California mandatory vaccination bill allows courts to order forced injection of neurotoxins into developing children
Planned Parenthood says undercover videos are an extremist attack on women while defending harvesting organs of butchered children
Biotech industry emails reveal academic GMO prostitutes acknowledging their roles as paid shills while lying to the public
Radical leftist website Salon denounces the Bible as "absurdist" while promoting War on Christianity
Last week, NASA confirmed that there is water on Mars. This could be some kind of cross-promotional hullabaloo for the movie The Martian, which came out this week, or it could mean there’s life on Mars. If it’s the latter, it behooves us to provide a welcome letter for Martians to get acquainted with our planet.
Welcome to America. We are members of a cultural group called “The West” and it’s generally understood the West is the best. America is known as the best of the best. We’re the ones who sent you the signal and it’s likely we’re the ones you’d most like to deal with from here on out. We’ve been sending out signals for a long time so we’re going to assume you’re at least partly familiar with our culture up until the end of the 20th century. There have been some drastic changes since then, however, and we will try to make them clear.
Virtually every industry of note in this country is still run by white males. These are the guys who sent you the message, for example. However, this group has fallen out of favor recently and is now called the patriarchy (the messages we sent you are now considered sexist and we’ve hired a woman to make sure we don’t mess up your planet). The guys who made us the best of the best are now considered the worst, and to facilitate this message, a massive information campaign has arisen that derides truth, logic, science, and math. In today’s America, up is down and right is wrong.
Three of the most revered women in the country right now, Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and Janet Mock, are men. Gender is no longer a thing. We reward anyone who promotes this idea with, well, awards. Any show or movie that even alludes to transanything is showered with presents and all you have to do to win any competition is grow a beard and put on a dress. Ivy League schools have replaced the pronouns “he” and “she” with “ze,” “hir,” and “hirs” because “they literally don’t have any information” (oh, and “literally” doesn’t mean “literally” anymore—it means “not literally”). When doctors try to provide information and point out that gender dysphoria is a mental illness, they are seen as boring old fuddy-duddies. To quote a man who cut off his penis and balls, “It’s mostly the medical community who sees the sexes as male or female.” It’s now reasonable for little boys to take female hormones. They also may take hormone blockers that postpone puberty so their sex change will go smoother even though the suicide rate for post-op transsexuals is still very bad. The definition of child abuse keeps changing and if you’re not down with pedophiles, you’re a “monster.” Refusing to vaccinate your child is not child abuse and third-trimester abortions are nothing compared with a doctor who shot a lion.
This May, many advanced math students in Scotland were flummoxed by an exam provided by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The test was so difficult that over 14,000 students signed two online petitions urging the SQA to consider the unusual difficulty and grade accordingly. In fact, some found the stress to be so taxing that it reduced them to tears.
SQA responded to these fears, stating that a pass mark would be determined once each test was graded. In August, the passing grade was announced to be a very low 34 percent. The assessment was decidedly too challenging and the passing mark had to be lowered from the previous year’s 45 percent. Jim Reid, who was in charge of the math exam until 2012, toldBBC Scotland that this passing mark is the lowest he has ever seen.
While the entire math exam was considered too difficult, one question about a crocodile stood out for being particularly bewildering. The SQA cited that it “proved to be challenging for most candidates.” Other whimsical, but challenging questions included a toad and frog escaping a well and designing a plaque for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The problem is certainly a head-scratcher, but not impossible. You can see YouTube channel DLBMaths solve it here, but it does take a full 10 minutes.
Reprinted from Mental Floss.
What do you know about Lawrence Lessig?
If your life depended on writing a page on the career of Lawrence Lessig, and you had 30 minutes to write the essay, and you were in a room without access to the Internet, would I be wise to sell you a life insurance policy?
Quite frankly, I had never heard of Lawrence Lessig. Yet he has raised a million dollars in one month to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States.
When you think about this, it really is astounding. Here is someone you have never heard of, and I had never heard of, yet, somehow, he was able to go to 10,000 people, and persuade them to hand him $1 million.
