Two More Victims Of The Retail Apocalypse: Family Dollar And Coldwater Creek
Did you know that Family Dollar is closing 370 stores? When I learned of this, I was quite stunned. I knew that retailers that serve the middle class were really struggling right now, but I had no idea that things had gotten so bad for low end stores like Family Dollar. In the post-2008 era, dollar stores had generally been one of the few bright spots in the retail industry. As millions of Americans fell out of the middle class, they were looking to stretch their family budgets as far as possible, and dollar stores helped them do that. It would be great if we could say that the reason why Family Dollar is doing so poorly is because average Americans have more money now and have resumed shopping at retailers that target the middle class, but that is not happening. Rather, as you will see later in this article, things just continue to get even worse for Americans at the low end of the income scale.
I was also surprised to learn that Coldwater Creek is closing all of their stores…
Women’s clothing retailer Coldwater Creek Inc. on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer said it plans to close its stores by early summer.
Coldwater Creek joins other retailers to seek protection from creditors in recent months as consumers keep a lid on spending.
The company said it plans to wind down its operations over the coming months and begin going-out-of-business sales in early May, before the traditionally busy Mother’s Day weekend.
Coldwater Creek, which has 365 stores and employs about 6,000 people, has five stores in Maryland.
I remember browsing through a Coldwater Creek with my wife and mother-in-law just last year. At the time, my mother-in-law was excited about getting one of their catalogs. But now Coldwater Creek is going out of business, and all that will be left of that store is a big, ugly, empty space.
Of course the fact that a couple of major retailers are closing stores is nothing new. This kind of thing happens year after year.
But what we are witnessing right now is really quite startling. So many retailers are closing so many stores that it is being called a “retail apocalypse”. In a previous article entitled “This Is What Employment In America Really Looks Like…“, I detailed how major U.S. retailers have already announced the closing of thousands of stores so far this year. If the economy really was “getting better”, this should not be happening.
So why are so many stores closing?
Well, the truth is that it is because the middle class is dying. With each passing day, more Americans lose their place in the middle class and fall into poverty. The following is an excerpt from the story of one man that this has happened to. His recent piece in the Huffington Post was entitled “Next Friday, I’ll Be Living In My Car“…
For the past 13 years, I’ve mostly been doing facility management in several locations across the state. After the position turned into more of a sales role, they laid me off. Since then, I’ve been looking to find any type of work. I’ve applied for food stamps, and I’m waiting for that. I’m mostly eating soup from a food pantry.
I’ve been on several interviews — second, third, fourth interviews — and just haven’t been able to land a job for whatever reason. I definitely have the qualifications and the experience. Last week, I had a job offer that I thought was secure, and we were talking my work schedule. They decided to call me back and go with an assistant rather than a manager.
For a number of applications, I’ve dumbed down my resume. I don’t even go with a resume sometimes, just because I don’t want them to know that I’m educated and have a master’s degree. It shoots me in the foot. They don’t want me because they don’t think I’m going to stay. I don’t blame them. I was making six figures at $60-70 an hour. Now, I’m looking for a $10 an hour job.
There are millions upon millions of Americans that can identify with what that man is going through.
Once upon a time, they were living comfortable middle class lifestyles, but now they will take any jobs that they can get.
Just today I came across a statistic that shows the massive shift that is happening in this country. A decade ago, the number of women working outnumbered the number of women on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
How could things have changed so rapidly over the course of just one decade?
And sadly, things continue to go downhill. Every day in America, more good jobs are being sent out of the country or are being replaced by technology. I really like how James Altucher described this trend the other day…
Technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry, productivity efficiencies, have all replaced the middle class.
The working class. Most jobs that existed 20 years ago aren’t needed now. Maybe they never were needed. The entire first decade of this century was spent with CEOs in their Park Avenue clubs crying through their cigars, “how are we going to fire all this dead weight?”. 2008 finally gave them the chance. “It was the economy!” they said. The country has been out of a recession since 2009. Four years now. But the jobs have not come back. I asked many of these CEOs: did you just use that as an excuse to fire people, and they would wink and say, “let’s just leave it at that.”
I’m on the board of directors of a temp staffing company with one billion dollars in revenues. I can see it happening across every sector of the economy. Everyone is getting fired. Everyone is toilet paper now.
There is so little loyalty in corporate America these days. If you work for a major corporation, you could literally lose your job at any moment. And you can be sure that there is someone above you that is trying to figure out a way to accomplish the tasks that you currently perform much more cheaply and much more efficiently.
