Don’t Be Impressed By Black Friday Sales Numbers

The media has been making a huge deal out of the large consumer spending numbers on Black Friday this year, touted as the most ever spent on Black Friday and a considerable increase over last year.

However, all of this is being viewed through a laser-focused lens. Absolute tunnel vision is in effect, giving a distorted image of the truth. There is a lot more which has to be taken into consideration than the numbers of a single day or weekend.

Timing is everything. The first thing to take into consideration is when Black Friday occurs during a given year. This year it occurred on 11/29/19. What does that mean? It means that 12/1 occurred on a weekend. The result is that Social Security, government and many other paychecks typically paid on the 1st of the month were deposited instead on.. Black Friday. If you have ever been shopping, especially grocery shopping, you know that the first weekend of the month is generally much busier than other weekends because of those consumers forced to live paycheck to paycheck. The last time that Black Friday and December 1st occurred on the same weekend was in 2013. (7 year cycle.) Guess what the media was reporting at the time? They reported how consumer sales had increased over the previous year for Black Friday. Not to the same degree, of course. We were allegedly coming out of the Great Recession and one has to take inflation into account, which affects absolute numbers AND percentages reported.

Changing shopping habits. Another thing to take into consideration is that remote orders for store pickup increased considerably this year. While part of this is technology-driven, it also indicates consumers are planning their purchases in advance. They know what they are going to buy and that is what they order. This has the effect of reducing impulse purchases made while shoppers wander through stores and buy more than they originally planned. If shoppers only buy what they have planned for, this indicates that spending will most likely taper off very quickly before mid-December, which will negate the gains reported right now.

A wider view. When we take all the above into account, the obvious becomes clear. We cannot look at a single day or weekend to judge consumer spending or confidence. Instead, we have to take a wider view and look at consumer spending both before and after Black Friday weekend. Not meaning an isolated view of one week before and after but at least 1 month before and after. This gives us a much more accurate view. Obviously we cannot really predict what the coming month will bring but we can look back at previous months. In October, retail sales increased by 0.3%. Statistically this is negligible to begin with. However, go back one more month and we find that sales in September had declined by 0.3%, which brings even the October increase to a flat even number.

Consumer sales do not equal consumer spending. Something else to look at is how these sales are funded. Consumer credit spending has increased and that is likely how much of the current spending was funded. Many consumers are still paying credit card debt from 2018. This is debt spending, which is not truly consumer spending. Rather than indicating consumer confidence or any improvement in the economy, it tends to indicate the reverse, that consumers are not in the position to spend actual income at this time. Even if they have the liquid assets to spend, they are not willing to part with those assets, which demonstrates a lack of confidence in the ability to recuperate those assets in the near future.

The Trump irony. It is extremely ironic that the neoliberal media is reporting how well sales are doing, which amounts to a claim that the economy is doing extremely well. In effect, they are stating that Trump is having a positive effect on the economy. This, even as they make concurrent claims that he is destroying the economy and the country. The numbers they are reporting literally increase support for Trump, even as the neoliberal media is pushing for his impeachment. Meanwhile the same corporate media on both sides report falsified employment numbers and simply do not report comprehensive numbers of layoffs and retail or manufacturing closures which have taken place this year. What they are doing is trying to play both sides in an attempt to force the illusion that capitalism is successful while trying to bring down the most capitalistic president to ever hold US office.

The rebound effect. Consumer debt is already at a level higher than any time in history, while labor income is the lowest it has been in decades in terms of real wages. Now consumers appear to be taking on new debt. If jobs which offer living wages are not created in mass numbers in the very near future, meaning the next few months, as debts come due we will see consumer spending plummet drastically as consumers are forced to reduce immediate spending to pay the debts. This will cause more layoffs in an increasing spiral downward for the economy. This is likely to concur with the end of the Federal Reserve bailout of unstable banks, resulting in the perfect storm for an economic crash the likes of which few people have imagined.

Pt 2- Universal Healthcare Would Have To Be Adopted Gradually

I really did not think I was going to have to write a follow up on this one. I should have known better. So, this follow up is really to address the contradictions I have encountered from the left.

