time Economics. 26 May 2012. (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/05/26/number-of-the-week-half-of-u-s-lives-in-household-getting-benefits/?KEYWORDS=number+of+the+week). 7 Nov. 2012.

“Illinois Democrats and their realm.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Nov. 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-legis-1107-20121107,0,2900759.story). 7 Nov. 2012.

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Wanted: Rich Immigrants

Is there anyone else out there besides me who thinks the United States should be rolling out the red carpet to wealthy residents of other countries whose compatriots are itching to tax the crap out of them?

Why raise taxes on rich Americans when you can grow the pool of millionaires and billionaires exponentially?

Just one brief look around the world today shows how ripe they are for the picking. From Robert Frank on the CNBC website last Friday:

As part of his budget announced today, French President Francois Hollande made good on a campaign promise to tax France’s top earners at 75 percent. It would apply to taxpayers with earnings of 1 million euros a year…

[Paris-based tax lawyer Vincent] Grandil said many of the French wealthy are making plans to leave the country. He said the tax was less of a concern than the long-term budget situation in France and the declining global competitiveness of the nation’s businesses.

He said many younger successful French are moving to the San Francisco area to be part of the tech boom. “It’s not just a tax question for them, they really seem to like it there.”

One might think the French Socialists might stop there. Oh no. Hugh Carnegy wrote in a Financial Times (UK) piece that appeared on the CNBC website earlier today:

Francois Hollande’s Socialist government is facing a new tax revolt — this time not from big business protesting against the president’s 75 percent income tax band but in the form of a viral online campaign by small French entrepreneurs furious about a jump in capital gains taxes.

Calling themselves “the Pigeons” — French slang loosely translated as “the fall guys”- a group of Internet entrepreneurs took to social networking sites to voice their opposition to the measure within hours of its announcement in last Friday’s 2013 budget.

The cause of their ire is the government’s plan to tax capital gains at the same rates as earned income. Jean-David Chamboredon, chief executive of ISAI, a venture capital fund, and leader of an investors’ lobby group called France Digitale, said the result in some cases would be a jump in the effective marginal tax rate to as high as 60 percent from 32 percent for investors and entrepreneurs selling out of a business.

Yoo hoo. Wealthy Frenchmen and Frenchwomen. A pair of new Birkenstocks and a case of Napa Valley wine awaits you on the other side of the pond.

And then there’s this by the Associated Press last Saturday (also on CNBC.com):

Thousands of people across Germany have protested for the introduction of taxes on wealth and financial transactions.

Organizers said Saturday around 40,000 people took to the streets in 40 cities to demand a more equal society.

France. Germany. Give us your tired, wealthy, fashionably-dressed masses yearning for lower taxes and hard-working Americans to staff their new businesses here in the U.S.


“France Gall – Ein bißchen Goethe, ein bißchen Bonaparte (Live 1969 HQ)”
YouTube Video

Sources:

Frank, Robert. “French Tax May Hit Only 5,000 Earners and Raise Little.” CNBC. 28 Sep. 2012. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49213586). 3 Oct. 2012.

Carnegy, Hugh. “French ‘Pigeons’ in Flutter Over Tax Rise.” CNBC. 3 Oct. 2012. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49267828). 3 Oct. 2012.

“Thousands in Germany Protest for Wealth Tax.” CNBC. 29 Sep. 2012. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/49223665). 3 Oct. 2012.

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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 Class Warfare, Europe, Immigration, Socialism, Taxes, Wealth No Comments

We’re An Amerikan Band

One might think a relative of U.S. Senator Joe “Red Scare” McCarthy (R-WI) would go bonkers after hearing the following story.

Nope. Hardly anything from my girlfriend.

Except, “What do you want from the grocery store tomorrow?”

From Stephanie Weaver on the Evening Sun (Pennsylvania) website Monday:

The New Oxford High School Marching Band’s field show, “St. Petersburg: 1917,” will change its name and remove hammers and sickles after it made national news when one parent was offended by the performance he said commemorates the Russian revolution.

Rebecca Harbaugh, superintendent for the Conewago Valley School District, said this morning the district would continue to evaluate the show to see if anything else should be removed. She said the introduction, referring to the Russian revolution of 1917 would be changed, but that the show would continued to feature the music of Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich.

Fox News Radio reported Monday that a parent who attended a Sept. 14 Friday night football game called the station, voicing his opinions on the band’s show, involved olive military-style uniforms, red flags and other communist symbols.

