Dishonest Polling Eliminates Gabbard From Debate, Still In The Race

I wish I could say I find it surprising that more people do not understand that Gabbard makes a valid point when she states that the polling used to eliminate her from the next debate. Her statement is completely truthful and valid.

The DNC dictates a specified list of polls which allow a candidate to qualify for debates. These polls are conducted by means which favor neoliberal/neoconservative voters. First, they are advertised in ways that attract a very specific audience, such as on specific corporate “news” outlets. Outgoing polls are conducted using means which gain responses from very few younger or less affluent voters.

One such tactic is conducting polling via land line. Other than businesses, who has a land line any more? The answer is old, wealthy, white people. I am 57 and have not had a land line for at least 16 years, other than my internet connection. I have a VOIP line but it is not used. Part of a package deal.

Of course, there is the wording in a poll. Anyone who has ever taken any kind of poll knows the wording used determines the response. “Would you prefer taking poison or being drawn and quartered?”

Polls are frequently “weighted”, meaning some methods of response have greater value than other methods. Which can lead to a desired response counting as 10 votes in favor, while less desired responses count as 1 vote.

Placement in a poll play a role as well. Names near the top tend to get more favorable responses, those near the bottom get the fewest favorable responses. This is negated if the poll places all candidates in alphabetical order.

Some polls use specific names more often than other names, leading to an obvious, easily identified bias. However, most people are subject to being influenced and will automatically lean toward the names mentioned most often and in the bias which the poll presents.

In 2016, I examined polling which showed certain candidates having a low popularity, while their attendance at rallies indicated a very high popularity. What I found was that many of the polls completely eliminated that candidate’s name. I took a cursory look at some of the polling stating a low favorability for Tulsi Gabbard and found that some of those polls did not include her name at all or far less often than other names.

You can absolutely expect that polls conducted by capitalist entities will show low response rates for candidates who oppose capitalist policies. Entities which favor war will have low positive responses for candidates who favor diplomacy. Entities that run continuous negative stories on a candidate will have very negative responses regarding that candidate.

Just because Tulsi Gabbard is not in the debate does not mean she has dropped out of the race. I personally hope she does not. If anything, the bias against her has solidified my support for her further. I wish she would reconsider running third party if she does not get the nomination. Then she would absolutely get my vote. She will in the primary, any way.

The Dangers of Shadow Banking

You have probably heard the term by now, “shadow banking”. However, many people don’t understand the risks it poses because they do not understand exactly what it is.

Shadow banking by all estimates is greater in size than the global banking system. By some estimates, it is greater in size than the global economy.

Comparison. You see lots of stories about how the Chinese shadow banking system poses a threat to the global economy. However, according to Bloomberg, the US shadow banking system is nearly twice the size of the Chinese shadow banking system, with China accounting for 16% of estimated shadow banking programs, while the US accounts for and estimated 31% (almost 1/3 of all shadow banking globally). In 2016, China began enacting policies to rein in their shadow banking problem. This is aside from the fact that most Chinese banks are nationalized. Nationalized banks cannot be shadow banks or pose the level of risk that privatized shadow banking systems do. In the US, any attempt at regulating shadow banking has met with legal, economic and political resistance.

What is it? Shadow banking is comprised of financial institutions and systems which are not held accountable to regulatory agencies the way officially recognized banks are. In the US, financial products and institutions are typically regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Securities and Exchange Commission, with other regulatory agencies which oversee various smaller segments of the financial market. These agencies ideally place limits on how much financial institutions can loan out in relation to their deposits, practices that reduce fraud or economic/financial risk to the public.

Who is it? Shadow banking (I’m tired of typing that out. Let’s abbreviate it SB, okay?) is comprised of financial institutions which have a wide range of influence. You either right now or have in the past done business with SB entities without knowing it. They include such entities as hedge funds, short term lending agencies like payday lenders and vehicle title loan companies, home equity lenders, insurance companies and many investment firms. It also includes entities such as GoFundMe. However, the largest and most dangerous of all involve financial derivatives and credit default swaps.

Why are they popular? SB entities generally offer the chance of higher returns on investment compared to regulated institutions. However, a major reason they can offer higher returns is that the financial products they offer tend to be high risk. Their loans and products have a much higher default rate than standard financial products. Think of high interest loans to high risk borrowers.

The dangers. The dangers involved with SB is the fact that they do fall outside the regulations that regular banks are subject to. Regulations which require banks to maintain a certain level of collateral deposits as a percentage of how much they can loan out. If the economy or a specific entity show signs of a higher default percentage, leading to decreased returns or even loss on investment, investors in these entities can withdraw their entire investment without notice. If large investors or large numbers of investors withdraw their investments, it causes a run on that institution or even an entire SB industry category. That can have drastic effects alone but it can also have a domino effect, especially if a large SB company offers multiple products.

Not limited to non-banking entities. One huge problem with the SB system is that regulated entities often invest large sums in the SB entities or loan money to them. The SB system had a major role in the 2008 crash thanks to high risk loans and mortgages by SB companies which were packaged as lower risk loans in “bundles” which were purchased by standard banking institutions. However, banks are well known to establish their own SB companies as well. The obvious risk with this is that if these entities fail, they bring down large banks.

Regulation does not stop it. Some may believe that legislation like Dodd-Frank placed limits or regulations on the SB system. Not at all. Dodd-Frank only addressed standard banks and did not address the SB system at all. Many candidates receive campaign donations from SB companies. Some economists claim that if the SB system were eliminated that the economy would suffer greatly. However, all agree that it is an extreme danger which should be regulated.

Shadow Banking steals from the legitimate financial system. Were SB brought under control and regulation, it probably would result in less investment by some. However, it would result in greater stability in the financial system. SB investments divert funds from legitimate, regulated, more transparent financial systems. The fact is that returns on legitimate investment systems suffer as a direct result of funding diverted to the SB system, causing lower returns. SB is popular simply because of lesser regulation and oversight.

