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.

The Real Cost of Gas and Oil

Americans think when they fill up their gas tank that the price displayed on the pump is what they are paying. Many of these people also think they hate Socialism. Yet when they fill up their tank, they are benefiting from what comes down to Socialism.

Oil companies receive direct government subsidies from the federal government of roughly $38 billion a year. However, that’s not nearly all they get from the taxpayer.

Some oil companies have government contracts, federal, state and/or local. Some of those contracts are with the US military, the singular entity which uses more oil than any other entity on earth. More than all of Europe, the UK and all South American military organizations combined. You pay for that.

In many cases, oil tankers have military escorts for their security, whether the tanker is coming in or leaving. We have military vessels in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, providing security for tankers that are not American owned, not delivering anything to or from America. You pay for that.

If a US oil company has a major spill or explosion anywhere in the world, our government pays for 90% of the cleanup. In fact, it does not have to be a US company. Remember BP with the largest oil spill in history? The fine levied on them paid for maybe 10% of the cleanup cost, the US government funded the rest. You pay for that.

When an oil company had a standoff with the Water Protectors over the DAPL using militarized police, you paid for that. Each time police respond to any protest against corporate interests of any kind, you pay for that.

When the government hands money to oil companies which the nation goes further in debt for, including the interest on national debt, you pay for that.

When our government spends trillions bombing other countries for decades for the sake of seizing that country’s resources, you pay for that.

Both major parties approved a tax cut for corporations, which they used to buy back their own stock. That’s still happening. You pay for that.

The thing to keep in mind is that oil subsidies are absolutely a form of Socialism. We all pay for the subsidies, even if a person does not drive or lives off the grid. In other words, they are not buying gas and oil yet they are paying for you to pay less at the pump. Which makes you a Socialist.

You subsidize low gas and oil prices for corporate fleets. You pay subsidies in the form of higher taxes on every dollar you earn, even if you get nothing in return. This helps corporations state higher profits and boost their stock prices. Rich investors and CEO’s get subsidies for their stock values and dividends. You pay for that.

No matter how you view it, this is welfare and Socialism for corporations and the rich. You insure the continued profits for them, no matter what the economy looks like, no matter how many workers they lay off. Capitalism for you, Socialism for them.

Add all the above to how much you pay at the pump and ask yourself how much you are really paying. What is the real price of that gallon of gas? You have no idea and neither do I. Nobody does because it cannot truly be calculated.

Even if you think climate change is not real, how is renewable energy looking now?

True Low Unemployment Would Mean Things We Are NOT Seeing

Corporate media is fond of saying that unemployment is low, which would mean employment is up. I have previously covered the Labor Participation Rate, the Bloomberg report calculating that 600,000 jobs have been lost just since December, unreported and that report came out several months ago. However, even that isn’t necessary because the evidence that employment is as high as claimed does not add up with what we see all around us.

For one thing, if employment were truly up, we would not be having the discussion about immigration at all. We have seen incidents in the past when employment was high. At that time, the US was welcoming immigrants with open arms. Compare to what we see occurring right this minute.

Deporting large numbers of immigrants may have some impact on employment but barely enough to budge percentages or numbers. Consider that the estimate was that there were 11 million illegal immigrants in the US. Not all of those were in any condition or age to be employed. Many are children, as we can clearly see from the children being caged at the border this very minute. Others have been here for years and are too elderly to work. Still more are disabled in some way.

Thus, we can consider that possibly 3 million may have possibly been employed and most of those have worked in low-wage agricultural or similar jobs. In cases where they have occupied jobs with higher pay and skills, deporting them does more damage than good to the economy, as many corporations have moved jobs to South American countries. Those are the DREAMERS, who have gained education and skills which many natives lack. In other words, not only are the immigrants being deported but the jobs they occupied are being deported as well.

Even without the above, if employment was as high as claimed, immigrants would be welcomed to occupy lower levels of employment, allowing more skilled Americans to fill higher positions.

Next, consider that if employment were up, we would not be seeing other signs of a declining economy which we are seeing. Student loan defaults are at record levels. Vehicle loan defaults have been increasing for several years while new vehicle sales are down, causing mass layoffs in the auto industry. New and used home sales are declining. Consumer credit debt is rising rapidly as consumers are forced to use credit to meet basic needs. While we already have the highest level of consumer and corporate debt in world history.

In times of high employment, pay and benefits increase because employers compete for the best, most qualified workers first and then move down the skill/experience ladder from there. Wages do not remain stagnant at any level.

It is well known we are living in a “gig economy”, with a large percentage of jobs being contract or temporary work. I had written that this was coming in 2001, beginning primarily with medical professionals and then spreading to other fields. That is precisely what happened. However, what has changed over time has been a decline in pay and benefits for such positions as they became more common across industries. In fact, that is why it has become more common. Temporary and contract workers were once used to fill positions which were short-staffed and as a result, pay and benefits were above average. They typically led to offers of permanent employment for good workers. Today, these positions are used to avoid the need to hire full time staff. Workers are offered part time and contract positions or nothing at all, while they rarely lead to offers of permanent employment. This does not happen in times of high employment because employers are anxious about being stranded with inadequate staffing. In fact, they would be offering nearly unlimited hours to the best temp/contract workers who have already shown their value.

In times of truly high employment, one can see an initial anomalous dip in the stock market as employment rises due to wages being seen as a cost. Then stocks increase as profit margins rise due to consumer spending due to the employment and wage levels.

