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We’re Winning

LewRockwell.com - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 02:01

Earlier this month the New York Times wondered aloud if the “libertarian moment” had arrived. A good question, to be sure.

To answer it, though, Times reporter Robert Draper sought out not quite the top libertarian thinkers in the world, but instead those people most easily reached within a ten-minute walk from the Capitol or the Empire State Building.

Draper begins with an ex-MTV personality and proceeds from there. None of the people whose work and writing have shaped the libertarian movement, and who have converted so many people to our point of view, make an appearance. Ask the hordes of young kids who are devouring libertarian classics how many of them were introduced to libertarianism, or even slightly influenced, by the figures on whom the Times chooses to rely. You already know the answer.

The movement’s major thinkers have rather more intellectual heft behind them, which I suspect is why the Times would prefer to keep them from you. Far better for libertarianism to seem like an ill-focused, adolescent rebellion against authority per se, instead of a serious, intellectually exciting school of thought that challenges every last platitude about the State we were taught in its ubiquitous schools.

Economist and historian Bob Higgs shared my impression of the Times article:

Of course, it’s easy to ridicule libertarians if you focus exclusively on the lifestyle camp. Easy, too, to accuse them of inconsistency, because in truth these particular libertarians are inconsistent. Easy, too, to minimize their impact by concentrating heavily on conventional electoral politics, as if no other form of societal change were conceivable. Easy, too, to ignore completely the only ones – the anarchists – who cannot be accused of inconsistency or ridiculed for their impotence as players in the conventional political game, a game for which they have only contempt. Finally, it’s easy, too – and a great deal more interesting for general, clueless readers – to focus on the hip libertarians.

As Bob points out, the Times reporter says he finds inconsistency among libertarians, because some want to cut only this much, or abolish only those things. But this is what he gets for focusing on the political class and the Beltway brand of libertarianism. Libertarianism is about as consistent a philosophy as a Times reader is likely to encounter. We oppose aggression, period. That means we oppose the State, which amounts to institutionalized aggression.

We have zero interest in “public policy,” a term that begs every important moral question. To ask what kind of “public policy” ought to exist in such-and-such area implicitly assumes (1) that private property is subject to majority vote; (2) that people can be expropriated by the State to whatever degree the State considers necessary in order to carry out the “public policy” in question; (3) that there exists an institution with moral legitimacy that may direct our physical resources and even our lives in particular ways against our wills, even when we are causing no particular harm to anyone.

Still, I note in passing, political consultants are doing their best to make a quick buck on the rising tide of libertarianism. A fundraising email I receive from time to time urges people to get involved in the political process, since simply “educating people” (contemptuous, condescending quotation marks in original) isn’t enough. Instead. they’re told, it’s more important to spend their time supporting political candidates who occasionally give a decent speech but who otherwise deny libertarian principles on a routine basis, in the spurious hope that once in office, these candidates will throw off their conventional exteriors and announce themselves as libertarians.

The Times, too, thinks primarily about politics, of all things, when assessing whether the libertarian moment has arrived. The article is fixated on the political class. But why conceive of the question so narrowly? Why should we assess the growth and significance of libertarianism on the basis of political metrics alone?

The left understands this point. Recall Antonio Gramsci’s strategy for bringing about lasting leftist victory. He did not advocate immediate and exclusive emphasis on political activity. If the people’s minds had not been changed in the direction that a leftist government would want to take them, all their political conniving would be in vain anyway.

Vastly more important, Gramsci taught, was for their ideas to work their way through the universities, the arts, and all the other institutions of civil society. At that point, it wouldn’t matter who won the elections. The people would already be in their hands – and in all likelihood, the two competing candidates would themselves have adopted leftist language and ideas, whether they realized it or not, to boot.

Now judged by Gramsci’s standard, the libertarian moment has not arrived any more than it has in politics. These institutions are firmly in the hands of those who hold libertarian ideas in contempt, even if an exception might be found here and there.

But if we define the term “libertarian moment” more modestly, a different conclusion emerges. No, we have not reached a point at which anything like a majority of Americans have embraced our ideas. But we have reached a point at which even mainstream sources, which in the pre-Internet age could get away with ignoring us altogether, are forced to acknowledge us, if only for purposes of dismissal and ridicule.

Economic commentary can no longer pretend that our choices are either fiscal expansion or monetary expansion. A new school of thought has spoiled the party, letting Americans know that these phony choices by no means exhaust the real alternatives.

Thanks to Ron Paul, a new generation understands it’s all right to favor the free market and to oppose war. Libertarians have done more than anyone else to expose the Democrats as just another wing of the war party, and to show there’s no real debate in America over foreign policy. This is considered extremely uncouth by those who wish to maintain the pretense that open discussion of important issues takes place in the land of the free.

After decades of virtually no progress at all against the war on drugs, the prohibitionist regime is beginning to crack all around us. The standard bromides in its favor elicit only cynical chuckles from a rising generation that knows better.

Ordinarily, federal bailouts would be bipartisan and all but unanimous, with self-described supporters of the market economy solemnly informing us that just this once, it had to be done. Progressives have not distinguished themselves here as they might have; Rachel Maddow once said we wouldn’t have had an economy without the bailouts. It’s the libertarians who have stood against the establishment tide, as usual.

In other words, we are having discussions that we did not have in the past. Libertarians have staked out positions that a lot of ordinary people share, but which they never saw articulated in public, thereby giving people the confidence and courage to express dissent.

Ten years ago, these dissident views would have been drowned out by the establishment consensus, which closes ranks whenever an issue of real importance arises.

Is it too much to call this the libertarian moment? Whatever we want to call it, it’s the beginning of something never seen before in American history, and that alone is reason to celebrate.

Free Scotland!

LewRockwell.com - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 02:01

upport for Scottish independence is gathering steam three weeks before the referendum, bringing victory tantalizing closer for the “Yes” camp after its decisive debate win and David Cameron’s attempt to make a business case for remaining in the UK.

A poll for the Scottish Daily Mail newspaper released Friday showed that support for independence has surged by 4 percent, to 47 percent – just 6 percentage points behind the “No” campaign.

The Survation poll found 47 percent of respondents would vote “Yes” to independence, compared to 53 percent who would vote “No,” excluding people who were undecided.

This is the first survey after the final TV debate between Alex Salmond, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, and Alistair Darling, the head of the anti-independence “Better Together” campaign.

Commenting on the results, Yes Scotland’s chief executive, Blair Jenkins, said: “With only 20 campaigning days before the referendum, more and more people are waking up to the great opportunities of Yes to make Scotland’s vast wealth, talent and resources work better for all in a more prosperous and fairer country.”

In a similar poll three weeks earlier, 43 percent said they would vote “Yes,” versus 57 percent who would vote to remain in the union.

Prime Minister Cameron urged Scottish people to reject independence in a speech in Glasgow on Thursday, arguing union was a strong economic advantage.

Cameron said the union between Scotland and England was the “greatest merger in history” as he addressed a conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in Glasgow. He said the UK was“one of the oldest and most successful single markets in the world” and that Scotland does twice as much trade with the rest of the UK as the rest of the world put together.

According to Cameron, trade between the UK and Scotland supports 1 million Scottish jobs, or about 20 percent of the population.

“Our single market is one of our union’s greatest advantages. If we stay together, Scottish businesses have better opportunities, Scottish consumers have more choice and Scottish people have more secure jobs,”Cameron said.

While the economy is a key debate, national identity is a strong factor for many in deciding whether they want to belong to the rest of the United Kingdom, or be an independent country.

Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MOR, a leading UK research company, told RT that much of the Scottish push for independence is based on issues of identity.

“It matters more to them to be Scottish than being English,” he said.

Although he raised concerns whether the current constitution of four separate countries together as the United Kingdom still works, he said Scotland’s economy would be “stronger if it stays in the union.”

Earlier this year, Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister under the Edinburgh parliament’s current limited powers, said that Scotland would be becoming independent “in more promising circumstances than virtually any nation in history,” if it votes for secession.

Scotland called for its share of £1.3 trillion ($2.19 trillion) of UK assets to help support an independent Scottish economy, which Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney said is already one of the richest in the world. “Everyone in Scotland has contributed to this 1.3 trillion-pound stockpile of UK assets and Scotland is entitled to a fair share, giving us an even stronger base to build on,” he said.

On Thursday, 200 company heads signed an open letter to say independence was in Scotland’s “best interest.”

“We are involved in business and entrepreneurship at different levels in Scotland and around the world. We believe independence is in the best interests of Scotland’s economy and its people,” the letter reads.

Leading signatories are Sir Brian Souter, chairman of Stagecoach, an Australian-based transport giant, Jim McColl, chairman and CEO of Clyde Blowers, a £1 billion engineering group, and Ralph Topping, former CEO of bookmaker William Hill.

This came a day after a similar letter from 130 pro-UK Scottish business leaders said the case for independence had not been made.

“Uncertainty surrounds a number of vital issues including currency, regulation, tax, pensions, EU membership and support for our exports around the world – and uncertainty is bad for business,” the letter said.

Questions over whether Scotland’s economy could do well alone have been at the heart of the campaign – including whether Scotland could keep using the pound and what share of Britain’s national debt it should take on.

On 18th September Scotland will vote “Yes” or “No” to ending its 307-year union with England.

Reprinted with permission from Russia Today.

She Sounds Just Like Netanayhu

LewRockwell.com - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 02:01

The last time Elizabeth Warren was asked about her views on the Israeli attack on Gaza – on July 17 – she, as Rania Khalek put it, “literally ran away” without answering. But last week, the liberal Senator appeared for one of her regularly scheduled “office hours” with her Massachusetts constituents, this one in Hyannis, and, as a local paper reported, she had nowhere to run.

One voter who identified himself as a Warren supporter, John Bangert, stood up and objected to her recent vote, in the middle of the horrific attack on Gaza, to send yet another $225 million of American taxpayer money to Israel for its “Iron Dome” system. Banger told his Senator: “We are disagreeing with Israel using their guns against innocents. It’s true in Ferguson, Missouri, and it’s true in Israel . . .  The vote was wrong, I believe.” To crowd applause, Bangert told Warren that the money “could have been spent on infrastructure or helping immigrants fleeing Central America.”

But Warren steadfastly defended her “pro-Israel” vote, invoking the politician’s platitude: “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.” According to the account in the Cape Cod Times by reporter C. Ryan Barber, flagged by Zaid Jilani, Warren was also asked about her Israel position by other voters who were at the gathering, and she went on to explain:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right. America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel “indiscriminately,” but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have “not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for.” When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Warren even rejected a different voter’s suggestion that the U.S. force Israel to at least cease building illegal settlements by withholding further aid: “Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, ‘I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.’”

Read the rest of the article

Are You a Narcissist?

LewRockwell.com - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 02:01

There was once a young man named Narcissus who was so vain that he fell in love with his own reflection in the water and died. In some versions of the mythological tale from Ancient Greece, Narcissus was transformed into a flower that today carries the name narcissus, or daffodil.

Like the flower, narcissism has continued to flourish in modern culture. “Selfie” was awarded word of the year in 2013 by the Oxford Dictionary. Capturing an image of oneself – once the purview of despondent artists – has become an international pastime. Even politicians rode the trend taking selfies at memorial services. Celebrities continued to be, well, celebrated as well. Miley Cyrus ended 2013 as the most searched person on Google, with Drake and Kim Kardashian coming in at the number two and three spots. Between them they have more “followers” than the population of an average country. And, as both Miley Cyrus’s career trajectory and research findings suggest, the importance of fame is more prominent than ever before.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen the Ice Bucket challenge thrive, but it has been revealed that less than half of people doing the challenge are actually donating. So, for some, is it really about awareness for ALS or self-promotion?

When we wrote The Narcissism Epidemic a few years ago we didn’t predict the extent of these changes. Narcissism has become such a part of culture that a new study found people could report their own narcissism simply by answering a question:

To what extent do you agree with this statement: “I am a narcissist.” (Note: The word “narcissist” means egotistical, self-focused, and vain.)

But narcissism is more complicated – and confusing – than a single question can capture. There are really three types of narcissism. Problems arise when people discuss narcissism without identifying the form.

Grandiose narcissism is the outgoing, extraverted form. When you look at charismatic but corrupt leaders, unfaithful ex-partners or media hungry celebrities you are often seeing grandiose narcissism in action. Grandiose narcissism starts with is an inflated image of oneself. The narcissistic individual believeshe or she is smarter, better looking and more important than others. And, of course, deserves special treatment for this fact. This does not mean that grandiose narcissists are all pompous bores. They can be very charming, likable (especially on first dates or job interviews) and enjoy people. On the flip side, narcissistic relationships are often not very emotionally warm or caring.