Most big corporations don’t care if you are personally successful or if you are able to take care of your family. What they want is to get as much out of you as possible for as little money as possible.
This is a big reason why 62 percent of all Americans make $20 or less an hour at this point.
The quality of our jobs is going down, but the cost of living just keeps going up. Just look at what is happening to food prices. For a detailed examination of this, please see my previous article entitled “Why Meat Prices Are Going To Continue Soaring For The Foreseeable Future“.
As the middle class slowly dies, less people are able to afford to buy homes. Mortgage originations at major U.S. banks have fallen to a record low, and the percentage of Americans that live in “high-poverty neighborhoods” is rising rapidly…
An estimated 12.4 million Americans live in economically devastated neighborhoods, according to American Community Survey data collected from 2008 to 2012. That’s an 11 percent jump from the previous survey, conducted from 2007 to 2011. Even more startling, it’s a 72 percent increase in the population of high-poverty neighborhoods since the 2000 Census.
If nothing is done about the long-term trends that are slowly strangling the middle class to death, all of this will just be the beginning.
We will see millions more Americans lose their jobs, millions more Americans lose their homes and millions more Americans living in poverty.
The United States is being fundamentally transformed, and very few people are doing much of anything to stand in the way of this transformation. Decades of incredibly foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us, and unless something dramatic is done right away, all of these problems will soon get much, much worse.
This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.
Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com
May 6th is the date. Tired of the Blount County Commission supporting special interests and the status quo at the expense of taxpayers? Then let your voice be heard by voting for Blount County’s future by supporting fiscally responsible representation.
No Incumbents – 14 Candidates will defend Blount County
Bundy Ranch: The Nevada Constitution and Neo-Slavery
Published by NextNewsNetwork
Former Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee Michael Badnarik joins Gary Franchi to discuss the Bundy Ranch Federal Standoff and analyze the Nevada Constitution’s wording that may surprise you.
Michael Badnarik’s website: ConstitutionPreservation.org
By Mac Slavo
Prelude to Economic Disaster: Billionaire Liquidates All Real Estate Ahead of Crash
If you were to contact a real estate agent in any major market today they’d likely advise you the market is so “hot” that if you intend on purchasing property you’d better be prepared to act fast. They’ll adamantly point out, contrary to reality, that the housing market has recovered, available inventory is dropping, prices are rising, and they can only go higher from here.
But if you’re paying attention to what’s happening around us, and not just with our own economy here in the United States, then you’d likely have noticed that while many Americans are flying high on hopes of change and recovery, there is an economic disaster of unprecedented scale in the making.
First, we know that the third largest economy in the world, China, is going through a massive credit crunch as bad loans there have soared to near all time highs, meaning that loans are quickly becoming non-existent and credit markets are now frozen. This means that no one is going to be building ghost cities and empty malls in the Peoples’ Republic again any time soon. Moreover, it means no more easy cash. We know what happened in the United States and the rest of the world when the last credit crunch hit.
Second, as Sovereign Man points out, the richest man in Asia Li Ka-Shing (their version of Warren Buffet or Bill Gates with a reported net worth of $30 billion) has rapidly liquidated his real estate holdings and is existing the market as quickly as possible.
Here’s a guy you want to bet on– Li Ka-Shing.
Li is reportedly the richest person in Asia with a net worth well in excess of $30 billion, much of which he made being a shrewd property investor.
Li Ka-Shing was investing in mainland China back in the early 90s, way back before it became the trendy thing to do. Now, Li wants out of China. All of it.
Since August of last year, he’s dumped billions of dollars worth of his Chinese holdings. The latest is the $928 million sale of the Pacific Place shopping center in Beijing– this deal was inked just days ago.
Once the deal concludes, Li will no longer have any major property investments in mainland China.
This isn’t a person who became wealthy by being flippant and scared. So what does he see that nobody else seems to be paying much attention to?
Simple. China’s credit crunch.
But Li Ka-Shing isn’t the only one bailing. Luxury real estate investors are unloading their real estate assets as well in an effort to raise cash and not be the last one holding a dead asset. For all intents and purposes, the music in China has stopped:
Cash-strapped Chinese are scrambling to sell their luxury homes in Hong Kong, and some are knocking up to a fifth off the price for a quick sale, as a liquidity crunch looms on the mainland.