Right now we see prices rising in comparison to wages. In times of high employment, prices rise but only secondary to higher wages and employment. Yes, tariffs are playing into inflation but there has not been a time that prices have decreased at any time since the 2008 crash. In fact, rent in general has continued rising unabated since that time.

In times of high employment, employers will eagerly subsidize or even pay for higher education for valuable employees wishing to advance. Today, companies are mandating continued education at employee expense, with or without advancement. Note that some may use the example that employers once paid for travel and attendance to conferences and this has become less common. I find this not anything abnormal with technology advancements which have resulted in video conferencing becoming far more common gradually over time, reducing the need for travel.

When employment is high, increased wages and benefits result in a decrease in out of pocket costs for workers. That leads to increased consumer spending. Increased consumer spending results in a further cycle, maintaining and creating more jobs. Right now we are seeing reduced consumer spending outside of absolute essentials. Tariffs would have some effect to slow the volume of goods being sold but would not by itself result in a depressed consumer market resulting in mass layoffs and loan defaults.

Obviously, capitalists will be capitalists and rent prices will continue rising, as we have seen in this battered economy. That leaves even less disposable income for consumers to spend.

These conditions are only going to get worse due to Trump’s trade war with China. No matter how much he gives farmers in subsidies at our expense, that does nothing for downstream jobs in trucking, packaging and shipping. Tariffs are a tax on the American people which slow consumer spending by volume purchased. When consumers have a limited budget, that budget does not increase because prices do, meaning they spend the same but obtain less. The tariffs do not mean more profit for retailers, so they see reduced sales volume. Less sales volume means less requirement for labor. That means more layoffs but will be less immediately evident because it will not be mass layoffs and instead be widespread and gradual reduction in staff. Then more downstream reductions in trucking, shipping, manufacturing and so on.

When corporate media is telling you anything about how well the economy and job markets are doing (among other things), it is highly advisable to question it very critically.

Fed Announces Rate Cut, Stock Market Tanks

This week the Federal Reserve announced a reduction in the interest rate of 0.25%, bringing it down to between 2.0 and 2.25%. Concurrent with the rate cut, the DOW declined by 736 points in 4 days. This came after a milder decline the previous week.

Typically, a reduction in the interest rate is coupled with a rise in the stock market. Why is it different this time?

Some are pointing to Trump’s announcement of additional tariffs on Chinese goods. However, that announcement was made the day after the rate reduction. The day of the announcement was the same day that saw the largest decline in the market.

The two factors that influenced the decline were: 1- The reduction was not nearly as much as many investors had desired. 2- The announcement of the reduction was accompanied by a statement by the Fed chairman that this will NOT be the beginning of a series of reductions.

Granted, he did not state unequivocally that there will not be any future reductions, he just made clear that this is not the plan at this time.

Basically this announcement means, that while interest rates remain extremely low, the era of free money is over. Large investors and corporations have been forcing an artificial high in the stock market for years now and had hoped to continue that trend. They had even hoped interest rates would reach negative territory, as has happened in some other countries. Which would literally mean they could get paid to borrow money. (Yes, for real.) Even as they used the money they borrowed to buy back stocks, forcing stocks to go even higher, making even more personal profits.

The whole problem with this is something I have noted before. It doesn’t matter if money is borrowed at 0% interest or even with some small negative interest percentage paying them to borrow. A loan is still a loan and must be repaid at some point. Unless.. Unless the entity which borrows that money then declares bankruptcy.

Liquidity for major borrowers has been drying up over time. Companies may state they have a certain level of cash reserves but too often those reserves are held in negative equity. That is, they have more debts than reserves on hand. They use stock values to declare as assets, yet even the most ardent Wall Street economists admit the stock market is tremendously over-valued. The vast majority of stocks aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Many of the companies behind the highest valued stocks produce little or nothing of value.

Behind the scenes and not much reported on are the facts of judgments against and losses by these companies. Netflix has announced that they are losing subscribers, leading to decline in their stock. Apple announced far lower than expected sales, as did Ford Motors. Google has had multiple legal judgments levied against them with massive fines by the EU. Google is currently being investigated by the DOJ for antitrust violations as well.

The craziest part of all is how interdependent most of the FAANG stocks are- Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. Of the five, Netflix is the most independent yet is highly dependent on the content produced by other entertainment companies, with whom they have a love/hate relationship. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple depend heavily on one another for the tracking and selling of data both between them and to third party advertisers. Which means that if one falls, they all suffer in the stock market.

Yet I have pointed out many times that the stock market tends to be a negative image of the real economy. If employment and wages are doing well, stocks literally go down. We have seen this phenomenon several times in the last two years when jobs and wages reports were released. If jobs and wages are up, stocks do down. When employment and wages decline, stocks go up. This is because investors view wages as a cost. Your job is literally a liability to your employer and investors when considering their profit margin and stock value.

There are other issues playing into the stock decline. Like the fact that the Fed also announced that they are reducing their aggregate holdings two months earlier than previously anticipated. This is basically stating that the Fed holds bonds, mortgage backed stocks, precious metals and multiple currencies in reserve. The statement that the Fed will be reducing “aggregate holdings” is a vague, nonspecific statement which leaves more questions than answers. Exactly what holdings will they be reducing? Only time will tell.

The practice of the Federal Reserve is market manipulation of the highest order and should be illegal by any means. In fact, it would be illegal if the Fed were a government agency but it is not. If the US Treasury has holdings of precious metals like the gold (allegedly) in Ft Knox, that is considered a reserve which is for the purpose of backing the value of the currency, which many countries have done since the creation of national currencies and going back further to the Knights Templar. Those reserves belong to the people of the country. With central banks like the Fed, such is not the case as they are corporate enterprises. Keep in mind that Trump and our media viciously attacked China for claims of currency manipulation and industry subsidization. All while the Federal Reserve and our government do the exact same thing both separately and in conjunction with each other.