Here is the big catch with grandiose narcissism: If your image of yourself and reality do not match, you have to fill in the gaps. That is, you have to make yourself look better than you are. So, you might spend time with popular people who boost your image. Or you might name drop or show-off. There is a running joke that the most dangerous place in the world is between certain politicians and a camera crew. If you are talented and narcissistic you might be able to attract a posse to follow you or an attractive “trophy” partner. Online this might take the form of followers or friends – research has found that grandiose narcissism predicts the number of Twitter followers, Klout score and Facebook friends a person has.

If you have money (or can get loans – debt is a narcissism enabler) you can sport fancy clothes or a car. You can even enhance your physical appearance. This is easy to do with online photos. You just take several and pick the best one then use various filters to make it even better. In real life, this same feat can be accomplished with make-up, facial hair, grooming and even cosmetic surgery. Reality always wins, but illusion can put up a good fight.

Read the rest of the article

The Science of Acupuncture

Dr. Mercola - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Acupuncture is an ancient holistic health care system still widely practiced in China. It falls under the wider umbrella, known in the West as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which also includes the use of herbs and other therapies. Diagnostic systems also include tongue and pulse diagnosis.

Contrary to allopathic, symptom-based medicine, TCM and acupuncture aims to eliminate the root cause of your problem, which is said to originate in a dysfunction in your body’s energetic meridian system.

Western vs. Eastern Mindset

Meridian-based energy therapies like acupuncture are quite useful for treating a number of health problems; pain in particular. In China, acupuncture may even be used in lieu of anesthetic drugs during surgery, as demonstrated in the BBC documentary above.

As unbelievable as it seems, a young woman actually undergoes open heart surgery with acupuncture instead of general anesthesia.

There are several advantages to using acupuncture during surgical procedures, the Chinese surgeon explains. For starters, it doesn’t have the health risks of general anesthesia. Recovery is also much quicker, and the cost is about one-third.

While most westerners would balk at undergoing invasive surgery with nothing but a few needles keeping pain at bay, each year, millions of Americans do turn to acupuncture to relieve chronic pain, high blood pressure, nausea, and much more.

Acupuncture is considered an alternative to conventional forms of medicine in the West and is actually one of the oldest healing practices in the world. In China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years, and its staying power isn’t merely a matter of superstition or coincidence.

In modern-day China, some hospitals offer acupuncture and allopathic medicine side-by-side, allowing patients to choose. They can also opt for a combination of both. For example, if an adverse drug effect occurs, the patient can opt for a reduced dose in combination with acupuncture.

Basic Principles of Acupuncture

TCM views the body as a cohesive one—a complex system where everything within it is inter-connected—where each part affects all other parts. They teach that lack of balance within this biological system is the precursor to all illness. The body exhibits symptoms when suffering from inner disease, and if it’s not re-balanced these symptoms may lead to acute or chronic illnesses of all kinds.

There are 14 major energy channels called meridians that flow through your body. An energy called chi circulates along the meridians to all parts of your body, including the internal organs and every cell. This chi is the vital force that literally keeps us alive. Vibrant health is a result of balanced, unimpeded flow of energy through the body.

According to TCM, illness and pain is the byproduct of energy blockages somewhere along one or more meridians. Each acupuncture point along the meridian acts like a pass-through or gate. Energy can get “bottle-necked” in these points, slowing down the flow; sometimes to the point of standstill. This is the precursor to pain and illness.

By inserting a thin needle into the congested or “clogged” area, it opens the gate and allows the energy to flow again. With the life-energy flowing smoothly, the body can now re-regulate the flow of energy, repair itself, and maintain its own optimal level of health.

Herbs and other therapies such as guacha, cupping, and moxibustion—the burning of herbs on or over the skin—can be used to support the healing.

History of Acupuncture

The science and art of acupuncture is well documented and spans across centuries, all the way back to the Stone Age. Records of its use have been found in many parts of the world, not just the Orient, as most commonly thought.

The Chinese medical compendium, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, is the oldest written record about acupuncture. It is thought to be the oldest medical book in the world, heralding from Emperor Huang Di who reigned between 2,696—2,598 B.C.

However, signs of acupuncture being used are found all over the ancient world.  There’s evidence of its practice in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Sri Lanka, parts of Europe, and South America. Even our North American Indians have used it.

The Eskimos, for example, are said to still use sharpened stones for treating illness. Written evidence of the use of acupuncture in Egypt and Saudi Arabia also exists. The Ebers papyrus of 1,550 B.C. describes a physical system of channels and vessels that is closely matched to the Chinese system of meridians.

Even older evidence than the examples above exist. In 1991, a 5,000-year-old mummified man was found along the Otz valley between Austria and Italy. Remarkably well preserved, a complex system of tattoos were discovered on his body, and verified to be directly on, or within six millimeters of, traditional acupuncture points and meridians.

Evidence Showing What Acupuncture ‘Does’

Some research suggests that acupuncture stimulates your central nervous system to release natural chemicals that alter bodily systems, pain, and other biological processes. In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an extensive review and analysis of clinical trials involving acupuncture. According to this report,1 acupuncture impacts the body on multiple levels, including:

  • Stimulating the conduction of electromagnetic signals, which may release immune system cells or pain-killing chemicals
  • Activation of your body’s natural opioid system, which may help reduce pain or induce sleep
  • Stimulation of your hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which modulate numerous body systems
  • Change in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, which may positively influence brain chemistry

In the featured video, a team of researchers, along with an acupuncturist, conduct an experiment that has never been done before. Using high tech MRI imaging, they were able to visually demonstrate that acupuncture has a very real effect on the brain.

Acupuncture, it turns out, does something completely unexpected—it deactivates certain parts of the brain, particularly in the limbic system, decreasing neuronal activity, opposed to having an activating impact. Their experiment also clearly showed that superficial sham needling did NOT have this effect. The limbic system is associated with our experience of pain, adding further evidence that something very unique happens during acupuncture—it quite literally alters your experience of pain by shutting down these deeper brain regions.

Acupuncture Proven Effective for Pain and Osteoarthritis

One of the most common uses of acupuncture is for the treatment of chronic pain. One analysis2 of the most robust studies available concluded that acupuncture has a clear effect in reducing chronic pain, more so than standard drug-based pain treatment. Study participants receiving acupuncture reported an average 50 percent reduction in pain, compared to a 28 percent pain reduction for standard pain treatment without acupuncture. Another large, well-designed study3, 4 assessing whether acupuncture might work for osteoarthritis—a debilitating condition affecting more than 20 million Americans—also produced remarkably positive results.

This landmark study is also discussed in the video above. A total of 570 patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee were enrolled for this 26-week long trial. It was the longest and largest randomized, controlled phase III clinical trial of acupuncture ever conducted. None of the participants had tried acupuncture before, and none had had knee surgery in the previous six months. Nor had they used steroid injections. The participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments: acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or self-help strategies recommended by the Arthritis Foundation (the latter served as a control group).

Significant differences in response was seen by week eight and 14, and at the end of the trial, the group receiving real acupuncture had a 40 percent decrease in pain and a nearly 40 percent improvement in function compared to baseline assessments—a 33 percent difference in improvement over the sham group.  According to Stephen E. Straus, M.D., Director of National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH):5

"For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee. These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers. NCCAM has been building a portfolio of basic and clinical research that is now revealing the power and promise of applying stringent research methods to ancient practices like acupuncture."

Other Science-Backed Uses for Acupuncture

However, chronic pain is only one of 30+ proven uses for this natural treatment. Chinese doctors assert that acupuncture can be used to treat virtually ANY illness, but for those looking for scientific validation, the World Health Organization’s analysis concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment for the following diseases and conditions.

According to the WHO’s analysis: “Some of these studies have provided incontrovertible scientific evidence that acupuncture is more successful than placebo treatments in certain conditions.” The report again confirmed its benefits for pain, saying: “The proportion of chronic pain relieved by acupuncture is generally in the range 55–85 percent, which compares favorably with that of potent drugs (morphine helps in 70 percent of cases) and far outweighs the placebo effect (30–35 percent).”

Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever) Biliary colic Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) Dysentery, acute bacillary Dysmenorrhoea, primary Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm) Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders) Headache Hypertension, essential Hypotension, primary Induction of labor Knee pain Leukopenia Low back pain Malposition of fetusMorning sickness Nausea and vomiting Neck pain Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction) Periarthritis of shoulder Postoperative pain Renal colic Rheumatoid arthritis Sciatica Sprain Stroke Tennis elbow More Potential Uses for Acupuncture

While further research is needed, acupuncture has also demonstrated therapeutic effects in the treatment of the following health problems, according to the WHO’s report.

Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm) Acne vulgaris Alcohol dependence and detoxification Bell’s palsy Bronchial asthma Cancer pain Cardiac neurosis Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation Cholelithiasis Competition stress syndrome Craniocerebral injury, closed Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent Earache Epidemic haemorrhagic fever Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease) Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection Female infertility Facial spasm Female urethral syndrome Fibromyalgia and fasciitis Gastrokinetic disturbance Gouty arthritis Hepatitis B virus carrier status Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3) Hyperlipaemia Hypo-ovarianism Insomnia Labor pain Lactation, deficiency Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic Ménière disease Neuralgia, post-herpetic Neurodermatitis Obesity Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence Osteoarthritis Pain due to endoscopic examination Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) Postextubation in children Postoperative convalescence Premenstrual syndrome Prostatitis, chronic Pruritus Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome Raynaud syndrome, primary Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection Reflex sympathetic dystrophy Retention of urine, traumatic Schizophrenia Sialism, drug-induced Sjögren syndrome Sore throat (including tonsillitis) Spine pain, acute Stiff neck Temporomandibular joint dysfunction Tietze syndrome Tobacco dependence Tourette syndrome Ulcerative colitis, chronic Urolithiasis Vascular dementia Whooping cough (pertussis)

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream That Doesn't Melt!

Dr. Mercola - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Earlier this summer, a woman in Cincinnati noticed that her son’s Walmart-brand ice cream sandwich didn’t melt when he accidently left it outside for 12 hours, in 80-degree F weather.

Understandably surprised by the seemingly unmeltable ice cream sandwich, she tried the “experiment” again, with the same result. While other brands melted completely, the Walmart ice cream remained eerily intact. She then called a local news station, who conducted a test of its own, which you can watch in the video above.

After one hour and 15 minutes outside in sunny, 80-degree F weather, Walmart’s ice cream sandwich is still remarkably solid. Next to it, a scoop of another brand’s vanilla ice cream is turned to soup after just 30 minutes.

Why Won’t Walmart’s Ice Cream Sandwiches Melt?

A spokesperson for Walmart told Newsday that their ice-cream sandwiches’ high cream content is responsible for the slower melting time. The spokesperson said that ice cream with more cream, such as Walmart’s Great Value ice cream sandwiches, will generally melt at a slower rate.1

It’s unclear exactly how much cream these sandwiches contain in comparison to other brands, but it is suspicious that the spokesperson made no mention of the long list of “gums” and additives, like corn syrup, that might also contribute to its odd inability to melt.

These non-food ingredients are mostly used as food stabilizers designed to help food keep its shape (and you won’t find them in higher-quality ice cream brands like Haagen-Dazs).

If you look at the ingredients list below for Walmart’s “Great Value Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream Sandwiches,” you’ll see what I’m referring to:2

Ice Cream (Milk, Cream, Buttermilk, Sugar, Whey, Corn Syrup, Contains 1% Or Less of Mono-And Diglycerides, Vanilla Extract, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulfate, Carob Bean Gum, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Artificial Flavor, Annatto For Color)

… Wafers (Wheat Flour, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Cocoa, Dextrose, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Flour, Food Starch-Modified, Salt Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Artificial Flavor).

Also strange is the fact that Sean O’Keefe, a professor and food chemist at Virginia Tech, gave the opposite account of what happens if ice cream contains more cream; he said that ice cream with more cream will actually melt faster, which contradicts Walmart’s spokesperson.3 As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this means ice cream that’s low- or no-fat would take longer to melt:4

“More water means the ice cream will have to absorb more energy before it can melt. Also, low-fat ice creams tend to have more air whipped into them, which allows them to keep their shape longer.”