On the domestic front we’ve seen stock markets drop a fairly significant level in recent weeks. So much so that company’s hoping to launch new IPO initiatives have chosen to just sit this one out as they are worried that investors are running out of money to help fund their operations.
You wouldn’t know that, of course, because mainstream media pundits like Dennis Kneale continue to sell Americans on the notion that we’re in a robust recovery:
Yet the economy, both locally and globally, is in vastly better shape than it was when we took that terrible tumble, down to Dow 6,800 in March 2009.
Americans have cut back on debt, and so have companies.
Karl Denninger of the Market Ticker calls this one what it is – a complete lie – and points out that we are nowhere near cutting back on our debt.
I Despise Liars
“Cut back”? Really? Worse, ex mortgages this is not true at any level; there is $3,733.5 billion in non-mortgage consumer debt outstanding. That is an all-time high; in Q4/2006 (just before the crash, remember?) that stood at $3,047.2 billion or nearly $700 billion less.
An awful lot of that increase since 2007, incidentally, is student loans — exactly where it cannot be for sustainable economic progress since the younger generation has to eventually take the reins from us older folks. This is nothing more than an economic Ponzi scheme with its cheering section led by people like Dennis who refuse to look at and argue from facts.
As for corporate debt it never decreased at all.
Something is amiss, and the fact that no one in the mainstream, which is where tens of millions of Americans get their “facts,” is really talking about it should be a blaring alarm.
There are, however, some Americans paying attention. As in China, it’s the billionaires and elite who have direct access to the puppeteers pulling the strings, and like Li Ka-shing, they have been quietly and rapidly dumping millions of shares of stock:
Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful ofbillionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast.
In the latest filing for Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel.
Fellow billionaire John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, is clearing out of U.S. stocks too. During the second quarter of the year, Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. The fund also dumped its entire position in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer-goods maker Sara Lee.
Finally, billionaire George Soros recently sold nearly all of his bank stocks, including shares of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs. Between the three banks, Soros sold more than a million shares.
The big money, often referred to as the smart money, is getting out of the game and they are dumping these assets on unsuspecting investors.
They know, for example, that earnings growth has now plunged to its lowest levels since 2012.
As these in-the-know elites unload their positions, average investors depending on their financial advisers to tell them the truth are slamming money into these stocks and paying, in some cases, 500 times earnings. Real estate investors are, likewise, overpaying for homes based on the idea that markets are “hotter” than they’ve been in years.
It’s a recipe for disaster and it won’t end well – at least for 99% of people who blindly believe the opinions of their favorite “experts.”
Image credit: http://www.shtfplan.com
By Michael Snyder
18 Stats That Prove That Government Dependence Has Reached Epidemic Levels
Did you know that the number of Americans getting benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million? In other words, the number of people that are taking money out of the system is far greater than the number of people that are putting money into the system. And did you know that nearly 70 percent of all of the money that the federal government spends goes toward entitlement and welfare programs? When it comes to the transfer of wealth, nobody does it on a grander scale than the U.S. government. Most of what the government does involves taking money from some people and giving it to other people. In fact, at this point that is the primary function of the federal government.
Just check out the chart below. It comes from the Heritage Foundation, and it shows that 69 percent of all federal money is spent either on entitlements or on welfare programs…
So when people tell you that the main reason why we are being taxed into oblivion is so that we can “build roads” and provide “public services”, they are lying to you. The main reason why the government taxes you so much is so that they can take your money and give it to someone else.
We have become a nation that is completely and totally addicted to government money. The following are 18 stats that prove that government dependence has reached epidemic levels…
#1 According to an analysis of U.S. government numbers conducted by Terrence P. Jeffrey, there are 86 million full-time private sector workers in the United States paying taxes to support the government, and nearly 148 million Americans that are receiving benefits from the government each month. How long can such a lopsided system possibly continue?
#2 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
#3 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
#4 Today, the federal government runs about 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years.
#5 Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent. In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent. Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.
#6 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the total number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to nearly 47 million.
#7 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.
#8 It sounds crazy, but the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.
#9 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#10 According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, 43 percent of all immigrants that have been in the United States for at least 20 years are still on welfare.
#11 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
#12 The number of Americans on Medicare is projected to grow from a little bit more than 50 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.
#13 Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.
#14 If the number of Americans enrolled in the Social Security disability program were gathered into a single state, it would be the 8th largest state in the entire country.