If you had to raise $1 million, and you had a month to do it, could you do it? I don’t think you could. I’m quite sure I could not. Yet Lawrence Lessig was able to do this without any fanfare whatsoever.
Think about where the money is going. He is going to run for the nomination against Hillary Clinton. There is no possibility that he will defeat her. He cannot even get into the upcoming Democrat debate.
A man who almost nobody outside of Maryland has ever heard of, former governor Martin O’Malley, has about 2% of the vote. Another man, who is a best-selling author, a Hollywood screenplay writer, a former U.S. Senator from Virginia, and a former Secretary of the Navy, has between 1% and 2%. Can you name him?
Here is a man on the Harvard faculty who has persuaded 10,000 people to give him a total of $1 million. This is a completely suicidal campaign. Anyone with any sense whatsoever would know that it is a suicidal campaign.
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES
How can people be this stupid? First, how can a Harvard professor think that he is going to make any difference whatsoever by announcing his candidacy for the nomination? What kind of egomaniac decides that his opinions count enough to run for the nomination to the highest office in the land? Second, even more astounding, what kind of money-wasting fools hand over money to this egomaniac?
Think of the causes that could be aided with $1 million. A quarter century ago, I used to interview people who were promoting various causes. I did a regular audiotaped interview service. I would ask them this question: “If somebody donated $1 million to your organization, what would you do with it?” That question always caught them by surprise. Some of them said, “I have never thought of that.” That’s because nobody ever hands over $1 million to some nonprofit organization that almost nobody has heard of.
Yet here is a man who almost nobody has ever heard of, who was able to persuade 10,000 people to write checks to him for a total of $1 million. The money is going to be completely wasted. Nobody is going to listen to the opinions of Lawrence Lessig. The public will never hear of him, despite this million dollars, or despite however much he will be able to raise in addition to $1 million.
There are people who move in circles where the members know somebody on the Harvard faculty, and who are stupid enough to write a check large enough to contribute to a $1 million election campaign fund. It is an election campaign fund that will lead to a complete waste of the money. Nobody will get anything out of it, other than the people who are hired on a temporary basis to do something for the campaign.
For all of their IQ points, the donors are stupid people. They don’t have any concept of political cause and effect. They think that a spokesman who has never run for political office, who no one has heard of, is going to carry the message, whatever it is, to the general public. They could have donated money to any cause, and the money would have had at least some positive payoff. But none of this money is going to have any positive payoff in terms of the agenda of the donors. Yet the donors wrote the checks.
We know the phrase, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” This phrase is applicable to this situation.
If you were an evil dictator, would you mess with this man?
Having recognized that the country is calling on me to restore order and common sense, and that my election as dictator is the last hope of Western Civilization, I hereby throw my sombrero into the ring. Below is a compact summary of the wise and forward-looking policies which will characterize my reign. Interposed are thrilling slogans that will throw you into an electoral frenzy.
Social Policy: On the day of my coronation, I will undertake a sweeping reform of society, beginning with radical feminists. We will hunt them with dogs. I will save a few and chain them in the Great Dismal Swamp, where they will poison the mosquitoes, allowing civilized people to catch catfish in comfort.
Journalism. I will have the staff of National Review chained to their counterparts at Salon, and dropped into the remote Pacific after being doused in shark attractant. All the racially prissy, narcissistic bonbons at theWashington Post will spend a year in a bad section of Newark. Their children, if any, will attend local schools. I don’t care what they conclude — Left, Right or, barely conceivably, intelligent. I am just, from the goodness of my heart, trying to give them the background for informed commentary.
Congress. After three terms in the House, or one in the Senate, the incumbents will be taken out and shot. This is no more than term limits, and will ensure that only those serious about serving the country will run for office. The rest will run from it.
Women making false claims of having been raped. I will have them boxed, gift-wrapped, and delivered to a remote Afghan army base. This will retroactively make them honest women. Very honest.