Many Processed Foods Seem to Last ‘Forever’

There is something unsettling and (literally) unnatural about an ice cream sandwich that doesn’t melt on a hot summer day. Equally unsettling is a hamburger that doesn’t go bad when left on the counter… for over a decade.

Wellness educator and nutrition consultant Karen Hanrahan has kept a McDonald's hamburger since 1996, which is pictured on the left below.  As you can see, when this photo was taken in 2010, the more than 10-year-old burger still looks the same as the fresh one on the right next to it…

Part of the embalmed-like feature of the meat patty can be explained by the fact it contains excessive amounts of sodium (salt), which is a natural preservative that has been used throughout history. The patty, which is thin, will also lose moisture quickly, which means it may dry out rather than grow mold or bacteria.

But what about the bun? What kind of bread can lie out for years on end without developing so much as a trace of mold? The answer, I believe, is a "bread-like" concoction that bears no real resemblance to natural bread. Ingredients-wise, a McDonald’s hamburger bun contains:5

Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Yeast, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners

… (May Contain One or More of: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide), Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin.

Real bread should only have a handful of ingredients, such as yeast, flour, eggs, butter, and milk or water. Contrast that to McDonald’s bread, which contains plaster of Paris, aka calcium sulfate, along with ammonium sulfate and ammonium chloride, which may cause gastrointestinal irritation with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Likewise with Walmart’s “ice cream”… to be labeled as ice cream, it must contain at least 10% milk fat. Beyond that, it can contain any number of additives that many would argue are not actual “food.” Real ice cream also contains just a few ingredients, like milk, sugar, cream and vanilla bean, bearing little resemblance to Walmart’s ice cream concoction. If you want to taste the best ice cream you’ve ever had, make your own at home using raw milk. It’s a relatively healthy treat when eaten in moderation (and, yes, it will melt if you leave it out in the sun).

Why Eating Heavily Processed Foods Will Probably Lead to Premature Death

Walmart is a prime example of where not to shop for food if you value your health. While it’s possible to find some healthy foods at Walmart, the vast majority of their food is heavily processed. Perhaps that’s why Walmart grocery stores are linked to obesity. An additional Walmart Supercenter per 100,000 residents increases average BMI by 0.24 units and the obesity rate by 2.3 percentage points.6

Researchers hypothesized that the substantial reductions in the prices of food at Wal-Mart Supercenters end up "reducing the opportunity cost of food consumption and increasing the opportunity cost of physical activity," thereby leading to a rise in obesity rates. Plus, ever since Walmart decided to significantly increase their organic offerings, they have been bombarded with accusations of selling substandard organic food, produced at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or imported from China, not grown on small, US organic farms like consumers are led to believe.

They've even been accused of posting signs in their stores that mislead consumers into believing that non-organic items are actually organic. Perhaps worse, however, is that Walmart’s biggest sellers are heavily processed junk foods. The unmeltable ice cream sandwiches, for instance, are one of the most popular items in the dairy case, according to the company’s spokesperson. Processed foods may contain dozens of artificial chemicals that are in no way real "food." These include:

  • Preservatives
  • Artificial colors
  • Artificial flavors (the term artificial flavor on a label may include 10 or more chemicals)
  • Texturants (chemicals that add a texture to food)

Food manufacturers typically claim that artificial food additives are safe, but research says otherwise. Preservatives, for example, have been linked to health problems such as cancer, allergic reactions, and more. Plus, processed foods often have the real nutrition processed right out, then sometimes added back in in the form of synthetic vitamins and minerals. These synthetics do not fool your body, however, and will not provide the whole, synergistic nutrition that eating whole food will. Instead, most processed foods are primarily composed of refined carbohydrates, which quickly break down to sugar in your body.

This increases your insulin and leptin levels, and contributes to insulin resistance, which is the primary underlying factor of nearly every chronic disease and condition known to man, including weight gain. Further, processing modifies or removes important components of food, like fiber, water, and nutrients, changing the way they are digested and assimilated in your body. Unlike whole foods, which contain a mix of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, fiber, and water to help you feel satisfied, processed foods stimulate dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, making you feel good even though the food lacks nutrients and fiber.  This artificial dopamine stimulation can lead to excessive food cravings and, ultimately, food addiction. These, of course, aren’t problems confined to junk food sold Walmart; they exist for all heavily processed foods.

Shopping for Healthy Food on a Budget

People have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits, and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented. Many of the top executives and scientists at leading processed food companies actually avoid their own foods for a variety of health reasons, and it’s very clear that focusing your diet on whole foods in lieu of processed foods is essential for your health.

If you’re shopping at Walmart because you’re on a tight budget, it's a common misconception that buying pre-packaged processed foods is less expensive than eating fresh and cooking from scratch. Don't fall for this notion. When you consider the nutrient value of fresh versus processed-to-death denatured foods and the subsequent health consequences of each choice, it's quite clear that you can eat well and improve your health and still not spend a fortune. Some of the healthiest foods are incredibly affordable, even under $1 a serving, such as:

  • Raw organic milk
  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Two cage-free organic eggs
  • Avocado, berries, and broccoli
  • Fermented foods you make at home

In order to protect your health, I believe you should spend 90 percent of your food budget on whole foods, and only 10 percent on processed foods (unfortunately most Americans currently do the opposite). This requires some strategy, especially if you're working with a tight budget:

  1. Identify a person to prepare meals. Someone has to invest some time in the kitchen. It will be necessary for either you or your spouse, or perhaps someone in your family, to prepare the meals from locally grown healthy foods.
  2. Become resourceful: This is an area where your grandmother can be a wealth of information, as how to use up every morsel of food (“nose to tail cooking”) and stretch out a good meal was common knowledge to generations past. Seek to get back to the basics of cooking – using the bones from a roast chicken to make stock for a pot of soup, extending a Sunday roast to use for weekday dinners, learning how to make hearty stews from inexpensive cuts of meat, using up leftovers, and so on.
  3. Plan your meals: If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. This is essential, as you will need to be prepared for mealtimes in advance to be successful. Ideally, this will involve scouting out your local farmer's markets for in-season produce that is priced to sell, and planning your meals accordingly, but you can also use this same premise with supermarket sales.   
  4. You can generally plan a week of meals at a time, make sure you have all ingredients necessary on hand, and then do any prep work you can ahead of time so that dinner is easy to prepare if you're short on time in the evenings. It is no mystery that you will be eating lunch around noon every day so rather than rely on fast food at work, before you go to bed make a plan as to what you are going to take to work the next day. This is a marvelous simple strategy that will let you eat healthier, especially if you take healthy food from home in to work.

  5. Avoid food waste: According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, Americans waste an estimated 1,400 calories of food per person, each and every day.7 The two steps above will help you to mitigate food waste in your home. You may also have seen my article titled 14 Ways to Save Money on Groceries. Among those tips are suggestions for keeping your groceries fresher, longer, and I suggest reviewing those tips now.
  6. Buy organic animal foods. The most important foods to buy organic are animal, not vegetable, products (meat, eggs, butter, etc.), because animal foods tend to concentrate pesticides in higher amounts. If you cannot afford to buy all of your food organic, opt for organic animal foods first.
  7. Keep costs down on grass-fed beef. Pasture-finished beef is far healthier than grain-fed beef (which I don't recommend consuming). To keep cost down, look for inexpensive roasts or ground meat. You may also save money by buying an entire side of beef (or splitting one with two or three other families), if you have enough freezer space to store it.
  8. Buy in bulk when non-perishable items go on sale. If you are fortunate to live near a buyer's club or a co-op, you may also be able to take advantage of buying by the pound from bins, saving both you and the supplier the cost of expensive packaging.
  9. Frequent farmer's markets. You may be surprised to find out that by going directly to the source you can get amazingly healthy, locally grown, organic food for less than you can find at your supermarket. This gives you the best of both worlds: food that is grown near to you, cutting down on its carbon footprint and giving you optimal freshness, as well as grown without chemicals, genetically modified seeds, and other potential toxins.
  10. Just as restaurants are able to keep their costs down by getting food directly from a supplier, you, too, can take advantage of a direct farm-to-consumer relationship, either on an individual basis or by joining a food coop in your area. Many farmer's markets are now accepting food stamps as well, so this is an opportunity most everyone can join in on.

Stockman - Unprecedented Global Financial Wipeout Is Coming

King World News - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 01:01
Today David Stockman warned King World News that investors need to brace themselves for an unprecedented and historic global financial wipeout. KWN takes Stockman’s warnings very seriously because he is the man former President Reagan called on in 1981, during that crisis, to become Director of the Office of Management and Budget and help save the United States from collapse. Below is what Stockman, author of the website contracorner, had to say in his powerful interview.

The Consequences Of America’s Invasion Of Afghanistan: NYC Heroin Deaths Highest In A Decade

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 23:07

While back in May Obama promised America's mission in Afghanistan was over, and all US troops would leave the country by the end of 2016, the "unintended" consequences of the US presence in this favored by al-Qaeda country will haunt America for a long time. And especially New York, where according to a new report by the Department of Mental Hygiene, the number of people who died from unintentional heroin overdoses in New York City last year was the highest in over a decade.

As WaPo reports, in New York, "where the overall rate of drug overdose deaths has dramatically risen since 2010, there is a national problem playing out across the city’s streets. The number of overdoses involving heroin in the city has significantly increased since 2010, accounting for more than half of New York City’s overdoses last year. And more than three-quarters of the overdoses in the city involved an opioid of some kind."

The number of heroin overdose deaths has risen every year since 2010, as the number of deaths has more than doubled to 420 people last year from 209 just three years earlier:

Some more on the ethnic and socioeconomic distribution of heroin-related deaths:

These overdoses are significantly impacting neighborhoods where the poverty level is the highest:

 

 

The Bronx and Staten Island were the boroughs where the most heroin overdoses occurred, but the situation worsened in Queens. That borough — which had trailed the other four in 2011 and 2012 — saw the rate of heroin overdoses more than double last year.

 

As has been the case for years, the rate of overdoses is the highest among white residents. But the rate has skyrocketed among Hispanic residents, more than doubling from 2010:

... and by age group:

Another particularly troubling trend noted by the Health Department was the increased rate of overdoses seen among younger New Yorkers. The age bracket with the biggest increase in heroin overdoses was people between  15 and 34, though people  35 to 54 still had the highest rate of heroin overdoses.

So why do we say that any of the above tragic events is a direct consequence of US presence in Afghanistan? Well, because while the US may be getting out of Afghanistan, it has been there since 2001. And what has happened to Afghan opium cultivation during the period of implicit US occupation?

This.








Krugman And The Keynesian Chorus Are Lying: Japan's "Lost Decade" Is A Myth

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 22:33

Submitted by Peter St.Ongs (of Mises.org) via Contra Corner blog,

One of the great economic myths of our time is Japan’s “lost decades.” As Japan doubles-down on inflationary stimulus, it’s worth reviewing the facts.

The truth is that the Japanese and US economies have performed in lock-step since 2000, and their performances have matched each other going as far back as 1980.

Either Japan’s not in crisis, or the US has been in crisis for a good thirty-five years. You can’t have it both ways.

Here’s a chart of per capita real GDP for both Japan and the US from 2000 to 2011. Per capita real GDP is the GDP measure that best answers the question: “is the typical person getting richer?”

The two curves look like they came from the same country:

Next, we can go back to 1980, to see where the myth came from. Japan was just entering its “bubble” decade:

We can see what happened here: Japan had a boom in the 1980s, then Japan busted while the Americans had their turn at a boom. By 2000 the US caught up, and Japan and the US synched up and shadowed each other, reflecting boom followed by the inevitable bust.

The only way you can get to the “lost decades” story is if you start your chart exactly when Japan was busting and America booming. Unsurprisingly, this is standard practice of the “lost decades” storytellers.

Of course, this would be like timing two runners, and starting the clock when one of them is on break. It’s absurd, but it gives the answer they want.

Things get worse when you include the artificial effects of inflation and population. Higher inflation and population growth both make the economy appear bigger without making people richer. If America annexed Mexico tomorrow, the US economy would grow by 30 percent. But that’s not going to make the average American 30 percent richer.

Adjusting for inflation and population is Macro 101. It’s so basic, in fact, that we might wonder if the “lost decades” macroeconomists are being intentionally forgetful. Why on earth would they do that?

Who Benefits from the “Lost Decades” Myth?

Who promotes the “lost decades” myth? Are the storytellers trying to make Japan look bad, or the US look good?