SB and regulated markets are tied together. As noted above, regulated systems and SB systems are tied together. However, even when not directly tied together, they are intrinsically tied because of shared investors. Some may believe that if the stock market and regulated systems retract that SB systems will expand. As seen in 2008, the opposite is true. When financial markets retract, they have a domino effect causing all markets to retract concurrently. Many businesses have a combination of funding from regulated and unregulated sources. Thus, when large businesses or a large number of businesses fail, it has an effect on all the above. When investors see a risk of losing because of a retraction, they pull funding from all investments in similar streams. In addition, Quicken Loans is a SB entity, now the largest mortgage lender in the country. Other mortgage lenders are also SB entities, though smaller.

Cyclic effect. As employers see reduced profits, they reduce staffing. When this happens in large numbers as we have only begun to see, it means the consumer market retracts. More consumers default on loans of all kinds. In the case of SB lenders, they are much faster to pursue vehicle repossessions, foreclosures, etc. This is an attempt to claim the property, charge the initial borrower and resell the property to a second borrower at a secondary profit. Yes, this is illegal for regulated lenders but not for unregulated lenders. In the interim and when this fails, SB profits decline. When profits decline, investments decline. When investments decline, the interest rates on any loan offers increase. This causes more rejections and more defaults. All of this reduces finances available for consumers to spend, causing a further decline in consumer spending, bringing us back to reduced profits for employers and the cycle continues. This cycle happens very quickly.

So, while shadow banking is typically described in terms which seem abstract or which affect only large investors, as you can see it absolutely affects you personally in very real terms. The fall of the stock market can mean the fall of shadow banking. The decline in each one and both can affect your credit, your employment, your housing, your retirement savings and on and on.

Wonder what Libertarians will think about this?

Where Would The US Be If Foreign Investors Pulled Out?

There has been a rising nationalistic negative attitude against foreign companies investing in and owning property in the US. I’m not going to make a final judgment on whether this is good or bad, just examine what would happen if those countries pulled their investments out or sold/abandoned their properties.

The nationalistic attitude toward foreign investors owning manufacturing locations in the US is pure folly. The negativity comes from those who make the false assumption that if foreign investors moved out, that domestic investors would increase production.

First thing to note is that in recent years, foreign investors have probably been more aggressive in investing in capital investments in the US than domestic investors have been. Toyota, Hyundai, mining companies have been building factories here. Chinese investors, as well. Have you noticed these companies have not been announcing mass layoffs while Ford, GM, GE, etc have been?

While US corporations took the bipartisan tax break handed to them and used that money to buy back their own stock and fatten the wallets of corporate executives and major investors, it has been left to foreign investors to expand manufacturing and create jobs.

This also means that if and when the stock market crashes, domestic companies will be laying off and closing factories. The only jobs with a chance of stability are going to be the ones owned primarily by foreign investors.

Under Trump, we stand the extreme chance that foreign investors whom he welcomed with open arms will either be forced out or will voluntarily pull up stakes as soon as they recoup their investments. If that happens, we have problems.

Some may believe that American investors would step in and simply take over the existing factories. It’s not that simple. First, there is the problem of establishing entirely new supply lines. Then there is the even bigger problem of intellectual property. An American company could not simply take over and produce the exact same products. They would have to come up with entirely new product designs. Then the factories would have to be retooled. Employees may have to be retrained. If they tried producing the same product, there would be legal challenges and the likelihood that other countries would boycott or ban the products due to those challenges.

Then there would be the problem of having a market to sell to. Depending on the product, like vehicles, with employment and wages taking a large hit, that would mean the market would not be open to new products enough to warrant that much of an outlay. In addition to whether consumers would spend money on major purchases on entirely new product lines meant to replace established product lines. There is a reason that you see vehicle models bearing the same name which have existed for decades. Those are product names that consumers are loyal to.

Last but not least this brings new problems and dimensions to how well American manufacturers and possibly even retailers are welcomed in other countries. One can say all they like about China’s trade policies but their policies are extremely well defined, so US corporations have not done business there and been caught off guard. They knew exactly what they were getting into before they got into it.

Personally, I’m not against each country doing their own manufacturing in their own country. I think that’s the way it should be. However, with the way things have been conducted for so many years, changing suddenly, unilaterally, in mid course will absolutely do damage to our trade agreements globally. Some will say it doesn’t matter because we can produce everything we need. Maybe you’re right, maybe not but that is not the point. If other countries choose to reduce or end trade with us, that does damage to the value of the dollar against other currencies, which will result in runaway inflation. Restoring trade deals under such circumstances would take decades because trade is built primarily on trust. Considering how many agricultural producers, retailers and manufacturers rely heavily on international trade, no small number would go out of business entirely. Don’t forget there are some items we can only get through international trade. Like rare earth minerals, most coffee and all chocolate.

Of the top 500 most profitable companies globally, 129 are in China, 121 in the US. Of the top 10 largest banks by deposits, 4 are in China, 3 in the US, 1 each in the UK, Japan and France.

Too many Americans think the rest of the world cannot survive without us. We comprise only 5% of the world’s population. We account for over 1/3 of all national debt globally. Some sources state that our private debt equals 150% of GDP. In all honesty, if other countries, especially China, decided they wanted to obliterate us economically, it would not be that hard to do at this point. They are not far from getting angry enough at us to do exactly that. With other countries deeply in debt as well, they would not be able to support us in that level of a trade war, even if they wanted to. It’s doubtful they would want to by now. So it is time to rethink this isolationist, nationalistic, arrogant attitude. Put the steroids down and start thinking rationally.

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I am an independent writer with no corporate sponsors or backing. The only income I make from my writing comes from views. At least I have reached the point where it makes more than it costs me! lol! (Not by much.)My writing is done in between full time (and overtime) nursing, shared custody of my brilliant daughter and mundane existence.