For many years, the actions of Western central banks and governments have inflated the value of the dollar, Euro and stocks while suppressing the value of precious metals. The creation of currency has continued unabated since 2008 in numerous countries, which should have reduced the value of the currencies. Multiple nations have been buying huge amounts of precious metals, especially gold and silver, most notably by Russia and China. So the value of precious metals should be much higher than they are. This is just beginning to show because the control has slipped beyond their grasp.

Last week, JP Morgan issued a newsletter to their largest investors (those with holdings in excess of $200 million just with JP Morgan, while such investors typically diversify) advising them to divest significant portions of their holdings away from the dollar into foreign, mostly Asian, currencies and into precious metals, mostly gold. So to move away from the dollar means moving away from US stocks.

As other countries and investors move away from the dollar, at some point we will see the effect on the value of the dollar in relation to other currencies, resulting in accelerated inflation.

For the record, I said in June of 2018 that the crash had begun. In truth, I was correct. It has been since then that mass layoffs have been announced, retail closures accelerated beyond anything seen in US history and the consolidation of wealth began the final stages. We are now witnessing the end of that stage, meaning that the illusion can no longer be sustained much longer. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs since then and millions more must work multiple jobs for mere survival.

As the stock market declines, the first to suffer will be smaller investors with retirement accounts like 401k’s. This will be an undeniable event which even corporate media will be hard pressed to explain. I’ll be watching to see what lies they try to tell as it happens. By small investors, I mean those with less than the $200 million minimum mentioned above. You may have $1 million in stocks and think you’re a big investor but you’re not.

I still expect a stair step decline in the stock market, which will be investors trying to extract the final pennies out of stocks before the final crash occurs. Though it will be muted by comparison to what we have seen.

Buckle in and fasten your crash helmets. This is going to get rough.

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The Case For Nationalizing The Military Industrial Complex

I’ve written before that the claim is false that weapons contractors creating jobs is false. Even in the rare instances that there is any truth to it, to maintain those jobs is entirely dependent on the perpetuation of our current wars. To expand and create more jobs would require waging more wars.

Many Americans still hold by the mantra that we have the greatest military on earth. That our military technology is virtually miraculous. In any case, they think our military can defeat any opponent in existence and do so in short order.

The same people are oblivious to the fact that we have been in Afghanistan for 18 years. In Iraq for 16 years. In addition, we are directly bombing, assisting in bombing or selling weapons to other countries who are bombing 5 more countries- Syria, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. We also fund a significant portion of the Israeli attacks on Palestine.

In the cases where we are selling weapons, those sales may pose a profit for military contractors but it comes at a LOSS to US taxpayers. Consider the fact that the US gives $90 billion every single year to other countries. Most of those countries use a portion of that money to buy weapons from US contractors. We also buy oil from Saudi Arabia, providing profits for them to wage war on Yemen and fund terrorists in other countries. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been on record assisting ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Did you realize that when military contractors sell weapons to other countries, those weapons are transported by or under escort of US military ships? The companies and purchasing countries are not billed for this security, YOU are. THIS is a corporate subsidy.

Military contractors spend billions each year on lobbying, campaign “donations” and advertising on corporate media. This alone should be illegal by any account. Their profits come from taxpayer dollars and should never be allowed to be spent to influence opinions of the public or elected officials.

When corporate media has “experts” speaking about international conflicts, over 90% of the time the “experts” and guests have direct ties to military contractors. The result is propaganda and sales pitches by MIC contractors being presented as “news”. Have you noted they do not host diplomats, who would be the logical choice for the subject? When was the last time a corporate media source interviewed Jimmy Carter?

Here is a list of companies you may or may not have known are military contractors- Boeing, Ford, General Dynamics, GM, GE, CAT, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Heinz, Tabasco, Lockheed, McKesson, Humana, United Health Group, Hewlett Packard, Honeywell, Merck, Cardinal Health, Pfizer, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon, Fedex, Valero Energy, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Berkshire Hathaway, Rolls Royce, Express Scripts Holding, Bank of America, Burger King, Coca Cola, Tyson Foods, Walgreens, Citi Bank, the NFL…

Of course, this is a small fraction of the list of military contractors. Is this changing your view yet of all the patriotic and heartwarming “Support Our Troops” advertising?

The point I am making is not that all these companies should be nationalized. Just making the point that they all make significant amounts through government contracts and some portion of those profits funded by taxpayers and government debt are used on advertising. We could go even further by nationalizing any oil processing which is required by the military.

However, by nationalizing weapons contractors, we would end the practice of those weapons contractors having a voice in elections and what is presented as “news”. By removing corporate profits from the equation, military conflict would then be seen as what it truly is- a drain on resources that offer virtually no benefit to society in any form. By removing the commentary of those who gain from warfare, we have a much greater likelihood of war being portrayed as the horror that it truly is rather than some patriotic, heroic, profitable endeavor which creates more enemies than it could ever possibly nullify.

Yes, I know some will still claim that the weapons industry creates jobs. Okay, so if weapons manufacturing were nationalized, would thet create fewer jobs? No, same amount. Which would likely pay more and have better benefits.

Know what else creates jobs? Schools, highway construction/repair and medical care. Plus the fact that those would create jobs and incomes in all communities, reduce costs for real life needs and provide needed services to the PEOPLE of this country.