I suspect it’s a little of both: politicians in Japan need the sense of crisis to push their vote-buying schemes. It’s a lot easier to sell harmful policies if you can just convince the voters that everything’s already fallen apart. They’ve got nothing to lose at that point. In a crisis we are all socialists.

This cynical PR campaign is bearing fruit already, as Japanese voters accept inflationary policies from their new prime minister. In the name of reviving an economy that’s supposedly on its death-bed. Hard-working Japanese are losing their savings through low rates and inflation, but honor demands sacrifice so long as the future of the children supposedly hangs in the balance.

In reality, the re-telling of Japan’s myth reminds one of a doctor who lies to a patient so he can sell a cure that harms the patient.

On the American side, the myth of Japan’s “lost decades” is similarly useful: it makes our economic overlords seem like they actually know what they’re doing. And it serves to warn the naysayers: the “lost decades” myth is a bogeyman waiting to pounce if we ever falter from our bail-outs and vote-buying stimulus.

The truth, hidden in plain view, is that Japan’s not bad enough to be a battering ram for Japan’s Keynesian vote-buyers, and the US economy isn’t good enough for our home-grown vote-buyers to keep their jobs.








Marc Faber Slams US Intervention In Middle East, Warns "Whole Region Will Blow Up"

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 21:51

Excerpted from Global Gold interview with Marc Faber,

Let’s talk about the ongoing power shift from the West to the East.

Well, basically, everything is connected and interrelated. We had a colonial system until the end of the Second World War, followed by the rise of individual countries. And over the last twenty-five to thirty years what we had was the rise of China with 1.3 billion people. Because of China’s rapid growth and resource dependence (iron ore, copper from Australia, Brazil and Africa, and oil principally from the Middle East), the Chinese have obviously become a very important economic force.

 

Take Africa twelve years ago: trade between Africa and the US was twice the size of trade between Africa and China. But today, the situation is reversed.

 

As a result, China has gained large geopolitical influence due to its growing economic relations. This helped shift alliances from the US to the East, which has led to tensions. China has many provinces that are larger than a European country and as an economic block, China is huge! It dwarfs everything else in Asia. But now China is surrounded by military bases in Asia, by American aircraft carriers and by the signed defense treaties between the US and Japan.

 

Moreover, the Chinese never forgot that Japan had attacked them numerous times over the past 200 years. Additional disputes between China and its surrounding countries, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and especially Japan about maritime rights will cause further tension in the region.

 

Despite these tensions, the power shift is still underway. You have a superpower like the one Britain was until the First World War and you have a rising power like Germany whose economy in 1910 overtook that of the British. Here you have the superpower that believes in the old order and the new power that believes it should have more influence on global affairs. The resulting tensions create an environment that is favorable for confrontation.

 

But it doesn’t have to come to war. In my view, China’s long-term objective is to kick out the US from their military bases, particularly after Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama announced the American Pivot to Asia two years ago; it was a kind of direct attack or confrontational behavior towards China.

Can you tell us your opinion on the recent developments and events in the world like the Middle East? Will these events in that region further escalate? Will they have a long-term impact?

Today, we find ourselves with the same anti-free market interventionists who set up the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury and the US government. These same incompetent professors and academics also run foreign policy in America and then go and intervene in the affairs of Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Afghanistan. And as can be expected, they mess up just about everything.

 

We have this Wolfowitz Doctrine that says they don’t want to tolerate any other major power such as the Soviet Union or China. So they want to contain these countries. When these countries become economically more and more important, the tensions, in my view, are only going to increase.

 

I think it’s unlikely that the West will take any action.

 

First of all, they don’t have the money.

 

Second, a survey done by the US military stated that over 71% of their youth are unqualified to join the military for a number of reasons, including educational, behavioral and health conditions. So, if 71% of American youth are not qualified, it means the US doesn’t have the labor force to actually implement its foreign policies. And so they resort to private contracting companies that create more problems than solutions.

 

I’m very negative about the Middle East. I think the whole region will blow up.

 

Eventually Iraq will be divided into three different countries: the Kurds, the Sunni in the North and the Shiites in the South. All I can say is that, in general, financial markets are not paying sufficient attention to this.

What are your thoughts on the Chinese-Russian gas deal? Is this a further step towards the decline of the Dollar or the next step towards replacing the USD as the world reserve currency?

I think it’s a symptom of the new world order I was referring to where the balance of economic power has shifted to Asia and emerging economies. This becomes very clear if you look at European companies. Where do they grow? Not in Europe.

 

Asia has become and will remain the growth market. The gas deal is a big deal in the sense that, it proves how incompetent US foreign policy is.

 

The US supported the opposition in Ukraine thinking that Russia will do nothing. But Crimea is strategically important to Russia since it gives their fleet access to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. And so, by supporting the opposition in Ukraine, the Americans essentially removed a democratically elected president. He may have been incompetent, but he was democratically elected nevertheless.

 

That’s democracy! In democracy you have incompetent people at the top.

 

The Americans also thought they can push the Russians a bit further by trying to lure Ukraine into NATO. That was a step too far and so the Russians reacted by signing a gas deal with China! The significance of this deal lies in that the payment will no longer be made in Dollars but in local currency, the Ruble or Yuan.

 

I think this is symptomatic of an empire, the US, in decline and a global currency in decline as well. Don’t forget, until WWI, the world currency was the British Pound and its importance diminished afterwards. And now we have a gradual lessening importance of the US Dollar.

*  *  *

Hold gold...








Strategic Relocation Briefing: “Once You Have These First Three Criteria Met, Then It’s Worth Defending”

SHTF Plan - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 21:45

This week relocation expert Joel Skousen delves into the Pacific Northwest and outlines one of the top retreat destinations in America. For all its benefits, however, it does have some drawbacks, and Skousen brings those to light as well. In the end, whether you are looking to relocate in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Northeast, Middle America, or in the Southeastern part of the United States, Skousen makes it clear what you should be looking for. You’ll need an area rich in resources, a homestead that is outside of major population density zones as well as the thoroughfares they follow, and a property that is defensible in the event of a major calamity.

As always, though Joel’s focus may be on one specific area of the United States in this particular briefing, the insights into how you should approach your own Strategic Relocation property apply across the board and no one provides a better method of analysis and examination than the guy who literally wrote the book on the subject.

Finding the right balance between government regulations, gun ownership, resource availability, geography, proximity to cities and overall safety are all important considerations to make.

At times this can be a daunting task. If you’ve got questions or require any assistance, the team at Survival Retreat Consulting can help. Start your search for that perfect home or retreat at Strategic Relocation with their easy-to-use search tools and ratings system to help you make a better informed decision.

(Pictured: The Hood River Valley, Oregon)

Weekly Strategic Relocation Briefing - The Oregon Cascades
By Joel Skousen
Author, Strategic Relocation and The Secure Home

I grew up in Oregon and raised my family in the Cascades, so I know this area very well. I’ve always been active in the outdoors and Oregon state parks are numerous, well kept, and beautifully situated in both the Cascade Mountains and on the Oregon coast.  The Oregon coastline is a wonderful mix of jagged rocks, cliffs, trees, and periodic fine sandy beaches with driftwood.  The forestation in Western Oregon, which includes the Cascades, is a wonderful mix of firs, pines and deciduous trees.  Water is abundant and pure, except in the major metros where it is chlorinated and often fluoridated.

Oregon is a breathtakingly beautiful state with somewhat better weather than Washington State. It has a Pacific West Coast maritime climate with mild temperatures and steady breezes west of the Cascades, with few major thunderstorms. But, you have to be prepared for 9-10 months of cloudy wet weather in the west, and periodic rain even in the summer—the price you pay for all that greenery.  But this rain is often drained from the clouds as it passes over first the Coast Range and then the Cascade Range east of Portland.  That leaves it a lot drier and more sunny East of the Cascades from June through September.

Oregon would be perhaps the best state in the country for preparedness and survival if it hadn’t been taken over by liberal/left environmentalists with a passion for controlling private property.  A lot of these liberals moved up from California where government control is the norm.  Ever since Oregon adopted a statewide uniform land use planning law, individual counties lost the liberty to make reasonable development decisions at the local level. Oregon was the original perpetrator of “Smart Growth” and its statewiderestrictive land use planning system imposed on local communities is the worst in the nation.  Small building parcels can only be had in the restrictive Urban Growth Boundaries, which restricts supply and raises prices. When the citizens finally had enough and passed an initiative to allow aggrieved property owners to gain compensation for lost of property development rights, the liberal/Left courts overturned it—just like California judges did on many citizen initiatives.

Still, private land availability is good outside the congested Portland area.  It’s just that outside the Urban Growth boundary you have to buy more acreage than you need to be able to build. Building permits are required everywhere and that is dictated statewide as well. But on the plus side, basements are possible almost everywhere.  The soil is rich and the rainfall is good for growing most crops, although irrigation is needed east of the cascades, where the better weather is found.

Oregon has been at the forefront of many of the excessive land and environmental controls in the country—from demands to destroy all hydroelectric dams to save the fish, to almost total strangulation of the logging industry to save the spotted owls.  The propaganda machine emanating from the single Leftist newspaper in Portland (the Oregonian) broadcasts its tainted opinions throughout the state, followed in lock-step by the major television stations.  All of the universities are extremely liberal and continue to churn out advocates for state power.

That said, Oregon is a state of many contradictions.  One would never know by listening to the media that almost half of Oregonians are very conservative—but they are a disenfranchised by the Left/liberal majorities in the Portland area, just like Seattle liberals control Washington State. Oregon has become a socialist state similar to, but not quite as bad as California, with severe budget problems, overly generous state worker pensions, and numerous welfare programs.

But for all this control, Oregon still requires no safety inspections of vehicles (a good thing), and it has no greater accident rate because of it. Then again, Oregon doesn’t consider it safe to let individuals pump their own gas at service stations. Once the safety excuse was debunked by the experience of the rest of the nation, the cry became one of “preserving jobs”—no matter how unnecessary.  Car registration is every two years and has no property tax component—just one reasonable fee.  Oregon has no state sales tax—a good thing, though state officials keep trying to convince voters to change that every few years. It does have a higher state income tax as a result.

There are no major nuclear threats in Oregon, especially in and around the urban areas—only a couple of secondary or tertiary targets in the East.  The Backscatter Radar site in Central Oregon will be hit with something, but not necessarily nuclear. It’s so remote in location that it isn’t a threat in any case.  In southern Oregon, there is Kingsley Field ANG Base, in Klamath Falls, an F-15C training base—a secondary target. What this means is that Oregon has one of the few coastal areas with no nuclear threats and where a person doesn’t even have to prepare for heavy fallout.  But the coastal areas are very wet and cloudy, have few jobs and they are somewhat trapped between the higher populations of the Willamette agricultural valley and the ocean.  For this and other reasons, I chose to live in the Cascades.

There are, however, several major volcanoes embedded within the Cascade Range that will someday erupt, like Mt. St. Helens (which erupted in 1980), Mt Hood, and Mt. Bachelor.  I got to experience the eruption of Mount St. Helens first hand.  Although the volcano is in SW Washington and most of the massive plume of ash went to the NE into eastern Washington State, on occasion, the wind would blow from the NW and would give us a problem in the Columbia Gorge area along the Columbia River which forms the northern Oregon border.

For safe areas in the Cascades, I’ll start from the north.  After an extensive search I finally chose the Hood River Valley to settle down in and raise a family. It is a wonderful area on the Columbia Gorge about an hour from Portland.  It is just to the East of the transition line between the wet and dry areas of Oregon, and there is a steady flow of coastal air moving inland through the gorge.  It’s now the Wind Surfing Capital of the World. This e former sleepy orchard valley has now become trendy and upscale in price.  So, while the lower valley is now pretty expensive, I recommend property only in the mid to upper valley centered around Odell and Parkdale—which still have prime forest and agricultural retreat properties.  Hwy 35 gives you a back door over Mt Hood and into Eastern Oregon should the Gorge route (I-84) become closed, as it sometimes is in winter.

A few hundred people even commute to Portland from here, but for those that need to be close to the Portland area for work, the western slopes of the Cascades have a lot of suitable retreat areas.  Check out the small towns of Sandy, Estacada, and Molalla.  They get more rain there and are closer to urban unrest that may break out in Portland, but still if you follow my specific criteria in Strategic Relocation about siting a house off the beaten path and away from even secondary roads, most trouble will bypass you at this distance away from the city.