Some have claimed that because I am stating that universal healthcare would have to be phased in that I am in some way against universal healthcare. The first thing that is obvious about that argument is that they have not read my writing, including the entire first article. They claim they did, of course but if they did, the indication is worse. It means they are arguing for the sake of feeding their addiction to conflict. I made it very clear on too many occasions to count just how much I am in favor of universal healthcare, so their arguments hold no water at all.

Rational approach. Every single thing that I write comes from a rational perspective. In this case, I have not only formally and informally studied economics for over 30 years but have direct experience with basically everything involved. I have been a nurse for over 25 years. I have written medical protocols. I have worked as a subcontractor for multiple insurance companies and the longest position in that respect I resigned from because of my own ethical objections to changes in criteria which denied needed imaging studies. Lastly, I have been writing about politics for years. Thus, I know politics, economics, medicine, medical protocols and the insurance/medical funding processes.

Compassionate approach. Not only is everything I write rational, it is also humanitarian in nature. My detractors on the first article are still absolutely set on the idea that insurance company employees would be able to transition directly and immediately to a government universal healthcare system. That would not happen. It could not happen. It is all but impossible.

Location, location, location. First, detractors are making the completely erroneous assumption that new jobs will be created in the same cities in which they currently exist. That would not happen in the majority of cases. There may be a select few jobs available in larger cities created but not enough to replace all the jobs which would be lost by a long shot. Maybe they think workers can simply pull up their entire lives and relocate to where the new jobs are created. Leave their homes, their families, their friends and all that they know for the sake of a paycheck. A few may be willing to do this but they will be an extreme minority. That thought process also takes no account of what that would do to the housing market. So, who is thinking about the direct welfare of those workers and their families? Me or my detractors?

Money is not healthcare. Detractors have said to me that insurance is not healthcare. I agree. Know what else is not healthcare? Throwing money at the problem. I explained in detail the challenges of training, building and expanding systems, contracts, staffing, etc. Just funding is not enough. Throwing money at a problem does not make it go away. The moment that universal healthcare passes, I explained that the stock market will plummet. Perhaps they think this only has implications for rich investors. However, it would definitely affect the average American who has a diversified 401k. People could lose a significant portion of their life savings within hours. Just funding would not create the needed systems and medically trained personnel needed to provide the care and services required. Who is thinking about the average American with retirement accounts and the lapse in services? Me or my detractors?

Staffing, education and licensing. I covered this in the first article but let me repeat it. Medical training takes years. Implementing universal healthcare will place a heavy burden on the system we currently have. Waiting times will lengthen and there is already insufficient staffing in many geographic areas. Yes, you can increase pay/bonuses/benefits but then you merely move the shortage from one place to another. More people will have to be trained and licensed. Would you want your family member in a hospital which was still accepting patients at half the minimum staffing levels? I have been a nurse long enough to have had 14 patients on a surgical unit, 40 patients in inpatient hospice with one CNA, over 60 in a nursing home or skilled nursing unit, over 300 patients one time in a long term rehab unit. Those are the kinds of things that led to the nursing shortage and almost made me leave nursing. Do you want that back? Who is thinking about patient safety and who is not? Me or my detractors?

Overburdening. One thing is absolutely true. Before you can train people into a new system, the system has to exist. While those opposed to me claim workers can be trained into the existing system, the Medicare/Medicaid system is not created or equipped with the resources or even protocols needed for a universal healthcare system. However, let’s say the protocols and computer systems existed. What happens then is that you overburden the current workers with training new employees. Even after a person is trained, they have to have their work overseen and reviewed for accuracy for weeks or months. That includes for fraud, waste and abuse. During this time, the processing time for claims would be extended considerably. Perhaps taking weeks or months. So, who is thinking of the people who are actually ill, acutely or chronically during this period? Me or my detractors? Who is thinking of the stress level placed on already overworked government employees? Me or my detractors?