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They Are Miscalculating

The media is reporting on the increasing risk of recession, based on Wall Street predictions. Or should I say manipulations?

By saying “recession” or “slowdown”, they are miscalculating at best, misrepresenting conditions at worst.

“Recession” is an interesting word. There is no universal definition as to what economic conditions constitute a recession or what constitutes a depression. Talk to different economists and you will get different criteria. None of those definitions establish complete collapse of an economy. They will use the term, “economic crisis”, even when that “crisis” lasts for years. Look at the conditions in Greece. Look at the conditions in Venezuela. In both of those countries, the economic conditions have basically been inflicted on those countries. For Greece, the conditions were imposed by creditors. For Venezuela, the conditions have been caused by US sanctions and seizure of assets.

Stock market decline. On 8/23/19 the DOW was down by over 600 points again. Which means we are quickly approaching a drop of 2000 points in less than three months. While the general economy has been suffering for years, the stock market, meaning rich investors, has been riding high through it all. We have been hearing how well the economy is doing but when you talk to real people on the street you hear a far different story.

Media complicity. With the 2020 election coming up, the media who touted the strength of the economy has changed their tune drastically. Now corporate economists are all getting on one page, stating a recession is eminent. A recession has been eminent for years, they just haven’t told you so. They haven’t told you so because they are complicit in the conditions which are leading us into a recession/depression/collapse. If they told you it was coming, they would lose advertising from financial firms. Where economics are concerned, most Americans do not want to hear the truth. They want to hear what makes them feel secure, safe, happy, superior to their neighbors and other countries.

What the media doesn’t say. Of course, most of the media are run by neoliberal oligarchs. They oppose Trump, yet have wanted to capitalize as much as they could from his tax cuts and reduction of the interest rate. Now they have received their tax cuts, further interest rate cuts are not promised and will not amount to much if they happen. Thus, at this point they feel confident in attacking Trump and claiming a recession is going to happen if the current trade war continues. They neglect to tell you the recession/recession/collapse will occur even if the trade war completely stopped right this minute.

That neglect is fully intentional. The timing of the gradual revelation of the economy receding is intentional. Had they previously mentioned the economy weakening, you would have seen exactly what we are seeing right now and will see accelerating rapidly, which corporate media is literally instigating- for people to withhold money from savings and reduce spending. This accelerates the process of economic slowdown. If this had happened in 2017 or even 2018 the slowdown would have occurred much sooner than now. Which would mean that much of the blame could have been laid at the feet of the Obama administration.

Diverting your focus. Much of the blame does fall on the Obama administration. However there are more things to consider. Any earlier revelation would have meant that the GOP tax cut would not have occurred. Increases in defense spending would have either not happened or would have been far less. The focus of media reporting would have had to center on the economy, rather than Russiagate. Have you even noticed that the media focus has so suddenly shifted to the economy and racism now that Russiagate is effectively over? It’s not like anything has drastically changed economically or socially since Mueller testified before CONgress. The exact same things are happening. The only thing that has changed is how the media reports on it.

It’s not the tariffs. The media has built up the rhetoric claiming the economy was doing well and even expanding while manufacturing declined and we have seen record numbers of retail closures. We have seen mass layoffs and the Labor Participation Rate has dropped severely. Student loan defaults hit a record high in 2018. Vehicle sales have been down for years, which led to layoffs in the auto industry. It had nothing to do with tariffs. If the economy were truly doing well, tariffs would cause some inflation but virtually nothing else. So tariffs are not helping but they are nothing but an excuse.

What is the goal? To understand what the goal is, one need do nothing more than look back to 2008/2009. How did Obama deal with the recession? He bailed out the auto industry and the big banks using taxpayer money. That’s what Wall Street is counting on again. They got their tax break, interest can’t go much lower than it is now. Republican and Democratic administrations deal with economic recessions differently. Republicans cut taxes on the rich, using trickle-down economics as a rationale in spite of two decades of Reaganomics proving it false. Democrats bail out the same entities who got the tax breaks. Republicans are also likely to reduce social support programs, while Democrats increase spending on those programs. So the goal is to repeat this process. Allow or even force the crash to occur, then expect to be bailed out. You pay, they collect.

No social spending increase would be enough. In distant history, the increases in social support by Democrats was much greater than in recent years. By 2021, any increase would have to be truly massive if it had any chance of recovering the economy. No increases in social support spending which will be suggested at this point and by the current parties will be sufficient to recover from where we are heading this minute. The national debt is already so high that it would be unrealistic to even expect social spending increases which could have an effective impact.

Wars and past recoveries. There are other factors involved in economic recovery in this capitalist system. Those factors no longer exist nor can they exist. Past recoveries from major economic downturns were coupled with major wars. Those wars allowed for the forced expansion of US markets into other countries. There are no more countries for the US to expand into any more. It doesn’t matter what we manufacture when there is no market for the goods produced. It will not be possible to destroy the manufacturing capacity of China, Russia, India, Mexico and other countries without doing so much damage as to make the planet uninhabitable. So they will remain competitors on global trade. Threats against allies no longer work, as those allies each benefit from global trade and the lower prices brought by competition.

Automation. Increasing production capacity no longer means creating jobs when too much of the work is done by robots and automated systems. I’ve written about automation many times but the concept is simple. Automation does not create jobs, it eliminates jobs. That’s the whole point of automation. It reduces cost of production by the process of eliminating incomes, so fewer people can afford even the lower prices. Past technological advances nearly all created or were incorporated in the creation and expansion of new industries. In the past 20 years or more, what we have witnessed is the automation of existing industries. There have not been any actual new industries since the dawn of the internet and social media.