In short, the real enemy we face is unbridled capitalism. That is what created any enemies we now have in other countries. It is what has resulted in overthrow of governments, multiple refugee crises in the Middle East and South America, tens of millions of deaths, millions with PTSD, hundreds of thousands of suicides, children growing up with damaged or dead parents and trillions in debt while society has nothing positive to show for it. Only the rich benefit from the current system.

The Path To World Peace Is In The Collapse of The US Economy

The surest path to world peace lies in the collapse of the US economy.

I know, many people do not want to hear this. Many will vehemently deny it. I already expect personal attacks and “America, love it or leave it” responses by people who will not even read this far. They won’t go any further than the title. That doesn’t change the truth.

Of course, there will be the QAnon/Trump devotees who will claim that this is all part of the plan. There’s no need to dignify such ignorance with a response.

Am I saying that if/when this occurs that there would be absolutely no armed conflicts anywhere on the planet? No, I’m sure there would be. However, the duration and scale would be decreased dramatically.

Think back, look back at world history since WWII. Can you name an armed conflict, any armed conflict in which the US was not involved as a major influence? Anywhere? Even if you can, place it in perspective of all the conflicts in which we have been involved. Look at every single potential for armed conflict right now and name one which we are not actively inciting that conflict to elevate further.

Our military budget was just increased again, by $22 billion to an official $738 billion. As I’ve written before, that does not include funding for the VA, upgrading nukes, NSA, CIA or FBI. When you add those to the military budget, we spend more on “defense” than every other country on earth, combined.

This all comes as our economy is retracting and our national debt accounts for over 1/3 of all global national debt. China has surpassed the US as the largest consumer economy, greatest number of Fortune 500 companies and a higher number of top ten global banks.

How many armed conflicts is China involved in as a major player? None.

Many Americans are oblivious to the fact that we are currently bombing 7 countries and have been for years. They can name two countries we are bombing at most. We drop at least 121 bombs a day at an average cost of $80,000 each.

This week it made the news that the House of Representatives have asked the military to account for how many foreign military bases the US has and justify the need for that many. However, that doesn’t mean much when they do this after handing the military an increased budget and we spend $130 billion a year, every year, on upgrading nuclear weapons. That’s not even included in the military budget. How about they ask why we need so many nuclear weapons? Wouldn’t 50 be enough? Or 20? Why the hell do we have 6800?!!!! (Personally I think they should be eradicated completely.)

The obvious problem with wars has to do with the fact that they cost money. Lots of money. Sure, a limited number of people make profits from warfare but the money still has to come from somewhere. Right now, the US is printing money wildly, which dilutes the value of each dollar in circulation. Right now, we have a trade deficit with nearly every country we trade with. Right now, we owe money to many countries through US Treasury bonds. Right now, the value of the dollar is propped up by the petrodollar system.

Right now other countries are selling off US Treasury bonds. Right now China has stopped buying oil from us and has decreased purchases of major crops. Right now, other countries are having economic issues which preclude buying US Treasuries. Right now numerous countries have started buying gold because they find the dollar too insecure. Right now the petrodollar system is collapsing as country after country is trading oil in other currencies, largely in Chinese yuan. Right now one country after another is turning away from buying weapons which leave them dependent on the US. They are opting for Russian and Chinese arms which cost less yet perform far better than ours.

So the question becomes how the US can afford to fund another war, or even the ones we are currently in? How long can this continue before the dollar is devalued and we see double to triple digit inflation?

The bigger question is, who is going to loan us money to wage more wars when they don’t trust us to pay them back what we already owe? Who is going to loan us money when we are threatening basically every country in existence with either war or economic sanctions? Is it likely they will loan us money they don’t trust will be repaid just so we don’t attack them in some way? Or is it more likely they will band together to defend themselves from us?

One economist after another is expecting a recession in the near future. Other, more realistic economists who are not tied to WAR Street say that we are already in a recession and have been for some time. Some state that we have never recovered from the 2008 recession and for many this is true. Wages have never recovered for sure. If wages don’t recover, there is no way that the general economy does. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Many try and downplay how bad the next recession or stage of the current recession will be. I am expecting the worst recession in US history because of the combination of influences.

Ultimately what we can expect is that the economy will falter. This will finally lead to the absolute necessity to rein in military spending. As the US curtails military aggression and arming/funding proxy wars, we will see peace slowly return, along with diplomacy to many countries and regions that have not known these things for many years. There is no doubt that our warmongers will attempt to incite more conflict along the way but be rebuffed and rejected by nations seeking a different path forward.

In the short term, none of this will be good news for the domestic US. The oligarchs will try and continue the same processes, followed by trying to strip the country bare for their own greed. In the long run, we will change as a country. We will see peace, see that we do not need to spend our money or sacrifice military lives to achieve that peace. Some will claim we helped bring that peace into being. Those are the dangerous ones whom we must educate, that the militarism was never necessary. Keep them out of power, remove them from the media.

The economy will recover over time but not for a long while. By the time it does, we will have found a dedication to build rather than destroy, to lean on one another and to demand a government that supports people over the profits of the rich.

It’s not going to be easy but this is the future our country has created. We have to deal with it.

Automation- Your Job Is Not Safe From Indirect Effects, Pt 2- Solutions

Part 1 of this series addressed the challenges involving automation which affect our economy and job market. Part 2 addresses solutions which we cannot avoid having to implement at some point. If we do not implement these solutions at some level, our economy and our society as we know it will continue to deteriorate and ultimately collapse. We’re already well on the road to that conclusion.