In Central Oregon, the most famous of the relocation and resort destinations is Bend and nearby Redmond. A lot of Californians have migrated north to these areas which have driven up real estate prices—taking away much of the earlier draw to the area for preppers. While I like the mix of the drier Pine forests and ranch country this area provides, both cities are directly East of Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters volcanoes respectively which puts them at high risk for heavy ash fall should these mountains erupt.  You can survive the ash fall, and it turns out to be beneficial in the long term for the soil, but it’s a real mess to deal with when it happens.  The town of La Pine to the south of Bend is slightly less vulnerable to the volcano threat if you want to be on the east side. There are also some nice spots on the western side of the Cascades, although you are vulnerable to the populations of Eugene.  Check out the towns of Dexter and Lowell on Hwy 58 heading into the mountains.

In Southwestern Oregon, you have the Umpqua River Valley. This is the valley that extends east from Roseburg towards glide along Hwy 138.  There is also a more remote tributary further south at Canyonville that goes up toward the Cascades through Day’s Creek. Or, for more farm country in the valley, check out Umqua and Elkton areas east of Roseburg–great growing season.  Housing is much cheaper than in northern Oregon locations.

Southern Oregon: Further south in the Cascades is the traditional retreat area along the Rogue River made famous by Mel Tappan—the land surrounding Grants Pass and Medford.  It is no longer so highly rated due to charges of corruption in the Douglas County Sheriff’s office and the influx of thousands of California transplants bringing with them many of their liberal ideas and biases.   This is the home of the beautiful Rogue River Valley, which is located away from the freeway cities and offers great retreat sites on the river.  It’s best to go east at a minimum to White City or Eagle Point.

I much prefer the areas more distant from the freeway corridor—Cave Junction to the West, and Klamath Falls area to the east, particularly the mountain country between Medford and Klamath Falls. The Klamath area has good water supplies and good soil with a decent growing season—but it is more remote.

In summary, despite Oregon’s Left/liberal ways, it still has some of the best geography and mild weather for retreats and full time residences in relatively safe areas.  But, we have to keep in mind that virtually all states are gradually following that “progressive” direction, so it’s not as if it can be avoided entirely in any state.

***

Survival Retreat Consulting: Oregon is a favorite of ours, for many reasons and may be a great choice for you as well. Why? The bottom line is that during a major event that may push us into a socio-economic collapse, or worse, it will not matter what the laws are of that state, or any other. Especially in a nuclear first strike scenario, Oregon is a great place to be.

One area that both Joel Skousen and myself work heavily on with consulting clients is the choice of locale. There are many times when we have to calm a client down and talk about the balance between realistic preparedness and a doomsday scenario. I always try and convey to the client that the best property to buy is one that that they would be happy to have made memories at over the past twenty years if nothing happens, as well as a property that will be safe if the worst comes. This is a very hard balance. Some folks have children that need to be close to activities, others are empty nesters that want the ability to enjoy fine dining and a show but are within a reasonable distance back to the retreat.

Oregon is much better than California relative to gun laws. There is no assault weapons ban nor magazine size restriction.  Except in major cities, it’s an open carry state, with a “shall issue” mandate for approval of concealed weapons permits, unless the Sheriff has good reason to suspect a problem in your background.

Two sources of Water are important along with some type of sustainable Energy creation, followed by the ability to produce nutrient dense food every day of the year, regardless of weather is third. Once you have these first three criteria met, then it’s worth defending, Period. Oregon offers spectacular growing seasons in certain areas along with abundant water; the rest is up to you to create through alternative energy systems and greenhouses built for colder climates if you’re in the snow belt such as a Walipini. So, in Oregon, you can still purchase semi-auto magazine fed center fire rifles, so you can stockpile all you want, and when you here the news of the coming collapse, it won’t matter anyway what the laws are, you’ll be completely self sufficient at your new retreat and have something worth sacrificing for.

The bottom line is that everyone has unique needs and I have never met a client that was happy buying a retreat so far away from town that they had to use a snow machine to access it. This works for the first year and then they realize it was just too far out. Oregon offers spectacular “Local / Remote” retreat properties, all without the worry of a major nuclear attack and the fallout. Give Oregon a second look if you have already discounted it, and for those of you new to Strategic Relocation, review Oregon with an open mind (no pun intended) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised what you find.

This article has been generously contributed by Joel Skousen and StrategicRelocation.com.

Start your search for the perfect home or retreat today, or, if you have questions contact the Survival Retreat Consulting team. 

Click here for a list of previous Strategic Relocation Briefings covering everything from premier expat destinations to areas that include the Pacific SouthwestNortheastMidwestern America, and the Southeastern part of the United States.

The Stupendous Failure Of Big City Education: How The Philly Teachers Union Loots The Schools

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 21:19

Submitted by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

It’s that time of year again – when the little juvenile delinquents, future prison inmates, and functionally illiterate junior members of the free shit army pick up their “free” backpacks and “free" school supplies they will never use and shuffle off to the decaying prison like schools in the City of Philadelphia to eat “free” breakfasts and “free” lunches, while being taught government sanctioned pablum by overpaid mediocre union teachers.

It’s a repeat of every year for the Phila school district. As the school year approaches they are shocked to report a massive deficit and beg the State of PA for more funding. The $12,000 per child simply isn’t enough, even though Parochial schools provide ten times the education for $9,000 per child. The district has a slight $80 million deficit this year. Last year they had a $100 million deficit and the mayor proposed a soda tax to fill the gap. It was defeated, so they raised property taxes instead. Mayor Nutter’s name is fitting. He is just another in a long line of Democratic mayors who have ruled Philadelphia since the 1950′s and whose policies of welfare handouts for their voting base paid for by taxing the producers, has resulted in a population decline from 2.1 million in 1950 to 1.5 million today. Doug Casey captures the essence of Philly with this definition:

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy): a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

The liberal solution to an ever decreasing tax base and an ever growing level of benefits for the free shit army and government union drones, is to increase taxes on the few remaining producers. They then flee the city, leaving fewer producers to tax. Rinse and repeat. Your neighborhoods then look like this.

The mayor, school district superintendent, and teacher’s union use the liberal mainstream media to sound the alarm about “devastating” budget cuts that will imperil the tremendous education the cherubs will receive. They warn that the school year will have to be delayed. They peddle mistruths about the governor cutting education funding in an attempt to influence public opinion. Their “solution” to the budget deficit this year is a doozy. I’ll get to that later. First I have to provide a mural update.

I drive past the Morton McMichael grade school in Mantua every day on my way to work. It sits across the street from the $27 million low income gated townhouse community called Mantua Square, paid for with your Obama stimulus funds in 2011. (Update: The 8 storefronts built into the project two years ago and touted as a way to revitalize commerce in Mantua still sit vacant – 100% NO OCCUPANCY. This follows the old liberal economic theorem of build it and they won’t come.) This school looks like it could be in a Dickens novel from the 1800′s. That’s fitting since Morton McMichael was a prominent citizen of Philadelphia during the 1800′s as founder of the Saturday Evening Post and Mayor of Philadelphia. That was back when a white man could get elected mayor of Philadelphia.

The building is decades old. It is dilapidated, run down and crumbling. The windows have never been replaced. Of course, you would have to remove the bars and cages to get to the windows. The neighborhood has a bit of a crime problem. An 8 year old boy was raped on the way to this school last year. There are a couple ancient air conditioners poking out of some windows. The parking lot/play area is crumbling blacktop with weeds, strewn with garbage for good measure. Graterford Prison is more inviting than this institution of learning. The parking lot was empty all summer. The Phila School district had no plans for any capital renovations at this school. No new windows. No new classrooms. No new technology. No central air conditioning.

Then about a month ago I noticed scaffolding going up in front of the school. Maybe they were going to actually do some renovations to improve this blight. Then I noticed they were just painting the bricks white. A few days later it became clear. Rather than making actual improvements to the decaying structure, it was another mural. Of course another white artist, not from the neighborhood, was getting paid to beautify the school to inspire the children on to great deeds. They chose an environmental theme rather than black people doing great things. It looks like graffiti to me.

  Maf Is Hard

I’m sure this paint job, paid for with tax dollars, will really turn this school around. They have had four principals in the last three years. The discipline in this school is so bad that teachers fear assaults from students and parents alike. This is another classic example of liberals wasting money with shallow displays, while ignoring the true problems. This school has 408 students and 35 full-time union teachers. That is a ratio of 11.7 students per teacher. The ratio in Parochial schools is 17 to 1. When I went to school it was over 20 to 1. With an 11.7 students per teacher ratio, they should be getting a great education from these top notch educators. Check out the results:

Dark Blue – Morton McMichael; Light Blue – Phila Schools; Grey – PA schools

By 5th grade less than 30% can do math, less than 20% can read, and less than 10% can write at a proficient level. And you can bet that proficient level is not that high. The state results are bad enough, but the Philadelphia results are atrocious. In Philadelphia, only 33 – 13% of the district’s 250 schools met state standards, down from 41% in 2011. It was uncovered that they were cheating on the test scores in 2011. Liberals lie and cheat when it comes to getting funding. The Morton McMichael school has 35 full-time union teachers earning good money, with gold plated healthcare and pension plans. And this is the results they are producing? I came across a quote from William Arthur Ward today that applies:

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Based on the results achieved in this school there doesn’t appear to be even a mediocre teacher in the bunch. You have a better chance of finding a woman with a wedding ring, a man with a job, or a kid with a book in his hand in Mantua (highly unlikely in all three cases) than ever finding a great teacher in a Philadelphia school. But at least they are well paid.      

The Philadelphia school system educates (I use the term loosely as 50% dropout) 200,000 kids per year with a tiny budget of $2.4 billion. The district has been so poorly run and corrupt that a state commission now runs the schools. They insist that $2.4 billion isn’t enough to achieve SAT scores not much higher than you get for signing your name. How is it that a school district that spends more than the national average per student can’t manage to educate children properly? One look at its personnel costs and perks, including exploding pensions and legal services for union members, gives you an idea why.

The storyline from the liberal media, greedy teacher’s union, and captured Democratic politicians is that the evil Republican governor Corbett has gutted their funding. It’s a completely false storyline. The $800 billion Obama porkulus plan doled out payoffs to teacher unions around the country. The temporary stimulus funds expired. In the mind of an idiotic liberal, this is considered a spending cut. Temporary = permanent in the demented mind of a liberal. The truth is that Philadelphia union teachers are overpaid and under-worked. The PA government pension plan is a ticking time bomb that is destroying the budgets of every locality in the State. It’s just that Philadelphia is the worst run, most corrupt, and most union controlled in the State.

Philadelphia school district pensions costs alone are going from the equivalent of 16.9% of wages to 21.4% of wages in one year. In dollar terms that’s an increase of $3,230 per average teacher in just one year. Pensions alone will cost $159 million next year. Philly schools also pay for a number of other benefits, including the equivalent of 3.26% of salary for unused sick and vacation days that workers can cash in when they leave. In all, these variable benefit items  will add the equivalent of nearly 39% of salary to the cost of employing a worker.

The school’s budget also includes a range of  per capita benefit costs, so called because they are expressed in dollars per worker, not percent of salary. Medical insurance averages $13,829 per worker, up by $1,000. Then there are health and welfare benefits, which are additional health perks, such as prescription eye benefits. H&W, as it’s known, costs an average of $4,447 more per teacher. They even offer legal services to workers at a cost of $165 per worker.

For the average teacher earning $68,700 annually, benefit costs pile on an additional $44,100, meaning the average cost of employing a teacher in the system is $112,700. Benefit costs, in other words, amount to two-thirds of salaries. By contrast, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the total cost of benefits in the private sector amounts to 30% of salaries.

AVERAGE COSTS, TYPICAL PHILLY SCHOOL DISTRICT

So let me get ths straight. The average Philadelphia teacher is receiving compensation and benefits of $112,700 and 50% of the students dropout, while of the remaining students only 45% can do math, 35% can read, and 30% can write. But at least they have some nice murals dotting the decaying schools.

Every new year will bring higher pension payment requirements. PA has $55 billion of unfunded pension benefits payable to government union workers and teachers. Annual pension contributions increased by 25% or more in the majority of education systems last year and that more than three-quarters of districts are anticipating a similar increase this year. By 2020, school officials in the state estimate, pensions will amount to more than 30% of payroll, up from just 4% in 2009. This is a crisis that grows larger by the day and is willfully ignored by politicians beholden to these government unions.

Last year, on average, workers with 35-39 years of service who retired in a school system had a final annual salary of $80,285 and a pension of $60,396, or about 75% of final salary. Not bad for turning out functionally illiterate morons. Rather than accept the fact that the government pension system is a disaster and needs a massive makeover, the feckless politicians choose higher taxes and annual gimmicks.