Genital mutilation of young girls. The fathers who allow it will be publicly castrated by rabid wolverines and then shipped to Uganda where they will be stuffed for a week into the bottom of a public latrine. Should they return and offend again, or return at all, I will be forced to take extreme measures.
I await the plaudits of a grateful nation.
A former CIA director withheld information about President John F Kennedy’s assassination, according to declassified agency reports.
The CIA reports, which were declassified last fall, claim that then-agency head John McCone and other top officials were part of a ‘benign cover-up’ surrounding the assassination of Kennedy in November 1963.
The report’s author, CIA historian David Robarge, claims McCone withheld information to keep the Warren Commission focused on what the agency believed to by the ‘best truth… that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone,’ according to Politico.
McCone and others were ‘complicit’ in keeping ‘incendiary’ information from the Warren Commission, a group established in the days after Kennedy’s assassination by President Lyndon B Johnson to investigate the incident.
The investigators were officially known at the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy.
McCone, who was appointed by Kennedy, died in 1991. His testimony in front of the commission, including Chief Justice Earl Warren, was considered vital in finding out what led to Kennedy’s death.
The former CIA head concluded in his assessment that Oswald, a former Marine, was a ‘lone gunman’ who acted on his own.
The Warren Commission’s final report – after a year-long investigation that included testimony from hundreds of other witnesses – was consistent with McCone’s assessment.
The commission also reviewed FBI and Secret Service reports, visited the crime scene in Dallas and analyzed Oswald’s records as part of their investigation.
The 888-page report found that Kennedy was killed from a gunshot wound while riding in a motorcade passing below a school book depository building, where Oswald worked.
Many people, however, are unconvinced that Harvey acted alone in the assassination and believe he was part of a bigger conspiracy.
Last week, it was widely reported in the mainstream media that the autopsy of a woman who died of pneumonia earlier this year in the state of Washington found that she had been infected with measles, making this the first confirmed case of measles-related death in the US since 2003. Playing its usual role, the mainstream media is up in arms, blaming the death on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children and telling parents that to not vaccinate is irresponsible. Rather than journalists doing their job by asking hard questions about public policy and seeking out the answers, they choose to act as nothing more than a mouthpiece for government health departments and dutifully tow the official line on vaccine policy.
The woman who died was not among the unvaccinated. On the contrary, she not only had been vaccinated, but reportedly was tested and found to have a protective antibody titer. She nevertheless became infected with measles while seeking medical attention in a clinic. She died from pneumonia, which can be caused by any number of other bacterial or viral infections besides measles, including the common cold and flu. The reason her immune system couldn’t handle the infection was because doctors had her on immunosuppressive drugs. Hence, medical intervention was a contributing factor in her death.
The media, as ever, is pushing the theory of herd immunity to encourage vaccination. Everyone needs to be vaccinated to protect infants and the immunocompromised, we are being told. The argument implies that the individual from whom the deceased caught the measles was unvaccinated, but that is pure speculation; for all we know, the person she contracted the measles virus from had been vaccinated, too.
It is quite possible for fully vaccinated individuals to get measles. It is well understood that some people just don’t respond to the vaccine as intended; their immune systems do not produce a great enough amount of antibodies to be considered protective. This is true of about 5 percent of the population, and it’s the reason a second dose, or “booster” shot, is recommended. That second shot is likely unnecessary for most children who did respond to the first, yet it’s given routinely to everyone anyway, even though the purpose is to target the few non-responders. Even after a second dose, however, 3 percent or so of the population still won’t respond.
Moreover, the vaccine-induced immunity, unlike the more robust immunity gained from natural infection, wanes over time. In fact, the CDC considers birth before 1957 to be “evidence of immunity” to measles for the simple reason that pretty much everyone back then was infected with it as a child and gained lifelong immunity as a result.
Also, the measles vaccine is a live-virus vaccine, and individuals can potentially get the disease from the vaccine as well as shed the virus. Vaccine-strain attenuated live viruses can replicate and revert back into virulent form (which is why they don’t vaccinate immunocompromised individuals) or recombine with other viruses to create novel virulent strains. This means that individuals who have received a live-virus vaccine can potentially catch the disease, as well as transmit the virus to others. This is why the live oral poliovirus vaccine was withdrawn from the market in the US, for example; every single domestic case of polio since 1979 was caused by the vaccine.