Major miscalculation. Other than being bailed out, there cannot be any goal in the revelation that the economy is declining. Ultimately, the rationale involved is the concentration of wealth into even fewer hands than what we see now. However, what they are not taking into account is the actual collapse of the economy. This is something we can see coming under current conditions. The decline of the economy is not just national, it is global. Reduction in income have led to reductions in consumer spending (retail decline) in nearly every country. That results in decreased production, which means reduced freight. Reduced income and spending means less taxation. At every level more jobs are lost.

Decades in the making. Right now we cannot prevent what is coming. It has been decades in the making. When it finally does happen it will appear to be sudden but anyone who has paid attention has been able to see it coming for at least the last decade. Not only is it eminent, it is intentional, hence the gradual concentration of wealth and reduction of rights. Both major parties are complicit while blaming one another. Keep in mind it was a Democratic majority under Obama that bailed out the banks, indicted not one person, enacted a corporate welfare program for health insurance and made the GWB tax cuts for the rich permanent. Both sides increase “defense” spending every year. Both sides approved the Trump tax cut for the rich. Both sides voted to suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021. Republicans cut social spending, Democrats restore a fraction of that spending, moving ever further to the right. One step forward, three steps back in a continual dance theater performance.

What they do not count on. While the rich are counting on the concentration of wealth, what they do not take into account is the ultimate response. We have seen revolutions in world history where the oppressed masses rose up to seize the accumulated wealth of the elite. This is becoming a very real scenario under the circumstances forming right now. They may have the idea of creating a global modern form of feudal system, which is what exists to a degree right now.

However, even as we bemoan educational standards, we now live in a world with the highest level of education in world history. We also have the best communications in world history. That combination of factors make today far different than any time in the past where large masses were oppressed. We, the people, have more advantages in our capacity to fight back than at any point in history. We don’t need violence and that would be counter-productive. We can turn off corporate media completely. We can call and write elected officials and media, tell them they do not represent our views. Boycott support for candidates who take corporate money. We can pull money out of corporate investments and buy precious metals.

Most of all, we can talk to each other. Stop attacking one another and instead talk about issues. Leave names out of the discussion unless it involves policies. Stop closing our eyes, ears and minds to the flaws in candidates. Stop making excuses. Stop voting AGAINST and know what we vote FOR. Our unity is what is feared most by the oligarchy.

Capitalist Challenge

Capitalists and capitalist wannabe puppets (who own no capital yet support the agenda of the ultra-rich) are fond of claiming that Socialism has never worked. Of course, they leave out the trade sanctions and militaristic threats or outright military destruction imposed by capitalistic countries (mostly the US) on Socialist countries.

Be that as it may, here is a challenge for anyone who supports any level of Socialism to present to said capitalists:

Ask them to name one single country in all of world history in which capitalism has worked for all citizens. That has to include high wages, low taxes, affordable healthcare, no crushing poverty, no slavery, little to no homelessness, no debtors prisons, no wars for profits, protection of the environment, worker safety laws, consumer protection laws, high rate of home ownership and freedom of the independent press with no censorship.

Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a country. It can be a city.

What you can consistently expect is going to be diversion. They will try to redefine the question, the challenge, even the definition of capitalism. They will try to throw around terms like “free market”, which they will refuse to actually define. Yes, I fully expect responses which will focus on that last sentence and ignore the challenge. Just wait for it. They will try and claim capitalism is about small business, yet not explain how limits are imposed on business growth without Socialist-leaning policies.

The reason they do this is because capitalism has never worked for the population. It does not work for the general population now. It will never work because it cannot work. It is not designed to work for the general population.

The entire design of capitalism is intended to work only by force, subjugation, oppression, propaganda, brainwashing, poor education and legal control of all resources available to a society.

In the most prosperous years in the history of this country, we had controls and limits on capitalism. We had price controls on certain necessities. The subsidies we have in place right now are relics of Socialist-leaning policies meant to help the middle class and poor. Such as subsidies on fossil fuels, coal, milk and corn. The original intent was to protect society. Over time, the subsidies grew ever larger while profit caps were removed. Thus today we will hear capitalists rage against profit caps and price controls while they never mention subsidies.

During the same prosperous years, taxes on the rich were the highest they have been in US history.

Yet that prosperity did not reach all our citizens by any means. Many lived in abject poverty, often with no plumbing or electricity.

Some reading this may recall or have heard of “urban blight” from the late 60’s through the 70’s. Yet few recall what brought that blight into being. Give you one guess. It was capitalism. Elitism. Gentrification which drove up rents and property values. Racism played a heavy hand. This was topped off by the reduction of taxes on the rich. This resulted in insufficient resources to maintain public transportation and infrastructure. As desegregation spread, the affluent white moved away from city centers to the suburbs, often taking their retail and possibly manufacturing businesses with them. There was often little to no public transportation to these areas, so the living wage jobs they offered were typically off limits to the poorest in society. What remained in city centers were vacant, decaying business locations with high rent, so if less affluent businesses with less affluent customers moved in, the conditions were poor and crime escalated.

This was not a new pattern. Look at the history of slums across major cities in the US. Nearly all slum sections of major cities were once wealthy, thriving middle class white neighborhoods. Harlem is a good example, should you care to look into the history. Yes, Harlem was a white neighborhood before it later was largely segregated. Today in some areas we are seeing these areas renovated. Though that is not typically good. The renovations lead to gentrification, bringing back high rents and property costs by equity owners seeking to make fast, easy, often unrealistic profits. Thus we have the poor who cannot afford the increased rents and taxes forced out. Sometimes with no place to go. If employment is in these areas, we now have people sleeping in cars and tent cities to have access to their jobs because they cannot afford the rent.

This is all a capitalist cycle we will keep repeating until we put an end to it. No capitalist can ever explain how paying profits and reducing profits for the rich is better than what Socialist-leaning policies offer. Capitalists always claim the higher taxes, price controls, higher wages and any limits at all will destroy the economy. The opposite has been proven true every single time, with no exception.