Offshore effects. Not many Americans have any realization as to how much of their medical claims process takes place in other countries. Yes, your private medical information is sent to other countries on a daily basis. I know this because of my experiences doing preauthorization for medical imaging studies. One big reason for this is that the insurance companies pay workers in other countries far less than domestic workers. I have also worked in medical facilities that send imaging studies to Australia to have reports written. That’s so they do not have to keep a Radiologist PhD on staff at all times. Now, while I strenuously object to our medical information being sent to other countries, I accept the fact that the workers in those countries rely on that employment for an income. An immediate change to universal healthcare would leave them without an income with no warning. So, who is more compassionate to those workers? Me or my detractors?

Probationary period. One cannot deny that implementing universal healthcare would be harshly scrutinized and criticized by capitalists. That includes the capitalist media who make many many billions per year hosting advertising for insurance and drug companies. So, how would they be reporting on this transition? If we suddenly had tens or hundreds of thousands out of work, waiting times and processing times extended to months, a stock market crash and seeming incompetence all along the way? Do you remember how much of a problem it was to bring the ACA online? The problems with the government portal? How many times the system crashed? The processing time to get people enrolled? Do you remember how the media reported on every single tiny problem? The absolute fact is that capitalists would be seeking any and every excuse to declare universal healthcare a failure. That is ALL they would report on all day, every day. While probably blaming Russia, of course. So, who is thinking of how imperative it is that universal healthcare be implemented in a way that considers all that can go wrong, plans for exceptions and has contingencies in place? Who sounds like they want it to be successful, me or my detractors?

Too many of my detractors are completely driven by emotion. That emotion is unreasoning, uncompromising, compulsive and selfish. As a nurse, I am trained and experienced in applying critical thinking to achieve results which are based on emotion, compassion, caring. As a nurse, I am also absolutely no stranger to setting my own emotions aside while applying that critical thought process or even doing what the patient wants when my own choice would be far different.

I am very much in favor of Socialism and my writing displays that. However, as a reasoning person I also think clearly that transitioning in that direction must be done gradually and with extreme planning. We cannot throw one system out completely without having a new system already built to replace it. That is the equivalent to learning you have lung cancer and the doctor’s response is grabbing a scalpel and removing your lungs with no anesthesia, no transplant organs. “Well, we have funding for it!” How would that work for you?

The whole point is that using critical, rational thinking to detail exactly HOW things can be accomplished effectively with the fewest complications does not lack compassion or emotion in the least. You would not want someone performing surgery on you or administering medications to you when they have no knowledge on the procedures. It doesn’t matter how much emotion they put into it, certain things take knowledge, planning and education. Your FEELINGS don’t matter if you sabotage the system you implement while causing very real danger to the beneficiaries of that system. If we cause more problems than we solve, we doom that system before it ever gets off the ground.

Care enough to THINK.

Universal Healthcare Would HAVE to Be Adopted Gradually

Many people voicing support for universal healthcare think it is some form of magic bullet that would be adopted and implemented in a single day and all problems would be resolved.

None of this is true. In fact, it would and should be adopted gradually over years to overcome the difficulties that would be encountered on many levels.

Supplemental insurance. This is a key sticking point for many people. I have pointed out that Tulsi Gabbard openly states her plan would include supplemental insurance, while Bernie Sanders admits his plan would as well but only under coerced admittance. Now, consider the fact that nearly every country that has universal healthcare also has supplemental insurance. If we moved to universal healthcare, think what would happen the day it was announced, if no supplemental insurance were included. That very day, the stock market would crash. Medical claims would be denied, even if previously approved. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans would lose their jobs. Doctors offices, clinics, hospitals and pharmacies would be forced to close their doors within weeks. Not out of greed. Out of necessity. That would suspend or eliminate hundreds of thousands of other jobs. From there, downstream spending would plummet, causing more complications.

Of course, these effects could be very slightly dampened by legislation mandating companies to keep their doors open, insurance companies to honor claims, etc. That does not keep investors from selling off stocks, cashing in bonds.

By allowing for supplemental insurance, many jobs would be maintained. Investors would still pull funding but not completely.

Timeline. There would have to be a plan which included a specific timeline which phased in the introduction. This could take many forms, such as introducing specific existing medical conditions by target dates and culminating in universal coverage.