The theory of vaccine-induced herd immunity also overlooks natural herd immunity. Measles is a particularly useful example to illustrate the concept. This is what the measles mortality rate looked like before the introduction of the vaccine:
The vaccine was introduced in 1963, after the latest year shown in the above graphfrom the US Department of Health. Note that the above graph shows deaths from measles, not incidence of measles, which remained high until the introduction of the vaccine:
In fact, as already noted, it used to be that nearly everyone was exposed to the virus, usually in childhood, and gained lifelong immunity as a result. The virus was still around, but it was becoming less deadly to the US population due to an improving standard of living, better sanitation and hygiene, better nutrition (e.g.,vitamin A is important for reducing measles mortality and decreasing morbidity), advances in health care, and so on.
What the declining mortality rate indicates is that the US population was developing natural herd immunity. We were learning to live in symbiosis with the virus, natural exposure to which not only confers permanent immunity to measles itself, but may help prime the immune system of children to protect against other diseases, as well.
But then along came the vaccine and destroyed that natural herd immunity.
While parents today are trained to have a hysterical fear of measles, back in the 1960s, when the vaccine was introduced, it was recognized as a generally mild disease with infrequent complications. In fact, in the era before the vaccine was introduced, it was accepted doctrine that the population would adapt to live in symbiosis with the virus—a respect for the balance of nature that was quickly discarded with the development of the vaccine.
The concept of “herd immunity” today is universally associated with the use of vaccines, but this is an application of the concept in fact borrowed from the observance of natural herd immunity to disease. In the case of measles, researchers in the 1930s—long before the vaccine existed—observed that epidemics in Baltimore occurred in predictable cycles and only when the level of immunity in affected communities was less than 55 percent (far below the 95 percent or so level of vaccination hypothesized to provide herd immunity with vaccination).
Now since nearly everyone is vaccinated at an early age, they don’t become infected with the disease in childhood and hence don’t develop the more robust permanent immunity conferred by natural infection.
The kind of immunity conferred by vaccines isnot the same as that conferred by natural infection. Vaccines favor an antibody response while actually suppressing what is known as cell-mediated immunity. For example, while the flu vaccine offers protection against specific strains of the influenza virus, it works by inducing an antibody response while preventing the cell-mediated immunity that would otherwise offer protection not only against those specific strains of the virus, but other strains as well. Hence, getting an annual flu shot can actually increase the risk of getting the flu. (There are over 200 strains of viruses that cause influenza or flu-like symptoms, the vaccine only targets a handful of them, and public health officials guess each year which ones they think will be in circulation in order to manufacture seasonal vaccines for those specific strains.)
While vaccine theory is premised on the idea of inducing humoral immunity, which involves an antibody response, scientists have learned the production of antibodies is neither always sufficient nor even necessary for the development of immunity.
Since the vaccine-induced immunity from the measles wanes over time, in the event of an outbreak, individuals are at greater risk of developing the disease in their adulthood, when it poses a higher risk of serious complications.
The government and media, of course, blame every outbreak on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. This was true of the Disney outbreak earlier this year, even though the majority of cases were in adults.
Measles outbreaks can and do occur in highlyvaccinated populations. Even if there was a 100 percent vaccination rate, outbreaks could still occur for the reasons already noted: some individuals do not respond to the vaccine, and the immunity of those who do wanes over time.
Moreover, because of public vaccine policy, mothers today who were never infected during their childhood and hence never developed robust permanent immunity are less able to protect their newborn babies from the disease in the event of an outbreak.
Without the vaccine, women would be infected as children and develop a permanent, robust cell-mediated immunity while continuing to be frequently exposed to the virus, thus also providing a harmless natural boost to their antibody levels. When they become mothers, they would then confer protection to their infants by passing on antibodies through their breastmilk.