So, when you encounter a “capitalist”, go back to the challenge above and issue that challenge to them. Accept no diversions, no excuses. If they try it, drag them kicking and screaming back to the subject. Once they predictably resort to personal insults, walk away. You’ve already won that debate. No need to continue the discussion further.

Echo Chamber?

On social media, I am now breaking ties with some people. Some of these are people I have “known” for years. Online, of course. I have cheered for them, been cheered on by them, encouraged and been encouraged by, felt badly and congratulated one another.

However, there can come a time that one has to part ways with toxic and damaging people. That is true online and in real life. Ever broken from a toxic relationship? An abusive relationship? Abuse does not have to be physical or overt, it can mean a manipulative relationship where the other person tries to shame you, use false information or gather a group to oppose you. The goal is not to convince you but to exhaust you, wear you down, leave you with no strength to raise your own voice, leave you with no pride or self respect and ultimately surrender to their will.

The need to separate myself from toxic relationships becomes even more true in my own case. For one thing, like I recently wrote, the influence of certain cultists and extremists has led to extreme stress, resulting in chronic anxiety. Personally, this is harmful to me, seeing that I have ulcerative colitis, making stress my worst enemy (after specific foods and medicines).

On a larger scale, the same people are harmful to all of us. These are the people who do more harm than good. They are unwilling to part from their own echo chambers, prejudices, preexisting biases, the dictates of others thinking for them from religion to political party elitists to corporate “reporting” and corporate-friendly “fact checkers”.

Interestingly, these are the same people who will accuse you and I of retreating to our own echo chambers when we are ultimately forced to ignore their voices as they insist that you must be part of their cults or you are not informed. You can strictly oppose parties, religions, all forms of elitism, promote the demand for answers to reasonable questions, offer all forms of evidence available and adamantly defend equality across all boundaries. Yet if you do not believe (worship) as they do, you are not a “true believer” and must be shamed, attacked, invalidated and ultimately sacrificed on their altar.

Sorry, folks. I refuse to be your martyr, sacrifice or tied to your whipping post. You will never break me.

I have made clear what it would take to “recruit” me. Chief among the criteria is opposing war and corporate influence in all forms. These in addition to religion are the greatest influences we face in the fight for social progress. Anyone who does not oppose these first and foremost is offering only platitudes, bandages on gaping wounds, promises they cannot deliver. Those bandages are not progress, they are roughly the same as donating to a food bank rather than fixing the source of widespread hunger.

If we want true progress, we have to address the root causes of our problems. Those who sow dissent and use ad hominem, swallowed and regurgitated advertising tropes do nothing to solve actual problems.

So, fine. I have gone through the weeding out and expulsion of Fauxgressives from my friends lists on numerous occasions. Guess it’s time for another round of it. Some people, especially writers, try and gain large followings and boosted numbers. I don’t do that. In real life, I have always kept a small social circle of those whom I trusted. Online I’m the same way. I’d rather have a list of people whom I trust, respect and can converse with rationally, as opposed to some impressive digits next to my name representing strangers I don’t know and who show no respect to me or anyone they cannot recruit to their cult.

Call it an echo chamber. I prefer an echo chamber with many voices, all working toward permanent solutions. Real voices with no auto-tune. I can always hope those voices form a choir open to an ever-expanding list of voluntary members until the chamber must be expanded and ultimately outgrow any structure. All languages, ages and genders singing the same song. A song of healing, of strength, of trust, of sharing, of caring, of sorrow for the past, of hope and plans for the future.

Chronic Anxiety

In many ways, I think it should be obvious that I put every effort into being brave, even objective. I place a lot of effort into examining and researching the topics I cover here. Many of my articles are the final result of prior drafts, revisions, fact checking. Yet still presented in an accessible form that almost anyone can understand.

I know that in some cases where I try to be objective, I come across as far more biased. That’s because I must continually confront blatant, mindless, brainwashed bias. As I have said many times, the cult mindset. I never hide the fact that I am a Progressive, yet find being such to be the most objective and truthful way to be. After all, in many cases it involves standing for policies which do not benefit me directly. Though I try and express how issues which may not seem to affect us always do in some ways.

I have explained how universal healthcare benefits the economy, while our current system damages the entire economy. I have done the same with “free” college and capital gains. I could go on but that’s a short list of examples. In all, I show how capitalism and elitism consistently do more damage than good to our society.

It may not appear to some that I have researched subjects for the fact that I generally intentionally omit sources. I have said since early on in this blog that this is on purpose. When providing sources, I have watched too many other writers spend more time defending sources or comments which divert to attack the source material. I leave it to the reader to do their own research. I will continue moving forward.

Where my own research comes in, sometimes it is also difficult to name my sources because I have studied (formally and informally) numerous subjects for at least 30 years. Economics, marketing, psychology, government, business. On top of being a nurse in my 25th year. When writers name specific sources, it often means they are regurgitating material which is not their own. We see reports of reports of reports based on opinions. My content is nearly all original. So, my source is myself based on years of observation. I give plenty of methods where the reader can observe and verify the accuracy of those observations.

To the same end, I also frame many things in the form of questions. Thus encouraging readers to think for themselves, realize what questions they have not been asking. Realize what questions too few people have been asking, no matter how obvious the questions should be. How this is most horribly true with corporate media. For a good example of how I frame issues as questions, see my recent piece on gun rights, hereThe “sources” who always object to you asking questions are the very sources who should always be questioned most. The “sources” who claim to be above questioning are the sources who should be silenced entirely. The “sources” who claim you are not allowed to see/hear evidence or cannot explain their own positions in their own words should be shamed into silencing themselves.

With all the conflict going on, all the fake news, all the propaganda, all the obvious questions never voiced, all the effort of taking complex subjects and explaining them in simple terms, many times this kind of writing becomes stressful. Toss in being a prison nurse, a father with shared custody of my teenage daughter, being single while in an exclusive relationship while maintaining my mundane life.