Job creation. I have pointed out previously that universal healthcare would absolutely create more jobs than it eliminated. Meaning living wage jobs. However, this process would not be instantaneous. One crucial aspect would be funding the expansion of medical professional training. This could take the form of federal funding or even federal training programs for each state for various medical professions, especially nursing, nurse practitioners, licensed physician assistants (not to be confused with medical assistants), etc. This training takes years. Even as hospitals across the country have been closing at a rate of 35 per year, the nursing shortage has continued. Universal healthcare would make that situation far worse and spread the problem to other medical fields.

Waiting times. You can definitely count on wait times for medical appointments of all kinds to be temporarily extended. The implementation of universal healthcare should include new systems which require less direct interaction with providers for basic care. Telephone and internet consultation systems have been developed which help with this and could be adapted to such a new system. Those would have to be expanded. The current systems are for profit and if they choose to not take part in the new system, they would have to be replaced with government run systems. Self referral for some specialties should also be an option with prior approval.

Medical criteria. While Medicare/Medicaid has a strong set of medical criteria already in place, it is insufficient to cover the needs which would be required under universal healthcare. The criteria currently in place cover existing conditions and less preventative care. Some of the criteria needed could be derived from insurance companies but would still require review, rewriting and implementation to incorporate into the system. Once again, this is a process which would take years to accomplish fully.

Billing and payment. While universal healthcare would simplify medical billing, the specific systems necessary for the scale of the system would have to be not only expanded and updated but more systems put in place to reduce fraud, waste and abuse. Funding would be a challenge in the beginning, as there would absolutely be a massive surge of claims by those who may have foregone medical care for years. After 2–3 years it would decrease and level off but there would be numerous adaptations to even figure out the right balance between cost to taxpayers and payments to providers. During that time there would be a lot of bitching and moaning about how unfair the system was, it was a bad idea, etc. Nothing of this scale happens without some kinks to work out.

Contracts and logistics. Medical facilities and offices have contracts with providers of services, equipment and medications. In many cases, these are dictated by insurance plans. Many of these contracts will have to be renegotiated, which again takes time. Of course, if all service/equipment/pharmacies are obligated to accept referrals from any provider, this will simplify things. However, don’t count on this happening right away because of everything detailed above.

Quality of care. Even if we solve the problems of training medical professionals, that does not insure quality of care. With a system which would be burdened by a new large number of patients, I would expect some decrease in quality of care for a time, until we achieve a strong enough density of medical professionals to weed out the weakest links. I’ve seen horrible incompetency in my years in nursing. Just last week I had to explain to another nurse that DNR means Do Not Resuscitate, it does not mean Do Not Treat. Then I had to explain the difference. If we had a mad rush to graduate a mass number of licensed people, chances are quality of education, testing and oversight would be decreased as well if more oversight is not included in the new system, which would also take time. Oversight would have to be done concurrently with the phasing in of the new system.

None of this means that we should not be pushing for universal healthcare. We absolutely MUST push for it. Medical care should not be available only for the wealthy. It should be considered a human right above and beyond profit motives.

My entire point is that just passing legislation is not going to solve all our problems in a single shot. Changing our entire system will take time. It is a huge and complicated task, not just a change in paperwork. It affects all of our lives, not just a few. There are aspects of this that some who have an unearned sense of privilege will obviously object to. Others will object because they want to move instantaneously to a state run system with no option for supplemental insurance. While an eventual move to a truly universal system may be possible, even that seems unlikely. There should be supplemental insurance for things like cosmetic care, which the rest of us should not have to pay for. I’m certain that insurance companies would be able to devise special insurance plans for that purpose, if they do not already exist.

What Happens When A Student Defaults On a Federal Student Loan?

Right now we are seeing the highest rate of defaults on federal student loans in the history of this country. This situation is unsustainable on many levels.

What happens when a student defaults on a federal student loan?

First, take a look at what the term “federal student loan” means. The term refers to a student loan which is backed by a guarantee by the federal government. In other words, the US federal government promises the bank that they will be reimbursed for the loan, even if the student defaults on the loan.