#15 In 1968, there were 51 full-time workers for every American on disability. Today, there are just 13 full-time workers for every American on disability.
#17 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
#18 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month. Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.
Many will read this and will assume that I am against helping the poor. That is completely and totally not true. There will always be people that are impoverished, and this happens for many reasons. In many cases, people simply lack the capacity to take care of themselves. It is a good thing to take care of such people, whether the money comes from public or private sources. In every society, those that are the most vulnerable need to be looked after.
But it is a very troubling sign that the number of people on government assistance is now far, far greater than the number of people with full-time jobs. This is not a sustainable situation. The federal government is already drowning in debt, and yet more people become dependent on the government with each passing day.
The long-term solution is to get more Americans working or starting their own businesses, but the federal government continues to pursue policies that are absolutely killing the creation of jobs and the creation of small businesses in this country. So our epidemic of government dependence is going to continue to get worse.
And many of these programs are absolutely riddled with fraud and corruption. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Natural News article…
To understand the extent of this fraudulent waste, go no further than Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who raked in $20.8 million from Medicare in 2012 alone. Dr. Melgen isn’t the only one bathing in the fraud of this crony government program. Medicare dished out over $1 million to almost 4,000 doctors in 2012, according to the new data release analyzed by The Washington Post.
Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is calling on the public for help in identifying fraud. He says, “The program is funded by and large by taxpayer dollars. The public has a right to know what it is paying for. We know there is fraud in the system. We are asking for the public’s help to check, to find waste, and to find potential fraud.”
Instead of fixing their own problems, they want us to help them do it.
And of course they always want more of our money to help fund these programs. In fact, according to Americans for Tax Reform, Barack Obama has proposed 442 tax increases since entering the White House…
-79 tax increases for FY 2010
-52 tax increases for FY 2011
-47 tax increases for FY 2012
-34 tax increases for FY 2013
-137 tax increases for FY 2014
-93 tax increases for FY 2015
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Obama budget with the lowest number of proposed tax increases was released during an election year: In February 2012, Obama released his FY 2013 budget, with “only” 34 proposed tax increases. Once safely re-elected, Obama came back with a vengeance, proposing 137 tax increases, a personal record high for the 44th President.
The more we feed the monster, the larger and larger it grows.
And yet poverty is not decreasing. In fact, the poverty rate has been at 15 percent or greater for three years in a row. That is the first time that has happened in decades.
Barack Obama promised to “transform” America, and yet poverty and government dependence have just continued to grow during his presidency.
Not that anyone really believes anything that he has to say at this point. In fact, one recent survey found that only 15 percent of Americans believe that Barack Obama always tells the truth and 37 percent believe that he lies “most of the time”…
A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows that six out of every ten Americans believes that President Barack Obama lies to the American people, at least some of the time. A plurality – 37% – say that he lies “most of the time,” while another 24% say he lies “some of the time.” Another 20% say he lies once in awhile, while only 15% say that he never lies.
So what do you think?
This article first appeared here at the The American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.
Michael Ruppert Dead of Apparent Suicide
Published by NextNewsNetwork
Published on Apr 15, 2014
Michael Ruppert, author and former Los Angles Department officer, is dead of an apparent suicide.
He also appeared in several documentaries, Speaking about peak oil and abuses of government. He is best known for appearing in America: Freedom to Fascism. Ruppert was also an advocate for moving away from a fossil fuel economy.
The investigative journalist appeared at a Los Angeles high school, where John Deutch, then director of central intelligence, was speaking. He confronted the agency head, telling the crowd he had first-hand evidence of government complicity in drug smuggling. Deutch handled the confrontation poorly, and was removed from his post. Many political observers believe questioning by the journalist cost the intelligence director an appointment to become secretary of defense.
In 1992, People Magazine wrote “[I]n the course of investigations in the mid 70′s he came across information that the CIA was trading drugs in order to fund covert operations in the Middle East… [Ross] Perot called him back to offer encouragement… Ruppert says that his main objective is to see that the country gets a leader worthy of its people. Even for Ross Perot those will be tough shoes to fill.”
Ruppert was recently found dead, and authorities are stating he commited suicide.
The 63 year old was born in Washington DC, and attended the University of California. Three of his books investigating the events of 9-11 became best sellers.
Ruppert was also the publisher of From the Wilderness, a political newsletter read by people in 50 nations. More than 60 members of Congress subscribe to the publication.
Little reliable information is available so far, and followers of Ruppert are sharing speculations about the reason behind his death.