There is no stopping it. You will not stop the advance of technology and automation. It’s here to stay and is accelerating. Technology has been advancing since prehistoric times. Technology multiplies technology. Humans have always used tools to build bigger tools, better tools, buildings and factories to create tools. Computer programs speed the development of better, faster programs. We now have programs that write programs. Computer hardware is used to develop the next generation of hardware, faster, more capable, more resilient. The more the tools advance, the fewer the number of workers needed to accomplish the greatest amount of work. The only time this is bad is when it happens in a capitalist system. Remove money for survival from the equation and it is a positive. Keep money in that equation and it becomes deadly.

WE need to adapt our attitudes. Many Americans are still stuck in the concept that Socialism is bad. Never mind that without Socialist-leaning programs our economy would collapse right this minute. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, public roads, health departments, fire departments, police, jails, prisons, etc. Millions of jobs rely on a Socialist ideal right now. The problem with the advance of technology is that our economy has not kept pace. Our attitudes as a society have not kept pace.Most of this is because of capitalist ownership of media and domination of education, all pushing a capitalist agenda. “Capitalism good, Socialism bad.”WE need to evolve beyond this mindset. Stop giving in to fear of change. See what is happening. Stop trying to prop up a collapsing building.

Advances and opposition. Technology will continue to advance no matter the economic system. It is part of our evolution. It is the human drive to solve problems and defeat challenges. The first humans that used rocks as hammers made no monetary profit. The first humans to develop bronze, iron and steel made no money. The problem is that the same mindset to evolve and defeat challenges in our economy is opposed by a barbaric need to dominate, by greed, by ego. It is an absolute indication that our society has not evolved socially. It is this barbaric mindset which holds us back, which is apathetic or even sadistically jubilant at the suffering of human beings who lack the resources to dominate, even if that person is born with artificial socially imposed disadvantages which have nothing to do with their capabilities or true potential. It is this barbaric mindset which refuses to grant anything for free and pushes to make even the most basic needs like clean water a commodity available only for an ever-increasing price. It is that barbaric mindset which keeps those born or forced to the bottom of the economic ladder constantly fighting for mere survival until they have no time, energy or resources remaining to even make the attempt to climb higher. Mental slaves to that barbarism attempt to blame the victims of this system for their alleged failings. Surrendering our minds to that barbaric mentality means surrendering our lives, our society, our health, our children and our futures to someday be on the victim side of that equation. Many are experiencing this today as the middle class loses ground and becomes ever more insecure.

Limited options. There are only a limited number of solutions to the conditions which we are facing. Every one of those solutions involve some form of Socialism. Trickle-down economics is a demonstrated failure. Capitalists still try to claim that only capitalist solutions can save capitalism. Yet none of that is true. We have watched the flow of wealth to the top over nearly 40 years and we are now in crisis mode globally. You can cheer for your favorite gazillionaire all you like, that doesn’t mean that your paycheck grows any larger, that your personal future becomes any more secure. The rich have had sycophants groveling at their feet through all of history but when you no longer present a profit to the rich, your purpose has been served and you get thrown out like so much garbage along with everyone else. Stop licking boots.

Drop the resentment of the poor. Resentment of the poor does no good. Let’s say that some people take unfair advantage of welfare and avoid that argument. The fact is, if 25%, 1 out of four of Americans, took advantage of welfare to the tune of $1000 a month every month, that would equate to an annual cost of $990 billion. Now consider that most of those welfare recipients are likely to be supporting families. Consider that this spending would be spent in the economy, supporting jobs and incomes. The government surrendered more money than that giving tax breaks to the rich in 2018. The rich responded by using that money to buy back over $2 trillion in stock. In other words, enough to give HALF of Americans an extra $1000 a month. Yet that tax break created exactly zero jobs. Bloomberg recently reported that the job market declined by 600,000 since December 2018.

Solutions. It is obvious that the only way that the general population and capitalism itself will survive is by implementing some form of Universal Basic Income (UBI). As more jobs cease to exist, competition for remaining jobs becomes more fierce and as a result wages plummet, we are driving headlong into conditions ripe for unbridled civil war. You can deny it but that doesn’t change the truth. Look through history and the same conditions have always resulted in civil war by some name. Call it revolution, uprising or anything else, they all mean the same thing. The only thing missing at this point is some spark to light the final fuse. That fuse is lit. Flooding in the midwest, decreased imports and increasing prices due to tariffs mean that we are now facing a shortage of resources which will only be available to those higher on the income scale. As resources become more exhausted, it will mean more jobs are lost and prices escalate further. Cutting social support programs to support warfare and corporate welfare is exactly the wrong thing to do at exactly the wrong time. Yet that’s what is happening.

New ideas. It is obvious that new ideas and approaches are needed. We cannot keep applying the same old ideas which have NEVER worked and expect them to suddenly solve our problems. We have to be brave enough to accept the fact that the old system has failed and will continue to fail. Remaining in the same system for fear of change is no different than remaining in an abusive relationship because the abuser tells you that you cannot survive without them. It is the rich, the capitalists who will not survive without us. We literally don’t need them at all. Workers build and produce everything. Our national resources, including intellectual property, belong to us, not them. The profits from our efforts, our lands and waters do not belong to them by any authorization but our allowance, which has cost too much destruction, too much suffering, too many lives. The time for UBI is now. Not later. Later will be too late. Corporations are not your friends. The rich are not your friends. Corporate media are not your friends. Politicians who push the capitalist agenda are not your friends. The sooner YOU realize that, the sooner we can move forward together and build something better than we have. The other choice is that we all fail together.