If you have ever been at risk of defaulting on a student loan or entered an agreed upon period of nonpayment due to some form of hardship, you know the steps that occurred. First, your loan is sent to a federal office. What you may not know is that the federal office at that point pays the bank for the balance of the loan and they assume the balance for a period of time. This is generally considered a “rehabilitation period”, during which no additional interest accrues on the loan.

At the end of that period, the loan is farmed back out to lenders. You have no control over what lender picks up the loan, so you may get the same lender back or a different lender.

If you are then unable to maintain the payments on the loan after all deferments have been used up, the loan is considered in default by the lender.

At that point, a federal office again assumes the balance of the loan, paying off the bank. This is when real problems begin.

Once the status on the loan is considered to officially be in default, the federal government will take any means necessary to collect the balance of the loan, in addition to interest, fees and penalties. Those steps can include placing a mandatory lien on a percentage of your paycheck, seizing your tax refunds, and in extreme cases they can seize your bank account assets, investment accounts, Social Security payments and more.

Disability, age and even death does not stop collection efforts. If you are married and die, your spouse becomes responsible for the balance of the debt. So any funds left to your estate can be seized. If that is insufficient, your spouse’s Social Security or pension can be penalized until paid in full.

Once you default on a federal student loan, the negative mark on your credit rating is basically permanent. It does not roll over in 10 years as other debts do. It follows you for life. Declaring bankruptcy does not apply to federal student loans at all.

In cases where the government is unable to collect the balance of the loan, the federal government (meaning you, the taxpayer) assumes the balance of the loan.

This is the extent to which the federal government goes to insuring the profits of corporate banks. Meanwhile, very little protection is offered to the student/borrower. If a school fails before the course is completed, that does nothing to erase or lessen the debt owed by the student. With no protections regarding age, extended illness or even death, you can understand clearly that your money is worth more than your life to our government.

I have explained in recent weeks how the Federal reserve (which is not a government entity, yet determines federal national debt) is bailing out banks right this minute. Banks which are at risk of failing due to taking on risky investments. By the time the Repo Market bailout ends, the risk to the federal debt will exceed $4 trillion, which is far more expensive than paying off all student loans would cost.

The unbalanced system in favor of banks and rich investors, backed by the government, with the US government acting as a collection agency on their behalf, is one of the biggest reasons to take universal adult education seriously. Add this to the benefits to the general economy in terms of disposable income translated to consumer spending which would create jobs and it simply makes sense. Right now the interest applied to decades of student loan debt does nothing for the economy, it creates virtually no jobs at all. It merely serves to enrich the already rich. The debt lessens the ability of borrowers to qualify for mortgages, apartment rental agreements, vehicle loans and often disallows a borrower from being able to afford medical care. In many cases, it impacts food security for the borrower. This is a loan shark system of the highest degree which needs to end.

There is absolutely no excuse that “the richest country on earth” cannot afford universal adult education at the 2–4 year degree level for our citizens. Not when nearly every other developed country has such a system in place. There is no other country, has never been another country, with this level of student loan debt, this level of bankruptcy for what amounts to basic needs and services for our own citizens, only to prop up the profits of the privileged.

The Empty Bubble- Administration Doesn’t Matter

This was posted to Medium on 10/9/19.

The Oil Crisis of the 70’s. The Iranian Oil Embargo of the 80’s. The S&L Crisis of the 80’s. The Dot Com Bubble. The Housing Bubble.

Are you seeing a trend here?

Every 7–10 years the US experiences a recession. Each time it has been a habit to name the recession by the alleged cause of the recession. Though the name is typically only applied retroactively. “Experts” during the Housing Crisis never said that the country was in a housing bubble until after the bubble burst. Same is true with the dot com bubble.

This time is different in several ways.

Longer period preceding a recession. At this point the last recession was 11 years ago and independent economists all agree that we are overdue for a recession. The longer we wait before it comes, the worse it will be when it gets here.

This bubble has no actual source which can be applied as a label. Where previous recessions had labels, this one truly cannot have an accurate label. The truth is that previous recessions may have had labels named after the trigger events but each recession was far more complex than any single trigger. Prior to the Oil Crisis of the 70’s, the auto manufacturing business had been in decline in the US, caused by a slowing economy leading to fewer vehicle sales. Prior to the Dot Com crash, employment in the non-tech sector was sluggish, partly (but not exclusively) caused by the Clinton welfare reform. The coming recession may ultimately be labeled as caused by the China Trade War Bubble or something similar, yet that will in no way be accurate because this recession would be coming even if no trade war were occurring now.