But now, since women were vaccinated as children, they likely have a waning antibody titer by the time they start having children. Because the vaccine has quite successfully reduced transmission of the disease, they have not received the beneficial natural boosting of antibodies. Hence, they aren’t able to pass on that antibody protection to their infants.
Public vaccine policy has thus shifted the risk burden away from those in whom the disease is generally well-tolerated and onto those in whom it poses a higher risk of serious complications: adults and the most vulnerable members of society—infants.
Such long-term population-level negative consequences of vaccines simply don’t receive any consideration in the mainstream discussion.
In reports about the measles-related death in Washington, while amplifying public health officials’ recommendation that everyone make sure they and their children have been vaccinated for measles, the media has also failed to even approach the question of the more immediate individual risk associated with the vaccine. When the question of risks does come up, the media tends to treat it as though nonexistent. In the wake of the Disney measles outbreak earlier this year, for instance, the New York Times insisted that there was “no evidence” that vaccines can cause harm and accused anyone who suggests otherwise of being “anti-science”.
This is a puzzling denial, indeed, in light of the fact that, back in the 1980s, the vaccine industry was granted legal immunity by the government because manufacturers were facing so many lawsuits for vaccine injuries that they were going out of business. This in turn threatened public health policy, which prompted the government to step in and bail out the vaccine manufactures by barring consumers from suing them for damages under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
Under the law, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was also established to shift the financial burden of compensation for vaccine injuries from Big Pharma to the consumers. The program is funded by a $0.75 tax on every antigen dose of vaccines (so every time an MMR shot is given, being a combination vaccine, $2.25 is taxed for the purpose of contributing to the national vaccine injury fund).
The Supreme Court has upheld legal immunity for vaccine manufacturers on the grounds that certain adverse reactions are “unavoidable” and “design defects” are “not a basis for liability.” Justice Antonin Scalia described this special accommodation for Big Pharma as a “societal bargain”.
The line from the New York Times and other mainstream media that vaccines are harmless is hard to reconcile with the fact that corporations like Merck have been granted legal immunity by the government on the grounds that vaccines are unavoidably unsafe.
As a further illustration of how utterly ignorant and irresponsible such dismissals of the risks associated with vaccines are, one need look no further than the vaccine manufacturers’ product inserts. Merck’s product insert for its measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine states that “Unnecessary doses of a vaccine are best avoided….” Surely, there must be a reason? It happens there are many.
For mothers, contraindications to vaccination include pregnancy, as “the possible effects of the vaccine on fetal development are unknown” since there are “no adequate studies” into that question. “However,” Merck appropriately adds, “it would be prudent to assume that the vaccine strain of virus is also capable of inducing adverse fetal effects.” The vaccine-strain mumps virus “has been shown to infect the placenta and fetus”. Studies have shown that the vaccine-strain of rubella virus can be transmitted to infants through the breast milk. Whether this is also true of the measles and mumps viruses “is not known”. Merck advises that “pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months following vaccination” and that “Caution should be exercised when M-M-R II is administered to a nursing woman.” The vaccine also “has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or potential to impair fertility.” Among those who should not receive it are children who are hypersensitive to any of the vaccine’s components, including gelatin and eggs, the latter because the live viruses are propagated in chick embryo cell cultures. The rubella portion of the vaccine is propagated in “human diploid lung fibroblasts”; specifically, WI-38 (ATCC® CCL-75TM), which contaminates the vaccine with human DNA from an aborted female fetus. (This has raised some concern over “ethical problems” at the Vatican; specifically about “cooperation in evil” and the “unjust” practice of forcing parents “to act against their conscience”.) Another ingredient is “fetal bovine serum”. Another is “recombinant human albumin”; specifically, Recombumin® Prime, a product of Novozyems Biopharma US Inc. This is a genetically engineered protein (“recombinant” means it was made by dicing and splicing genetic material). The product was developed because of concerns that using the blood protein albumin from humans or cattle carries the risk of blood-borne contaminants like mycoplasma, prions, or viruses. (This has happened. In March 2010, the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was found to have been contaminated with a pig virus after it was administered to a million children.) Possible adverse reactions to the vaccine include:
- Snycope (fainting)
- Vasculitis (a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the blood vessels, causing inflammation that can lead to serious problems, including aneurysms)
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when the digestive enzymes it produces begin digesting the pancreas itself)
- Parotitis (inflammation of the parotid glands)
- Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
- Thrombocytopenia (a disorder in which there is an abnormally low amount of platelets, which help blood to clot)
- Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause cardiac and respiratory arrest)
- Arthritis (joint inflammation)
- Arthralgia (joint pain)
- Myalgia (muscle pain)
- Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain, which can cause permanent brain damage or death)
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, which can result in paralysis or death)
- Febrile seizures (convulsions brought on by fever)
- Afebrile seizures (convulsions without fever, which may indicate epilepsy)
- Measles-like rash
It is perhaps not too surprising that many of these adverse reactions are the same as the symptoms or complications of wild-type measles itself, including: fever; headache; diarrhea; vomiting; encephalitis; seizures; pneumonia; rash; and, of course, death.