Of late, my biggest stress tends to be coming not from the right but from the center-left, the Fauxgressives content with platitudes of universal healthcare while ignoring the risk of war with a nuclear power. not concerned in the least with sanctions killing tens of thousands in other countries thanks to their economic structure. Not giving a damn that the goal is selling off Venezuela’s resources to the highest corporate bidder in the US. Willing to completely forget being themselves called “Russian trolls” by their anointed godhead. I have not forgotten, never will forget and have been waiting for a nonexistent apology for 2 1/2 years now.Completely willing to ignore election fraud by the DNC and what that means, while still insisting this to be a “democracy”. Thinking one person or small group of people asking for their hard-earned money is a substitute for completely eliminating corporate money from our electoral and legislative systems. The best these cultists can offer is “nobody’s perfect” or asking what cult I follow.

Fuck every damn one of you, I follow the cult of rational, critical thought, holding elected officials to account and not bowing down to your cult which is buried within another cult and all of you together are willing to sacrifice the entire planet for your own greed.

That is where it all comes together. You criticize other parties, other candidates for their greed and warmongering, while you seek your own gains and ignore millions of deaths, blindly deny the very real risk of complete obliteration of the planet, just as long as you get your piece of the pie. You behave with arrogance and petulance and outright hatred of anyone who refuses to join your cult.

Go ahead, slap each other on the backs and revel in your empty, meaningless, mindless, gutless, heartless insults. Tell yourselves you are somehow different from the very ones you claim to oppose. Greed and arrogance are greed and arrogance, no matter how you look at it. How do you really think you are different from warmongers when you are willing to ignore that your god is promoting the same wars? How do you think you are different from other cults when you make excuses, close your eyes and chant endlessly in hopes of drowning out the cries of reason? How do you think you oppose capitalists when your god walks in their path, himself worshiping at their feet in their temples and congregations?

Yes, thanks to the Fauxgressives who worship themselves, I now have chronic anxiety. Trump, our government in general, our intelligence agencies, MSM, gun nuts and bigots cause me enough stress. I only gain some hope from discussion and camaraderie with those who can see clearly, think rationally, question the narrative and stand independently.

You who worship false gods do none of that. You do not offer hope but diminish hope, strip it away and continue the same cycle which has demoralized this country. You literally worship yourselves.

Hate me. Unfollow me. Ignore me. Attack me. I refuse to drink the blood of the innocent from your chalice. I refuse to willfully pave my streets with the bodies of children in other countries. I will always stand by my values, no matter how you sell your souls for a false pittance.

This is the last chance, make no mistake about it. There are no more chances for incremental “progress”, for party loyalty, false narratives, sheep herding candidates, nationalism, cheering or ignoring wars, blaming “the other”.

I am your “other” and I am not going away or joining you. You will not destroy me or beat me down. You are too weak an adversary and you know your weakness. You can join ME and actually move left or you can stay in the middle and claim it is left. This anxiety discomforts me but will never break me. It takes nothing to break the followers of false gods because you are already broken, shattered, scattered pieces propping each other up.

Epstein Case Highlights Widespread Issue

I am going to state up front that I believe Jeffrey Epstein was murdered. There are now reports of yelling coming from his jail cell just before his time of death. He had too much dirt on too many powerful people.

However, I expect as much truth to be revealed on this as I expect the truth to be revealed in Seth Rich’s murder. It is very possible the same people at some level were involved in both deaths.

Be all that as it may, this highlights a widespread problem in our jail and prison system. The inadequate access to mental health care in our incarceration facilities and inadequate quality of care in those facilities.

In 2016, there were 372 suicides in local jails across the US. In 2014 there were 4371 reported suicides in state and federal prisons. Those are only the successful suicides, not the number of attempts.

Keep in mind that most of these people who took their own lives were not rich, were not famous and did not have access to the kind of legal representation that Epstein had.

We know Epstein was guilty and flaunted it. “Lolita Express” was not some nickname ascribed to his jet by the media, it is the ACTUAL name which HE had painted on his private jet. He even kept the name on the jet after suspicions and legal charges arose. Any innocent human being would have asked themselves what such a name looked like in the first place and definitely removed it in the face of such criminal charges.

That said, being incarcerated is a highly stressful, life-altering, life destroying event for many. This is even more true for those who are incarcerated while innocent yet see no way they will be exonerated. Others fear the violence in jail and prison. Still more are subjected to rape and torture. Most incarcerated long term lose everything, their jobs, careers, professional licenses, homes, vehicles, savings, spouses and children. Just the very realistic threat of such loss can drive those prone to depression (like many arrested for drug use) over the edge into suicide.

As a prison nurse myself, I ca attest that we have inmates on suicide watch on a daily basis. Some are trying to avoid debts they owe and cannot pay to other inmates. For good reason because the threats they face are very real. Others are genuinely suicidal. The reason doesn’t matter. I have had inmates who said they would rather take their own lives than have someone else kill them. There are gang wars and race wars in jails and prisons.

Yes, there are dirty officers who bring drugs into the prisons and are part and parcel of the violent conditions. They won’t get their hands dirty, they pay someone else to do the dirty work and then turn their back for a few minutes. All it takes to be a target is saying the wrong word to one of these officers, being “disrespectful” and your life is over. Who does an inmate tell but another officer. who may be in league with the one reported? Did you think this was all drama on TV and movies?

I agree, some people belong in prison. I deal with them face to face, so it’s not some abstract concept to me. Others not so much. Do non-violent offenders incarcerated for drug possession deserve to be in such conditions? What if the person is not even guilty? We see reports continuously of police planting evidence on innocent people.

No matter whether a person is incarcerated for justifiable reasons or not, what does it say about our system, our society when those facing emotional crises are not kept safe? When someone is supposed to be on suicide watch yet not watched? When counseling consists of a few seconds of questions a day by an apathetic worker who doesn’t want to be bothered? Could you merely accept these conditions if it were someone in your family?