We never actually recovered from the last recession. With the 2008–2009 recession, we saw a dramatic decrease in wages across the country. Wages have never recovered since that time. People learning to adapt to lower incomes is not economic recovery. Jobs offer fewer benefits than prior to the recession, more jobs are part-time than ever. The combination has led many to working temporary (“gig”) positions or multiple part-time jobs. This results in workers paying more to replace benefits like health and life insurance than if they were subsidized by a full time employer. Even if subsidized, deductibles have increased along with premiums while wages have stagnated or declined. Once again, this is not recovery.

The stock market is not a reflection of the economy. I’ve pointed this out many times. The stock market is frequently a negative image of the health of the economy. When wages go up, stocks decline. Your wages are viewed by investors as a cost, a debt, a liability. Thus, an improved wage report will often be followed by mass layoffs to reduce costs. While in previous recessions the stock market did rise, it was typically accompanied by some events in the general economy which could be pointed to as causing that rise. Increased oil prices, home prices rising, expansive investment in internet startups. This time, none of that exists. The only justification for stock prices increasing at this time is stock buybacks by corporations, which is stock manipulation. By definition this is insider trading due to the fact that corporate executives profit from stock repurchases. Stock market rises do not improve the general economy at all. When most of the population is living paycheck to paycheck, stocks have no relation to the real world.

Personal and corporate debt and default are at record levels. One way Americans have been surviving since the last recession has been through incurring more debt than ever. This has been in the face of weak wages, often with the hopes of improving their condition through taking on student loans. It has not worked. Student loan defaults are at the highest rate in US history. We see mass layoffs of people with college/university degrees happening. The average vehicle payment exceeds $500 per month. Bankruptcy rates are rising, both personal and corporate. Corporate debt is at the highest rate in history, while consumer spending is down. Consumer confidence is down. Corporate confidence is down, as indicated by CEO polls and capital expenditures. Capital expenditures have been buoyed up to now by expenditures on contracts which have run their course.

The Fed is bailing out the banks, not the economy. Following the 2008 crash, the federal government bailed out the big banks. However, even that was a response after the crash had recurred. This time around, the Federal Reserve is pumping literally trillions of dollars into the banking and financial services industries to save them before the crash occurs.. Maybe. I’ll get to that. After the 2008 crash, Obama did do one of the few truly valid steps to stimulate the economy he performed during his administration. He increased funding for food stamps, which helped the economy slightly. We may see some similar steps after this crash occurs but only afterward and it is highly questionable it will happen at all with a GOP Senate in place.

Other countries cannot help. The economic contraction being seen in the US is not just here, it is global. Global manufacturing is down. Freight shipping is down. These lead to lower gas and oil requirements, bringing down oil production. It also drags down vehicle manufacturing and sales, fewer freight/shipping jobs, etc. More countries are investing in renewable energy, also impacting oil demand negatively. Numerous countries now have more debt than GDP earnings. Major banks are laying off tens of thousands of workers in all countries. Sociopolitical pressures are forcing more central banks to invest domestically in their home nations, rather than in US assets. US foreign policies are causing independent foreign investors to decrease funding for new US projects. Other countries are selling off US Treasuries, unsure if the US can or even will honor the debts.

Highly questionable rationale. I have been saying for quite some time that as the economy deteriorates, corporate profits based on sales will decline yet stocks will remain high. That is, until all liquidity has been squeezed out of each corporation and stocks are incapable of climbing higher. That is the point we are at right now. The highest valued stocks are for companies that produce nothing for trade. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google lead, with financial services firms following. Now that liquidity is gone, what will follow will be the rich selling off stocks in massive amounts. That is happening now but will accelerate rapidly. They invest in stocks for the purpose of gaining a profit. Now that no more profit is possible, it’s time to sell.