Of course, Merck and public health officials maintain that serious adverse events are rare, less than the risk of developing the same complications from the disease. But, then, the recent case in Washington is the first confirmed case of measles-related death since 2003, while there have been 65 deaths since 2003 reported to the nation Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) following vaccination with MMR.
Furthermore, the possible adverse reactions listed in the product insert are just a list of known reactions from short-term studies—(and the vaccine manufacturers conduct their own studies to get FDA licensure)—and postmarketing surveillance. The long-term effects of vaccination and its interference in the natural development of an individual’s immune system haven’t been well studied, such as whether vaccination has contributed to the alarming increases in asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
The continued use of mercury as a preservative in flu vaccines and the use of aluminum as an adjuvant in numerous other childhood vaccines are particularly worrisome practices. Both are known neurotoxins that can pass the placental and blood-brain barriers.
There has never been a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of long-term health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. As much as the media likes to say that science has shown that there is no risk of developing autism from vaccines, there has never been a study comparing autism rates of individuals who’ve received the CDC’s recommended schedule and unvaccinated individuals.
Moreover, it is known that vaccinations can modify gene expression, and certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to having adverse reactions or long-term negative health consequence of being vaccinated; yet public policy treats vaccination as a one-size-fits-all solution—thus playing Russian roulette with our children.
This is all just scratching the surface. The point is that the media treat the subject of vaccines as though there wasn’t even a discussion to be had—just fall in line and get your damn shots! This is dishonest and anti-intellectual. The popular accusation that anyone who questions public vaccine policy is “anti-science” is a particularly hypocritical creed reflective of the intellectual dishonesty and sheer laziness of mainstream journalists who bow to the altar of the state religion and preach official dogma rather than doing their jobs.
Notwithstanding the pretense to the contrary from public health officials and the mainstream media, there is a discussion to be had about public vaccine policy. We ought to start having it.
[Corrections: As originally published, this article stated, “There has never been a study of long-term health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.” This is incorrect. There has never been a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of this kind, which is the “gold standard” of epidemiological studies. The text has been revised to clarify. As originally published, the article stated, “mothers today who were never infected during their childhood and hence never developed robust permanent immunity are unable to protect their newborn babies from the disease in the event of an outbreak.” This is incorrect. Women who have been vaccinated, due to waning immunity, are less able to protect their newborns. The text has been revised to clarify. July 28, 2015: As originally published, this article stated, “In March 2010, the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was found to have been contaminated with a pig virus after it was injected into a million children. Rotarix is an orally-administered live virus vaccine. The error has been corrected.]
This article was originally published at Foreign Policy Journal.
Markets discover price via supply and demand: Big demand + limited supply = rising prices. Abundant supply + sagging demand = declining prices.
Eventually, prices rise to a level that is unaffordable to the majority of potential buyers, with demand coming only from the wealthy. That’s the story of housing in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and other desirable locales that are currently magnets for global capital.