What Are They Smoking

Guess how Mayor Nutter, the School Superintendent, and the Democratic politicians want to fund the $80 million school district budget? A $2 per pack additional cigarette tax in the City of Philadelphia. Cigarette taxes are supposed to fund the detrimental societal healthcare costs of smoking. Instead they are being used to fund bloated teacher pensions. Local governments are incapable of imposing excise taxes, so the PA legislature must pass this law. So far they have not complied, but they will come September because it is the easy solution. Why tackle pension reform when you can just increase taxes on the poor to pay for bad teachers?

The multitude of things wrong with this idea is beyond comprehension. Why foist the cost onto a minority — and given the demographics of those who smoke, a poor minority? Although local governments try to tax cigarettes and even alcohol, there’s no money in taxing vices. It’s too easy to purchase cigarettes outside the city. Why would anyone buy cigarettes in Philly when they can go into the next County and pay 50% less? There is already a $1.60 PA state tax on every pack of cigarettes. Adding another $2 would put Philly just behind NYC and Chicago on the tax scale. The imposition of this tax will increase bootlegging, smuggling and other criminal activities. Just what Philly needs – more crime. They can then use that as a reason to hire more union cops. It’s the liberal circle of life.

The people who should be most angry about this “solution” are the very people who keep voting idiotic Democrats into office for decades – poor black people. Only 23% of Philadelphians havea college degree. Those without a degree are more than twice as likely to smoke. Cigarette taxes are a tax on the stupid.

There are 580,000 households in Philadelphia. The median household income is $34,000 and 26% of the population lives below the poverty line. Approximately 300,000 of the households make less than $36,000 and 400,000 make less than $60,000. The lower the household income the higher the percentage who smoke. So the master plan of the Democrats who run Philly is to deplete what little disposable income the poor have left in order to pay the bloated salaries and pensions of terrible teachers.

The average income of a worker in Philly is $22,000. 38% of these people smoke, versus 12% of those making over $90,000. This cigarette tax is built upon the same warped logic as government run casinos and lotteries. It’s a tax on the ignorant and least able to afford the tax.

 

The sheer idiocy of this plan to “save” the schools this year is lost on the brainless media twits mouthing the teacher’s union talking points. The $12,000 per year per child is more than enough to pay for a decent education. The $2.4 billion budget should be geared to improving facilities, providing books, and paying excellent teachers for excellent results. Tenure should be scrapped and lousy teachers should be fired. The government pension plan needs to be obliterated and replaced with a 401k plan like the rest of the world is stuck with. It will never happen. The democrats who have controlled Philly for the last 60 years will raise property taxes, raise sales taxes, and raise cigarette taxes until they drive every producer and business out of the city, while further impoverishing the very people they pretend to care about. Detroit here we come.

 

Remember, smoke a cigarette for the children. And remember to buy them in Philly for 50% more than you pay in the suburbs. It’s always for the children.








Government To Regulate Groundwater For 1st Time As California Drought Becomes "Race To The Bottom"

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 20:45

The ongoing disaster that is the drought in the West is leaving wells dry across California - which account for up to 60% of water usage. As WSJ reports, as groundwater levels plunge (100 feet or more lower than norm), wells are being driven further and further into the earth (500 feet in some cases) forcing the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time. "We can't continue to pump groundwater at the rates we are and expect it to continue in the future," warns one engineer, adding "What's scary is we're not fixing anything... It's a race to the bottom."

"Everybody was pumping to their heart's content, until they realized the basin isn't that big."

 As WSJ reports, Groundwater was kind of out of sight, out of mind," said Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation, a nonprofit policy group in Sacramento, and former director of the state Department of Water Resources. But now...

With groundwater levels falling across the Golden State—causing dried-up wells, sinking roadbeds and crumbling infrastructure—the state legislature is considering regulating underground water for the first time.

Californians have long battled over rights to rivers, lakes and other surface-water supplies, but the drought is finally shifting the focus to groundwater, which accounts for about 40% of water used in normal years—and up to 60% in drought years, as other sources dry up.

Other states were forced to act earlier.

Arizona, for example, began regulating its major groundwater basins in 1980 after experiencing subsidence, or sinking soils from lack of water, and other problems from agriculture pumping, said Michael Lacey, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. "Had we done nothing, many of the areas would have no supplies left," Mr. Lacey said.

But in California...

Groundwater remains there for the taking—except in places such as Orange County with special management districts. The Department of Water Resources said earlier this year that groundwater tables in some parts of California have dropped 100 feet or more below historic averages. That has resulted in an estimated $1.3 billion in damage to infrastructure, such as cracked highways due to subsidence, Mr. Snow said.

And so the government is stepping in...

A bill pending in the Legislature would require that groundwater be managed sustainably at major aquifers throughout the state, such as by authorizing local agencies to impose pumping limits and conduct inspections.

Farmers are worried...

"There is no good time for hurried legislation, but during a critical drought year…is absolutely the wrong time," Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau Federation, wrote in a recent column for a trade publication.

But the problem is vast...

 

County Supervisor Frank Mecham said the near-doubling of the county's population to 275,000 since 1980 has put pressure on groundwater, particularly in rural areas where more vineyards also have sprung up.

 

As a result, many rural homeowners have reported dramatic drops in their well water levels. Sue Luft, for instance, said she and her husband last year had to drill a second well to 540 feet after one 355 feet deep went dry.

 

"What's scary is we're not fixing anything," said Ms. Luft, 57, a retired environmental engineer who leads a homeowners' group that recently teamed with the vintners to support the water district bill. "It's a race to the bottom."

*  *  *
Of course, none of this matters as stocks are at record highs...








Employers Aren't Just Whining: The "Skills Gap" Is Real

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 20:13

By way of Mauldin Economics

Employers Aren’t Just Whining – the “Skills Gap” Is Real

Every year, the Manpower Group, a human resources consultancy, conducts a worldwide “Talent Shortage Survey.” Last year, 35% of 38,000 employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent; in the U.S., 39% of employers did. But the idea of a “skills gap” as identified in this and other surveys has been widely criticized. Peter Cappelli asks whether these studies are just a sign of “employer whining;” Paul Krugman calls the skills gap a “zombie idea” that “that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.” The New York Times asserts that it is “mostly a corporate fiction, based in part on self-interest and a misreading of government data.” According to the Times, the survey responses are an effort by executives to get “the government to take on more of the costs of training workers.”

Really? A worldwide scheme by thousands of business managers to manipulate public opinion seems far-fetched. Perhaps the simpler explanation is the better one: many employers might actually have difficulty hiring skilled workers. The critics cite economic evidence to argue that there are no major shortages of skilled workers. But a closer look shows that their evidence is mostly irrelevant. The issue is confusing because the skills required to work with new technologies are hard to measure. They are even harder to manage. Understanding this controversy sheds some light on what employers and government need to do to deal with a very real problem.

This issue has become controversial because people mean different things by “skills gap.” Some public officials have sought to blame persistent unemployment on skill shortages. I am not suggesting any major link between the supply of skilled workers and today’s unemployment; there is little evidence to support such an interpretation. Indeed, employers reported difficulty hiring skilled workers before the recession. This illustrates one source of confusion in the debate over the existence of a skills gap: distinguishing between the short and long term. Today’s unemployment is largely a cyclical matter, caused by the recession and best addressed by macroeconomic policy. Yet although skills are not a major contributor to today’s unemployment, the longer-term issue of worker skills is important both for managers and for policy.

Nor is the skills gap primarily a problem of schooling. Peter Cappelli reviews the evidence to conclude that there are not major shortages of workers with basic reading and math skills or of workers with engineering and technical training; if anything, too many workers may be overeducated. Nevertheless, employers still have real difficulties hiring workers with the skills to deal with new technologies.

Why are skills sometimes hard to measure and to manage? Because new technologies frequently require specific new skills that schools don’t teach and that labor markets don’t supply. Since information technologies have radically changed much work over the last couple of decades, employers have had persistent difficulty finding workers who can make the most of these new technologies.

Consider, for example, graphic designers. Until recently, almost all graphic designers designed for print. Then came the Internet and demand grew for web designers. Then came smartphones and demand grew for mobile designers. Designers had to keep up with new technologies and new standards that are still changing rapidly. A few years ago they needed to know Flash; now they need to know HTML5 instead. New specialties emerged such as user-interaction specialists and information architects. At the same time, business models in publishing have changed rapidly.

Graphic arts schools have had difficulty keeping up. Much of what they teach becomes obsolete quickly and most are still oriented to print design in any case. Instead, designers have to learn on the job, so experience matters. But employers can’t easily evaluate prospective new hires just based on years of experience. Not every designer can learn well on the job and often what they learn might be specific to their particular employer.

The labor market for web and mobile designers faces a kind of Catch-22: without certified standard skills, learning on the job matters but employers have a hard time knowing whom to hire and whose experience is valuable; and employees have limited incentives to put time and effort into learning on the job if they are uncertain about the future prospects of the particular version of technology their employer uses. Workers will more likely invest when standardized skills promise them a secure career path with reliably good wages in the future.

Under these conditions, employers do, have a hard time finding workers with the latest design skills. When new technologies come into play, simple textbook notions about skills can be misleading for both managers and economists.

For one thing, education does not measure technical skills. A graphic designer with a bachelor’s degree does not necessarily have the skills to work on a web development team. Some economists argue that there is no shortage of employees with the basic skills in reading, writing and math to meet the requirements of today’s jobs. But those aren’t the skills in short supply.

Other critics look at wages for evidence. Times editors tell us “If a business really needed workers, it would pay up.” Gary Burtless at the Brookings Institution puts it more bluntly: “Unless managers have forgotten everything they learned in Econ 101, they should recognize that one way to fill a vacancy is to offer qualified job seekers a compelling reason to take the job” by offering better pay or benefits. Since Burtless finds that the median wage is not increasing, he concludes that there is no shortage of skilled workers.

But that’s not quite right. The wages of the median worker tell us only that the skills of the median worker aren’t in short supply; other workers could still have skills in high demand. Technology doesn’t make all workers’ skills more valuable; some skills become valuable, but others go obsolete. Wages should only go up for those particular groups of workers who have highly demanded skills. Some economists observe wages in major occupational groups or by state or metropolitan area to conclude that there are no major skill shortages. But these broad categories don’t correspond to worker skills either, so this evidence is also not compelling.

To the contrary, there is evidence that select groups of workers have been had sustained wage growth, implying persistent skill shortages. Some specific occupations such as nursing do show sustained wage growth and employment growth over a couple decades. And there is more general evidence of rising pay for skills within many occupations. Because many new skills are learned on the job, not all workers within an occupation acquire them. For example, the average designer, who typically does print design, does not have good web and mobile platform skills. Not surprisingly, the wages of the average designer have not gone up. However, those designers who have acquired the critical skills, often by teaching themselves on the job, command six figure salaries or $90 to $100 per hour rates as freelancers. The wages of the top 10% of designers have risen strongly; the wages of the average designer have not. There is a shortage of skilled designers but it can only be seen in the wages of those designers who have managed to master new technologies.

This trend is more general. We see it in the high pay that software developers in Silicon Valley receive for their specialized skills. And we see it throughout the workforce. Research shows that since the 1980s, the wages of the top 10% of workers has risen sharply relative to the median wage earner after controlling for observable characteristics such as education and experience. Some workers have indeed benefited from skills that are apparently in short supply; it’s just that these skills are not captured by the crude statistical categories that economists have at hand.

And these skills appear to be related to new technology, in particular, to information technologies. The chart shows how the wages of the 90th percentile increased relative to the wages of the 50th percentile in different groups of occupations. The occupational groups are organized in order of declining computer use and the changes are measured from 1982 to 2012. Occupations affected by office computing and the Internet (69% of these workers use computers) and healthcare (55% of these workers use computers) show the greatest relative wage growth for the 90th percentile. Millions of workers within these occupations appear to have valuable specialized skills that are in short supply and have seen their wages grow dramatically.

This evidence shows that we should not be too quick to discard employer claims about hiring skilled talent. Most managers don’t need remedial Econ 101; the overly simple models of Econ 101 just don’t tell us much about real world skills and technology. The evidence highlights instead just how difficult it is to measure worker skills, especially those relating to new technology.