Ruppert was criticized for his claims about the government bringing drugs into the United States. But, recent evidence proved his statements to be accurate.
The investigative journalist was founder of the Collapse Network, which works to raise awareness about peak oil, and the decline of oil reserves.
Do you know where your 2014 taxes will go?
Well, here’s an amazing infographic which breaks it out beautifully*
This graphic comes out every year and I still find it fascinating. (And depressing.)
Click on the graphic for a much larger version.
* A very important note on this graphic – It doesn’t break out Social Security (the largest federal outlay, paid through payroll taxes) Medicaid, or Medicare which are all much larger than anything listed here. Still the detail on the discretionary budget is valuable.
Early Lessons of Bunkerville
The rush and rapidity of events in Bunkerville, Nevada surprised and cheered many, and there is a lot to learn from this case.
It’s too soon to know the long-term impact of people standing up against armed federales last week, but here are some early takeaways.
Location matters. This insurrection, brought on by federal government arrogance and greed, happened in part because people could get there, physically and intellectually. Wide open rangeland (for hardy cattle and 100 year old turtles) physically and visually juxtaposed with the artificial stupidity of “free speech zones,” domesticated citizens penned in by red government tape, tell a story without words, history lessons, or politics. The imagery brings to mind the words of one of my favorite heroes, “[T]he truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.”
Sifters like Drudge and Alex Jones are of enormous value in the struggle for human liberty. I use Jeff Deist’s phraseology here because it is so perfect. These market-driven and individualist information selectors, empowered by the low cost of the Internet and its associated technology, shared information in real time, live-streaming government actions and reactions, while providing the needed context of history, politics, economics, religion and culture, directly to people, not through their unions, their political parties, or their employers or their churches. The search for the “truth” can be activated and shared across state lines and political party prejudice. With timely information and honest context, government missteps and abuse can captivate and compel and even organize instant armies.
Sparks cause fires, and fires can radically change landscapes. But the humble spark that invites sympathy may be more powerful than other even more deserving sparks. Who doesn’t love family farmers, dogies on the range, and even a poor mistreated turtle? The lockdown of Boston a year ago was highly offensive, illegal in any constitutional sense, and chock-full of federalized law enforcement excess and abuse. Actual truth about every aspect of the backpack bombers has proven hard to get, to this day. Yet, because the government abuse was presented as justified, and was delivered with shock and awe, it succeeded as a practice run for Any City, USA. The thousands of innocent citizens in Boston who had their rights abused were also faceless and unsympathetic. Apparently, no puppies or kittens were harmed during the collective violation of their owners. Contrast this to what the feds did and intended to do to the Bundy family and their cows and calves. Property lines mattered, the victims had faces, children and traditions, and innocent mothers, children and cattle were caught in the threatened crossfire. The turtle situation also mattered, as news about how the government really treats endangered species boiled and bubbled across the Internet. The favor-trading and rent-seeking of state and federal politicians and their financiers were also exposed. The facts conspired to reveal the face of evil in the bland spineless government officials, in steely-eyed government snipers targeting unarmed Americans should they step out of line, in jackbooted government thugs and their machines itching for total dominance.
Simplicity is not 100% necessary in a spontaneous revolution, or any other kind. The Bundy case is not legally simple, and it has been over twenty years in the making. One could easily make the case, as the feds clearly rationalized, that the Bundys’ knew this was coming, they had to pay the demanded fines, and that public land is for public, re: “governmental” uses, as defined by whatever appropriate bureaucrat is in charge this decade, often as directed by bought-and-paid-for Senators and Congressmen. Given how much of Nevada is already considered federal property, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect that average Americans would agree with the government position. Perhaps they did – but the tireless and fed up minority not only did not agree, because of the location, information and empathy, they showed up, like mushrooms after a spring rain, it must have seemed. Mechanistic calculations failed the bureaucrats, and a certain spirit of shared spontaneous sacrifice of brothers and sisters prevailed. Putting aside their own lives for the moment, and standing together, without violence but with an unusual and praiseworthy commitment to justice – this little army accomplished a great thing. Was it just property rights defense, or a simple reaction to an ugly power grab by a bristling state security apparatus? Or was this fight many things to many people, all arriving at the same place and frame of mind from various religious, constitutional, political, economic and cultural perspectives and interpretations?