In the normal cycle of supply and demand, new more affordable housing would be built, and prices would decline.
But that isn’t happening in hot real estate markets in the U.S. What’s happening is rental housing is being built to profit from rising rents and luxury housing is being built to meet the demand from wealthy overseas buyers.
With limited land in desirable urban zones and high development fees, it’s not possible to build affordable housing unless the government subsidizes the costs.
Meanwhile, the supply of existing homes for sale is limited by the owners’ recognition that they won’t be able to replace their own home as prices soar; it makes financial sense to stay put rather than sell and try to move up.
Some homeowners are cashing in their high-priced homes and retiring to cheaper regions. But this supply is being overwhelmed by a flood of offshore cash seeking real estate in the U.S.
This is part of the global capital flows I described in my recent analysis What Happens Next Will Be Determined By One Thing: Capital Flows. As China and the emerging market economies stagnate, capital that was invested in these markets in the boom years is moving into dollar-denominated assets such as bonds and houses.
This globalization of regional housing markets is pricing the middle class out of housing in areas that also happen to be strong job markets.
Many commentators are concerned that a nation of homeowners is being transformed into a nation of renters, as housing is snapped up by hedge funds and wealthy elites fleeing China and the emerging markets.
But will current conditions continue unchanged going forward?
Let’s start with the basics of demographic demand for housing and the price of housing.
Demographics & Housing Valuations
There are plenty of young people who’d like to buy a house and start a family (a.k.a. new household formation), but few have the job or income to buy a house at today’s nosebleed levels — a level just slightly less insane than the prices at the top of Housing Bubble #1:
(Charts courtesy of Market Daily Briefing)
The current Housing Bubble #2 (also known as the Echo Bubble) certainly isn’t being driven by rising household income, as median household income has declined when adjusted for inflation:
What enabled households to buy homes as prices pushed higher? Super-low mortgage rates:
Now that mortgage rates have hit bottom, there’s not much room left to push housing valuations higher by lowering rates. No matter how solid the buyers’ credit rating, mortgages remain intrinsically risky, as unexpected medical emergencies, job losses, divorces, etc., trigger defaults in the best of times. In recessions, job losses typically cause defaults and lenders’ losses to rise.
All debt, including home mortgages, is based on household income and debt levels. The higher the debt load, the more money the household must devote to debt service. That leaves less to spend on additional debt or other spending.
As this chart shows, the ratio of debt-to-earned income (wages and salaries) has declined since the speculative frenzy of Housing Bubble # 1, but it remains almost twice the levels of the pre-bubble era:
Based on the fundamentals of domestic income — debt levels and current home prices — only the top 10% of households has much hope of owning a home in globally desirable regions:
If domestic buyers can no longer afford to buy, then who’s left? Cash buyers from overseas is one answer.
Capital Flows into U.S. Real Estate
Chinese millionaires buying homes for cash in the U.S. and Canada have been voting on conditions in China with their feet. The tide of money leaving China has turned into a veritable flood, with hundreds of billions of dollars leaving China in the past year aone as economic conditions there deteriorated.
This flood tide can be seen in real estate transactions, not just in the U.S. but in Australia, Canada and the U.K.:
These cash purchases by wealthy foreign nationals are creating a bifurcated housing market. In areas deemed desirable, Chinese and other foreign nationals are dominating the market (see: 80% Of All New Home Buyers in Irvine, CA Are Chinese).
In regions that are below the radar of offshore buyers, for example, broad swaths of the Midwest, home prices remain more affordable.
But even domestic markets with relatively few foreign buyers have seen soaring home prices if there is strong job growth and limited land for new development.
A Bifurcated Housing Market: The New Normal?
These dynamics have created islands of strong job growth and global/domestic demand for housing in which only the wealthy can afford to buy and everyone else is a renter for life. These islands are surrounded by a sea of lower-cost housing in regions with weak job growth and stagnant wages.
Is this bifurcation the New Normal? Or is Housing Bubble #2 heading for the same shoals that popped housing bubble #1 in 2007-08?