Even the conditions for inmates on suicide watch, while rational and necessary, are highly undignified. All their clothes and shoes are taken away. They are given a padded smock and a bare mattress and placed in an isolation cell with concrete walls and floor which can sometimes be very cold. Isolation. Just what you need when you feel emotionally isolated.

What does it take to be removed from suicide watch? Just say you are no longer suicidal. Seriously, that’s it. Many inmates commit suicide immediately after being removed from suicide watch.

I suspect the actual suicide rate to be much higher than reported. The most common methods for an official suicide pronouncement is wrist cutting or hanging. Others may obtain drugs and intentionally overdose. Others may start a fight which they intend to lose with the most violent inmate. These are not reported as suicides.

Our prisons have been overrun with people with chronic mental illness increasingly for decades. Meanwhile, mental illness is on the rise due to the general conditions in our society. Treatment is poor and focuses on prescribing pills with little therapy, if any. That’s not only true for inmates but as a whole. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide has been on the rise for years. In 2017 (last reported year), there were 1.5 million suicide attempts and 47,173 suicides. Suicides cost the US an estimated $69 billion. Yet that is only direct cost which does not include the human cost on those left behind, years of therapy for survivors, etc.

You can have your conspiracy theories about Epstein’s death and I will agree with some of them. I have my suspicions. Even if he did commit suicide, in the process he victimized his victims even more by denying them the chance to confront him.

Otherwise, we need to use this as an issue to raise awareness of the very real problems we have in our society. With how our citizens, including our inmates are treated when faced with depression. Whether you like it or not, inmates are members of our society. We would likely have fewer inmates if we lived in a society that cared more about each other than the “cost” of caring. In other words, not caring costs us far more than caring would.

As a final note, I will state that this is not an abstract issue for me. I attempted suicide three times when I was young. They were very real attempts, not attention seeking stunts. Somehow they failed and I was lucky, though did not feel that way at the time. Karma? Fate? Fucked up body chemistry? Who knows? Personally, I am no longer at risk. I could have easily become a prison inmate, considering my upbringing. In which case, I would not be writing this. I would not be a nurse, my daughter would not have been born, I would not have saved the thousands of lives I have saved. Each life has potential value in some way. We need to recognize this.

There Is A Massive Difference Between Populism and Rationality

Right now in America we have people claiming to be political supporters, radicals, dissidents, activists, revolutionaries and patriots.

One one side we have so-called patriots who think that their rights are being taken away if they’re not allowed to personally own a Vulcan large bore, 6 barrel, 6600 round per minute machine cannon. Meanwhile they are perfectly fine with allowing corporations to think for them and determine what rights they do or do not have. Tune in to Fox News.

On another side, we have neoliberals who support the DNC manipulating and rigging elections. Also allowing corporations to determine their rights and think for them. Just tune in to Rachel Maddow and the corporate heads at MSNBC or CNN.

Then we have Libertarians and MMT cultists, who want to hand the entire economy, environment, healthcare and wages to capitalists.

Then there are the Communists who want all wealth seized and redistributed. No need to study or understand basic psychology and human motivation.

The one thing all groups agree on is that our government is not representing our interests. What is bad is that these groups have been driven to despise one another so much that they refuse to talk to each other. They have been conditioned to respond to any attempts at civil discourse with extremism, offense and aggression. All think they represent this country and anyone outside of their exact mindset is “the enemy”.

This is what causes me the most emotional distress. Some people try and portray me as or accuse me of being an extremist. Why? Because I refuse to join an extremist cult or follow any candidate/group blindly. Because I always promote the concept of paying attention to policies. Because I listen and illustrate not just what is being stated but what is not being stated. I ask questions and demand answers.

What is popularly called centrism is not centrist. Being pro-corporate, pro-war, pro-WAR Street, pro-party, pro-hate-Trump, pro-Trump is not centrism. Every one of these attitudes are extremist.

The very term centrist means being in the middle. It means striving for balance. It means being against war while agreeing defending our own country is necessary, defending corporate profits at the cost of human lives is not necessary or desirable. It means being in favor of capitalism while imposing strict controls on capitalism. It means allowing the rich to be rich but not so much that they destabilize the entire global and national economic balance. It means being in favor of election reform so that our governmental structure represents the people of this country and should not be in any way attached to the bribery of the most privileged. It means knowing our service members should be respected, not worshiped. The same is true of our police. It means knowing our media should be forced to equally represent opposing views and opinions are not news.

Our entire government and media have devolved into partisan bickering and attacks with no discussion on the merits of policy. Political ethics, if there were such a thing in this country, would demand that to be the focus of all political discourse. Any and every elected official should be sanctioned for name-calling, personal attacks or intentional partisan division.

This tends to be the entire goal of my writing. To discuss the pros and cons of policies and attitudes. To explain where things are damaging, what the damages are, what options are better choices and detailing exactly why.

We cannot continuously be cheer leaders for populism. Just because a given candidate is popular or has one or two policies you approve of does not mean you should be ignorant or dismissive of the dangers their other policies pose. There is far too much of this going around.

This is how we got where we are right now. By Americans reacting emotionally with no critical thought. Many people voted for Trump not because they supported Trump but because they opposed Clinton. In most cases on both sides, the candidates had no definitive policies that supporters approved of, in some cases their supporters did not even know what the policy proposals the the candidate were. Now we are headed into 2020 and many are either blindly supporting Trump because of his false and ludicrous claims or supporting certain opposition because of an emotional claim that, “We have to beat Trump”.

That’s not good enough.

No matter how much you tell yourself that that is good enough, it’s NOT good enough.

Simply getting rid of Trump as a singular goal means running the risk of winding up with far worse than we have now. It is mandatory that we move leftward on policies starting immediately if we want effective change.

It is mandatory that you know what you are voting FOR, not just against.