However, the show didn’t seem to offend the judges of the Cavalcade of Bands Association Inc. show at Manheim Township High School on Saturday, where the band won first place, according to the band’s website.

“It’s showing expression with music,” Sue Thoman Behm wrote on Facebook Monday night.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

In the comment section of a related article on msnNOW yesterday, “bandmomma” left the following:

It’s an artistic show that represents history not a celebration of communism! Whoever found this newsworthy needs to get a life.

I have to agree with “bandmomma” here… as it concerns the newsworthiness of high schoolers being okay with using symbols and making references to a former (recovering?) superpower founded on socialist ideals (if you believe that communism is a higher form of socialism).

You see, not only am I aware that a good number of Americans aren’t put-off by the idea of socialism anymore, but a recent poll even showed a majority of young Americans aged 18-29 have a positive view of it.

From the Pew Research Center website back on December 28, 2011:

Socialism is a negative for most Americans, but certainly not all. Six-in-ten (60%) say they have a negative reaction to the word; 31% have a positive reaction…

Fully nine-in-ten conservative Republicans (90%) view socialism negatively, while nearly six-in-ten liberal Democrats (59%) react positively.

The poll of 1,521 adults conducted back in early December 2011 revealed that among the 18-29 age group, 49 percent had a positive view of socialism as compared to 43 percent having a negative view.

I’m guessing Senator McCarthy is rolling in his grave right now.

Along with the estimated 85 to 100 million people murdered under Communist regimes in the 20th century.

Sources:

Weaver, Stephanie. “New Oxford band show will remove hammers and sickles.” Evening Sun. 24 Sep. 2012. (http://www.eveningsun.com/localnews/ci_21620205/new-oxford-band-marches-hammers-and-sickles%20%3Chttp://www.eveningsun.com/localnews/ci_21620205/new-oxford-band-marches-hammers-and-sickles%3E). 27 Sep. 2012.

“Little Change in Public’s Response to ‘Capitalism,’ ‘Socialism.’” Pew Research Center. 28 Dec. 2011. (http://www.people-press.org/2011/12/28/little-change-in-publics-response-to-capitalism-socialism/?src=prc-headline). 27 Sep. 2012.

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Thursday, September 27th, 2012 Europe, Generational Conflict, Socialism 1 Comment

U.S. Poverty Could Soon Reach Highest Level Since 1965

Here’s a dismal forecast for you from a number of practitioners of the “dismal science” as it concerns poverty in America. The Associated Press’ Hope Yen reported early this morning:

The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections.

The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

To illustrate how big a problem poverty is in the United States these days, according to a Reuters piece last September 14:

A record 46 million Americans were living in poverty in 2010, pushing the US poverty rate to its highest level since 1993, according to a government report on the grim effects of stubbornly high unemployment.

Underscoring the economic challenges that face President Barack Obama and Congress, the US census bureau said the poverty rate rose for a third consecutive year to hit 15.1% in 2010. The number of people in poverty was the largest since the government first began publishing estimates, in 1959…

The US has the highest poverty rate among developed countries, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Expect more calls for a larger social safety net- and redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor- in the coming months.

Sources:

Yen, Hope. “US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s.” Associated Press. 23 July 2012. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jO5m8lWaTaYXjbnvHls3cCFBCQ7g?docId=66ae43449eda438793065dfdaee2935f). 23 July 2012.

“American poverty levels hit record high.” Reuters. 14 Sep. 2011. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/14/us-poverty-levels-record-high). 23 July 2012.

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Argentina Plans On Using Nationalized Pension Funds For New Stimulus Program

“Don’t cry for me Argentina.”

That song has stuck with me ever since I first heard it sung in TV commercials for the musical Evita back in the early 80s.

But these days, I can’t help but wonder if Argentinians aren’t crying for themselves.

Or if Americans will soon follow.

Those Argentines who successfully-weathered the economic collapse the South American country experienced at the end of the 90s had the following to look forward to as the next decade drew to a close. From the BBC News website on October 21, 2008:

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez has signed a bill that will nationalise the country’s 10 private pension funds.

The move will put the government in control of almost $30bn (£18bn) of investments and is aimed at protecting them from the global market turmoil.

Shares slumped amid fears of the move’s impact and critics accused the government of trying to grab the funds.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

History has shown that when a government assumes control of something for their citizens’ “protection,” it might be time to get concerned.