Right now, the general consensus is that housing prices “will never decline” in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, etc.—the islands of job growth and high valuations–due to the strong U.S. economy and capital flows into USD-denominated assets. But if the bulk of this capital flow has already occurred, and capital controls and clawbacks become the order of the day, this prop under current nosebleed housing valuations might be kicked away far sooner than anticipated.
History suggests that the markets that soared the most are also the ones that collapse the farthest.
Reprinted with permission from Peak Prosperity.
When Thomas Crapper popularised the modern flush toilet in homes around Britain, he could not have known the magnitude of the domestic problem he was creating. For years, toilet etiquette has been a topic of consternation, with the seat in particular opening a rift of disagreement between the genders.
It is popularly preached that men should put the seat down after relieving themselves, but why – in this age of so-called equality – is this still the case? “Chivalry!” you may shout; “kindness!” you may yell. Well, OK – but is that good enough? Because, shockingly, men like touching the seat just as little as their female cubicle-mates.
To solve the toilet seat dilemma, we must delve into the wider problems that surround it. These problems can be divided, rather neatly, into three separate areas of argument: equality, psychology and bacteriology. So let’s pull up our trousers, flush out the problem and wash our hands of this khazi conflict once and for all.
The Equality Experts
The toilet seat debate may be timeless, but it is also potent with contemporary issues.
Universities around Britain have recently started to implement gender neutral toilets in order to nullify any ostracisation transgender or intersex people may feel. However, the reception to these loos has not been universally positive, with one third-year female student at Sussex University complaining to me that “there are no rules about how to leave the toilet seat, and that means we have to move it all the time.”
“Sometimes you can tell that men haven’t put the seat up, gone to the toilet and missed,” continues the student, who wishes to remain unnamed. “And I don’t see why we should have to deal with that when it should be their responsibility to move it in the first place.”
The inference here, that altering the position of the loo seat is a man’s role, is reiterated by Donna Dawson, a relationship expert who playfully (I think) brands me a “misogynist” for suggesting that the undesirable task of lifting or lowering the toilet seat should not be exclusively left to men.
Dawson suggests that equality is represented by “compromise and meeting each other halfway; the important bedrock of a relationship”. Quite so – but she repeatedly describes a lowered seat as the toilet in its “natural” or “original” position. To paraphrase the age-old maxim, is this not trying to have your urinal cake and eat it?
After our conversation, I spend (too long) formulating a ‘one-touch’ rule. In short: everyone agrees to touch the seat once during their lavatory trip. Men put it up at the start, women put it down. What could represent a more equal compromise, I humbly ask?
It seems like every couple of years, the folks at NASA or NOAA will issue a press release saying something along the lines of “this year we’ll have the big one” before adding that El Niño may be gearing up to dump devastating rains all over the Americas. The frequency of these predictions seems to have increased in recent years, largely due to the epic drought that has been drying up the Western United States as of late. The people living in these regions are praying for rain, even if it arrives in disastrous proportions, and the media is more than willing to entertain their fantasy.
This year has been no different, with climatologists predicting an El Niño weather pattern that could break records. Of course, making long-term weather forecasts is no easy task, and they’re wrong more often than they’re right. However, based on past climate trends this year looks like it might finally be the one, as climatologists admit that the odds of a devastating El Niño occurring this winter are on the rise.
An El Niño that is among the strongest on record is gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean, and climate scientists say California is likely to face a wet winter.
“There’s no longer a possibility that El Niño wimps out at this point. It’s too big to fail,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge.
“And the winter over North America is definitely not going to be normal,” he said.
Just three weeks ago, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center raised the odds of California getting doused with a wetter-than-average winter. Southern California now has more than a 60% chance of a wet winter, a 33% chance of a normal winter and less than a 7% chance of a dry winter.
The odds of a wet winter further north are increasing too. San Francisco has more than a 40% chance of a wet winter, 33% chance of a normal winter and less than a 27% chance of a dry winter.