What is hard to measure is often hard to manage. Employers using new technologies need to base hiring decisions not just on education, but also on the non-cognitive skills that allow some people to excel at learning on the job; they need to design pay structures to retain workers who do learn, yet not to encumber employee mobility and knowledge sharing, which are often key to informal learning; and they need to design business models that enable workers to learn effectively on the job (see this example). Policy makers also need to think differently about skills, encouraging, for example, industry certification programs for new skills and partnerships between community colleges and local employers.

Although it is difficult for workers and employers to develop these new skills, this difficulty creates opportunity. Those workers who acquire the latest skills earn good pay; those employers who hire the right workers and train them well can realize the competitive advantages that come with new technologies.








august 29

Harvey Organ - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 19:45
Gold closed down $2.90  at $1285.80 (comex to comex closing time ). Silver was up 13 cents at $19.40 In the access market tonight at 5:15 pm gold: $1287.00 silver:  $19.46 Today is first day notice and also the last day for options on the OTC.  GLD : a slight loss of .6 tonnes of gold (probably to pay for fees etc) SLV : no change in silver inventory at the SLV/now 331.528 millionHarvey Organhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08732619537060012229noreply@blogger.com0

The "Real" Retail Story: The Consumer Economy Remains At A Recessionary Level

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 19:33

Earlier this month, Retail Sales missed expectations for the 3rd month in a row, essentially flat on the month. As Doug Short rhetorically asks 'how much insight into the US economy does the nominal retail sales report offer?' With the release of the CPI data, we can judge this in 'real' terms (adjusted for inflation and against the backdrop of our growing population)... and the picture is anything but healthy.

 

Via Advisor Perspectives,

The "Real" Retail Story: The Consumer Economy Remains at a Recessionary Level

How much insight into the US economy does the nominal retail sales report offer? The next chart gives us a perspective on the extent to which this indicator is skewed by inflation and population growth. The nominal sales number shows a cumulative growth of 168.0% since the beginning of this series. Adjust for population growth and the cumulative number drops to 114.7%. And when we adjust for both population growth and inflation, retail sales are up only 24.8% over the past two-plus decades. With this adjustment, we're now at a level we first reached in September 2004.


Click for a larger image

Let's continue in the same vein. The charts below give us a rather different view of the U.S. retail economy and the long-term behavior of the consumer. The sales numbers are adjusted for population growth and inflation. For the population data I've used the Bureau of Economic Analysis mid-month series available from the St. Louis FRED with a linear extrapolation for the latest month. Inflation is based on the latest Consumer Price Index. I've used the seasonally adjusted CPI as a best match for the seasonally adjusted retail sales data. The latest retail sales with the dual adjustment declined 0.1% month-over-month, and the adjusted data is only up 0.9% year-over-year.


Click for a larger image

Consider: Since January 1992, the U.S. population has grown about 25% while the dollar has lost about 42% of its purchasing power to inflation. Retail sales have been recovering since the trough in 2009. But the "real" consumer economy, adjusted for population growth is 3.9% below its all-time high in January 2006.

As I mentioned at the outset, nominal month-over-month retail sales were up 0.04%. Let's now examine Core Retail Sales, a version that excludes auto purchases.


Click for a larger image

By this analysis, adjusted Core Retail Sales were down 0.1% in July from the previous month, up only 0.4% year-over-year and down 1.9% from its record high in November 2007.

The Great Recession of the Financial Crisis is behind us, a close analysis of the adjusted data suggests that the recovery has been frustratingly slow. The reality is that, in "real" terms — adjusted for population growth and inflation — consumer sales remain below the level we saw at the peak before the last recession.








The Time Is Ripe For A False-Flag Attack On American Soil

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:59

Submitted by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Government engineered false-flag terrorism is a historically established fact. For centuries, political and financial elites have been sinking ships, setting buildings on fire, assassinating diplomats, overthrowing elected leaders, and blowing people up, then blaming these disasters on convenient scapegoats so that they can induce fear in the public and transfer more power to themselves. Skeptics might argue whether certain calamities have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be false-flag events, but no one can argue that such tactics have not been used by the establishment in the past. Governments have openly admitted to creating bloody and catalyzing tragedies under false pretenses, like Operation Gladio, a false-flag program in Europe supported by European and American covert agencies which lasted decades, from the 1950's to the 1990's.

Gladio utilized well-paid and trained rogue groups and agents as well as patsies, compartmentalized and controlled, who would commit atrocities against the European public. These atrocities would then be blamed on “left wing extremists”, galvanizing the citizenry and political representatives towards the false East/West paradigm. The superficial motivation given by whistleblowers was that Gladio was to be used to keep the right wing in power. However, the broader and deeper goal was clearly to manipulate Europeans into accepting a unification mindset, paving the way for the eventual centralization of Europe into the EU supranational block. Gladio, is only one well documented example of false-flag terrorism being exploited by governments to mold mass psychology towards greater collectivism.

It is therefore vital that the public question the legitimacy of EVERY so-called “terrorist attack” or geopolitical incident, otherwise, we may find ourselves duped into supporting wars and unconstitutional actions that only end up poisoning our society and elevating tyrants.

Why do I believe a new false-flag event is imminent? America has not suffered a large scale terrorist attack for over 13 years, after all. I can only say that current trends and international developments seem to be spiraling towards a breaking point; a kind of singularity, and if you understand that the majority of these events are deliberately engineered, then you also understand that the inevitable singularity (or primary disaster) is engineered as well.

The foremost current threat and most useful scapegoat is, of course, the ISIS insurgency in the Middle East. If one's source of information was the mainstream media alone, one might be inclined to believe that ISIS has materialized out of nowhere to become a menace so organized and effective it has eclipsed Al-Qaeda as the hot button boogeyman used by the establishment. ISIS is certainly a disturbing militant group that goes out of its way to play the villain, complete with scary Muslim clothing and beards, not to mention the severed heads and indiscriminate genocide. Where is Jack Bauer when you need him, right?

The cartoonish nature of ISIS is not accidental, but I can see why they frighten a subset of the American population; if I didn't know that they were funded by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, with military aid from Israel, then I might find them a terrifying enigma as well.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was held at a U.S. run detention facility called Camp Bucca from 2005 until 2009. Before his imprisonment, Baghdadi's friends and family reported him to be a “quiet, studious fellow who was also a talented soccer player”. Only one year after being released from U.S. detention, however, he was a fanatical Islamic extremist who would go on to command the ISIS caliphate. In 2011, the U.S. State Department listed Bagdhadi as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” with a bounty of $10 million. There is no public record as to why Baghdadi was originally detained.

Former U.S. Air Force security officer, James Skylar Gerrond, served at Camp Bucca while Bagdhadi was held there, and is quoted as saying "Many of us at Camp Bucca were concerned that instead of just holding detainees, we had created a pressure cooker for extremism." Indeed...

Let's look at the culmination of events that led to the current incarnation that is ISIS:

George W. Bush signed and Barack Obama enforced (sorry politifact cultists, but they are BOTH to blame) a new foreign policy framework which allowed the release of numerous (and now somehow radicalized) prisoners from facilities like Camp Bucca in 2009.

The Libyan civil war erupts, as “rebels” are aided by the CIA and multiple foreign governments. These are the same rebels who would ultimately participate in the Benghazi raid on a U.S. consulate/CIA complex.

Libyan agents along with CIA operatives move into Jordan, where they have been training Syrian insurgents for over a year (officially - much longer unofficially), and still train them to this day, despite the apprehensions of the Jordanian government.

Libyan insurgents along with newly trained operatives have also shifted into Syria, turning general civil unrest into outright war.

ISIS recently gave praise to one of its commanders, a man from Libya, who had fought in the Libyan civil war, and in Syria, and in Iraq.

The U.S. has been secretly arming and training ISIS extremists in Syria for years, but only at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 did it begin a more open campaign to provide support.

The Israeli government also aided insurgent groups in Syria using airstrikes to cripple Syrian Government regional command centers. It is also currently providing medical aid to Syrian rebels.

It was insurgent Sunni majority groups, trained in Jordan and funded by Saudi Arabia that have linked with Saudi funded groups in Iraq to form what we now know as ISIS. These are NOT separate groups acting autonomously. These are U.S. backed organizations acting in concert, and coalescing into a single movement – ISIS.

Violent genocidal actions, mass executions, as well as torture have become the common calling card of the establishment organized Islamic insurgent groups. Despite this horrifying development, Barack Obama is STILL seeking over $500 million in aid to Syrian rebels, though the rhetoric now specifies that funds and arms will only go to “moderate and well-vetted” insurgents. As far as I can tell, there are no “moderate” insurgents in Syria; insurgents that are now moving into Iraq and bringing their distinct brand of barbarism with them.

On the Council On Foreign Relations website, the globalist think-tank argued that the inclusion of extremist Al-Qaeda elements in the Syrian insurgency “improved the moral” of the movement, stating that the “Free Syrian Army needs Al-Qaeda now”. The CFR acknowledges that the goal of Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria is not necessarily to overthrow Assad, but to establish an Islamic state. Despite this, the CFR still continues its support of the strategy to overthrow Assad.

In an absurd display of forced schizophrenia, globalist organizations along with the puppet White House now argue that the existence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the same ISIS insurgency THEY CREATED, requires the U.S. to execute air strikes and military intervention in the region. Of course, to remain “fair and balanced”, the White House proposes to strike Syrian Government targets as well in order to avoid “strengthening Assad”. Yeah, read that twice, folks...

Remember the Syrian crisis at the end of last year? Remember how the U.S. and Russia were on the verge of conflict over Obama's funding of the insurgency as well as his proposal to provide air support? Well, now the plan is to utilize air strikes against the same insurgents we had originally planned to help with air strikes.

Now, I have asked this question in the past, and I'll ask it again – Is it merely irony that the White House is going to war with the covert militant group it gave birth to?

No, it is not irony. It is planned. ISIS is the new and improved Al-Qaeda. All of the terrorist disaster scenarios showcased in propaganda shows like '24' that seem rather ridiculous to many Americans if plotted by Al-Qaeda goat herders hiding in caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan now become believable if plotted by highly organized and savvy ISIS operatives.

Don't believe ISIS is savvy? I don't either, aside from the CIA agents pulling their strings. However, DoD officials and others have been bombarding the mainstream media with one specific meme: ISIS is awesome!

Chuck Hagel, Department of Defense Secretary, has made statements claiming that “ISIL (ISIS) poses a threat greater than 9/11... “

"They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology with a sophisticated strategic and tactical military prowess and they're tremendously well-funded. This is way beyond anything we have seen. We must prepare for everything. Get Ready!"

U.S. Special Operations sources argue that ISIS is an “incredible fighting force”, acting more like a “state with a military” than a disorganized band of guerrillas. I would argue that ISIS tactics appear sophisticated exactly because they are receiving sophisticated direction from state funded covert intelligence agencies like the CIA.

Retired Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney recently revealed that he believed a new 9/11 event is looming, and I would like to note that even if this is true, the Neo-Conservatives are no more a solution to the problem than the Neo-Liberals.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee claims that ISIS members are “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city...”

Governor Rick Perry of Texas (a Bilderberg attendee) claims that ISIS agents may have already crossed into the U.S. from Mexico.

In the meantime, Senators on both sides of the fake aisle are warning the Obama Administration that ISIS is the “best funded terror group in history”.

With all this hype circling ISIS, I have to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we are being given the ultimate scapegoat for the ultimate false flag attack. When building the narrative of a traditional story, the hero is really a secondary character, because the hero is only as impressive as the villain he must eventually defeat. If you look at mainstream media and geopolitics as a theater script, rather than a series of random events, it appears as though ISIS is being built up as a villain so pervasive and devious the group could accomplish ANYTHING.

I believe the time is in fact ripe for a large scale false-flag on American soil. It may be a singular attack limited to a city or region, or, numerous smaller attacks executed in concert. I see the media overload of ISIS fever as a means to condition the public to believe in the ISIS myth – the myth that they are a sophisticated international super-terrorist conglomerate; a real life Legion of Doom. If Americans are conned into buying this myth, they may also be fooled into abandoning their Constitutional liberties and natural freedoms in the face of a well planned attack blamed on ISIS elements.  I believe there will likely come a day when the mere act of exposing the lie or standing against government overreach will be called "treason", and people like myself will be labeled "no better than ISIS".