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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.

I have opened my new website which is intended to be a central listing of protests and political rallies across the US. It’s still a work in progress but is functional. You can find it at http://RallyAndProtest.com

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is at https://issuesunite.com/ and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

Automation- Your Job Is Not Safe From Indirect Effects, Pt 1- The Challenges

I’ve been writing about the effects of automation reducing jobs for several years now. More jobs are being eliminated through automation than the number sent to other countries.

Jobs which become automated will never come back. Period. The jobs do not even have to be automated in this country. They can be automated in another country. The result is the same, that the job no longer exists.

I still encounter people continuously that insist that technology creates more jobs than it eliminates. When challenged to explain how that works, they consistently fall silent. All they have is propaganda which they regurgitate, either programmed into them or which they directly promote with full knowledge that their words are false. Many of those who have challenged my statements work in the tech and robotics field, trying to justify their positions. I will admit that some of them seem to be trying to ease their own conscience. Sorry, I cannot be that nice to them.

I am not a Luddite or against technology. As a nurse, I prefer computer charting and despise paper charts. They’re a pain in many respects. They may be more secure for privacy but there have been many cases of paper charts being damaged, burned or destroyed. Once they’re gone there is no backup, they’re just gone. Forever. Plus the whole thing of chasing down the single copy of a chart when multiple offices or doctors want to access it while medical records sits on their thumbs is not fun, to say the least. As a writer, this effort relies almost exclusively on technology. Accessing information today takes a fraction of the time it once did. Sharing valid information is done in milliseconds. Mass social movements can be built in short order in this way. Independent media relies on technology, allowing us to bypass the multibillion dollar corporate propaganda machine.

Their rationale fails every time. The point where the tech propagandists fall is when I ask them to explain why companies would invest in expensive systems to reduce labor, when it would only result in more labor cost. I’ve stated before how jobs for auto workers, telephone operators, print setters, proof readers, toll booth attendants, accountants, bank tellers, cashiers, file clerks, manufacturing jobs and many more have been eliminated due to technological advances. Once systems are built, it takes only a few workers to maintain them. Updating software is done remotely, so one worker in another state or country can maintain systems. One or two technicians for a large company or from a contractor can maintain hardware for a city or several cities. Repairs are a matter of replacing disposable components.

No, trades are not safe. Of late, I have heard from people who say that trades are secure. No, they’re not. One person replied to a comment by saying he is a painter who does mold remediation. I concede that his job is secure. For the moment. Yet over time it will not be. This is true for many occupations.

The threat does not need to be a direct one.

The race is on. On his own statement, I directed him to do a search on YouTube. Right now there are many companies and universities in multiple countries developing home painting systems. Each one first does scanning and mapping of the space to be painted, stores a 3D model and then starts painting. So they are not limited to a set environment. It is a race for the first system to be patented and implemented. These systems do not do remediation but focus on viable structures and new construction.

Now, think about the implications.

Overcrowding. I’ll stick with the home painting issue as an example. Painters do not all do remediation. However, once robotic systems become widely used which eliminate an ever-growing number of jobs for new and stable construction, painters who relied on new or stable construction for income will acquire new skills which add on the their existing skills. Like mold remediation. This results in increased competition, driving down prices for remediation. Reduced pricing then results in reduced income per contract. The number of contracts will remain constant, while more workers will be competing for them. Less income per job, fewer jobs available.

Expand the concept. I have challenged the growing cry of people claiming that trade skills are secure. See that article here. However, let’s say that they are correct and I am wrong. If other occupations continue being eliminated while trade/vocational occupations remain secure, what happens? You’ve seen this before. What happens is that the number of people entering those careers skyrockets. The field becomes overcrowded, competition for those jobs becomes fierce, driving down wages and available opportunities are spread among a greater number of workers.

Ask a Programmer. One of the claims that will not go away is that there is an increasing need for programmers. That information is sorely outdated. Years ago, there was a demand for programmers who developed entire programs and systems. Those who had the skills could demand high wages. Today, thanks to competition, a programmer who could once demand $100 an hour can barely demand $30 and have to compete for that. Today, rather than building programs and systems, we have developers who develop applications or “apps” which run on top of operating systems. In many cases, apps can be developed with drag-and-drop programs developed by someone else. Even that has seen competition which demands short development time, perhaps only a few hours, at lower cost, meaning less income. In fact, tech development has resulted in systems which can create simple apps with no human programming needed. Tell the system what you want the app to do and it compiles an app for you with pre-written scripts pasted together. Developers have developed themselves out of jobs.

We already see the effects. The dwindling number of remaining occupations, the increasing number of applicants into these occupations is already apparent. Careers which once demanded high skill levels have been “dummy-proofed” through technology. That means fewer literal skills are required for most occupations. That means companies can pay less to workers and offer fewer benefits. Corporations can move entire operations to different states or countries and hire people with no skills at all. Just follow simple instructions for actions they repeat all day, every day for years. Auto workers demand far less pay than they once did. Programmers rarely program. Cashiers don’t have to be accurate. Trust me, I used to run a manual cash register. Riveters don’t rivet, they push a button and the robot rivets.

Many jobs are centralized. Talk to a telephone operator in your own state lately? Customer service technician in your own country? When you get invasive sales calls, chances are they are in New Mexico, Texas or some other country routed through a US number. I lived in San Antonio and New Mexico and those jobs have a high level of competition. My brother made a decent income decades ago as a telephone sales person for the San Antonio Light Newspaper. The Light no longer exists, driven out of business by Rupert Murdoch long before Fox News ever existed.