Location, broad access to real-time information, a humble sympathetic spark illuminating a multifaceted and even complex problem of justice – these four ingredients seemed present in Bunkerville. Like the similar sounding Battle of Bunker Hill, the first battle of Bunkerville also illustrates that a weaker and inexperienced group opposed to tyranny can prevail against (or deliver a Pyrrhic victory to) the well-armed existent power structure. The BLM drawback will be publicly presented as a “good government” victory. In fact the federales and the politicians are already busy with their post-game analysis.
In their analysis, I believe they will determine that, 1) location matters (and hence must be carefully selected and controlled); 2) information is a domestic battleground and if messages cannot be managed, then technology and access should be; 3) empathy must be created and controlled (either for the government position, or for some government-controlled and friendly vector) and; 4) a more effective surveillance state, with better “mood” research, citizen tracking and list-keeping must be created, in order to prevent future “losses” such as at Bunkerville last week. Until we can shut down the printing presses at the Fed, the incessant borrowing, and the outrageous taxation in this troubled country, we cannot stop the state from more carefully choosing and hiding their mistreatment of citizens and their property. We will be unable to reverse the pre-emptive criminalization of every person in the country that is the fundamental driving purpose of the surveillance state.
As with the British Army in 1775, the state’s institutions sow the seeds of their own destruction. Inflation, crushing debt, and rats leaving the sinking ship will conspire towards ultimate collapse. As Bunkerville publicly demonstrated, we the people can peaceably help this process along. The state will call it reform, transformation, or even rehabilitation, even as politicians begin to scramble to “lead” the leaders of this liberty and justice movement. The state will shrink, in influence at first, as we have seen, then in physical presence, cohesiveness, and consumption. We will call it victory, and tell our children instructive fables of evil statist monsters. God bless the Bundys and their friends, and all of us. It has started!
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, blogs occasionally at Liberty and Power and The Beacon. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here or join her Facebook page. She ran for Congress in Virginia’s 6th district in 2012..
Copyright © 2014 Karen Kwiatkowski
Reprinted with permission from LRC.
By Mac Slavo
This Chart Shows Us How Bad The Economy Really Is: “Flashing Red Warning”
Recent weeks have led to a fairly significant drop in stock valuations, with many expert analysts struggling to figure out exactly why it’s happening. You’ll hear them cite the weather, or market overreaction, or any number of reasons for why stocks have seen their share prices reduced and why they’ll be rebounding in the near-term.
What they won’t show you on mainstream financial channels is what’s really happening behind the scenes.
Forget about all the minute-by-minute noise for a moment and take a look at the following chart. It gives a very simple overview of earnings growth trends for stocks listed on the S&P 500 on a quarterly basis.
Last year saw what analysts would call fairly robust growth, and they had no problem citing these numbers for evidence of economic recovery.
We’re curious what they’d call it now, considering this chart shows a massive collapse in earnings per share growth across the board.
Pay close attention to that yellow line, which indicates growth (or lack there of) for the first quarter of 2014. According to Zero Hedge this is a Flashing Red Warning as earnings growth plunges to its lowest levels since 2012:
While the so-called “experts” were adamant in repeating that one must ignore all Q1 economic data (because of harsh weather you know), one thing the same “experts” pounded the table on was the earnings growth in 2014 which confirmed that the Fed was correct in tapering and that the corporate sector was well on its way to achieving “escape velocity” and a stable recovery. And then this happened…
(Chart via @Not_Jim_Cramer)
Most people, when you ask them how the economy is doing, will point to the Dow Jones, NASDAQ and S&P 500 as evidence of a healthy recovery.
What the majority of those people fail to look at is the underlying valuations for the stocks within those indexes.
If you are an investor and hold stocks, or are thinking about jumping in because this latest “correction” is about to take a turn for the better, we direct your attention to this absolutely critical piece of information regarding price-per-earnings from Karl Denninger of Market Ticker.
A bit of perspective is in order here. The number of stocks that have been trading on nothing more than QE-addled leverage, with nosebleed territory P/Es including Facebook (96), Amazon (537!), Netflix (180), LinkedIn (762), Salesforce (Negative P/E) and Twitter (ditto; -$3.41 EPS.)
Yeah, but the market is “cheap”, right? Sure it is with all these big-cap techs trading at prices like this…
There is only one reason to buy such a stock — you’re convinced that some other sucker will pay you an even greater multiple to sales (say much less earnings) than you paid.
That the air will eventually come out of such a market is inevitable.