Once they sell in large enough amounts, they will literally CAUSE the next crash, yet walk away with huge profits. (Smaller investors will lose everything, being last to know the sell off is even happening. The media will only report on it after the fact.) They will deposit those profits in offshore accounts, board their private jets and fly to their private islands or tax havens while the US economy collapses in their wake, causing double and triple digit inflation. The Federal Reserve is helping this process because they have no connection or commitment to anything but money. They will not be held to account because we have no laws holding them to account, no system to hold them to account. Remember the Federal Reserve is NOT a government entity, it is a private capitalist entity and functions in and of itself for profit.

This has all been planned for a very long time and most of it is highly intentional.

None of this means we are without hope. However, it will take some of the most radical steps ever taken by American society to rectify it. I’ll cover the options some other time.

More About False Employment Numbers

Have you noticed how you hear how many jobs were created each month? Yet we still have unemployment. Tens of thousands of jobs created each and every month, yet the unemployment rate does not go down. How does that work?

When job creation numbers are reported, what is not included is how many jobs have been eliminated.

Think about the announcements you hear. 30,000 jobs were created last month! Okay, that would mean that if that trend continued, we would create 360,000 jobs in one year. In less than 3 years, we would have created over 1 million jobs.

Let’s dive deeper. The population of the US is roughly 330 million. The Labor Participation Rate is 63.2%, meaning 208.6 million people are actively working or seeking employment. If the unemployment rate were true, standing now at 3.7%, that means about 7.7 million people are unemployed.

Here’s the problem with those numbers. They don’t change!!!!

In point of fact, according to the Labor Department, total non-farm employment increased by 130,000 in August alone. In June, they claimed that payrolls increased by 224,000. In July, 164,000. In May, 75,000. In April, 263,000. In March, 196,000.

So, according to the US Labor Dept, in six months time the US economy added over 1 million jobs. Yet the unemployment percentage hasn’t budged downward. If there were any accuracy to these numbers, the US would be in negative unemployment in less than 3 years.

Of course, the Labor Dept was reporting similar numbers last year. In October 2018, they claimed 250,000 had been added. In November, 155,000. In December, another 312,000.

Even if job growth were slower than expected, it would still be job growth. If the economy were truly adding hundreds of thousands of jobs per month, unemployment would not exist.

In addition, consider normal attrition. People retire, get sick or die. In such cases, they leave the job market entirely. Thus, replacing them means people from the applicant pool are hired. So that should be reducing the number of unemployed but it doesn’t. The birth rate has been decreasing over time, so it is well known there are fewer young people entering the job market than the number of Boomers leaving the job market.

Of course, I’ve mentioned before that many jobs are part time or temporary. To be considered “employed” can mean working 1 hour per week or less. If an employer takes a full time job and splits it in half to make two part time jobs, it’s magic! They just created a job!

If this many jobs were genuinely being created, real wages would also be rising. Real wages as defined by wages in relation to living expenses. They’re not, except in very limited areas. Wages would be growing because employers would be competing for workers. They’re not. In the limited geographic areas which have seen wage growth, prices soon increase, eliminating any benefit seen by workers. That’s because employers want to maintain higher than reasonable profit margins. That’s capitalism.

I expect that next month we will see a larger than average number of jobs added, thanks to auto manufacturers listing jobs available as they attempt to hire scabs to cross union picket lines. That’s an example of another falsehood. Just because a company posts jobs does not mean anyone was hired to do the jobs.

We really need to insist on different ways of measuring employment and unemployment. The system we have right now is completely dishonest.

YOU Just Spent $300 BILLION To Bail Out Wall Street.. And That Cost Just Started

This past week, the Federal reserve began pumping money into “the market” at a rate of $75 Billion PER DAY, for 4 days in a row.

They stated that they will continue doing this for three weeks straight, at a maximum rate of up to $75 Billion per day, every day.

So, 4 days at $75 billion per day adds up to $300 billion. If they pump the maximum amount stated of $75 billion per day, 5 days a week, the grand total potential damage will be $1,050,000,000,000.00. Yes, that is accurate. $1 TRILLION plus $50 billion.