It is mandatory that you are not assuming that a candidate represents your values. They must actually state that they will work toward peace and explain precisely how they will do so. Universal healthcare will count for nothing if we wind up in nuclear war. Guaranteed jobs means nothing if there are no jobs. Increasing wages means nothing if the economy collapses and inflation runs double and triple digits.

I really do not care how popular your chosen candidate is. Joel Osteen is popular. NFL football is popular. Professional wrestling is popular. Trailer park wives of whatever are popular. The Kardashians are popular. Popularity doesn’t mean anything at all. If candidates only speak about domestic economic issues, that’s not enough. They HAVE to address international relations in terms which do not include bullets, bombs, sanctions and threats. We will NEVER have prosperity without peace. They HAVE to address election integrity and methods of permanently removing corporate money from politics. Peace and election integrity cannot be vague, meaningless talking points. They cannot be assumptions you make. Incremental change is not an option.

You know what the truth is. Stop denying it. Stop making excuses.

Decline of The US As The Leading Economic Superpower

For over a year economists have been discussing the fact that China has emerged as the largest global consumer market.

Meanwhile the US has claimed jobs and income growth, which has been demonstrably proven false. It is not possible to have expansion of jobs and income while concurrently having mass layoffs and retail closures. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Some have pointed to the stock market numbers as indications of economic health. I’ve covered many times how the stock market is an inverse indicator of the general economy at worst or completely unrelated at best.

Now new numbers are telling more of an advancing tale of the decline of the US market. Perhaps this will be enough for more people to awaken to the truth.

In the most recent Global Fortune 500 list, the US is headquarters to 121 of the most profitable companies. China is headquarters to 129 of the most profitable companies. 20 years ago, in 1999, China was headquarters to 8.

In the global list of the largest banks, 3 are headquartered in the US. China is headquarters to 4. There are one each in Japan, the UK and France. JP Morgan Chase is the highest on the list of American banks and it comes in at number 6. The Chinese banks occupy spots numbers 1,2,3 and 5. This has remained unchanged for several years, even as US media makes claims that China’s economy is declining and US economy is growing.

In the last few months, cryptocurrency has seen a resurgence with Bitcoin as of this writing valued at $11, 834 and precious metals are increasing in value with gold spot price now $1499 per oz, while bonds have shown an inverted yield curve, with short term bonds having more return value than long term bonds.

At the last meeting of the Federal Reserve board, the interest rate was decreased by 0.25% to between 2% and 2.25%. This is unprecedented, as the only time to interest rate has ever declined has been when the economy was showing signs of recession and the interest rate was decreased to encourage spending to spark growth. If our economy is doing so well, why do we need to decrease the interest rate, which is already extremely low? That leaves virtually no buffer for safety if we enter an officially recognized recession/depression.

Of course, those of us paying attention know the US has remained in a recession since the 2008 crash. Yes, it was a crash. Not a “crisis”, not a small event, a crash.

Yet the China trade war still has major implications.

Last year, China temporarily halted purchases of soy from the US, leading to Trump announcing a bailout of mostly corporate farmers to the tune of $16 billion. As of this week, China responded to increased tariffs on Chinese goods with a complete ban on agricultural purchases from the US.

Trump’s response? Threatening even more tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as an additional 15% on top of the recent 10% tariffs.

Last year, China temporarily stopped buying oil from the US. They began buying oil again in February this year but at much lower amounts, less than 50% of their previous purchases. China is likely to respond to this recent threat with banning all oil purchases from the US for good.

Many alleged economic “experts” say the loss of sales to China is basically no big deal and the US will gain additional revenue by selling to Europe. They do not explain where any “additional” sales are going to magically appear from. I haven’t heard of Europe having a sudden increase in their desire for soybeans.

Many countries are banning the import of many US agricultural products because of concerns regarding GMO’s and glyphosate, declared a likely carcinogen by the World Health Organization. The “experts” too often fail to mention these concerns or the fact that the US State Dept has literally tried to sue other nations to force them to accept sales of our produce in contradiction to the will of their own people, who demanded the bans. Alternative agricultural producing countries have primarily already turned away from GMO’s and glyphosate, meaning they are more likely to buy and sell from each other than from the US at this point. Even a large percentage of Americans have objections to the same things.

As of this past week, Trump announced another bailout of farmers to the tune of $28 billion. Combined with the $16 billion already mentioned, that adds up to $44 billion, which comes to a cost of $130 each for every man, woman and child in this country. Plus he has promised he will bail the farmers out again next year if necessary. Of course, the major recipients of these bailouts are corporate farm owners and investors.

Trade deals, especially with such contentious issues as China is facing with the US at this moment, once China establishes trade agreements with other countries, they will not easily be swayed to change those agreements back to the US. They are in the process of negotiating new trade agreements with other countries right now. Which means future sales may be lost indefinitely.

No matter how we look at it, the US cannot force other countries to buy from us. This is even more true when we try and force our sales onto other nations at the point of a gun, literally or figuratively. We cannot sue other nations into submission. Other nations see the fact that we are threatening all of them. The likely outcome is that they will form alliances in opposition to our government. That risk increases when considering that we have a trade deficit with most of the countries we trade with. It increases more when those countries view our massive national debt which has only increased every year for 18 years now and the suspension of the debt ceiling. All those nations are acutely aware that we do not have the resources to pay off that debt.

The road to where this nation is at this moment began decades before Trump. He did not cause all of it but is definitely making it worse. Of course, Trump was merely a logical progression of what came before him with each successive administration since Reagan, at the very least. The flow of wealth to the top is now about to capsize this country. The Panama Papers. Tax cuts for the rich while our own citizens suffer. Collapsing infrastructure, rising “defense” costs.

In terms of international relations, we have been following the same path for well over 100 years. Trade agreements under threats, regime change, the fiat petrodollar, American “investors” who then try to rule over other countries.

We are now in the precise circumstances where all empires in history have fallen. Only on a larger scale.