The P/E ratio of a stock is basically the price of the stock compared to the earnings of said share. In the case of Amazon trading at 537 times earnings, this is an INCREDIBLE number considering most conservative financial advisers recommend dividend earning stocks in the 10 – 12 P/E range for investment purposes. In essence, the easiest way to interpret Amazon today is that an investor is willing to pay $537 for $1 in current earnings. So, investors who bought Amazon stock at its current price should see a return on that investment… in about 537 years (give or take) at current earnings.
Yes, that’s how crazy the stock market is right now, and Amazon is certainly not alone insofar as over-valuation is concerned.
Couple that with the earning growth chart above and you can clearly see that we are in very dangerous territory here.
And this doesn’t even take into account the economic warfare playing out between East and West, where Russia has now announced it will be actively pursuing a strategy to decouple its resource trade from the US dollar, meaning it will now trade in local currencies as opposed to the world’s traditional reserve currency.
As this new form of warfare plays out by the worlds super powers, all monetary systems will be affected. So how is this going to affect you? These effects will cause a continued degradation of the U.S. dollar with the real possibility that China and Russia will stop funding our debt. If and when this happens, the-you-know-what will inevitably hit the fan.
As Paul Craig Roberts noted recently, there is a reckoning coming and all evidence points to economic failure in 2014.
Or, we can all just go along with the prevailing narrative and pretend like happy days are here again.
The following song was released shortly after the 1929 stock market crash before anyone had realized its implications. It reassured Americans that “Your cares and troubles are gone… there’ll be no more from now on.”
We know how that ended up…
Image credit: http://www.shtfplan.com
By Ron Paul
Another Phony Budget Debate
Anyone watching last week’s debate over the Republican budget resolution would have experienced déjà vu, as the debate bore a depressing similarity to those of previous years. Once again, the Republicans claimed their budget would cut spending in a responsible manner, while Democratic opponents claimed the plan’s spending cuts would shred the safety net and leave vital programs unfunded. Of course, neither claim is true.
The budget does not cut spending at all, and in fact actually increases spending by $1.5 trillion over ten years. The Republicans are using the old DC trick of spending less than originally planned and calling that reduced spending increase a $5.1 trillion cut in spending. Only in DC could a budget that increases spending by 3.5 percent per year instead of by 5.2 percent per year be attacked as a “slash-and-burn” plan.
The budget also relies on “dynamic scoring.” This trick is where the budget numbers account for increased government revenue generated by economic growth the budget will supposedly unleash. The claims are dubious at best. Of course, reducing government spending will lead to economic growth. But real growth requires real cuts, not this budget’s phony cuts.
As important as reducing spending and balancing the budget is, focusing solely on budget numbers ignores the root of the problem. The real problem is that too many in Washington — and the nation as a whole — refuse to consider any serious reductions in the welfare-warfare state.
I have always maintained that the logical place to start reducing spending is the trillions wasted on our interventionist foreign policy. Unfortunately, there are still too many in Congress who claim to be fiscal hawks when it comes to welfare spending, but turn into Keynesian “doves” when it comes to spending on the military-industrial complex.
These members cling to the mistaken belief that the government can balance it budget, keep taxes low, and even have a growing economy, while spending trillions of dollars policing the world, and propping up some governments and changing others overtly or covertly. Thus, President Obama is attacked as soft on defense because he only wants to spend $5.9 trillion over ten years on the military. In contrast, the Republican budget spends $6.2 trillion over the next decade. That is almost a trillion more than the budget’s total so-called spending cuts.
If there are too many fiscal conservatives who refuse to abandon the warfare state, there are too many liberals who act as if any reduction in welfare or entitlement spending leaves children starving. I agree it is unrealistic to simply end programs that people are currently dependent on. However, isn’t it inhumane to not take steps to unwind the welfare system before government overspending causes a bigger financial crisis and drags millions more into poverty?
Far from abandoning those in need of help, returning the responsibility for caring for the needy to private charities, churches, and local communities will improve the welfare system. At the very least, young people should have the freedom to choose to pay a lower tax rate in exchange for promising to never participate in a government welfare or entitlement program.
Last week’s budget debate showed how little difference there lies between the parties when it comes to preserving the warfare-welfare state. One side may prefer more warfare while the other prefers more welfare, but neither side actually wants to significantly reduce the size and scope of government. Until Congress stops trying to run the world, run the economy, and run our lives, there will never be a real debate about cutting spending and limiting government.