If an attack does take place in the name of ISIS, it is vital that Americans remember that this is not the violent invasion of a foreign army, that there is no Islamic enemy except that which our government created, that this is not some unexpected form of “blowback” from terrorists who used to be our allies, that this is an engineered attack by contracted employees of our own defense and intelligence apparatus leading a horde of useful psychopaths, and just like during Operation Gladio, the goal will be to terrify you and those around you into seeking out a more powerful, more centralized government authority to protect your security, to provide cover for the continued planned collapse of American society into third world status, and out of these ashes, the centralization of the political and financial foundations of our world into the hands of an elite few.








"Sand Is The New Gold"?

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:30

Thanks to the growing use of fracking, or extracting oil and natural gas from shale formations, shares of U.S. companies which supply sand to energy producers are surging, and as Bloomberg reports, it does not look set to stop anytime soon. “Sand is the new gold,” says Ivaylo Ivanov, founder of Ivanhoff Capital, as Ole Slorer, a New York-based analyst at Morgan Stanley, expects demand for fracking sand in 2016 will be 96 percent higher than last year’s level. Nope, no bubble here...

 

 

As Bloomberg adds,

Emerge Energy, a Southlake, Texas-based partnership that made its initial public offering at $17 a share, changed hands for more than $140 yesterday. Hi-Crush, based in Houston, and U.S. Silica, based in Frederick, Maryland, more than tripled during the past 15 months.

 

...

 

Demand for fracking sand in 2016 will be 96 percent higher than last year’s level, Ole Slorer, a New York-based analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote two days ago in a report. The sand helps prop open fractures in shale, which eases the flow of oil and gas. He expects shortages for years, with supplies in 2016 trailing demand by 10 percent.

 

Slorer raised his 12-month price estimate for U.S. Silica by 36 percent, to $80, and wrote that the stock may reach $95. U.S. Silica traded yesterday at a record $71.29 and closed at $70.72, up 4 percent. Emerge Energy, whose main business is fuel processing and distribution, rose 2.6 percent. Hi-Crush added 3.2 percent.

Source: Bloomberg

*  *  *

Nope, no bubble here at all...








Kick Russia Out Of SWIFT, UK Demands; But Beware The Retaliation...

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 17:58

UK Prime Minister David Cameron came out swinging this morning; not only at ISIS but in calling for European leaders to block Russia from the SWIFT banking transaction system. European leaders have already (via unnamed sources) denied any actual new sanctions will take place (though they will be discussing them at the NATO Summit) but - as we have noted previously - this is yet another unintended consequence-driven nail in the coffin of USD hegemony...

 

Bloomberg reports that the U.K. Said to Press EU to Block Russia From Banking Network

The U.K. will press European Union leaders to consider blocking Russian access to the SWIFT banking transaction system under an expansion of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, a British government official said.

 

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT, is one of Russia's main connections to the international financial system. Prime Minister David Cameron's government plans to put the topic on the agenda for a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels Aug. 30, according to the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

This has consequences...

“Blocking Russia from the SWIFT system would be a very serious escalation in sanctions against Russia and would most certainly result in equally tough retaliatory actions by Russia,” said Chris Weafer, a senior partner at Moscow-based consulting firm Macro Advisory. “An exclusion from SWIFT would not block major trade deals but would cause problems in cross-border banking and that would disrupt trade flows.”

But then we already knew that...

1) Russia is likely looking to move away from the NSA-sponsored SWIFT system's total transparency to Western powers...

But while collecting credit card data was to be expected, what is even worse is that the NSA has also secretly planted itself in the nexus of the entire global USD-intermediated financial transactions system courtesy of SWIFT.

 

The NSA's Tracfin data bank also contained data from the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a network used by thousands of banks to send transaction information securely. SWIFT was named as a "target," according to the documents, which also show that the NSA spied on the organization on several levels, involving, among others, the agency's "tailored access operations" division. One of the ways the agency accessed the data included reading "SWIFT printer traffic from numerous banks," the documents show.

 

What is curious is that while the NSA and its henchmen, in this case the GCHQ, had no qualms about violating personal privacy at every level, it is only when banks were threatened that someone feel like perhaps a line was crossed:

 

But even intelligence agency employees are somewhat concerned about spying on the world finance system, according to one document from the UK's intelligence agency GCHQ concerning the legal perspectives on "financial data" and the agency's own cooperations with the NSA in this area.

 

In other words, America's unsupervised uber spies, when not checking in on their former significant others, spend the bulk of their time tracking who is buying what, where, and with whose money.

2) Russia is planning its own (possibly BRICS-based) payment system...

Faced with the risk of losing access to the network, Russia’s government has already drafted a bill to create a new Russian system for domestic bank transfers, Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev said on Aug. 27, according to the Itar-Tass news service.

 

SWIFT transmitted more than 21 million financial messages a day last month, facilitating payments between more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations in 215 countries, the organization said on its website.

 

“There’s no doubt that in the short term restricting Russian usage of SWIFT would be extremely disruptive to Russian financial and commercial activities,” said Richard Reid, a research fellow for finance and regulation at the University of Dundee in Scotland. “However, it may carry a longer-term downside, namely the likelihood that large chunks of Russian international payments flows would move to much less well monitored and measured financial channels and thus be beyond sanctions at any future point.”

and 3) Russia (and China) have begun the de-dollarization...

Several months ago, when Russia announced the much anticipated "Holy Grail" energy deal with China, some were disappointed that despite this symbolic agreement meant to break the petrodollar's stranglehold on the rest of the world, neither Russia nor China announced payment terms to be in anything but dollars. In doing so they admitted that while both nations are eager to move away from a US Dollar reserve currency, neither is yet able to provide an alternative.

 

This changed in late June when first Gazprom's CFO announced the gas giant was ready to settle China contracts in Yuan or Rubles, and at the same time the People's Bank of China announced that its Assistant Governor Jin Qi and Russian central bank Deputy Chairman Dmitry Skobelkin held a meeting in which they discussed cooperating on project and trade financing using local currencies. The meeting discussed cooperation in bank card, insurance and financial supervision sectors.

 

And yet, while both sides declared their operational readiness and eagerness to bypass the dollar entirely, such plans remained purely in the arena of monetary foreplay and the long awaited first shot across the Petrodollar bow was absent.

 

Until now.

 

According to Russia's RIA Novosti, citing business daily Kommersant, Gazprom Neft has agreed to export 80,000 tons of oil from Novoportovskoye field in the Arctic; it will accept payment in rubles, and will also deliver oil via the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO), accepting payment in Chinese yuan for the transfers.

*  *  *
As we concluded previously, these short-term 'punishments' borne of ego and bluster merely further 'isolate' the status quo from the inevitable transition...

Still confused? Then read "90% Of Gazprom Clients Have "De-Dollarized", Will Transact In Euro & Renminbi" for just how Gazprom set the stage for the day it finally would push the button to skip the dollar entirely. Which it just did.

In conclusion we will merely say what we have said previously, and it touches on what will be the most remarkable aspect of Obama's legacy, because while the hypocrite "progressive" president who even his own people have accused of being a "brown-faced Clinton" after selling out to Wall Street and totally wrecking US foreign policy abroad, is already the worst president in a century of US history according to public polls, the fitting epitaph will come when the president's policies put an end to dollar hegemony and end the reserve currency status of the dollar once and for all, thereby starting the rapid, and uncontrolled, collapse of the US empire. To wit:

In retrospect it will be very fitting that the crowning legacy of Obama's disastrous reign, both domestically and certainly internationally, will be to force the world's key ascendent superpowers (we certainly don't envision broke, insolvent Europe among them) to drop the Petrodollar and end the reserve status of the US currency.

And once China and Russia show that not only can it be done but thanks to US prodding it has been done, expect other countries to promptly follow the anti-SWIFT axis on their own...

*  *  *

Isolation... indeed.








5 Things To Ponder: Labor Day Edition

Zerohedge - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 17:34

Submitted by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management,

The financial markets are set to wrap up the month with roughly a 3.5% gain, depending on where today's action ends, which is historically on the positive end of returns for the month. The histogram below shows the annual percentage change for the month of August.  Since 1930, there have been a total of 47 positive months versus 38 negative (55% win ratio) with an average return of 1.47%.  However, if we strip out the 37.7% gain in 1932, the one outlier, the average monthly return falls to just 1.04%.

 

September's prospects improve a bit from August with the overall win ratio improving to 58.3%. However, unlike August there is bigger propensity of market declines of between 5-10%.

 

With the Federal Reserve ending their support of the markets by October, and as discussed yesterday, corporate share buybacks on the decline; two of the biggest supports of asset prices over the last couple of years is fading.  What does this mean for investors going forward? That is the subject of this Labor Day Edition of "5 Things To Ponder."

 

1) A Classic Warning For Investors by Michael Mackenzie via Financial Times

"A look at the growing and already large divergence between the S&P 500 and the 10-year government note yield illustrates how the two big US markets are not only not cheap, but are also sending conflicting messages.

Here, equities and bonds can probably prosper in the near term until economic data conclusively settles the issue. Only then will the huge divergence between the S&P and 10-year yields snap shut with serious repercussions for some investors."

 

 

2) The Fed Has Become The Fundamentals by Jeffrey Cooper via MinyanVille

"A bull market will always find the silver lining, no matter how insignificant. Mirror image of human emotions and hysteria." - Marc Eckelberry

 

"There is a notion out there that the bull market has a long way to go since there is no sign of elation, such as in the months leading up to the top in March 2000.  Fear is driving the market, not greed.  Equities are up out of lack of choice, not out of reason.

 

Ebullience has not been a hallmark of the advance at any point in the last 5.5 years. Does a grand top require a manic phase? The top floor can be reached by an escalator just as well as an elevator."

 

 

3) It's Time To Be Defensive, Very Defensive via ZeroHedge

"What is wrong with changing your mind because the facts change? But you have to be able to say why you changed your mind and how the facts changed." - Lee Iacocca

"It’s important to underline that major US investment houses, and certainly every single sales person I talk to, believe US is about to accelerate in growth not slow down. Q3 could be ok but the real damage will come in Q4 as the lead-lag factor of geopolitical risk, lack of reforms and excess global supply leads to low inflation. Despite recent Fed optimism about an exit strategy the fact remains that few institutions are worse than the Fed in projections as even its simple target goals show."

Read Also: The Bubble Of All Bubbles - European Bonds by EconMatters

 

4) Equity Markets Running On Fumes by Izabella Kamins via Financial Times

"It is widely accepted the Fed’?s QE programme has inflated asset prices way above fundamental values (higher inequality being one unwelcome by-product). Andrew Lapthorne has identified the mechanism whereby QE, by shrinking the available stock of investable government bonds, has encouraged investors to instead gobble up other debt assets all along the risk spectrum. Companies issuing at low yields into this buying frenzy are doing what they always like doing with debt in the final throes of an economic cycle they issue cheap debt to buy expensive equity. Decent profit (cashflow growth) may be more than sufficient to cover capital expenditure and dividends, but a gargantuan funding gap emerges as companies also undertake their corporate finance zaitech activities (see chart below, Andrew also calculates that currently almost a third of all buybacks are to cover the expense of maturing management share options QE is indeed making the rich richer!)."

 

5) Get Ready For S&P 500 2150 by Mark Hulbert via WSJ MarketWatch

"This incredible bull market, which pushed the S&P 500 above 2,000 earlier this week, is still alive and well. By the end of the year, the benchmark index may rise to around 2,150, about 8% higher.

 

So says Sam Eisenstadt, who has more successfully called the stock market in recent years than almost every other market timer I can think of — including many who I have featured in this column.

 

Eisenstadt, for those of you who don’t know of him, is the former research director at Value Line Inc. Though he retired in 2009, after 63 years at that firm, he continues in retirement to update and refine a complex econometric model that generates six-month forecasts for the S&P 500."

Bonus Read: Because There Is An Extra Day This Weekend

 

The Greater The Stock Bubble, The Less Monetary Theory Holds by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Partners

"I think the full answer lies in monetarism not being a flow of “money” and funds but rather a corruption of expectations, and thus activity. The idea of “easy money” now spans not just some marginal speculators touring the contours of the pink sheets for grand slams, but rather it has taken hold of everyone from the should-be-conservative retirees looking to regain their balances from even two bubbles ago to corporate boardrooms looking to get paid as much as possible before reality closes in once more and the bottom falls out. In trying to gear marginal economic activity toward financial means, central banks have instead totally financialized the entire affair to the point that far too much psychology, and thus attendant flow, goes only in that direction. In other words, instead of enhancing marginal economic activity it directly suffocates it."

Also check out my post from earlier this week: "Next Stop 2100"

Wishing you a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I’ve finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." - Dave Barry








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