Keep in mind that when the Federal Reserve speaks of helping “the market”, what they are referring to is the stock market. It has absolutely nothing to do with the consumer market, the residential housing market or anything that has anything to do with the typical American. It pays no worker salary, no rent, provides no food to any American that needs it, provides no medical care, subsidizes no life saving medication.

This money simply does not exist before the Fed magically “creates” it for the sole purpose of handing it out freely to shore up a failing stock market. All of this is coming after a massive tax cut that corporations used to repurchase their own stock for the benefit of corporate executives and major investors. It comes after a $38 billion bailout of corporate farmers, which did nothing to reduce food prices for citizens. THAT came after an $18 billion bailout of the same corporate farmers in 2018. It comes after JP Morgan was revealed to have been hoarding gold and an estimated 50% of the global silver market for the purpose of manipulating the international precious metals market. It comes after multiple investment advisers and wealth managers (including JP Morgan) have advised their wealthiest customers to divest from the dollar, invest in foreign currencies and precious metals, especially gold.

Ford has laid off tens of thousands of workers in the past year. GM laid off tens of thousands more. GE laid off tens of thousands more. We have retail closures at a rate higher than any year in US history. Record numbers of federal student loan defaults. Manufacturing is down globally. Transportation of goods is down globally. Bloomberg reported that the economy had lost 600,000 jobs between December 2018 and May 2019. UAW are on strike, while GM canceled thousands of workers health insurance, after posting a profit of $8.1 billion in 2018.

Now, try and imagine what the economy would look like if the same $1 Trillion were provided to workers, to consumers. That money would be enough to hand $50,000 EACH to a total of 20 MILLION workers. Or $25,000 each to 40 million workers. In other words, it would prevent sickness or death, eviction/foreclosure, pay for education, pay off student loans, provide transportation.

So, what has the effect of this cash giveaway to the rich been so far? On Thur and Fri this week, the DOW dropped by a total of 212 points, for a total drop during one week of 285 points.

Why is this happening? Because corporate liquid assets have run dry. Something I have been warning about since 2017. Corporations used all their money to buy back stocks and drive stock prices higher, while outside investors have largely pulled their money out of the stock market, even before the warnings of JP Morgan and the like. With no more cash on hand, the corporations have nothing left to prop up the market.

Remember that the stocks most propping up the stock market are of companies that produce basically nothing. The FAANG stocks- Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. The value of stocks is measured in the fiat dollar, of which the value is measured based on resources not owned by this country, with more dollars being printed by a private bank out of thin air, valued on uncertain future repayment by the companies that produce nothing.

I have been predicting for years that these events would occur in exactly this sequence. This is the final step before the cliff. There is absolutely nowhere else to go. The Fed can discuss dropping interest rates into the negative all they like. It will do no good. We are now at the edge of a Fukushima-level economic event and there is no turning back. This crash has been formulating for decades but was absolutely certain in June of 2018, when the Federal Reserve raised the core interest rate. That was the sign it could not be averted. Stocks immediately dropped that very same day.

At this point there is literally no value in investors or corporations spending money on capital investments to maintain or create jobs, to increase production or anything else. The dollar can no longer be propped up, no matter how many wars we wage or threaten. Consumers have no more money which will fund even a continuation, let alone an expansion of the current system.

The next step will be that the last investors and corporations will begin selling off stocks in a mushroom cloud, each investor and executive trying to sell off as much as possible to cash in while the stocks are at high numbers. Convert to cash, deposit the funds in offshore accounts as they board their private jets out of the country. Smaller investors not sitting directly in front of their computers as day traders will lose basically everything, far worse than 2018 or 1929.

I will offer one single disclaimer to this. If you read over my previous economic writing, the only times I have ever been proven incorrect is when I included an estimated timeline. I have never been incorrect regarding events themselves. So you will notice that I am not including a timeline in this post. The reason I have been incorrect on time frame has been because I literally underestimated the absolute depth of corruption. This crash is definitely at our doorstep, right here, right now. So it is only a matter of time, which will not be long.

The only thing which could potentially stave it off momentarily would be an actual war. Not military intervention, actual war declared by Congress. yet even that will not save the economy and would ultimately lead to the collapse being worse than we currently face.

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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.

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.

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 athttps://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.

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.