Worker productivity. We hear reports on financial news that worker productivity keeps rising. This is good news to investors, not to workers. Increased productivity means fewer workers are need to produce the same amount of goods. That means fewer jobs available. It’s that simple.

This is the end of part 1 of this series. Part 2 will delve into solutions.

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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.

I have opened my new website which is intended to be a central listing of protests and political rallies across the US. It’s still a work in progress but is functional. You can find it at http://RallyAndProtest.com

Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon. I try and average at least 20 articles a month, so a $1 a month donation would come down to 5¢ per article to support independent, non-corporate writing. My Patreon page is here.

If you care to share articles with those who do not have Medium or Patreon accounts, I also post most of my articles on my own website, which has no advertising and I pay for with income from writing. My website is at https://issuesunite.com/ and all articles can be shared freely. You can always quote me, no attribution required. My goal is spreading information and awareness. The whole point is building a better, more peaceful, more equitable world for us and future generations.

Smaller Government?

Conservatives rage continuously about wanting a smaller government. Yet their actions and attitudes speak exactly the opposite.

When Conservatives discuss wanting a smaller government, what they really refer to is reducing money spent on social support programs and reducing regulations on business, mostly on corporations.

I have written previously explaining how Social Democracy is profitable on the social level and supports a healthy economy. You can find that article here.

Supply side economics. All healthy economies function from the bottom up, not the top down. Conservatives promote the idea of supply-side economics, which does not work at all. That’s like saying an economy is healthy if you fill warehouses yet do not pay the employees enough to buy the products in the warehouse. What really happens is that the warehouse sits full, perishable items spoil and durable items rot while people starve and go without needed items. If goods are not sold, the warehouse starts eliminating jobs. Production and transportation are no longer needed to fill the warehouse, so those jobs are lost as well.

Border security. Conservatives promote border security, which mandates and even larger government. That costs money, which they seem quite content to pay, even though it will only create jobs in four states and most of those are temporary jobs. Most of the jobs will be in sparsely populated areas of those four states. In addition, it will steal land and resources from thousands of land owners along the border. Border cities will feel a major negative impact and we can expect to see entire communities become ghost towns very quickly.

What creates jobs? Rational immigration standards that allow for migrant workers. Agricultural jobs affect many things downstream. Truck drivers, food processing, grocery stores, restaurants. Enact immigration standards that limit migrant agricultural workers and you increase food prices. The higher prices go, the less volume people can purchase the more jobs are lost.

Military. Both Conservatives and centrist Democrats support an ever-larger military and military spending. The claim is another one I have addressed previously, that building weapons creates jobs. You can find that article here.The fallacy is ignoring that the majority of weapons production jobs are automated and in limited areas. After all, would you want to live next to a bomb factory? Those jobs are also dependent on maintaining military conflicts in other countries. If we achieve peace with any of the countries we are bombing, jobs are lost. Even the military positions created by a massive military are mostly jobs in other countries and most of the money the service members spend is spent in those other countries. That is all money we pay that flows out of this country, never to return.

What does create jobs? Schools including colleges and universities, libraries, building bridges, building and fixing roads, affordable medical care. Even food stamps. These are jobs in local communities which help to support other jobs in local communities.

Deregulation. Deregulation of corporate entities has a long list of negatives and virtually no positives.

Right now in this country, we have over 1300 superfund sites. These are areas where the environment has been poisoned in some way and requires massive cleanup efforts which cost huge sums of money. Some were caused by the military but most have been caused by corporate entities that violated environmental laws. In most cases, the corporations have either declared bankruptcy and no longer exist or they were fined token sums which account for a fraction of the cleanup efforts.

The cost of these sites cannot be calculated because the costs include contaminated water sources, extravagant cancer rates in many areas, loss of life, loss of farms and ranches, closed public lands, poisoned wildlife which may spread to other areas and more. Among the list of violators still in existence you find such familiar names as Exxon, Dow, 3M, Shell, BP, Georgia-Pacific and many more. Of late, one of the biggest culprits are fracking companies. As areas are contaminated, whole towns evacuated, water sources made unusable, farms and livelihoods are lost, often along with the health of tens of thousands.

Yet many of these sites have yet to have cleanup efforts even begin, while others have had that work continue for years or decades. All because of inadequate funding.

What creates jobs? Funding these cleanup efforts actually creates jobs. Returning those lands to public use would create more jobs.

What is not included in smaller government. What is consistently not included in the calls for smaller government is elimination of subsidies for industries which post massive profits. The oil and gas industry is subsidized to the tune of nearly $40 billion each and every year. Yet that does not include the cost of military escorts for ocean-going tankers. Even though oil is one of the US’s top three exports and one of our top three imports. Get the feeling you’re getting played? That’s because you are.

Corporate dairy farms are subsidized, corn farmers are subsidized, soybean farmers are subsidized, chemical companies are subsidized, aircraft manufacturers are subsidized. You pay for their products even if you do not use their products.

Oil, gas and coal companies are also subsidized by direct purchasing of their products by federal, state and local governments. Yet this is not included in what is considered subsidies for those industries.

Also not included is a call for the breakup of national and multinational corporations to match the size and region of the smaller governments. In many cases, individual corporations would far exceed the size, reach and budget of individual state governments. Right this minute, how difficult is it for a coalition of state AG’s to challenge a corporate or industry battery of lawyers? Imagine breaking that up so that each state must stand on their own against oil, coal, tobacco, alcohol, chemical, weapons manufacturers, etc.