Recently, it’s been suggested those formerly-private pensions have become a giant piggy bank for the Argentine government. On April 25, 2012, the newspaper Los Andes (Argentina) reported that Argentina’s Treasury had borrowed $342 million from the state pensions agency, Anses- and issued a one-year bond in its place.

And just this afternoon, the Associated Press reported about a new “stimulus” program in Argentina that’s using these pension funds once again. From the piece:

Argentina is rolling out a major economic stimulus plan, using pension and treasury funds to provide nearly cost-free housing loans of up to $77,000 each to 400,000 people who have been closed out of private-sector borrowing.

Buenos Aires Gov. Daniel Scioli on Wednesday ordered all “non-productive” government-owned land to be made available to the program President Cristina Fernandez announced hours earlier. The vast Buenos Aires province surrounding Argentina’s capital is plagued with slums and has by far the nation’s largest population in need of housing…

Argentina’s Supreme Court also took action: Six justices signed a resolution giving the pension agency, ANSES, 30 days to explain in detail where it is spending the retirement funds. Thousands of Argentine retirees have won court rulings for unpaid pensions, but have yet to see their money.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

So as it stands right now, it sounds like Argentina’s government plans to take money from nationalized, formerly-private pensions to fund this new stimulus program- while promising to pay the borrowed money back.

Anyone think those retirees will ever get all their pesos back?

Or that a good majority of those housing loans will be repaid, for that matter?

Claims of this stimulus actually being a progressive redistribution of wealth (rich to poor) are almost certain to be made.

We’ll just have to wait and see how this all ends up.

And seriously scrutinize any suggestion to nationalize our private pensions, especially if it’s under the claim of “protection.”

Sources:

“Argentina to take over pensions.” BBC News. 21 Oct. 2008. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7682877.stm). 13 June 2012.

“El Banco Nación prestará al Tesoro unos $ 12 mil millones.” Los Andes. 25 Apr. 2012. (http://www.losandes.com.ar/notas/2012/4/25/banco-nacion-prestara-tesoro-unos-millones-638373.asp). 13 June 2012.

Associated Press. “Argentina aims to ‘light fire’ to economy, using pension funds to provide generous home loans.” Washington Post. 13 June 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/argentina-aims-to-light-fire-to-economy-using-pension-funds-to-provide-generous-home-loans/2012/06/13/gJQAxS4TaV_story.html). 13 June 2012.

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Peter Schiff: Obama ‘A Socialist At Heart’

One last mention of Peter Schiff before I move on. Last Friday RT interviewed Schiff, in which the “crash prophet” talked about the political aspect of our current economic woes and what he sees down the line. From the exchange:

The truth is, Obama is merely continuing and expanding the failed policies of George Bush. And unless Romney understands that, and articulates it- you know, I don’t think there’s much hope that a President Romney is going to alter our fate either. I think it’s going to be more of the same. I do believe that Romney will be less bad than Obama, and I think that we have a better chance of when the next crisis hits- when the real crash comes- I think it’s better to have Romney at the helm than Obama. Because I think Romney at least philosophically is in favor of free markets and capitalism- even if he doesn’t completely understand how they work. I think Obama is philosophically opposed to it. I think he’s a socialist at heart, and he likes it when he believes the free market is failing, because he sees that as an excuse for more government, to try and reshape America in this socialist utopia that lives in the fantasy of his mind.

Accusing the U.S. president of being a “socialist at heart” on RT, “the first Russian 24/7 English-language news channel which brings the Russian view on global news.” Kind of funny.

Of more interest to this blog, the author of the recently-released The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy— How to Save Yourself and Your Countryicon talked about the perception of the U.S. dollar as a “safe haven.” From the interview:

I think that the dollar and the Treasury market, when it comes to safe havens, are going to be the Facebook of safe havens, because a lot of people wanted to buy Facebook on the IPO. They were really excited about it. They thought it was great. But once they owned it, and they took a look at what they owned, and they looked at the fundamentals, they realized it wasn’t so great. And they wanted to get out. The same thing is going to happen to people who are buying dollars, because they think it’s a safe haven from European debt.

America is more deeply in debt than Europe, and less likely to repay without resorting to massive money printing.

And if you think there’s going to be a lot of money printing, that is not a reason to want to own Treasuries or dollars. That is a reason to get as far away from the U.S. dollar and the Treasury market as you can.


“Peter Schiff RT America Interview – 01 – 06 – 2012”
YouTube Video

(Editor’s notes: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein; info added to “Crash Prophets” page)

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Welcome To Amerika?

Who hasn’t heard of this one by now: Barack Obama is transforming the United States into a socialist country.

While I personally believe Americans are witnessing the strengthening of a plutocracy- rule by the wealthy, transcending political parties- there’s no shortage of Americans who still think we’re headed towards socialism.

I happened to stumble on a Yahoo! News piece this weekend that originated from the news and opinion website The Blaze, a project of former FOX News personality Glenn Beck. What caught my attention was the title- “Are We Headed Toward the Constitution or the Communist Manifesto? This Breakdown Tells You.” Tiffany Gabbay wrote Sunday:

During his Thursday morning radio broadcast, Glenn Beck asked if America, on its current trajectory, is headed toward the values and principles of the Constitution, or rather, those of the Communist Manifesto.

To glean greater insight, The Blaze expanded on each of the Manifesto’s 10 planks and juxtaposed them with modern day American society. The picture revealed, while perhaps not shocking, is unsettling to say the least.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)


Some background music, Comrade?
“Red Army Choir: Oh Fields, My fields.”
YouTube Video

Gabbay’s comparisons in the article are indeed thought-provoking. And I found what she said about “plank” number 4, confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels, particularly interesting. Militia members, preppers, survivalists, firearm owners, opponents of the political party in power, and Americans making a lot of money and/or with sizeable assets might want to take note. From the piece:

4. Confiscation of property of all emigrants & rebels

This Manifesto pillar is perhaps best laid out in the recent string of government crackdowns on “homegrown militias.” Those who have paid careful attention to Janet Napolitano know that one of Homeland Security’s preoccupations of late has been the “rise” of “homegrown militias.” With this in mind, the department is likely honing in on anyone considered an “opposition group,” be they merely survivalists or those with a more militant bent.

Some may recall the Michigan militia, or “Hutaree,” as they are known — a group of anti-government “rebels” who were allegedly engaged in preparations for a potential future clash with federal agencies. The defendants were accused of conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government, a planned assassination of a police officer, and an ambush of that officer’s funeral with explosives in order to incite an uprising against the Federal government. While the anticipated attack never actually occurred, this did not stop the Feds, under the blessing of Attorney General Eric Holder, from raiding the Hutaree’s various outposts, confiscating its members’ arms and waging an all-out legal battle against the group.

At the end of March, 2012, presiding U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts dismissed the most serious of the charges against the Hutaree, leveling a staggering blow to the Fed. She said the members’ hatred of government did not amount to a conspiracy to overthrow it.

It remains unclear whether the Hutaree were indeed poised to be the aggressors of a violent assault or if they were simply anti-big-government, “good ol’ boy survivalists preparing to “defend themselves” against a perceived government threat. But the Federal agencies’ indictment of the group perhaps reveals how government will deal with homegrown “threats” — be they real or perceived — moving forward.

Another key element, and one that warrants mention due to its relevance in modern day America, is the confiscation of citizens’ weapons. Those who have felt their Second Amendment rights slowly whittle away understand that disarming the public is a crucial step vital to ensuring the state’s grip over its citizenry. In fact, one of the first tasks performed by the then-fledgling Soviet state was the confiscation of citizens’ private arms — even hunting rifles. By stripping people of the ability to defend themselves, the authoritarian state could reign over the vulnerable Russian populace. Many Americans consider this a highly plausible reality given increasingly stringent gun laws and regulations spread across all 50-states.

It should also be noted that IRS liens, levies and seizures are all means by which the Federal government can confiscate a “rebel” entity’s assets — one instance being the recent IRS “shakedown” of Tea Party members. And, in terms of “emigrants,” taxing the off-shore income and assets of American citizens, or causing Americans to give up their U.S. citizenship and flee to foreign lands to avoid abusive U.S. taxes, is yet another means by which the Fed’s confiscatory, overreaching tentacles are changing the American landscape. Statistics point out a rising trend

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Like I said, it’s a thought-provoking piece, which you can read in its entirety on the Yahoo! website here.

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Make Mine Freedom

When anybody preaches disunity, tries to pit one of us against the other, through class warfare, race hatred, or religious intolerance, you know that person seeks to rob us of our freedom, and destroy our very lives.

-Harding College’s Make Mine Freedom (1948)


“Make Mine Freedom (1948)”
YouTube Video

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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