Smaller does not mean smaller. In most cases where proponents of smaller government make their calls, it will not result in smaller government at all. What they really call for is shifting responsibility for necessary services to state and local government agencies. If such a shift occurred, what would happen is an increase in the cost of these services, while delivering less. While that shift would create some jobs, the number would be statistically negligible while the additional cost would be significant. Instead of one single database or agency required for a service, we would need 50 or more agencies using differing programs and accounting methods. In many states, it would result in greater corruption, crony capitalism and nepotism than we already have.

Meanwhile transparency would suffer greatly and news organizations already under corrupt corporate control would not even ask relevant questions. We already see these problems with our national corporate media, who support their sponsors far above and beyond the effort to expose the truth. The Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has been revealed to have a policy to punish or even terminate journalists who so much as question the actions of a corporate advertiser, not just in the paper but on social media as well.

I know I mostly discuss Conservatives in this particular article. I’ll be honest and say I do not think centrist politicians and parties are any better. They differ in their approach but mostly in favor of keeping their control or lack of control centralized. Their policies for regulation aren’t much different. They like the corporations to see them as friendly to the status quo.

I would like smaller government. For the most part, I would be in favor of smaller government under the right conditions. Meaning the secession of many states from the national structure and forming a federation of allied nations. Something I have written before is highly likely to happen in nearby future years. If that happened, obviously some nations would be more Progressive and others more Conservative but in all, it would offer more options for comparison. It would definitely prove that Social Democracy is more profitable and offers more benefits. It would take very little time for Conservative nation-states to see a mass exodus and Progressive nation-states to see a huge influx. The Conservative states would have to completely collapse before they would change their approach. Even then, it’s possible some would try to invade neighboring Progressive states.

In such a scenario, each nation-state would have the ability to set regulations and trade agreements on their own. If a large entity tried to manipulate that system, it would be more difficult to do so in nation-states that created systems that mandated greater transparency and accountability. Things that will never happen under a corporate-friendly CONgress that does not answer to it’s people.

For now, just accept the fact that the calls for a smaller government are nothing but a smokescreen for the benefit of the rich and powerful, using whores and uneducated blind puppets to promote their agenda.

Renewed Push For Trickle-Down Economics

Lately we are seeing a renewed push for trickle-down economics. Of course, this is all based on the claims that the economy is doing well, even with tariffs, sanctions, etc.

Let me address the claim that the economy is doing well first because that is a complete fabrication.

The major part of this claim is based on the performance of the stock market. I have been covering this issue quite a bit for some time. The stock market rose in the last few years because of stock buybacks. Absolutely none of that has to do with the consumer economy and is often at direct odds with the job market. In January this year, a positive report came out stating employment and wages were up. The following day the stock market had a massive drop.

In recent months we have heard of companies laying workers off due to tariffs. Yet the stock market only decreased after the interest rate went up.  Laying workers off runs in tandem with decreasing production. Yet they can only decrease production if consumer sales are on the decline, even with tariffs. Tariffs cause a price increase of similar products across the market, so any increase at all means the same product will remain competitive with other manufacturers. Example: If Ford must increase prices by 10%, so must Toyota, GM, etc. Layoffs are not necessary unless all vehicles are selling less. Then the decrease comes only after the decreased sales are evident.

Side note: The same manufacturers did not increase production or hiring when they got a tax break. 

So, Ford is laying off, as is GM, Harley Davidson, GE and more. Sears is bankrupt. Apple has announced decreased production. Toys R Us is gone, as are numerous other retailers and others are scaling back. The only retailers I have heard are expanding are Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.

There have been claims that US Steel is building new plants. US Steel said that is not true.

In fact, many are claiming that new jobs are being created in manufacturing. That’s not even possible. If retailers are closing locations or even going bankrupt, that means jobs are being lost. Fewer jobs means fewer consumers and less consumer spending. So if production were to increase, who the hell is buying the additional products being produced? Nobody, that’s who.

It does not end with production. Less consumer spending means services are impacted, from insurance to cable to massage to fitness centers to taxis and on and on. At each level, profits are lost, jobs are lost, income is lost, consumer spending is lost.

The fact is that trickle-down economics has never worked, is not working now and has no possibility of working in the future. Economies do not work from the top down, they work from the bottom up.

One of the tenets used to promote trickle-down is that the people at the top are job creators. As you can see above, this is not true. Consumers are job creators. Most of the highest paying jobs in this country and globally are occupations that produce nothing. Corporate executives, stock investors, fund managers, bankers. These are people far more likely to demand the elimination of jobs and reduction in wages to preserve their own bloated incomes than to ever create jobs.

Historically, production and trade predates investing. Even today there are “less developed” small societies that may have leadership positions but manage to have assigned workloads, methods of sharing and yet have no money. Barter systems require no money yet have plenty of jobs. Not for profit organizations, including some hospitals have jobs, expand to create more jobs and profits go back into the company and employees. Small local businesses create lots of jobs and used to provide many, many more than they do now, before they were forced out by corporations. In all the above cases, guess how many jobs get deported offshore to other countries? Small retailers may purchase goods for sale from foreign suppliers but small manufacturers do not export labor.

We cannot keep believing the same lies we have been fed for decades, doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. We cannot believe when we are told the economy is doing well while it is not our personal economy doing better. We cannot believe jobs are being created if we have no opportunity to replace the jobs we have been laid off from or have no room for advancement. If you are overworked, still broke and struggling, the entire narrative should be falling flat. If you can look at anything objectively, you can see through these deceptions.